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written when you were afflicted with a painful malady, greatly increases my obligation for it.
Would to God, my dear sir, that I could congratulate you upon the removal of that excruciating pain under which you labor, and that your existence might close with as much ease to yourself, as its continuance has been beneficial to our country and useful to mankind; or, if the united wishes of a free people, joined with the earnest prayers of every friend to science and humanity, could relieve the body from pains or infirmities, that you could claim an exemption on this score. But this can not be; and you have within yourself the only resource to which we can confidently apply for relief, - a philosophic mind.
If to be venerated for benevolence, if to be admired for talents, if to be esteemed for patriotism, if to be beloved for philanthropy, can gratify the human mind, you must have the pleasing consolation to know that you have not lived in vain. And I flatter myself that it will not be ranked among the least grateful occurrences of your life to be assured, that, so long as I retain my memory, you will be recollected with respect, veneration, and affection by your sincere friend,
VI. - EDMUND BURKE.
LIFE AND WORKS.
The influence of party prejudice has led to great divergence of opinion among English writers as to the place of Burke as a political philosopher; but there can be no doubt that his is one of the abiding names, and that he has enriched the discussion of history and the affairs of state with a magnificence and elevation of expression that place him among the highest masters of English literature. The student of Burke will not dissent when Mackintosh speaks of Shakespeare and Burke in the same breath as men far above mere talent, and will sympathize with Macaulay when, after reading Burke's works over again, he exclaims, “How admirable! The greatest man since Milton!”
Edmund Burke was born in Dublin, Jan. 12, 1729. His father, Richard Burke, was a solicitor in good practice, and was of course a Protestant, - else he could not have been a member of the Dublin bar in those days. The mother was of a Catholic family, and adhered to the church of her ancestors. The only daughter was educated in the same faith, but Edmund and his brothers were brought up in the religion of their father. Burke, however, never lost a large and generous way of thinking about the ancient creed of his mother.
After two years of preparation under an intelligent, upright Quaker teacher, named Abraham Shackleford, - for whom Burke ever after entertained a most tender reverence and affection, — he became (1743) a student of Trinity College, Dublin. Here he remained till 1748, when he took his bachelor's degree. Though well grounded in the classics, especially in Latin, he did not particularly distinguish himself in the prescribed studies, his passion for general reading being so strong as to divert him overmuch from them. Oliver Goldsmith was a student at Trinity College with Burke, but these two great men do not seem to have been acquainted with each other at this time.
Having been destined for the bar, Burke at the age of twenty-one went to London, and began his law studies in the Middle Temple. He had a profound respect for the law, which he speaks of as “a science that does more to quicken and invigorate the understanding than all the other kinds of learning put together.” But Burke was never called to the bar; and the circumstance that, about the time when he ought to have been looking for his first retainer, he published two books which had as little as possible to do with either law or equity, is a tolerably sure sign that he had followed the same desultory course at the Temple as he had followed at Trinity College.
The first of these works, The Vindication of Natural Society, was a satire on the philosophy of Lord Bolingbroke, whose style it so admirably imitated that the production was at once ascribed to his lordship’s pen. The next was a treatise on the Sublime and Beautiful. Both these works appeared in 1756. They are meritorious productions, expressing the ideas of the period in the style of the period; but probably neither would have survived to our own day unless it had been associated with a name of power.
In 1757 Burke was married to Miss Mary Jane Nugent, daughter of a physician residing in Bath, England. The marriage proved eminently happy in every respect. Nothing, indeed, can well be conceived more noble and beautiful than the great statesman's wedded life; for in his home Burke was one of the loveliest of men, whilst his wife also was one of the loveliest of women,- not, we are told, what is called a beauty, but ever sweet and gentle in her disposition, and inexpressibly winning in her manners.
With this new responsibility on his hands, Burke had to keep his pen busy. His next literary work was a sketch of the European Settlements in America (1757), which was soon followed by an Abridgment of English History, and this in 1759 by the first volume of the Annual Register, which was very successful, and which he kept up for many years. So, struggling manfully with many difficulties, cheered by the love of his wife and his little son Richard, Burke toiled onward and upward, never letting go the hope of fame.
And fame, too, came soon after he entered political life. Burke's public career may be said to have begun in 1765, when he was appointed private secretary to the Marquis of Rockingham, and himself entered Parliament. At the age of thirty-six he stood for the first time on the floor of the House of Commons, whose walls were to ring so often during the next eight-andtwenty years with the rolling periods of his majestic eloquence, and the peals of acclamation bursting alike
from friend and foe. Among the great men who then sat upon the benches of the ancient hall, Burke at once took a foremost place. The triumphs of his eloquent tongue we can not follow here, for it is ours only to mark the achievements of his brilliant pen. In the stirring years of the American War, during which he was the most ardent friend of the Colonies, he poured out the opulence of a richly stored mind in many noble orations; but the crown of his glory as an orator was won in the Hall of Westminster, when he uttered the thunders of his eloquence in the impeachment of Warren Hastings, Governor-General of India.
Another great subject filled his thoughts during his last years. He foresaw the hurricane that was blackening over France; and, when it broke in fury, he wrote his greatest work, entitled Reflections on the Revolution in France, published in 1790. This marvelous production carried all before it, and the name of Edmund Burke became greater and more powerful than it had ever been. It was the theme of every tongue; "all Europe rang from side to side” with the fame of it.
As far back as 1768, Burke had purchased an extensive and beautiful estate near Beaconsfield, and thither he was wont from time to time to steal away from the ceaseless toil of a statesman, to the shades of his rural home. It was proposed to make Burke a peer under the style of Lord Beaconsfield, — a title in our own times borrowed for himself by Disraeli. But the bolt of destiny was at this instant launched. Richard Burke, the adored center of all his father's hopes and affections, was seized with illness, and died (August,