Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents and the Two Speeches on America
1. P. 221, L. 1. I hope, Sir, &c. See p. 283, l. 8. The personality of the address to the Speaker is more marked than is now usual. Cp. p. 229, l. 1.
3. L. 18. incongruous mixture of coercion and restraint. The coercion consisted in breaking the resistance to the Tea-duty; the restraint in prohibiting the New Englanders from the Newfoundland fisheries. The incongruity lay in the form, not in the spirit or method of these attempts.
4. L. 31. I was obliged to take more than common pains. Burke however had long before this taken more than common pains to instruct himself in the affairs of the Colonies. See note to p. 195, l. 5, ante.
5. P. 223, L. 3. blown about by every wind of fashionable doctrine. St. Paul to Eph. iv. 14. Cp. Reynolds, Discourse xii, "at the mercy of every gust of fashion." Burke elsewhere speaks of "hebdomadal politicians." Cp. p. 243, "Some rule which may give a little stability to our politicks."
6. L. 6. in perfect concurrence with a large majority. The numbers on the division were 275 and 161.
7. L. 30. worthy Member of great Parliamentary experience. Mr. Rose Fuller.
8. P. 224, L. 15. a platform = a ground-plan.
9. L. 21. gave so far into his opinion—i.e. assented to. So European Settlements in America, vol. i. p. 32: "This (the natural slavery of barbarians) was so general a notion, that Aristotle himself, with all his penetration, gave into it very seriously."
10. L. 26. hazard Plans of Government, &c. Cp. note to p. 70, l. 14. "We live in a nation where, at present, there is scarce a single head that does not teem with politics. The whole island is peopled with statesmen, and not unlike Trinculo's Kingdom of Viceroys. Every man has contrived a scheme of government for the benefit of his fellow subjects." The Whig-Examiner, No. 5.
11. L. 28. disreputably. In the limited sense of "with prejudice to the reputation of those who make them."
12. L. 30. ambitious of ridicule—candidate for disgrace. Young, Night Thoughts: "O thou, ambitious of disgrace alone!"
13. L. 33. Paper government. Burke possibly had in mind the original settlement of Carolina, with its "model of a constitution framed, and body of fundamental laws compiled by the famous philosopher, Mr. Locke." (European Settlements in America, vol. ii. p. 237.) This absurd specimen of modern feudalism settled the lands in large and inalienable fiefs, on three classes of nobility: barons, cassiques (earls), and landgraves (dukes), and was tolerated for two generations. Shaftesbury had a hand in it. Burke's resolutions would in effect have established a new charter for all the Colonies.
16. L. 10. ennoble the flights, &c. Anywhere but in Burke, such an antithesis would appear trifling.
17. L. 23. dazzle or delude. These two ideas were generally connected by Burke. Cp. p. 184, l. 20. So elsewhere he speaks of the "dazzling and delusive wealth" of the Spanish and Portuguese Colonies (their gold, silver, and precious stones).
18. L. 25. The proposition is Peace. "What a pompous description is here! Mulier formosa superne Desinit in piscem. For after all, what is this Heaven-born pacific Scheme, of which we have heard so laboured an Encomium? Why truly; if we will grant the Colonies all that they shall require, and stipulate for nothing in Return; then they will be at Peace with us. I believe it; and on these simple Principles of simple Peace-making, I will engage to terminate every difference throughout the world." Tucker, Letter, p. 44.
19. L. 30. precise marking the shadowy boundaries, &c. Another allusion from the passage in the Essay on Man (see p. 255):
20. L. 35. former unsuspecting confidence of the Colonies, &c. These are the words of the Congress at Philadelphia in 1774. Letter to Sheriffs of Bristol, 1777: "Man is a creature of habit; and the first breach being of very short duration, the Colonies fell back exactly into their ancient state. The Congress has used an expression with regard to this pacification, which appears to me truly significant. After the repeal of the Stamp Act, 'the Colonies fell,' says this Assembly, 'into their ancient state of unsuspecting confidence in the mother country.' This unsuspecting confidence is the true center of gravity amongst mankind, about which all the parts are at rest. It is this unsuspecting confidence that removes all difficulties, and reconciles all the contradictions, which occur in the complexity of all ancient, puzzled, political establishments. Happy are the rulers which have the secret of preserving it!" &c. Cp. with this passage, vol. ii. p. 333, on the tampering of the Assembly with the army: "They have touched the central point, about which the particles that compose armies are at repose."
21. P. 226, L. 10. Genuine simplicity of heart is an healing, &c. "Truth in its nature is healing, and productive of reflection." Glover's Speech at the Bar, March 16, 1775.
22. L. 16. Project lately laid upon your table, &c. "That when the Governor, Council, or Assembly, or General Court, of any of his Majesty's Provinces or Colonies in America, shall propose to make provision, according to the condition, circumstances, and situation, of such Province or Colony, for contributing their proportion to the Common Defence (such proportion to be raised under the Authority of the General Court, or General Assembly, of such
23. L. 17. Blue Ribband. Lord North was conspicuous among the members of the Lower House by this badge of a Knight of the Garter. The only other commoner who had then obtained the Garter was Sir R. Walpole. Castlereagh and Palmerston are the only other instances of this distinction being offered to and accepted by commoners.
24. P. 227, L. 28. that time and those chances, &c. An allusion to the well-known passage of Shakspeare:
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.
So Dryden, Absalom and Achitophel:
Some lucky revolution of their fate," &c.
25. P. 228, L. 10. = mere, downright.
26. L. 15. The number of people in the Colonies. The computation of Mr. Bancroft (vol. iv. p. 128), which fully justifies Burke's remarks, is as follows:
Cp. Johnson's savage comment on this and other arguments; "We are told that the continent of North America contains three millions, not of men, merely, but of Whigs; of Whigs fierce for liberty, and disdainful of dominion (alluding to Chatham's Speech of January 20, 1775); that they multiply with the fecundity of their own rattlesnakes, so that every quarter of a century doubles their numbers.... When it is urged that they will shoot up like the hydra, he (the English politician) naturally considers how the hydra was destroyed." Taxation no Tyranny, Works, x. 96, 97.
