Burke, Liberalism, Conservatism

Here's a gem:

"On the one hand [Burke] is revealed as a foremost apostle of Liberty, on the other as the redoubtable champion of Authority. But a charge of political inconsistency applied to this life appears a mean and Burke_6petty thing. History easily discerns the reasons and forces which actuated him, and the immense changes in the problems he was facing which evoked from the same profound mind and sincere spirit these entirely contrary manifestations.

His soul revolted against tyranny, whether it appeared in the aspect of a domineering Monarch and a corrupt Court and Parliamentary system, or whether, mouthing the watch-words of a non-existent liberty, it towered up against him in the dictation of a brutal mob and wicked sect. No one can read the Burke of Liberty and the Burke of Authority without feeling that here was the same man pursuing the same ends, seeking the same ideals of society and Government, and defending them from assaults, now from one extreme, now from the other."

It's Winston Churchill, as brilliant as ever.

I recall an Oxford tutorial I once had on Burke. The great thing about my Oxford education was not only that it was free. It was the tutorial system in which an undergraduate reads out loud an essay on a subject before a professor in the professor's study once a week. That's your course. Anyway, I was given the task one week of reading and of summarizing the message of Burke's "Reflections on the Revolution in France". I was full of myself (big surprise). I went on and on about how Burke was the father of Toryism, how conservatism was born in his prose, how Tory wisdom flowed from his pen, blah blah blah. When I finished on some suitably rhapsodic note, my tutor was still fussing around on his desk, ruffling papers, as if he were looking for something. He'd been doing this most of the time I was speaking. Then he looked up in my general direction, as if suprised I was still there, and said something I will never forget:

"But Burke was a Whig."

So he was. You can look it up.