In recapitulating the services by which Edmund Burke will ultimately be judged, I would say that he had a hand in almost every movement for which his generation is applauded. He gave an impulse to almost every political discussion which afterwards resulted in beneficent reform. Some call him a croaker, without sympathy for the ideas on which modern progress is based; but he was really one of the great reformers of his day. He lifted up his voice against the slave-trade; he encouraged and lauded the labors of Howard; he supported the just claims of the Catholics; he attempted, though a churchman, to remove the restrictions to which dissenters were subjected; he opposed the cruel laws against insolvent debtors; he sought to soften the asperities of the Penal Code; he labored to abolish the custom of enlisting soldiers for life; he attempted to subvert the dangerous powers exercised by judges in criminal prosecutions for libel; he sought financial reform in various departments of the State; he would have abolished many useless offices in the government; he fearlessly exposed the wrongs of the East India Company; he tried to bring to justice the greatest political criminal of the day; he took the right side of American difficulties, and advocated a policy which would have secured for half a century longer the allegiance of the American colonies, and prevented the division of the British empire; he advocated measures which saved England, possibly, from French subjugation; he threw the rays of his genius over all political discussions; and he left treatises which from his day to ours have proved a mine of political and moral wisdom, for all whose aim or business it has been to study the principles of law or government. These, truly, were services for which any country should be grateful, and which should justly place Edmund Burke on the list of great benefactors. These constitute a legacy of which all nations should be proud.
Works and Correspondence of Edmund Burke; Life and Times of Edmund Burke, by Macknight (the ablest and fullest yet written); An Historical Study, by Morley (very able); Lives of Burke by Croly, Prior, and Bisset; Grenville Papers; Parliamentary History; the Encyclopaedia Britannica has a full article on Burke; Massey’s History of England; Chatham’s Correspondence; Moore’s Life of Sheridan; also the Lives of Pitt and Fox; Lord Brougham’s Sketch of Burke; C.W. Dilke’s Papers of a Critic; Boswell’s Life of Johnson. The most brilliant of Burke’s writings, “Reflections on the French Revolution,” should be read by everybody.
THE FRENCH EMPIRE.
It is difficult to say anything new about Napoleon Bonaparte, either in reference to his genius, his character, or his deeds.