Page:The World's Famous Orations Volume 5.djvu/163

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BIRRELL

and intimates did him harm and injured his consequence. His brother Richard, whose brogue we are given to understand was simply appalling, was a good-for-nothing, with a dilapidated rep- utation. Then there was another Mr. Burke, who was no relation, but none the less was al- ways about, and to whom it was not safe to lend money. Burke's son, too, whose death he mourned so pathetically, seems to have been a failure, and is described by a candid friend as a nauseating person. To have a decent fol- lowing is important in politics.

It now only remains for me, drawing upon my stock of assurance, to essay the analysis of the essential elements of Burke's mental charac- ter, and I therefore at once proceed to say that it was Burke 's peculiarity and his glory to apply the imagination of a poet of the first order to the facts and the business of life. Arnold says of Sophocles —

"He saw life steadily and saw it whole.' '

Substitute for the word "life" the words "or- ganized society," and you get a peep into Burke's mind.

There was a catholicity about his gaze. He knew how the whole world lived. Everything contributed to this: his vast desultory reading; his education, neither wholly academical nor entirely professional ; his long years of appren- ticeship in the service of knowledge ; his wander- 139

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