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EDITIONS: “Speech of Edmund Burke, Esq., on Moving His Resolutions
for Conciliation with the Colonies, March 22, 1775. London : Printed for J. Dodsley, in Pall-Mall, MDCCLXXV.”
First edition. “Works of the Right Honorable Edmund Burke.” New
edition, 3 vols., Rivington, 1803. 'Works and Correspondence.” 8 vols., Rivington, 1852. "Works of Edmund Burke." Bohn's Libraries. 8 vols.
(The “ Speech for Conciliation” is in vol. 1.) “Select Works.” With Introduction and Notes by E. J.
Payne. Clarendon Press Series.
of National Biography,” vol. VII. “ Memoir of the Life and Character of Edmund Burke."
By Sir James Prior (in Bohn's Libraries). “Burke.” By John Morley (“English Men of Letters”
Series). “Lectures on the Life, Writings, and Times of Edmund
Burke." By J. B. Robertson.
See also under “ LIFE.” “History of Civilization in England.” By Henry Thomas
Buckle. Vol. I., pp. 455–476. “Edmund Burke. An Historical Study." By John Morley. "Papers of a Critic." By C. W. Dilke. Vol. II., pp. 309
384. Burke from the Athenæum." “Manual of English Prose Literature.” By William Minto.
pp. 440–460. “Realism and Romance and Other Essays.” By Henry Mac
arthur. “The Writings of Edmund Burke."
DMUND BURKE was born January 12, 1729, in
Dublin. His father, a Protestant, was a lawyer in good circumstances. His mother was a Catholic, and although Edmund was not reared in that faith, he preserved throughout his life a friendliness toward the Roman Church. Of Burke's boyhood he himself never said much, and little can be learned from other sources. In 1741 he was sent to a school at Ballitore, a village thirty miles from Dublin. There, under the instruction of the Quaker teacher, Abraham Shackleton, the boy learned habits of industry, uprightness, and simplicity. What the teacher thought of him we do not know, but we know he had much to do with building the character of the future statesman, and was always affectionately remembered by him.
In 1743 Burke entered Trinity College, Dublin, from which he received his bachelor's degree five years later. Like a good many other people who have become great enough to be written about, Burke did not faithfully pursue his academic studies. This was due, not to lack of industry, but to tremendous enthusiasms, which in their seriousness might well seem astonishing to present-day college boys sixteen or eighteen years of age. In a letter to Richard Shackleton, son of the schoolmaster, he says that he was "greatly taken” in turn with natural philosophy, mathematics, logic and metaphysics, history, and poetry. In the midst of these enthusiasms he neglected routine work, and found recreation in rambles in fields
and woods, and along the river. The important thing is that he was thinking, and probably storing his mind with the history of his beloved Ireland, which always was dear to him.
Burke's father intended the son to follow the profession of law, and to that end entered his name at the Middle Temple, London. In 1750 he went to London to begin his reading of law. From the knowledge of the subject which he afterward exhibited he seems to have studied much for the intended profession. He was never called to the bar, however, and within six years he gave remarkable proof that his chief interest lay in another direction by publishing two books that had nothing to do with legal subjects. One was a clever imitation of the agnostic Bolingbroke, called "A Vindication of Natural Society," the other an essay, "A Philosophical Inquiry into the Origin of our Ideas on the Sublime and Beautiful."
With these books Burke definitely began his career in literature. He had abandoned the law, and his father had in consequence broken with him and stopped his allowance. As if to try to the utmost the value of his genius he at this critical period married a Miss Nugent, daughter of his physician. In her he found perfect happiness, which boon to a man of his zealous earnestness must well have been worth the hazard. The first of the two books mentioned gives indication of the development of his genius in writing, and of certain ideas that were fundamental in his later views. The “Vindication" was a satire in imitation of the man most noted at that day for his style. Burke so mastered the model that the English public and critics alike took it to be Bolingbroke's own; and it is certain that the book left a permanent mark on Burke's style. As to subject matter, Burke here first gave to the public an indication of his broad and unalterable adherence to established order, reverence for which principle underlay some of his later apparent inconsistencies.