27. L. 28. whilst the dispute continues, the exaggeration ends. Cp. note, p. 225, ante, on Burke's repetition of his proposition, now put in a few words at once terse in expression, but weighty with antithesis, and now
28. P. 229, L. 4. Occasional—used in malam partem. Cp. ante p. 159, "occasional arguments." Dr. Johnson speaks of Browne's Hydriotaphia as "a treatise occasionally written." So the Occasional Writer, a paper to which Bolingbroke contributed.
29. L. 6. For the explanation and illustration of the maxim "De minimis non curat lex," see Broom's Legal Maxims, 2nd ed. p. 105.
30. L. 20. trod some days ago... by a distinguished person. Mr. Glover, who appeared at the bar (March 16), to support the petition of the West Indian Planters respecting the Non-Importation Agreement, praying that peace might be concluded with the Colonies, presented February 2. His Speech, Parl. Hist. xviii. 461-478, is well worthy of study, as an illustration of Burke's relation to contemporary oratory. His Leonidas still survives; but few readers will be disposed to encounter his Athenaid, an epic in thirty books.
31. L. 22. after Thirty-five years. Probably therefore, on the occasion of the transactions which occasioned the war with Spain in 1739.
32. P. 230, L. 13. Davenant—Inspector-General's office, i.e. of Customs. Author of the Discourses on Revenue and Trade, &c.
33. L. 17. The African, terminating almost wholly in the Colonies. Because little more than a trade in slaves, who were paid for with English wares. See Burke's remarks on the African trade in his Account of America, vol. i. It was owing to the judgment with which the Portuguese carried on the trade in slaves that Brazil, in Burke's time, was looked on as the richest and most promising of the American Colonies.
34. L. 19. the West Indian. More important than the legitimate trade was that carried on, against the Act of Navigation, between the Spanish Colonies and the English West Indies. See Lord Stanhope's History, vol. ii.
35. L. 25. the trade to the Colonies, &c. Burke had employed the statistics of 1704 in his pamphlet of 1769 on the State of the Nation, to demonstrate the increase of the Colony trade. He there compares the total exports to the Colonies in 1704 (£483,265) with those to Jamaica in 1767 (£467,681).
36. P. 231, L. 23. is not this American trade an unnatural protuberance. "The people of the United States still constitute our largest and most valuable commercial connection. The business we carry on with them is nearly twice as extensive as that with any other people, and our transactions are almost wholly conducted on ready money terms." Cobden's Political Writings, vol. i. p. 98. The American official returns for the year ending June 30, 1873, shows that in that year more than one-third of the whole imports into the United States came from England, and that more than one-half of their whole exports, consisting chiefly of cotton, provisions, breadstuffs, and petroleum, were sent to England.
37. P. 232, L. 6. Mr. Speaker, &c. The transition, bold as it is, is happily managed.
38. L. 7. It is good for us to be here. St. Mark ix. 5 sq. The quotation is introduced with striking effect.
39. L. 8. Clouds, indeed, and darkness rest upon the future.
And Shadows, Clouds, and Darkness, rest upon it.
—Addison, Cato, Act v. Sc. I.
41. L. 14. my Lord Bathurst. The connexion of Lord Bathurst with English literature extends from Pope and Swift to Sterne (vide Sterne, Letters, p. 192). In 1704 he was more than "of an age at least to be made to comprehend," &c., having been born in 1684: he took his seat in Parliament in 1705.
42. L. 17. acta parentum jam legere. The tense in the quotation is adapted to this use of it. Virg. Ecl. iv. 26.
43. L. 21. in the fourth generation, i.e. of the House of Brunswick.
44. L. 24. was to be made Great Britain—in 1707.
45. L. 25. his son. The eldest, Henry, Lord Chancellor, created Baron Apsley 1771.
46. P. 233, L. 2. stories of savage men, &c. See Part II of Burke's Account of America.
47. L. 3. before you taste of death. St. Matt. xvi. 28, St. John viii. 52, Heb. ii. 9. Shakspeare, Julius Caesar, Act ii. Sc. 2:
48. L. 15. cloud the setting of his day, i.e. sunset. Borrowed from Johnson, Vanity of Human Wishes:
Who set unclouded in the gulphs of fate.
With this graceful figure Burke concludes one of the best-known of his passages, in a higher strain of rhetoric than is now permissible in Parliamentary speaking. This eloquent effort of imagination would have been better in place in the Address of Daniel Webster on the Landing of the Pilgrim Fathers. Dr. Johnson's extemporaneous travesty of it, which illustrates the general temper of the country, shall be given in the words of Mrs. Piozzi.
"It was in the year 1775 that Mr. Edmund Burke made the famous speech in Parliament, that struck even foes with admiration, and friends with delight. Among the nameless thousands who are contented to echo those praises they have not skill to invent, I ventured, before Dr. Johnson himself, to applaud with rapture the beautiful passage in it concerning Lord Bathurst and the Angel; which, said our Doctor, had I been in the House, I would have answered thus;
" 'Suppose, Mr. Speaker, that to Wharton, or to Marlborough or to any of the eminent Whigs of the last age, the devil had, not with any great impropriety, consented to appear; he would perhaps in somewhat like these words have commenced the conversation;
49. L. 26. I choose, Sir, to enter, &c. "I think I know America," wrote Burke to the Sheriffs of Bristol, in 1777. "If I do not, my ignorance is incurable, because I have spared no pains to understand it.... Everything that has been done there has arisen from a total misconception of the object."
50. L. 27. generalities, which in all other cases, &c. The thought is as original as the expression is striking.
51. L. 35. deceive the burthen of life. To match this elegant Latinism we may quote the final lines of Bowles's Inscription at Knoyle:
Dum licet, ipse rosas, et fallas tristia vitae.
[So "gather its brief rosebuds," and deceive
The cares and crosses of humanity.]
52. P. 234, L. 9. = including. Cp. Fr. y compris.
53. L. 16. with a Roman charity. The story of Xanthippe and Cimon, as told by Hyginus, was universally known by the name of the Roman Charity. It afforded an effective subject to several artists. Some authors (Plin. Nat. Hist. vii. 36, Valerius Maximus v. 47) represent a mother instead of a father as the object. Valerius Maximus in another version, and Festus and Solinus, agree with Hyginus.
54. L. 22. they seemed even to excite your envy. George Grenville had by his budget of 1764, practically resigned the whale fishery to America. "This," says Mr. Bancroft, "is the most liberal act of Grenville's administration, of which the merit is not diminished by the fact that American whale fishery was superseding the English under every discouragement." England and Holland had formerly contested the whaling trade. The position of America was of course such that when the American fishery was freed from its burdens it overwhelmed both.
55. L. 25. what in the world is equal to it. At this time Massachusetts alone employed 183 vessels, carrying 13,820 tons, in the North, and 120 vessels, carrying 14,026 tons, in the South Atlantic fishery. The fishery was at first
56. L. 30. Hudson's Bay—Henry Hudson, 1607; but discovered by Seb. Cabot, 1517. Davis's Streights—John Davis, 1585.
57. L. 31. we hear that they have pierced into the opposite region of polar cold. It is interesting to be able to trace to the eloquent appeal of Burke some of the most important events in Colonial history. In 1775 ships were apparently for the first time fitted out by English owners for the purpose of following the track of the Americans in the South Seas. The bounties abolished by Grenville were revived in 1776 to favour this new branch of adventure; but it was not until 1785 that our navigators discovered the haunts of the sperm whale, and attained a success equalling that of the Americans. The enterprise of Mr. Enderby in 1788 extended the fisheries to the Pacific, and in 1820 to Japan. The consequences were a constant intercourse with the Spanish Colonies, which had no small share in leading them to their independence—the introduction of civilization into Polynesia, and the foundation of the Australian and Tasmanian Colonies. The whalers preceded the missionaries.
58. P. 235, L. 1. frozen Serpent of the south. The Hydrus, or Water-serpent, a small constellation far to the south, within the Antarctic Circle.
60. L. 2. too remote and romantic an object for the grasp of national ambition. The Falkland Islands are about 200 in number, of which East and West Falkland were the chief. Discovered at the end of the sixteenth century, they were not considered worth occupation. In 1763 the French built Port Louis on East Falkland; England soon after built Port Egmont on West Falkland, but abandoned it in 1773. Through the whale-fishery they afterwards attained an unexpected importance. See Lord Stanhope's History, vol. v.
61. L. 8. run the longitude; i.e. sail south to the South American coast.
62. L. 9. Cp. Par. Lost, i. 305:
Hath vex'd the Red-Sea coast,
Omnis, et omne fretum: coeli quoque nubila vexant.
64. L. 13. = bold, adventurous. So Goldsmith; "Bacon, that great and hardy genius." Cp. p. 121, l. 26, ante, "an hardy attempt." Burke however often used the word in the modern sense = patient of hardship.
65. P. 236, L. 5. not as an odious, but as a feeble instrument. The inability of European governments even to put down the buccaneers was doubtless present to Burke: "What armaments from England, Holland, and France have been sent in different times to America, whose remains returned without honour or advantage, is too clear, and perhaps too invidious a topic to be greatly insisted upon." Account of America, vol. ii. p. 12.
66. L. 9. does not remove the necessity of subduing again. So Milton:
——Par. Lost, i. 648.
67. L. 13. an armament is not a victory. Burke perhaps alludes to the Spanish Armada.
68. L. 16. Power and authority—can never be begged. Cp. First Letter on Regicide Peace: "Power, and eminence, and consideration, are things not to be begged. They must be commanded; and they, who supplicate for mercy from others, can never hope for justice through themselves. What justice they are to obtain, as the alms of an enemy, depends upon his character; and that they ought well to know, before they implicitly confide."
69. L. 22. I do not choose... the spirit that has made the country. Cp. First Letter on Regicide Peace; "Nation is a moral essence, not a geographical arrangement, or a denomination of the nomenclator."
70. P. 237, L. 25. emigrated from you when this part of your character was most predominant. "The American freeholders at present are nearly, in point of condition, what the English Yeomen were of old, when they rendered us formidable to all Europe, and our name celebrated throughout the world. The former, from many obvious circumstances, are more enthusiastical lovers of liberty, than even our Yeomen were." Burke, Ann. Reg. 1775, p. 14. The New England colonies had their origin in the time of the great struggle against the Stuarts.
71. L. 31. Liberty inheres in some sensible object. The Whigs and the popular party indulged in so much vain talk about liberty that such observations were to the point. "It inheres in good and steady government, as in its substance and vital principle." Speech on arrival at Bristol, 1774.
72. L. 32. Every nation, &c. Burke adopts the well-known doctrine of Goldsmith's "Traveller," which belongs, however, rather to poetry than to political philosophy, though it is borrowed from Montesquieu. "The Traveller" was published in 1764.
Wealth, commerce, honour, liberty, content;
Yet these each others' power so strong contest,
That either seems destructive of the rest.
Where wealth and freedom reign, contentment fails,
And honour sinks where commerce long prevails.
Hence every state, to one lov'd blessing prone,
Conforms and models life to that alone;
Each to the fav'rite happiness attends,
And spurns the plan that aims at other ends;
Till, carried to excess in each domain,
This fav'rite good begets peculiar pain.
73. P. 238, L. 3. in the ancient commonwealths. Notably in Rome, an example always present to Burke's mind. Read Swift's Discourse on the Contests and Dissensions in Athens and Rome, which, though opposing Burke's Whiggish doctrine of Party, furnished him with many hints.
74. L. 7. the ablest pens, and most eloquent tongues. Pym, Hampden, Selden, St. John, &c. See Raleigh's "Prerogative of Parliaments in England."
76. P. 239, L. 4. pleasing error. Virgil:
The "amabilis insania" of Horace, however, comes nearer in meaning. Cp. vol. ii. p. 125, "the delusion of this amiable error."
