Two Letters Addressed To a Member of The Present Parliament on the Proposals for Peace with the Regicide Directory of France

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Russel Kirk wrote about this Edmund Burke’e book:

“At death’s door, Burke was more powerful than ever he had been before; yet Britain was in sore peril as he watched his French children and wrote his last tracts at Gregories. The war against the Revolution went badly. Instead of invading France in force, Pitt kept a quarter of a million soldiers idle in England, while he gobbled up French colonies in the West Indies. Even now, Pitt and Dundas were not wholly convinced that Jacobinism must be ground to powder, lest it rise again; they talked of coexistence. When Prussia dropped out of the Armed Coalition against France, and Austria faltered, Pitt told Malmesbury that “as en English minister and a Christian,” he meant to end this bloody and wasting war. Within the cabinet, it was now the Old Whigs, led by Portland, Windham, Fitzwilliam, and Loughborough, who were wholly won to Burke’s convictions and so demanded victory, whatever its costs, over the enemies of European order.”

With Robespierre fallen, might not be hard-eyed men who dominated the latest stage of the Revolution be brought to see reason? Britain might make large concessions to them, for the sake of Peace. The Foxites clamored for settlement with the Directory; Pitt and the Tory ministers in the coalition squinted that way.

In this doubtful moment, Burke began writing his concluding philippics against the ideologues of France, his four Letters on a Regicide Peace, two of which were not published until his death. His predictions of the dreadful course of the Revolution had been fulfilled almost to the letter: Marie Antoinette had died on the scaffold-the heroic queen of whom Burke had written, in 1790, that she bore her misfortunes “with a serene patience, in a manner suited to her rank and race. ..” The Revolution had ravaged Europe and devoured many of its own children, but the sanguinary appetite of the revolutionaries was insatiable. Should Britain come to terms with murderers and brigands, who meant to subdue Britain, too, by subversion and conquest?

Burke’s answer was a ringing negative, and events soon justified him. In Paris, the Directory masquerades as constitutional government, but actually was thorough tyranny; the Directors never truly meant to make peace with Pitt, but only played for time.”