Imágenes de páginas

was really in the last stage of a lingering illness, which his father, misled by his own sanguine hopes, had unfortunately not thought alarming. On Saturday, August 2d, a gentleman, who had been one of the guests the preceding Saturday, calling on a friend in Brompton-row, was informed that Mr. Richard Burke was just breathing his last. Proceeding to his lodgings, to ascertain the truth of the report, he soon saw an old domestic of the family, whose looks announced that all was over. On enquiry, he heard the father was arrived, had thrown himself on the corpse

of his beloved son, and was, in the

paroxysms of grief, calling on the stay of his age, the darling of his heart, and the glory of his name. The wisdom and religion of Mr. Burke, in tiine, so far moderated his grief, as to prevent its ebullitions from appearing; he bore bis sorrows like a man, but felt them like a' man. Mr. Richard Burke died at the age of 36, and was buried in Beaconsfield church. His father could never after bear to see the place of his in


terment; and when going from his villa to town, instead of coming through Beaconsfield, he took a cross road behind an eminence which intercepted the sight of the church. His grief was “strong and deep, says the Editor of his Posthumous Works, • but it never relaxed the vigour of his mind, whatever subject called upon

him to exert it ; nor the interest which he took, to the last momerit, in the public weal.

On the subject of the Irish Catholics, the opinion of Burke, as often expressed, and particularly in his Letter to Sir Hercules Langrish," was, that a gradual and modified relief should be granted to them, so that they might finally be raised to a level with other dissenters. *

At the state trials, Burke's name had been very freely mentioned by the first ju

* The reader will please to observe, that as the propriety, extent, and time of alterations in the present system must depend on future regalations and events, it would be useless to discuss the question now.

dicial orator of this country and age.

Some months after, on the return of Lord Fitzwilliam, when the causes of the recall were the subject of inquiry by the Peers, the Duke of Norfolk threw out some reflections against Mr. Burke,as having written a book, which, amidst much splendour of eloquence, contained much pernicious doctrine, and had provoked, on the other side, a very mischievous answer.' * This attack drew from Burke a reply, in which he also took notice of the animadversions made on his works at the trials. The letter is dated May 26, 1795, and sliewys that his domestic affliction had not impaired the vigour of his faculties: it was addressed to his highly prized friend Mr. Windham. Burke directs chiefly against his opponents his versatile, sportive, but strong and sarcastic humour. He enters into a most eloquent vindication of his own conduct respecting the French revolution ; protesting that his object was the preservation of that religion, virtue, and happiness, which the French system was using every effort to destroy. He strongly expresses his regret

* Preface to Posthumous Works, page 67.

that the King of Prussia had abandoned the alliance; and endeavours to demonstrate that nothing short of a general combination, pursuing the same object in concert, will prevent the French system from overwhelming Europe.

Soon after the death of his son, the King was pleased to settle a considerable pension on him and Mrs. Burke. His detractors had alledged that his embarrassed circumstances had been the cause of the part he took in the French revolution ; that he wished to conciliate the favour of Ministry, and thought this a very advantageouis opportunity. To assign motives is so much easier than to combat arguments, that it is not surprising that many of Mr. Burke's opponents have chosen that mode. To promote effectually even the purposes of malignity, requires an invention not merely following the suggestions of malice, but regarding also consistency and probability. The general chavery little

racter of Burke, his sacrifice of interest to principle, or even 'to party, with intermission from the year 1765 to 1790 (for it cannot well be doubted, that if he had chosen to sacrifice other considerati ns to his interest, he might have got into office) renders the charge improbable. What, however, is improbable may be true,


It is possible that one may act the part of an honest disinterested man for twenty-five years, and turn a rogue the twenty-sixth. But it is to be presumed he will not become so gratuitously. Supposing, as Mr. M‘Cormick asserts, that Edmund Burke had humbly applied to Ministry to admit him as one of their creatures, would he desert all his old friends for nothing? If he became the tool of corruption, where was the bribe? If he' attacked French liberty to please the British Ministry ; if, to gratify them, he attempted to shew the evils of untried theories, and especially of such a theory, he certainly conducted himself

very foolishly in procuring no emolument, no appointment, no official situation from them

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »