William Godwin's Diary

Notes on Burke

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This work is mentioned in the diary a total of 1 time.


18  October  1824

Godwin, William Notes on Burke (1824)

This corrsponds to MS. Abinger c. 37, fols. 8-22, Contemporary politics: William Godwin, miscelleaneous items, including notes on his suitability to be an M.P. written c. 1796, notes for ‘Verax, Part II’ dated 8 Dec. 1816, and notes on Edmund Burke, John Horne Tooke and Charles James Fox. 20 leaves. On one sheet of paper Godwin has simply written, across the middle of the page, 'I could write excellent characters of Edmund Burke and John Horne Tooke'. He had been reading a life of Burke in the days before 18 October, when he entered 'Notes on Burke' in his diary, followed the next day by 'Notes on Horne Tooke'. The single page of notes on Burke read, 'Edmund Burke. asperity intermperance These are qualities which it is particularly painful to discover in the man we especially desire to love and admire It was said of Priestley, that he was never ill-tempered and harsh, but with his pen - may not something analogous to this be predicated of Burke? Meanwhile, it is an infirmity greatly to be lamented - it stops the career of our love, and it greatly detracts from the authority and weight of him in whom it is discovered.' The notes go on to discuss the Burkean sublime: 'the loftiest species of the sublime, especially where moral agents are concerned, is in cases to which sympathy enters .... There must, perhaps always, be the idea of mind included in the sublime - suffering - or triumphant .... B's radical fault is his propensity to divide sublimity fr. sentiment, to reduce it to sensation Music (Handel) is a fine source of it.' Another page of notes discusses Burke's relationship with Fox: 'Offended with Mr. Fox for panegyrising democracy at a very improper moment - resolves to check this panegyric .... Accused by Mr. Fox of adopting a conduct calculated to injure him - of contradicting the principles upon which he had formerly acted - of drawing a bill of indictment against a whole people - his pamphlet condemned Indignation of Burke - tears of Fox Withdraws himself from parliament'.