Page images
PDF
EPUB

INTRODUCTION.

ONE of the noblest masterpieces in the literature of civil and political wisdom, is to be found in Burke's three productions on the American War; his speech on Taxation in 1774; on Conciliation in 1775; and his Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol, 1777.

These three pieces are the most perfect manual in all literature for the study of great affairs, whether for the purpose of knowledge or action. They are an example without fault of all the qualities which the critic, whether a theorist or an actor, of great political situations should strive by night and by day to possess. . .. No student worthy of the name will lay aside these pieces, so admirable in their literary expression, so important for history, so rich in lessons of civil wisdom, until he has found out something from other sources as to the circumstances from which such writings arose, and as to the man whose resplendent genius inspired them. — JOHN MORLEY.

The great value of all his speeches, before and during the American War, is, I apprehend, this, that he treats relations between countries as if they were no less real than the relations between individuals. - Rev. F. D. MAURICE.

vii

Unlike Hume, whose politics were elaborated in the study, Burke wrote his political tracts and speeches face to face with events, and upon them. Philosophical reasoning and poetic passion were wedded together in them on the side of conservatism, and every art of eloquence was used with the mastery that imagination gives. — Rev. STOPFORD BROOKE.

Burke's political philosophy was strictly a moral philosophy. The popular notions of good and evil, of right and wrong, as inculcated in the ordinary precepts of the Christian religion, were his standard of estimating all political actions. He can, indeed, only be justly characterized as the greatest political thinker of his time, and perhaps of any time. — THOMAS MACKNIGHT, Life and Times of Burke.

Among the eminent men who have influenced legislative assemblies in Great Britain and the United States, during the past hundred and twenty years, it is curious that only two have established themselves as men of the first class in English and American literature. These two men are Edmund Burke and Daniel Webster. — E. P. WHIPPLE.

In the common principles of all social and civil order, Burke is unquestionably our best and wisest teacher. In handling the particular questions of his time he always involves those principles, and brings them to their practical bearings, where they most “come home to the business and bosoms of men.” And his pages are everywhere bright with the highest and purest political morality, while at the same time he is a consummate master in the intellectual charms and graces of authorship. — H. N. HUDSON.

« PreviousContinue »