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Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 07.djvu/353

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Burke
Burke
347

‘Annual Register.' On the other hand, his intimacy with Hamilton made him known to many persons of importance. In 1761 Hamilton was made secretary to the Earl of Halifax, and Burke went with him to Ireland. It was the year of the first outbreak of Whiteboyism, a movement which he attributed to local grievances, and not to political discontent (Works, i. 21). The policy of repression pursued by the government led him, probably about this time, to draw up some reflections on the penal code which remained unfinished, and were published after his death (ib. vi. l). After a year in Dublin he returned to England with Hamilton, who in the spring 1763 obtained for him a pension of 300l. a year. Burke, however, felt that he was doing himself an injustice in giving up all his time to Hamilton's service, and wrote plainly to his patron that he must be allowed some time for literary work, and that he could only accept the pension on that condition. In the autumn he was again in Ireland, but in May 1764 Hamilton lost his office, and Burke returned to live with his father-in-law in Queen Anne Street. Before he left Ireland he drew up an address to the king setting forth the hardships suffered by the Irish catholics, and left it with a friend. Fourteen years afterwards this document was forwarded to George III, and, it is said, did much towards reconciling him to the first instalment of religious toleration in Ireland (ib. i. 376). On his return to England Burke became a member of the club founded in the spring of that year at the Turk’s Head in Gerrard Street. His powers of conversation mads him one of its chief ornaments. Johnson declared that if you met him for the first time in the street, after five minutes' talk ‘you would say, This is an extraordinary man. He is never,' he said, ‘humdrum, never unwilling to talk, nor in haste to leave off.' ‘Burke’s talk,’ he remarked on another occasion, ‘is the ebullition of his mind; he does not talk from a desire of distinction, but because his mind is full.’ Partly perhaps because he thus spoke out of the abundance of his heart, he was not witty. ‘No, sir,’ Johnson said, ‘he never succeeds there. ’Tis low, ’tis conceit’ (Boswell, Life, iv. 23, 225). He had the power of making men love him. His friendship with Garrick, Reynolds, and Johnson was in each case only broken by death. To Garrick he looked in time of need. Reynolds made him one of his executors, and left him 2,000l. Johnson, when on his deathbed, said to him, ‘I must he in a wretched state indeed when your company would not be a delight to me.' Anxious to have such a man as Burke at his disposal, Hamilton offered him a yearly sum on condition that he devoted himself, wholly to his service. Burke refused to sell himself, and his jealous patron broke off his connection with him. Indignant at his imperious conduct, Burke, in April, threw up the pension he had received through his intercession. During the period of his poverty he had cared little for money. However small his means were, he was always ready to give to others. While still struggling unknown in London, he met Emin, the Armenian adventurer, then friendless and in distress, and took him to his lodgings. Offering him half a guinea, he said, ‘Upon my honour, this is all I have at present; please accept it’ (J. Emin, Life and Adventures, 90). By 1765, however, it is probable that his prospects were brighter. During his stay in Ireland in 1763 he befriended James Barry, the painter [q. v.], brought him back with him to London, and in 1765 undertook to defray the greater part of the expense of sending him abroad to study (Barry's Works, i. 9–26). This seems to show that he had by this time some command of money, and certain notices, which are given below, as to the means of his family in 1766, render it probable that his brother and cousin had already embarked in speculation. In after days Burke saved Crabbe from a debtors’ prison, lodged him in his own house, treated him as an honoured guest, and used his interest to gain the poet a livelihood.

In July 1765 Lord Rockingham, who had just been appointed first lord of the treasury, made Burke his private secretary. This appointment he owed to the good offices of his kinsman William Burke; it was the signal for all who grudged the rise of a man unconnected with any of the great houses to spread evil reports of him, and it was not long before the old Duke of Newcastle hurried to Lord Rockingham primed with slanders. The minister had been deceived; his new secretary was not merely an Irish adventurer, but a papist and a jesuit from St. Omer. Rockingham frankly told Burke what he had heard, and the spirit with which the secretary behaved won his entire confidence (Memoirs of Lord Charlemont, ii. 231). From this time onwards he looked on Burke as a personal friend as well as a useful ally. He advanced him large sums of money, and at his death directed that his bonds should be destroyed (Works, i. 504). These bonds are said to have been for 30,000l. The report that Burke was a catholic was not allowed to die out. Utterly without foundation as it was, the accusation wus too mischievous to he dropped by the pensioners of the powerful