Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 07.djvu/358

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Burke
Burke
352

which, on 14 March 1771, he and his friends hindered the business of the house, during the debate on the prohibition of printed reports, he declared that he took shame to himself that he never resorted to this expedient before as a means of hindering such measures. ‘Posterity,’ he said, ‘would bless the pertinaciousness of that day ’ (ib. ii. 395). The freedom of the press and the publication of parliamentary proceedings were its results, Burke strongly urged the removal of restrictions on the exportation of oorn, pointing out in committee, on 28 Feb. 1770, the identity of the interests of the consumer and the grower (ib. i. 476) ; and again when, on 15 April 1772, a bill was before the house to regulate the corn trade, he opposed the discontinuance of the bounty on exportation (Parl. Hist. xvii. 480). In the same session of 1772 he supported a bill to protect the holders of land against the dormant claims ofthe church (Works, vi. 155). He was constantly assailed by anonymous pamphleteers, whose virulence was increased by the belief that he was the author of the ‘Letters of Junius,' a report which he expressly denied, and for which there was not the slightest ground (ib. i. 133-8). It was nevertheless widely spread, and was encouraged by the hints of Francis (Memoirs of Sir Philip Francis, i. 220, 243; Grenville Papers, iv. 381, 391). During the summer of 1770 his wife’s health caused him some uneasiness; she regained her strength the next year, and Burke writes cheerfully to Shackleton (July 1771) ; his kinsman William was living with him, his brother Richard was expected from the West Indies, and his son was doing well at Westminster. Burke’s home life was happy; he entered into all work with energy, and discussed the principles of deep ploughing as eagerly as the fate of empires.

In 1772 Burke opposed a (petition from certain clergy to be relieved from subscription to the articles, arguing that the church as a voluntary society had a right to dictate her own terms of membership, and exposing the absurdity of the proposal to substitute a compulsory subscription to the Scriptures (ib. vi. 80-90). He gave his cordial support in 1773 to the bill for the relief of protestant dissenters from the test provided by the Act of Toleration. His love of religious freedom was, however, subordinate to his dislike of rationalistic criticism. ‘Infide1s,’ he said, ‘are outlaws of the constitution, not of this country, but of the human race. They are never, never to be supported, never to be tolerated‘ (Hn. vi. 100). The special cause of this vehemence was a visit he paid to Paris in February 1773, whither he went after leaving his son Richard at Auxerre to acquire French. On this visit he saw the Dauphiness at Versailles, that ‘delightful vision’ which some sixteen or seventeen years after he described in memorable words (ib. iv. 212). He supped often with Mme. du Deffand, who Wrote to Walpole that he spoke French with great difficulty but was most agreeable. At her house he met the Comte de Broglio, and at the house of the Duchesse de Luxembourg he heard the ‘ Barmécides ’ of La Harpe. In the salon of Mdlle. de l’Espinasse he found himself in the society of the Encyclopaedists, and had an insight into French morals and philosophy (Lettres de Mme. la Marquise du Deffand, ii. 377-93; Morley, Life, 67). He came back in March strengthened in his conservative principles. About this time his brother Richard, who had been ruined in 1769, appears as a speculator in land in St. Vincent. His title was disputed by government, and Burke was suspected of having been concerned in his gambling transactions (Dilke; H. Walpole to Mason, 23 March 1774, Letters, vi. 68). In the autumn of 1771 Burke had been appointed agent to the province of New York, with a salary of 500l. a year (Bancroft, Hist. of the U. States, v. 215). A more lucrative offer was made to him the next year. The East India Company was in difficulties, and dreaded the seizure of its territory by government. The directors wished to send Burke, at the head ofa supervisorship of three, to reform their administration. Burke took counsel with the Duke of Richmond, and refused the tempting offer for the sake of his party. That party was soon to receive an important addition. At least as early as 1766 Charles James Fox, then about seventeen, was intimate with Burke, admired his talents, and probabl before long introduced him to Lord Holland (Correspondence of C. J. Fox, i. 26, 69). In February 1772 Fox left North's administration, and he and Burke united in opposing the Royal Marriage Act. The breach was patche up, but in 1774 Fox finally went into opposition and thus became an ally of Burke, whom he always looked up to as his master in politics. For the next eight years the two friends joined in violent opposition to North’s administration. They led very different lives, for Burke neither drank nor played. and when, after a hard morning’s work, he used to call for Fox on his way to the house, he would find him fresh and ready for work, for his day had then only just begun.

In the spring of 1774 Burke urged the repeal of the tea duty in a speech afterwards published (‘On American taxation,’ Works, iii, 176), and vigorously opposed the penal bills for closing the port of Boston and an-