Page images


BURKE's Speech on Conciliation with America has been selected as Volume I of Lippincott's School Classics for two reasons. First, it is fitting that he be remembered and appreciated in the hour when, after a lapse of 142 years, England and America are once more united“ by ties which, though light as air, are as strong as links of iron." Second, he is of all writers the most timely at a moment when too many people are being seduced into believing that liberty can exist without law and happiness without order.

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]



EDMUND BURKE is almost as worthy of the study of Americans as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. His life was a model of adherence to principle. As a student of the ideas on which our constitution rests he has had no peer. His prose is perhaps as artistic and powerful as can be found in any language. Throughout his life he was a consistent and undaunted advocate of law, order, and liberty. At the beginning of our revolutionary war he proposed measures which might, if adopted, have prevented the political separation of the colonies from the mother country. These principles, since written into the laws of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, have at all events given to the British Empire a spirit of unified loyalty which has successfully resisted the ambition of the Hohenzollerns. Among the intellectual and moral forces which will preserve it against the far more dangerous ambitions of aspiring demagogues, not the least powerful is Burke's sane advocacy of liberty secured by adequate restraints against the lawlessness of rich and poor alike. He hated both the tyranny of kings and the tyranny of mobs. To-day his writings constitute not only the best of all introductions to the study of republican government but the best of all antidotes against the tendency of the under-educated and the over-educated to revert to the morals and the practices of the stone age.

He was born in Dublin January 1, 1730, 0. S. His father, Richard Burke, was an attorney and a Protestant; his mother was a Catholic. Of Edmund's early years little is known except that, while his brothers and sisters, of whom

« PreviousContinue »