Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

communication in a manner effectually to exclude so false and groundless an idea as that I confer with you, any more than I confer with them, on any party principle whatsoever, - or that in this affair we look further than the measure which is in profession, and I am sure ought to be in reason, theirs. I am ever, with the sincerest affection and esteem,

My dear Sir, Your most faithful and obedient humble servant,

EDMUND BURKE. BEACONSFIELD, 18th July, 1778.

I intended to have written sooner, but it has not been in my power.

To the Speaker of the House of Commons of Ireland.

TWO LETTERS

TO

THOMAS BURGH, ESQ.,

AND

JOHN MERLOTT, ESQ.,

IN VINDICATIO OF HIS PARLIAMENTARY CONDUCT

RELATIVE TO THE AFFAIRS OF IRELAND.

1780.

L E T T E R

TO THOMAS BURGH, ESQ.*

M

Y DEAR SIR, — I do not know in what man

ner I am to thank you properly for the very friendly solicitude you have been so good as to express for my reputation. The concern you have done me the honor to take in my affairs will be an ample indemnity from all that I may suffer from the rapid judgments of those who choose to form their opinions of men, not from the life, but from their portraits in a newspaper. I confess to you that my frame of mind is so constructed, I have in me so little of the constitution of a great man, that I am more gratified with a very moderate share of approbation from those few who know me than I should be with the most clamorous applause from those multitudes who love to admire at a due distance.

I am not, however, Stoic enough to be able to affirm with truth, or hypocrite enough affectedly to pretend, that I am wholly unmoved at the difficulty

* Mr. Thomas Burgh, of Old Town, was a member of the House of Commons in Ireland. It appears from a letter written by this gentleman to Mr. Burke, December 24, 1779, and to which the following is an answer, that the part Mr. Burke had taken in the discussion which the affairs of Ireland had undergone in the preceding sessions of Parliament in England had been grossly misrepresented and much censured in Ireland.

14

VOL. VI

which you and others of my friends in Ireland have found in vindicating my conduct towards my native country. It undoubtedly hurts me in some degree: but the wound is not very deep. If I had sought popularity in Ireland, when, in the cause of that country, I was ready to sacrifice, and did sacrifice, a much nearer, a much more immediate, and a much more advantageous popularity here, I should find myself perfectly unhappy, because I should be totally disappointed in my expectations, — because I should discover, when it was too late, what common sense might have told me very early, that I risked the capital of my fame in the most disadvantageous lottery in the world. But I acted then, as I act now, and as I hope I shall act always, from a strong impulse of right, and from motives in which popularity, either here or there, has but a very little part.

With the support of that consciousness I can bear a good deal of the coquetry of public opinion, which has her caprices, and must have her way. Miseri, quibus intentata nitet! I, too, have had my holiday of popularity in Ireland. I have even heard of an intention to erect a statue.* I believe my intimate acquaintance know how little that idea was encouraged by me; and I was sincerely glad that it never took effect. Such honors belong exclusively to the tomb, - the natural and only period of human inconstancy, with regard either to desert or to opinion : for they are the very same hands which erect, that very frequently (and sometimes with reason enough) pluck down the statue. Had such an unmerited and un

* This intention was communicated to Mr. Burke in a letter from Mr. Pery, the Speaker of the House of Commons in Ireland.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »