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with the injunctions of the Secretary of State to award compensation to the sufferers by the recent riots. In many places murmurs were excited by a new clause lately added to the American Mutiny Act, according to which the Colonies were bound to supply the King's troops within their territory with vinegar, salt, and other small articles. Since, however, the enactment was but temporary, and the charge but very little, and since the joyful news of the repeal had so lately come over, the Colonies in general forebore from contest, and gave what was required. In New York only the Act was disobeyed and the Government defied. There the Assembly, after some sharp altercations with the Governor, at length went so far as to reject or new-model on their own authority the clause which had been passed by the Imperial Parliament. So violent a step was the less expected or foreseen in England, since the repeal of the Stamp Act was not the only measure by which the Ministry in the Session of 1766 endeavoured to soothe and satisfy the Colonies. The duties of 1764 which touched the trade of America, and which had been complained of in that country as inconvenient or oppressive, were altered or removed. And another Act declared certain ports of Dominica and Jamaica to be free. In the same yielding and accommodating spirit Lord Rockingham and Mr. Dowdeswell indulged the Spitalfields weavers by an Act restraining the import of foreign silks. The joy of the weavers was signalised, as their late dissatisfaction had been, by a numerous procession to Whitehall. Thus also, to gratify a powerful family connection, the name of Lord George Sackville was restored to the Privy Council. Pitt in his private conversations warmly denounced this measure as an insult to the late King and to the late King's Ministers, adding that he would never, never, consent to sit at the same Board with his Lordship.* Thus also the Cyder Counties were relieved, or rather, to speak more accurately, pleased and flattered, by a
* Memoirs of the Duke of Grafton, MS.
1766. FIRST APPEARANCE OF EDMUND BURKE. 153
repeal of the Cyder Tax which Lord Bute had three years since imposed. Thus again the complaints occasioned by the use of General Warrants in the case of Wilkes were not unheeded by the Ministers. They proposed to the House of Commons, and carried through, a Resolution preventing such a grievance for the future, by declaring General Warrants contrary to law. Another Resolution couched in like terms, and referring to the same transaction, condemned the seizure of papers in any case of libel. — All these measures were well and kindly meant. For the most part they were salutary and judicious. Yet still if we consider how decrepit was then the state of the Government, and how naturally every feeble Government, leans towards the easier course of concession, and shrinks from the more rugged duty of resistance, we shall, I think, ascribe these measures in part to its weakness, and not solely, as Burke would persuade us”, to its wisdom. The Session of 1766 indeed was not more remarkable for important measures than for the appearance in public life of that eminent man by whom the fame of those measures and of their framers has been mainly upheld. In that Session the House of Commons heard both the last speech of the elder Pitt and the first speech of Edmund Burke. REviFEscIT might have been the motto of that year. Edmund Burke was born at Dublin in 1728.* The original name of the family was Bourke, and thus Edmund himself appears to have spelled it until his manhood. His father was an attorney in good practice, and Edmund was the se* See his masterly tract, “A short Account of a late short Administra“tion.” The mock answer, signed Whittington, and inserted in the Annual Register for 1766 (part ii. p. 213.), is believed, though not certainly known, to be also written by Burke. It is marked by great bitterness against Lord Chatham. ** The date assigned by Mr. Prior and other biographers of Burke is 1730; and Burke's own epitaph in Beaconsfield Church states him to have died in July 1797, “aged 68 years.” But see a note (vol. i. p. 2.) to his Correspondence published in 1844. Earl Fitzwilliam, one of the joint
Editors, has since favoured me with a letter, containing further evidence to the same effect,
cond son. His education was completed at Trinity College, Dublin. At that period his range of reading was already extensive, but his taste for the classics warm rather than pure. Thus he maintained that Plutarch is the first of all historians, that Euripides should be preferred to Sophocles, and Virgil be preferred to Homer. Virgil indeed much employed his pen at this period in a fragment of translation of such slight merit as might be expected from a boy of seventeen, but remarkable as his chief, and nearly sole, attempt In Verse. From Dublin in due time Burke passed to London, intending to keep the terms for the English Bar as a student of the Middle Temple. His first impressions of England were highly favourable. “Every village,” he writes, “as neat “and compact as a beehive; the inns like palaces. What a “contrast to our poor country where you scarce find a cottage “ornamented with a chimney!”* But his health was not strong, and he found the study of the law irksome and distasteful to him; ere long he wholly relinquished it, nor was he ever called to the Bar. In 1752 or 1753 he was a candidate for the Professorship of Logic in the University of Glasgow, but without success. All this time, however, his mind was rapidly accumulating large and varied stores of information. The law he had eschewed as too dry and abstract, but not because he wanted application, not because be ever yielded to “that master-vice, sloth,” as his own words declare it. On the contrary, no form of knowledge came amiss to him if tinged in any degree with the golden hues of philosophy or poetry. Three or four years later Mr. Burke married the daughter of Dr. Nugent, a physician, living at Bath, but like himself of Irish birth and parentage. Shortly afterwards he had intended to settle in America”, whether, as some say, in hope of a small Government appointment, or, as others suppose, in quest of a wider sphere for his abilities. Hap
* Letter to Mr. Matthew Smith, 1750. ** Letter to Mr. Shackleton, Aug. 10. 1757.
