London, South Kensington
1 June 2009
BURKE, Edmund (1727-1797). Autograph letter signed ('Edm. Burke') to John King, n.p., 1 May 1791, 4 pages, folio, on a bifolium.
'THE ABSURDITY OF THOSE FANATICKS': a verbal assault on the French revolutionary state. Burke writes to his close friend 'relatively to this French Business': 'The manifesto of M. de Monmorin ... throws the French Revolution, the French constitution, the State of the French King, & the principles predominant in France, directly in the King's face ... They have the impudence ... to read a Lecture of Politicks morals & legislation, to his Majesty, & to all the crowned heads in Europe', complaining further of the unprecedented and offensive nature of 'this astonishing State memorial', and adding 'The absurdity of those Fanaticks does not render their attempts the less dangerous; perhaps it only makes them the more so'; expressing his diffidence as one 'ignorant of the bottom of things', Burke nevertheless warns against French intentions of 'communicating the accursed blessings of their constitution', and of the particular delicacy of the threat, attacking as it does 'the fidelity of Armies', and suggests a number of counter-measures, including recalling the ambassador in Paris. He understands that an attempt will be made to prevent him from speaking on the subject in Parliament, and suggests a motion declaring 'inviolable attachment to our constitution'; whatever happens 'I am ready in my place in Parliament to justify whatever I may have written in my closet'.
John King (1759-1830) had been appointed a law clerk at the Home Office in January 1791; by the end of the year he was promoted to under-secretary of state. Burke and his circle had a high opinion of King, declaring that his promotion 'made us the happiest people in the world'.
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