Edmund Burke

Charles Burney to Frances Burney, 20 July 1797; Diary and Letters of the Author of Madam D'Arblay, ed. Austin Dobson (1904-05) 5:330.

Saturday Night, July 20, 1797.


The close of the season is always hurry-scurry. I shall begin a letter tonight, and leave it on the stocks, that is, the table, to stare me in the face, lest in the hurry I am and shall be in, you should lose your turn. I was invited to poor Mr. Burke's funeral, by Mrs. Crewe and two notes from Beaconsfield. Malone and I went to Bulstrode together in my car, this day sevennight, with two horses added to mine. Mrs. Crewe had invited me thither when she went down first. We found the Duke of P. there; and the Duke of Devonshire and Windham came to dinner. The Chancellor and Speaker of the House of Commons could not leave London till four o'clock, but arrived a little after seven. We all set off together for Beaconsfield, where we found the rest of the pall-bearers — Lord Fitzwilliam, Lord Inchiquin, and Sir Gilbert Eliot, with Drs. King and Lawrence, Fred North, Dudley North, and many of the deceased's private friends, though by his repeated injunction the funeral was to be very private. We had all hat-bands, scarfs, and gloves; and he left a list to whom rings of remembrance are to be sent, among whom my name occurred; and a jeweller has been here for my measure. I went back to Bulstrode, by invitation, with the two Dukes, the Chancellor, and Speaker, Windham, Malone, and Secretary King. I stayed there till Sunday evening, and got home just before the dreadful storm. The Duke was extremely civil and hospitable, — pressed me much to stay longer and go with them, the Chancellor, Speaker, Windham, and Mrs. Crewe, to Penn, to see the school, founded by Mr. Burke, for the male children of French emigrant nobles; but I could not with prudence stay, having a couple of ladies waiting for me in London, and two extra horses with me.

So much for poor Mr. Burke, certainly one of the greatest men of the present century; and I think I might say the best orator and statesman of modern times. He had his passions and prejudices to which I did not subscribe; but I always admired his great abilities, friendship, and urbanity; and it would be ungrateful in you and me, to whom he was certainly partial, not to feel and lament his loss.

C. B.