Page:The World's Famous Orations Volume 5.djvu/155

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BIRRELL

THE DISTINCTION OF BURKE 1

Born in 1850; graduated from Cambridge in 1872; Barrister In 1875;

Professor of Law in 1896; Member of Parliament in 1899; Member

of the Cabinet in 1906.

The first great fact to remember is, that the Edmund Burke we are all agreed in regarding as one of the proudest memories of the House of Commons was an Irishman. When we are in our next fit of political depression about that island, and are about piously to wish, as the poet Spenser tells us men were wishing even in his time, that it were not adjacent, let us do a little national stock-taking, and calculate profits as well as losses.

Burke was not only an Irishman, but a typical one — of the very kind many Englishmen, and even possibly some Scotchmen, make a point of disliking. I do not say he was an aboriginal Irishman, but his ancestors are said to have settled in the county of Galway, under Strong- bow, in King Henry the Second's time, when Ireland was first conquered and our troubles began. This, at all events, is a better Irish pedigree than Mr. Parnell's.

1 From a lecture delivered before the Edinburgh Philosophical Society. Printed here by kind pe.-mission of Mr. Birrell.

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