In 1790, when Edmund Burke wrote his classic essay, Reflections on the Revolution in France, the reactions were not positive. He was not popular among the London elites, to say the least. As L.G. Mitchell recounts, “Burke was rejected right across the political spectrum.” Not only did radicals such as Thomas Paine and Mary Wollstonecraft “dislike the book,” but the members of his own Whig party disowned it: Charles James Fox considered the Reflections “to be in very bad taste” and the future Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger found only “rhapsodies in which there is much to admire and nothing to agree with.”
Yet Burke, the reform-minded statesman, decided to stand against the proclamations of the French Revolution. Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity—who would want to be against that? Burke, apparently. And he prophesied the coming Terror and the rise of Napoleon, because he refused to give in to the tyrannical dictates of eighteenth-century deified Reason.
Burke was right, and Reason was wrong. One suspects it will happen again.
Labels: marriage, philosophy, trends