1766. EDMUND BURKE. 155
pily for England the design was soon abandoned. His resources at this time were but small; chiefly an allowance of 200l. a year from his father, and occasional supplies derived from the use of his pen. It is believed, though not certainly known, that he contributed largely to the periodical writings of the day. His first avowed work appeared in 1756, and was entitled “The Vindication of Natural Society.” It is a most skilful and ingenious imitation of the style and reasoning of Lord Bolingbroke, provoked by the remark then often heard in society, that the style of the “all-accom“plished St. John” was not only perfect but inimitable. Even Lord Chesterfield and Bishop Warburton, familiar as they were with all Bolingbroke's writings, were, it is said, for a short time deceived. — A few months later in the same year 1756 Burke published another work: an Essay “on the Sublime and Beautiful.” In this Essay, the fruit of keen discernment and diligent study, he strikes into a new and original path of criticism; wholly leaving that beaten track of Longinus, so dear, as Swift complains, to the shallow talkers of his time.* It was through this Essay that Burke during some years was chiefly known; it was through this Essay that he became familiar with Dr. Johnson, Sir Joshua Reynolds, and many more of literary taste or skill. Among his associates of this class and of this time was Mrs. Anne Pitt, sister of the then Prime Minister. Of this lady Burke was wont to say, that she not only possessed great and agreeable talents, but was the most perfectly eloquent person whom he had ever heard speak. She had led an eccentric wandering life, and was no friend to her illustrious brother, of whom she declared that he knew nothing accurately but Spenser's Fairy Queen.** * “A forward critic often dupes jus, “With sham quotations asgt övovs; “And if we have not read Longinus, “Will magisterially outshine us.” On Poetry (1733). Works, vol. xiv. p. 317. ** Life of Burke by Prior, p. 65. Horace Walpole altering a French In 1758 Burke began a service to English history and literature which even now should be gratefully remembered. In conjunction with Mr. Dodsley, a bookseller of great note, he set on foot the well known “Annual Register.” For several years the political chapters were, it is believed, wholly written by himself, and for several years longer under his immediate direction. His remuneration for this task, as received from Mr. Dodsley, was 100l. a year. An avenue to political life was first opened to Burke in 1761. When Lord Halifax proceeded to Ireland as Viceroy, and Mr. William Gerard Hamilton as Chief Secretary, Burke became Private Secretary to the latter. In those days the rules of the Pension List were far indeed from being clearly defined or vigilantly guarded. It is therefore no matter of blame either to the bestower or receiver that through the influence of Mr. Hamilton, and after little more than one year's official service, Burke obtained a pension of 300l. a year on the Irish Establishment. But this welcome boon was not long enjoyed. Mr. Hamilton broke asunder his ties of friendship with his Private Secretary under circumstances not clearly known, but so far as we can gather fraught on his side first with tyranny and afterwards with meanness. “To get rid of him completely,” says Burke, “and not to “carry a memorial of such a person about me, I offered to “transmit my pension to his attorney in trust for him. This “offer he thought proper to accept!” + Mortifications such as these were not unexpected by Burke's philosophic mind. As he says in his own striking style: “I was not swaddled, rocked, and dandled into a “legislator. NITor IN ADVERSUM is the motto for a man “like me.” But in July 1765 the fortunes of Burke were retrieved. The Marquis of Rockingham on becoming First Lord of the Treasury was induced, from the recommendation of several friends, to appoint Burke his Private Secretary. Still detraction and envy were not silenced, and they found a con* Letter to Mr. Flood, May 18, 1765.
proverbial expression, used to say of the brother and sister that they resembled each other “comme deux gouttes de feu.”