Reflections on the Revolution in France
1. Page 85. The Revolution in France. The term "Revolution," from its application to the events of 1688, had acquired in England a sense exclusively favourable. "Revolution principles" meant the principles of English constitutional liberty. The Tories who supported the Hanoverian succession, while opposing the rest of the policy of the Whigs, called themselves "Revolution Tories." Hence the name "Revolution Society" meant much the same as "Constitutional Society." This use of the term in bonam partem, which was still in vogue, though in its decline, at the time of the French Revolution, from that time disappears from the English language. Burke was at first unwilling to apply the term to a series of events which in his opinion amounted to the total subversion of the framework of a national society, and was based on what he called "spurious Revolution principles," p. 103, l. 26: but custom soon sanctioned its use in England. In France it had been in common use for forty years, and had passed from a favourable sense to one almost legendary and heroic. Thus, on the use of it made by Barbier in 1751, M. Aubertin writes; "Voilà donc ce mot de 'révolution' qui abonde sous la plume des contemporains, et pour un temps illimité prend possession de notre histoire. Désormais, l'idée sinistre d'une catastrophe nécessaire, d'une péripétie tragique, obsède les imaginations françaises; la vie politique de notre pays sort des conditions d'un développement normal pour entrer dans les brusques mouvements et dans l'horreur mystérieuse d'un drame." L'Esprit Public au XVIIIe Siècle, p. 282. On the use of the word shortly before the event, see Mercier, New Picture of Paris, ch. 3: "Every book that bore the title of Revolution was bought up and carried away.... We were always hearing the words, 'Give me the Roman Revolutions—the Revolutions of Sweden—of Italy'; and booksellers, in order to sell their old books, printed false titles, and took the purchase on the credit merely of the label."
2. IBID. Eleventh Edition, 1791. Within a few months after its first publication, the work had reached this, its permanent form. Burke made some alterations in the text as it appears in the first edition, which will be noticed so far as they are material. A few short annotations, which appear in editions subsequent to the one adopted as the text, are printed with it (see note to
3. IBID. Argument. Burke says (p. 95, l. 24) that he writes with very little attention to formal method. This distribution of the work into sections is only approximative, and intended to assist the reader in marking the salient points, and thus more readily seizing the drift of the work. The brief headings given in this "Argument" only indicate the thread of the thought, by no means include all that hangs upon it. Those who desire a minute analysis can consult the translations of Gentz and Dupont: but such an analysis tends to impair the effect of the work, which is essentially discursive and informal.
4. P. 87, L. 24. a very young gentleman at Paris. M. Dupont, who afterwards translated the work into French. He became acquainted with Burke in London, and visited him at Beaconsfield.
5. L. 27. an answer was written, &c. See Burke's Corr. vol. iii. p. 102. This letter will be found valuable as a means of acquiring a first and general idea of Burke's views. It bears evidence of great pains taken in the composition. Sir Philip Francis, whose taste was so much offended by the "Reflections," thought this letter "in point of writing, much less exceptionable."
6. P. 88, L. 1. upon prudential considerations—i. e. for fear of the letter being opened, and the receiver endangered by the opinions contained in it. Cp. p. 88, l. 26.
7. L. 4. assigned in a short letter—which was then sent in its stead. They appear to have been afterwards incorporated in the letter itself (Corr. vol. iii. pp. 103, 104).
8. L. 8. early in the last spring. The "Substance of Mr. Burke's Speech in the Debate on the Army Estimates, Feb. 9, 1790," published very soon after, in which his views on French events were freely stated, was followed by Lord Stanhope's Letter in answer to it, dated Feb. 24, in which he says, "From the title of another pamphlet, which an advertisement in the papers has announced is speedily to be expected from you, it is conjectured that the Revolution Society in London was in your contemplation when you made that Speech," p. 20. Lord Stanhope was chairman of that society. The advertisement was in the London Chronicle for Feb. 16, 1790, and runs as follows: "In the Press, and will speedily be published, Reflections on certain
9. P. 88, L. 29. neither for nor from any description of men. Thus far the publication bears a different character to those of the Constitutional and Revolution Societies. Burke, however, claims throughout the first part of the work to be expressing the opinions of all true Englishmen (p. 179).
10. P. 89, L. 3. spirit of rational liberty, &c. Cp. the Letter to Depont, Corr. vol. iii. p. 105: "You hope that I think the French deserving liberty. I certainly do. I certainly think that all men who desire it, deserve it. It is not the reward of our merit, or the acquisition of our industry. It is our inheritance. It is the birthright of our species. We cannot forfeit our right to it, but by what forfeits our title to the privileges of our kind—I mean, the abuse, or oblivion of our rational faculties, and a ferocious indocility which makes us prompt to wrong and violence, destroys our social nature, and transforms us into something little better than the description of wild beasts."
11. L. 4. a permanent body, &c. See the same Letter, pp. 107-113.
12. L. 13. more clubs than one. The allusion is especially to the Whig club "Brooks's," of which Burke became a member in 1783.
13. L. 33. the Constitutional Society—seven or eight years' standing. Really somewhat more, having been founded by Major Cartwright in the spring of 1780, "after whole months of strenuous exertion." It numbered among its members the Dukes of Norfolk and Richmond, the Earls of Derby, Effingham, and Selkirk, together with many other persons of rank and members of Parliament.
14. P. 90, L. 2. circulation of many books, &c. An apologist for the Society says that portions of the works of the old Whig authors, such as Sidney, Locke, Trenchard, Lord Somers, &c., were distributed gratis by the Society. But the chief object of the Society was to circulate the writings of Cartwright, Capel Lofft, Jebb, Northcote, Sharp, and other pamphleteers of the day. It is to these that Burke alludes l. 15, in deprecating "the greater part of the publications circulated by that Society."
15. L. 5. booksellers = publishers.
16. L. 7. —The word is repeated, by the figure called traductio, in a contemptuous way. Burke hints that the books were not worth reading, and were in fact not read.
17. L. 10. much talk of the lights, &c. Cp. the French Correspondent of the St. James's Chronicle, Dec. 15, 1789: "It is you, O ye noble inhabitants of
18. L. 12. meliorated. Burke always uses this (the correct form) instead of the modern "ameliorate."
19. P. 91, L. 3. a club of Dissenters. Dr. Kippis and Dr. Rees were distinguished members. The Society was established by dissenters, but for some years then past it had numbered among its adherents many members of the Church of England. Lord Surrey, and the Dukes of Norfolk, Leeds, Richmond, and Manchester, sometimes attended their meetings, together with many members of the House of Commons.
20. L. 3. of what denomination, &c. In the time of Burke the lines which separated dissenting denominations from each other and from the Church were less sharply defined than now. The Unitarians were recognised by other denominations, and allowed to preach in their meeting-houses. Dr. Price was nominally an "Independent," though his doctrines were Unitarian.
21. L. 16. new members may have entered. It is stated by Lord Stanhope in his Life of Pitt, that this society had then been lately "new-modelled," with a view to co-operating with the French revolutionists. In this way it came to be a "Society for Revolutions," as Burke calls it at p. 110, l. 4.
22. P. 92, L. 24. who they are—personal abilities, &c. We trace here Burke's inflexible practice of connecting measures and opinions with the persons who support them. Cp. the Letter to Depont, p. 115: "Never wholly separate in your mind the merits of any political question from the men who are concerned in it."
23. P. 93, L. 8. nakedness and solitude of metaphysical abstraction. Perhaps an echo of Butler:
Before one rag of form was on.
—Hudibras, Part i. Canto i. l. 561.
24. L. 9. circumstances, &c. One of the so-called truisms often insisted on by Aristotle.
25. L. 14. government, as well as liberty. Cp. note to vol. i. p. 70, l. 22. By "government," Burke means here, as often elsewhere, a state or habit of political regulation. Burke ends as well as begins the book with the distinction between true and false liberty. See p. 361.
26. L. 15. ten years ago. After the fall of Turgot, when the French government was at its worst.
27. L. 26. the scene of the criminals. See Don Quixote, Part i. ch. 22. This masterpiece seems to have been a favourite with Burke. "Blessings on his soul, that first invented sleep, said Don Sancho Panza the wise! All those blessings, and ten thousand times more, on him who found out abstraction, personification, and impersonals." Fourth Letter on Regicide Peace.
28. L. 27. the metaphysic knight. Burke uses with but little discrimination the forms metaphysic, metaphysical; ecclesiastic, ecclesiastical; theatric,
29. L. 29. spirit of liberty.... wild gas, &c. Crabbe is frequently indebted for a hint to Burke, his early patron;
That suits with all, like atmospheric air;
The lighter gas, that taken in the frame
The spirit heats, and sets the blood on flame,—
Such is the freedom which when men approve,
They know not what a dangerous thing they love.
—Crabbe, Tales of the Hall.
30. L. 31. the fixed air. Then the scientific term for carbonic acid gas. The gas was discovered by Van Helmont. This name was given to it by Dr. Black, in 1755, on account of its property, discovered by him, of readily losing its elasticity, and fixing itself in many bodies, particularly those of a calcareous kind.
31. L. 32. the first effervescence. Cp. infra p. 263, l. 7. "Fixed air" is contained in great quantity in fermented liquors, to which it gives their briskness.
32. P. 94, L. 2. Flattery corrupts both the receiver and the giver. The idea is adapted from Shakespeare:
It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes.
—Merch. of Ven., Act iv. sc. 1.
33. IBID. Flattery; adulation. Intended to express a difference between this vice as a private and as a public practice.
34. L. 5. how it had been combined with government, &c. The Second Part (p. 269 to end) is here anticipated.
35. L. 9. Solidity = stability.
36. L. 13. do what they please. "Mais la liberté politique ne consiste point à faire ce que l'on veut.... La liberté ne peut consister qu'à pouvoir faire ce que l'on doit vouloir." De l'Esprit des Lois, Liv. xi. ch. 3.
37. L. 17. liberty... is power. "On a confondu le pouvoir du peuple avec la liberté du peuple." Id. ch. 2. In France, says M. Mignet candidly, the love of liberty is equivalent to the love of power.
38. L. 22. those who appear the most stirring, &c. It was believed that the Duke of Orleans was the prime mover, although he did not take the most active part in the scene.
39. L. 28. on my coming to town—for the winter season of 1789-90.
40. IBID. an account of these proceedings. "A Discourse on the Love of our Country, delivered on Nov. 4, 1789, at the Meeting House in the Old Jewry to the Society for commemorating the Revolution in Great Britain. With an Appendix containing the Report of the Committee of the Society; an
41. P. 95, L. 8. prudence of an higher order. Burke always recognizes a good and bad form of moral habits and feelings, without much reference to their names and common acceptations. Hence such striking expressions as "false, reptile prudence," "fortitude of rational fear," &c., abound in his writings.
42. L. 10. feeble enough—infancy still more feeble. Burke was too much disposed to refer the Revolution to the spirit of contemporary Jacobinism as a prime cause. Such a spirit may help, but it can never originate, much less carry into effect, similar convulsions, which always have powerful material causes. There was much Jacobinism in England; more than we can now understand. One fifth of the active political forces of this country were classed by Burke as Jacobin; but there was no such irresistible series of material causes as, in the face of material resistance, produced the explosion of 1789.
43. L. 12. heap mountains on mountains. Cp. Waller, On the Head of a Stag:
When mountains heap'd on mountains fail'd.
The allusion is to the Titans. See Virg. Georg. i. 281.
44. L. 13. our neighbour's house on fire, &c.
—Hor. Ep. Lib. i. xviii. 84.
See the idea developed in Burke's justification of interference in the affairs of France, grounded on the "law of civil vicinity," in the First Letter on a Regicide Peace—"Vicini vicinorum facta praesumuntur scire—this principle, which, like the rest, is as true of nations as of individual men, has bestowed on the grand vicinage of Europe a right to know, and a right to prevent, any capital innovation which may amount to the erection of a dangerous nuisance." The politicians of France had denied such a right, on the abstract principle that to every nation belongs the unmolested regulation of its domestic affairs.
45. L. 22. freedom of epistolary intercourse; little attention to formal method. "The arrangement of his work is as singular as the matter. Availing himself of all the privileges of epistolary effusion, in their utmost latitude and
46. L. 28. perhaps of more than Europe. The designs of Bonaparte, and actual events in Egypt, Syria, India, and the West Indies, justify this forecast. The Revolution forced on the independence of Spanish and Portuguese America.
47. L. 32. by means the most absurd, &c. Balzac (the earlier), "Aristippe": "Les grands événements ne sont pas toujours produits par de grandes causes. Les ressorts sont cachés, et les machines paraissent; et quand on vient à découvrir ces ressorts, on s'étonne de les voir et si faibles et si petits. On a honte de l'opinion qu'on en avait eue." Cp. in the beginning of the First Letter on a Regicide Peace; "It is often impossible, in these political enquiries, to find any proportion between the apparent force of any moral causes we may assign, and their known operation.... A common soldier, a child, a girl at the door of an inn, have changed the face of fortune, and almost of nature." In that place, as here, he is considering the fact that "in that its acmé of human prosperity and greatness, in the high and palmy state of the monarchy of France, it fell to the ground without a struggle." So Dr. Johnson: "Politicians have long observed, that the greatest events may be often traced back to slender causes. Petty competition, or casual friendship, the prudence of a slave, or the garrulity of a woman, have hindered or promoted the most important schemes, and hastened or retarded the revolutions of Empire." The Rambler, No. 141.
48. P. 96, L. 12. Machiavelian. The old adjective, from the French form "Machiavel," then in use in England. The ch is pronounced soft. We now say "Machiavelli" and "Machiavellian," pronouncing the ch hard.
49. L. 15. Dr. Richard Price... minister of eminence. Now an old man and in failing health. He was a political economist of some repute, cp. p. 228, l. 31. His writings procured him the friendship of Lord Rockingham's Whig rival, Lord Shelburne, who wished him to become his private secretary, on his accession to office in 1782. By Burke and his party Lord Shelburne was bitterly detested. Shelburne's party, minus their leader, were now in power under Pitt: and hence there might be presumed by foreigners some connexion between Price and the English government. Political disappointment thus contributes to the virulence with which Burke attacks
50. L. 21. ingredient in the cauldron. Alluding to Macbeth, Act iv. sc. 1.
51. P. 97, L. 2. oracle—philippizes. The celebrated expression of Demosthenes. Aesch. in Ctes. p. 72.
52. L. 8. Applied derisively. "Reverend" as a title dates from some time after Peters.
53. L. 15. your league in France. The Holy League of the Catholics. Burke may have had in mind Grey's note on Hudibras, Part i. Canto ii. l. 651.
54. L. 19. politics and the pulpit, &c. The common cry of professional politicians. Silence with regard to public matters neither can nor ought to be kept in the pulpits of a free nation in stirring times. "I abhorred making the pulpit a scene for the venting of passion, or the serving of interests." Burnet, Own Times, Ann. 1684. The practice was by no means confined to the Revolutionists. On the 30th of January, 1790, the Bishop of Chester had preached before the House of Peers a political diatribe full of violent invective against the French nation and the National Assembly. The House voted him thanks, and ordered the sermon to be printed. As to the introduction of politics in the pulpit, Fox agrees with Burke: "Dr. Price, in his sermon on the anniversary of the English Revolution, delivered many noble sentiments, worthy of an enlightened philosopher.... But, though I approve of his general principles, I consider his arguments as unfit for the pulpit. The clergy, in their sermons, ought no more to handle political affairs, than this House ought to discuss subjects of morality and religion." Speech on the Test Act, 1790.
55. L. 28. Inexperienced in all its affairs, on which they pronounce with so much confidence. "Try experiments, as sound philosophers have done, and on them raise a legislative system!" This is a specimen of the wisdom of the Rev. Robert Robinson, another of these political divines; once famous as a Baptist minister at Cambridge.
56. P. 98, L. 3. The hint given to a noble and reverend lay-divine. The Duke of Grafton, whom Junius and Burke had united in attacking twenty years before. He had lately written a pamphlet on the subject of the Liturgy and Subscription, entitled "Hints &c., submitted to the serious attention of the Clergy, Nobility, and Gentry, newly assembled." Price calls it "a pamphlet ascribed to a great name, and which would dignify any name." It is chiefly remarkable as having called forth Bishop Horsley's Apology for the Liturgy and Clergy of the Church of England. Mathias alludes to "the pious Grafton," and his hostility to the Church, in his "Pursuits of Literature," Dialogue iv. l. 191, where he adds a note, "See the Duke's Hints—rather broad." Again at l. 299:
A Dilettante in Divinity.
57. P. 98, L. 4. lay-divine. The Duke held Unitarian opinions. Besides some writings of his own, he had done service to religious enquiry by printing for popular circulation the celebrated recension of the New Testament by Griesbach.
58. IBID. high in office in one of our Universities. Cp. Junius, Letter xv. The Duke was Chancellor of the University of Cambridge. Gray's Ode on his installation is well known. The text hints at the impropriety of such an office being held by a frequenter of the Unitarian meeting-house of Dr. Disney in Essex Street.
59. L. 5. to other lay-divines of rank. The allusion is to the friend and patron of Price and Priestly, the Marquis of Lansdowne (Earl of Shelburne), who also held Unitarian opinions.
60. L. 7. Seekers. The Seekers were a Puritan sect who professed no determinate form of religion. Sir Harry Vane was at their head.
61. L. 8. old staple—as in Shakespeare, = material, especially used of woollen tissues. "Spun into the primitive staple of their frame," Fourth Letter on Regicide Peace. Cp. infra p. 302, l. 26.
62. L. 10. to improve upon non-conformity. Cp. note vol. i. p. 240, l. 1.
63. L. 22. calculating divine. Alluding to Price's labours as a political arithmetician.
64. L. 23. great preachers. Ps. xlviii. v. 11. The repetition of great is ironical, alluding to the rank of these lay-divines.
65. L. 26. hortus siccus. A collection of dried plants.
66. P. 99, L. 1. baron bold. Milton, L'Allegro, l. 119.
67. L. 3. this town. The work was written in Burke's house in Gerrard Street, Soho.
68. IBID. uniform round of its vapid dissipations. Alluding to the London season, which at this date began late in the autumn, and terminated late in the spring. Cp. Johnson's homily on the Close of the Season, Rambler No. 124 (May 25, 1751).
69. L. 5. Mess-Johns = Parsons, in the familiar sense. "Mess" is an archaic corruption of Magister. The term is of Scottish origin. Cp. Fergusson (the precursor of Burns), Hollow-fair;
And yonder's Mess-John and auld Nick.
70. L. 18. Utinam nugis, &c. Juv. Sat. iv. 150.
71. L. 22. is almost the only lawful king, &c. From the insolent form of words in which Price says he would have congratulated the king on his recovery, "in a style very different from that of most of the addresses." (p. 25), alluded to infra, p. 116.
73. IBID. twelfth century. Burke alludes to the pontificate of Innocent III, 1198-1216. Cp. the Abridgment of Eng. Hist. Book iii. chap. 8. "At length the sentence of excommunication was fulminated against the king (John). In the same year the same sentence was pronounced upon the Emperor Otho; and this daring pope was not afraid at once to drive to extremities the two greatest princes in Europe.... Having first released the English subjects from their oath of allegiance, by an unheard-of presumption he formally deposed John from his throne and dignity; he invited the king of France to take possession of the forfeited crown," &c.
74. P. 100, L. 23. gradually habituated to it. Cp. infra p. 157, l. 2.
75. L. 26. condo et compono, &c. Hor. Epist. I. 1. 12.
76. P. 101, L. 17. at a remote period, elective. "Reges ex nobilitate... sumunt," Tacitus, Germ. c. 7. Bolingbroke, N. Bacon, &c., make much of the fact as applied to the Saxon kings, and to Stephen and John after the Conquest.
77. L. 23. and whilst the legal conditions, &c. Cp. infra p. 108, l. 16.
78. L. 29. electoral college. The collective style of the nine Electors to the Empire. "College" (collegium) is used in its technical sense in Roman law.
79. P. 102, L. 20. lives and fortunes. A very ancient formula, the original words of which survive in the German "Mit Gut und Blut." So the 8th section of the Bill of Rights: "That they will stand to, maintain, and defend their said Majesties.... with their lives and estates, against all persons whatsoever," &c. This will explain the reference in the next sentence. The expression recalls the once common "life and property addresses" from public bodies to the crown.
80. L. 26. Revolution of 1688. It must be confessed that the argument which Burke here begins, and sustains with much force and ingenuity through twenty pages, is a complete failure. Mr. Hallam has refuted it at almost every point. It must be remembered that Burke is writing not as a judge, or a philosophical historian, but as an advocate. He conceived that the constitution would be endangered by the tenets of the Society, if they came into general credit, and made up his mind to lend the whole weight of his authority and his skill as a debater to support the opposite views (cp. the concluding paragraph of the work).
81. L. 29. confounding all the three together. Burke, using the expression of Sir Joseph Jekyl, says, that the Revolution of 1688 "was, in truth and in substance, a revolution not made, but prevented." In the Revolution of "forty years before," which good sense and good faith on the part of one man might have prevented, the letter of our liberties was insisted on quite as strictly as by the Old Whigs, or by Burke.
82. P. 103, L. 11. Declaration of Right. Commonly called the Bill of Rights. It is printed in the Appendix to Professor Stubbs's Select Charters, p. 505.
84. L. 19. A few years after this period. 12 & 13 Will. III. cap. 2. By this Act the Crown was settled, after the death of William III and Anne without issue, upon the Princess Sophia, youngest daughter of Elizabeth Queen of Bohemia (daughter of James I.), and the heirs of her body, being protestants. Burke does not mention the Act 6 Anne, cap. 7, which asserts the right of the legislature to regulate the descent of the Crown, and makes it treasonable to maintain the contrary.
85. P. 104, L. 5. gypsey predictions—i. e. ignorant, random utterances. Burke called the republican nomenclature of the months "gipsey jargon."
86. L. 6. the wisdom of the nation—i. e. the collected opinion of wise politicians.
87. L. 7. case of necessity—rule of law. Cp. in the Fragment of Speech on the Acts of Uniformity; "When tyranny is extreme, and abuses of government intolerable, men resort to the rights of nature to shake it off. When they have done so, the very same principle of necessity of human affairs, to establish some other authority, which shall preserve the order of this new institution, must be obeyed, until they grow intolerable; and you shall not be suffered to plead original liberty against such an institution. See Holland, Switzerland."
88. L. 10. a small and temporary deviation—regular hereditary succession. This is hardly worthy of Burke. Hallam most truly says: "Our new line of sovereigns scarcely ventured to hear of their hereditary right.... This was the greatest change that affected our monarchy by the fall of the House of Stuart. The laws were not so materially altered as the spirit and sentiments of the people. Hence those who look only at the former have been prone to underrate the magnitude of this revolution. The fundamental maxims of the constitution, both as they regard the king and the subject, may seem nearly the same; but the disposition with which they were received and interpreted was entirely different." The truth of this last statement is undeniable.
89. L. 14. Privilegium non transit in exemplum. A maxim of the Civil law. "Privilegium" is used in the technical sense of an enactment that has for its object particular persons, as distinguished from a public measure. "C'est un grand mal," says Pascal, "de suivre l'exception au lieu de la règle. Il faut être sévère et contraire à l'exception."
90. L. 17. its not being done at that time, &c. "The Commons," says Hallam, "did not deny that the case was one of election, though they refused to allow that the monarchy was thus rendered perpetually elective."
91. L. 24. on that of his wife. By which, as Bentinck said, the prince would have become "his wife's gentleman-usher."
92. IBID. eldest born of the issue.... acknowledged as undoubtedly his. The allusion is to the reported spuriousness of the prince born in 1688. Until that unfortunate event, which precipitated the Revolution, the Princess was heir presumptive to the crown. In acquiescing in the Revolution, the
93. L. 29. choice... act of necessity. If this were really said in seriousness, it is a sophism which could scarcely mystify an intelligent schoolboy. Two very different things are indicated by the term "choice."
94. P. 105, L. 15. to reign over us, &c. The best comment on this is, that it required a distinct Act of Parliament (2 W. and M. ch. 6) to enable the queen to exercise the regal power during the king's absence from England.
95. P. 106, L. 10. repeating as from a rubric. A process which always commanded Burke's respect, in matters of the constitution. Cp. vol. i. p. 267, l. 26, &c.
96. L. 31. limitation of the crown. In the technical sense, alluding to the succession being made conditional on the profession of Protestantism (see § 9 of the Declaration).
97. P. 107, L. 3. for themselves and for all their posterity for ever. It is impossible to defend Burke in this literal reading of the Declaration, in which he follows the genuine Tory Swift (Examiner, No. 16). This paper of Swift's will illustrate the difference between real Toryism and the Whig-Toryism of Bolingbroke. The words "for ever," copied from the Act of 1st Elizabeth, are mere surplusage, as in the expression "heirs for ever," in relation to private property. The right of Parliament to regulate the succession to the crown was too well established to make it worth while to have recourse to this verbal quibble. "The Parliament," says Sir Thomas Smith (Secretary of State temp. Elizabeth), "giveth form of succession to the Crown. To be short, all that ever the people of Rome might do either in centuriatis comitiis or tribunitiis, the same may be done by the Parliament of England." Commonwealth of England, p. 77, Ed. 1633. Priestley remarked that Burke had rendered himself, by denying this competency in Parliament, liable to the charge of high treason under an act framed by his own idol, Lord Somers: and Lord Stanhope declared his intention of impeaching him for it. The right of binding posterity was denied, on general grounds, by Locke, Treatise Concerning Government, Book ii. ch. viii. 116, to whom Swift alludes in the Examiner: "Lawyers may explain this, or call them words of form, as they please; and reasoners may argue that such an obligation is against the nature of government: but a plain reader, &c."
98. L. 4. The question as to a power of a people to bind their posterity is argued and settled according to Burke's opinion in a well-known passage in Absalom and Achitophel.
99. L. 6. better Whig than Lord Somers, &c. Note, vol. i. p. 148, l. 34. See Burke's panegyric upon the "Old Whigs"; "They were not umbratiles doctores, men who had studied a free constitution only in its anatomy, and upon dead systems. They knew it alive, and in action." Burke really
100. L. 12. aided with the powers. Burke generally uses with to express the instrument. We now say "by the powers." Cp. p. 115, l. 10, &c.
101. L. 18. difficult... to give limits to the mere abstract competence of the supreme power. The distinction between abstract and moral competence had an important place in Burke's reasoning on the American question. Perimus licitis. Cp. vol. i. p. 254, and see note.
102. L. 27. house of lords—not morally competent, &c. "The legislative can have no power to transfer their authority of making laws, and place it in other hands."—"The house of lords is not morally competent to dissolve itself, nor to abdicate, if it would, its portion in the legislature of the kingdom." These passages are quoted, the former from Locke, the latter from Bushel, by Grattan, in his Speech against the Union, Feb. 8, 1810. The argument is merely an idle non possumus; and on Grattan's deduction from it, the verdict of succeeding generations has been against it.
103. L. 34. constitution—constituent parts. The old "constitutional" doctrine is here very clearly stated. Had Burke lived a century later, he would have seen that it completely failed when it came to be generally applied. No principle is now better established than the unity and indivisibility of national sovereignty.
104. P. 108, L. 10. not changing the substance—describing the persons—same force—equal authority. Burke does not add force to his subtleties by this parody of the Athanasian Creed. Yet he cautions his readers, a few lines further, against getting "entangled in the mazes of metaphysic sophistry"!
105. L. 14. communi sponsione reipublicae. The Editor does not call to mind the phrase as a quotation. It was possibly invented by Burke, to express his meaning with the more weight.
106. L. 19. mazes of metaphysic sophistry. See note to vol. i. p. 215, l. 11. The outcry against "metaphysic sophistry" was no invention of Burke's. It is a favourite topic with Bolingbroke and other politicians who opposed the philosophical Whiggism of the School of Locke.
107. L. 23. extreme emergency. Mr. Hallam says most truly that this view, which "imagines some extreme cases of intolerable tyranny, some, as it were, lunacy of despotism, as the only plea and palliation of resistance," is merely a "pretended modification of the slavish principles of absolute obedience."
108. P. 109, L. 10. states. i. e. the Lords and Commons; the English Parliament in its original form being an imitation of the States-General of France. Our Liturgy until lately spoke of "the Three Estates of the Realm of
Pleas'd highly those infernal States, and joy
Sparkl'd in all their eyes.
—Par. Lost, ii. 386.
109. L. 11. organic moleculae of a disbanded people. The idea is fully explained in the First Letter on Regicide Peace; "The body politic of France existed in the majesty of its throne, in the dignity of its nobility, in the honour of its gentry, in the sanctity of its clergy, in the reverence of its magistracy, in the weight and consideration due to its landed property in the several bailliages, in the respect due to its moveable substance represented by the corporations of the kingdom. All these particular moleculae united form the great mass of what is truly the body politic in all countries."
110. L. 25. Some time after the conquest, &c. "Five kings out of the seven that followed William the Conqueror were usurpers, according at least to modern notions" (Hallam). The facts seem to be as follows. Even in private succession, the descent of an inheritance as between the brother and the son of the owner was settled by no certain rule of law in the time of Glanvil. The system of Tanistry, which prevailed in Ireland down to the time of James I., and under which the land descended to the "eldest and most worthy" of the same blood, who was commonly ascertained by election, was thus partially in force. No better mode, says Mr. Hallam, could have been devised for securing a perpetual supply of civil quarrels. The principle of inheritance per stirpem which sound policy gradually established in private possessions, was extended by the lawyers about the middle of the 13th century to the Crown. Edward I. was proclaimed immediately upon his father's death, though absent in Sicily. Something however of the old principle may be traced in this proclamation, issued in his name by the guardians of the realm, where he asserts the Crown of England "to have devolved upon him by hereditary succession and the will of his nobles." These last words were omitted in the proclamation of Edward II.; since whose time the Crown has been absolutely hereditary. The question was thus settled at the period when the English constitution, according to Professor Stubbs, took its definite and permanent form. For illustrations of the question from ancient history see Grotius de Jure Bell. et Pac., Lib. ii. ch. 7, § 24.
111. L. 27. the heir per capita—the heir per stirpes. The distinction is produced by taking two different points of view; the one regarding the crown as the right of the reigning family, the other as the right of the reigning person. In the first case, when the reigning member of the family died, the whole of the members of the family (capita) re-entered into the family rights, and the crown fell to the "eldest and most worthy." In the second case, the crown descended to the legal heir or representative of the reigning person (per stirpem). By the heir per capita, Burke means the "eldest and most worthy" of the same blood. Elsewhere, following the
112. L. 30. the inheritable principle survived, &c. Burke says of the kings before the Conquest, "Very frequent examples occur where the son of a deceased king, if under age, was entirely passed over, and his uncle or some remoter relation raised to the Crown; but there is not a single instance where the election has carried it out of the blood" (Abr. Eng. Hist., Bk. ii. ch. 7).
113. L. 32. multosque per annos, &c. Virg. Georg. iv. 208. The quotation had been used as a motto to No. 72 of the Spectator, and in the Dedication to Bolingbroke's Dissertation on Parties.
114. P. 110, L. 6. take the deviation... for the principle. It was not in Burke's plan here to argue against the elective principle; but in the Annual Register for 1763, on the occasion of the then impending elections of a King of Poland and a King of the Romans, he says; "Those two elective sovereignties not only occasion many mischiefs to those who live under them, but have frequently involved a great part of Europe in blood and confusion. Indeed, these existing examples prove, beyond all speculation, the infinite superiority, in every respect, of hereditary monarchy; since it is evident, that the method of election constantly produces all those intestine divisions, to which, by its nature, it appears so liable, and also fails in that which is one of its principal objects, and which might be expected from it, the securing government for many successions in the hands of persons of extraordinary merit and uncommon capacity. We find by experience, that those kingdoms, where the throne is an inheritance, have had, in their series of succession, full as many able princes to govern them, as either Poland or Germany, which are elective."
115. L. 14. dragged the bodies of our antient sovereigns out of the quiet of their tombs. The allusion is to the outrages committed by the Roundhead troopers in Winchester Cathedral. There may also be an allusion to the plundering of the Abbey of Faversham, at the dissolution of monasteries, when the remains of King Stephen were disinterred and thrown into the Swale, for the sake of the leaden coffin. Cp. in the Draft of Letter to Markham (1770); "My passions are not to be roused, either on the side of partiality, or on that of hatred, by those who lie in their cold lead, quiet and innoxious, in the chapel of Henry, or the churches of Windsor Castle or La Trappe—quorum Flaminia tegitur cinis atque Latina."
117. L. 26. Statute de tallagio non concedendo—(Anno 1297). Not originally a statute, though referred to as such in the preamble to the Petition of Right, and decided by the judges in 1637 to be a Statute. See Stubbs' Select Charters, p. 487. Cp. vol. i. p. 237, l. 33.
118. L. 27. Petition of Right. See Stubbs' Select Charters, p. 505.
119. P. 111, L. 5. The law, &c. Burke, as we might expect, turns to the Act of Settlement without saying a word of the cause which led to its being passed, namely, the failure of issue, not of Queen Mary, but of William himself. The final limitation of the Bill of Rights was to William's own heirs: so that if after Mary's death he had married some one else, and had a son, the crown would have passed completely out of the English royal family.
120. L. 27. Stock and root of inheritance—temporary administratrix of a power. This shifts the argument to a different position. The doctrines of the Revolution Society obviously referred to the latter ground of choice. But Burke would scarcely have maintained that the merit of William as an administrator did not weigh with the English nation, when they associated him with Mary on the throne.
121. L. 32. is daughter, &c. Others however, nearer in blood, but of the Catholic faith, were passed over: especially those of the Palatine family, whose ancestors having been strong assertors of the Protestant religion, it was thought likely that some of them might return to it.
122. P. 112, L. 34. A few years ago, &c. Burke commands more attention when he confesses his reason for all this deliberate mystification. No sophistry was ever too gross for the public ear; but the occasion which turned Burke for the time into a Tory casuist must have appeared to him critical indeed.
123. P. 113, L. 14. export to you in illicit bottoms. The allusion is to the Act of Navigation. See vol. i. p. 179, and note. "Bottom" (Dutch Bodem) is the old technical term for a ship. It is still used in such mercantile phrases as "foreign bottoms," and survives in the term "bottomry," applied to the advance of money on the security of the ship for the purposes of the voyage.
124. L. 27. pledge of the stability and perpetuity, &c. The following passage is proper to be quoted here, as being a complete expression of the idea in the text, and at the same time the one which was selected by De Quincey as the most characteristic passage in the works of Burke, from the literary point of view. It is also a necessary illustration to the argument at p. 141, ll. 23-35.
Accolet; imperiumque pater Romanus habebit.
—Letter to a Noble Lord, p. 53.
125. P. 114, L. 1. It is common for them to dispute, &c. But cp. Hallam, Const. Hist. chap. xiv. "Since the extinction of the House of Stuart's pretensions, and other events of the last half century, we have seen those exploded doctrines of indefeasible hereditary right revived under another name, and some have been willing to misrepresent the transactions of the Revolution and the Act of Settlement as if they did not absolutely amount to a deposition of the reigning sovereign, and an election of a new dynasty by the representatives of the nation in parliament." Mr. Hallam wished to be understood as explicitly affirming (in contradiction of Burke) what had been already stated by Paley (see Princ. of Moral and Political Philos. p. 411), that the great advantage of the Revolution was what many regarded as its reproach, and more as its misfortune—that it broke the line of succession. After stating precisely the votes, and pointing out the impossibility of reconciling them with such a construction as Burke's, he goes on to say—"It was only by recurring to a kind of paramount, and what I may call hyper-constitutional law, a mixture of force and regard to the national good, which is the best sanction of what is done in revolutions, that the vote of the Commons could be defended. They proceeded not by the stated rules of the English government, but by the general rights of mankind. They looked not so much to Magna Charta as to the original compact of society; and rejected Coke and Hale for Hooker and Grotius." Hallam in effect subscribes to the criticism contained in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Letters of Dr. Priestley on this question. Cp. Grotius, Lib. ii. c. 7, § 27.
127. L. 7. new fanatics, &c. Rousseau attacked Grotius quite as unreasonably as Filmer had done. We may exclaim too often with Burke, "One would think that such a thing as a medium had never been heard of in the moral world!"
128. L. 11. more of a divine sanction, &c. It would be superfluous to show the inaccuracy of such a notion.
129. P. 115, L. 17. broken the original contract—more than misconduct. That is, a higher degree of misconduct than Dr. Price meant to be understood by his use of the word. The argument really amounts to no more than a criticism of Dr. Price's English.
130. L. 35. popular representative = the House of Commons. Cp. vol. i. p. 118, l. 17.
131. L. 36. the next great constitutional act—the Act of Settlement, 12 and 13 W. III, cap. 2. "It was determined," says Mr. Hallam, "to accompany this settlement with additional securities for the subject's liberty. The Bill of Rights was reckoned hasty and defective: some matters of great importance had been omitted, and in the twelve years which had since elapsed, new abuses had called for new remedies." One of these abuses was the number of placemen and pensioners in the House (cp. note to vol. i. p. 138, l. 27).
132. P. 116, L. 3. no pardon—pleadable to an impeachment. This question arose upon the plea of pardon put in bar of prosecution by the Earl of Danby in 1679, and resisted with what Mr. Hallam considers culpable violence, by two successive Houses of Commons. It remained undecided until the Act of Settlement. The expressions in the enacting clause of this Act, says Mr. Hallam, "seem tacitly to concede the Crown's right of granting a pardon after sentence; which, though perhaps it could not be well distinguished in point of law from a pardon pleadable in bar, stands on a very different footing with respect to constitutional policy."
133. L. 7. practical claim of impeachment. Always strongly insisted upon by Burke as an important guarantee of constitutional liberty. Cp. vol. i. p. 120, l. 33, and note.
134. L. 17. more properly the servant, &c. The idea that a governing functionary is a servant, and that national sovereignty is inalienable, was strongly insisted on by Rousseau in the "Contrat Social" (Liv. ii. ch. 1. 2). It is an advance on the Whig doctrine, maintained by Burke, that government consists in a compact between the king and people, as equal contracting parties, which neither is at liberty to break so long as its original conditions are fulfilled. Cp. Selden's Table-Talk, head "Contracts." "If our fathers have lost their liberty, why may not we labour to regain it?" Ans. "We must look to the contract; if that be rightly made, we must stand to it: if once we grant we may recede from contracts, upon any inconveniency that
135. L. 22. Haec commemoratio, &c. Ter. And., Act i. sc. 1. l. 17. The steward Sosia, no longer a slave, in these words resents his master's reminding him of the change in his condition. Burke's repartees to Dr. Price, which fill up the rest of the page, are in his most effective parliamentary style.
136. P. 117, L. 7. Kings, in one sense, &c. Cp. vol. i. p. 118, l. 10.
137. L. 18. speak only the primitive language of the law. Cp. vol. i. p. 268, l. 11.
138. L. 24. the Justicia of Arragon. See Hallam's account of Arragon. His functions did not differ in essence from those of the Chief Justice of England, as divided among the judges of the King's Bench, but practically they were much more extensive and important. The office is to be traced to the year 1118, but it was not till the Cortes of 1348 that it was endowed with an authority which "proved eventually a more adequate barrier against oppression than any other country could boast." From that time he held his post for life. It was penal for any one to obtain letters from the king impeding the execution of the justiza's process. See Hallam's account of the successful resistance of the justiza Juan de Cerda to John I.: "an instance of judicial firmness and integrity, to which, in the fourteenth century, no country perhaps in Europe could offer a parallel." Middle Ages, chap. iv.
139. P. 118, L. 3. Let these gentlemen, &c. Selden gives as the original meaning of the maxim that the king can do no wrong, that "no process can be granted against him" (at Common Law).
140. L. 6. positive statute law which affirms that he is not. Burke clearly alludes to a provision in the Act for attainting the Regicides, 12 Car. II. cap. 30, which runs thus: "And be it hereby declared, that by the undoubted and fundamental laws of this kingdom, neither the Peers of this realm, nor the Commons, nor both together in Parliament or out of Parliament, nor the People collectively or representatively, nor any other Persons whatsoever, ever had, have, hath, or ought to have, any coercive power over the persons of the Kings of this realm." We can hardly wonder that Burke did not think fit to indicate precisely this "positive statute law."
141. L. 11. Laws are commanded, &c. The "inter arma leges silent" of Cicero.
142. L. 15. Justa bella quibus necessaria. Burke, as usual, quotes from memory. "Justa piaque sunt arma, quibus necessaria; et necessaria, quibus nulla nisi in armis spes salutis." Livy, Lib. ix. cap. 1. The passage is alluded to by Sidney, and also in the famous pamphlet "Killing no Murder"; "His (Cromwell's) indeed have been pious arms," &c., p. 8.
143. L. 24. faint, obscure, &c. Cp. notes, vol. i. p. 105, l. 13, and p. 225, l. 30.
145. L. 4. The third head, &c. On this Burke does not expend so much useless force. Feeling that after all he had something better to do than to split hairs with Dr. Price, he soon pushes on to the proper business of the book. He avoids actually denying the rights of men, but alleges that Englishmen have not had occasion to insist on them.
146. P. 120, L. 1. They endeavour to prove, &c. Similarly the Americans had based their claims to liberty on law and precedent.
147. L. 18. rights of men—rights of Englishmen. "Our ancestors, for the most part, took their stand, not on a general theory, but on the particular constitution of the realm. They asserted the rights, not of men, but of Englishmen." Macaulay, Essay on Mackintosh's History of the Revolution. Burke however himself alludes to the "common rights of men," in distinction from the "disputed rights and privileges of freedom," in the Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol. And every Englishman familiar with the literature of his own time must have known that Burke exaggerated. The "rights of men" were a common Whig topic. Bp. Warburton, for instance, says in one of his Sermons that to call an English king "the Lord's Anointed" is "a violation of the rights of men."
148. L. 20. other profoundly learned men. The allusion is to Coke and Glanvil. Cp. vol. i. p. 238, l. 7.
149. L. 22. general theories. Hooker and Grotius are alluded to. See also Book I. of Selden "De Jure Naturae et Gentium secundum disciplinam Hebraeorum."
150. P. 121, L. 14. you will observe, &c. Burke here terminates his quotations from the archives of the English constitution, and passes on to his "Reflections" on the French Revolution. He effects the transition in three paragraphs, in which he contrives to rise, at once, and without an effort, to the full "height of his great argument." These three paragraphs, evidently composed with great pains, sum up the conclusions of the previous pages as to matter, and as to style are so regulated as to prepare for the gravity and force which characterize the next section of the work.
151. L. 15. uniform policy. Cp. note to vol. i. p. 180, l. 17.
152. L. 16. entailed inheritance. "Major hereditas venit unicuique nostrum a jure et legibus, quam a parentibus," is the well-known motto from Cicero, prefixed to Coke upon Littleton.
153. L. 17. derived to us from our forefathers, to be transmitted to our posterity. The spirited lines of Cato (Act III.) were familiar to Burke:
The generous plan of pow'r deliver'd down
(So dearly bought, the price of so much blood),
O let it never perish in your hands,
But piously transmit it to your children.
154. L. 21. unity, diversity. Cp. vol. i. p. 255, l. 11.
155. L. 22. an house of commons and a people. Observe the claim here insinuated, suggested by Burke's Whiggish theory of Parliament. It is now understood that the rights of the House of Commons are not distinguishable from, and are immediately resolvable into those of the people.
156. L. 26. following nature, which is wisdom without reflection, &c. Cp. infra p. 174, l. 32, p. 181, l. 27, &c. So in the Third Letter on Regicide Peace; "Never was there a jar or discord between genuine sentiment and sound policy. Never, no, never, did Nature say one thing, and Wisdom say another." A literal translation of Juvenal, Sat. xiv. l. 321;
The formula is borrowed from the Stoic philosophy, so popular in Rome. Burke often had in mind the description of his favourite author, Lucan;
Secta fuit; servare modum, finemque tenere,
Naturamque sequi, patriaeque impendere vitam;
Non sibi, sed toti genitum se credere mundo.
—Phars. II. 380, &c.
The use Burke makes of the idea is, however, a relic of his study of the Essayists. See the Spectator, No. 404. It occurs more than once in Chesterfield's Essays in the "World." The doctrine is well put by Beccaria; "It is not only in the fine arts that the imitation of nature is the fundamental principle; it is the same in sound policy, which is no other than the art of uniting and directing to the same end the natural and immutable sentiments of mankind."
157. L. 28. A spirit of innovation. Burke does not mean a spirit of Reform. "It cannot, at this time, be too often repeated—line upon line; precept upon precept; until it comes into the currency of a proverb—to innovate is not to reform." Letter to a Noble Lord.
158. IBID. the result of a selfish temper, &c. This might well be illustrated by the attempted innovations on the constitution in the early part of the reign (see vol. i., passim), and by the history of the Stuarts. "Charles II.," says Clarendon, "had in his nature so little reverence and esteem for antiquity, and did in truth so much contemn old orders, forms, and institutions, that the objection of novelty rather advanced than obstructed any proposition."
159. L. 29. People will not look forward, &c. "Vous vivez tout entiers dans le moment présent; vous y êtes consignés par une passion dominante: et tout ce qui ne se rapporte pas à ce moment vous parait antique et suranné. Enfin, vous êtes tellement en votre personne et de coeur et d'esprit, que, croyant former à vous seuls un point historique, les ressemblances éternelles entre le
160. P. 122, L. 3. family settlement—mortmain. By which landed property is secured inalienably (subject to important legal restrictions) in families and corporations (in the legal sense) respectively.
161. L. 4. grasped as in a kind of mortmain (mortua manus, mainmorte). There is an allusion to the fanciful explanation of the term, "that it is called mortmaine by resemblance to the holding of a man's hand that is ready to die, for what he then holdeth he letteth not go till he be dead" (Co. Litt. 2 b). The tenure was really so called because it yielded no service to the superior lord.
162. L. 10. Our political system, &c. Compare with these weighty conclusions the opinion of Bacon; "Those things which have long gone together are, as it were, confederate within themselves.... It were good, therefore, if men, in their innovations, would follow the example of time itself, which indeed innovateth greatly, but quietly, and by degrees scarcely to be perceived." Essay on Innovations. Cp. Hooker, Eccl. Pol., Book i. ch. 10, par. 9, last clause.
163. L. 15. great mysterious incorporation. Cp. vol. i. p. 288, l. 12.
164. L. 20. never wholly new, &c. Cp. Introd. to vol. i. p. 29, l. 20, &c. Cp. also the theory of the true Social Contract, p. 192 infra.
165. L. 30. The germ of the argument is to be found in the 14th of South's Posthumous Sermons: "And herein does the admirable wisdom of God appear, in modelling the great economy of the world, so uniting public and private advantages, that those affections and dispositions of mind, that are most conducible to the safety of government and society, are also most advantageous to man in his personal capacity." The argument is amplified in Dr. Chalmers' Bridgewater Treatise.
166. P. 123, L. 9. a noble freedom. The epithet is not used in the moral sense, but indicates an aristocratic character. The image, however, is not intended to degrade but to elevate the character of popular liberty.
167. L. 15. their age. But see note to vol. i. p. 138, l. 13, and Arist. Pol., Lib. ii. c. 5.
168. L. 27. possessed in some parts, &c. Burke carries on the idea of the last paragraph, likening the mass of the nation to a nobleman succeeding to his paternal estate.
169. L. 31. very nearly as good as could be wished. Was it so? This question was much debated before the meeting of the States-General. The Revolutionists wished for a constitution, to which the privileged classes replied that France already had a very good constitution, to which nothing was wanting but a restoration to its pristine vigour. This paradox is supported by Burke. A statesman so far removed from suspicion of prejudice as J. J. Mounier, is quite of another opinion. Burke likened the States-General
170. L. 32. States, i. e. States-General.
171. P. 124, L. 8. subject of compromise. Cp. vol. i. p. 278, l. 29.
172. L. 9. temperaments. Cp. note to vol. i. p. 124, l. 17.
173. L. 33. low-born servile wretches. Notice the variation from an earlier opinion in vol. i. p. 107, l. 16. The passage of Rousseau quoted in the note to that place may be here appropriately refuted by stating, in the words of Burke, the steady policy of the French monarchy, which had subsisted, and even been strengthened, by the generation or support of republics. The Swiss republics grew under the guardianship of the French monarchy. The Dutch republics were hatched and cherished under the same incubation. A republican constitution was afterwards, under the influence of France, established in the Empire, against the pretensions of its chief; and while the republican protestants were crushed at home (cp. note to p. 97, l. 19, ante) the French monarchs obtained their final establishment in Germany as a law of the Empire, by the treaty of Westphalia. See the Second Letter on Regicide Peace (1796).
174. P. 125, L. 2. Maroon slaves. Maroon (borrowed from the French West Indies, Marron) means a runaway slave.
175. L. 3. house of bondage. Exodus, xx. 2.
176. L. 20. looked to your neighbours in this land. But how impossible it was, very properly insists De Tocqueville, to do as England had done, and gradually to change the spirit of the ancient institutions by practice! By no human device can a year be made to do the work of centuries. The Frenchman felt himself every hour injured in his fortune, his comfort, or his pride, by some old law, some political usage, or some remnant of old power, and saw within his reach no remedy applicable to the particular
177. L. 34. to overlay it = to stifle or smother.
178. P. 126, L. 8. never can remove. Cp. post, pp. 360, 361.
179. L. 11. not more happy. Cp. post, p. 198.
180. L. 12. a smooth and easy career. This is putting far too fair a face on the possibilities of the crisis. Any power capable of effectually controlling the antagonistic interests might have directed such a career; but where was such a power to be found?
181. L. 25. All other nations, &c. Cp. Burnet, History of his own Time, vol. i., on this characteristic in the Bohemian revolution.
182. L. 27. some rites... of religion—severer manners. The allusion seems to be especially to the English Commonwealth.
183. P. 127, L. 3. &c. i. e. thrown into disfavour. Cp. infra, p. 172, l. 12 sqq.
184. L. 5. its most potent topics = the best arguments in its favour.
185. L. 28. medicine of the state. Cp. p. 155, l. 9.
186. IBID. They have seen, &c. Notice the strength of the antitheses. The whole section is a fine example of Burke's most powerful style.
187. P. 128, L. 6. national bankruptcy the consequence. Contentio. See note to vol. i. p. 167, l. 2.
188. L. 11. species = descriptions of money (Fr. espèces), i. e. gold and silver.
189. L. 13. hid themselves in the earth from whence they came. The germ of this dignified figure is from the Parable of the Talents. There is a passage in Swift's Drapier's Letters, writes Arthur Young, which accounts fully for gold and silver so absolutely disappearing in France; I change only Wood's pence for assignats. "For my own part, I am already resolved what to do; I have a pretty good shop of stuffs and silks, and instead of taking assignats, I intend to truck with my neighbours, the butcher and baker, and brewer, and the rest, goods for goods; and the little gold and silver I have, I will keep by me like my heart's blood, till better times; till I am just ready to starve, and then I will buy assignats." Example of France a Warning to Britain, 3rd Edition, p. 127. The louis d'or (20 livres) was at one time worth 1800 livres in assignats! Much gold and silver was at first hoarded in concealment, but during the year 1791 the treasure of France began to be imported into England. The price of 3 per cent. Consols, which during the previous five years had averaged £75, at midsummer in that year stood at £88.
190. L. 20. fresh ruins of France. The rest of Europe was at this time under the extraordinary delusion that France was really ruined; in Burke's words, "not politically existing." This persuasion partly accounts for the terror and astonishment which soon succeeded it.
191. L. 28. the last stake reserved, &c. Cp. ante, p. 119, l. 2, and post, p. 176, l. 12. Burke means that insurrection and bloodshed are the extreme medicine of the state, and only to be used in the last resort, when everything
192. L. 31. their pioneers—the philosophers and economists.
193. P. 129, L. 1. their shoe buckles. Alluding to the "patriotic donations" of silver plate. See p. 345.
194. L. 14. of ten thousand times greater consequence, &c. "They (the Jacobins) are always considering the formal distributions of power in a constitution; the moral basis they consider as nothing. Very different is my opinion; I consider the moral basis as everything; the formal arrangements, further than as they promote the moral principles of government, and the keeping desperately wicked persons as the subjects of laws, and not the makers of them, to be of little importance. What signifies the cutting and shuffling of cards, while the pack still remains the same?" Fourth Letter on Regicide Peace.
195. L. 29. lay their ordaining hands—promise of revelation. The allusion is to the practice of the Church (see Acts ch. viii).
196. P. 130, L. 2. talents—practical experience in the state. "Nous n'avons jamais manqué de philosophes et d'orateurs," says De Sacy, in his critique on Rathery's Histoire des États-Généraux; "nous n'avons eu faute que d'hommes d'état."
197. L. 7. those who will lead, &c. This canon was the result of Burke's observation of the English Parliament. Cp. vol. i. note to p. 208, l. 28. For the parallels in Greek and Roman life, see Plato, Rep., Book vi. p. 493, and Cicero, Rep., Book ii.
198. P. 131, L. 2. six hundred persons. The double representation of the Tiers État, advocated by Sieyès and D'Entragues, had already been admitted in the provincial assemblies. It was now adopted by Necker with the view of overbalancing the influence of the privileged orders, and overcoming their selfish and impolitic resistance to taxation, and their general determination to thwart the royal policy.
199. L. 11. soon resolved into that body. The states met on the 5th of May; and the Third Estate on the 17th of June, upon the motion of Sieyès, constituted itself the National Assembly. "The memorable decree of the 17th of June," says M. Mignet, "contained the germ of the 4th of August."
200. L. 14. a very great proportion, &c. The intervention of the lawyer in so many of the acts of civil life, and the complexity of the different bodies of common law (coûtumes), 300 in number, which prevailed in different parts of the country,* always greatly swelled the numbers of the profession.
201. L. 15. a majority of the members who attended. This cannot be correct. 652 members took their seats: and they were classed as follows:
202. L. 16. Cp. note to vol. i. p. 241, l. 10. The remarks of Dr. Ramsay in his History of the American Revolution, on the share of the lawyers in the revolt, are quoted very appositely in Priestley's second Letter to Burke, in answer to these remarks. See also vol. i. p. 249, ll. 8-11.
203. L. 17. not of distinguished magistrates. The magistrates of the supreme courts and bailliages belonged to the order of the Nobility, and were represented in its representation to the number of 28; and even if they had been eligible, the electors of the Third Estate would hardly have entrusted them with their interests. But 162 magistrates of other tribunals were among the representatives of the Third Estate. "La députation des communes," says Mounier, "était à-peu-pres aussi bien composée qu'elle pouvoit l'être, et il est difficile qu'elle le soit mieux, tant qu'on séparera la représentation des plébéiens de celle des gentilshommes." Recherches sur les causes, &c. Vol. i. p. 257.
204. L. 21. inferior... members of the profession. On the complaints against practising lawyers in parliament, and their exclusion in the 46th of Edward III, see Hallam, ch. viii. part 3. Cp. the Parliamentum Indoctorum, or lack-learning Parliament, of Henry IV. In Bacon's Draught for a Proclamation
205. L. 23. distinguished exceptions. There were one or two advocates of profound learning and in large practice, like Camus. There were others, like Mounier and Malouet, distinguished for the wisdom and moderation of their political views.
206. L. 28. saw distinctly—all that was to follow. Compare with the paragraphs which follow, the Thoughts on French Affairs, under the head "Effect of the Rota." Paine denies that these were the views of Burke at the time, and says that it was impossible to make him believe that there would be a revolution in France: his opinion being that the French had neither spirit to undertake it, nor fortitude to support it. This had been the opinion of the best informed statesmen since the failure of Turgot. Cp. note to p. 271, l. 9.
207. P. 132, L. 18. daring, subtle, active, &c. Cp. vol. i. p. 242, l. 3.
208. L. 25. inevitable. See p. 131, l. 28.
209. P. 133, L. 6. Supereminent authority, &c.—Contentio. Cp. note to vol. i. p. 167, l. 2.
210. L. 7. country clowns—traders. The 176 (note to p. 131, l. 15).
211. L. 9. traders—never known anything beyond their counting-house. The Memoirs of the bourgeois Hardy, Barbier, and Marais afford valuable illustrations of the views of affairs taken by peaceable men of useful and uniform lives, and evidence that their ideas were not bounded by their counting-house. There is no reason to think that they were exceptions in their class.
212. L. 16. pretty considerable. This expression has ceased to be classical in England, but survives in America. There were only 16 physicians in the Assembly.
213. L. 17. this faculty had not, &c. The French Ana are full of gibes upon the medical profession. Burke possibly had in mind the constant ridicule of the faculty of medicine by his favourite French author, Molière. Cp. infra, p. 349, l. 25.
214. L. 32. natural landed interest. But how unreasonable to expect it! The natural landed interest was surely sufficiently represented in the nobility.
215. L. 35. sure operation of adequate causes, &c. Burke thought that the House of Commons was and ought to be something very much more than what was implied in the vulgar idea of a "popular representation"; that it contained within itself a much more subtle and artificial combination of parts and powers, than was generally supposed; and that it would task the leisure of a contemplative man to exhibit thoroughly the working of its mechanism. See Letter to a Member of the National Assembly.
216. P. 134, L. 4. = political. See note to p. 93, l. 27, ante.
218. L. 26. After all, &c. The defects of the preceding observations do not impair the justice of the censure contained in the concluding paragraph, which was amply established by events. Burke's glance was often too rapid to be quite exact, but it was unerring in its augury of the essential bearing of a movement.
219. L. 32. dissolve us. Burke writes as if speaking in the House.
220. P. 135, L. 1. breakers of law in India, &c. See the Speech on the Nabob of Arcot's Debts, in which Paul Benfield, who made (including himself) no fewer than eight members of Parliament, and others, are treated in a rhetorical strain of indignant irony which has no parallel in profane literature.
221. L. 16. fools rush in, &c. Pope, Essay on Criticism, l. 625.
222. L. 27. mere country curates. (Curés.) Not in the modern sense of an assistant, but in the old and proper one of a beneficed clergyman or his substitute (vicaire). Bailey's dictionary has: Curate, a parson or vicar of a parish. The order of the clergy was represented by 48 archbishops and bishops, 35 abbots or canons, and 208 curates or parish priests. The income of a beneficed curé averaged £28 per annum: that of a vicaire, about half that sum.
223. L. 31. hopeless poverty. The Revolution, says Arthur Young, was an undoubted benefit to the lower clergy, who comprised five-sixths of the whole. They were not too numerously represented, if the representation were to mean anything at all.
224. P. 136, L. 6. those by whom, &c. i. e. the lawyers.
225. L. 26. turbulent, discontented men of quality. These remarks, applying to the Duke of Orleans, Mirabeau, Talleyrand, the two Lameths, Duport, d'Aiguillon, de Noailles, &c., were indirectly aimed at contemporary English nobles of the class of the Duke of Bedford, Lord Lansdowne, Lord Stanhope, and Lord Lauderdale, who whilst inflated with exaggerated Whig sentiments of liberty, had long disavowed the Whig principle of acting in connexion, and effectually ruined the political power of the party to which they professed to belong. Cp. vol. i. pp. 150 sqq.
226. L. 31. to be attached, &c. Cp. Pope, Essay on Man, iv. 361 sqq.
227. L. 32. the first principle of public affections. See p. 107, l. 9 sqq. The argument may be traced in Cic. De Officiis, Lib. i. c. 17. Since Burke's time, it has become a trite commonplace. Dr. Blair wrote a whole sermon upon it. So Robert Hall; "The order of nature is ever from particulars to generals. As in the operations of intellect we proceed from the contemplation of individuals to the formation of general abstractions, so in the developement of the passions in like manner we advance from private to public affections; from the love of parents, brothers, and sisters, to those more expanded regards which embrace the immense society of human kind." Sermon on Modern Infidelity. On the other hand, the private
228. L. 33. first link, &c. Cp. note to vol. i. p. 148, l. 1.
229. P. 137, L. 7. the then Earl of Holland. "This (reprieving Lord Goring, and not Lord Holland) may be a caution to us against the affectation of popularity, when you see the issue of it in this noble gentleman, who was as full of generosity and courtship to all sorts of persons, and readiness to help the oppressed, and to stand for the rights of the people, as any person of his quality in this nation. Yet this person was by the representatives of the people given up to execution for treason; and another lord, who never made profession of being a friend to liberty, either civil or spiritual, and exceeded the Earl as much in his crimes as he came short of him in his popularity, the life of this lord was spared by the people." (Whitelock, March 8, 1649.) The bounties prodigally bestowed on him were a reward for his carrying out as chief-justice in eyre the illegal claims made by Charles I., in virtue of the forestal rights (cp. vol. i. p. 77, l. 7). He became one of the leaders of the Parliament party, but deserted them, and paid the penalty with his life. Hallam charges him with ingratitude to both king and queen.
230. L. 24. when men of rank, &c. The allusion is again to those noblemen who patronised the Revolution Society.
231. P. 138, L. 2. if the terror, the ornament of their age. Burke perhaps had in mind the well-known epitaph of Richelieu (cp. l. 25), by Des Bois, in which he is described as "Tam saeculi sui tormentum quam ornamentum."
The ornament and terror of the age.
—(Halifax, Lines on William III.)
232. L. 7. great bad men. So Pope, Essay on Man, iv. 284;
Burke perhaps had in mind Milton, Par. Lost, ii. 5;
To that bad eminence.
233. L. 8. a favourite poet. Waller; "Panegyric to my Lord Protector." After the Restoration, Waller made a panegyric upon Charles; and when the king satirically remarked that that on Cromwell was the better one, replied, with witty servility, that poets succeeded better in dealing with fiction than with truth. Waller was of kin to the Protector through his mother, a sister of John Hampden. Burke was familiar with the domestic history of the Wallers from the circumstance that his estate was in the same parish as theirs (Beaconsfield).
234. L. 19. destroying angel. Cp. vol. i. p. 214, l. 23.
235. IBID. smote the country—communicated to it the force and energy, &c. Similarly Junius, Feb. 6, 1771; "With all his crimes, he (Cromwell) had the spirit of an Englishman. The conduct of such a man must always be an exception to vulgar rules. He had abilities sufficient to reconcile contradictions, and to make a great nation at the same time unhappy and formidable."
236. L. 29. how very soon France, &c. France has always been distinguished for the most elastic internal powers. Burke in after times quoted in illustration of this the lines,
Ducit opes animumque ferro.
237. L. 33. not slain the mind in their country. Mackintosh retorts this dignified figure on the ministers whom Burke after the Revolution conceived it to be his duty to support.
238. P. 139, L. 6. palsy. Fr. paralysie, now generally disused, in favour of the original term paralysis.
239. L. 16. levellers. A term applied to the English Jacobins of the period of the Commonwealth.
240. L. 17. = overload. So Oldham, 1st Satire on Jesuits;
241. L. 25. The spelling is correct.
242. L. 29. occupation of an hair-dresser, &c. Cp. Arist. Pol., Lib. iii. c. 5.
243. P. 140, L. 4. of that sophistical, &c. Cp. note to vol. i. p. 193, l. 6.
244. L. 15. woe to the country, &c. Burke's support of the Test Act has been adduced to show how little practical meaning there was in this tirade. The question, however, here, is one of political, not religious disability. The term "religious" (l. 17) appears only to allude to the established church.
245. P. 141, L. 3. sortition or rotation. Harrington, the English constitution-monger, made the latter an essential principle in his scheme. Milton, however, wished "that this wheel, or partial wheel in state, if it be possible, might be avoided, as having too much affinity with the wheel of fortune." It will hardly be credited that a practical member of Parliament and shrewd thinker like Soame Jenyns, approved the principle of sortition, and deliberately proposed to have an annual ministry chosen by lot from 30 selected members of the House of Peers, and 100 of the House of Commons! See his "Scheme for the Coalition of Parties," 1782. Well might Burke call that "one of the most critical periods in our annals" (Letter to a Noble Lord). Had the then proposed parliamentary reforms taken place, Burke thought that "not France, but England, would have had the honour of leading up the death-dance of Democratic Revolution. Other projects, exactly coincident in time with those, struck at the very existence of the kingdom under any constitution" (ib.).
246. L. 7. road to eminence and power from obscure condition... not to be made too easy. There is here possibly an allusion to the preceding generation, and the career of men like Lord Melcombe. The road was always easy enough in England, and by this time in most other countries. Struensee had governed Denmark. Writers had busied themselves in vain to discover the
247. L. 13. Virtue... never tried but by some difficulty—per&igrgr; t&ogrgr; xalep&ohacgr;teron a&ipsgr;e&igrgr; ka&igrgr; t&eacgr;xn&eegr; g&iacgr;netai ka&igrgr; &apsgr;ret&eeacgr;. Arist. Eth., Lib. ii. c. 3. Cp. p. 272, l. 29 sqq.
248. L. 15. its ability as well as its property. "Jacobinism," wrote Burke several years afterwards, when the whole civilised world was in affright at the word, without understanding very well what it meant, "is the revolt of the enterprising talents of a country against its property."
249. L. 23. the great masses which excite envy, &c. Cp. the Letter to a Noble Lord, in which the vast property of the Duke of Bedford is used to illustrate this doctrine. The extract given in a previous note (to p. 113, l. 27) contains the substance of its argument.
250. P. 142, L. 1. the power of perpetuating our property in our families, &c. Burke alludes to the practice of family settlements.
251. L. 5. grafts benevolence, &c. Because it encourages a man to other objects than a selfish lavishment of his fortune on his private wishes. The expression is slightly altered from the 1st Edition.
252. L. 12. sole judge of all property, &c. See the motion relative to the Speech from the Throne, 14th June, 1784, in which this fact is used in justification of the disapproval, expressed by the Commons, of the corruption and intimidation employed by the ministers and peers. The judicial power of the Lords is historically traced by Hallam, ch. xiii.
253. L. 26. constitution of a kingdom—a problem in arithmetic. Notwithstanding the sarcasm, which became very popular, the principle has now been recognised not only in England, but in most constitutional governments.
Till each fair burgh, numerically free,
Shall choose its members by the Rule of Three.
—Canning, New Morality.
Rousseau's theory, however, referred not to the rule of three, but to the rule of the square root! See "Contrat Social," Liv. iii. ch. 1.
254. L. 28. lamp-post. (Lanterne), alluding to the summary executions by the mob (see infra, p. 166), which began, during the riots which preceded the 14th of July, with punishing thieves by dragging them to the Grève, and hanging them by the ropes which were used to fasten the lanterns. De Launay, De Losme, Solbay, and Flesselles, were soon afterwards "lynched" in the same way.
255. P. 143, L. 12. completed its work... accomplished its ruin. Cp. a similar expression, vol. i. p. 207, l. 11.
256. L. 27. dismembered their country. Cp. infra, p. 192, l. 27.
257. P. 145, L. 1. ever-waking vigilance. Cp. note to vol. i. p. 76, l. 30. The allusion is of course to the "fair Hesperian tree," which
Of dragon-watch and uninchanted eye.—Comus, l. 393.
259. L. 14. heroic fortitude towards the sufferers. Cp. note to vol. i. p. 149, l. 27. This idea, often repeated by Burke, is derived from the "Thoughts on Various Subjects," by Pope and Swift: "I never knew any man in my life, who could not bear another's misfortunes perfectly like a Christian."
260. L. 19. Is our monarchy, &c. By the next page it will be seen that Dr. Price had marked as the fundamental grievance of the English people the inadequacy of popular representation. Could Burke really wish to be understood as declaring that a reform of Parliament in England would lead to the changes here set out? If so, what is the meaning of the high praise he proceeds to bestow on the English people for their steadiness of temperament? It is, however, superfluous to point out all the logical excesses of a heated advocate.
261. L. 22. done away. Strictly correct. So to do out, do up, do off, do on (dout, dup, doff, don), &c. The modern phrase, to "do away with," has arisen from confusion with the interjectional expression, "Away with." Spenser;
262. L. 23. house of lords to be voted useless. Alluding to the Resolution of the Commons, Feb. 6, 1649, "That the House of Peers in Parliament is useless and dangerous, and ought to be abolished." On that day the Lords met, and adjourned "till ten o'clock to-morrow." That morrow, says Mr. Hallam, was the 25th of April, 1660.
263. L. 29. land-tax—malt-tax—naval strength. The land-tax and malt-duty were the only imposts included in the estimate of "ways and means" for raising the "supplies," which provided for the navy, ordnance, army, and miscellaneous services. Taken together, these imposts did rather more than pay for the navy, which then cost about two-and-half millions annually.
264. P. 146, L. 3. in the increase. i. e. in the form of an increase.
265. L. 16. dull sluggish race—mediocrity of freedom. Cp. Letter to Elliott; "My praises of the British government, loaded with all its incumbrances; clogged with its peers and its beef; its parsons and its pudding; its commons and its beer; and its dull slavish liberty of going about just as one pleases," &c.
266. L. 19. began by affecting to admire, &c. There was not much in this. The excellence of the British constitution consisted not in its formal, but in its moral basis; in the unity, the cordial recognition, and the substantial justice, which subsisted between class and class, and this was beyond the reach of French politicians. Formally regarded, not only the French leaders, but some English philosophers, not without a certain justice, always "looked upon it with a sovereign contempt." It is this moral basis which
267. L. 21. the friends of your National Assembly, &c. The theory of the English constitution was first systematically attacked by Bentham, in his Fragment on Government, 1775.
268. L. 24. has discovered, &c. It is notorious that England at this time was not free in the sense in which it has now been free for forty years.
269. L. 31. representation is partial—possesses liberty only partially. For several years such phrases had been so dinned into the ears of the English nation, as to become a byword for the wits. Of the abstract principle that all men are born free, Soame Jenyns says, "This is so far from being true, that the first infringement of their liberty is being born at all; which is imposed upon them without their consent, given either by themselves or their representatives." Disquisition on Government and Civil Liberty.
270. P. 147, L. 15. treat the humbler part of the community with the greatest contempt. Nowhere are more flagrant examples of this to be found than in Milton. When he finds or imagines the mass of the people to be with him, he treats them with the greatest respect; when there is a reaction, or a chance of it, they become "the blockish vulgar"—"the people, exorbitant and excessive in all their notions"—"the mad multitude"—"a miserable, credulous, deluded thing called the vulgar" (Eikonoklastes)—"a multitude, ready to fall back, or rather to creep back, to their once abjured and detested thraldom of kingship"—"the inconsiderate multitude" (Mode of Establishing a Free Commonwealth)—"the simple laity" (Tenure of Kings). The mild Spenser calls the people "the rascal many." So the chorus in Samson;
That wand'ring loose about,
Grow up and perish, like the summer flie,
Heads without name no more remembered.
"Tout peuple," wrote Marat, "est naturellement moutonnier" (Journal de Marat, Mars 5, 1793). On the contempt of the demagogues of the ancient world for their audience, cp. Arbuthnot's (Swift's?) paper "Concerning the Altercation or Scolding of the Ancients."
271. L. 22. under which we have long prospered. See Bentham's Book of Fallacies, or Sydney Smith's review of it, for a consideration of this trite argument.
272. L. 23. perfectly adequate, &c. "If there is a doubt, whether the House of Commons represents perfectly the whole commons of Great Britain (I think there is none) there can be no question but that the Lords and Commons together represent the sense of the whole people to the crown, and to the world." Third Letter on a Regicide Peace.
273. P. 148, L. 19. that house is no representative of the people at all, even in semblance or in form. Directly at variance with all constitutional history, Selden maintains that the Lords "sit for the commonwealth." In the "Present
274. L. 25. built... upon a basis not more solid, &c. Cp. vol. i. p. 213, l. 28, p. 270, l. 31.
275. L. 31. Something they must destroy, &c. Burke altered the commencement of this paragraph, which stands thus in the 1st Edition; "Some of them are so heated with their particular religious theories, that they give more than hints that the fall of the civil powers, with all the dreadful consequences of that fall, provided they might be of service to their theories, could not be unacceptable to them," &c. This was done to make clearer the serious charge here brought against Priestley, which was the beginning of the persecution which finally drove him from the country.
276. P. 149, L. 4. appear quite certain. Convinced, however, only by the harmless enthusiasm which thinks it necessary to attach a specific meaning to the visions of the seer in the Apocalypse. It was not until 1794 that Dr. Priestley offered this apology for it.
277. L. 6. a man... of great authority. Dr. Priestley. The offensive passage is that which concludes his formidable "History of the Corruptions of Christianity," and finishes the considerations addressed to the advocates for the civil establishment of religion, and especially to Bishop Hurd. It is as follows; "It is nothing but the alliance of the kingdom of Christ with the kingdoms of this world (an alliance which our Lord Himself expressly disclaimed) that supports the grossest corruptions of Christianity; and perhaps we must wait for the fall of the civil powers before this most unnatural alliance be broken. Calamitous, no doubt, will that time be. But what convulsion in the political world ought to be a subject of lamentation, if it
278. L. 7. alliance between church and state. The well-known doctrine of Bishop Warburton, alluded to post, p. 188, l. 7 sqq.
279. L. 8. fall of the civil powers. The meaning of this was not to be mistaken. Immediately before, Priestley has been asking why Lutheranism and Anglicanism had been established, while the Anabaptists of Münster, and the Socinians, had been persecuted? "I know of no reason why, but that the opinions of Luther and Cranmer had the sanction of the civil powers, which those of Socinus and others of the same age, and who were equally well qualified to judge for themselves, had not."
280. L. 10. Calamitous no doubt, &c. Dr. Priestley on the 28th of Feb., 1794, the day appointed for a general fast, preached at the Gravel-pit Meeting in Hackney a sermon, entitled "The Present State of Europe compared with Ancient Prophecies," in which he repeats and justifies the offensive paragraph, and warns his congregation of the "danger to the civil powers of Europe, in consequence of their connexion with antichristian ecclesiastical systems." He also apologised for it in a letter dated Northumberland, Nov. 10, 1802, addressed to the editor of the Monthly Magazine, by saying that it was not intended for England, but for Europe generally, "especially those European States which had been parts of the Roman Empire, but were then in communion with the Church of Rome.... Besides that the interpretation of prophecy ought to be free to all, it is the opinion, I believe, of every commentator that these states are doomed to destruction." In an Appendix to the Fast Sermon, he prints a long extract from Hartley's "Observations on Man" (1749), in which the fall of the civil and ecclesiastical powers was predicted with similar coolness. "It would be great rashness," says Hartley in his conclusion, "to fix a time for the breaking of the storm that hangs over our heads, as it is blindness and infatuation not to see it, nor to be aware that it may break; and yet this infatuation has always attended all falling states."
281. L. 19. In the sense of diabolical possession. "An obstinate man," says Butler, "does not hold opinions, but they hold him; for when once he is possessed with an error, 'tis like the devil, not to be cast out but with great difficulty."
282. L. 22. solid test of long experience. Cp. note to p. 147, l. 22, ante.
283. L. 25. wrought under-ground a mine... the "rights of men." Locke and Sidney were the founders of the school of the "Rights of Men," and first
284. P. 150, L. 8. Illa se jactet in aula, &c. Virg. Aen. i. 140.
285. L. 10. Levanter = a tempestuous East wind.
286. L. 11. break up the fountains of the great deep. Cp. note to vol. i. p. 186, l. 10.
287. L. 15. the real rights of men. The profound and just remarks which follow are a fine example of that "dower of spanning wisdom" in which Burke was so rich, and expressed with an unusual strength and simplicity of construction.
288. L. 22. as between their fellows—i. e. as between themselves and their fellows.
289. L. 24. means of making their industry fruitful—i. e. to the occupation of the soil, without prejudice to the rights of the owner. Cp. vol. i. p. 247, l. 26.
290. L. 25. acquisitions of their parents. Without prejudice, of course, to the right of the parent to dispose of it himself. Cp. ante, p. 142, l. 1.
291. L. 27. instruction in life, consolation in death—alluding to the Church establishment.
292. L. 31. In this partnership, &c. This happy illustration is an after-thought, and is wanting in the First Edition.
293. P. 151, L. 3. deny to be amongst the direct original rights, &c. Equality of power might even be denied to be among the physical possibilities of civil society.
294. L. 7. offspring of convention. Burke here admits the fundamental doctrines relating to the Social Contract, and proceeds to show how they change their significance in practice.
295. L. 14. one of the first motives to civil society, &c. The process is traced with his usual clearness by Hooker, Ecc. Pol., Book i. § 10. Burke seems to have in mind Hooker's disciple Locke, Treat. of Government, Book ii. ch. 7, § 90; "For the end of civil society being to avoid and remedy those inconveniences of the state of nature, which necessarily follow from every man's being a judge in his own case," &c.
296. L. 16. judge in his own cause. Cp. vol. i. p. 252, l. 8, and the "Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol," in which the argument from this principle is expanded and applied to the relations of states between themselves. "When any community is subordinately connected with another, the great danger of
297. L. 22. rights of an uncivil and a civil state together. Cp. Lucretius, v. 1147;
Ulcisci, quam nunc concessum est legibus aequis,
Hanc ob rem est homines pertaesum vi colere aevum.
Other illustrations from the classics are given in Grotius, Lib. ii. c. 20.
298. L. 25. secure some liberty, makes a surrender in trust of the whole of it. "Il me semble que l'homme, sortant de l'état naturel, pour arriver à l'état social, perd son indépendance pour acquérir plus de sûreté. L'homme quitte ses compagnons des bois qui ne le gênent pas, mais qui peuvent le dévorer, pour venir trouver une société qui ne le dévorera pas, mais qui doit le gêner. Il stipule ses intérêts du mieux qu'il peut, et, lorsqu'il entre dans une bonne constitution, il céde le moins de son indépendance, et obtient le plus de sûreté qu'il est possible." Rivarol, Journal Politique. Liberty is a compromise between independence and security. This "surrender in trust" resembles the surrender, in the contract of insurance, of a portion of your property, for the security of the whole.
299. L. 27. not made in virtue of natural rights. Cp. note to vol. i. p. 100, l. 23.
300. P. 152, L. 4. even in the mass and body, &c. "With all respect for popular assemblies be it spoken," says Swift, "it is hard to recollect one folly, infirmity, or vice, to which a single man is subjected, and from which a body of commons, either collective or represented, can be wholly exempt." Contests and Discussions in Athens and Rome, ch. iv.
301. L. 7. power out of themselves. Compare this with the trivial sophism of Sieyès, "Il ne faut pas placer le régulateur hors de la machine." Burke truly says elsewhere; "An ignorant man, who is not fool enough to meddle with his clock, is however sufficiently confident to think he can safely take to pieces, and put together at his pleasure, a moral machine of another guise, importance, and complexity, composed of far other wheels, and springs, and balances, and counteracting and co-operating powers. Men little think how immorally they act in meddling with what they do not understand." Rivarol says, in the same view, "Rien ne ressemble moins à une balance que la machine du gouvernement; rien ne ressemble moins à un équilibre que la marche des corps politiques," &c. Oeuvres, vol. iv. p. 265.
302. L. 10. restraints on men—among their rights. Cp. ante, p. 93, l. 21.
303. L. 21. most delicate and complicated skill. Cp. note to p. 152, l. 7.
304. L. 26. recruits = fresh supplies of nourishment.
305. L. 27. What is the use, &c. Observe the close similarity to Aristotle.
306. P. 153, L. 1. real effects of moral causes. "Moral" is used as commonly by Burke, for the contrary of "physical."
308. L. 16. pulling down an edifice. "To construct," wrote Burke six years before, "is a matter of skill; to demolish, force and fury are sufficient." Similar expressions are used by Soame Jenyns.
309. L. 19. = proved.
310. L. 21. like rays of light. An admirable illustration. Cp. Bacon's observation that the human understanding is not a "dry light," but imbued with the colours of the will and passions.
311. L. 34. ignorant of their trade. Cp. infra, p. 263, l. 23.
312. P. 154, L. 12. in proportion as they are metaphysically true, &c. Burke takes up a cant paradox of the day. Soame Jenyns; "It is a certain though a strange truth, that in politics all principles which are speculatively right, are practically wrong; the reason of which is, that they proceed on a supposition that men act rationally; which being by no means true, all that is built on so false a foundation, on experiment falls to the ground." Reflections on Several Subjects. "Metaphysics" was commonly applied as a term of reproach by English writers after the promulgation of the philosophy of Locke, and especially so used by the Essayists.
313. L. 16. balances, compromises. Cp. vol. i. p. 278, l. 29.
314. L. 21. denominations. In the arithmetical sense = numbers.
315. L. 22. right—power. Cp. note to p. 107, l. 18, ante.
316. L. 27. first of all virtues, prudence = &phgr;r&oacgr;n&eegr;siς. Cp. Arist. Eth., Lib. vi. c. 8, &c. In a previous work Burke calls prudence "the God of this lower world," perhaps in allusion to Juv. Sat. x. 365.
317. L. 29. Liceat perire poetis, &c. Hor. de Arte Poet. 465, 466.
318. IBID. one of them. Empedocles. The allusion is of course to him in his philosophical rather than his poetical character.
319. L. 34. or divine. The allusion is to Dr. Price, as may be seen from the opening of the next paragraph. Burke means that at the end of an honourable career, Price was playing the fool, like the philosopher in the legend. Cp. Butler, Fragments;
Leapt into Aetna, with his sandals shod,
That b'ing blown out, discover'd what an ass
The great philosopher and juggler was,
That to his own new deity sacrific'd,
And was himself the victim and the priest.
So Milton, Par. Lost, iii. 469;
A god, leap'd fondly into Aetna flames,
321. L. 14. relaxes the spring. Burke often employs this image, which was very fashionable in the times when the most usual illustration of a government was some piece of inanimate mechanism.
322. L. 18. cum perimit saevos, &c. Juv. vii. 151.
323. L. 22. almost all the high-bred republicans—i. e. extreme. Cp. vol. i. p. 76, l. 11, &c., and note. The Bedford Whigs, the Grenville Whigs (excepting their head, Lord Temple), and finally the party of Lord Chatham, had yielded in succession to the attraction of the Court party. This high-bred republicanism, extending even to equality of rank and property, seems to have been much in vogue in the reign of Anne, when it was often advanced in Parliament, fortified by the abstract reasoning to which Burke was so hostile. Its currency was commonly laid to the account of the writings of Locke; but it is easy to trace it to much earlier and more general causes. A democratical tone was frequently assumed by Whig politicians in the succeeding reigns, in order to conciliate popular favour.
324. L. 26. those of us, &c. The Rockingham party.
325. L. 28. Hypocrisy, &c. Cp. vol. i. p. 151, l. 2, and note.
326. L. 34. civil and legal resistance. Cp. with this paragraph, the passage in the "Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol" in which the Party system is defended against the attacks of "those who pretend to be strong assertors of liberty." "This moral levelling is a servile principle. It leads to practical passive obedience far better than all the doctrines which the pliant accommodation of theology to power has ever produced. It cuts up by the roots, not only all idea of forcible resistance, but even of civil opposition."
327. P. 156, L. 4. think lightly of all public principle. See the description of the process of Ratting at the end of the "Observations on a late State of the Nation" (1769).
328. P. 157, L. 13. well-placed sympathies. Cp. note to vol. i. p. 153, l. 2.
329. L. 23. still unanimating repose of public prosperity. "Still" is an adverb = ever. Cp. ante, note to p. 146, l. 16.
330. L. 27. Pisgah of his pulpit. Deut. xxxiv. 1.
331. L. 26. Peters had not the fruits, &c. He was tried at the Restoration, and executed with other regicides at Charing Cross.
x1. P. 158, L. 28. Another of these reverend gentlemen. Who this was does not appear. Mr. Rutt, the laborious editor and annotator of Dr. Priestley, notices the quotation, but gives no information. The writer alluded to may perhaps be the person quoted in the foot-note at p. 181.
332. P. 159, L. 34. unmanly. A characteristic epithet with Burke.
333. P. 160, L. 2. well-born = generous, liberal, Gr. e&upsgr;&phgr;u&eeacgr;ς.
334. L. 5. procession of American savages. A reminiscence of Burke's reading in the preparation of one of his early works, the "Account of European Settlements in America." See that work, part ii. ch. 4.
335. IBID. entering into Onondaga. An Indian village in the western part of what
336. L. 8. women as ferocious as themselves. "The women, forgetting the human as well as the female nature, and transformed into something worse than furies, act their parts, and even out-do the men in this scene of horror." Sett. in America, vol. i. p. 198. It is unnecessary to illustrate this by the incidents of the Revolution.
337. L. 21. their situation. That of absolute dependence on the will of an organisation of mobs.
338. L. 25. foreign republic. The city of Paris.
339. L. 26. whose constitution, &c. The municipal government of Paris, which had passed out of the hands of the 300 electors, was at this time shared between 60 departments. Each department was a caricature of a Greek democratic state, was considered by its inhabitants as a sovereign power, and passed resolutions, which had the force of laws within its limits. This division into 60 departments was first introduced to facilitate the election to the States-General; but the easy means which it afforded of summoning the people of each district upon short notice, and of communicating a show of regularity and unanimity to their proceedings, made it too useful a system to be discarded. Much of that appearance of order and government which characterises the first year of the Revolution is due rather to this device, than to that self-restraint which made "anarchy tolerable" in Massachusetts. (See vol. i. pp. 244-45.)
340. L. 26. emanated neither from the charter of their king, &c. Having arisen out of temporary and mechanical arrangements. Necker, however, had by a grave error in policy recognised the 300 electors as a legal body. Their functions properly extended only to the choosing of representatives in the States-General; and they were entrusted with power by the people on the 13th of July merely because they were the only body in whom the public could immediately confide.
341. L. 28. an army not raised either by the authority, &c. The National Guards, formed in haste after the dismission of Necker on the 11th of July. "Thirty thousand citizens, totally unaccustomed to arms, were soon seen armed at all points, and in a few hours training assumed some appearance of order and discipline. The French Guards now shewed the benefits of their late education and improvements; they came in a body to tender their services to the people."
342. L. 31. There they sit, &c. The first edition represented all the moderate members as having been driven away. "There they sit, after a gang of assassins had driven away all the men of moderate minds and moderating authority among them, and left them as a sort of dregs and refuse, under the apparent lead of those in whom they do not so much as pretend to
343. P. 161, L. 4. decided before they are debated. The clubs governed in the departments of Paris, and through them, in the National Assembly.
344. L. 9. all conditions, tongues and nations. Aristocrats and clergymen joined and even took the lead in these assemblies. Germans, Italians, Englishmen, Swiss, and Spaniards were found among them. The greater part of the Central Committee at the Évêché were not Frenchmen.
345. L. 14. Academies... set up in all the places of public resort. The allusion is to the Conciliabules. "The Parisians," says Mercier, "have wished to imitate the English, who meet in taverns, and discuss the most important affairs of the state; but that did not take, because every one wished to preside at these meetings."
346. L. 24. Embracing in their arms, &c. Burke refers to the circumstances attending the condemnation, for a bank-note forgery, of the brothers Agasse, which occurred in the middle of January, 1790. Dr. Guillotin had some time previously proposed to the Assembly to inflict the punishment of death in a painless manner, and to relieve the relations of the criminal from the feudal taint of felony. The Abbé Pépin, on this occasion, procured the enactment of the last of these changes; and while the criminals lay under sentence of hanging, their brother and cousin, with the view of marking this triumph of liberty, were promoted to be lieutenants in the Grenadier Company of the Battalion of National Guards for the district of St. Honoré, on which occasion, in defiance of public decency and natural feeling, they were publicly feasted and complimented. See Mr. Croker's Essay on the Guillotine in the Quarterly Review for December, 1843.
347. L. 34. = hoot off, reject, Lat. explodo. Cp. "exploding hiss," Par. Lost, x. 546.
348. P. 162, L. 3. gallery... house. Alluding to the English House of Commons.
349. L. 5. Nec color imperii, &c. Lucan, Phars. ix. 207 (erat for erit). From
350. L. 6. power given them... to subvert and to destroy. The allusion seems to be to the expression so common in the Apocalypse (see ch. xiii. 7, &c.).
351. L. 8. none to construct. See the Second Part of the work, in which their efforts to construct are criticised.
352. L. 13. institute = institution.
354. L. 29. slaughter of innocent gentlemen in their houses. Foulon and Berthier, who were, however, murdered by the lanterne at the Grève, "with every circumstance of refined insult and cruelty which could have been exhibited by a tribe of cannibals."
355. L. 30. the blood spilled was not the most pure. The remark of Barnave, when Lally-Tollendal was describing this horrid scene, and Mirabeau told him "it was a time to think rather than to feel."
356. P. 163, L. 6. felicitation on the present New Year. Alluding to the address presented to the king and queen on the 3rd of January by a deputation of 60 members of the Assembly. "They (the Assembly) look forward to the happy day, when appearing in a body before a prince, the friend of the people, they shall present to him a collection of laws calculated for his happiness, and the happiness of all the French; when their respectful affection shall entreat a beloved king to forget the disorders of a tempestuous epoch," &c.
357. L. 18. frippery. In the proper sense of old clothing furbished up for second sale. Cp. the French words, friper, fripier, friperie.
358. IBID. still in the old cut. "Those French fashions, which of late years have brought their principles, both with regard to religion and government, a little in question." Lord Chesterfield, The World, No. 146 (1755).
359. L. 27. ordinary = chaplain.
360. L. 34. leze nation. The new name given by the Assembly to the offence of treason against the nation, which was put under the cognisance of the Chatelet. It is imitated from the name lèse majesté (laesa majestas, treason).
361. P. 164, L. 6. balm of hurt minds. Macbeth, Act ii. sc. 2.
362. L. 22. the centinel at her door. M. de Miomandre. "After bravely resisting for a few minutes, finding himself entirely overpowered, he opened the queen's door, and called out with a loud voice, Save the queen, her life is aimed at! I stand alone against two thousand tigers! He soon after sunk down covered with wounds, and was left for dead."
363. L. 25. cut down. He recovered, however, from his wounds.
364. L. 27. pierced... the bed. This has been denied. It is impossible to say whether it is true.
365. P. 165, L. 5. Two had been selected, &c. M. de Huttes and M. Varicourt, two of the guards.
367. P. 166, L. 16. fifth monarchy. Cp. note to p. 149, l. 6, ante. The fifth monarchy was the dream of a large sect of enthusiasts in the Puritan times.
368. L. 18. in the midst of this joy. An allusion to Lucretius, iv. 1129;
Surgit amari aliquid, quod in ipsis floribus angat.
369. L. 24. a groupe of regicide... What hardy pencil, &c. Burke only too clearly foresaw what was to happen. In his next piece on French affairs, the "Letter to a Member of the National Assembly," he repeats his belief that they would assassinate the king as soon as he was no longer necessary to their design. He thought, however, that the queen would be the first victim. Cp. infra, p. 169, l. 17. In the Second Letter on a Regicide Peace, he defends his anticipation on this point. "It was accident, and the momentary depression of that part of the faction, that gave to the husband the happy priority in death."
370. P. 169, L. 13. offspring of a sovereign, &c. Maria Theresa.
371. L. 15. Roman matron. Burke had in mind some story such as that of Lucretia.
372. IBID. that in the last extremity, &c. Alluding to the queen's carrying poison about with her.
373. L. 18. It is now, &c. Burke to Sir P. Francis, Feb. 20, 1790; "I tell you again, that the recollection of the manner in which I saw the Queen of France, in the year 1774, and the contrast between that brilliancy, splendour, and beauty, with the prostrate homage of a nation to her—and the abominable scene of 1789, which I was describing, did draw tears from me, and wetted my paper. These tears came again into my eyes, almost as often as I looked at the description; they may again. You do not believe this fact, nor that these are my real feelings: but that the whole is affected, or, as you express it, downright foppery."
374. L. 21. just above the horizon. Cp. a similar image in vol. i. p. 208, l. 1.
375. L. 27. titles of veneration, i. e. that of queen.
376. L. 28. sharp antidote. Cp. second note to p. 169, L. 15.
377. L. 34. the age of chivalry is gone. This famous theatrical passage has been perhaps too roughly handled by the critics. The lament for chivalry is as old as the birth of what we regard as modern ideas. See the famous stanzas of Ariosto on the loyalty and frankness of the old knightly days.
378. IBID. Sophisters = sophists.
379. P. 170, L. 2. generous loyalty. Some readers of M. Taine may have been startled by his comment on the term loyalty—"MOT INTRADUISIBLE, qui désigne le sentiment de subordination, quand il est noble" (Les Écrivains Anglais Contemporains, p. 318). So completely has the idea been effaced from the French mind! The word "loyauté" has a different meaning.
380. L. 3. proud submission. The "modestie superbe" of the courtier is mentioned by Montesquieu, Liv. iv. ch. 2.
382. L. 6. nurse of manly sentiment and heroic enterprise, is gone. "Ces vertus mâles qui nous seraient le plus nécessaires et que nous n'avons presque plus—un véritable esprit d'indépendance, le goût des grandes choses, la foi en nous-mêmes et dans une cause." De Tocqueville, Preface to Ancien Régime, p. ix.
383. L. 8. that chastity of honour. Bowles, Verses to Burke;
Mourns for the spirit of high Honour fled;
Mourns that Philosophy, abstract and cold,
With'ring should smite life's fancy-flowered mould;
And many a smiling sympathy depart,
That graced the sternness of the manly heart.
384. IBID. felt a stain like a wound—A reminiscence of South. "And if the conscience has not wholly lost its native tenderness, it will not only dread the infection of a wound, but also the aspersion of a blot." Sermon lxiv (Deliverance from Temptation the Privilege of the Righteous).
385. L. 10. ennobled whatever it touched. An allusion to the well-known expression in Johnson's Epitaph on Goldsmith, usually, but incorrectly, quoted as "Nihil tetigit quod non ornavit."
386. L. 11. lost half its evil, &c. One of Burke's old phrases, borrowed from the essayists. In Sett. in America, vol. i. p. 200, he says that civilisation, if it has "abated the force of some of the natural virtues," by the luxury which attends it, has "taken out likewise the sting of our natural vices, and softened the ferocity of the human race without enervating their courage." Cp. p. 240, l. 14. So Fourth Letter on Regicide Peace; "The reformed and perfected virtues, the polished mitigated vices, of a great capital." Cp. generally with this famous passage the following from the Fourth Letter on a Regicide Peace; "Morals, as they were—decorum, the great outguard of the sex, and the proud sentiment of honour, which makes virtue more respectable where it is, and conceals human frailty where virtue may not be, will be banished from this land of propriety, modesty, and reserve." The passage is cleverly plagiarised by Macaulay, Ess. on Hallam; "We look in vain for those qualities which lend a charm to the errors of high and ardent natures, for the generosity, the tenderness, the chivalrous delicacy, which ennoble appetites into passions, and impart to vice itself a portion of the majesty of virtue."
388. L. 32. obedience liberal. Vol. i. p. 288, l. 27.
389. L. 33. bland assimilation = digestion. Two of Milton's phrases are here blended. Par. Lost, v. 4, 5, 412.
390. P. 171, L. 2. decent drapery of life, &c. The notion is Johnson's. "Life," he would say, "is barren enough surely, with all her trappings: let us therefore be cautious how we strip her." Mrs. Piozzi's Anecdotes. It is curious to trace here the influence which Johnson, with his zeal for subordination, his hatred to innovation, and his reverence for the feudal times, exercised upon Burke in his early years.
391. L. 3. superadded ideas, &c. Bowles, in his Verses to Burke, says of chivalry—
To decorate, but not disguise, the heart:
To nurse the tender sympathies that play
In the short sunshine of life's early way;
For female worth and meekness to inspire
Homage and love, and temper rude desire.
392. L. 5. which the heart owns, and the understanding ratifies. There seems here to be a reminiscence of Bishop Horsley's Sermon on the Poor (Sermon xxxv), May 18, 1786; "For although I should not readily admit that the proof of moral obligation cannot in any instance be complete unless the connection be made out between the action which the heart naturally approves, and that which a right understanding of the interests of mankind would recommend, (on the contrary—to judge practically of right and wrong, we should feel rather than philosophise; and we should act from sentiment rather than from policy) yet we surely acquiesce with the most cheerfulness in our duty, when we perceive how the useful and the fair are united in the same action."
393. L. 21. cold hearts and muddy understandings. A good parallel to Burke's observations on the philosophers is to be found in the fourth Book of the Dunciad, which shadows forth the ruin of society by men furnished with
Pope and Burke agree in making moral and intellectual decay proceed together under the delusion of improvement.
394. L. 23. laws to be supported only by their own terrors... nothing is left which engages the affections. On this subject see the wise doctrines of Bishop Horsley, Sermon xii.
395. L. 27. visto. See note to vol. i. p. 178, l. 27.
396. IBID. nothing but the gallows. A curious coincidence with an old Italian poet:
Risiede in mezzo il paretaio de Nemi
D'un pergolato, il quale a ogni corrente
Sostien, con quattro braccia di cavezza
Penzoloni, che sono una bellezza.
—Lippi, Malmantile Racquistato, cant. vi. st. 50.
"Paretaio de Nemi" is slang for gallows or gibbet.
397. L. 29. mechanic = mechanical, in malam partem.
398. P. 172, L. 3. Non satis est, &c. Hor. de Arte Poet. 99. A "Spectator" motto (No. 321). Cp. p. 311, l. 8 sqq.
399. L. 7. But power, &c. If in the concluding sentence we read "rulers" for "kings," we have a forcible statement of an ordinary historical process, which was about to be repeated in France.
400. L. 13. by freeing kings from fear, &c. The idea is borrowed from Hume; "But history and experience having since convinced us that this practice (tyrannicide) increases the jealousy and cruelty of princes, a Timoleon and a Brutus, though treated with indulgence on account of the prejudice of their times, are now considered as very improper models for imitation." Dissertation on the Passions. It may be remarked that Burke follows the fashion of his age, in treating "kings" as a political species. Selden, more profound in his distinctions, says, "Kings are all individual, this or that king: there is no species of kings."
401. L. 19. Kings will be tyrants, &c. This paragraph is quoted by Dr. Whately, in his Rhetoric, as a fine example of Method. Cp. note to vol. i. p. 123, l. 30.
402. L. 26. prosperous state... owing to the spirit of our old manners. Cp. the reflections of Cicero at the beginning of the Fifth Book of the Republic, which commences with the line of Ennius,
403. L. 34. Nothing is more certain, &c. The addition made to this conclusion by Hallam, though not insisted on by Burke in the present passage, is quite consonant with his general views; "There are, if I may say so, three powerful spirits, which have from time to time moved over the face of the waters, and given a predominant impulse to the moral sentiments and energies of mankind. These are the spirits of LIBERTY, of RELIGION, and of HONOUR. It was the principal business of chivalry to cherish the last of these three." Middle Ages, chap. ix. part ii.
