Page:The World's Famous Orations Volume 5.djvu/165

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BIRRELL

ging in it for abstractions, and asking funda- mental questions about the origin of society, and why one man should be born rich and an- other poor.

Burke was no prating optimist: it was his very knowledge how much could be said against society that quickened his fears for it. There is no shallower criticism than that which ac- cuses Burke in his later years of apostasy from so-called Liberal opinions. Burke was all his life through a passionate maintainer of the estab- lished order of things, and a ferocious hater of abstractions and metaphysical politics.

The same ideas that explode like bombs through his diatribes against the French Revo- lution are to be found shining with a mild, effulgence in the comparative calm of his earlier writings. I have often been struck with a re- semblance, which I hope is not wholly fanciful, between the attitude of Burke's mind toward government and that of Cardinal Newman toward religion.

Both these great men belong, by virtue of their imaginations, to the poetic order, and they both are to be found dwelling with amazing elo- quence, detail, and wealth of illustration on the varied elements of society. Both seem as they write to have one hand on the pulse of the world, and to be forever alive to the throb of its action ; and Burke, as he regarded humanity swarming like bees into and out of their hives of industry, asked himself the question, How are these men to 141

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