77. L. 6. some are merely popular = purely, entirely. "The one sort we may for distinction safe call mixedly, and the other merely humane." Hooker, Eccl. Pol. Book i. c. 10. New England was an aggregate of pure democracies, the foremost in spirit and popular organisation being Massachusett's Bay and Connecticut. New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Maine, which was a part of Massachusetts, were the others. New York differed from New England chiefly from having been settled under large patents of land to individuals, instead of charters to towns. North of the Potomac were the two large proprietary governments, Pennsylvania with Delaware, under Thomas and Richard Penn, and Maryland, which belonged nominally to Lord Baltimore. There were five royal governments, the Carolinas, Georgia, Virginia, and New Jersey. See Bancroft, vol. iv. chap. 6. It was not, however, in the democratic governments that the most violent resolutions were passed. See Ann. Reg. 1775, p. 6.
78. L. 14. Religion, always a principle of energy. The incidents of the Anti-Slavery war show that this principle in the Americans is still in no way impaired.
79. L. 20. The Addisonian "aversion" is more usual. From is the proper construction. Johnson considers to improper, and towards very improper. (Cp. note to p. 83, l. 3.) Swift uses "aversion against."
80. P. 240, L. 1. dissidence of dissent, &c. Cp. Hooker, Book iv. c. viii. "There
81. L. 28. as broad and general as the air. "As broad and general as the casing air," Macbeth, Act iii. Sc. 4.
82. P. 241, L. 3. Our Gothick ancestors. Incorrect, but commonly used, even by Hallam. Our ancestors were Low-Dutch.
84. L. 4. were the Poles—until 1772.
85. L. 10. In no country... is the law so general a study. American authors have not insisted on this as a cause, though the history of the Revolution is full of proofs of it. "The Lawyers of this place (New York)," writes the Lieutenant-Governor, to Conway, in 1765, "are the authors and conductors of the present sedition." On the study of the law in the Italian Republics, see Hallam, Middle Ages, vol. iii. ch. 9, part 2. On the lawyers in the French Assembly, cp. vol. ii. p. 131.
86. L. 12. numerous and powerful. "In many of our settlements the lawyers have gathered to themselves the greatest part of the wealth of the country." Europ. Settlements in America, vol. ii. p. 304. Burke censured as the cause of this, the burdening of the colonies with the mass of our common law, and the old statute law, and their adoption, with very little choice or discretion, of a great part of the new statute law. He thought "all that load of matter, perhaps so useless at home, without doubt extremely prejudicial in the colonies.... These infant settlements surely demanded a more simple, clear, and determinate legislation, though it were somewhat of a homelier kind." Ibid.
87. L. 20. printing them for their own use. Burke says nothing of the general influence of the printing-press, which was by this time actively at work in the Colonies. "The press," he writes, in the First Letter on a Regicide Peace, "in reality has made every government, in its spirit, almost democratic."
88. L. 21. Blackstone's Commentaries. Then a new and popular work.
89. L. 25. in Boston they have been enabled, by successful chicane. General Gage, in pursuance of the powers given him by the coercive statutes, had prohibited the calling of town meetings after August 1, 1774. A town meeting was, however, held, and asserted to be legal, not having been called, but adjourned over. "By such means," said Gage, "you may keep your meeting alive these ten years." He brought the subject before the new Council. "It is a point of law," said they, "and should be referred to the Crown lawyers," &c. Bancroft, vol. vii. ch. 8. Cp. Ann. Reg. 1775, p. 11.
92. P. 242, L. 2. Abeunt studia in mores. Ovid, Heroid. Ep. xv. 83. The quotation is evidently adopted from Bacon's Essay of Studies.
93. L. 9. snuff the approach of tyranny, &c. The metaphor is from hunting. The phrases are a reminiscence of Addison, the Campaign. (Cp. p. 149, l. 15.)
And smells his footsteps in the tainted dews,
The tedious track unravelling by degrees:
But when the scent comes warm in every breeze,
Fired at the near approach, he shoots away
On his full stretch, and bears upon his prey.
94. L. 16. Seas roll, and months pass. The student will note the striking effect of the zeugma.
95. L. 19. winged ministers of vengeance, who carry your bolts in their pounces, &c. "Winged ministers of vengeance" is a compound of Milton's "ministers of vengeance" (Par. Lost, i. 170), and "winged messengers" (ib. iii. 229). Cp. ante, p. 236. "Those who wield the thunder of the State." The image is borrowed from Lord Chatham's Speech of January 22, 1770; "They have disarmed the imperial bird, the ministrum fulminis alitem.* The army is the thunder of the Crown—the ministry have tied up the hand which should direct the bolt." Burke happily transfers it to the navy. The student should compare the beautiful expansion and application of this image by Canning, introduced with exquisite propriety in the speech made within sight of Plymouth docks, 1823.
96. L. 21. a power steps in... "So far shalt thou go and no farther." The allusion is to the story of Canute and his courtiers, then recently popularized by Hume.
97. L. 27. In large bodies, &c. But cp. Letter to W. Elliott, Esq. "These analogies between bodies natural and politic, though they may sometimes illustrate arguments, furnish no argument of themselves." The same observation occurs in the First Letter on a Regicide Peace. Mill has apparently made use of the latter passage in his account of "Fallacies of Generalization."
98. L. 28. The Turk, &c. Notice the foresight which these observations imply.
101. L. 3. this is the immutable condition, &c. Burke generalises from two bad instances, but the weakness of Spain and Turkey was then far less
102. L. 10. grown with the growth, &c. Cp. p. 181, l. 28.
103. L. 17. causes which produce it—i.e. produce the excess, not the spirit.
105. L. 28. with all its imperfections on its head. Hamlet, Act i. Sc. 5.
107. P. 246, L. 4. Sir, if I were capable, &c. This perhaps indicates that the Speaker exhibited an appearance of weariness or inattention, on Burke's proposal to "go patiently round and round the subject."
