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REVOLUTION IN FRANCE
AND ON THE
PROCEEDINGS IN CERTAIN SOCIETIES IN LONDON
In a Letter
INTENDED TO HAVE BEEN SENT TO A GENTLEMAN IN PARIS
BIOGRAPHICAL NOTICE OF THE AUTHOR
THE Author of the following pages was born in Dublin, on the 12th of January, 1728. He was descended from an ancient family in Ireland, several of whose branches had been ennobled. His father, Richard Burke, was an attorney, who, after residing for some time at Limerick, removed to Dublin. Edmund Burke was elected a Scholar of Trinity College, Dublin, on the 20th of May, 1746. In 1747 he was entered of the Middle Temple. In 1748 he took the degree of B.A. In February, 1750, he arrived in London for the purpose of keeping his terms at the Temple; but he was never called to the bar. He took the degree of M.A. in 1751. In 1756 he published his first acknowledged work, entitled "A Vindication of Natural Society," an ironical exposure of Lord Bolingbroke's false philosophy; and, in the same year, his "Philosophical Inquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful." In 1757 he married the daughter of Dr. Christopher Nugent, an eminent physician, residing at Bath. This lady survived him. About this time the "Annual Register" was projected, and published by Dodsley, in the compilation of which Mr. Burke was much engaged, and he continued
6 BIOGRAPHICAL NOTICE OF THE AUTHOR.
his connexion with it for nearly the remainder of his life. In 1761, upon the appointment of Mr. William Gerard Hamilton as Chief Secretary for Ireland, Burke accompanied him to Dublin in the capacity of private secretary. In 1763 his services were rewarded by a pension of £300 per annum. In July, 1765, when the Marquis of Rockingham became Prime Minister, Mr. Burke was appointed his private secretary, but declined to receive any salary; and was about the same time brought into Parliament, at his own cost, for the Borough of Wendover. In 1768 he purchased the estate and residence at Beaconsfield. In 1774 he was returned to Parliament for the Borough of Malton, but, soon afterwards, being solicited by a deputation of merchants from Bristol to become their representative, he was returned on 2nd November for that city. In February, 1780, he delivered his admirable speech on Economical Reform, which was received with unprecedented applause by the nation. In the same year he was returned to Parliament for Malton. In March, 1782, upon the return of the Marquis of Rockingham to power, Mr. Burke was made a Privy Councillor, and appointed Paymaster of the Forces, which latter post he held for three months only, after having, during this short interval, effected, in the most disinterested manner, by an Act of Parliament, a large and permanent reduction in the income of the office. In 1783 he distinguished himself in the important debates on the affairs of India, which question, however, occasioned the dissolution of the ministry, and his consequent resignation of office. In April, 1786, Mr. Burke brought before the House of Commons the charges against Warren Hastings, then ex-governor-general of India. The trial began in February, 1788, Mr. Burke
BIOGRAPHICAL NOTICE OF THE AUTHOR. 7
conducting the impeachment. It was brought to a close in May, 1794, when he delivered his concluding address, which occupied nine days. During three years the extraordinary course of events in France occupied much of his attention, and in November, 1790, he published the celebrated "Reflections on the French Revolution," contained in the following pages. The popularity of this work was immense. It is said that no less than 30,000 copies were sold at that period. Its publication, however, caused a rupture of his long friendship with Mr. Fox, and occasioned some severe attacks upon him in Parliament from his political opponents, which he answered in the spirited vindication of his consistency, entitled an "Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs." Mr. Burke attended the House of Commons for the last time on the 20th of June, 1794, when the thanks of the House were voted to the managers of the impeachment of Mr. Hastings, and the prosecution was concluded. In the following August he lost his only son, a misfortune which so preyed upon his mind as to hasten his decease. In 1795 he received a grant of two pensions, amounting together to £3,700 per annum, at the express wish of the King. In February, 1797, he visited Bath in the hope of restoring his health, but, after a residence of four months without success, he returned to Beaconsfield, where he died on the 8th of July, 1797; after having attained the highest eminence as an author, an orator, and a statesman.