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Reflections on the French Revolution,

! 79 1.





THERE are fome corrections in this Edition, which tend to render the fenfe less obfcure in one or two places. The order of the two laft members is alfo changed, and I believe for the better. This change was made on the fuggeftion of a very learned perfon, to the partiality of whofe friendship I owe much; to the feverity of whofe judgment I owe more.

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T Mr. Burke's time of life, and in his difpofitions, petere honeftam miffionem was all he had to do with his political affociates. This boon they have not chofen to grant him. With many expreffions of good-will, in effect they tell him he has loaded the flage too long. They conceive it, though an harfh, yet a neceffary office, in full parliament to de clare to the prefent age, and to as late a pofterity, as fhall take any concern in the proccedings of our day, that by one bock he has difgraced the whole tenour of his life. Thus they difmifs their old partner of the war. He is advised to retire, whilft they continue to ferve the public upon wifer principles, and under better aufpices.

Whether Diogenes the Cynic was a true philofopher, cannot cafily be determined. He has written nothing. But the fayings of his which are handed down by others, are lively; and may be eafily and aptly ap plied on many occafions by thofe whofe wit is not fo perfect as their memory. This Diogenes (as eve◄ ry one will recollect) was citizen of a little bleak town fituated on the coaft of the Euxine, and expofed to all the buffets of that inhofpitable fea. He lived at a great diftance from thofe weather-beaten walls, in cafe and indolence, and in the midft of literary leifure, when he was informed that his townfmen had condemned him to be banished from Sinope; he anfwered coolly, "And I condemn them to live in Si



The gentlemen of the party in which Mr. Burke has always acted, in paffing upon him the fentence of


retirement †, have done nothing more than to confirm the fentence which he had long before paffed upon himfelf. When that retreat was choice, which the tribunal of his peers inflict as punishment, it is plain he. does not think their fentence intolerably fevere. Whether they who are to continue in the Sinope which fhortly he is to leave, will spend the long years which, I hope, remain to them, in a manner more to their fatisfaction, than he fall flide down, in filence and obfcurity, the flope of his declining days, is best known to him who meafures out years, and days, and for


The quality of the fentence does not however decide on the juftice of it. Angry friendship is fometimes as bad as calm enmity. For this reafon the cold neutrality of abstract juftice, is, to a good and clear caufe, a more defirable thing than an affection liable to be any way difturbed. When the trial is by friends, if the decifion fhould happen to be favourable, the honour of the acquitta! is leffened; if adverfe, the condemnation is exceedingly embittered. It is aggravated by coming from lips profefling fiiendship, and pronouncing

+ News-paper intelligence ought always to be received with some degree of caution. I do not know that the following paragraph is founded on any authority; but it comes with an air of authority. The paper is profeffedly in the intereft of the modern Whigs, and under their direction. The paragraph is not difclaimed on their part. It profeffes to be the decifion of thofe whom its author calls "The great and firm body of the Whigs of England." Who are the Whigs of a different compofition, which the promulgator of the fentence confiders as compofed of fleeting and unfettled particles, I know not, nor whether there be any of that defcription. The definitive sentence of " the great and fan body of the Whigs of England', (as this paper gives it out)is as follows.


"The great and firm body of the Whigs of England, true to their principles, have decided on the difpute between Mr. Fox and Mr. "Burke; and the former is declared to have maintained the pure "doctrines by which they are bound together, and upon which they "have invariably acted. The confequence is, that Mrr Burke retires from parliament." Morning Chronicle, May 12, 1791.

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ing judgment with forrow and reluctance. Taking in the whole view of life, it is more fafe to live under the jurifdiction of fevere but fteady reafon, than under the empire of indulgent, but capricious paffion. It is certainly well for Mr. Burke that there are impartial men in the world. To them I addrefs myself, pending the appeal which on his part is made from the living to the dead, from the modera Whigs to the antient.

The gentlemen, who, in the name of the party, have paffed fentence on Mr. Burke's book, in the light of literary criticifm are judges above all challenge. He did not indeed flatter himself, that as a writer, he could claim the approbation of men whose talents, in his judgment and in the public judgment, approach to prodigies; if ever fuch perfons fhould be difpofed to eftimate the merit of a compofition upon the standard of their own ability.

In their critical cenfure, though Mr. Burke may find himself humbled by it as a writer, as a man and as an Englishman, he finds matter not only of confolation, but of pride. He propofed to convey to a foreign people, not his own ideas, but the prevalent opinions and fentiments of a nation, renown ed for wisdom, and celebrated in all ages for a well understood and well regulated love of freedomí. This was the avowed purpose of the far greater part of his work. As that work has not been ill receiv ed, and as his critics will not only admit but contend, that this reception could not be owing to any excellence in the compofition capable of perverting the public judgment, it is clear that he is not dif avowed by the nation whofe fentiments he had undertaken to defcribe. His reprefentation is authenticated by the verdict of his country. Had his piece, as a work of fkill, been thought worthy of commendation, fome doubt might have been entertained of the cause of his fuccefs. But the matter


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