108. L. 20. It is radical in its principle. "The objects which I proposed were radical, systematic economy," &c. Letter to Mr. Harford, April 4, 1780. It was Burke who brought the term into parliamentary if not into general use—not Pitt, as commonly asserted: cp. Fischel, English Const., p. 551.
109. P. 247, L. 5. The people would occupy without grants. See Bancroft, ch. xviii. and xxvii. "But the prohibition only set apart the Great Valley as the sanctuary of the unhappy, the adventurous and the free; of those whom enterprise, or curiosity, or disgust at the forms of life in the old plantations, raised above royal edicts.... The boundless West became the poor man's City of Refuge," &c. Vol. vi. p. 33, where see note.
110. L. 11. Already they have topped the Apalachian mountains—better known as the Alleghanies, the western frontier of the British settlements. The germ of the description which follows is in the Annual Register, vol. i. p. 2. Burke doubtless remembered with some vividness a passage on which he had bestowed much pains.
111. L. 13. an immense plain—a square of five hundred miles: the other boundaries being the Mississippi and the lakes.
112. L. 17. Hordes of English Tartars. This idea seems to have been suggested by the history of the Buccaneers of St. Domingo, "a considerable number of men transformed by necessity into downright savages," an account of whom, from the pen of Burke, is to be found in the Annual Register for 1761.
113. L. 24. Encrease and Multiply. Burke quotes from Milton, Par. Lost. x. 730. Authorised Version, "Be fruitful and multiply"; Vulgate (used by Milton), "Crescite et multiplicamini."
114. L. 26. which God by an express Charter, &c. Cp. More's Utopia (Bp. Burnet's translation), Book ii: "They account it a very just cause of war for a nation to hinder others from possessing a part of the soil of which they make no use, but which is suffered to lie idle and uncultivated; since every man has, by the law of nature, a right to such a waste portion of the earth as is necessary for his subsistence."
116. P. 248, L. 6. a more easy task. Because the system of commercial restriction was well established.
117. L. 20. beggar its subjects into submission. Cp. p. 73, l. 27, and note.
118. L. 26. Spoliatis arma supersunt. Juvenal, Sat. viii. 124. The phrase seems also to have stuck in the memory of Hallam. "Arms, says the poet, remain to the plundered," he writes in chapter xviii. of the Constitutional History. "Les nations doivent jouir de cette indépendance qu'on peut leur arracher un moment, mais qu'elles finissent toujours par reconquérir: spoliatis arma supersunt." Chateaubriand, De la Monarchie selon la Charte, ch. xlvi.
119. L. 33. your speech would betray you. St. Matt. xxvi. 73.
120. L. 34. argue another Englishman into slavery. Cp. p. 215, l. 32.
121. P. 249, L. 2. to substitute the Roman Catholic, as a penalty. Why should Burke introduce this, which seems mere redundance? He casts an oblique glance at Ireland, and "counterchanges" the unjust penal laws which were there in force.
122. L. 4. inquisition and dragooning—alluding to the measures adopted by Spain to reduce the Netherlands, in the sixteenth century, and by Louis XIV, in the next, to conquer the Huguenots.
123. L. 8. burn their books of curious science. Acts xix. 12. Cp., in the pathetic Defence of Strafford, "It will be wisdom for yourselves and your posterity to cast into the fire these bloody and mysterious volumes of constructive and arbitrary treason, as the primitive Christians did their books of curious arts, and betake yourselves to the plain letter of the law and statute," &c.
124. L. 15. more chargeable—i.e. more expensive.
125. L. 21. any opinion of it—an elliptical expression, still in use—equivalent to "any favourable opinion of it." Cp. the expression "to have no idea of a thing," i.e. to disapprove it (found in Pitt's speeches).
126. L. 26. both these pleasing tasks. A masterly stroke. Cp. p. 215, l. 32.
127. L. 30. a measure to which other people have had recourse. See Aristoph. Ran. 27, from which it appears that the slaves who had distinguished themselves at the battle of Arginusae, were presented with their freedom. Plutarch says that Cleomenes armed 2,000 Helots to oppose the Macedonian Leucaspedae, in his war with that people and the Achaeans. According to
128. L. 33. Slaves as these, &c. Burke, in his Account of the Settlements in America, was the first to point out that on English soil there were slaves enduring "a slavery more complete, and attended with far worse circumstances, than what any people in their condition suffer in any part of the world, or have suffered in any period of time." The passage is quoted in Dr. Ogden's Sermon against Oppression.
130. P. 250, L. 13. Ye gods, annihilate but space and time, &c. This piece of fustian is taken from Martinus Scriblerus, of the Art of Sinking in Poetry, where it is cited without name. It is said to come from one of Dryden's plays. Cp. the humorous paper in the Ann. Reg. 1761, p. 207, in which, alluding to the "stage-coaches, machines, flys, and post-chaises," which were plying about this time in great numbers on the improved turnpike-roads, the author says, "The lover now can almost literally annihilate time and space, and be with his mistress, before she dreams of his arrival."
131. P. 251, L. 2. method of drawing up an indictment, &c. Cp. vol. ii. p. 189. (Quidquid multis peccatur inultum.)
132. L. 4. Sir Edward Coke—Sir W. Rawleigh. See Howell's State Trials, vol. ii. p. 7. sq. (Pronounce Cooke. Similarly, "Bolingbroke" should be pronounced Bullingbrook. Both names indeed were at one time spelt in this way.)
133. L. 8. same title that I am—i.e. that of popular election as a representative.
134. L. 12. my idea of an Empire. Cp. sup. p. 217. With the extension of the Colonies, this "idea" of Burke's has acquired a new significance.
135. P. 252, L. 15. as often decided against the superior, &c. Cp. ante, pp. 74, 75.
138. L. 20. for my life = if my life depended on the effort. A vulgarism, now nearly obsolete. So Shakspeare often uses the phrase "for my heart."
139. P. 254, L. 8. Sir, I think you must perceive. It is difficult to select any passage in this oration for special notice in point of style: but no one can fail to be struck with fresh admiration at the method of this paragraph, in which the "right of Taxation" is excluded from the discussion. The delicate irony with which the theorists are passed over gives place, by way of a surprising antithesis ("right to render your people miserable"—"interest to make them happy"), to the earnest remonstrance with which the passage
140. L. 10. Some gentlemen startle—intransitive. Classical. Cp. Addison's Cato, Act iii. Sc. 2:
Young, Satire on Women:
Of such a wonder as insolvent gold!
141. L. 11. it is less than nothing. Isaiah xl. 17. "In matters of State, a constitutional competence to act, is, in many cases, the smallest part of the Question." First Letter on a Regicide Peace.
142. L. 22. deep questions... great names, high and reverend authorities, &c. "As to the right of taxation, the gentlemen who opposed it produced many learned authorities from Locke, Selden, Harrington, and Puffendorf, shewing that the very foundation and ultimate point in view of all government, is the good of society," &c. Annual Register, 1766. "These arguments were answered with great force of reason, and knowledge of the constitution, by the other side." Ibid. The whole of this able summary, which is from the pen of Burke, is also to be read in the Parliamentary History, vol. xvi.
143. L. 23. militate against. The proper construction; though Burke also uses the modern "militate with." (Not in Johnson.)
144. L. 27. the great Serbonian bog, &c. Par. Lost, ii. 592. "He climbed and descended precipices on which vulgar mortals tremble to look: he passed marshes like the Serbonian bog, where armies whole have sunk, &c." The Idler, No. 49. Cp. "the Serbonian bog of this base oligarchy," vol. ii. p. 305. See Herodotus, iii. 5.
145. P. 255, L. 8. assertion of my title... loss of my suit. "It would have been a poor compensation that we had triumphed in a dispute, whilst we lost an Empire." Letter to Sheriffs of Bristol.
146. L. 11. Unity of spirit—diversity of operations. 1 Cor. xii. 4 sq.
147. L. 13. sealed a regular compact. To seal, i.e. to affix one's seal, implies a higher degree of formality than merely to sign.
148. L. 15. rights of citizens... posterity to all generations. The allusion is to a question which is fully discussed in vol. ii. p. 106, where Burke takes the contrary view to that which is implied here.
149. L. 19. two million of men. The old plural. So "two thousand," "two hundred," "two score," "two dozen."
150. L. 21. the general character, &c. The doctrine was then novel. Its currency is due to the French philosophers.
151. P. 256, L. 19. a gentleman of real moderation. Mr. Rice.
152. P. 257, L. 17. The pamphlet from which he seems to have borrowed—by Dean Tucker, see note to p. 202, ante.
155. P. 258, L. 15. will go further... fact and reason. For the fact alluded to, see pp. 203-4, and for the reason, p. 178, ante.
156. P. 259, L. 10. consult the genius, &c. Chatham was fond of "consulting the genius of the English constitution." Notice the method of the paragraph.
157. L. 28. roots of our primitive constitution. From which the representation of the Commons naturally sprang. Burke is correct, and in his time such a view implied some originality.
158. L. 31. gave us at least, &c., i. e. the liberties secured by Magna Charta gave the people at once some weight and consequence in the state, and this weight and consequence were felt in Parliament when the people attained distinct representation.
159. P. 260, L. 3. your standard could never be advanced an inch beyond your privileges; i. e. the privileges of the Pale. See Hallam's Const. Hist., ch. xviii.
160. L. 4. Sir John Davies. "Discoverie of the true Causes why Ireland was never entirely subdued until the beginning of his Majestie's happy reign." 4to., 1612. Davies was in this year made Speaker of the first Irish House of Commons. He was afterwards Lord Chief Justice of England. He is still remembered as the author of a curious metaphysical poem on the Immortality of the Soul, and as a legal reporter.
161. L. 24. strength and ornament. The most indulgent critic will complain that this is carrying the argument too far.
162. L. 25. formally taxed her. Queen Elizabeth attempted to tax the Irish landowners by an Order in Council, which was resisted. On the question of the competency of the Parliament of England to tax Ireland, see the last pages of Hallam's Constitutional History.
163. P. 261, L. 5. my next example is Wales. "Perhaps it is not generally known that Wales was once the Ireland of the English Government." O'Connell, Speech at Waterford, August 30, 1826. He applies to Ireland, with much ingenuity, all that Burke here says of Wales. O'Connell also quoted this part of the Speech at length in his Speech at the Association, February 2, 1827. The "strange heterogeneous monster, something between hostility and government," he marked as "an epitome of Irish history—I love to repeat it."
164. L. 11. put into the hands of Lords Marchers. See Scott's "The Betrothed," and the Appendix to Pennant's Tour in Wales. The conquest of Wales by ordinary military operations having been found impossible, the kings of England granted to these lords "such lands as they could win from the Welshmen." The first conquests were made in the neighbourhood of the great frontier towns; and the lords were "suffered to take upon them such prerogative and authority as were fit for the quiet government of the country." No actual
165. L. 16. secondary. Lat. secundarius, a deputy, alluding to the delegation of the supreme power to him during a state of war.
166. P. 262, L. 4. fifteen acts of penal regulation. In addition to those specified by Burke, no Welshman might be a burgess, or purchase any land in a town, 2 Henry IV, c. 12 and 20. No Welshman was to have any castle or fortress, save such as was in the time of Edward I, except bishops and temporal lords.
167. L. 35. day-star—arisen in their hearts. 2 Peter i. 19. The image is forced; but we forget the discordance in the admirable quotation which follows.
168. P. 263, L. 3. simul alba nautis, &c. Hor. Odes, Lib. I. xii. 27.
169. L. 18. shewen—the third person plural of "shew."
170. P. 264, L. 3. What did Parliament, &c. Notice the method of the paragraph.
171. L. 26. Now if the doctrines, &c. Burke's argument would be weightier if he were not obliged to abandon it when confronted with the question "How can America be represented in a British Parliament?"
172. P. 265, L. 24. Opposuit natura. Juv. x. 152. Canning borrowed this quotation in his eloquent speech on the Roman Catholic Disability Removal Bill, March 16, 1821.
