Each century of Irish history would require a volume of its own, if the lives of its eminent men were recorded as they should be; but the eighteenth century may boast of a host of noble Irishmen, whose fame is known even to those who are most indifferent to the history of that country. It was in this century that Burke, coming forth from the Quaker school of Ballitore, his mind strengthened by its calm discipline, his intellect cultivated by its gifted master, preached political wisdom to the Saxons, who were politically wise as far as they followed his teaching, and politically unfortunate when they failed to do so. His public career demands the most careful consideration from every statesman who may have any higher object in view than the mere fact of having a seat in the cabinet; nor should it be of less interest or value to those whose intellectual capacities are such as to enable them to grasp any higher subject than the plot of a sensational novel. It was in this century also that Moore began to write his world-famed songs, to amaze the learned by his descriptions of a country which he had never seen, and to fling out those poetical hand grenades, those pasquinades and squibs, whose rich humour and keenly-pointed satire had so much influence on the politics of the day. It was in this century that Sheridan, who was the first to introduce Moore to London society, distinguished himself at once as dramatist, orator, and statesman, and left in his life and death a terrible lesson to his nation of the miseries and degradations consequent on indulgence in their besetting sin. It was in this century that Steele, the bosom friend of Addison, and his literary equal, contributed largely to the success and popularity of the Spectator, the Guardian, and the Tatler, though, as usual, English literature takes the credit to itself of what has been accomplished for it by Irish writers.
Burke is, however, unquestionably both the prominent man of his age and of his nation in that age; and happily we have abundant material for forming a correct estimate of his character and his works. Burke was born in Dublin, on the 1st of January, 1730. His father was an attorney in good business, and of course a Protestant, as at that period none, except those who professed the religion of a small minority, were permitted to govern the vast majority, or to avail themselves of any kind of temporal advancement. The mother of the future statesman was a Miss Nagle, of Mallow, a descendant of whose family became afterwards very famous as the foundress of a religious order. The family estate was at Castletown-Roche, in the vicinity of Doneraile; this property descended to Garrett, Edmund’s elder brother. A famous school had been founded by a member of the Society of Friends at Ballitore, and thither young Burke and his brother were sent for their education The boys arrived there on the 26th May, 1741. A warm friendship soon sprang up between Edmund and Richard Shackleton,