1806 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Edmund Burke

Richard Cumberland, in Memoirs (1806; 1856) 337-38.



Am I, or am I not to regret that this fine writer devoted himself so profusely to politics? I conceive there must be two opinions upon this question amongst his contemporaries, and only one that will be entertained by posterity. Those who heard his parliamentary speeches with delight, will not easily be induced to wish that he had spoken less; whilst those who can only read him, will naturally regret that he had not written more. The orator, like the actor, lives only in the memory of his hearers, and his fame must rest upon tradition; Mr. Burke in Parliament enjoyed the triumph of a day, but Mr. Burke on paper would have been the founder of his own immortality.