« ZurückWeiter »
admirable work of genius, but as a treasure of valuable principles, the most momentous to the friends of English liberty, loyalty, virtue, and religion, proposed that the University should confer the degree of LL.D. on its illustrious author. The following account of the proceedings on that subject are extracted from the Gentleman's Magazine for February 1791 :
Mr. Urban, I have always thought it a valuable circumstance in your Magazine, that it has been from its commencement a register of the current literature of the times. From such original documents of the progress or variation in the public opinion respecting religion, taste, and politics, are collected the most interesting materials of literary history. I conceived, therefore, that whatever tends to mark the public opinion of a work so valuable, on so many accounts, as Mr. Burke's · Reflexions,' would be acceptable to you.
I have sent you the Oxford address to Mr. Burke, on the publication of his · Re
flexions,' together with Mr. Burke's answer. You are probably aware, that the Masters who signed the address, proposed to the heads of houses that a diploma degree of LL.D. might be conferred on Burke; and that the proposal was rejected, from an apprehension, as it has been said, that the degree would not have met with the unanimous votes of the members of convocation. However that might be, the degree was certainly not opposed by the heads of houses, from any disaffection to the cause which Mr. Burke had so nobly and patriotically defended. It was rejected by seven heads against six. For much the greater part of the rest of the University the following address will speak.
ADDRESS FROM THE RESIDENT GRADUATES IN THE
UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD.
TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE EDMUND BURXE,
• We whose names are subscribed, resident graduates in the University of Oxford, request you to accept this respectful declaration of our sentiments, as a tribute which we are desirous of paying to splendid ta
lents employed in the advancement ef public good. We think it fit and becoming the friends of our church and state, to avow openly their obligations to those who distinguish themselves in the support of our approved establishments; and we judge it to be our especial duty to do this in seasons peculiarly marked by a spirit of rash and dangerous innovation. As members of an University, whose institutions embrace every useful and ornamental part of learning, we should esteem ourselves justified in making this address, if we had only to offer thanks for the valuable accession which the stock of our national literature has received by the publication of your important “ Reflexions.” But we have higher objects of consideration, and nobler motives to gratitude: we are persuaded, that we consult the real and permanent interests of this place, when we acknowledge the eminent service rendered, both to our civil and religious constitution, by your able and disinterested vindication of their true principles; and we obey the yet more sacred obligation to promote the cause of religion and morality, when we give this proof, that we honour the advocate by whom they are so eloquently and effectually defended.'
This address was conveyed to Mr. Burke by Mr. Windham, of Norfolk; through whom Mr. Burke returned his answer :
MR. BURKE'S LETTER TO MR. WINDHAM.
MY DEAR SIR,
· The valuable present I received from the resident graduates in the University of Oxford becomes doubly acceptable by passing through your hands. Gentlemen so eminent for science, erudition, and virtue, and who possess the uncommon art of doing kind things in the kindest manner, would naturally choose a person qualified like themselves to convey their favours and distinctions to those whom they are inclined to honour. Be pleased to assure those learned gentlemen, that I am beyond measure happy in finding my well-meant endeavours well received by them; and I think my satis
faction does not arise from motives merely selfish, because their declared approbation must be of the greatest iinportance in giving an effect (which without that sanction might well be wanting) to an humble attempt in favour of the cause of freedom, virtue, and order, united. This cause it is our common wish and our common interest to maintain ; and it can hardly be maintained without securing on a solid foundation, and preserving in an uncorrupted purity, the noble establishments which the wisdom of our ancestors has forined, for giving permanency to those blessings which they have left to us as our best inheritance. We have all a concern in maintaining them all: but if all those, who are more particularly engaged in some of those establishments, and who have a peculiar trust in maintaining them, were wholly to decline all marks of their concurrence in opinion, it might give occasion to malicious people to suggest doubts, whether the representation I had given was really expressive of the sentiments of the people on those subjects. I am obliged to