A Blupete Biography Page

The Life & Works of

Edmund Burke

1 It was a "mixed marriage." Burke's father was an Anglican, whereas his mother was a Catholic. Burke was raised as an Anglican; his sister, a Catholic.

2 "Although himself a Whig, Burke's political thought has become, with Disraeli's, the philosophy of modern Conservatives." (Chambers.)

3 See generally Chambers Biographical Dictionary (Edinburgh), often referred to in these pages simply as Chambers.

4 This much is clear: Burke "dissented from the a priori systems of the French philosopes." (Kirk, Edmund Burke: A Genius Reconsidered (Arlington House, 1967) p. 32.) Thus he was an empiricist and not a rationalist.

5 Burke's view is to be compared to that of Goethe's: that a state of tranquility, as desirable as it is, is one that is not achievable; man's lot in life, according to Goethe, was to be in a perpetual state of dissatisfaction, and, he is to spend it endlessly striving.

6 Hazlitt, Political Essays (1819). Hazlitt had difficulty pinning down Burke's style of writing, he tried a number of times and came up short, but he did say that it was extravagant and bold with matter-of-fact hyperbole. Burke, incidently was a member of Samuel Johnson's literary circle.

7 In this, selling his thoughts to the people, he was not always successful. His Speech to the Electors of Bristol, in 1780, is, and will always be, a monument in the landscape of political history. Burke argued that he should be elected notwithstanding that he would vote against their wishes. Burke thought that there should be freer trade with the Irish and that the Irish Catholics should be liberated. The electors of Bristol did not: he was right: they were wrong. But, no matter, he lost his seat. It is one of the most profound questions in political "science": does an elected representative vote on a parliamentary measure on the basis of her conscience; or, does the representative vote the will of the people who elected her. It is clear in history where Burke stood on the question.

8 Green, History of the English People, vol. X, p. 59.

9 Ibid, p. 60.


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