Edmond Burke

Edmond Burke January 12, 2009

From today’s Writer’s Almanac:

It’s the birthday of Edmund Burke, (books by this author) born in Dublin (1729). His father was a Protestant lawyer and his mother was Catholic. Burke studied law at university, but when he gave it up to study literature, his father withdrew Edmund’s allowance…

So Burke started writing in order to make some money. He became the assistant to the Secretary of Ireland, and then a Member of Parliament, representing the district of Bristol in the House of Commons. And he became a famous reformer. He opposed what he considered the tyranny of the British monarchy. He supported the American colonists’ anti-British sentiments — he didn’t think they should be granted full independence, but he thought that Britain should take a hands-off approach to America. He argued passionately against the Stamp Act, which was an effort by the British to fund their actions in America by taxing the colonists themselves.

Edmund Burke was famous for his passionate oratory, which one biographer described as “impressive rather than effectual.” A critic wrote that “one of the paradoxes of Burke’s career is the gap between his acknowledged eloquence admitted even by his firmest opponents and his habitual inability to persuade.”

Edmund Burke said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”


I am not the greatest fan of some of Burke’s philosophy, but appreciate this last quote greatly and his life and work in general. And, when visiting Bristol a couple years ago, I picked up a historical photograph of his statue in Bristol similar to this one. I’ll be back in less than two weeks and will try to get a shot of it for myself.

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