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PREFACE

In these pages we have placed before the reader passages from Burke's writings and speeches which appear to us to give a clear idea of his political and economic principles. We do not claim for this work that it is a complete presentation of the subject. Many such volumes might, indeed, be written without exhausting it. But if we have paved the way to a more extended study of Burke's works, our object will have been achieved. The present would seem to be a particularly fitting time for recalling public attention to the profound wisdom and consummate statesmanship unfolded in the works of this great man. The principles which he advocated, and which were afterwards embodied in the emancipating legislation of the Liberal party during two generations, have fallen into sad discredit and oblivion. We want a Burke to remind us that the truths he enunciated were “not for an age, but for all time"; and in an era such as this, when the sound traditions of English constitutionalism have been abandoned for political trickery; when principle and consistency have been discarded in a heedless competition for the favour of the mob; and when the main object of politicians appears to be the capture of votes by the most reckless promises, we cannot do better than turn for guidance to the words of one who never faltered in his loyalty to Justice and Liberty, those fundamental principles of that true Liberalism of which he was the first and foremost exponent.

T. D. P.

September, 1905.

CHAPTER I.

THE MAN, HIS GENIUS AND HIS GOSPEL

THE career of Edmund Burke is one of the most signal examples in British history of the triumph of genius and character over apparently insurmountable obstacles.

The date of his birth has never been absolutely fixed, but it is now generally thought to have been January 29th, 1729 (new style). The son of an obscure Dublin attorney, he suffered a double disadvantage from his Irish parentage and the religion of his mother, who was a Roman Catholic. The battle of the Boyne and the siege of Derry were still comparatively fresh recollections in the English mind, and the penal laws against the adherents of the ancient religion disgraced the statute-book. It was a time, therefore, when racial and religious prejudice existed to a degree hardly conceivable to the present generation, and it requires little exercise of the imagination to realise the extent to which

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