Page images

intolerably wicked. It does bear, and must, with the vices and the follies of
men, until they actually strike at the root of order.'
1. 30. rigidly screwing up right into wrong.

• In vain thy reason finer webs shall draw,
Entangle justice in her net of law,
And right, too rigid, harden into wrong.'

Pope, Essay on Man, iii. 191. P. 171, 1. 1. ambition of intellectual sovereignty, &c. Burke clearly has in mind as a secondary object the Revolutionists at whom the whole work is levelled. Their enthusiasm resembled in a high degree that of the Protestant Reformers. Burke afterwards put this forward more clearly, in showing that the Revolution was one of speculative dogma, and that the war against it was one against that most formidable of opponent forces, an armed doctrine.

1. 12. two great parties. Catholic and Protestant.

1. 22. When my occasions, &c. Burke speaks of nearly twenty years before. He refers to the subject in his Remarks on the Policy of the Allies.'

It may be said that the prevalence of freethinking did no credit to the clergy, and that the emigrant nobility were equally followers of the philosophers. The atheism of the new system, as opposed to the piety of the old, is one of the weakest arguments I have yet heard in favour of this political crusade.'--Sheridan, Speech on the Address on the War with France, Feb. 12, 1793.

P. 172, 1. 20. provincial town. Auxerre.

1. 21. the bishop. M. de Cicé, under whose protection young Burke lived for some time at Auxerre. When the bishop came an impoverished and aged emigrant to England, the Burkes were able to requite his kind


1. 22. three clergymen. One of whon seems to have been the Abbé Vaullier. Correspondence, vol. i. p. 426.

1. 29. Abbé Morangis. Dupont spells the name, in his translation, • Monrangies.'

P. 173, 1. 16. an hundred and twenty Bishops. The exact number of Archbishops and Bishops was 131, of whom forty-eight had seats in the Assembly. The Assembly reduced them to eighty-three (assigning one to each department), which is the number now in existence.

1. 20. eminent depravity. Such examples may have been rare, but they were brought prominently into notice, by their existence in the midst of the society of Paris. Clermont, the Abbé of St. Germain des Prés, in the preceding generation, was a notorious instance. He enjoyed 2000 benefices, which he made a practice of selling. He devoted his revenues among other objects to the education of danseuses. Talleyrand was an obvious contemporary instance.

P. 174, 1. 11. pensionary=stipendiary, the salaries of church officials being made charges on the nation.



1. 17. nothing of science or erudition. Certainly the Gallican church has shown nothing since to compare with the time of Louis XV.

1. 33. ascertained = fixed.

P. 175, 1. 8. intended only to be temporary. It was but temporary, but it is too much to say that it was intended to be so.

1. 22, enlightened self-interest. An idea borrowed, like many others, from the English philosophers, but carried out to its consequences by the French, especially by Helvetius.

1. 27. Civic education. See the ideas on Public Ed on at the end of the work of Helvetius ‘De l’Esprit.'

1. 32. principle of popular election. Burke evidently has in mind the discussion of the question by Dr. Johnson in his Tract on Lay Patronage : * But it is evident that, as in all other popular elections, there will be a contrariety of judgment, and acrimony of passion; a parish, upon every vacancy, would break into factions, and the contest for the choice of a minister would set neighbours at variance, and bring discord into families. The minister would be taught all the arts of a candidate, would flatter some, and bribe others . . and it is hard to say what bitterness of malignity would prevail in a parish where these elections should happen to be frequent, and the enmity of opposition should be rekindled before it had cooled.'

P. 176, 1. 24. Burnet says, &c. History of His Own Times, Book iii.

P. 177, 1. 8. under the influence of a party spirit, &c. The allusion is in particular to Cranmer.

1. 12, as they would with equal fortitude, &c. This must be taken with some reservation. Toute opinion est assez forte pour se faire épouser au prix de la vie,' says Montaigne. Sectarian heat is often the fiercer the narrower the point of issue.

1. 24. justice and mercy are substantial parts of religion. Micah vi. 8 : "What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God ?'

P. 178, 1. 1. dogmas of religionall of moment. Cp. ante, note to P. 106, 1. 26. See especially the Tracts on the Popery Laws. Perhaps the judgment of Bacon, acquiesced in by Burke, preferring the extreme of superstition to that of free-thought, may be reconsidered in the light of modern experience. The Rev. R. Cecil, an acute and philosophical divine, thought less of the dangers of Infidelity than of those of Popery. •Popery debases and alloys Christianity; but Infidelity is a furnace, wherein it is purified and refined. The injuries done to it by Popery are repaired by the very attacks of Infidelity.' Remains, p. 136.

1. 10. common cause-common enemy. That of religion against principled non-religionists. Experience, however, shows that the danger has been exaggerated. Notwithstanding the fluctuating prevalence of free-thought in different societies in Europe since the Italian Renaissance, it has nowhere taken root in such a way as to threaten the religion of the nation, from

the fact that it cannot adapt itself to the moral needs of the mass of mankind. “Infidelity,' says Mr. Cecil, ‘is a suicide; it dies by its own malignity ; it is known and read of all men. No man was ever injured essentially by it, who was fortified with a small portion of the genuine spirit of Christianity—its contrition and its docility.'

P. 179, 1. 7. I see, in a country very near us, &c. Cp. note to p. 11, 1. 5. Burke here also pretends to the right to censure the unjust domestic policy of a neighbouring nation.

1. 11. one of the greatest of their own lawyers. I cannot point to any passage in the works of Domat, in which the second thesis, here attributed to him (l. 12), is maintained. Burke was apparently quoting from memory. Often as he makes verbal mistakes, it is rarely that he makes material ones. Here, however, seems to be a material error of memory. The doctrine of Domat is that the postulates of society are divisible into (1) Laws immutable, (2) Laws arbitrary. He refers the principle of prescription to the first, the ascertainment of its limits to the second. Civil Law in its Natural Order, bk. iii. tit. 7, sec. 4. Burke was perhaps thinking of Cicero, who repeats the ordinary notions as to the end of society being security of property: *Hanc ob causam maxime, ut sua tenerent, respublicae civitatesque constitutae sunt.' De Off. lib. II. c. 21, sec. 73 (see also c. 23).

1. 25. If prescription be once shaken, &c. Burke's fears were needless. The principle was never shaken, nor has it ever been seriously threatened.

P. 180, 1. 29. Anabaptists of Münster. Originally organised in the Netherlands, these fanatics were admitted by the citizens of Münster after the expulsion of their bishop. Münster saw the community of goods and wives carried out, and a tailor who took to himself seventeen wives, proclaimed King of the Universe.

P. 181, 1. 2. just cause of alarm. The policy of Luther, which steadily maintained the cause of the Reformation free from political revolutions, kept them in isolation,

P. 182, 1. 2. best governed. Regarded from the point of view of the bourgeois oligarchy, not of the peasant.

1. 13. standards consecrated, &c. Two of the members of the Patriotic Society at Nantes had been despatched to the Revolution Society, to deliver to them the picture of a banner used in the festival of the former Society in the month of August, bearing the motto 'Pacte Universel,' and a representation of the flags of England and France bound together with a ribbon on which was written: 'A l’union de la France et d'Angleterre.' At the bottom was written, ‘To the Revolution Society in London. The messengers were respectfully received and entertained by the committee of the society. These facts were submitted to the society in the report of the committee presented at the meeting of Nov. 4, 1790.

1. 27. expedient to make war upon them. Anticipating the policy afterwards so strenuously advocated by Burke.

P. 183, 1. 27. general earthquake in the political world. Cp. ante note to p. 67, 1. 34. Burke almost repeats the vaticinations of Hartley.

1. 28. confederacies and correspondences. It would be too long to recapitulate the unimportant history of the secret society of the Illuminati, and of the exaggerated panic which the detection of it produced. The Illuminati, no small body, and composed of members of some standing in society, arose in Bavaria, under Dr. Adam (Spartacus) Weishaupt and Baron (Philon) Knigge. Their tenets were a political version of the harmless social amusement of Freemasonry, not ill-adapted to the spirit of the age, and possessing, except for themselves, no real significance. They were betrayed by four malcontents for infringing the Electoral decree of 1781 against secret societies, which was prompted by the same suspicion which still prohibits Roman Catholics from being members of similar fraternities. Weishaupt was deprived of his Professorship of Law at Ingoldstadt, and the Lodges of the Illuminaten-Orden were closed in 1783. The best account of the Illuminati and their constitution, doctrines, and ceremonies, is to be found in the Abbé Barruel's Mémoires pour servir à l'histoire de Jacobinisme, Part 3. Many books were published to expose the supposed conspiracy, among which that first mentioned by Burke was the first. The title is : ‘Einige Originalschriften des Illuminatenordens, welche bey dem gewesenem Regierungsrath Zwack, durch vorgenommene Hausvisitation zu Landshut den 11 und 12 Octob. 1786, vorgefunden worden.' See also in English, Robinson's ‘Proofs of a Conspiracy formed by Freemasons, &c., against all the Religions and all the Governments of Europe.' The groundlessness of the panic was shown by Mounier, ‘De l'influence attribuée aux philosophes, aux francs-maçons et aux illuminés sur la Royaume de France,' Tübingen 1801.

P. 184, 1. 13. Justice ... the great standing policy. A good adaptation of the not very lofty maxim that . Honesty is the best policy.'

16. When men are encouraged, &c. The abstract principle is admitted by Mackintosh, with a just censure on its false application : The State is the proprietor of the Church Revenues, but its faith, it may be said, is pledged to those who have entered into the Church, for the continuance of those incomes, for which they have abandoned all other pursuits. The right of the State to arrange at its pleasure the revenues of any future priests may be confessed, while a doubt may be entertained whether it is competent to change the fortune of those to whom it has promised a certain income for life. But these distinct subjects have been confounded, that sympathy with suffering individuals might influence opinion in a general questionthat feeling for the degradation of the hierarchy might supply the place of argument to establish the property of the Church.'

P. 185, 1. 14. such as sophisters represent it, i.e. as a case of leaving an abuse to grow and flourish, or of cutting it up by the roots. The 'middle' spoken of by Burke would be to trim its exuberances, and to graft better scions upon it.

1. 18. Spartam nactus es; hanc exorna. The version of Erasmus (Adag.
2501) of the quotation, familiar in Roman Literature, of the first of two
lines of Euripides, preserved by Stobaeus :

Σπάρτην έλαχες, κείνην κόσμει:

"Τας δε Μυκήνας ημείς ιδία.
They are from the Telephus (Dind. Frag. 695), and are apparently the
words of Agamemnon to Menelaus. See Cic. Ep. Att. I. 20, IV. 6, and
Plut. llepi vñs eúdvulas. The passage is mistranslated by Erasmus, and the
wrong meaning is kept up in Burke's allusion. Kogueiv means to rule, not
to improve or decorate. The original is equivalent to Mind your own

P. 186, 1. 3. purchase = leverage.

1. 16. The winds blow, &c., St. John, iii. 8. Burke alludes to the case of
the sailor, who cannot control the motive forces on which he depends, and
means that the politician must similarly regard his motive power and material
as produced by some force out of his control.

P. 187, 1. 3. steam ... electricity. The forecast in these lines, written
long before steam was successfully applied to navigation, is most remarkable,
Electricity had been discovered by the English philosopher Gilbert two
centuries before, but was as yet unapplied to any practical purpose.

1. 27. You derive benefits, &c. Burke alludes to the Passions, as described
by his favourite moralist:

• The surest virtues thus from passions shoot,
Wild nature's vigour working at the root.'

Essay on Man, II. 183.
Pope proceeds to derive all the virtues from the two sources of pride and

P. 188, 1. 1. Superstition is the religion, &c. So Lord Chesterfield in the
* World': 'Ceremony is the superstition of good-breeding, as well as of
religion ; but yet, being an outwork of both, should not be absolutely
1. 10. Munera Terræ. The Homeric expression used by Horace, Bk. II,

Io, to express the conditions of mortal existence. Burke means
by munera terræ the mundane as opposed to the imperishable elements of

1. 12. Wisdom is not the most severe corrector of folly. They are the
rival follies, &c. Cp. Young, Satire II :

• He scorns Florello, and Florello him;
This hates the filthy creature, that the prim :
Thus in each other both these fools despise
Their own dear selves, with undiscerning eyes ;
Their methods various, but alike their aim,
The sloven and the fopling are the same.
Ye Whigs and Tories ! thus it fares with you,
When party-rage too warmly you pursue ;

Ode 14,

« PreviousContinue »