Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

His stand-point in the second speech was America. His topics were her growing population, agriculture, commerce, and fisheries; the causes of her fierce spirit of liberty; the impossibility of repressing it by force, and the consequent necessity of some concession on the part of England. His object was (waiving all abstract questions about the right of taxation) to show that Parliament ought “to admit the people of the colonies into an interest in the Constitution” by giving them (like Ireland, Wales, Chester, Durham) a share in the representation; and to do this by leaving internal taxation to the Colonial Assemblies, since no one could think of an actual representation of America in Parliament at the distance of three thousand miles. The two speeches were equally diverse in their spirit. The first was in the strain of incessant attack, full of the keenest sarcasm, and shaped from beginning to end for the purpose of putting down the ministry. The second, like the plan it proposed, was conciliatory; temperate and respectful towards Lord North; designed to inform those who were ignorant of the real strength and feeling of America; instinct with the finest philosophy of man and of social institutions; and intended, if possible, to lead the House through Lord North's scheme, into a final adjustment of the dispute, on the true principles of English liberty. It is the most finished of Mr. Burke's speeches; and though it contains no passage of such vividness and force as the description of Hyder Ali in his Speech on the Nabob of Arcot's debts, it will be read probably more than any of his other speeches, for the richness of its style and the lasting character of the instruction it conveys. Twenty years after Mr. Fox said, in applying its principles to the subject of parliamentary reform, 'Let gentlemen read this speech by day, and meditate on it by night; let them peruse it again and again, study it, imprint it on their minds, impress it on their hearts: they will then learn that representation is the sovereign remedy for every evil.

Nowhere else, according to Dr. Goodrich, who is well qualified to speak, notwithstanding all that has been written since, is there to be found so admirable a view of the causes which produced the American Revolution as in these two speeches. “They both deserve to be studied with the utmost diligence by every American scholar 1.'

The history of the events which happened between the dates of the two speeches, the action of the Congress which had now assembled, the renewed penal measures of the government, and

- Select British Eloquence, by Chauncey A. Goodrich, D.D., Professor in Yale College.

the respective merits of the various conciliatory measures which were advocated by Chatham, North, Burke, and Hartley, though desirable to be known, are not material to the understanding of this speech. If any testimony were wanted to the principles of colonial statesmanship which it embodies, it is to be found in the use made of them by Sir Robert Peel in his Speech on the Jamaica Government Bill, May 3, 1839?.

It is believed that the sources from which help and information have been derived, in the compilation of this edition, are sufficiently indicated by the references. In addition, the Editor has to express his grateful acknowledgment of the assistance and encouragement he has received from many friends, and particularly from Dr. Watson and Mr. Boyes, both of St. John's College, Oxford.

LONDON, March 1874.

1 See also Peel's Speeches on the East Retford Franchise, May 5, 1829, and on New Zealand, June 17, 1845.

CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE.

17301

Burke born in Dublin, Jan, ist (Old Style).

EARLY LIFE. Being diligent is the gate by which we must pass to knowledge and fortune; without it we are both unserviceable to ourselves and our fellowcreatures, and a burthen to the earth. . .. I have a superficial knowledge of many things, but scarce the bottom of any.' Letter to Shackleton, 1744.

[blocks in formation]

LITERARY LIFE. • I dined with your Secretary yesterday; there were Garrick and a young Mr. Burke, who wrote a book in the style of Lord Bolingbroke, that was much admired. He is a sensible man, but has not worn off his authorism yet, and thinks there is nothing so charming as writers, and to be one. He will know better one of these days.' Walpole to G. Montagu, July 22, 1761.

1750 Arrival in London.
1754

Becomes a member of Macklin's Debating Society. 1756 Vindication of Natural Society.

Inquiry into Sublime and Beautiful.
1757 Marriage with Miss Jane Mary Nugent.

Newcastle Ministry.
Account of European Settlements in America.
Abridgment of English History.

1 The Editor has stated the facts which are in favour of this date in the *Athenaeum,' June 26, 1875.

1758

Birth of his son.
Acquaintance with Johnson and Reynolds.
Annual Register, vol. i.
Introduction to Hamilton by Lord Charlemont.

1759

CONNEXION WITH HAMILTON. Six of the best years of my life he took me from every pursuit of literary reputation, or of improvement of my fortune.' Letter to Hutchinson.

Fragment on Irish Penal Laws.
1761

Bute Ministry.
1763 Grenville Ministry.
1765 Rockingham Ministry. '

POLITICAL LIFE. • My principles are all settled and arranged; and indeed, at my time of life, and after so much reading and reflection, I should be ashamed to be caught at hesitation and doubt, when I ought to be in the midst of action ; not, as I have seen some to be, as Milton says, “Unpractised, unprepared, and still to seek.” . However, this necessary use of the principles I have will not make me shut my ears to others which as yet I have not; only I wish to act upon some that are rational Draft of Letter to Bishop Markham, 1771. 1765 Secretary to Lord Rockingham.

Member for Wendover. 1766

Chatham Ministry. 1768 Grafton Ministry.

Purchase of Gregories, Burke's estate in Bucking

hamshire.
1769 Observations on Present State of Nation.
1770

Thoughts on Present Discontents.

North Ministry.
1771 Agent for New York.
1772 · Opposes Petition of Clergy against Subscription.

Speech on Dissenters.
Visit to France.
Speech on American Taxation.
Death of Goldsmith.

Member for Bristol.
1775 Speech on Conciliation with America.

Battles of Lexington and Bunker Hill.

1774

1776
1777

1778

1779

1780

1782

1783

1784

Address to the King.
Letter to Sheriffs of Bristol.
Death of Chatham.
Trial of Keppel.
Death of Garrick.
Speech on the Economical Reform.
Member for Malton.
Rockingham Ministry. Paymaster-general.
Death of Rockingham.
Shelburne Ministry.
Coalition Ministry.
Speech on Fox's East India Bill.
Lord Rector of University of Glasgow.
Pitt Ministry.
Death of Johnson.
Speech on Nabob of Arcot's Debts.
Proceedings against Hastings.
Impeachment of Hastings. Speeches of Burke,

Fox, Sheridan, and Windham.
French Revolution.
Reflections on French Revolution.
Breach with Fox and Sheridan.
Letter to a Member of the National Assembly.
Appeal from New to Old Whigs.
Death of Reynolds.
Observations on Conduct of the Ministry.
Remarks on Policy of Allies.
Deaths of his brother and his son,
Retirement from Parliament.

1785

1786

1787

1789
1790

1791

1792

1793

1794

LAST YEARS. 'The storm has gone over me, and I lie like one of those old oaks which the late hurricane has scattered around me.' Letter to a Noble Lord.

[blocks in formation]
« AnteriorContinuar »