173. L. 29. arm... not shortened. Isaiah lix. i.
174. P. 266, L. 4. Republick of Plato... Utopia of More (pronounce Moore)... Oceana of Harrington. Adam Smith and many others class the Utopia and the Oceana together as idle schemes. Nothing, however, can be more contrary than the spirit of the works of Plato and More on the one hand, and of Harrington on the other. More's work is pervaded by Greek ideas, and, like Plato's Republic, was intended to form a bright artificial picture, with the view of exhibiting more clearly by contrast the dark mass of contemporary realities. Beyond this, both works contain much sound sense and many practical suggestions. The "Utopia," even in its English dress, is a fine model of the method of composition. The "Oceana" is quite a different thing. It is a complete, pragmatical scheme of what Burke calls "paper government," constructed as if human beings were so many counters, and
175. L. 6. and the rude swain, &c. Comus, l. 633, slightly misquoted.
176. L. 27. temple of British concord. A grand and appropriate image. There is an allusion to the Temple of Concord at Rome, so celebrated in the story of the Conspiracy of Catiline. Cp. p. 287, "The sacred temple consecrated to our common faith."
177. P. 267, L. 13. like unto the first. St. Matt. xxii. 39.
178. L. 19. by lack whereof... within the same. These words were, by an amendment which was carried, omitted in the motion.
179. L. 23. Is this description, &c. A paragraph in Burke's best style. The copiousness of thought and the economy of words are equally remarkable, and both contribute to the general effect of weight and perspicuity.
180. L. 28. Non meus hic sermo, &c. Hor. Serm. ii. 2. 3.
181. L. 30. homebred sense. "The 'squire... had some homebred sense." Third Letter on Regicide Peace.
182. L. 33. touch with a tool the stones, &c. Exodus xx. 25.
183. P. 268, L. 2. violate... ingenuous and noble roughness. A curious reminiscence of a passage in Juvenal. See Sat. iii. 20.
184. L. 4. guilty of tampering. Absolutely used, in the old and classical sense, not noticed in Johnson = "variis remediorum generibus curam morbi tentare." (Bailey.) So in the pamphlet on the State of the Nation the "injudicious tampering" of the ministers at one time, is contrasted with their supine negligence at another.
185. L. 8. not to be wise beyond what was written. t&ogrgr; m&eegrgr; &udagr;p&egrgr;r &odaacgr; g&eacgr;graptai &phgr;rone&iivrgr;n. St. Paul, 1 Ep. to Cor. iv. 6. Whether Burke is the author of this elegant mistranslation, which has now become a classical phrase, or whether he adopted it from some English divine, I cannot say. The authorized translation seems to be correct, though Professor Scholefield supports that given by Burke. "That he is resolved not 'to be wise beyond what is written' in the legislative record and practice." App. from New to Old Whigs.
186. L. 9. form of sound words. "Religiously adheres to 'the form of sound words.' "; App. from New to Old Whigs. (St. Paul, 2 Tim. i. 13.)
187. P. 270, L. 1. Those who have been pleased. Alluding to Grenville. See p. 190.
188. L. 31. on that solid basis. Cp. p. 113, "on this solid basis fix your machines."
189. P. 272, L. 14. passions of the misguided people. Public opinion in England was certainly in favour of American taxation. The extent in which the English people were overwhelmed with taxes, and the difficulty of devising new ones, should not be forgotten.
190. L. 24. this state = statement, the sense which the word properly bears in the phrase "state of the case."
192. P. 277, L. 33. Ought I not from hence to presume, &c. Ingeniously brought in to vindicate the middle line taken by the Rockingham administration.
193. P. 278, L. 19. mistake to imagine, &c. Arnold says of Popery, that men "judge it naturally from the tendency of its most offensive principles; supposing that all men will carry their principles into practice, and ignorant of the checks and palliatives which in actual life neutralise their virulence." On Christian duty of conceding the Roman Catholic Claims. Macaulay more than once refers to this variation between theory and action; once at great length in the Essay on Hallam's Constitutional History. There is a remarkable passage much to the same effect at the close of Jeremy Taylor's second sermon on the "Miracles of the Divine Mercy."
194. L. 29. We give and take—we remit some rights, &c. "Of one thing I am perfectly clear, that it is not by deciding the suit, but by compromising the difference, that peace can be restored or kept." Letter to Sheriffs of Bristol.
195. L. 32. As we must give away, &c. To enter fully into this bold and just analogy refer to vol. ii. p. 151.
196. P. 279, L. 1. The purchase paid = purchase-money. So the Spectator, No. 152: "Short labours or dangers are but a cheap purchase of jollity, triumph, victory," &c. Cp. Europ. Sett. in America, vol. ii. p. 197: "Not aiming at a sudden profit, he (Penn) disposed of his land at a very light purchase." Young's Night Thoughts: "Insolvent worlds the purchase cannot pay."
197. L. 2. immediate jewel of his soul. From Burke's favourite play, Othello, Act iii. Sc. 5. Cp. p. 70, "Reputation, the most precious possession of every individual." So in Fourth Letter on Regicide Peace, "Our ruin will be disguised in profit, and the sale of a few wretched baubles will bribe a degenerate people to barter away the most precious jewel of their souls."
198. L. 3. Juvenal, Sat. v. 66:
200. L. 13. what we are to lose—i.e. what we stand the risk of losing.
201. L. 16. cords of man. Hosea xi. 4. "To draw them without persecuting the others, by the cords of love into the pale of the Church," &c. Bolingbroke, Diss. on Parties, Letter ii.
202. L. 18. Aristotle. Ethics, Book I. See note, p. 215, ante.
203. L. 26. which is itself the security, &c. Similarly, on the subject of Jacobinism, Burke points out that the large masses of property are natural ramparts which protect the smaller ones.
204. P. 280, L. 9. promoted the union of the whole. Burke lived to see this pleasant state of things reversed, and to approve the abolition of a separate Irish legislature.
