1814 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Edmund Burke

James Jennings, "A Sketch of an Inscription for a Monument to the Memory of Thomas Chatterton" Jennings, Prospects of Africa (1814) 135-36n.



Had Mr. BURKE closed his political career with his attempt to punish the oppressors of India, no man could have stood higher in the annals of his country: unfortunately for his fame, that tremendous convulsion of the moral world, the French Revolution wrought dismay in his mind, and blasted many of those laurels, which he, for a long time, most exultingly wore. Had Mr. Burke's change of opinion proceeded from the operations of his own mind, without any view to his own pecuniary recompence, we might have pitied the man and lamented the change; but the fact of a pension of 3700 per annum, in consideration of his services, leaves no room for suspicion or comment: all is clear and unequivocal, and the true patriot will be ready to exclaim

Oh what a falling off was there!

Political apostacy is now indeed become very common both amongst statesmen and public writers. How much Mr. Burke's example might operate upon inferior minds must be left to the moral philosopher to determine. We have some instances lately amongst us of no ordinary kind, and, I think, more difficult to be accounted for, taking all the previous circumstances into the account, of men who have themselves been eager in condemning Mr. Burke; who have been heretofore studious to avoid "damning their principles," and yet now let fly their arrows at the cause for which they were once such zealous advocates.

It is not meant to insinuate that it might not be perfectly honourable to associate with men in high situations, and of different sentiments from ourselves. No doubt there are occasionally men of liberal principles and extensive views in those situations who are sincerely desirous of doing good; men who can look down upon the honours and distinctions of the world with disdain; and whose talents are calculated to diffuse blessings on a state. The association of men of genius and talent with such men, where no sacrifice of principle is either asked for or expected, is not only honourable, it might be extensively useful. But if this association be productive of a sacrifice of principle in making a common cause with men whose principles we disapprove, then the mischief becomes alarming, and it behoves the ingenious mind to adopt decisive measures — to declare his sentiments freely, both publicly as well as privately — to be no party in any treason against human nature, or to come out from amongst them and be separate.