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In 1756 he was lodging over a bookseller’s shop near Temple Bar. He appears to have frequented the theatres and one or two debating societies, and to have made the acquaintance of some famous men, such as Garrick, with whom he formed a warm and lasting friendship.

Literary work was more to Burke’s taste than legal study. He was never called to the bar, and the rejection of the profession for which he was designed angered his father, who in 1755 withdrew either wholly or in part the allowance of 100l. a year he had hitherto made him. Burke was thus forced to depend on literature for his livelihood. He had probably already written his ‘Hints for an Essay on the Drama,' a short piece which remained unpublished until after his death. In 1756 he produced two works which at once gained him a high place in literature. The first of these, his ‘Vindication of Natural Society, in a Letter to Lord ——, by a late Noble Writer,' was called forth by the publication of Bolingbroke’s works in 1754, and is a satirical imitation both of his philosophy and his style. Applying Bolingbroke’s arguments against revealed religion to an examination of what is ironically called ‘artificial society,’ Burke exhibits the folly of demanding a reason for moral and social institutions, and, with a foresight which was one of the most remarkable traits of his genius, thus early distinguished the coming attack of rationalistic criticism on the established order, and marked it as his special foe. The lofty style and eloquent diction of Bolingbroke were so skilfully imitated in this little pamphlet, that even such critics as Warburton believed the satire to be a genuine work, and the careful study of the original left its mark on the style of the imitator (Morley, Life of Burke). 'The Philosophical Inquiry into the Origin of our Ideas on the Sublime and the Beautiful’ had been begun before Burke was nineteen, and had been laid aside for some years. This treatise, strange as some of its dicta are, was held by Johnson to be ‘an example of true criticism’ (Boswell, Life, iii. 91), and seemed to Lessing well worthy of translation. Burke‘s father was so pleased with this book that he sent him 100l. (Bisset, 36). Burke never ceased to take a warm and discriminating interest in all artistic matters, and is said to have ‘embraced the whole concerns of art, ancient as well as modern, foreign as well as domestic’ (Barry, Works, ii. 538). He was still in weak health, and accepted an invitation to stay with his physician, Dr. Nugent, in order to escape from noisy lodgings. He married the doctor's daughter Jane in the winter of 1756–7. According to one account, Burke became an inmate of Dr. Nugent’s house while on a visit to Bath, where the doctor lived before he removed to London. Up to the time of her marriage Mrs. Burke was a Roman catholic, but she conformed to her husband's religion. Burke’s marriage was a happy one; his wife was a gentle–tempered woman, and he was noted among his friends for his ‘orderly and amiable domestic habits’ (Boswwll, Life, vii. 250). They had two sons: Richard, born 1758, and Christopher, who died in childhood.

Early in 1757 Burke published ‘An Account of the European Settlements in America.' As regards the authorship of this book, he told Boswell, ‘I did not write it. I will not deny that a friend did, and I revised it.’ ‘Malone tells me,’ adds Boswell, ‘that it was written by William Burke, the cousin of Edmund, but it is everywhere evident that Burke himself has contributed a great deal to it’ (Boswell, Letters to Temple, p. 313). The early sheets of ‘The Abridgment of the History of England’ were also printed in this year, though the book itself was not published until after Burke’s death, The crisis of the war in 1758 probably moved Burke to undertake the production of the ‘Annual Register,' the first volume of which appeared in 1759. For this work Dodsley aid him 100l. a year. He never acknowledged his connection with this publication, and the amount of his contributions to it has never been ascertained. He evidently continued to write the ‘Survey of Events’ for some years after he entered political life, and even after he ceased to write it, about 1788, probably inspired and directed its composition. His literary successes brought him into society. Mrs. Montagu, writing in 1759, describes him as free from ‘pert pedantry, modest, and delicate' (Letters of Mrs. E. Montagu, iv. 211). He was now residing with his father~in-law in Wimpole Street. He was in want of money, and was anxious to obtain the appointment of consul at Madrid. His cause was espoused by Dr. Markham, head-master of Westminster (afterwards archbishop of York), who prevailed on the Duchess of Queensberry to write to Pitt on his behalf (Prior, 62). The application was rejected, and Pitt was thus the means of keeping his future antagonist from leaving the field of action.

Before the end of 1759 Burke was introduced by Lord Charlemont to William Gerard (‘Single-speech’) Hamilton (Memoirs of Lord Charlemont, i. 119). He engaged himself as a kind of private secretary to Hamilton, and the work his employer required of him shut him out from all authorship save in the