205. P. 281, L. 3. Experimentum in corpore vili. This well-known saying seems to have had its origin from an anecdote of Muretus. He was attacked by
206. L. 7. fatal in the end to our Constitution. Burke apprehends that the taxation of the mother country, following such an example, might escape the direct control of Parliament.
207. L. 19. back door of the Constitution—i.e. through a Select Committee.
208. P. 283, L. 29. —a writ of Commission for valuing lands to satisfy a Crown debt.
209. P. 284, L. 24. full of hazard—"periculosae plenum opus aleae," Hor. Lib. ii. Carm. 1.
210. P. 285, L. 11. richest mine, &c. Mr. Hallam, comparing the grants of revenue before and after the Revolution, says: "The supplies meted out with niggardly caution by former parliaments to sovereigns whom they could not trust, have flowed with redundant profuseness, when they could judge of their necessity, and direct their application." Const. Hist. ch. xv.
211. L. 16. Posita luditur arca. Juvenal i. 90.
212. L. 17. time of day = of history. Used from the time of Shakspeare in more than one metaphorical sense.
213. L. 31. stock = capital.
214. L. 34. voluntary flow of heaped-up luxuriance. "He that will milk his Cattle, must feed them well; and it encourages men to gather and lay up when they have law to hold by what they have." N. Bacon (Henry VIII). So Lord Brooke, Treatise of Monarchie, sect. x.:
What Midas wish, what dreams of Alchimy
Can with these true crown-mines compared be?
Burke's metaphor is borrowed from the wine-press. The "mustum sponte defluens antequam calcentur uvae" was highly valued by the ancients, and is still prized in some varieties of modern wine. "Among the many excellent parts of this speech, I find you have got many proselytes by so cleverly showing that the way to get most revenue, is to let it come freely from them." Duke of Richmond to Burke, June 16, 1775.
215. P. 286, L. 15. Ease would retract, &c. It should be "recant." Par. Lost, iv. 96. Quoted by Mr. Gladstone from Burke, April 12, 1866.
216. L. 18. immense, ever-growing, eternal Debt. "The debt immense of endless gratitude." Par. Lost, iv. 53.
218. P. 287, L. 8. enemies that we are most likely to have. France and Spain, then usually allied against England. The interests of France in the West Indies were at this time great and increasing.
219. L. 11. For that service, for all service, &c. No passage affords a more
Unites and mingles with the mighty mass.
—Dryden's transl. ll. 984, 985.
Burke evidently borrowed this use of it from Bacon, Adv. of Learning, xxiii. 47, where it is applied to government in general: "We see, all governments are obscure and invisible;
Such is the description of governments." South uses it in the same way: "The spirit which animates and acts the universe, is the spirit of government." (Sermon on the Episcopal Function.) Shakespeare and the Bible supply most of the other phrases in the passage. "My trust is in her," &c., Psalms. "Light as air, strong," &c., Othello. "Grapple to you," Hamlet, &c. "No force under heaven will be of power to tear you," &c., St. Paul. "Chosen race," Tate and Brady. "Turn their faces toward you," 1 Kings ix. 44, 5; Dan. vi. 10. "Perfect obedience"; "mysterious whole," Pope. Cp. note to p. 236, l. 22.
220. L. 20. your government one thing, and their privileges another... the cement is gone, &c. Cp. the passage in Erskine's speech for Stockdale; "Your government—having no root in consent or affection, no foundation in similarity of interests, nor support from any one principle which cements men together in society, could only be upheld by alternate strategem and force."
221. L. 29. multiply... ardently love liberty. Notice this masterly reference to previous arguments.
222. P. 288, L. 5. must still preserve: "still" = ever.
223. L. 6. Do not entertain so weak an imagination: "imagination" = thought. "Nobody was so unacquainted with the world as to entertain so puerile an imagination." Ann. Reg. 1763, p. 40.
224. L. 7. registers... bonds, &c. Alluding to the official routine of the Custom-houses.
225. L. 8. Cockets. The term "cocket" designates primarily the custom-house seal, and secondarily the sealed parchment delivered by the officer to the merchant as warrant that the goods have been customed.
226. L. 12. these things, &c. The genial animation of this skilful appeal is admirable.
227. L. 20. Land Tax Act. The Land Tax was formerly a much more important item in the Revenue than now: it used to contribute more than a third of the whole, but it now yields about a sixty-fourth. Until 1798 it fluctuated, in peace being assessed at two or three shillings, in war, at four; but in 1798 it was made permanent at four shillings in the pound.
228. L. 23. Mutiny Bill. "The people of England, jealous on all subjects which relate to liberty, have exceeded, on the subject of the army, their usual caution.
229. L. 25. deep stake they have in such a glorious institution. The Conservative commonplace, a stake in the country, usually attributed to Canning, was borrowed by him in his Speech at Liverpool, March 18, 1820, from Burke: "Those who have the greatest stake in the country," Speech on Fox's Bill for the Repeal of the Marriage Act, 1781 (among the fragments).
230. L. 31. profane herd. The "profanum vulgus" of Horace.
231. L. 32. no place—i. e. no right.
232. P. 289, L. 4. all in all. St. Paul, 1 Cor. xv. 28.
234. L. 9. Sursum corda! The canticle of the Church, "Lift up your hearts." Cp. Gordon, Discourses on Tacitus, Disc. iv; "Great souls are always sincere.... Good sense and greatness of mind are always found together, and justice is inseparable from either." Burke's works are full of lofty appeals in this strain. "But if we make ourselves too little for the sphere of our duty; if, on the contrary, we do not stretch and expand our minds to the compass of their object: be well assured, that everything about us will dwindle by degrees, until at length our concerns are shrunk to the dimensions of our minds." Speech on Nabob of Arcot's Debts. Cp. Mr. Gladstone, Speech on Irish Church, March 1, 1869: "Every man who proceeds to the discussion is under the most solemn obligation to raise the level of his vision, and to expand its scope in proportion to the greatness of the object."
235. L. 12. this high calling. St. Paul, Phil. iii. 14.