Edmund Burke, New York Agent: With His Letters to the New York Assembly and Intimate Correspondence with Charles O'Hara, 1761-1776

Edmund Burke, New York Agent: With His Letters to the New York Assembly and Intimate Correspondence with Charles O'Hara, 1761-1776

Edmund Burke, New York Agent: With His Letters to the New York Assembly and Intimate Correspondence with Charles O'Hara, 1761-1776

Edmund Burke, New York Agent: With His Letters to the New York Assembly and Intimate Correspondence with Charles O'Hara, 1761-1776

Excerpt

When Edmund Burke was only seventeen years old, he told his friend, Richard Shackleton: "We live in a world where everyone is on the catch, and the only way to be safe is to be silent--silent in any affair of consequence; and I think it would not be a bad rule for every man to keep within what he thinks of others, of himself, and of his own affairs." Burke made that rule a habit of his life, and it is one reason why he could achieve an immense fame without permitting the world to become very well acquainted with him. He wrote no memoirs and left no diaries. His published works yield little biographical information. He spoke and wrote copiously because, as Dr. Johnson said, his "stream of mind" was perpetual; but he was always full of discretion, cautious in uttering opinions of men, saying little about himself, and never allowing anyone to know what was no one's business but his own. Many of his letters have been published. They are full of candor and strong emotion, but in them the veil rarely drops from an intensely reserved man. The most outspoken of men on the affairs of the public and on the greatest variety of literary, moral, esthetic, and historical topics, he was a clam about himself. Hence a curious obscurity has continued to surround him. The author of a recent volume of essays on Burke wrote in order to show "how much uncertainty" still hovers about him; and said that if his book contributed "little to our knowledge" it could at least provide "a rather full account of our ignorance."

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