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LETTER TO A NOBLE LORD
THE ATTACKS MADE UPON MR. BURKE AND HIS
PENSION, IN THE HOUSE OF LORDS,
THE DUKE OF BEDFORD AND THE
EARL OF LAUDERDALE,
EARLY IN THE PRESENT SESSION OF PARLIAMENT.
M Y LORD, — I could hardly flatter myself with 11 the hope that so very early in the season I should have to acknowledge obligations to the Duke of Bedford and to the Earl of Lauderdale. These noble persons have lost no time in conferring upon me that sort of honor which it is alone within their competence, and which it is certainly most congenial to their nature and their manners, to bestow.
To be ill spoken of, in whatever language they speak, by the zealots of the new sect in philosophy and politics, of which these noble persons think so charitably, and of which others think so justly, to me is no matter of uneasiness or surprise. To have incurred the displeasure of the Duke of Orleans or the Duke of Bedford, to fall under the censure of Citizen Brissot or of his friend the Earl of Lauderdale, I ought to consider as proofs, not the least satisfactory, that I have produced some part of the effect I proposed by my endeavors. I have labored hard to earn what the noble Lords are generous enough to pay. Personal offence I have given them none. The part they take against me is from zeal to the cause. It is well, — it is perfectly well. I have to do homage to their justice. I have to thank the Bedfords and the Lauderdales for having so faithfully and so fully acquitted towards me whatever arrear of debt
was left undischarged by the Priestleys and the Paines.
Some, perhaps, may think them executors in their own wrong: I at least have nothing to complain of. They have gone beyond the demands of justice. They have been (a little, perhaps, beyond their intention) favorable to me. They have been the means of bringing out by their invectives the handsome things which Lord Grenville has had the goodness and condescension to say in my behalf. Retired as I am from the world, and from all its affairs and all its pleasures, I confess it does kindle in my nearly extinguished feelings a very vivid satisfaction to be so attacked and so commended. It is soothing to my wounded mind to be commended by an able, vigorous, and well-informed statesman, and at the very moment when he stands forth, with a manliness and resolution worthy of himself and of his cause, for the preservation of the person and government of our sovereign, and therein for the security of the laws, the liberties, the morals, and the lives of his people. To be in any fair way connected with such things is indeed a distinction. No philosophy can make me above it: no melancholy can depress me so low as to make me wholly insensible to such an honor.
Why will they not let me remain in obscurity and inaction ? Are they apprehensive, that, if an atom of me remains, the sect has something to fear? Mist I be annihilated, lest, like old John Zisca's, my skin might be made into a drum, to animate Europe to eternal battle against a tyranny that threatens to overwhelm all Europe and all the human race ?
My Lord, it is a subject of awful meditation. Be