Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

planks of tough and hardy oak, that used for years to brave the buffets of the Bay of Biscay, are now turned, with their warped grain and empty trunnionholes, into very wretched pales for the inclosure of a wretched farm-yard.

The style of your pamphlet, and the eloquence and power of composition you display in it, are such as do great honor to your talents, and in conveying any other sentiments would give me very great pleasure. Perhaps I do not very perfectly comprehend your purpose, and the drift of your arguments. If I do not, pray do not attribute my mistake to want of candor, but to want of sagacity. I confess, your address to the public, together with other accompanying circumstances, has filled me with a degree of grief and dismay which I cannot find words to express. If the plan of politics there recommended pray excuse my freedom — should be adopted by the king's councils, and by the good people of this kingdom, (as, so recommended, undoubtedly it will,) nothing can be the consequence but utter and irretrievable ruin to the ministry, to the crown, to the succession,

- to the importance, to the independence, to the very existence, of this country. This is my feeble, perhaps, but clear, positive, decided, long and maturely reflected and frequently declared opinion, from which all the events which have lately come to pass, so far from turning me, have tended to confirm beyond the power of alteration, even by your eloquence and authority. I find, my dear Lord, that you think some persons, who are not satisfied with the securities of a Jacobin peace, to be persons of intemperate minds. I may be, and I fear I am, with you in that description; but pray, my Lord, recollect that very few of the causes which make men intemperate can operate upon me. Sanguine hopes, vehement desires, inordinate ambition, implacable animosity, party attachments, or party interests,- all these with me have no existence. For myself, or for a family, (alas ! I have none,) I have nothing to hope or to fear in this world. I am attached, by principle, inclination, and gratitude, to the king, and to the present ministry.

Perhaps you may think that my animosity to opposition is the cause of my dissent, on seeing the politics of Mr. Fox (which, while I was in the world, I combated by every instrument which God had put into my hands, and in every situation in which I had taken part) so completely, if I at all understand you, adopted in your Lordship's book: but it was with pain I broke with that great man forever in that cause ; and I assure you, it is not without pain that I differ with your Lordship on the same principles. But it is of no concern. I am far below the region of those great and tempestuous passions. I feel nothing of the intemperance of mind. It is rather sorrow and dejection than anger.

Once more my best thanks for your very polite attention ; and do me the favor to believe me, with the most perfect sentiments of respect and regard,

My dear Lord, Your Lordship’s most obedient and humble servant,

EDMUND BURKE. BEACONSFIELD, Oct. 30th, 1795.

Friday Evening.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

MY DEAR LORD, -I am not sure that the best

Y

way of discussing any subject, except those that concern the abstracted sciences, is not somewhat in the way of dialogue. To this mode, however, there are two objections: the first, that it happens, as in the puppet-show, one man speaks for all the personages. An unnatural uniformity of tone is in a manner unavoidable. The other and more serious objection is, that, as the author (if not an absolute skeptic) must have some opinion of his own to enforce, he will be continually tempted to enervate the arguments he puts into the mouth of his adversary, or to place them in a point of view most commodious for their refutation. There is, however, a sort of dialogue not quite so liable to these objections, because it approaches more nearly to truth and Nature: it is called CONTROVERSY. Here the parties speak for themselves. If the writer who attacks another's notions does not deal fairly with his adversary, the diligent reader has it always in his power, by resorting to the work examined, to do justice to the original author and to himself. For this reason you will not blame me, if, in my discussion of the merits of a Regicide Peace, I do not choose to trust to my own statements, but to bring forward along with

them the arguments of the advocates for that measure. If I choose puny adversaries, writers of no estimation or authority, then you will justly blame me. I might as well bring in at once a fictitious speaker, and thus fall into all the inconveniences of an imaginary dialogue. This I shall avoid ; and I shall take no notice of any author who my friends in town do not tell me is in estimation with those whose opinions he supports.

A piece has been sent to me, called “Some Remarks on the Apparent Circumstances of the War in the Fourth Week of October, 1795," with a French motto: "Que faire encore une fois dans une telle nuit ? Attendre le jour.” The very title seemed to me striking and peculiar, and to announce something uncommon.

In the time I have lived to, I always seem to walk on enchanted ground. Everything is new, and, according to the fashionable phrase, revolutionary. In former days authors valued themselves upon the maturity and fulness of their deliberations. Accordingly, they predicted (perhaps with more arrogance than reason) an eternal duration to their works. The quite contrary is our present fashion. Writers value themselves now on the instability of their opinions and the transitory life of their productions. On this kind of credit the modern institutors open their schools. They write for youth, and it is sufficient, if the instruction lasts as long as a present love, or as the painted silks and cottons of the season.”

The doctrines in this work are applied, for their standard, with great exactness, to the shortest possible periods both of conception and duration. The title is “Some Remarks on the Apparent Circumstances of the War in the Fourth Week of October,

[ocr errors]
« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »