Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Selections from the Speeches and Writings of Edmund Burke. by Edmund Burke

Part 8 out of 9

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.0 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

with an enthralled world to labour for them; is it him, who has
drained and cultivated the PONTINE MARSHES, that we are to satisfy of
our cordial spirit of conciliation, with those who, in their equity,
are restoring Holland again to the seas, whose maxims poison more
than the exhalations of the most deadly fens, and who turn all the
fertilities of nature and of art into a howling desert? Is it to him,
that we are to demonstrate the good faith of our submissions to the
cannibal republic; to him who is commanded to deliver into their
hands Ancona and Civita Vecchia, seats of commerce, raised by the
wise and liberal labours and expenses of the present and late
pontiffs; ports not more belonging to the Ecclesiastical State than
to the commerce of Great Britain; thus wresting from his hands the
power of the keys of the centre of Italy, as before they had taken
possession of the keys of the northern part, from the hands of the
unhappy king of Sardinia, the natural ally of England? Is it to him
we are to prove our good faith in the peace which we are soliciting
to receive from the hands of his and our robbers, the enemies of all
arts, all sciences, all civilization, and all commerce?


That day was, I fear, the fatal term of LOCAL patriotism. On that day, I
fear, there was an end of that narrow scheme of relations called our
country, with all its pride, its prejudices, and its partial affections.
All the little quiet rivulets, that watered an humble, a contracted, but
not an unfruitful field, are to be lost in the waste expanse, and
boundless, barren ocean of the homicide philanthropy of France. It is no
longer an object of terror, the aggrandizement of a new power, which
teaches as a professor that philanthropy in their chair; whilst it
propagates by arms, and establishes by conquest, the comprehensive
system of universal fraternity. In what light is all this viewed in a
great assembly? The party which takes the lead there has no longer any
apprehensions, except those that arise from not being admitted to the
closest and most confidential connections with the metropolis of that
fraternity. That reigning party no longer touches on its favourite
subject, the display of those horrors, that must attend the existence of
a power, with such dispositions and principles, seated in the heart of
Europe. It is satisfied to find some loose, ambiguous expressions in its
former declarations, which may set it free from its professions and
engagements. It always speaks of peace with the regicides as a great and
an undoubted blessing; and such a blessing as, if obtained, promises, as
much as any human disposition of things can promise, security and
permanence. It holds out nothing at all definite towards this security.
It only seeks, by a restoration, to some of their former owners, of some
fragments of the general wreck of Europe, to find a plausible plea for a
present retreat from an embarrassing position. As to the future, that
party is content to leave it, covered in a night of the most palpable
obscurity. It never once has entered into a particle of detail of what
our own situation, or that of other powers, must be, under the blessings
of the peace we seek. This defect, to my power, I mean to supply; that
if any persons should still continue to think an attempt at foresight is
any part of the duty of a statesman, I may contribute my trifle to the
materials of his speculation.

As to the other party, the minority of to?day, possibly the majority of
to-morrow, small in number but full of talents and every species of
energy, which, upon the avowed ground of being more acceptable to
France, is a candidate for the helm of this kingdom, it has never
changed from the beginning. It has preserved a perennial consistency.
This would be a never-failing source of true glory, if springing from
just and right; but it is truly dreadful if it be an arm of Styx, which
springs out of the profoundest depths of a poisoned soil. The French
maxims were by these gentlemen at no time condemned. I speak of their
language in the most moderate terms. There are many who think that they
have gone much further; that they have always magnified and extolled the
French maxims; that not in the least disgusted or discouraged by the
monstrous evils, which have attended these maxims from the moment of
their adoption both at home and abroad, they still continue to predict,
that in due time they must produce the greatest good to the poor human
race. They obstinately persist in stating those evils as matter of
accident; as things wholly collateral to the system. It is observed,
that this party has never spoken of an ally of Great Britain with the
smallest degree of respect or regard; on the contrary, it has generally
mentioned them under opprobrious appellations, and in such terms of
contempt or execration, as never had been heard before, because no such
would have formerly been permitted in our public assemblies. The moment,
however, that any of those allies quitted this obnoxious connection, the
party has instantly passed an act of indemnity and oblivion in their
favour. After this, no sort of censure on their conduct; no imputation
on their character! From that moment their pardon was sealed in a
reverential and mysterious silence. With the gentlemen of this minority,
there is no ally, from one end of Europe to the other, with whom we
ought not to be ashamed to act. The whole college of the states of
Europe is no better than a gang of tyrants. With them all our connexions
were broken off at once. We ought to have cultivated France, and France
alone, from the moment of her revolution. On that happy change, all our
dread of that nation as a power was to cease. She became in an instant
dear to our affections, and one with our interests. All other nations we
ought to have commanded not to trouble her sacred throes, whilst in
labour to bring into a happy birth her abundant litter of constitutions.


There has not been in this century any foreign peace or war, in its
origin, the fruit of popular desire; except the war that was made with
Spain in 1739. Sir Robert Walpole was forced into the war by the people,
who were inflamed to this measure by the most leading politicians, by
the first orators, and the greatest poets, of the time. For that war,
Pope sung his dying notes. For that war, Johnson, in more energetic
strains, employed the voice of his early genius. For that war, Glover
distinguished himself in the way in which his muse was the most natural
and happy. The crowd readily followed the politicians in the cry for a
war, which threatened little bloodshed, and which promised victories
that were attended with something more solid than glory. A war with
Spain was a war of plunder. In the present conflict with regicide, Mr.
Pitt has not hitherto had, nor will, perhaps, for a few days have, many
prizes to hold out in the lottery of war, to attempt the lower part of
our character. He can only maintain it by an appeal to the higher; and
to those, in whom that higher part is the most predominant, he must look
the most for his support. Whilst he holds out no inducements to the
wise, nor bribes to the avaricious, he may be forced by a vulgar cry
into a peace ten times more ruinous than the most disastrous war. The
weaker he is in the fund of motives which apply to our avarice, to our
laziness, and to our lassitude, if he means to carry the war to any end
at all, the stronger he ought to be in his addresses to our magnanimity
and to our reason.

In stating that Walpole was driven by a popular clamour into a measure
not to be justified, I do not mean wholly to excuse his conduct. My time
of observation did not exactly coincide with that event: but I read much
of the controversies then carried on. Several years after the contests
of parties had ceased, the people were amused, and in a degree warmed,
with them. The events of that era seemed then of magnitude, which the
revolutions of our time have reduced to parochial importance; and the
debates, which then shook the nation, now appear of no higher moment
than a discussion in a vestry. When I was very young, a general fashion
told me I was to admire some of the writings against that minister; a
little more maturity taught me as much to despise them. I observed one
fault in his general proceeding. He never manfully put forward the
entire strength of his cause. He temporised, he managed, and, adopting
very nearly the sentiments of his adversaries, he opposed their
inferences. This, for a political commander, is the choice of a weak
post. His adversaries had the better of the argument, as he handled it,
not as the reason and justice of his cause enabled him to manage it. I
say this, after having seen, and with some care examined, the original
documents concerning certain important transactions of those times. They
perfectly satisfied me of the extreme injustice of that war, and of the
falsehood of the colours which, to his own ruin, and guided by a
mistaken policy, he suffered to be daubed over that measure. Some years
after, it was my fortune to converse with many of the principal actors
against that minister, and with those who principally excited that
clamour. None of them, no not one, did in the least defend the measure,
or attempt to justify their conduct. They condemned it as freely as they
would have done in commenting upon any proceeding in history, in which
they were totally unconcerned. Thus it will be. They who stir up the
people to improper desires, whether of peace or war, will be condemned
by themselves. They who weakly yield to them will be condemned by


How a question of peace can be discussed without having them in view, I
cannot imagine. If you or others see a way out of these difficulties, I
am happy. I see, indeed, a fund from whence equivalents will be
proposed. I see it, but I cannot just now touch it. It is a question of
high moment. It opens another Iliad of woes to Europe.

Such is the time proposed for making A COMMON POLITICAL PEACE; to which
no one circumstance is propitious. As to the grand principle of the
peace, it is left, as if by common consent, wholly out of the question.

Viewing things in this light, I have frequently sunk into a degree of
despondency and dejection hardly to be described; yet out of the
profoundest depths of this despair, an impulse, which I have in vain
endeavoured to resist, has urged me to raise one feeble cry against this
unfortunate coalition which is formed at home, in order to make a
coalition with France, subversive of the whole ancient order of the
world. No disaster of war, no calamity of season, could ever strike me
with half the horror which I felt from what is introduced to us by this
junction of parties, under the soothing name of peace. We are apt to
speak of a low and pusillanimous spirit as the ordinary cause by which
dubious wars terminated in humiliating treaties. It is here the direct
contrary. I am perfectly astonished at the boldness of character, at the
intrepidity of mind, the firmness of nerve, in those who are able with
deliberation to face the perils of Jacobin fraternity.

This fraternity is indeed so terrible in its nature, and in its manifest
consequences, that there is no way of quieting our apprehensions about
it, but by totally putting it out of sight, by substituting for it,
through a sort of periphrasis, something of an ambiguous quality, and
describing such a connection under the terms of "THE USUAL RELATIONS OF
PEACE AND AMITY." By this means the proposed fraternity is hustled in
the crowd of those treaties, which imply no change in the public law of
Europe, and which do not upon system affect the interior condition of
nations. It is confounded with those conventions in which matters of
dispute among sovereign powers are compromised, by the taking off a duty
more or less, by the surrender of a frontier town, or a disputed
district, on the one side or the other; by pactions in which the
pretensions of families are settled (as by a conveyancer, making family
substitutions and successions), without any alterations in the laws,
manners, religion, privileges, and customs, of the cities, or
territories, which are the subject of such arrangements.

All this body of old conventions, composing the vast and voluminous
collection called the corps diplomatique, forms the code or statute law,
as the methodised reasonings of the great publicists and jurists form
the digest and jurisprudence of the Christian world. In these treasures
are to be found the USUAL relations of peace and amity in civilized
Europe; and there the relations of ancient France were to be found
amongst the rest.

The present system in France is not the ancient France. It is not the
ancient France with ordinary ambition and ordinary means. It is not a
new power of an old kind. It is a new power of a new species. When such
a questionable shape is to be admitted for the first time into the
brotherhood of Christendom, it is not a mere matter of idle curiosity to
consider how far it is in its nature alliable with the rest, or whether
"the relations of peace and amity" with this new state are likely to be
of the same nature with the USUAL relations of the states of Europe.


It is never, therefore, wise to quarrel with the interested views of
men, whilst they are combined with the public interest and promote it:
it is our business to tie the knot, if possible, closer. Resources that
are derived from extraordinary virtues, as such virtues are rare, so
they must be unproductive. It is a good thing for a monied man to pledge
his property on the welfare of his country; he shows that he places his
treasure where his heart is; and, revolving in this circle, we know that
"wherever a man's treasure is, there his heart will be also." For these
reasons, and on these principles, I have been sorry to see the attempts
which have been made, with more good meaning than foresight and
consideration, towards raising the annual interest of this loan by
private contributions. Wherever a regular revenue is established, there
voluntary contribution can answer no purpose, but to disorder and
disturb it in its course. To recur to such aids is, for so much, to
dissolve the community, and to return to a state of unconnected nature.
And even if such a supply should be productive, in a degree commensurate
to its object, it must also be productive of much vexation, and much
oppression. Either the citizens, by the proposed duties, pay their
proportion according to some rate made by public authority, or they do
not. If the law be well made, and the contributions founded on just
proportions, everything superadded by something that is not as regular
as law, and as uniform in its operation, will become more or less out of
proportion. If, on the contrary, the law be not made upon proper
calculation, it is a disgrace to the public wisdom, which fails in skill
to assess the citizen in just measure, and according to his means. But
the hand of authority is not always the most heavy hand. It is obvious,
that men may be oppressed by many ways, besides those which take their
course from the supreme power of the state. Suppose the payment to be
wholly discretionary. Whatever has its origin in caprice, is sure not to
improve in its progress, nor to end in reason. It is impossible for each
private individual to have any measure conformable to the particular
condition of each of his fellow-citizens, or to the general exigencies
of his country. 'Tis a random shot at best.

When men proceed in this irregular mode, the first contributor is apt to
grow peevish with his neighbours. He is but too well disposed to measure
their means by his own envy, and not by the real state of their
fortunes, which he can rarely know, and which it may in them be an act
of the grossest imprudence to reveal. Hence the odium and lassitude,
with which people will look upon a provision for the public, which is
bought by discord at the expense of social quiet. Hence the bitter
heart-burnings, and the war of tongues, which is so often the prelude to
other wars. Nor is it every contribution, called voluntary, which is
according to the free will of the giver. A false shame, or a false
glory, against his feelings and his judgment, may tax an individual to
the detriment of his family, and in wrong of his creditors. A pretence
of public spirit may disable him from the performance of his private
duties. It may disable him even from paying the legitimate contributions
which he is to furnish according to the prescript of the law; but what
is the most dangerous of all is, that malignant disposition to which
this mode of contribution evidently tends, and which at length leaves
the comparatively indigent to judge of the wealth, and to prescribe to
the opulent, or those whom they conceive to be such, the use they are to
make of their fortunes. From thence it is but one step to the subversion
of all property.


The author does not confine the benefit of the regicide lesson to
kings alone. He has a diffusive bounty. Nobles, and men of property,
will likewise be greatly reformed. They too will be led to a review
of their social situation and duties; "and will reflect, that their
large allotment of worldly advantages is for the aid and benefit of
the whole." Is it then from the fate of Juignie, archbishop of Paris,
or of the cardinal de Rochefoucault, and of so many others, who gave
their fortunes, and, I may say, their very beings, to the poor, that
the rich are to learn, that their "fortunes are for the aid and
benefit of the whole?" I say nothing of the liberal persons of great
rank and property, lay and ecclesiastic, men and women, to whom we
have had the honour and happiness of affording an asylum,--I pass by
these, lest I should never have done, or lest I should omit some as
deserving as any I might mention. Why will the author then suppose,
that the nobles and men of property in France have been banished,
confiscated, and murdered, on account of the savageness and ferocity
of their character, and their being tainted with vices beyond those
of the same order and description in other countries? No judge of a
revolutionary tribunal, with his hands dipped in their blood, and his
maw gorged with their property, has yet dared to assert what this
author has been pleased, by way of a moral lesson, to insinuate.

Their nobility, and their men of property, in a mass, had the very same
virtues and the very same vices, and in the very same proportions, with
the same description of men in this and in other nations. I must do
justice to suffering honour, generosity, and integrity. I do not know,
that any time, or any country, has furnished more splendid examples of
every virtue, domestic and public. I do not enter into the councils of
Providence: but, humanly speaking, many of these nobles and men of
property, from whose disastrous fate we are, it seems, to learn a
general softening of character, and a revision of our social situations
and duties, appear to me full as little deserving of that fate, as the
author, whoever he is, can be. Many of them, I am sure, were such, as I
should be proud indeed to be able to compare myself with, in knowledge,
in integrity, and in every other virtue. My feeble nature might shrink,
though theirs did not, from the proof; but my reason and my ambition
tell me, that it would be a good bargain to purchase their merits with
their fate.

For which of his vices did that great magistrate, D'Espremenil, lose his
fortune and his head? What were the abominations of Malesherbes, that
other excellent magistrate, whose sixty years of uniform virtue was
acknowledged, in the very act of his murder, by the judicial butchers,
who condemned him? On account of what misdemeanors was he robbed of his
property, and slaughtered with two generations of his offspring; and the
remains of the third race, with a refinement of cruelty, and lest they
should appear to reclaim the property forfeited by the virtues of their
ancestor, confounded in an hospital with the thousands of those unhappy
foundling infants, who are abandoned, without relation, and without
name, by the wretchedness or by the profligacy of their parents?

Is the fate of the queen of France to produce this softening of
character? Was she a person so very ferocious and cruel as, by the
example of her death, to frighten us into common humanity? Is there no
way to teach the emperor a softening of character, and a review of his
social situation and duty, but his consent, by an infamous accord with
regicide, to drive a second coach with the Austrian arms through the
streets of Paris, along which, after a series of preparatory horrors,
exceeding the atrocities of the bloody execution itself, the glory of
the imperial race had been carried to an ignominious death? Is this a
lesson of MODERATION to a descendant of Maria Theresa, drawn from the
fate of the daughter of that incomparable woman and sovereign? If he
learns this lesson from such an object, and from such teachers, the man
may remain, but the king is deposed. If he does not carry quite another
memory of that transaction in the inmost recesses of his heart, he is
unworthy to reign; he is unworthy to live. In the chronicle of disgrace
he will have but this short tale told of him, "he was the first emperor
of his house that embraced a regicide: he was the last that wore the
imperial purple."--Far am I from thinking so ill of this august
sovereign, who is at the head of the monarchies of Europe, and who is
the trustee of their dignities and his own. What ferocity of character
drew on the fate of Elizabeth, the sister of King Louis the Sixteenth?
For which of the vices of that pattern of benevolence, of piety, and of
all the virtues, did they put her to death? For which of her vices did
they put to death the mildest of all human creatures, the duchess of
Biron? What were the crimes of those crowds of matrons and virgins of
condition, whom they massacred, with their juries of blood, in prisons
and on scaffolds? What were the enormities of the infant king, whom they
caused, by lingering tortures, to perish in their dungeon, and whom, if
at last they despatched by poison, it was in that detestable crime the
only act of mercy they have ever shown?

What softening of character is to be had, what review of their social
situations and duties is to be taught, by these examples, to kings, to
nobles, to men of property, to women, and to infants? The royal family
perished, because it was royal. The nobles perished, because they were
noble. The men, women, and children, who had property, because they had
property to be robbed of. The priests were punished, after they had been
robbed of their all, not for their vices, but for their virtues and
their piety, which made them an honour to their sacred profession, and
to that nature, of which we ought to be proud, since they belong to it.
My Lord, nothing can be learned from such examples, except the danger of
being kings, queens, nobles, priests, and children, to be butchered on
account of their inheritance. These are things, at which not vice, not
crime, not folly, but wisdom, goodness, learning, justice, probity,
beneficence, stand aghast. By these examples our reason and our moral
sense are not enlightened, but confounded; and there is no refuge for
astonished and affrighted virtue, but being annihilated in humility and
submission, sinking into a silent adoration of the inscrutable
dispensations of Providence, and flying, with trembling wings, from this
world of daring crimes, and feeble, pusillanimous, half-bred, bastard
justice, to the asylum of another order of things, in an unknown form,
but in a better life.

Whatever the politician or preacher of September or of October may think
of the matter, it is a most comfortless, disheartening, desolating
example. Dreadful is the example of ruined innocence and virtue, and the
completest triumph of the completest villainy, that ever vexed and
disgraced mankind! The example is ruinous in every point of view,
religious, moral, civil, political. It establishes that dreadful maxim
of Machiavel, that in great affairs men are not to be wicked by halves.
This maxim is not made for a middle sort of beings, who, because they
cannot be angels, ought to thwart their ambition, and not endeavour to
become infernal spirits. It is too well exemplified in the present time,
where the faults and errors of humanity, checked by the imperfect
timorous virtues, have been overpowered by those who have stopped at no
crime. It is a dreadful part of the example, that infernal malevolence
has had pious apologists, who read their lectures on frailties in favour
of crimes; who abandon the weak, and court the friendship of the wicked.
To root out these maxims, and the examples that support them, is a wise
object of years of war. This is that war. This is that moral war. It was
said by old Trivulzio, that the battle of Marignan was the battle of the
giants, that all the rest of the many he had seen were those of the
cranes and pigmies. This is true of the objects, at least, of the
contest. For the greater part of those, which we have hitherto contended
for, in comparison, were the toys of children.

The October politician is so full of charity and good nature, that he
supposes, that these very robbers and murderers themselves are in a
course of melioration; on what ground I cannot conceive, except on the
long practice of every crime, and by its complete success. He is an
Origenist, and believes in the conversion of the devil. All that runs in
the place of blood in his veins is nothing but the milk of human
kindness. He is as soft as a curd, though, as a politician, he might be
supposed to be made of sterner stuff. He supposes (to use his own
expression) "that the salutary truths, which he inculcates, are making
their way into their bosoms." Their bosom is a rock of granite, on which
falsehood has long since built her stronghold. Poor truth has had a hard
work of it with her little pickaxe. Nothing but gunpowder will do. As a
proof, however, of the progress of this sap of Truth, he gives us a
confession they had made not long before he wrote. "Their fraternity"
(as was lately stated by themselves in a solemn report) "has been the
brotherhood of Cain and Abel, and they have organized nothing but
Bankruptcy and Famine." A very honest confession, truly; and much in the
spirit of their oracle, Rousseau. Yet, what is still more marvellous
than the confession, this is the very fraternity to which our author
gives us such an obliging invitation to accede. There is, indeed, a
vacancy in the fraternal corps; a brother and a partner is wanted. If we
please, we may fill up the place of the butchered Abel; and, whilst we
wait the destiny of the departed brother, we may enjoy the advantages of
the partnership, by entering, without delay, into a shop of ready-made
bankruptcy and famine. These are the douceurs, by which we are invited
to regicide fraternity and friendship. But still our author considers
the confession as a proof, that "truth is making its way into their
bosoms." No! It is not making its way into their bosoms. It has forced
its way into their mouths! The evil spirit, by which they are possessed,
though essentially a liar, is forced, by the tortures of conscience, to
confess the truth: to confess enough for their condemnation, but not for
their amendment. Shakspeare very aptly expresses this kind of
confession, devoid of repentance, from the mouth of a usurper, a
murderer, and a regicide--

"We are ourselves compelled,
Even to the teeth and forehead of our faults,
To give in evidence."

Whence is their amendment? Why, the author writes, that, on their
murderous insurrectionary system, their own lives are not sure for an
hour; nor has their power a greater stability. True. They are convinced
of it; and accordingly the wretches have done all they can to preserve
their lives, and to secure their power; but not one step have they taken
to amend the one, or to make a more just use of the other.


There is one topic upon which I hope I shall be excused in going a
little beyond my design. The factions, now so busy amongst us, in order
to divest men of all love for their country, and to remove from their
minds all duty with regard to the state, endeavour to propagate an
opinion, that the PEOPLE, in forming their commonwealth, have by no
means parted with their power over it. This is an impregnable citadel,
to which these gentlemen retreat whenever they are pushed by the battery
of laws and usages, and positive conventions. Indeed, it is such and of
so great force, that all they have done, in defending their outworks, is
so much time and labour thrown away. Discuss any of their schemes--their
answer is--It is the act of the PEOPLE, and that is sufficient. Are we
to deny to a MAJORITY of the people the right of altering even the whole
frame of their society, if such should be their pleasure? They may
change it, say they, from a monarchy to a republic to?day, and to-morrow
back again from a republic to a monarchy, and so backward and forward as
often as they like. They are masters of the commonwealth; because in
substance they are themselves the commonwealth. The French revolution,
say they, was the act of the majority of the people; and if the majority
of any other people, the people of England for instance, wish to make
the same change, they have the same right. Just the same, undoubtedly.
That is, none at all. Neither the few nor the many have a right to act
merely by their will, in any matter connected with duty, trust,
engagement, or obligation. The constitution of a country being once
settled upon some compact, tacit or expressed, there is no power
existing of force to alter it, without the breach of the covenant, or
the consent of all the parties. Such is the nature of a contract. And
the votes of a majority of the people, whatever their infamous
flatterers may teach in order to corrupt their minds, cannot alter the
moral any more than they can alter the physical essence of things. The
people are not to be taught to think lightly of their engagements to
their governors; else they teach governors to think lightly of their
engagements towards them. In that kind of game in the end the people are
sure to be losers. To flatter them into a contempt of faith, truth, and
justice, is to ruin them; for in these virtues consist their whole
safety. To flatter any man, or any part of mankind, in any description,
by asserting, that in engagements he or they are free whilst any other
human creature is bound, is ultimately to vest the rule of morality in
the pleasure of those who ought to be rigidly submitted to it; to
subject the sovereign reason of the world to the caprices of weak and
giddy men.

But, as no one of us men can dispense with public or private faith, or
with any other tie of moral obligation, so neither can any number of us.
The number engaged in crimes, instead of turning them into laudable
acts, only augments the quantity and intensity of the guilt. I am well
aware that men love to hear of their power, but have an extreme
disrelish to be told of their duty. This is of course, because every
duty is a limitation of some power. Indeed arbitrary power is so much to
the depraved taste of the vulgar, of the vulgar of every description,
that almost all the dissensions, which lacerate the commonwealth, are
not concerning the manner in which it is to be exercised, but concerning
the hands in which it is to be placed. Somewhere they are resolved to
have it. Whether they desire it to be vested in the many or the few,
depends with most men upon the chance which they imagine they themselves
may have of partaking in the exercise of that arbitrary sway, in the one
mode or in the other.

It is not necessary to teach men to thirst after power. But it is very
expedient that by moral instruction, they should be taught, and by their
civil constitutions they should be compelled, to put many restrictions
upon the immoderate exercise of it, and the inordinate desire. The best
method of obtaining these two great points forms the important, but at
the same time the difficult, problem to the true statesman. He thinks of
the place in which political power is to be lodged, with no other
attention, than as it may render the more or the less practicable, its
salutary restraint, and its prudent direction. For this reason no
legislator, at any period of the world, has willingly placed the seat of
active power in the hands of the multitude: because there it admits of
no control no regulation, no steady direction whatsoever. The people are
the natural control on authority; but to exercise and to control
together is contradictory and impossible.

As the exorbitant exercise of power cannot, under popular sway, be
effectually restrained, the other great object of political arrangement,
the means of abating an excessive desire of it, is in such a state still
worse provided for. The democratic commonwealth is the foodful nurse of
ambition. Under the other forms it meets with many restraints. Whenever,
in states which have had a democratic basis, the legislators have
endeavoured to put restraints upon ambition, their methods were as
violent, as in the end they were ineffectual: as violent indeed as any
the most jealous despotism could invent. The ostracism could not very
long save itself, and much less the state which it was meant to guard,
from the attempts of ambition, one of the natural, inbred, incurable
distempers of a powerful democracy.


Great lights they say are lately obtained in the world; and Mr. Burke,
instead of shrouding himself in exploded ignorance, ought to have taken
advantage of the blaze of illumination which has been spread about him.
It may be so. The enthusiasts of this time, it seems, like their
predecessors in another faction of fanaticism, deal in lights.--Hudibras
pleasantly says to them, they

"Have LIGHTS, where better eyes are blind,
As pigs are said to see the wind."

The author of the Reflections has HEARD a great deal concerning the
modern lights; but he has not yet had the good fortune to SEE much of
them. He has read more than he can justify to anything but the spirit of
curiosity, of the works of these illuminators of the world. He has
learned nothing from the far greater number of them, than a full
certainty of their shallowness, levity, pride, petulance, presumption,
and ignorance. Where the old authors whom he has read, and the old men
whom he has conversed with, have left him in the dark, he is in the dark
still. If others, however, have obtained any of this extraordinary
light, they will use it to guide them in their researches and their
conduct. I have only to wish, that the nation may be as happy and as
prosperous under the influence of the new light, as it has been in the
sober shade of the old obscurity.


In the same debate, Mr. Burke was represented by Mr. Fox as arguing in a
manner which implied that the British constitution could not be
defended, but by abusing all republics ancient and modern. He said
nothing to give the least ground for such a censure. He 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 his faculties, which should make him an enemy to any republic modern
or ancient. Far from it. He has studied the form and spirit of republics
very early in life; he has studied them with great attention; and with a
mind undisturbed by affection or prejudice. He is indeed convinced that
the science of government would be poorly cultivated without that study.
But the result in his mind from that investigation has been, and is,
that neither England nor France, without infinite detriment to them, as
well in the event as in the experiment, could be brought into a
republican form; but that everything republican which can be introduced
with safety into either of them, must be built upon a monarchy; built
upon a real, not a nominal, monarchy, AS ITS ESSENTIAL BASIS; that all
such institutions, whether aristocratic or democratic, must originate
from the crown, and in all their proceedings must refer to it; that by
the energy of that main spring alone those republican parts must be set
in action, and from thence must derive their whole legal effect (as
amongst us they actually do), or the whole will fall into confusion.
These republican members have no other point but the crown in which they
can possibly unite.

This is the opinion expressed in Mr. Burke's book. He has never varied
in that opinion since he came to years of discretion. But surely, if it
any time of his life he had entertained other notions (which however he
has never held or professed to hold), the horrible calamities brought
upon a great people, by the wild attempt to force their country into a
republic, might be more than sufficient to undeceive his understanding,
and to free it for ever from such destructive fancies. He is certain,
that many, even in France, have been made sick of their theories by
their very success in realizing them.


He is a real king, and not an executive officer. If he will not trouble
himself with contemptible details, nor wish to degrade himself by
becoming a party in little squabbles, I am far from sure, that a king of
Great Britain, in whatever concerns him as a king, or indeed as a
rational man, who combines his public interest with his personal
satisfaction, does not possess a more real, solid, extensive power, than
the king of France was possessed of before this miserable revolution.
The direct power of the king of England is considerable. His indirect,
and far more certain power, is great indeed. He stands in need of
nothing towards dignity; of nothing towards splendour; of nothing
towards authority; of nothing at all towards consideration abroad. When
was it that a king of England wanted wherewithal to make him respected,
courted, or perhaps even feared, in every state of Europe?


The PHYSIOGNOMY has a considerable share in beauty, especially in
that of our own species. The manners give a certain determination to
the countenance; which, being observed to correspond pretty regularly
with them, is capable of joining the effect of certain agreeable
qualities of the mind to those of the body. So that to form a
finished human beauty, and to give it its full influence, the face
must be expressive of such gentle and amiable qualities, as
correspond with the softness, smoothness, and delicacy of the outward


I have hitherto purposely omitted to speak of the EYE, which has so
great a share in the beauty of the animal creation, as it did not fall
so easily under the foregoing heads, though in fact it is reducible to
the same principles. I think then, that the beauty of the eye consists,
first, in its CLEARNESS; what COLOURED eye shall please most, depends a
good deal on particular fancies; but none are pleased with an eye whose
water (to use that term) is dull and muddy. We are pleased with the eye
in this view, on the principle upon which we like diamonds, clear water,
glass, and such-like transparent substances. Secondly, the motion of the
eye contributes to its beauty, by continually shifting its direction;
but a slow and languid motion is more beautiful than a brisk one; the
latter is enlivening; the former lovely. Thirdly, with regard to the
union of the eye with the neighbouring parts, it is to hold the same
rule that is given of other beautiful ones; it is not to make a strong
deviation from the line of the neighbouring parts; nor to verge into any
exact geometrical figure. Besides all this, the eye affects, as it is
expressive of some qualities of the mind, and its principal power
generally arises from this; so that what we have just said of the
physiognomy is applicable here.


According to their invariable course, the framers of your constitution
have begun with the outer abolition of the parliaments. These venerable
bodies, like the rest of the old government, stood in need of reform,
even though there should be no change made in the monarchy. They
required several more alterations to adapt them to the system of a free
constitution. But they had particulars in their constitution, and those
not a few, which deserved approbation from the wise. They possessed one
fundamental excellence,--they were independent. The most doubtful
circumstance attendant on their office, that of its being vendible,
contributed however to this independency of character. They held for
life. Indeed they may be said to have held by inheritance. Appointed by
the monarch, they were considered as nearly out of his power. The most
determined exertions of that authority against them only showed their
radical independence. They composed permanent bodies politic,
constituted to resist arbitrary innovation; and from that corporate
constitution, and from most of their forms, they were well calculated to
afford both certainty and stability to the laws. They had been a safe
asylum to secure these laws, in all the revolutions of humour and
opinion. They had saved that sacred deposit of the country during the
reigns of arbitrary princes, and the struggles of arbitrary factions.
They kept alive the memory and record of the constitution. They were the
great security to private property; which might be said (when personal
liberty had no existence) to be, in fact, as well guarded in France as
in any other country. Whatever is supreme in a state, ought to have, as
much as possible, its judicial authority so constituted as not only not
to depend upon it, but in some sort to balance it. It ought to give a
security to its justice against its power. It ought to make its
judicature, as it were, something exterior to the state. These
parliaments had furnished, not the best certainly, but some considerable
corrective to the excesses and vices of the monarchy. Such an
independent judicature was ten times more necessary when a democracy
became the absolute power of the country. In that constitution,
elective, temporary, local judges, such as you have contrived,
exercising their dependent functions in a narrow society, must be the
worst of all tribunals. In them it will be vain to look for any
appearance of justice towards strangers, towards the obnoxious rich,
towards the minority of routed parties, towards all those who in the
election have supported unsuccessful candidates. It will be impossible
to keep the new tribunals clear of the worst spirit of faction. All
contrivances by ballot we know experimentally to be vain and childish to
prevent a discovery of inclinations. Where they may the best answer the
purposes of concealment, they answer to produce suspicion; and this is a
still more mischievous cause of partiality.

If the parliaments had been preserved, instead of being dissolved at so
ruinous a change to the nation, they might have served in this new
commonwealth, perhaps not precisely the same (I do not mean an exact
parallel), but nearly the same, purposes as the court and senate of
Areopagus did in Athens; that is, as one of the balances and correctives
to the evils of a light and unjust democracy. Every one knows that this
tribunal was the great stay of that state; every one knows with what a
care it was upheld, and with what a religious awe it was consecrated.
The parliaments were not wholly free from faction, I admit; but this
evil was exterior and accidental, and not so much the vice of their
constitution itself, as it must be in your new contrivance of sexennial
elective judicatories. Several English commend the abolition of the old
tribunals, as supposing that they determined everything by bribery and
corruption. But they have stood the test of monarchic and republican
scrutiny. The court was well disposed to prove corruption on those
bodies when they were dissolved in 1771.--Those who have again dissolved
them would have done the same if they could--but both inquisitions
having failed, I conclude, that gross pecuniary corruption must have
been rather rare amongst them.

It would have been prudent, along with the parliaments, to preserve
their ancient power of registering, and of remonstrating at least, upon
all the decrees of the National Assembly, as they did upon those which
passed in the time of the monarchy. It would be a means of squaring the
occasional decrees of a democracy to some principles of general
jurisprudence. The vice of the ancient democracies, and one cause of
their ruin, was, that they ruled, as you do, by occasional
decrees,--psephismata. This practice soon broke in upon the tenor and
consistency of the laws; it abated the respect of the people towards
them; and totally destroyed them in the end.

Your vesting the power of remonstrance, which, in the time of the
monarchy, existed in the parliament of Paris, in your principal
executive officer, whom, in spite of common sense, you persevere in
calling king, is the height of absurdity. You ought never to suffer
remonstrance from him who is to execute. This is to understand neither
counsel nor execution; neither authority nor obedience. The person whom
you call king, ought not to have this power, or he ought to have more.


Cromwell, when he attempted to legalize his power, and to settle his
conquered country in a state of order, did not look for dispensers of
justice in the instruments of his usurpation. Quite the contrary. He
sought out, with great solicitude and selection, and even from the party
most opposite to his designs, men of weight and decorum of character;
men unstained with the violence of the times, and with hands not fouled
with confiscation and sacrilege: for he chose an HALE for his chief
justice, though he absolutely refused to take his civic oaths, or to
make any acknowledgment whatsoever of the legality of his government.
Cromwell told this great lawyer, that since he did not approve his
title, all he required of him was, to administer, in a manner agreeable
to his pure sentiments and unspotted character, that justice without
which human society cannot subsist: that it was not his particular
government, but civil order itself, which, as a judge, he wished him to
support. Cromwell knew how to separate the institutions expedient to his
usurpation from the administration of the public justice of his country.
For Cromwell was a man in whom ambition had not wholly suppressed, but
only suspended, the sentiments of religion, and the love (as far as it
could consist with his designs) of fair and honourable reputation.
Accordingly, we are indebted to this act of his for the preservation of
our laws, which some senseless assertors of the rights of men were then
on the point of entirely erasing, as relics of feudality and barbarism.
Besides, he gave in the appointment of that man, to that age, and to all
posterity, the most brilliant example of sincere and fervent piety,
exact justice, and profound jurisprudence. (See Burnet's Life of Hale.)
But these are not the things in which your philosophic usurpers choose
to follow Cromwell.

One would think, that after an honest and necessary revolution (if they
had a mind that theirs should pass for such) your masters would have
imitated the virtuous policy of those who have been at the head of
revolutions of that glorious character. Burnet tells us, that nothing
tended to reconcile the English nation to the government of King William
so much as the care he took to fill the vacant bishoprics with men who
had attracted the public esteem by their learning, eloquence, and piety,
and, above all, by their known moderation in the state. With you, in
your purifying revolution, whom have you chosen to regulate the church?
Mr. Mirabeau is a fine speaker--and a fine writer,--and a fine--a very
fine man;--but really nothing gave more surprise to everybody here, than
to find him the supreme head of your ecclesiastical affairs. The rest is
of course. Your Assembly addresses a manifesto to France, in which they
tell the people, with an insulting irony, that they have brought the
church to its primitive condition. In one respect their declaration is
undoubtedly true; for they have brought it to a state of poverty and
persecution. What can be hoped for after this? Have not men (if they
deserve the name), under this new hope and head of the church, been made
bishops for no other merit than having acted as instruments of atheists;
for no other merit than having thrown the children's bread to dogs; and
in order to gorge the whole gang of usurers, pedlars, and itinerant
Jew-discounters at the corners of streets, starved the poor of their
Christian flocks, and their own brother pastors? Have not such men been
made bishops to administer in temples, in which (if the patriotic
donations have not already stripped them of their vessels) the
churchwardens ought to take security for the altar-plate, and not so
much as to trust the chalice in their sacrilegious hands, so long as
Jews have assignats on ecclesiastic plunder, to exchange for the silver
stolen from churches?


An air of robustness and strength is very prejudicial to beauty. An
appearance of DELICACY, and even of fragility, is almost essential to
it. Whoever examines the vegetable or animal creation will find this
observation to be founded in nature. It is not the oak, the ash, or
the elm, or any of the robust trees of the forest, which we consider
as beautiful; they are awful and majestic; their inspire a sort of
reverence. It is the delicate myrtle, it is the orange, it is the
almond, it is the jasmine, it is the vine, which we look on as
vegetable beauties. It is the flowery species, so remarkable for its
weakness and momentary duration, that gives us the liveliest idea of
beauty and elegance. Among animals, the greyhound is more beautiful
than the mastiff; and the delicacy of a gennet, a barb, or an Arabian
horse, is much more amiable than the strength and stability of some
horses of war or carriage. I need here say little of the fair sex,
where I believe the point will be easily allowed me. The beauty of
women is considerably owing to their weakness or delicacy, and is
even enhanced by their timidity, a quality of mind analogous to it. I
would not here be understood to say, that weakness betraying very bad
health has any share in beauty; but the ill effect of this is not
because it is weakness, but because the ill state of health, which
produces such weakness, alters the other conditions of beauty; the
parts in such a case collapse; the bright colour,--the lumen
purpureum juventae, is gone; and the fine variation is lost in
wrinkles, sudden breaks, and right lines.


As to the operation of the first (the confiscation and paper currency)
merely as a cement, I cannot deny that these, the one depending on the
other, may for some time compose some sort of cement, if their madness
and folly in the management, and in the tempering of the parts together,
does not produce a repulsion in the very outset. But allowing to the
scheme some coherence and some duration, it appears to me, that if,
after a while, the confiscation should not be found sufficient to
support the paper coinage (as I am morally certain it will not), then,
instead of cementing, it will add infinitely to the dissociation,
distraction, and confusion of these confederate republics, both with
relation to each other, and to the several parts within themselves. But
if the confiscation should so far succeed as to sink the paper currency,
the cement is gone with the circulation. In the mean time its binding
force will be very uncertain, and it will straiten or relax with every
variation in the credit of the paper.

One thing only is certain in this scheme, which is an effect seemingly
collateral, but direct, I have no doubt, in the minds of those who
conduct this business, that is, its effect in producing an OLIGARCHY in
every one of the republics. A paper circulation, not founded on any real
money deposited or engaged for, amounting already to four-and-forty
millions of English money, and this currency by force substituted in the
place of the coin of the kingdom, becoming thereby the substance of its
revenue, as well as the medium of all its commercial and civil
intercourse, must put the whole of what power, authority, and influence,
is left, in any form whatsoever it may assume, into the hands of the
managers and conductors of this circulation.

In England we feel the influence of the bank; though it is only the
centre of a voluntary dealing. He knows little indeed of the influence
of money upon mankind, who does not see the force of the management of a
monied concern, which is so much more extensive, and in its nature so
much more depending on the managers than any of ours. But this is not
merely a money concern. There is another member in the system
inseparably connected with this money management. It consists in the
means of drawing out at discretion portions of the confiscated lands for
sale; and carrying on a process of continual transmutation of paper into
land, and of land into paper. When we follow this process in its
effects, we may conceive something of the intensity of the force with
which this system must operate. By this means the spirit of
money-jobbing and speculation goes into the mass of land itself, and
incorporates with it. By this kind of operation, that species of
property becomes (as it were) volatilized; it assumes an unnatural and
monstrous activity, and thereby throws into the hands of the several
managers, principal and subordinate, Parisian and provincial, all the
representative of money, and perhaps a full tenth part of all the land
in France, which has now acquired the worst and most pernicious part of
the evil of a paper circulation,--the greatest possible uncertainty in
its value. They have reversed the Latonian kindness to the landed
property of Delos. They have sent theirs to be blown about, like the
light fragments of a wreck, oras et littora circum.

The new dealers, being all habitually adventurers, and without any fixed
habits or local predilections, will purchase to job out again, as the
market of paper, or of money, or of land, shall present an advantage.
For though a holy bishop thinks that agriculture will derive great
advantage from the "ENLIGHTENED" usurers who are to purchase the church
confiscations, I, who am not a good, but an old farmer, with great
humility beg leave to tell his late lordship, that usury is not tutor of
agriculture; and if the word "enlightened" be understood according to
the new dictionary, as it always is in your new schools, I cannot
conceive how a man's not believing in God can teach him to cultivate the
earth with the least of any additional skill or encouragement. "Diis
immortalibus sero," said an old Roman, when he held one handle of the
plough, whilst Death held the other. Though you were to join in the
commission all the directors of the two academies to the directors of
the Caisse d'Escompte, an old experienced peasant is worth them all. I
have got more information upon a curious and interesting branch of
husbandry, in one short conversation with an old Carthusian monk, than I
have derived from all the Bank directors that I have ever conversed
with. However, there is no cause for apprehension from the meddling of
money-dealers with rural economy. These gentlemen are too wise in their
generation. At first, perhaps, their tender and susceptible imaginations
may be captivated with the innocent and unprofitable delights of a
pastoral life; but in a little time they will find that agriculture is a
trade much more laborious, and much less lucrative, than that which they
had left. After making its panegyric, they will turn their backs on it
like their great precursor and prototype. They may, like him, begin by
singing "Beatus ille"--but what will be the end?

"Haec ubi locutus foenerator Alphius,
Jamjam futurus rusticus
Omnem relegit Idibus pecuniam;
Quaerit Calendis ponere."

They will cultivate the Caisse d'Eglise, under the sacred auspices of
this prelate, with much more profit than its vineyards and its
corn-fields. They will employ their talents according to their habits
and their interests. They will not follow the plough whilst they can
direct treasuries, and govern provinces.

Your legislators, in everything new, are the very first who have founded
a commonwealth upon gaming, and infused this spirit into it, as its
vital breath. The great object in these politics is to metamorphose
France from a great kingdom into one great play-table: to turn its
inhabitants into a nation of gamesters; to make speculation as extensive
as life; to mix it with all its concerns; and to divert the whole of the
hopes and fears of the people from their usual channels into the
impulses, passions, and superstitions of those who live on chances. They
loudly proclaim their opinion, that this their present system of a
republic cannot possibly exist without this kind of gaming fund; and
that the very thread of its life is spun out of the staple of these
speculations. The old gaming in funds was mischievous enough
undoubtedly; but it was so only to individuals. Even when it had its
greatest extent in the Mississippi and South Sea, it affected but few,
comparatively; where it extends further, as in lotteries, the spirit has
but a single object. But where the law, which in most circumstances
forbids, and in none countenances, gaming, is itself debauched, so as to
reverse its nature and policy, and expressly to force the subject to
this destructive table, by bringing the spirit and symbols of gaming
into the minutest matters, and engaging everybody in it, and in
everything, a more dreadful epidemic distemper of that kind is spread
than yet has appeared in the world. With you a man can neither earn nor
buy his dinner without a speculation. What he receives in the morning
will not have the same value at night. What he is compelled to take as
pay for an old debt will not be received as the same when he comes to
pay a debt contracted by himself; nor will it be the same when by prompt
payment he would avoid contracting any debt at all. Industry must wither
away. Economy must be driven from your country. Careful provision will
have no existence. Who will labour without knowing the amount of his
pay? Who will study to increase what none can estimate? Who will
accumulate, when he does not know the value of what he saves? If you
abstract it from its uses in gaming, to accumulate your paper wealth,
would be not the providence of a man, but the distempered instinct of a


Their fanatical confidence in the omnipotence of church plunder has
induced these philosophers to overlook all care of the public estate,
just as the dream of the philosopher's stone induces dupes, under the
more plausible delusion of the hermetic art, to neglect all rational
means of improving their fortunes. With these philosophic financiers,
this universal medicine made of church mummy is to cure all the evils of
the state. These gentlemen, perhaps, do not believe a great deal in the
miracles of piety; but it cannot be questioned, that they have an
undoubting faith in the prodigies of sacrilege. Is there a debt which
presses them?--Issue assignats. Are compensations to be made, or a
maintenance decreed to those whom they have robbed of their freehold in
their office, or expelled from their profession?--Assignats. Is a fleet
to be fitted out?--Assignats. If sixteen millions sterling of these
assignats, forced on the people, leave the wants of the state as urgent
as ever--issue, says one, thirty millions sterling of assignats--says
another, issue fourscore millions more of assignats. The only difference
among their financial factions is on the greater or the lesser quantity
of assignats to be imposed on the public sufferance. They are all
professors of assignats. Even those, whose natural good sense and
knowledge of commerce, not obliterated by philosophy, furnish decisive
arguments against this delusion conclude their arguments by proposing
the emission of assignats. I suppose they must talk of assignats, as no
other language would be understood. All experience of their inefficacy
does not in the least discourage them. Are the old assignats depreciated
at market? What is the remedy? Issue new assignats.--Mais si maladia
opiniatria, non vult se garire, quid illi facere? assignare--postea
assignare; ensuita assignare. The word is a trifle altered. The Latin of
your present doctors may be better than that of your old comedy; their
wisdom and the variety of their resources are the same. They have not
more notes in their song than the cuckoo; though, far from the softness
of that harbinger of summer and plenty, their voice is as harsh and as
ominous as that of the raven.


It may, perhaps, appear like a sort of repetition of what we have before
said, to insist here upon the nature of UGLINESS; as I imagine it to be
in all respects the opposite to those qualities which we have laid down
for the constituents of beauty. But though ugliness be the opposite to
beauty, it is not the opposite to proportion and fitness. For it is
possible that a thing may be very ugly with any proportions, and with a
perfect fitness to any uses. Ugliness I imagine likewise to be
consistent enough with an idea of the sublime. But I would by no means
insinuate that ugliness of itself is a sublime idea, unless united with
such qualities as excite a strong terror.


GRACEFULNESS is an idea not very different from beauty; it consists in
much the same things. Gracefulness is an idea belonging to POSTURE and
MOTION. In both these, to be graceful, it is requisite that there be no
appearance of difficulty; there is required a small inflection of the
body; and a composure of the parts in such a manner, as not to encumber
each other, not to appear divided by sharp and sudden angles. In this
ease, this roundness, this delicacy of attitude and motion, it is that
all the magic of grace consists, and what is called its je ne sais quoi;
as will be obvious to any observer, who considers attentively the Venus
de Medicis, the Antinous, or any statue generally allowed to be graceful
in a high degree.


When any body is composed of parts smooth and polished, without pressing
upon each other, without showing any ruggedness or confusion, and at the
same time affecting some REGULAR SHAPE, I call it ELEGANT. It is closely
allied to the beautiful, differing from it only in this REGULARITY;
which, however, as it makes a very material difference in the affection
produced, may very well constitute another species. Under this head I
rank those delicate and regular works of art, that imitate no
determinate object in nature, as elegant buildings, and pieces of
furniture. When any object partakes of the above-mentioned qualities,
are of those of beautiful bodies, and is withal of great dimensions, it
is full as remote from the idea of mere beauty: I call it FINE or


The foregoing description of beauty, so far as it is taken in by the
eye, may be greatly illustrated by describing the nature of objects
which produce a similar effect through the touch. This I call the
beautiful in FEELING. It corresponds wonderfully with what causes the
same species of pleasure to the sight. There is a chain in all our
sensations; they are all but different sorts of feelings calculated to
be affected by various sorts of objects, but all to be affected after
the same manner. All bodies that are pleasant to the touch, are so by
the slightness of the resistance they make. Resistance is either to
motion along the surface, or to the pressure of the parts on one
another: if the former be slight, we call the body smooth; if the
latter, soft. The chief pleasure we receive by feeling, is in the one or
the other of these qualities; and if there be a combination of both, our
pleasure is greatly increased. This is so plain, that it is rather more
fit to illustrate other things, than to be illustrated itself by an
example. The next source of pleasure in this sense, as in every other,
is the continually presenting somewhat new; and we find that bodies
which continually vary their surface, are much the most pleasant or
beautiful to the feeling, as any one that pleases may experience. The
third property in such objects is, that though the surface continually
varies its direction, it never varies it suddenly. The application of
anything sudden, even though the impression itself have little or
nothing of violence, is disagreeable. The quick application of a finger
a little warmer or colder than usual, without notice, makes us start; a
slight tap on the shoulder, not expected, has the same effect. Hence it
is that angular bodies, bodies that suddenly vary the direction of the
outline, afford so little pleasure to the feeling. Every such change is
a sort of climbing or falling in miniature; so that squares, triangles,
and other angular figures, are neither beautiful to the sight nor
feeling. Whoever compares his state of mind, on feeling soft, smooth,
variated, unangular bodies, with that in which he finds himself on the
view of a beautiful object, will perceive a very striking analogy in the
effects of both; and which may go a good way towards discovering their
common cause. Feeling and sight, in this respect, differ in but a few
points. The touch takes in the pleasure of softness, which is not
primarily an object of sight; the sight, on the other hand, comprehends
colour, which can hardly be made perceptible to the touch: the touch
again has the advantage in a new idea of pleasure resulting from a
moderate degree of warmth; but the eye triumphs in the infinite extent
and multiplicity of its objects. But there is such a similitude in the
pleasures of these senses, that I am apt to fancy, if it were possible
that one might discern colour by feeling (as it is said some blind men
have done), that the same colours, and the same disposition of
colouring, which are found beautiful to the sight, would be found
likewise most grateful to the touch. But, setting aside conjectures, let
us pass to the other sense: of Hearing.


In this sense we find an equal aptitude to be affected in a soft and
delicate manner; and how far sweet or beautiful sounds agree with our
descriptions of beauty in other senses, the experience of every one must
decide. Milton has described this species of music in one of his
juvenile poems. (L'Allegro.) I need not say that Milton was perfectly
well versed in that art; and that no man had a finer ear, with a happier
manner of expressing the affections of one sense by metaphors taken from
another. The description is as follows:--

--"And ever against eating cares,
Lap me in SOFT Lydian airs:
In notes with many a WINDING bout
With wanton heed, and giddy cunning,
The MELTING voice through MAZES running;
UNTWISTING all the chains that tie
The hidden soul of harmony."

Let us parallel this with the softness, the winding surface, the
unbroken continuance, the easy gradation of the beautiful in other
things; and all the diversities of the several senses, with all their
several affections; will rather help to throw lights from one another to
finish one clear, consistent idea of the whole, than to obscure it by
their intricacy and variety.

To the above-mentioned description I shall add one or two remarks. The
first is; that the beautiful in music will not bear that loudness and
strength of sounds, which may be used to raise other passions; nor notes
which are shrill or harsh, or deep; it agrees best with such as are
clear, even, smooth, and weak. The second is: that great variety, and
quick transitions from one measure or tone to another, are contrary to
the genius of the beautiful in music. Such transitions often excite
mirth, or other sudden or tumultuous passions; but not that sinking,
that melting, that languor, which is the characteristical effect of the
beautiful as it regards every sense. (I ne'er am merry when I hear sweet
music.--Shakspeare.) The passion excited by beauty is in fact nearer to
a species of melancholy, than to jollity and mirth. I do not here mean
to confine music to any one species of notes, or tones, neither is it an
art in which I can say I have any great skill. My sole design in this
remark is, to settle a consistent idea of beauty. The infinite variety
of the affections of the soul will suggest to a good head, and skilful
ear, a variety of such sounds as are fitted to raise them. It can be no
prejudice to this, to clear and distinguish some few particulars, that
belong to the same class, and are consistent with each other, from the
immense crowd of different, and sometimes contradictory, ideas, that
rank vulgarly under the standard of beauty. And of these it is my
intention to mark such only of the leading points as show the conformity
of the sense of hearing with the other senses, in the article of their


It is something extraordinary, that the only symptom of alarm in the
Church of England should appear in the petition of some dissenters; with
whom, I believe, very few in this house are yet acquainted; and of whom
you know no more than that you are assured by the honourable gentleman,
that they are not Mahometans. Of the Church we know they are not, by the
name that they assume. They are then dissenters. The first symptom of an
alarm comes from some dissenters assembled round the lines of Chatham;
these lines become the security of the Church of England! The honourable
gentleman, in speaking of the lines of Chatham, tells us that they serve
not only for the security of the wooden walls of England, but for the
defence of the Church of England. I suspect the wooden walls of England
secure the lines of Chatham, rather than the lines of Chatham secure the
wooden walls of England.

Sir, the Church of England, if only defended by this miserable petition
upon your table, must, I am afraid, upon the principles of true
fortification, be soon destroyed. But fortunately her walls, bulwarks,
and bastions, are constructed of other materials than of stubble and
straw; are built up with the strong and stable matter of the gospel of
liberty, and founded on a true, constitutional, legal establishment.
But, Sir, she has other securities; she has the security of her own
doctrines; she has the security of the piety, the sanctity of her own
professors; their learning is a bulwark to defend her; she has the
security of the two universities, not shook in any single battlement, in
any single pinnacle. ...

But if, after all, this danger is to be apprehended, if you are really
fearful that Christianity will indirectly suffer by this liberty, you
have my free consent; go directly, and by the straight way, and not by a
circuit, in which in your road you may destroy your friends, point your
arms against these men who do the mischief you fear promoting; point
your arms against men, who, not contented with endeavouring to turn your
eyes from the blaze and effulgence of light, by which life and
immortality is so gloriously demonstrated by the Gospel, would even
extinguish that faint glimmering of nature, that only comfort supplied
to ignorant man before this great illumination--them who, by attacking
even the possibility of all revelation, arraign all the dispensations of
Providence to man. These are the wicked dissenters you ought to fear;
these are the people against whom you ought to aim the shafts of law;
these are the men to whom, arrayed in all the terrors of government, I
would say, You shall not degrade us into brutes; these men, these
factious men, as the honourable gentleman properly called them, are the
just objects of vengeance, not the conscientious dissenter; these men,
who would take away whatever ennobles the rank or consoles the
misfortunes of human nature, by breaking off that connection of
observations, of affections, of hopes and fears, which bind us to the
Divinity, and constitute the glorious and distinguishing prerogative of
humanity, that of being a religious creature; against these I would have
the laws rise in all their majesty of terrors, to fulminate such vain
and impious wretches, and to awe them into impotence by the only dread
they can fear or believe, to learn that eternal lesson--Discite
justitiam moniti, et non temnere Divos.

At the same time that I would cut up the very root of atheism, I would
respect all conscience; all conscience, that is really such, and which
perhaps its very tenderness proves to be sincere. I wish to see the
established Church of England great and powerful; I wish to see her
foundations laid low and deep, that she may crush the giant powers of
rebellious darkness; I would have her head raised up to that heaven to
which she conducts us. I would have her open wide her hospitable gates
by a noble and liberal comprehension; but I would have no breaches in
her wall; I would have her cherish all those who are within, and pity
all those who are without; I would have her a common blessing to the
world, an example, if not an instructor, to those who have not the
happiness to belong to her; I would have her give a lesson of peace to
mankind, that a vexed and wandering generation might be taught to seek
for repose and toleration in the maternal bosom of Christian charity,
and not in the harlot lap of infidelity and indifference.


Abstract views, on the danger of.

Abstract words, effects of.

Accumulation a state principle.

Administration and legislation, on the due balance of.

Age, our own, on the injustice paid to.

Alfred the Great, political genius of.
--the promoter of learning.
--his religious character.

Ambassadors of infamy, their tyranny.

Ambition, incentives of.
--disappointed, picture of.

America, great national progress of.
--on her resistance to taxation.
--on her early colonization, and the greatness of her future.

--on the Protestantism of.
--on the embassy of England to.

Analogy, on the pleasures of.

Anarchy contrasted and compared with reformation.

Architecture, influence of.

Armed discipline, necessity of.

Art, on correct judgment in.

"Articles" of the Church, necessity of the.

Atheism, atrocious principles of.
--incapable of repentance.

Atheists, literary, their proselytism and bigotry.

Attraction, Newton's discovery of the property of.

Authority, abuses of, dangerous.

Axioms, political.

Barons, English, on the restraints imposed upon the.

Bathurst, Lord, on his recollections of American colonization.

Beautiful, what constitutes the.
--in feeling, Burke's ideas of.
--in sounds, on our general ideas of.

Beauty, delicacy essential to.
--female, on the influence of.

Bedford, duke of, on the royal grants to.
--on his attacks on Mr. Burke.
--reply to "his Grace."

Bribery, objects and evils of.

Britain, her war with France vindicated.
--state of, at the time of the Saxon conquest.
--the ancient inhabitants of.

British dominion in the East Indies, on the extent of.

British stability, on the principles and duration of.

Building, on magnitude in, necessary to sublimity.

Burke, Edmund, his defence of his political principles.
--the design of, in his greatest work.

Cabal, on the tactics of.

Candid policy, on the advantages of, to a government.

Carnatic, dreadful scenes in the.
--war and desolation of the.

Carnot, the sanguinary tyranny of.

Character, private, a basis for public confidence.

Charlemagne, on the conquests of.

Chatham, Lord, his great qualities.
--his political errors.

Chivalry, on the moralizing charm of.

Christian religion, the idea of divinity humanized by the.

--state of, at the time of the Saxon conquest.

Christianity, on the profession of.
--means adopted for its early establishment.

Church of England, its outward dignity defended.
--the state consecrated by the.
--on the "Articles" of the.
--eulogy on the.

Church and State, on the unity between.
--one and the same in a Christian commonwealth.

"Church plunder, omnipotence of!"

Church property, on the existence and preservation of.

Circumstances, on the nature of.

Civil freedom a blessing, and not an abstract speculation.

Civil list, advantages of reform in the.

Civil rights, on the nature of.

Civil society, on the true basis of.

Claims, personal and ancestral.

Coalitions, false, instability of.

Colonies, on the art of cementing the ties of.
--on their right to the advantages of the British constitution.
--on their progress.

Combination, distinct from faction.

Commerce, one of the great sources of our power.
--on the philosophy of.

Common law, on its ancient constitution.

Common Pleas, on the early establishment of.

Commons. See "House of."

Commonwealth, on the science of constructing a.

Comparison, utility and advantages of.

Concession, on the wisdom of, on the part of a government.

Confidence of the people, necessity of the.
--political, dangers of.
--public, private character a basis for.
--reciprocal, on the necessity of.

Confiscation, arising from the paper currency.

Conservation, progress and principles of.

Constituents, on the power and control of.

Constitution of England, liberty its distinguishing feature.
--on the right of the colonies to its advantages.
--not fabricated but inherited.
--majesty of the.
--not the slave of the people.

Consumption and produce, the balance between settles the price of.

Contact, on the assimilating power of.

Contracted views, on the pettiness of.

Conway, General, eulogy on.

Corporate reform, on the difficulty and wisdom of.

Correction, on the principle of, in connection with conservation.

Corruption, public, evil consequences of.
--cannot be self-reformed.

Cowardice, political, contemptibility of.

Credit, national, on the advantages of.

Cromwell, the government of, contrasted with that of the French revolution.

Crown, its influence.
--on pensions from the.
--its prerogative.
--on the hereditary succession of the.

Cruelty, political, reckless oppression of.

Curiosity, the most superficial of all the affections.

Danes, their early dominion.

"Declaration of 1793," against France.

Deity, contemplation of his attributes.

Delicacy essential to beauty.

Democracy, a perfect one the most shameless thing in the world.
--its resemblance to tyranny.

Democrats, inconsistency of.

Despotism courts obscurity, and shuns the light.
--on the defective policy of.
--of the age of Louis XIV., a mere gilded tyranny.
--monarchical, preferable to republican.

D'Espremenil, sacrifice of.

Difficulty, on contentions with.

Directory of France, its insolent assumption.

Dissent, on Dr. Price's preaching the democracy of.

Dissenters, animadversions on the.

Distraction, on the evils of.

Divine power, its influences on the human idea.

Divinity, our idea of the, humanized by the Christian religion.

Druids, their knowledge and influence.

Duty, not based on will.

East-India Company, on the bill for controlling the political power of.
--See "India."

Ecclesiastical confiscation, on the injustice of.

Economy, on the state principles of.
--does not consist of parsimony.
--and public spirit, advantage of.

Election, on Wilkes's right of.

Elections, frequent, on the evil tendency of.
--expenses of.

Electors, on the conduct and duties of.

Elegance, Burke's ideas of.

Elizabeth, Princess, of France, sanguinary treatment of.

England, on the magnanimity of her people.

English character, on French ignorance of.

Establishments, ancient, on the advantages of.

Eternity little understood.

Etiquette, on its ancient and modern application.

Europe, on the state of, in 1789.
--at the time of the Norman invasion.

European community, on the principles of.

Exaggeration, evils of.

Extremes, on the fallacy of.

Eye, the, its characteristics of beauty.

Faction, combination distinct from.
--what it ought to teach.

Falkland Island, fisheries extended to.

False regret, to be lamented.

Favouritism of government the cause of popular ferment.

Female beauty, on the influence of.

Feudal baronage, the root of our primitive constitution.
--principles, their history and application to modern times.
--changes effected in.
--law, principles of the.

Fisheries of New England; on the hardy spirit with which they are conducted.

Flattery, the reverse of instruction.

Fox, Right Hon. Charles, eulogy on.
--Burke's confidence in.

France, on the dangers arising from.
--her revolution of 1789.
--frightful scenes of the.
--founded on regicide, Jacobinism, and atheism.
--war with, vindicated.
--reflections on her revolution.
--the existing state of things in, productive of the worst evils.
--on the political and intellectual greatness of.
--the great political changes of.
--revolution of, a complete one.
--early conquests and dominion of.
--declaration of England against, in 1793.
--false policy in our war with.
--historical strictures on.
--atrocities perpetrated in.

Freedom, a blessing and not an abstract speculation.
--character of just freedom.
--on the conservative progress of.

French, natural self-destruction of the.

Gaul, the ancient inhabitants of.

Gentleman, our civilization dependent on the spirit of a.

Glory, difficulty the path to.

God, contemplations of His attributes;
--on the adorable wisdom of.

Government, on the evils of weakness in.
--on the influence of place in.
--on the advantages of candid policy in.
--virtue and wisdom qualify for.
--not made in virtue of natural rights.
--not to be rashly censured.
--on the duties of.
--principles of, not absolute but relative.
--general views of the foundations of.
--and legislation, matters of reason and judgment.
--favouritism, the cause of popular ferment.

Gracefulness, on our ideas of.

Grant, on Burke's acceptance of a.

Great men, the guide-posts and landmarks of the State.

Green Cloth, origin of the ancient Court of.

Grenville, Right Hon. Mr., his great political qualities and character.

Grievance and opinion, on the different qualities of.

Grievances by law, on the different views of.

Henry IV. of France, sovereign qualities of.

Heroism, moral, on the virtues of.

"His Grace," Burke's reply to.

History, on the moral of.
--on the use of defects in.
--on the perversion of.
--speculations on.
--strictures on, as connected with France.

House of Commons, its nature and functions.
--on the control of the constituency over.
--Mr. Burke's preparation for the.
--its constitution.
--privilege of the.
--contrasted with the National Assembly of France.

Howard, the philanthropist, his genius and humanity.

Human ideas, on the influence of divine power on.

Human nature, on the libellers of.

Humiliation, on the diplomacy of.

Hyder Ali, on his formidable military operations in the Carnatic.

Ideal, definition of the.

Imagination, unity of.

Imitation an instructive law.

Impartiality, appeal to.

Imperial power, its establishment in Western Europe.

Impracticable, the, not to be desired.

India, East, on the territorial extent of British dominion in.
--on its opulence and importance.
--necessity of reforming the government of.
--Hyder Ali's formidable military resistance.
--on the British government in.

Individual good and public benefit, a comparison of.

Induction, on the process of.

Infidels, on the policy of.

Infinity, little understood.

Injustice, economy of.

Innovation, on the madness of.

Investigation, the best method of teaching.

Ireland, on the legislation of.

Ireland and Magna Charta, historical notices of.

Jacobin peace, on the perils of.

Jacobin war, on the true nature of a.

Jacobinism, atrocious principles of.
--ferocity of.

Jealousy, political, different under different circumstances.

John, King, on his difficulties with the pope.

Jurisprudence, on the science of.

Justice, early reform in the administration of.

Keppel, Lord, one of the greatest and best men of his age.
--his exalted virtues.

Kings, the power of, not based on popular choice.

Labour, on the necessity of.
--on the importance of.
--rises or falls according to the demand.

Labouring classes poor, because they are numerous.
--on the moral happiness of the.

"Labouring poor," on the puling jargon respecting the.
--on the canting phraseology of.
--on the melioration of their condition.

Language, on the moral effects of.

Laws, when bad, are productive of base subserviency.

Legislation, on the due balance of, with the administration.
--on the problem of.

Legislation and government, matters of reason and judgment.

Legislative capacity, on the limits of.

Legislators of the ancient republics.

Legislature of France, regicidal character of the.

Levellers, moral, the representatives of a servile principle.

Libellers of human nature, falsity of the term.

Liberty, its preservation the duty of a member of the House of Commons.
--in what it consists;
--character of just liberty.
--on the abstract theory of.
--on fictitious liberty.

"Lights," modern, on the petulance and ignorance of.

Loans, public, on the policy of.

Louis XVI., on his cruel treatment.
--historical estimate of.
--his mistaken views of society.
--on the fate of.

Love, a mixed passion.

Love and dread, their union in religion.

Low aims and low instruments, the baseness of.

Magistracy, religious duties of the.

Magna Charta, Ireland a partaker of.
--the oldest reformation of England.
--on the early constitutions of.

Magnanimity, on its superiority.

Malesherbes, atrocious treatment of.

Man, Nature anticipates the desires of.

Mankind, ancient state of.

Manners and morals, correspondent systems of.
--more important than laws.

Maria Antoinette, her beauty and misfortunes.
--sanguinary treatment of.

Maria Theresa, her high-minded principles.

Marriage, feudal restraints on.

Maxims, false, evils of, when assumed as first principles.

Measures of government, on judging of the.

Member of Parliament, difficulties of becoming a good one.

Metaphysical depravity, on the dangers of.

Migrations of ancient history.

Minister of state, what he ought to attempt.

Ministers, on the responsibility of.

Missionaries, their early zeal in propagating Christianity.

Monarch of England, on the sovereign power of the.

Monastic institutions, on the results of.

Money and science.

Monks, their early zeal in the cause of Christianity.

Montesquieu, on the genius of.

Moral debasement, a progressive principle.

Moral diet, on the use of.

Moral distinctions defined.

Moral effects resulting from language.

Moral essence constitutes a nation.

Moral heroism, on the virtues of.

Moral instincts, on the sacredness of.

Moral levelling, a servile principle.

Nation, moral essence constitutes a.

National Assembly of France, the House of Commons contrasted with.

National Assembly, on its philosophic vanity.

National dignity, importance of, in all treaties.

Nature, Sir I. Newton's discoveries of the phenomena of.
--anticipates the desires of man.

Necessity, a relative term.

Neighbourhood, on the law of.

Neutrality, on the uncertainty and contemptibility of.

New England, fisheries of, on the hardy spirit of the.

Newton, Sir Isaac, his discoveries of the phenomena of nature.

Nobility a graceful ornament to the civil order.

Norman invasion, state of Europe and of England at the time of the.

"Not so bad as we seem," justificatory remarks on.

Novelty, its effects on the mind.

Obscure, powerful influence of the.

Obscurity, courted by despotism and all false religions.

Office, on the emoluments of.

Officers, English, on the admirable qualifications of.

Opinion, on acting from, against the government.

Opinions, power survives the shock of.

Oppression, on the voice of.

Order, the foundation of all things.

Outcasts, political, on the usual treatment of.

Painting, influence of.

Paper currency, confiscation arising from.

Parental experience, reflections on.

Paris, on the boasted superiority of.

Parliament, difficulties of becoming a good member of.
--Mr. Burke's preparation for.
--a deliberative assembly.
--on its identity with the people.
--on the privilege of.
--property more than ability represented in.

--on the "omnipotence" of.

Parliamentary prerogative, on the principles of.

Parliamentary retrospect.

Parliaments, on the proper period of their duration.
--on the abolition and use of.

Parsimony is not economy.

Party, on decorum in.
--character and objects of.
--political connections of.

Party divisions, inseparable from a free government.

Party man, character of a, vindicated.

Patriotic distinction.

Patriotic services, on the justice of public salary for.

Patriotism, the true source of public income.
--on the true characteristics of.
--local, on the extinction of.

Peace, political, on the difficulties of.

Peers, privileges of the.

Pensions from the crown the obligations of gratitude, and not the fetters of servility.

People, on their disputes with their rulers.
--voice of the, to be consulted.
--necessity of securing their confidence.
--on their identity with parliament.
--kingly power not based on their choice.
--on the true meaning of the term.
--war, and will of the.
--the constitution not the slave of the.

Perplexity, on the political state of.

Persecution, theory of, its falsity.

Petty interests, against being influenced by.

Philosophic vanity of the French National Assembly.

Physiognomy, on the influence of.

Pictures represented by words.

Pilgrimages advantageous to the cause of literature.

Pius VII., territories of, assailed by France.

Place the object of party.
--on the influence of, in government.

Poetry, its dominion over the passions.

Policy, genuine sentiment not discordant with.

Polish revolution, reflections on the.

Political axioms.

Political charity, characteristics of.

Political connections, on the nature of.

Political empiricism, its character.

Political outcasts, on the usual treatment of.

Politicians, theorizing, on the follies of.

Politics, without principle.
--remarks on.
--on the state of feeling with regard to.
--in connection with the pulpit.

Poor, on the folly of their overthrowing the rich.

Pope, his exactions from King John.

Popular discontent, on the general prevalence of, in all times.

Popular opinion, on the fallacy of, as a standard.

Power, on the tendencies of.
--survives the shock of opinions.

Practice more certain than theory.

Prerogative of the crown.
--parliamentary and regal.

Prescriptive rights, on the justice and necessity of.

Prevention, principle of, necessary for every political institution.

Price, Dr., on his preaching the democracy of Dissent.

"Priests of the Rights of Man."

Principle, on the absence of, in politics.

Privilege of Parliament.

Proscription, the miserable invention of ungenerous ambition.

Prosecutions, public, little better than schools of treason.

Protestantism of America.
--English, on the distinctive character of.

Provisions, danger of tampering with the trade of.
--rate of wages no direct relation to.

Prudence of timely reform.
--rules and definitions of.

Public benefit, as compared with individual good.

Public corruption, evil consequences of.

Public income, patriotism the true source of.

Public men, on the libellers of.

Public spirit united with economy, advantages of.
--a part of our national character.

Pulpit, politics in the.

Real and ideal, definition of the.

Reason and taste, on the standard of.

Reform, timely, on the prudence of.
--false, on the prudery of.

Reformation, English, a time of trouble and confusion.
--contrasted and compared with anarchy.

Reformations in England, principles of the.

Reformers, on the difficulties of.

Refusal, productive of a revenue.

Regal prerogative, on the principles of.

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest