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1796 "A Letter From The Right Honourable Edmund Burke To A Noble Lord on the Attacks Made Upon Him And His Pension In The House of Lords by the Duke of Bedford and the Earl of Lauderdale, Early in the present Sessions of Parliament."



This was one of Edmund Burke's last significant works, written and published in 1796 the year before his death. In it Burke skewers the Duke of Bedford for hypocrisy in questioning the King's grant of a pension to Burke and explains Burke's opposition to the French Revolution and similar leveling movements in England, thus saving the lands and lives of aristocrats like Bedford. Conor Cruise O'Brien in the introduction to his thematic biography of Edmund Burke, "The Great Melody," lists this as among Burke's works of highest eloquence that "is in a special class of its own, but belongs to the general context of the French debate."

This is one of my favorite works by Burke. He has this to say about France the American Revolution and the English constitution:

Happily, France was not then Jacobinized. Her hostility was at a good distance. We had a limb cut off, but we preserved the body: we lost our colonies, but we kept our Constitution.

And here is what Burke thinks of the "innovation" of the French Revolution:

To innovate is not to reform. The French revolutionists complained of everything; they refused to reform anything; and they left nothing, no, nothing at all, unchanged. The consequences are before us,--not in remote history, not in future prognostication: they are about us; they are upon us. They shake the public security; they menace private enjoyment. They dwarf the growth of the young; they break the quiet of the old. If we travel, they stop our way. They infest us in town; they pursue us to the country. Our business is interrupted, our repose is troubled, our pleasures are saddened, our very studies are poisoned and perverted, and knowledge is rendered worse than ignorance, by the enormous evils of this dreadful innovation.


The Duke of Bedford, is a very rich nobleman, with much property to protect, and Burke makes clear that Burke rather than Bedford is protecting Bedford's interests against the lawless philosophers of France:


The Duke of Bedford will stand as long as prescriptive law endures,--as long as the great, stable laws of property, common to us with all civilized nations, are kept in their integrity, and without the smallest intermixture of the laws, maxims, principles, or precedents of the Grand Revolution. They are secure against all changes but one. The whole Revolutionary system, institutes, digest, code, novels, text, gloss, comment, are not only not the same, but they are the very reverse, and the reverse fundamentally, of all the laws on which civil life has hitherto been upheld in all the governments of the world. The learned professors of the Rights of Man regard prescription not as a title to bar all claim set up against old possession, but they look on prescription as itself a bar against the possessor and proprietor. They hold an immemorial possession to be no more than a long continued and therefore an aggravated injustice... as long as this awful structure shall oversee and guard the subjected land,--so long the mounds and dikes of the low, fat, Bedford level will have nothing to fear from all the pickaxes of all the levelers of France.


In another section Burke compares his services to King George III and England that garnered his pension and the services of the Duke of Bedford's ancestor to King Henry VIII that brought him such great wealth. You can read the unflattering result of Burke's analysis and other excerpts from this work here.


The 1796 pamphlet has no wrappers or half title and is soiled on the outside as shown above from 200+ years of age and use but the inside is in pretty clean condition as shown by the picture below of it opened up. It is 80 pages and measures about 5 x 8 inches and looks like it may have been removed from a bound volume.



Price: $75

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