404. P. 173, L. 1. this European world of ours. The First Letter on a Regicide Peace contains a remarkable description of the unity of law, education, and manners in the Europe of the Middle Ages. "No citizen of Europe could be altogether an exile in any part of it. There was nothing more than a pleasing variety to recreate and instruct the mind, to enrich the imagination, and to meliorate the heart. When a man travelled or resided for health, pleasure, business, or necessity, from his own country, he never felt himself quite abroad."
x2. L. 33. This note, together with those printed at pp. 209, 211, 212, 213, 245, seems to have been added by a subsequent editor from a copy of the work used by the author in his last years.
406. P. 174, L. 12. whether you took them from us. Such a view is inconsistent with a comparative knowledge of the facts of English and continental history. Burke perhaps alludes to the legendary chivalry of the Court of Arthur, of which Brittany had its share.
407. L. 13. to you—we trace them best. Mr. Hallam calls France "the fountain of chivalry."
408. L. 14. gentis incunabula nostrae. (cunabula.) Virg. Aen. iii. 105. The writer perhaps had in mind the expression of Cicero, "Montes patrios, incunabula nostra." Ep. Att. ii. 15.
409. L. 15. when your fountain is choaked up, &c. This presage has not been verified. England and Germany are likely to transmit to future generations much that is worth preserving of the spirit of chivalry.
410. L. 24. a revolution in sentiments, &c. "Il y a une révolution générale qui change le goût des esprits, aussi bien que les fortunes du monde." Rochefoucault, Maximes. Burke went so far as to say that the present one amounted to a "revolution in the constitution of the human mind." The fact is that the sentimental basis on which the estimation of political institutions rested was passing away. The true way of regarding the question is in the light of the change in English public opinion between 1815-1830.
411. L. 27. forced to apologize, &c. Notice the keenness and strength of the expression.
412. L. 31. For this plain reason. The phrase is from Pope's Essay on Man.
413. IBID. because it is natural, cp. p. 181, l. 27.
414. P. 175, L. 7. Our minds are purified, &c. From the well-known definition of Tragedy in the Poetics of Aristotle, ch. vi. 2. The work on the Sublime and Beautiful shows traces of the study of the Poetics. Cp. also Rhet., Lib. ii. ch. 8; Pol., Lib. viii. 7. 3.
415. L. 16. Garrick... Siddons. Burke was an enthusiastic lover of the stage. The former famous actor was among his most cherished friends. Fourth Letter on Regicide Peace; "My ever dear friend, Garrick, who was the most acute observer of nature I ever knew."
416. L. 28. as they once did in the antient stage. The allusion, as clearly appears by the context, is to the "hypothetical proposition" put by Euripides into the mouth of Eteocles (Phoen. 524);
k&aacgr;lliston &apsgr;dike&iivrgr;n, t&apsacgr;lla d' &epsgr;&upsgr;sebe&iivrgr;n χre&ohacgr;n.
Cicero (De Off. iii. 21) says that Caesar often repeated these lines. But
o&upsgr; &thgr;a&uivrgr;m', &epsacgr;r&ohgr;taς mυr&iacgr;oυς a&upsgr;t&eegrgr;n tr&eacgr;&phis;ein.
See Seneca, Epist. 115, Dindorf, Fr. Eur. No. 288, and Schlegel's Dramatic Literature, Lect. viii.
417. P. 176, L. 19. fear more dreadful than revenge. A striking prophecy of the horrors of the Reign of Terror.
418. L. 34. to remit his prerogatives, and to call his people to a share of freedom. If we regard the transactions between the king and the parliament of Paris, this is a clear misrepresentation. Such remissions of prerogative had been wrested from the king by the parliament. That body charged the king with having formed a fixed system for the overthrow of the established constitution, which had been in train ever since 1771. Burke, however, alludes to the institution of the provincial assemblies, and the work done by the Assembly of Notables (the abolition of the corvée, and of the restrictions on internal traffic, especially that in corn). The Notables also had before them a project for abolishing the gabelles.
419. P. 177, L. 5. provide force... the remnants of his authority. Alluding to the arrest of magistrates.
420. L. 14. look up with a sort of complacent awe, &c. The allusion is evidently to Frederick the Great.
421. L. 15. = know how. The expression is French. "Il est affreux," says Mounier, "penser qu'avec une âme moins bienfaisante, un autre prince eût peut-être trouvé les moyens de maintenir son pouvoir." Rech. sur les causes, &c., p. 25.
422. L. 20. listed = enlisted.
423. L. 31. with truth been said to be consolatory to the human mind. The allusion is to the fine chorus in Samson Agonistes;
To the spirits of just men long oppress'd,
When God into the hands of their deliverer
Puts invincible might," &c.
424. P. 178, L. 1. Louis the Eleventh. The founder of the absolute system completed by Louis XIV. His character abundantly indicates the genuine tyrant. See Commines, and the "Scandalous Chronicle."
425. IBID. Charles the Ninth. Who authorised and took a personal part in the massacre of St. Bartholomew, 1572.
426. L. 2. murder of Patkul. The Livonian patriot, surrendered to him under a treaty by Augustus of Poland, and judicially murdered in 1707. See Voltaire's History of Charles XII.
427. L. 3. murder of Monaldeschi. An Italian gentleman who had been a favourite of the queen, but in revenge for neglect had composed a book in which her intrigues were unveiled. She had him dragged into her presence,
428. L. 6. King of the French. So the king was styled after the 4th of August. The title of King of France was thought to savour of feudal usurpation.
429. L. 29. flower-de-luce on their shoulder. The notorious Lamotte, whose scandalous book appeared in London in 1788. She had been branded with the fleur-de-lis and the word voleuse on both shoulders.
430. L. 30. Lord George Gordon fast in Newgate. This mischievous maniac had been convicted June 6, 1787, amongst other things for a libel on the queen of France: but before the time fixed for coming up to receive sentence, he made off to the continent. He soon returned, and in August took up his residence in one of the dirtiest streets in Birmingham, when he became a proselyte to the religion, and assumed the dress and manners of the Jews. He was arrested there on the 7th of December on a warrant for contempt of court, and committed to Newgate, where his freaks were for some time a topic of public amusement, as may be seen from the contemporary newspapers.
431. L. 31. public proselyte. He had assumed the name and style of the Right Hon. Israel Bar Abraham George Gordon. He nourished a long beard, and refused to admit to his presence any Jew who appeared without one. See a ridiculous letter on the subject in the Public Advertiser, Oct. 16, 1789.
432. L. 33. raised a mob, &c. This is a mild description of the terrible No-Popery riots. On the evening of Tuesday, June 6, 1780, six-and-thirty fires were to be seen blazing in different parts of London. "During the whole night men, women and children were running up and down with such goods and effects as they wished most to preserve. The tremendous roar of the authors of these horrible scenes was heard at one instant, and at the next, the dreadful reports of soldiers' musquets, firing in platoons, and from different quarters; in short, every thing served to impress the mind with ideas of universal anarchy and approaching desolation." Ann. Register.
433. P. 179, L. 12. Dr. Price has shewn us, &c. In his Treatise on Reversionary Payments, and other economical works.
434. L. 34. near forty years. Burke arrived in London early in 1750.
435. P. 180, L. 9. attempt to hide their total want of consequence, &c. Burke no doubt had in mind a passage in Hurd's Sermons on Prophecy, Serm. xii; "A few fashionable men make a noise in the world: and this clamour, being echoed on all sides from the shallow circles of their admirers, misleads the unwary into an opinion that the irreligious spirit is universal and uncontrollable." So Canning, Speech at Liverpool, March 18, 1820; "A certain number of ambulatory tribunes of the people, self-elected to that high function, assumed the name and authority of whatever plan they thought proper to select for a place of meeting; their rostrum was pitched, sometimes here, sometimes there, according to the fancy of the mob, or the patience of the magistrates: but the proposition and the proposer were in all places
436. L. 14. grasshoppers... make the field ring with their importunate chink. From Burke's favourite author, Virgil;
Et cantu querulae rumpent arbusta cicadae.
—Georg. iii. 327.
See also Ecl. ii. 13, Culex 151, &c. "Importunate" is a favourite epithet of Burke's. Cp. vol. i. p. 204, l. 2. The illustration is a relic of Boccalini's story of the foolish traveller who dismounted to kill the grasshoppers which disturbed his meditations as he journeyed. See The Craftsman, No. 73 (1727).
437. L. 15. thousands of great cattle... chew the cud and are silent. One of those quaint and strong images, so frequent in the later writings of Burke, which seem to the modern critic ridiculous or farfetched. On such points Burke perhaps has a claim to be judged by no other standard than himself.
438. L. 26. I deprecate such hostility. Rhetorical occultatio (cp. vol. i. note to p. 172, l. 17). From p. 258, l. 16, we see that Burke had already begun to contemplate that crusade which he heralded in the Letters on Regicide Peace.
439. L. 28. formerly have had a king of France, &c. John the Good, taken prisoner at the battle of Poitiers, Sept. 19, 1356.
440. L. 29. you have read, &c. In the Chronicle of Froissart.
441. L. 30. victor in the field. Edward the Black Prince. In the last century, when the main object of English policy was to triumph over France, the Black Prince was naturally exalted into a hero of the first rank. Cp. Warton, Ode xviii;
And Gallia's captive king, and Cressy's wreath renown'd.
442. L. 32. not materially changed. The persistence or continuity of the English national character which Burke here hints at would be no uninteresting matter of study. It is perhaps this, as much as anything, which makes the monuments of our literature, in a degree far higher than those of any other, living and speaking realities. To no Englishman can Chaucer and Shakspere, Addison and Fielding, ever become a dead letter.
443. P. 181, L. 1. generosity and dignity of thinking, &c. Bolingbroke speaks in this strain of the reign of Edward III, which was then considered the acme of Old English national life. Cp. Johnson, "London";
The land of heroes and of saints survey.
More accurate history ranks this particular period less highly. Professor Stubbs considers it to be characterised by a "splendid formal hollowness... the life, the genius, the spirit of all, fainting and wearing out under the incubus of
It is so rarely that we can detect any real variation of opinion in Burke, even between his earliest and his latest works, that it is worth while to note that in the beginning of the Account of European Settlements in America he declares the manners of Europe before the Renaissance to have been "wholly barbarous." "A wild romantic courage in the Northern and Western parts of Europe, and a wicked policy in the Italian states, was the character of that age. If we look into the manners of the courts, there appear but very faint marks of cultivation and politeness. The interview between our Edward IV and his brother of France, wherein they were both caged up like wild beasts, shews dispositions very remote from a true sense of honour, or any just ideas of politeness and humanity."
444. L. 3. Subtilized... into savages. A similar expression occurs in Goguet's character of the Spartans, inserted by Burke in the Annual Register for 1760. In the volume for 1761, he alludes to this as "the character of a famous nation, improved, if we may say so, by one styled a Philosopher, into brutes." The Philosopher is Lycurgus, the idol of Rousseau. "The project," writes Mercier, "was to form an entire new race of men; and we have been transformed into savages." New Picture of Paris, ch. 3. So Matthias, Pursuits of Literature, iv. 11;
A sage in sorrow nursed and gaunt with woe—
What time his work the citizen began,
And gave to France the social savage, Man.
445. L. 4. Rousseau... Voltaire... Helvetius. The spirit of free-thinking, which gives so distinct a character to the last century, was by no means the produce of that century. It had been militant for at least two centuries, before in the middle of that century it became triumphant. It came from Italy with the Renaissance. Lanoue, in his Discours (1585), calculates the atheists of France at a million. Père Mersenne, in 1636, reckons 50,000 in Paris alone; "Quae (Lutetia) si luto plurimum, multo tamen magis atheismo foetet." See more on this subject in M. Aubertin's Introduction, and cp. especially Burton's section on "Religious Melancholy in defect."
446. L. 7. no discoveries to be made in morality. So in the Letter to M. de Menonville, Burke insists that to effect a real reform, every vestige must be effaced of "that philosophy which pretends to have made discoveries in the terra australis of morality." This letter contains Burke's final judgment on Rousseau.
447. L. 9. understood long before we were born. Cp. ante, p. 120, l. 21.
Σ&iacgr;ga, ka&igrgr; mel&eacgr;ta z&ohivrgr;n &epsacgr;ti t&ogrgr;n &thgr;&aacgr;naton.
449. L. 20. blurred = blotted, scribbled over.
450. L. 22. real hearts of flesh, &c. Ezekiel xi. 19.
451. P. 182, L. 17. many of our men of speculation. Alluding to the school of English essayists, with Addison at its head; and especially to Dr. Johnson. See especially the "World," Nos. 112-114. Lord Chesterfield's Essays in the World, which appeared in Burke's younger days, evidently attracted his attention. The following extracts are from No. 112, which commences with the quotation of one of Bolingbroke's showy and shallow generalisations on the subject of prejudice, and is interesting from its bearing on the present text. "It is certain that there has not been a time when the prerogative of human reason was more freely asserted, nor errors and prejudices more ably attacked and exposed by the best writers, than now. But may not the principle of enquiry and detection be carried too far, or at least made too general? And should not a prudent discrimination of cases be attended to? A prejudice is by no means (though generally thought so) an error; on the contrary, it may be a most unquestioned truth, though it be still a prejudice in those who, without any examination, take it upon trust and entertain it by habit. There are even some prejudices, founded upon error, which ought to be connived at, or perhaps encouraged; their effects being more beneficial to society than their detection can possibly be.... The bulk of mankind have neither leisure nor knowledge sufficient to reason right; why then should they be taught to reason at all? Will not honest instinct prompt, and wholesome prejudices guide them, much better than half reasoning?... Honest, useful, home-spun prejudices... in themselves undoubted and demonstrable truths, and ought therefore to be cherished even in their coarsest dress."
452. L. 29. habit... series of unconnected acts. The distinction is an important part of the moral system of Aristotle, Eth., Lib. ii. iii.
453. P. 183, L. 8. at inexpiable war with all establishments. Cp. infra, p. 187, l. 1. See the beginning of the famous article in the Encyclopédie on Foundations, written by Turgot. There are indications in subsequent works that Burke had read it. The author, not content with exposing the abuses and weak points of old establishments, avowedly endeavours "to excite an aversion to new foundations."
454. IBID. inexpiable war. A curious expression of Livy, which seems to have stuck in Burke's memory. "Ex quibus pro certo habeat, Patres, adversus quos tenderet, bello inexpiabili se persecuturos." Lib. iv. c. 35. It is repeated at p. 243, l. 3, and in the Letter to Mr. Baron Smith.
455. L. 13. singular species of compact. Bishop Horsley, after tracing the theory of an original compact of government to the Crito of Plato, says; "It is remarkable that this fictitious compact, which in modern times hath been made the basis of the unqualified doctrine of resistance, should have
456. P. 184, L. 7. refused to change their law, &c. Alluded to by Bolingbroke in his Remarks on the History of England. See Blackstone, vol. iv. ch. 8, and especially Milman, History of Latin Christianity, Book xiii. ch. 6; "Parliament with one indignant voice declared the surrender of the realm by John null and void, as without the consent of Parliament, and contrary to the king's coronation oath (40 Edw. III).... Parliament was as resolute against the other abuse (the possession of rich benefices by foreigners). The first Statute of Provisors had been passed in the reign of Edward I (35 Edw. I). Twice already in the reign of Edward III (in 1351 and 1353) was this law re-enacted, with penalties rising above one another in severity. It was [now, 1373] declared that the Court of Rome could present to no bishopric or benefice in England." "In the year 1390 (15 Rich. II) the Commons extorted the renewal of the Statute of Provisors in the strongest terms."
457. L. 16. we must provide as Englishmen. Cp. ante, note to p. 95, l. 13. Burke considered the rest of Europe as "linked by a contignation" with the political edifice of France.
458. L. 24. a cabal calling itself philosophic. The term "philosophic" then implied, as it perhaps still does in France, unbelief in Christianity. Coleridge's character of the philosophy brought into vogue by Voltaire, D'Alembert, Diderot, &c., is given here, not because it is altogether just, but because it illustrates the views of Burke, by which it was undoubtedly inspired;
459. L. 34. Collins and Toland, &c. All that is worth knowing of these writers may be read in Mr. Pattison's Essay on the "Tendencies of Religious Thought in England, 1688-1750." The representative man of the sect was Tindal. Cp. Pope, Imit. of Horace, i. 6;
One who believes as Tindal leads the way?
Who virtue and a church alike disowns,
Thinks that but words, and this but brick and stones?
460. P. 185, L. 2. Who now reads Bolingbroke? Cp. infra, p. 226, l. 11. It has been remarked that Burke is ungenerous to his literary master. Some, however, consider his obligations to Bolingbroke slighter than has been generally supposed, and look upon Addison as his literary parent. Cp. note to p. 182, l. 17, sup. The "Sublime and Beautiful" certainly bears the marks of much study of Addison, both as to style and as to matter. Burke repeats his opinion of Bolingbroke in the First Letter on a Regicide Peace; "When I was very young, a general fashion told me I was to admire some of the writings against that minister (Sir R. Walpole). A little more maturity taught me as much to despise them."
461. L. 5. few successors. The allusion is to Hume.
462. IBID. family vault of "all the Capulets." Romeo and Juliet, Act iv. sc. 1:
Where all the kindred of the Capulets lie.
463. L. 9. never acted in corps. With Burke, a sure sign of being worthless and abnormal excrescences of civil society. Vide "Present Discontents." This observation on the atheistical freethinkers is made by Bolingbroke himself! Burke has in mind the chorus in Samson;
For of such doctrine never was there school,
But the heart of the fool,
And no man therein doctor but himself.
464. L. 20. native plainness and directness of understanding. The English are remarkable for a rooted dislike to all chicanery and sophistication. Good miscellaneous illustrations of English character are the author of "Hudibras," as reflected in his writings, the Sir Roger de Coverly of Addison, the principal characters of Fielding, Boswell's portraiture of Dr. Johnson, and the "Christopher North" of Blackwood's Magazine (Professor John Wilson).
465. L. 22. those who have successively obtained authority among us. Burke evidently alludes to Sir Robert Walpole, Lord Chatham, and Lord Rockingham, denying, by implication, the same merit to those who had been in power since Rockingham's death.
466. L. 28. no rust of superstition, &c. So Bacon, Essay of Atheism; "I had
467. P. 186, L. 7. temple... unhallowed fire. Alluding to the sacred fire on the altar of Vesta at Rome: possibly also to Numbers, ch. xvi.
468. L. 15. Greek—Armenian—Roman—Protestant. Burke speaks else where of the "four grand divisions of Christianity," evidently intending the same as here. (Letter to W. Smith, Esq.) He was of opinion that the "three religions, prevalent more or less in various parts of these islands, ought all, in subordination to the legal establishments, as they stand in the several countries to be countenanced, protected, and cherished; and that in Ireland particularly the Roman Catholic religion should be upheld in high respect and veneration... and not tolerated as an inevitable evil." The character of Burke by Shackleton, who, it should be remembered, was a Quaker, contains the following remarkable passage; "He believes the Papists wrong, he doubts if the Protestants are altogether right. He has not been favoured to find that church which would lead him to the indubitable certainty of true religion, undefiled with the mixture of human inventions." We trace here the line of thought which was adopted by Coleridge, and carried into practice by Irving. Cp. the Doctrine of Toleration, infra, pp. 253, 254.
469. P. 187, L. 16. in antient Rome. The allusion is to the constitution of the Decemvirate; the state visited was Athens, in the time of Pericles. Niebuhr discredited the story, but afterwards retracted his opinion.
470. L. 20. our church establishment. No student of history will allow this to be a fair statement of contemporary public opinion. It is totally opposed to the views of the Warburtonian school, which included the most thoughtful and practical churchmen of the time.
472. P. 188, L. 31. act in trust. Cp. note to vol. i. p. 118, l. 10.
473. P. 189, L. 10. Janissaries. Cp. note to vol. i. p. 96, l. 1.
474. L. 24. the most shameless thing, &c. Cp. Dryden's Satire on the Dutch. See the arguments of the Athenians to the Melians, Thucydides, Book v. ch. 85.
475. L. 27. the people at large never ought, &c. Cp. vol. i. p. 74, p. 251, &c. "Quicquid multis peccatur inultum est," Lucan, Phars. v. 260. The quotation had been employed by Burke in his appeal for mercy on behalf of the convicted rioters of 1780. He often appeals to the general doctrine.
476. P. 190, L. 4. false shew of liberty—"Falsa species libertatis," from the passage in Tacitus (Hist. i. 1) quoted in vol. i. p. 125, l. 23.
477. L. 19. will and reason the same. The doctrine that reason and will are identical in the Divine mind is a conclusion of the Schoolmen often used by the English theologians.
478. L. 25. confer that power on those only, &c. Cp. p. 129, l. 23 sqq.
479. P. 191, L. 5. Life-renters. Tenants for life, i. e. those who are entitled to receive the rents for life.
481. IBID. commit waste. The technical term for permanent injury done on a landed estate, as by pulling down houses, cutting timber, &c.
482. L. 18. link with the other. Cp. ante, p. 121.
483. L. 20. science of jurisprudence. In the First Letter on a Regicide Peace, Burke says that Lord Camden shared his views on this point. "No man, in a public or private concern, can divine by what rule or principle her judgments are to be directed; nor is there to be found a professor in any university, or a practitioner in any court, who will hazard an opinion of what is or is not law in France, in any case whatever." He goes on to remark on that disavowal of all principles of public law which outlawed the French Republic in Europe.
484. L. 22. collected reason of ages. A similar vindication of law from the wit of a pert sciolist is attributed to Dr. Johnson. See that of Blackstone, vol. iii. ch. 22.
485. L. 25. Personal self-sufficiency, &c. So Daniel;
Than present counsels, customs, orders, laws;
And to the end to have them otherwise
The Commonwealth into confusion draws,
As if ordain'd to embroil the world with wit,
As well as grossness to dishonour it.
—Chorus to Tragedy of Philotas.
486. P. 192, L. 22. that no man should approach, &c.
To patch their flaws, and buttress up the wall,
So far is duty; but here fix the mark:
For all beyond it, is to touch the ark.
—Dryden, Abs. and Achit.
487. L. 29. hack that aged parent in pieces. So in Speech on Parliamentary Reform, 1782; "I look with filial reverence on the constitution of my country, and never will cut it in pieces, and put it into the kettle of any magician, in order to boil it, with the puddle of their compounds, into youth and vigour." Alluding to the legend of the daughters of Pelias, King of Thessaly, who "by the counsel of Medea, chopped him in pieces, and set him a boiling with I know not what herbs in a cauldron, but could not revive him again," Hobbes, De Corpore Politico, Part ii. cap. 8. Hobbes, like Burke, uses the story to illustrate "cutting the Commonwealth in pieces, upon pretence or hope of reformation." Cowley employs it in a similar way, in his famous Essay on the Government of Oliver
488. P. 193, L. 8. It is a partnership, &c. A fine example of Burke's way of taking an abused abstract principle, and correcting it in its application, while he enlarges and intensifies its signification. Burke exposes the fallacies involved in the French use of the term Société, which literally means "partnership" as well as "society."
489. L. 11. cannot be obtained in many generations. The germs of this profound argument are to be found in Cicero, but it was never put in shape so ably, nor enforced so powerfully, as in the present passage.
490. P. 194, L. 14. From the dream of Scipio, Cic. de Rep., Lib. vi. The passage is used as a motto on the title-page of Vattel's Law of Nations, a favourite authority of Burke's.
491. L. 17. of the head and heart. Cp. ante, p. 171, l. 5.
492. IBID. great name—Scipio.
493. L. 18. greater name—Cicero.
494. L. 27. cast = caste, birth.
495. P. 195, L. 6. oblation of the state itself, as a worthy offering, &c. Perhaps a reminiscence of a passage in the Communion Service.
496. L. 9. dignity of persons. The allusion is to the various ecclesiastical dignitaries from the Bishop downwards.
497. P. 197, L. 10. as ample and as early a share—modern world. Burke uses the word modern in its strict sense = the world of to-day. The "ample and early share" is not intended to extend beyond the age of Hooker and Bacon. In any more extended sense, except in the names of a few Schoolmen, and very rare cases like Chaucer, it would be difficult to justify the claim.
498. P. 198, L. 4. estate of the church... private property. In his Speech on the Petition against the Acts of Uniformity (1772), Burke maintained the contrary. He then held that the church was a voluntary society, favoured by the State, and endowed by it with the tithes as a public tax.
499. L. 9. Euripus. The strait between Boeotia and Euboea. The Mediterranean being in general almost tideless, the periodical rise and fall of the water here and in the Straits of Messina was a standing puzzle to the ancients.
500. IBID. funds and actions. "Actions" Fr. = shares in a joint stock. (German Actien.)
501. L. 16. mere invention, &c. Cp. the well-known line, "Si Dieu n'existait pas, il faudrait l'inventer."
502. L. 25. preached to the poor. St. Luke vii. 22, &c.
503. L. 32. miserable great (great = rich, powerful). "Great persons," says South, "unless their understandings are very great too, are of all others the most miserable." So Gray, Ode to Spring;
How low, how little are the proud,
How indigent the great!
Nor fancy these escape the general doom;
Gay as they seem, be sure with them are hearts
With sorrow tried, there's sadness in their parts;
If thou could'st see them, when they think alone,
Mirth, music, friends, and these amusements gone;
Could'st thou discover every secret ill
That pains their spirit, or resists their will;
Could'st thou behold forsaken love's distress,
Or envy's pang at glory or success,
Or beauty, conscious of the spoils of time,
Or guilt alarm'd when memory shows the crime;
All that gives sorrow, terror, grief and gloom—
Content would cheer thee trudging to thine home.
505. L. 14. personal pain. The pleasure of wealth, says South, is so far from reaching the soul, that it scarce pierces the skin. "What would a man give to purchase a release, nay, but a small respite from the extreme pains of the gout or stone? And yet, if he could fee his physician with both the Indies, neither art nor money can redeem, or but reprieve him from his misery. No man feels the pangs and tortures of his present distemper (be it what it will) at all the less for being rich. His riches indeed may have occasioned, but they cannot allay them. No man's fever burns the gentler for his drinking his juleps in a golden cup." See the rest of this, the concluding argument of the fine sermon "On Covetousness."
506. L. 19. range without limit. This reminds us something of Pascal's gloomy observations on the secret instinct which leads man to seek diversion and employment in something outside himself.
507. L. 33. The people of England know, &c. These considerations are repeated from earlier Church politicians. "Where wealth is held in so great admiration as generally in this golden age it is, that without it angelical perfections are not able to deliver from extreme contempt, surely to make bishops poorer than they are, were to make them of less account and estimation than they should be." Hooker, Eccl. Pol., Book vii. ch. xxiv. 19. So also South, Sermon iv. (Ecclesiastical Policy the Best Policy): "The vulgar have not such logical heads, as to be able to abstract such subtile conceptions as to separate the man from the minister, or to consider the same person under a double capacity, and so honour him as a divine, while they despise him as poor.... Let the minister be abject and low, his interest inconsiderable, the Word will suffer for his sake. The message will still find reception according to the dignity of the messenger." Swift, Project for the Advancement of Religion; "It so happens that men of pleasure, who never go to church, nor use themselves to read books of devotion,
508. P. 200, L. 5. If the poverty were voluntary, &c. Hazlitt, Essay on the Want of Money: "Echard's book on the Contempt of the Clergy is unfounded. It is surely sufficient for any set of individuals, raised above actual want, that their characters are not merely respectable, but sacred. Poverty, when it is voluntary, is never despicable, but takes an heroical aspect."
509. L. 13. Those who are to instruct presumptuous ignorance, &c. "With what a face shall a pitiful underling encounter the solemn looks of an oppressing grandee? With what hope of success shall he adventure to check the vicious extravagances of a ruffling gallant? Will he dare to contradict the opinion, or disallow the practice of that wealthy or this powerful neighbour, by whose alms, it may be, he is relieved, and supported by his favour?" Barrow, Consecration Sermon on Ps. cxxxii. 16. For a remarkable instance of the indebtedness of modern politicians to Burke, compare with this passage Sir R. Peel's Speech at the Glasgow Banquet, 1837.
510. L. 20. No! we will have her to exalt her mitred front, &c. "Christ would have his body, the church, not meagre and contemptible, but replenished and borne up with sufficiency, displayed to the world with the beauties of fulness, and the most ennobling proportions." South, Posthumous Sermons, No. ii.
511. L. 34. They can see a bishop of Durham, &c. The argument is from what he elsewhere calls "the excellent queries of the excellent Berkeley." "If the revenues allotted for the encouragement of religion and learning were made hereditary in the hands of a dozen lay lords, and as many overgrown commoners, whether the public would be much the better for it?" Queries, No. 340. Similarly Swift, Arguments against Enlarging the Power of the Bishops: "I was never able to imagine what inconvenience would accrue to the public by one thousand or two thousand a year being in the hands of a protestant bishop, any more than of a lay person. The former, generally speaking, lives as piously and hospitably as the other, pays his debts as honestly, and spends as much of his revenue amongst his tenants; besides, if they are his immediate tenants, you may distinguish them at first sight, by their habits and horses, or, if you go to their houses, by their comfortable way of living."
512. P. 201, L. 2. this Earl, or that Squire. The argument is wittily amplified by Sydney Smith, in his Second Letter to Archdeacon Singleton: "Take, for instance, the Cathedral of Bristol, the whole estates of which are about equal to keeping a pack of foxhounds. If this had been in the hands of a
513. L. 3. So many dogs and horses are not kept, &c. The reader might fancy he had Cobbett before him instead of Burke. Burke was a true friend to the poor who lived near his estate. See Prior's Life of Burke, ch. xiv.
514. L. 8. It is better to cherish, &c. The principle had been put forth by Bishop Horsley in his Sermon on the poor not ceasing out of the land (Deut. xv. 11), May 18, 1786. He maintains that the best and most natural mode of relief is by voluntary contributions. "The law should be careful not to do too much."
515. L. 15. Too much and too little are treason against property. This striking aphorism is a type peculiar to Burke. Cp. note to vol. i. p. 186, l. 20.
516. P. 202, L. 3. We shall believe those reformers, &c. "If they abuse the goods of the Church unto pomp and vanity, such faults we do not excuse in them: only we wish it to be considered whether such faults be verily in them, or else but objected against them by such as gape after spoil, and therefore are no competent judges of what is moderate and what is excessive.... If the remedy for the disease is good, let it be unpartially applied. Interest reipublicae ut re suâ quisque bene utatur. Let all states be put to their moderate pensions, let their livings and lands be taken away from them, whosoever they be, in whom such ample possessions are found to have been matters of grievous abuse; were this just? would noble families think this reasonable?" Hooker, Eccl. Pol., Book vii. xxiv. 24. So Crabbe, "Religious Sects":
Our cool reformers wrought like men afraid—
We would have pulled her gorgeous temples down,
And spurned her mitre, and defiled her gown—
We would have trodden low both bench and stall,
Nor left a tithe remaining, great or small!" Let us be serious—should such trials come,
Are they themselves prepared for martyrdom?
517. L. 23. cup of their abominations. Revelation of St. John, xvii. 4.
518. L. 28. selfish enlargement of mind, &c. Cp. note to vol. i. p. 151, l. 2.
519. P. 203, L. 15. harshly driven—harpies of usury. The allusion is to Virg. Aen. iii. 212, sqq.
520. P. 204, L. 6. academies of the Palais Royal. The court yard of the Palais Royal, surrounded by restaurants and shops, was and is still a noted place of meeting—the Forum of stump-orators and newsmongers. Mr.
521. L. 35. dungeons and iron cages of their old masters. The allusion is to the cruelties of Louis XI, thus described by Commines: "Il est vray qu'il avoit fait de rigoureuses prisons, comme cages de fer et autres de bois, couvertes de plaques de fer par le dehors et par le dedans, avec terribles ferrures de quelques huict pieds de large, et de la hauteur d'un homme et un pied de plus. Le premier qui les devisa fut l'évesque de Verdun, qui en la première qui fut faite fut mis incontinent, et y a couché quatorze ans." Mém. Liv. vi. ch. 12.
522. P. 207, L. 17. Family settlements. In French technical language, substitutions fidei-commissaires, see p. 337, l. 2 (to be distinguished from the use of these terms in the civil law). Several coutumes, however, including those of Normandy and Brittany, disallowed them. The law on the subject had been fixed by an ordinance in 1741. In the Encyclopédie they are regarded like many other institutions, as useful in their day, but unsuited to the age. The writer of the article approves the English restrictions on settlements, which forbid their operation beyond the life of a person living at the time when they are made, and twenty-one years after. "On dit que le droit coutumier d'Angleterre abhorre les successions à perpetuité; et en conséquence, elles y sont plus limitées que dans aucune autre monarchie de l'Europe." The writer also looks enviously on the protection to leaseholders against entails, which was peculiar to Britain. In France the protection of the leaseholder against heirs and purchasers formerly extended only to nine years from the commencement of the lease, Louis XIV. having fixed this short limit in order to make the tax on alienations more frequently exigible. Among the reforms of Turgot, this period had been increased to twenty-seven years, but the Encyclopedist considers this too short.
523. L. 18. the jus retractus = droit de retrait, or right of recovery, usually known as prélation. The French law admitted more than twenty species of this right, the most important of which were the Retrait Seigneurial and the Retrait Lignager. By the former the lord could at any time compulsorily repurchase alienated lands which had once formed part of his fief. By the latter the heirs of a landowner could similarly repurchase any portion of their ancestors' estates which he had alienated. These rights prevailed not only in the pays coutumiers, but in the pays de droit écrit. Cp. the Assise of Jerusalem.
524. L. 19. mass of landed property held by the crown... unalienably. The private estates of the monarch had formerly been distinguished from the crown estates, and could be alienated: but after the Ordinance of Moulins (Ordonnance du domaine, 1566) the distinction disappeared, and all estates which came in any way to the monarch were united to the crown lands. The policy of non-alienation, however, dates from a time anterior to St. Louis. It was one of the weakest points of the ancien régime, and was
525. L. 21. vast estates of the ecclesiastic corporations. Their wealth had been much exaggerated. Some estimated it at one half, others at one third, of the rental of the kingdom. Condorcet, in his Life of Turgot, estimates it at less than a fifth.
526. P. 208, L. 7. not noble or newly noble. "Les gens d'esprit et les gens riches trouvaient donc la noblesse insupportable; et la plupart la trouvaient si insupportable qu'ils finissaient par l'acheter. Mais alors commençait pour eux un nouveau genre de supplice; ils étaient des anoblis, des gens nobles, mais n'étaient pas gentilshommes." Rivarol, Journal Politique.
527. P. 209, L. 7. two academies of France. The famous Académie des Sciences (The Academy), and the Académie des Inscriptions, so called because its special office was the devising of inscriptions in honour of the grand Monarque, and in celebration of his various civil and military triumphs.
528. IBID. vast undertaking of the Encyclopaedia. Commenced in 1751 by Diderot and D'Alembert. There had been Encyclopaedias ever since the middle of the sixteenth century: but the present work, in which may be traced the first form of "Positivism," purposed to purge the world of knowledge and practice of all that was obsolete or prejudicial. It was republished (1782 sq.) in sections, under the title of Encyclopédie Méthodique. "It was intended to comprise sketches, at once accurate and elementary, of the subjects of human knowledge: and to exhibit the most certain, the most useful and important truths, in the different branches of science. It was besides to contain a discussion of every question that interests the learned or the humane; opinions of the greatest universality or celebrity, with the origin and progress of those opinions, and the arguments, whether just or fallacious, on which they had been supported." Condorcet, Life of Turgot, ch. ii. It might have been added that the work was based on the labours of Ephraim Chambers, and was at first intended to be little more than a translation of his dictionary.
529. L. 12. pursued with a degree of zeal, &c. See Rousseau's Essay on the Sciences.
530. L. 31. bigotry of their own. The tone of the Encyclopédie, however, is far removed from open bigotry. The English Jacobins outdid their models. The London Corresponding Society are said to have resolved that the pernicious belief in a God was to be an exception to their general principle of toleration! (Sir J. Mackintosh, in the British Critic, Aug. 1800). Burke's meaning is well amplified by Dr. Liddon: "Religion does not cease to influence events among those who reject its claims: it excites the strongest passions, not merely in its defenders, but in its enemies. The claim to hold communion with an unseen world irritates, when it does not win and satisfy. Atheism has again and again been a fanaticism: it has been a missionary
531. P. 210, L. 11. desultory and faint persecution. Alluding to the proceedings against the Encyclopedists, commenced when seven volumes had been published, and weakened by being carried on by two parties so opposite as Jesuits and Jansenists. The former had proposed to contribute the theological articles, and were piqued at being repulsed. The Parliament of Paris in the end appointed a commission to supervise the publication. It is remarkable that the article on the Soul, which was marked in the Mémoires as the most offensive of all, was proved to have been written by a licentiate of the Sorbonne, whose orthodoxy was unimpeachable! This persecution caused a closer union between most of the members of the secte Encyclopédique, but it deprived them of the assistance of others, in particular of Turgot.
532. P. 211, L. 10. in their satires. See the smaller works of Voltaire, Diderot, &c.
533. P. 212, L. 21. new morality. The term was adopted by Canning as a title for his well-known satirical poem in the Anti-jacobin.
534. L. 33. comptrollers-general. Burke might have excepted from this sweeping denunciation one who lost the office, in part from the desperate opposition of the bankers whom his predecessors employed—Turgot. When Turgot had to resign, and his prudent and liberal policy was reversed, there was but one way in France. It was rather the farmers-general who should have been thus stigmatised.
535. P. 213, L. 4. Mr. Laborde. Jean Joseph (Marquis) de Laborde, a wealthy merchant of Bayonne, employed extensively as a banker and financial contractor by the government of Louis XV, first in the Seven Years' War. He was a Spaniard by birth, his proper name being Dort. He took the name of Laborde from an estate with which the marquisate urged on him by the Duc de Choiseul was connected. He acquired enormous wealth, chiefly, perhaps, as Burke hints, by his public jobs. He retired from affairs on the disgrace of Choiseul. He was condemned during the Reign of Terror for the exportation of bullion, with the supposed intent of depreciating assignats, and guillotined 18th April, 1794.
536. L. 9. Duke de Choiseul. Minister 1758-1770. Alluded to in vol. i. p. 108.
537. L. 14. to have been in Paris, &c. The circumstance is again alluded to, in connection with the partition of Poland, in the Second Letter on a Regicide Peace. See next note.
538. L. 16. Duke d'Aiguillon. The richest seigneur in France, after the king, and one of the few members of the noblesse who took up the cause of the Revolution in the Assembly. He had been Minister of Foreign Affairs to Louis XV, after the disgrace of Choiseul. He is immortal in history owing to the fact that from his supine and miserable policy, no opposition was offered to the partition of Poland, always an instrument of France, and whose
539. L. 17. protecting despotism. The protecting hand was that of Madame du Barry.
540. L. 20. The noble family of Noailles had long been servants, &c. For two centuries and a half. The Maréchal de Noailles had especially been distinguished in the War of the Austrian Succession, 1742-1748, and afterwards as a minister. His son Louis, duc de Noailles, was notorious as a private agent of Louis XVI. One of his sayings is worth quoting. Louis had said that the farmers-general were the support of the state: "Oui, Sire—comme la corde soutient le pendu." He died shortly after the execution of the King, and his widow, daughter, and granddaughter were afterwards guillotined, July 22, 1794. Burke here alludes particularly to the Vicomte de Noailles, a younger son, who took a prominent part, together with the Duc d'Aiguillon, in the debates of the Assembly, particularly in the proceedings of the 4th of August.
541. L. 25. Duke de Rochefoucalt. François Alexandre Frédéric, duc de Rochefoucauld-Liancourt, often called duc de Liancourt, eminent as a political economist.
542. L. 29. make a good use, &c. See Arthur Young's Travels in France, vol. i. p. 62.
543. L. 31. his brother. See foot-note. Dominique de la Rochefoucauld, the Archbishop, was descended from a poor and unconsidered branch of the family. He was President of the Order of the Clergy in the States-general of 1789.
544. P. 214, L. 8. crudelem illam Hastam. Cicero, alluding to the sales under the confiscations of Sylla: "Nec vero unquam bellorum civilium semen et causa deerit, dum homines perditi hastam illam cruentam et meminerint et sperabunt." De Officiis, ii. 8, 29. So Fourth Philippic, 4, 9: "Quos non illa infinita hasta satiavit."
545. L. 32. "Harry" is simply the ancient and French way of pronouncing "Henry."
546. P. 215, L. 4. rob the abbies. Mr. Hallam is of opinion that the alienation of the abbey lands was on the whole beneficial to the country. His opinion was probably, however, modified by his doctrine that the property of a corporate body stands on a different footing from that of private individuals. Bolingbroke considers it a politic measure.
547. P. 220, L. 2. an offer of a contribution. The Archbishop, on behalf of the clergy, offered an unconditional surrender of the tithes, if they were
548. P. 221, L. 20. Bank of discount. The Caisse d'Escompte, planned by the masterly statesman Turgot, while Comptroller-general, and carried out by his successor.
549. P. 222, L. 2. old independent judicature of the parliaments. The position of king, parliaments, and people, will be best understood from the words of Mounier: "Dans le plupart des états de l'Europe, les différens pouvoirs se sont livrés des combats à mort, ou ont fait des traités de partage, de sorte que les sujêts savent clairement quels sont ceux qui ont le droit de commander, et dans quels cas ils doivent obéir. La France seule, peut-être, offroit le spectacle extraordinaire de deux autorités alternativement victorieuses ou soumises, concluant des trèves, mais jamais de traités définitifs; et dans le choc de leurs prétentions, dictant au peuple des volontés contraires. Ces deux autorités étoient celle du roi et celle des parlements ou tribunaux supérieurs." Recherches sur les causes, &c., pp. 10, 11.
550. P. 223, L. 5. sort of fine. Alluding to the practice of granting leases for lives or years at low rents, in consideration of a fine, or lump sum paid down at the commencement of the term.
551. L. 6. sort of gift. "Gift" (donum) is used in the technical sense in feudal law. The word dedi usually implied services to be rendered by the donee and his heirs to the donor and his heirs. It was of wider comprehension than other terms, and was considered by lawyers "the aptest word of feoffment."
552. L. 13. waste. See second note to p. 191, l. 9.
553. IBID. hands habituated to the gripings of usury. Burke evidently has in mind the soucars of India. See Speech on Nabob of Arcot's Debts.
554. L. 32. advocates for servitude. Burke here answers by anticipation the reproaches which the work brought upon him from the English Whigs and Revolutionists.
555. P. 224, L. 10. hereditary wealth.... dignity. The House of Lords.
556. L. 13. permanent organ. The House of Commons.
557. L. 22. pure democracy... only tolerable form. The austere doctrine of Sieyès. It may now be said that the thinking world of Europe has thoroughly unlearnt this speculative dogma, the product of superficial knowledge and superficial reasoning.
558. L. 32. I reprobate no form of government, &c. The opinions contained in these lines are developed in the Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs. "He (Mr. Burke) never abused all republics. He has never professed himself a friend or an enemy to republics or to monarchies in the abstract. He thought that the circumstances and habits of every country, which it is always perilous and productive of the greatest calamities to force, are to decide upon the form of its government. There is nothing in his nature, his temper, or
559. L. 35. very few, and very particularly circumstanced. The Swiss confederation still survives, and the kingdom of the Netherlands is really a republic, as it was formerly in Burke's time. The republics of Genoa and Venice were also in existence when Burke wrote. The Italian republics established by Bonaparte (the Ligurian, Cisalpine, Roman, Parthenopean, &c.) were of short duration.
560. P. 225, L. 4. better acquainted with them. And their verdict was unanimously against them. A study of Thucydides, Plato, and Aristotle will prove how little homage pure democracy met with from the best minds of the age when it was best understood.
561. L. 25. learned friend. No doubt, Dr. French Laurence.
562. P. 226, L. 11. Bolingbroke.... presumptuous and superficial writer. See note ante, p. 185, l. 2. Not only Burke, but Pitt, learnt much from Bolingbroke. Pitt was recommended by his father to study parts of Bolingbroke's writings, and get them by heart.
563. L. 13. one observation. "Among many reasons which determine me to prefer monarchy to every other form of government, this is a principal one. When monarchy is the essential form, it may be more easily and more usefully tempered with aristocracy, or democracy, or both, than either of them, when they are the essential forms, can be tempered with monarchy. It seems to me, that the introduction of a real permanent monarchical power, or anything more than the pageantry of it, into either of these, must destroy them and extinguish them, as a greater light extinguishes a less. Whereas it may easily be shewn, and the true form of our government will demonstrate, without seeking any other example, that very considerable aristocratical and democratical powers may be grafted on a monarchical stock, without diminishing the lustre, or restraining the power and authority of the prince, enough to alter in any degree the essential form."—Patriot King, p. 98. So Dean Lockier in Spence's Anecdotes: "Whatever is good, either in monarchies or republics, may be enjoyed in limited monarchies. The whole force of the nation is as ready to be turned one way as in [absolute] monarchies; and the liberties of the people may be as well secured as in republics."
564. L. 21. the fawning sycophant of yesterday. Perhaps a hard criticism on
565. L. 32. full of abuses. Burke omits one most important link in the chain of causes which led to the Revolution. The great system of abuses had been thoroughly penetrated, and a comprehensive, gradual scheme for remedying them had been commenced by Turgot. The principles which guided this great man in the preparation of this scheme have been since tried, affirmed, and developed. They have given the key to the reforms of the present century in our own and other countries. But Turgot was only suffered to remain in office twenty months, and nearly everything which he had time to effect was reversed. The interested classes, the nobility, clergy, parliaments, and farmers-general, were too strong for him. If any body could have done what Burke blames the French for not doing, it was he. What was left, but a general convulsion, proceeding from lower sources, if oppression was to be thrown off at all? Irritated by hesitation, retrogression, and mistrust, the people had lost all faith in their established government: and in dealing with the monarchy, which they wished in some way to preserve, naturally went to extremes in the safeguards which they provided for the concessions they had extorted. Facts seem to strengthen the conclusion of Mackintosh, that under such circumstances the shock of a revolution is necessary to the accomplishment of great reforms.
566. P. 227, L. 9. All France was of a different opinion, &c. True; but the Cahiers only too clearly indicated what was smouldering beneath. They repeatedly affirm, on the part of the Tiers État, the right of Property, and demand for it the protection of the law, as a thing that was in great jeopardy. They prove that every principle of society had been universally made the subject of question, and that very various opinions were entertained as to what ought to be done. They reveal a Harringtonian spirit in every corner of the kingdom. No one who reads them can fail to see in the "Declaration of the Rights of Man" their inevitable sequel.
567. L. 12. projects for the reformation, &c. More than this—they are full of abstract ideas, of the passion for definition, uniformity, and paper government. The Cahiers, in the briefest summary or index of contents, are perfectly bewildering. M. de Tocqueville insists, however, that whoso wishes to understand the Revolution, must study incessantly the whole series of folios.
568. L. 13. without the remotest suggestion, &c. Calonne is nearer the mark; "C'est d'abord une puérilité que d'argumenter du mot régénérer le royaume, qui se trouve dans quelques-uns des cahiers, et peut-être aussi dans quelques phrases employées par le Roi; comme si l'on pouvoit en conclure que le Roi et les cahiers, en se servant de cette expression métaphorique, auroient entendu que l'Assemblée devoit culbuter la Monarchie de fond en comble, et créer un gouvernement absolument nouveau. 'Régénérer' est un terme de religion, qui loin de présenter l'idée d'une destruction universelle, n'annonce qu'une salutaire vivification. Le baptême régénère l'homme en effaçant la
569. L. 15. been but one voice. This is hardly justifiable. American independence had certainly raised similar hopes in France. Nor would it have been possible for the impulse to a republic to spring up and ripen in so short a time.
570. L. 29. Taehmas Kouli Khan. The military usurper whose exploits were a romance to the Western world in Burke's youth, and ended in the national prostration of Persia, from which the country has never recovered.
571. L. 35. human race itself melts away and perishes under the eye of the observer. "Men grow up thin," says Bacon, "where the Turcoman's horse sets his foot." Perhaps Burke had in mind the description of the miraculous smiting of the Philistines by Jonathan; "And the watchmen of Saul in Gibeah of Benjamin looked; and behold, the multitude melted away," &c. 1 Sam. xiv. 16.
572. P. 228, L. 12. state of its population. The increase of the population, taken in connexion with the inequality of imposts, and the burdens of the poor, ought to have been estimated among the causes of the Revolution.
573. P. 229, L. 15. considerable tracts of it are barren. It was calculated in 1846 that nearly one-seventh of the whole superficies consisted of unproductive expanses of sand, heath, &c., chiefly lying near the seashores of Gascony and Languedoc, and in Champagne and French Flanders.
574. L. 19. Generality of Lisle. A Generality was the district under the official care of an Intendant-general. Lille was populous because it had been part of Flanders, the flourishing condition of which as compared with France was conspicuous in the Middle Ages. In Belgium the density of the population is still more than double that of the average of France; the former having 166, the latter 70 inhabitants to the square kilométre.
575. P. 230, L. 13. whole British dominions. Burke only means the British Isles.
576. L. 28. species. Plural.
577. P. 231, L. 25. when I consider the face of the kingdom of France. This Ciceronian page is well worth studying for its method, and the way in which the expressions which form the vehicle of the reflection are varied. The force of the argument is much enhanced by keeping in mind that this magnificent face of affairs had been mainly produced by the policy of Louis XIV. Thomson's description of the civilization of France clearly afforded Burke some hints:
O'er fair extents of land, the shining road:
The flood-compelling arch: the long canal,
The dome resounding sweet with infant joy,
From famine saved, or cruel-handed shame,
And that where valour counts his noble scars.
—"Liberty," Part V. 471.
578. L. 26. multitude and opulence of her cities. Then much greater in comparison with Britain. The British Isles now contain twice as many towns having more than 100,000 inhabitants, as France.
579. L. 27. useful magnificence of her spacious high roads, &c. In which respect France was at least half a century in advance of England. The principal "grands chemins" were made by the government in the times of Louis XIV and XV. It was imagined that they might facilitate invasion, an idea which is laughed to scorn in the Encyclopédie. It is certain that they facilitated the Revolution.
580. L. 28. opportunity = opportuneness.
581. IBID. her artificial canals, &c. Canals were constructed in Italy in the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth centuries, and had an almost equally early beginning in the Netherlands. The first French canal was that of Briare, joining the Seine and Loire, begun in 1605 and finished in 1642.
582. L. 29. opening the conveniences... through a solid continent. Alluding to the canal of Languedoc, the greatest work of the kind on the continent, reaching from Narbonne to Toulouse, and forming a communication between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. It was begun and finished by Pierre Paul de Riquet, in the reign of Louis XIV, and cost above 1,300,000l. sterling. Corneille, says Sir J. Stephen, has celebrated the junction of the two seas in some noble verses, whose only fault is that they say far too much of Louis XIV, and nothing at all of Riquet or of Colbert.
583. L. 31. ports and harbours... naval apparatus. Especially the naval stations of Brest, Toulon, and Cherbourg. The navy of France was another creation of Colbert's.
584. L. 33. fortifications. Most of them designed and carried out at a vast expense by S. le Prestre de Vauban, to whom and other French writers, as Blondel, Belidor, &c., modern fortification and military engineering in general owe their origin almost exclusively.
585. P. 232, L. 1. impenetrable barrier. He has in mind especially the "iron frontier" towards the Netherlands.
586. L. 3. to what complete perfection, &c. Especially the vine, hardly known in Gaul until the Roman conquest.
587. L. 7. in some particulars not second. Burke alludes to the English silk manufacture, which was eclipsed by France, in consequence, as was shewn by Mr. Huskisson, of the prohibitive system established in favour of the weavers of Spitalfields.
588. L. 8. grand foundations of charity. The Hôtel-Dieu, École Militaire, Invalides, &c., of Paris; The Dames de la Charité, founded by St. Vincent de Paul, Redemptorists, Lazarists, and the numerous bodies of Hospitallers, &c., &c.
590. L. 10. men she has bred, &c. It would take up too much space to trace this out in its details, and compare France in this respect with the rest of Europe. It would be an easy and interesting task for the student. See Dr. Bridges' "Colbert and Richelieu," where, however, the worth of French intellect is overrated.
591. L. 27. Whoever has examined, &c. But the character of the monarch was against what Burke assumes to be the spirit of the monarchy. "Il commençait toutes les reformes par justice, et n'en achevant aucune par indolence, et par abandon de lui-même, irritant la passion d'innover sans la satisfaire, faisant entrevoir le bien sans l'opérer. Roi populaire dans les rues, il redevenait Roi gentilhomme à Versailles—reformateur auprès de Turgot et de Necker, honteux de ses reformes dans la société brillante et legère de Marie Antoinette; Roi constitutional par goût, Roi absolu par habitude," &c.—De Sacy.
592. L. 30. earnest endeavour towards the prosperity, &c. In spite, however, not in consequence, of the institutions Burke was defending. After the peace of 1763 (See Vol. i. "Present Discontents") a spirit of reformation had sprung up and spread over all parts of Europe, even to Constantinople. Agriculture and trade had been the special objects of this movement in France. "Another no less laudable characteristic (of the present times) is, that spirit of reform and improvement, under the several heads of legislation, of the administration of justice, the mitigation of penal laws, the affording some greater attention to the ease and security of the lower orders of the people, with the cultivation of those acts most generally useful to mankind, and particularly the public encouragement given to agriculture as an art, which is becoming prevalent in every part of Europe." Annual Register, 1786.
593. P. 233, L. 5. censurable degree of facility. "If in many respects the force of received opinions has in the present times been too much impaired, and perhaps too wide and indiscriminate a scope given to speculation on the domains of antiquity and practice, it is, however, a just cause of triumph, that prejudice and bigotry were the earliest victims. Happy will it be, if the blows which were aimed at the foundations and the buttresses, shall only shake off the useless incumbrances of the edifice. And this, we are to hope, will be the case." Ibid.
594. L. 11. trespassed more by levity and want of judgment, &c. For instance, the attempt suddenly to relieve the working classes from the disadvantages imposed on them by the system of industrial corporations. Rash and highsounding promises on many other points were issued in the name of the King, which stimulated the opposition of the privileged classes. In the quarrel of 1772 between the King and the Parliament of Toulouse, the latter body accused the government of endangering the people's means of subsistence
595. L. 20. dwell perpetually on the donation to favourites, &c. Burke alludes in the note to the publication of extracts from the famous Livre Rouge. Calonne shows that of the 228 millions of livres included in the accounts of this book for sixteen years, under different ministers, 209 millions were accountable for on other scores (foreign subsidies and secret service money, expenses of administration, personal expenses of the King and Queen, payment of the debts of the King's brothers, indemnities, &c.). The pamphlet circulated with so much industry is chiefly made up of scandalous reflections on the persons pensioned, and accounts of their lives and services. We find in it under the account of Mirabeau, 5000 liv. in 1776 for the "MS. of a work composed by him, entitled Des Lettres de Cachet"; and 195,000 liv. in 1789, "upon his word of honour [!] to counteract the plans of the National Assembly."
596. L. 28. told = counted. So "tale," p. 234, l. 2.
597. P. 234, L. 5. considerable emigrations. This was before the beginning of the great tide of emigration, which occasioned the decree against leaving the country, in 1791, pronouncing a sentence of civil death, and confiscation of goods, against the emigrant.
598. L. 7. Circean liberty. See Hom. Od. Lib. x. &c.
599. L. 14. learned Academicians of Laputa, &c. The satire of both Butler and Swift was much employed against what was called "virtuosodom," or the cultivation of the minute philosophy and natural science, in the infancy of those pursuits. Swift anticipates with curious foresight the situation of a country under the exclusive dominion of philosophers.
600. P. 236, L. 11. those of Germany, at the period, &c.—i. e. after the death of Frederick II, in 1250. "Every nobleman exercised round his castle a licentious independence; the cities were obliged to seek protection from their walls and confederacies; and from the Rhine and Danube to the Baltic, the names of peace and justice were unknown."—Gibbon.
601. L. 14. Orsini and Vitelli. Perhaps these particular names were put down without sufficient reflection. The Orsini were indeed distinguished in the twelfth century at Rome; but the Vitelli were first known as condottieri in the fifteenth, and the Orsini derive their chief celebrity in the same way. The two families were associated in resisting Pope Alexander VI. This was long after the period when robber knights "used to sally from their fortified dens," &c. Burke apparently, like his translator Gentz, thought they were famous in the wars of the Guelphs and Ghibellines.
602. L. 16. Mamalukes. Who constituted a military republic in Egypt and Syria.
603. IBID. Nayres on the coast of Malabar. The Nairs are the military caste who
604. L. 19. Equity and Mercy. Both were personified as coast deities in ancient Rome.
605. L. 27. civil war between the vices. Cp. infra, p. 264, l. 14, p. 274, l. 26, &c.
606. P. 237, L. 6. breathe the spirit of liberty as warmly, &c. Not universally true, though not unjustifiable as a general statement.
607. L. 16. principles of a British constitution. Which was proposed as a model by Maury, Lally-Tollendal, Mounier, &c. The hostility of the victorious party to anything like the English constitution seemed a bond of union between them and the English Jacobins, at whom the present work is mainly levelled.
608. P. 238, L. 4. never abandoning for a moment, &c. M. Depont, to whom the work was addressed, objected to the severity of this part of the character of Henry IV, and Burke in a letter to him on the subject, justifies his view. The "scaffold" (l. 7) alludes to the execution of the Maréchal de Biron. "If he thought that M. de Biron was capable of bringing on such scenes as we have lately beheld, and of producing the same anarchy, confusion, and distress in his kingdom, as preliminary to the establishment of that humiliating as well as vexatious tyranny, we now see on the point of being settled, under the name of a constitution, in France, he did well, very well, to cut him off in the crude and immature infancy of his treasons. He would not have deserved the crown which he wore, and wore with so much glory, if he had scrupled, by all the preventive mercy of rigorous law, to punish those traitors and enemies of their country and of mankind. For, believe me, there is no virtue where there is no wisdom. A great, enlarged, protecting and preserving benevolence has it, not in its incidents and circumstances, but in its very essence, to exterminate vice, and disorder, and oppression from the world." Correspondence, iii. 160. The letter is printed at the end of Dupont's Translation.
609. L. 9. merited = earned. Lat. mereor.
610. L. 31. beyond what is common in other countries. The contrast especially applies to England, where the noblesse, as a body, did not exist, the greater part of the nobility being of middle class origin, and really commoners with coronets on their coats of arms.
611. L. 33. officious—i. e. disposed to do kind services. So Dr. Johnson's Epitaph on Levett;
Of every friendless name the friend.
612. P. 239, L. 8. to strike any person. A form of outrage never very uncommon in this country.
614. L. 19. When the letting of the land was by rent. It would even appear that the tenant enjoyed a security in this respect unknown to English law. "Pareillement de même que la bonne foi ne permet pas au vendeur de vendre au-delà du juste prix, elle ne permet pas aussi au bailleur d'imposer par le bail la charge d'une rente trop forte qui excède le juste prix de l'héritage." Pothier, Traité du Contrat de Bail à Rente, p. 34. In addition, the rent reserved on a lease was commonly made redeemable, by a special clause, at a specified sum, or, in default, at a valuation.
615. L. 21. partnership with the farmer. Known as métairie, the farmer being called métayer. The usual form was that the landowner advanced the necessary stock, seed, &c., for carrying on the cultivation, and received as his share one half of the produce. This primitive contract is largely in use in India, Brazil, and other backward agricultural countries.
616. L. 30. much of the civil government, &c. See De Tocqueville, De l'Ancien Régime. The civil government had passed almost entirely out of the hands of the nobility into that of the central power; and the feudal dues and privileges which in former times had been cheerfully yielded to them when they had the responsibility of administration and police, were consequently grudged and resisted.
617. P. 240, L. 7. A foolish imitation, &c. "Anglomanie," which had been increasing in vogue all through the century. See the amusing description of it at the beginning of Mr. Carlyle's Hist. of the French Revolution. Previously the cry was against our following the example of the French,
Limps after, in base awkward imitation.
—Shakespeare, Rich. II.
618. L. 18. Those of the commons, &c. Cp. ante, note to p. 208, l. 7.
619. L. 23. less than in Germany. Where the prejudice still subsists in all its force. The first question asked of a stranger in that country is, "Sind Sie von Adel?" The saying there goes that there are three bodies whose strength lies in their corporate cohesion, the Jews, the Jesuits, and the Nobility.
620. P. 241, L. 6. The strong struggle, &c. See Chalmer's Bridgewater Treatise, Chapter on "The Affections which conduce to the well-being of Society."
621. L. 12. civil order. A double meaning perhaps here flashed through Burke's mind—"order" signifying an architectural combination, as well as a state of political regulation.
622. L. 13. Corinthian capital. The Corinthian is the most graceful and ornamental of the orders of architecture.
623. IBID. Omnes boni, &c. Cic. pro P. Sextio, ix. 21.
Nobles look backward, and so lose the race.
625. L. 31. It was with the same satisfaction, &c. Throughout these pages Burke purposely confounds two distinct questions. "Mr. Burke has grounded his eloquent apology purely on their (the clergy) individual and moral character. This, however, is totally irrelative to the question; for we are not discussing what place they ought to occupy in society as individuals, but as a body. We are not considering the demerit of citizens whom it is fit to punish, but the spirit of a body which it is politic to dissolve. We are not contending that the Nobility and Clergy were in their private capacity bad citizens, but that they were members of corporations which could not be preserved with security to civil freedom."—Mackintosh.
626. P. 243, L. 14. without care it may be used, &c. History ought not to be written without a strong moral bias. Burke elsewhere censures the cold manner of Tacitus and Machiavelli in narrating crime and oppression. Macaulay is in this respect a good model.
627. L. 26. troublous storms, &c.
The private state, and make the life unsweet.
—Spenser, Faery Queene, Book ii. c. 7, st. 14.
628. L. 28. Religion, &c., the pretexts. "If men would say they took up arms for anything but religion, they might be beaten out of it by reason; out of that they never can, for they will not believe you whatever you say. The very arcanum of pretending religion in all wars is, that something may be found out in which all men may have interest. In this the groom has as much interest as the lord. Were it for lands, one has a thousand acres, and the other but one; he would not venture so far, as he that has a thousand. But religion is equal to both. Had all men land alike, by a lex agraria, then all men would say they fought for land."—Selden, Table-talk.
629. P. 244, L. 10. Wise men will apply, &c. Cp. vol. i. p. 75 seqq.
630. P. 246, L. 25. If your clergy, &c. One of those passages so common in Burke, which strike by their very temperance, and arrest attention by their mild and tolerant spirit.
631. L. 32. through all their divisions. Not of rank, but of sect and country.
632. P. 247, L. 6. I must bear with infirmities, &c. Notice the epigram, which appears also in Burke's Tracts on the Popery Laws. "The law punishes delinquents, not because they are not good men, but because they are
633. L. 25. rigidly screwing up right into wrong.
Entangle justice in her net of law,
And right, too rigid, harden into wrong.
—Pope, Essay on Man, iii. 191.
634. L. 29. ambition of intellectual sovereignty, &c. Burke clearly has in mind as a secondary object the Revolutionists at whom the whole work is levelled. Their enthusiasm resembled in a high degree that of the Protestant Reformers. Burke afterwards put this forward more clearly, in showing that the Revolution was one of speculative dogma, and that the war against it was one against that most formidable of opponent forces, an armed doctrine.
635. P. 248, L. 5. two great parties. Catholic and Protestant.
636. L. 15. When my occasions, &c. Burke speaks of nearly twenty years before. He refers to the subject in his "Remarks on the Policy of the Allies." It may be said that the prevalence of freethinking did no credit to the clergy, and that the emigrant nobility were equally followers of the philosophers. "The atheism of the new system, as opposed to the piety of the old, is one of the weakest arguments I have yet heard in favour of this political crusade."—Sheridan, Speech on the Address on the War with France, Feb. 12, 1793.
637. P. 249, L. 12. provincial town. Auxerre.
638. IBID. the bishop. M. de Cicé, under whose protection young Burke lived for some time at Auxerre. When the bishop came an impoverished and aged emigrant to England, the Burkes were able to requite his kindness.
639. L. 13. three clergymen. One of whom seems to have been the Abbé Vaullier. Correspondence, vol. i. p. 426.
640. L. 20. Abbé Morangis. Dupont spells the name, in his translation, "Monrangies."
641. P. 250, L. 5. an hundred and twenty Bishops. The exact number of Archbishops and Bishops was 131, of whom forty-eight had seats in the Assembly. The Assembly reduced them to eighty-three (assigning one to each department), which is the number now in existence.
642. L. 8. eminent depravity. Such examples may have been rare, but they were brought prominently into notice, by their existence in the midst of the society of Paris. Clermont, the Abbé of St. Germain des Prés, in the preceding generation, was a notorious instance. He enjoyed 2000 benefices, which he made a practice of selling. He devoted his revenues among other objects to the education of danseuses. Talleyrand was an obvious contemporary instance.
643. L. 32. pensionary = stipendiary, the salaries of church officials being made charges on the nation.
645. L. 19. ascertained = fixed.
646. L. 29. intended only to be temporary. It was but temporary, but it is too much to say that it was intended to be so.
647. P. 252, L. 7. enlightened self-interest. An idea borrowed, like many others, from the English philosophers, but carried out to its consequences by the French, especially by Helvetius.
648. L. 12. Civic education. See the ideas on Public Education at the end of the work of Helvetius "De l'Esprit."
649. L. 16. principle of popular election. Burke evidently has in mind the discussion of the question by Dr. Johnson in his Tract on Lay Patronage: "But it is evident that, as in all other popular elections, there will be a contrariety of judgment, and acrimony of passion; a parish, upon every vacancy, would break into factions, and the contest for the choice of a minister would set neighbours at variance, and bring discord into families. The minister would be taught all the arts of a candidate, would flatter some, and bribe others... and it is hard to say what bitterness of malignity would prevail in a parish where these elections should happen to be frequent, and the enmity of opposition should be rekindled before it had cooled."
650. P. 253, L. 8. Burnet says, &c. History of His Own Times, Book iii.
651. L. 25. under the influence of a party spirit, &c. The allusion is in particular to Cranmer.
652. L. 29. as they would with equal fortitude, &c. This must be taken with some reservation. "Toute opinion est assez forte pour se faire épouser au prix de la vie," says Montaigne. Sectarian heat is often the fiercer the narrower the point of issue.
653. P. 254, L. 6. justice and mercy are substantial parts of religion. Micah vi. 8: "What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"
654. L. 17. dogmas of religion—all of moment. Cp. ante, note to p. 186, l. 15. See especially the Tracts on the Popery Laws. Perhaps the judgment of Bacon, acquiesced in by Burke, preferring the extreme of superstition to that of free-thought, may be reconsidered in the light of modern experience. The Rev. R. Cecil, an acute and philosophical divine, thought less of the dangers of Infidelity than of those of Popery. "Popery debases and alloys Christianity; but Infidelity is a furnace, wherein it is purified and refined. The injuries done to it by Popery are repaired by the very attacks of Infidelity." Remains, p. 136.
655. L. 25. common cause—common enemy. That of religion against principled non religionists. Experience, however, shows that the danger has been exaggerated. Notwithstanding the fluctuating prevalence of free-thought in different societies in Europe since the Italian Renaissance, it has nowhere taken root in such a way as to threaten the religion of the nation, from
656. P. 255, L. 18. I see, in a country very near us, &c. Cp. note to p. 95, l. 12. Burke here also pretends to the right to censure the unjust domestic policy of a neighbouring nation.
657. L. 23. one of the greatest of their own lawyers. I cannot point to any passage in the works of Domat, in which the second thesis, here attributed to him (l. 25), is maintained. Burke was apparently quoting from memory. Often as he makes verbal mistakes, it is rarely that he makes material ones. Here, however, seems to be a material error of memory. The doctrine of Domat is that the postulates of society are divisible into (1) Laws immutable, (2) Laws arbitrary. He refers the principle of prescription to the first, the ascertainment of its limits to the second. Civil Law in its Natural Order, bk. iii. tit. 7, sec. 4. Burke was perhaps thinking of Cicero, who repeats the ordinary notions as to the end of society being security of property: "Hanc ob causam maxime, ut sua tenerent, respublicae civitatesque constitutae sunt." De Off. lib. II. c. 21, sec. 73 (see also c. 23).
658. L. 27. If prescription be once shaken, &c. Burke's fears were needless. The principle was never shaken, nor has it ever been seriously threatened.
659. P. 257, L. 6. Anabaptists of Münster. Originally organised in the Netherlands, these fanatics were admitted by the citizens of Münster after the expulsion of their bishop. Münster saw the community of goods and wives carried out, and a tailor who took to himself seventeen wives, proclaimed King of the Universe.
660. L. 10. just cause of alarm. The policy of Luther, which steadily maintained the cause of the Reformation free from political revolutions, kept them in isolation.
661. P. 258, L. 4. best governed. Regarded from the point of view of the bourgeois oligarchy, not of the peasant.
662. L. 16. standards consecrated, &c. Two of the members of the Patriotic Society at Nantes had been despatched to the Revolution Society, to deliver to them the picture of a banner used in the festival of the former Society in the month of August, bearing the motto "Pacte Universel," and a representation of the flags of England and France bound together with a ribbon on which was written: "A l'union de la France et d'Angleterre." At the bottom was written, "To the Revolution Society in London." The messengers were respectfully received and entertained by the committee of the society. These facts were submitted to the society in the report of the committee presented at the meeting of Nov. 4, 1790.
663. L. 20. expedient to make war upon them. Anticipating the policy afterwards so strenuously advocated by Burke.
665. L. 9. confederacies and correspondences. It would be too long to recapitulate the unimportant history of the secret society of the Illuminati, and of the exaggerated panic which the detection of it produced. The Illuminati, no small body, and composed of members of some standing in society, arose in Bavaria, under Dr. Adam (Spartacus) Weishaupt and Baron (Philon) Knigge. Their tenets were a political version of the harmless social amusement of Freemasonry, not ill-adapted to the spirit of the age, and possessing, except for themselves, no real significance. They were betrayed by four malcontents for infringing the Electoral decree of 1781 against secret societies, which was prompted by the same suspicion which still prohibits Roman Catholics from being members of similar fraternities. Weishaupt was deprived of his Professorship of Law at Ingoldstadt, and the Lodges of the Illuminaten-Orden were closed in 1785. The best account of the Illuminati and their constitution, doctrines, and ceremonies, is to be found in the Abbé Barruel's Mémoires pour servir à l'histoire de Jacobinisme, Part 3. Many books were published to expose the supposed conspiracy, among which that first mentioned by Burke was the first. The title is: "Einige Originalschriften des Illuminatenordens, welche bey dem gewesenem Regierungsrath Zwack, durch vorgenommene Hausvisitation zu Landshut den 11 und 12 Octob. 1786, vorgefunden worden." See also in English, Robinson's "Proofs of a Conspiracy formed by Freemasons, &c., against all the Religions and all the Governments of Europe." The groundlessness of the panic was shown by Mounier, "De l'influence attribuée aux philosophes, aux francs-maçons et aux illuminés sur la Royaume de France," Tübingen 1801.
666. L. 22. Justice... the great standing policy. A good adaptation of the not very lofty maxim that "Honesty is the best policy."
667. L. 26. When men are encouraged, &c. The abstract principle is admitted by Mackintosh, with a just censure on its false application: "The State is the proprietor of the Church Revenues, but its faith, it may be said, is pledged to those who have entered into the Church, for the continuance of those incomes, for which they have abandoned all other pursuits. The right of the State to arrange at its pleasure the revenues of any future priests may be confessed, while a doubt may be entertained whether it is competent to change the fortune of those to whom it has promised a certain income for life. But these distinct subjects have been confounded, that sympathy with suffering individuals might influence opinion in a general question—that feeling for the degradation of the hierarchy might supply the place of argument to establish the property of the Church."
668. P. 261, L. 23. such as sophisters represent it, i. e. as a case of leaving an abuse to grow and flourish, or of cutting it up by the roots. The "middle" spoken of by Burke would be to trim its exuberances, and to graft better scions upon it.
T&aacgr;ς d&egrgr; Mυk&eeacgr;naς &eeacgr;me&iivrgr;ς &ipsgr;d&iacgr;&aypogr;.
They are from the Telephus (Dind. Frag. 695), and are apparently the words of Agamemnon to Menelaus. See Cic. Ep. Att. I. 20, IV. 6, and Plut. Πer&igrgr; t&eeivrgr;ς e&upsgr;&thgr;nm&iacgr;aς. The passage is mistranslated by Erasmus, and the wrong meaning is kept up in Burke's allusion. Kosme&iivrgr;n means to rule, not to improve or decorate. The original is equivalent to "Mind your own business."
670. P. 262, L. 10. purchase = leverage.
671. L. 22. The winds blow, &c., St. John, iii. 8. Burke alludes to the case of the sailor, who cannot control the motive forces on which he depends, and means that the politician must similarly regard his motive power and material as produced by some force out of his control.
672. P. 263, L. 8. steam... electricity. The forecast in these lines, written long before steam was successfully applied to navigation, is most remarkable. Electricity had been discovered by the English philosopher Gilbert two centuries before, but was as yet unapplied to any practical purpose.
673. L. 31. You derive benefits, &c. Burke alludes to the Passions, as described by his favourite moralist:
Wild nature's vigour working at the root.
—Essay on Man, II. 183.
Pope proceeds to derive all the virtues from the two sources of pride and shame.
674. P. 264, L. 4. Superstition is the religion, &c. So Lord Chesterfield in the "World": "Ceremony is the superstition of good-breeding, as well as of religion; but yet, being an outwork of both, should not be absolutely demolished."
675. L. 13. Munera Terrae. The Homeric expression used by Horace, Bk. II, Ode 14, l. 10, to express the conditions of mortal existence. Burke means by munera terrae the mundane as opposed to the imperishable elements of life.
This hates the filthy creature, that the prim:
Thus in each other both these fools despise
Their own dear selves, with undiscerning eyes;
Their methods various, but alike their aim,
The sloven and the fopling are the same.
Ye Whigs and Tories! thus it fares with you,
When party-rage too warmly you pursue;
And folly joins whom sentiments divide.
You vent your spleen, as monkies when they pass
Scratch at the mimic monkey in the glass,
While both are one; and henceforth be it known,
Fools of both sides shall stand for fools alone.
Mackintosh, alluding apparently to this passage of Burke, agrees with Montesquieu that under bad governments one abuse often limits another. "But when the abuse is destroyed, why preserve the remedial evil? Superstition certainly alleviates the despotism of Turkey; but if a rational government could be erected in that empire, it might with confidence disclaim the aid of the Koran, and despise the remonstrances of the Mufti."
676. P. 265, L. 5. In every prosperous community, &c. The well-known doctrines of the French economists of the physiocratic school, popularised some years before by Adam Smith. The arguments here based on them by Burke will be differently estimated by different people. They have no immediate bearing on the main point of the work, and certainly are opposed to, and form a standing censure upon, the deliberate policy of England at the Reformation.
677. L. 34. as usefully employed, &c. A surprising turn is given to the argument. Burke compares the monastery and the monks with the factory and its then overtasked and degraded "hands." Public attention was just becoming attracted to the condition of the factory workers, and in 1802 the first Sir Robert Peel succeeded in passing the first of the Factory Acts.
678. P. 268, L. 6. whether sole, &c. The phrase is technical. A bishop is an example of a "corporation sole."
679. L. 7. susceptible of a public direction, &c. This was done, in a remarkable way, at the disestablishment of the Alien Priories by Henry V, when their revenues were largely applied to purposes of education. It was also done to a smaller extent at the English Reformation. The Church and Education, however, on this occasion, were benefited to a less degree than the nobility.
680. L. 15. commendatory abbots. Those who held inferior benefices in commendam, by way of plurality, an abuse which grew up with many others out of the claims of the Holy See in the twelfth century. Cp. note to p. 250, l. 8.
681. L. 17. Can any philosophic spoiler, &c. Bishop Berkeley, Guizot, and Dr. Arnold have brought forward the substance of this excellent argument, which rests on the popular and accessible nature of Church preferment.
682. P. 269, L. 13. Here commences the Second Part of the work, which seems to have been resumed after an interval of some months, corresponding with the Parliamentary Session of 1790. Early in the Session, several liberal measures were introduced; but thwarted by the consideration of the prevalence of Jacobinism, Fox's Resolution in favour of the Dissenters, against the Test and Corporation Acts, was opposed by Burke, who cited
683. L. 32. I have taken a review, &c. Burke proceeds to criticise the positive work of the Assembly, and in the first place, after some general remarks, to deal with the nature of the bodies into which the citizens were to be formed for the discharge of their political functions (p. 277). "In this important part of the subject," says Mackintosh, "Mr. Burke has committed some fundamental errors. It is more amply, more dexterously, and more correctly treated by M. de Calonne, of whose work this discussion forms the most interesting part."
684. P. 270, L. 16. they have assumed another, &c. As the Long Parliament did in England, and as the present Assembly (1874) have done in France. Such assumptions are, under justifying circumstances, in the strictest sense political necessities. Cp. p. 270, l. 35.
685. L. 23. The most considerable of their acts, &c. This introduces casually the interesting question of the competence of majorities, which Burke so philosophically considers in connexion with the doctrine of Natural Aristocracy, in the Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs. He argues that (1) an incorporation produced by unanimity, and (2) an unanimous agreement, that the act of a mere majority, say of one, shall pass as the act of the whole, are necessary to give authority to majorities. Nature, out of civil society, knows nothing of such a "constructive whole": and in many cases, as in an English jury, and formerly in a Polish national council, absolute unanimity was required. "This mode of decision (by majorities), where wills may be so nearly equal, where, according to circumstances, the smaller number may be the stronger force, and where apparent reason may be all upon one side, and on the other little less than impetuous appetite—all this must be the result of a very particular and special convention, confirmed afterwards by long habits of obedience, by a sort of discipline in society, and by a strong hand, vested with stationary, permanent power, to enforce this sort of constructive general will."
686. P. 271, L. 9. To make a revolution, &c. Burke did not know that the Revolution had been foreseen and demanded, ever since the middle of the century. The failures of Turgot stimulated expectation; but reformers had for some years been now dejected and weary of waiting. "Men no longer," says Michelet, "believed in its near approach. Far from Mont Blanc, you see it; when at its foot you see it no more." Mably, in 1784, thought public spirit too weak to bring it about. No reasons for a revolution were ever asked in France; the only question was, who ought to suffer by that which was inevitable.
687. L. 27. a pleader, i. e. not a speaker, but one who draws the pleas, or formal documents used in an action at law, according to set precedents.
689. L. 20. eloquence may exist, &c. The well-known sentence of Sallust on Catiline: "Satis eloquentiae; sapientiae parum."
690. L. 23. no ordinary men. Burke elsewhere compliments the vigilance, ingenuity, and activity of the Jacobins.
691. P. 273, L. 6. Pater ipse colendi, &c. Virg. Georg. i. 121.
692. L. 20. The difficulties, &c. Cp. vol. i. p. 170, l. 20.
693. P. 274, L. 2. "Your" is expletive.
694. L. 4. Rage and phrenzy will pull down, &c. So in Preface to Motion, June 14, 1784: "Its demolition (an independent House of Commons) was accomplished in a moment; and it was the work of ordinary hands. But to construct, is a matter of skill: to demolish, force and fury are sufficient." The tendencies of the age often prompted similar warnings. "A fool or a madman, with a farthing candle, may cause a conflagration in a city that the wisest of its inhabitants may be unable to extinguish." S. Jenyns, Reflections.
695. L. 6. The errors, &c. This paragraph is in Burke's most striking tone, that of an experienced political philosopher, contemptuously exposing the shallowness of the sciolist.
696. L. 11. loves sloth and hates quiet. The epigram belongs to Tacitus, Germ. 15: "Mira diversitate naturae, cum iidem homines sic ament inertiam et oderint quietem."
697. L. 18. expatiate. In the now almost disused sense = roam at will. Milton, Par. Lost, I. 774. So Pope, Essay on Man:
Rests, and expatiates, in a life to come.
698. P. 275, L. 15. the true lawgiver, &c. Aimed at the cold and mathematical Sieyès.
699. L. 16. to love and respect his kind, and to fear himself. Echoed by Shelley, Hymn to Intellectual Beauty:
To fear himself, and love all human kind.
700. L. 19. Political arrangement, &c. Burke here brings to the question the results of his personal experience. These pages contain fundamental axioms of practical politics.
701. L. 28. have never yet seen, &c. So South: "God has filled no man's intellectuals so full but he has left some vacuities in them that may send him sometimes for supplies to minds of a lower pitch.... Nay, the greatest abilities are sometimes beholding to the very meanest."
702. P. 276, L. 7. composition, i. e. combined multiplicity.
703. L. 11. the work itself requires the aid of more minds than one age can furnish. The common notion being that we should complete something
704. L. 15. some of the philosophers. The Schoolmen. "Plastic nature" or "plastic virtue" is a phrase intended by them to express the generative or vegetative faculty.
705. L. 30. take their opinions, &c. Chiefly the comedians, e. g. the ridicule of Molière against medicine, of Steele against law.
706. P. 277, L. 2. those who are habitually employed, &c. "By continually looking upwards, our minds will themselves grow upwards; and, as a man by indulging in habits of scorn and contempt for others is sure to descend to the level of what he despises, so the opposite habits of admiration and enthusiastic reverence for excellence impart to ourselves a portion of the qualities which we admire." Dr. Arnold, Preface to Poetry of Common Life.
707. L. 10. complexional = constitutional, as at p. 364, l. 2.
708. L. 12. i. e. monkey-like, wantonly destructive. Helvetius had remarked, in his peculiar way, on the monkey-like necessity for perpetual activity in children, even after their wants are satisfied. "Les singes ne sont pas susceptible de l'ennui qu'on doit regarder comme un des principes de la perfectibilité de l'esprit humain."
709. L. 13. paradoxes of eloquent writers. Burke follows Bishop Warburton in treating all writers who had hinted at revolutionary ideas as mere paradox-mongers. Cardan seems to have been the first: after him comes Bayle, whose opinion that neither religion nor civil society were necessary to the human race is treated as a pleasant paradox by Warburton, Divine Legation, vol. i. p. 76. The immediate allusion is to Rousseau, whose "misbegotten Paradoxes" had been long ago exposed by Warburton in the 2nd Book of the "Alliance between Church and State." Burke here maintains the opinion expressed thirty years before in the Annual Register, in reviewing Rousseau's letter to D'Alembert. He thought the paradoxes it contained were, like his own Vindication of Natural Society, intended as satire. He charges him with "a tendency to paradox, which is always the bane of solid learning.... A satire upon civilized society, a satire upon learning, may make a tolerable sport for an ingenious fancy; but if carried farther it can do no more (and that in such a way surely is too much), than to unsettle our notions of right and wrong, and lead by degrees to universal scepticism." Mr. Lecky says of Rousseau, "He was one of those writers who are eminently destitute of the judgment that enables men without exaggeration to discriminate between truth and falsehood, and yet eminently endowed with that logical faculty which enables them to defend the opinions they have embraced. No one plunged more recklessly into paradox, or supported those paradoxes with more consummate skill." Hist. of Rationalism, vol. ii. p. 242.
710. L. 20. Cicero ludicrously describes Cato, &c. In the Preface to the Paradoxa. See also the Oration Pro Muraena.
Exiguaeque togae simulet textore Catonem,
Virtutemne repraesentet moresque Catonis?
i. e. the apparel does not make the philosopher, as the cowl does not make the monk. "Video barbam et pallium—philosophum nondum video." The bearing of the allusion on the matter is more recondite than is usual with Burke.
712. IBID. Mr. Hume told me, &c. Burke seems to err in taking this statement of Rousseau to Hume, whatever its exact purport may have been, as a serious disclaimer of the ostensible ends of his writings. If ever a man was the serious dupe of his own errors, it was surely Rousseau. "It is not improbable," says Mackintosh, "that when rallied on the eccentricity of his paradoxes, he might, in a moment of gay effusion, have spoken of them as a sort of fancy, and an experiment on the credulity of mankind."
713. P. 278, L. 3. I believe, that were Rousseau alive, &c. This is likely enough from some passages in his writings. The following, for instance, on the metaphysical reformers, might have been written by Burke himself: "Du reste, renversant, détruisant, foulant aux pieds tout ce que les hommes respectent, ils ôtent aux affligés la dernière consolation de leur misère, aux puissants et aux riches le seul frein de leurs passions; ils arrachent du fond des coeurs le remords du crime, l'espoir de la vertu, et se vantent encore d'être les bienfaiteurs du genre humain. Jamais, disent ils, la vérité n'est nuisible aux hommes.* Je le crois comme eux; et c'est, à mon avis, une grande preuve que ce qu'ils enseignent n'est pas la vérité."
714. P. 279, L. 8. correctives... aberrations. The allusion is to the use of the compass in navigation, as is implied in the next page.
715. L. 12. In them we often see, &c. Often repeated by Burke, after Aristotle.
716. L. 29. like their ornamental gardeners. The Jardin Anglais, with its mounds, shrubs, and winding walks, had by this time scarcely become popular on the continent, though the model of Kent was not unknown. The French mechanical style to which Burke alludes was the invention of Le Nôtre, who laid out the gardens of Versailles.
717. P. 280, L. 2. regularly square, &c. Burke errs in stating that such a geometrical division and subdivision ever took place. Such plans were discussed, but all the new divisions were limited by natural boundaries. Burke did not see fit to correct the error when pointed out, not considering it material.
718. L. 20. on the system of Empedocles. The allusion seems to be to this philosopher's obscure notion of four successive stages of generation. See Ritter and Preller, Hist. Philos. No. 175.
720. P. 281, L. 2. dividing their political and civil representation into three parts. It is right to notice that Mr. Pitt, in arranging the new representation of Ireland, in 1800, adopted two of these bases, those of population and of contribution, considering that these, taken together, formed a better ground of calculation than either separately, though he did not pretend that the result of the combination could be considered accurate.
721. L. 8. third for her dower. Alluding to the legal dower, of a third of the husband's real property, to which a widow is entitled.
722. L. 21. But soft, by regular degrees, not yet (by regular approach). Pope, Moral Essays, Ep. iv. l. 129.
723. P. 285, L. 4. as historians represent Servius Tullius, &c. Burke had probably read the sceptical comments of Beaufort, which were developed by Niebuhr, on the early Roman History.
724. P. 290, L. 11. Hominem non sapiunt. Martial, x. 4. 10:
725. L. 27. such governments do exist, &c. Burke alludes to America, Holland, and Switzerland.
726. L. 31. the effect of necessity. In escaping in each case from external tyranny.
727. P. 291, L. 3. treat France exactly like a country of conquest. This bold and original observation is true enough. A conquest had been achieved, and it was intended to be consolidated.
728. P. 292, L. 9. facies Hippocratica. The old medical term for the appearance produced in the countenance by phthisis, as described by Hippocrates—the nostrils sharp, eyes hollow, temples low, tips of ears contracted, forehead dry and wrinkled, complexion pale or livid. It was held a sure prognostic of death. So in Armstrong's Satire "Taste":
That wears the facies Hippocratica, &c.
729. L. 11. the legislators, &c. I suspect that this paragraph was written by the younger Burke. See footnote, p. 209.
730. L. 13. metaphysics of an undergraduate. It must be noticed that in 1790 this implied in Oxford (apparently alluded to) something very different to what it does at the present time. See an amusing account of the progress formerly necessary to a degree: "doing generals," "answering under-bachelor," "determining," "doing quodlibets," "doing austins," &c., in Vicesimus Knox's Essays, No. 77. See also a metaphysical Parody, by Porson, in Watson's Life of Porson.
732. P. 293, L. 32. troll of their categorical table. The French politicians, however, set small store by the Aristotelian logic. I cannot think that Burke would have penned this trivial repartee.
733. P. 294, L. 19. if monarchy should ever again, &c. How accurately these remarkable presages were to be fulfilled, was soon understood under Bonaparte.
734. P. 296, L. 21. a trustee for the whole, and not for the parts. In its domestic policy, however, the unreformed House of Commons acted like a trustee for the agricultural interest.
735. L. 23. several and joint securities. Cp. the extract, p. 386, ll. 21-29.
736. L. 34. Few trouble their heads, &c. Cp., however, note to p. 281, l. 2, ante.
737. P. 297, L. 2. on different ideas. Referring rather to the means by which candidates were returned, than to the basis on which representation was distributed. Burke always attacked the corrupt sale and purchase of the constituencies, which was so thoroughly established in general opinion that Pitt's Reform Bill was based on the principle that the nation should buy from the boroughs the right to redistribute the seats.
738. P. 298, L. 17. Limbus Patrum. The border or outside ground between paradise and purgatory, as defined by Thomas Aquinas. Cp. Mr. Hales' note to Milton's Areopagitica, p. 13, l. 6.
739. L. 20. like chimney-sweepers. Chimneys were cleansed by sending a child up them. As the child grew to be a man, of course he became disqualified for his trade. See Sydney Smith's Essay on the subject, 1819.
740. P. 301, L. 3. They have reversed the Latonian kindness, &c. Oras et littora circum. Alluding to the Greek legend that Delos was a wandering island, fixed in its place at the instant when Latona gave birth to Apollo and Diana. Virg. Aen. iii. 75:
Errantem, Gyaro celsa Myconoque revinxit.
741. L. 10. holy bishop. Talleyrand, Bishop of Autun.
742. L. 13. not a good, &c. Burke, however, was certainly both a good and an old farmer. He was devoted to agriculture, and farmed his own lands at Beaconsfield up to the time of his death.
743. L. 19. encouragement—in the objective sense = hope.
744. IBID. Diis immortalibus sero. Burke follows the track of Bolingbroke in alluding to the beautiful sentiment of Cicero, de Senect. vii. 25. Death holding a handle of the plough is an embellishment of Burke's.
745. P. 302, L. 3. Beatus ille. The well-known Epode of Horace, with its humorous conclusion, thus happily imitated by Somervile (1692-1742):
Of Burton ale, and sea-coal fire,
A gen'rous, honest country 'squire.
That very night his money lent
On bond, or mortgage, he called in,
With lawful use of six per cent;
Next morn—he put it out at ten.
746. L. 29. In the Mississippi and the South Sea. See post, p. 358.
747. P. 304, L. 33. falls = makes to fall.
748. P. 305, L. 22. Serbonian bog. Par. Lost, ii. 592. Cp. vol. i. p. 254, l. 28.
749. P. 306, L. 28. hackled = cut small. Dutch, hakkelen.
750. P. 307, L. 7. instead of being all Frenchmen, &c. Burke's surmise has not been justified. The French certainly glory in the unity implied in their national name, and the Savoyard and Alsatian share the enthusiasm.
751. L. 12. We begin our public affections, &c. Cp. ante, p. 136, and vol. i. p. 148, l. 1. There is here also an allusion to the beautiful lines of Pope, cited before.
752. P. 308, L. 22. Never, before this time, &c. I do not know whether the d&eeivrgr;moς &epsacgr;sχatoς of Aristotle was ever realized, but the idea was certainly formed by him.
753. P. 312, L. 11. your supreme government, &c. Cp. vol. i. p. 100, l. 27.
754. P. 313, L. 14. attack them in the vital parts. Cp. p. 99, l. 21.
755. P. 316, L. 24. sed multae urbes, &c. Juv. x. 284.
756. L. 25. He is now sitting, &c. In October, 1790, when this pamphlet was published, Necker was no longer sitting on the ruins of the French monarchy, having resigned office on the 9th of September.
757. P. 318, L. 23. were not wholly free, &c. See this amply illustrated in Voltaire's amusing "Histoire du Parlement de Paris," published in 1769.
758. P. 319, L. 6. the vice of the antient democracies, &c. See footnote, p. 225.
759. L. 9. it abated the respect, &c. The difference between French and English political sentiment has been epigrammatically stated as follows: the French respect authority and despise law: the English respect law and despise authority.
760. P. 322, L. 6. on good appointments, i. e. if well supplied with all necessary equipment.
761. L. 9. wolf by the ears. The famous expression of Tiberius, "lupum se auribus tenere," Suet. Tib. 25. The image was more than once used by Burke with striking effect in a Parliamentary debate.
762. L. 14. M. de la Tour du Pin. He was a man of moderate views, and strongly attached to the monarchy. Necker had appointed him war minister about the middle of 1789. He resigned, together with all the rest of the ministry, except Montmorin, shortly after Burke's book was published.
763. L. 28. Addressing himself, &c. The allusions to the extract which follows are to the mutinies of the regiments of Metz and Nancy. See Carlyle's Hist. of the Rev., book ii.
765. P. 328, L. 23. grand compounders—shorten the road to their degrees. Alluding to an obsolete practice in the universities.
766. L. 33. stiff and peremptory. The expression is from Browne's Christian Morals.
767. P. 329, L. 1. grand climacteric. The sixty-third year (7 × 9 = 63) of human life.
768. L. 3. Si isti mihi largiantur, &c. Slightly altered from Cic. de Senect. xxiii. 83. The original sentiment occurs in a favourite book of Burke's, Browne's Christian Morals, Part III, § 25, and was adopted by Prior as a motto for his poem "Solomon."
769. P. 332, L. 27. until some popular general, &c. A similar prediction was made by Schiller, who thought that some popular general of the Republic would make himself master not only of France but of a great part of Europe. It was accurately fulfilled in Bonaparte.
770. P. 335, L. 4. The colonies assert, &c. Burke's presages on the colonies were accurately fulfilled in the terrible history of the Revolution of St. Domingo.
771. P. 337, L. 8. image and superscription. St. Luke xx. 24.
772. L. 29. unfeathered two-legged things. The famous Greek definition of a man, in the words used by Dryden in his celebrated description of Achitophel.
773. P. 340, L. 18. systasis of Crete. See an account of it in Plutarch's Treatise De Fraterno Amore. The Cretan cities quitted their internal feuds and united for defence when attacked by a common enemy. This was called sυgkr&eegr;t&iacgr;zein, whence our word "Syncretism."
774. P. 341, L. 9. The revenue of the state, &c. This admirable exposition of the nature of public revenues, and their relation to national action, should not be passed over as part of the merely critical section of the work. It possesses a real historical significance, for Pitt's great reforms in the revenue were just coming into operation.
775. P. 343, L. 14. Cedo quî vestram, &c. Naevius, quoted in Cic. de Senect. c. vi. 20. It is necessary to refer to the context: "Quod si legere aut audire voletis externa, maximas respublicas ab adolescentibus labefactas, a senibus sustentatas et restitutas reperietis.
Sic enim percontantur, ut est in Naevii ludo: respondentur et alia, et haec in primis:
776. P. 345, L. 12. John Doe, Richard Roe. Cp. vol. i. p. 129, l. 16.
777. L. 20. took an old huge full-bottomed perriwig, &c. The allusion is to the offerings of silver plate made to Louis XIV by the court and city of Paris at the financial crisis, produced by the long war, of 1709. See Saint Simon, Mémoires, vol. vii. p. 208. "Cet expédient," says Saint Simon, "avait
778. L. 27. tried in my memory by Louis XV. In 1762, towards the close of the calamitous Seven Years' War. "La France alors était plus malheureuse. Toutes les ressources étaient épuisées: presque tous les citoyens, à l'exemple du roi, avaient porté leur vaisselle à la monnaie." Voltaire, Siècle de Louis XV, ch. 35.
779. P. 349, L. 25. Mais si maladia, &c. From the comical interlude in Molière's Malade Imaginaire, in which the examination of a Bachelor for the doctor's degree is conducted in dog-latin. The candidate has already given the famous answer to the question, "Quare opium facit dormire?" "Quia est in eo virtus dormitiva," &c. On being interrogated as to the remedy for several diseases in succession, he makes the same answer:
Which is repeated after the final question in the text. Burke happily compares the ignorance which made the assignat the panacea of the state, to this gross barbarism in the art of medicine.
780. P. 350, L. 4. pious and venerable prelate. Bitter irony, on Talleyrand.
781. P. 355, L. 24. club at Dundee. The Dundee "Friends of Liberty," whose proceedings acquired some notoriety a year or two later. In 1793 the Unitarian minister Palmer was transported for seven years for writing and publishing a seditious address bearing the name of this society.
782. P. 357, L. 8. Credat who will. Horace, Sat. lib. i. v. 100.
783. L. 31. nuzzling = following blindly by the nose. So Pope:
Drops to the third, who nuzzles close behind.
784. P. 358, L. 4. glimmerings of reason—solid darkness. Pope, Dunciad iii. 226:
Half through the solid darkness of his soul.
So Dryden, Macflecknoe:
Strike through, and make a lucid interval," &c.
785. P. 359, L. 18. his atlantic regions. The allusion is to Bailly's Letters on the subject of the fabled island of Atlantis.
786. L. 20. smitten with the cold, dry, petrifick mace. Par. Lost, x. 293:
As with a Trident smote.
787. P. 361, L. 7. tontines. Lotteries on groups of lives, so called from their inventor. They had been adopted in England, and in the session which preceded the publication of this work, a batch of them had been converted into ordinary annuities.
788. L. 21. all-atoning name. Dryden, in the famous character of Achitophel, says that he
789. L. 28. Grand, swelling sentiments, &c. See especially, Lucan, Book VII. This poet was excluded from the collection of classics edited "for the use of the Dauphin," on account of his tyrannicide principles. Corneille records his preference of Lucan before Virgil.
790. L. 31. Old as I am, &c. Perhaps an allusion to Addison's Cato, Act II:
The throes and swellings of a Roman soul,
Cato's bold flights, th' extravagance of virtue.
791. L. 32. Corneille. See "Cinna" (Clarendon Press Series).
792. P. 362, L. 3. severe brow, &c. Perhaps a reminiscence of Thompson, "Liberty," Book III:
That often hang on Freedom's jealous brow.
793. P. 364, L. 21. one of our poets. Addison, in the celebrated Soliloquy of Cato, Act v. sc. 1:
Through what Variety of untry'd Being,
Through what new Scenes and Changes must we pass!
794. L. 32. snatches from his share, &c. The allusion is to the proceedings against Hastings.