Reflections on the Revolution in France : And on the Proceedings in Certain Societies in London Relative to That Event - In a Letter Intended to Have Been Sent to a Gentleman in Paris

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  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 1982-06-01
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics

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This new and up-to-date edition of a book that has been central to political philosophy, history, and revolutionary thought for two hundred years offers readers a dire warning of the consequences that follow the mismanagement of change. Written for a generation presented with challenges of terrible proportions--the Industrial, American, and French Revolutions, to name the most obvious--Burke's Reflections of the Revolution in France displays an acute awareness of how high political stakes can be, as well as a keen ability to set contemporary problems within a wider context of political theory.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. 11
Abbreviationsp. 13
Chronological tablep. 17
Introductionp. 23
The identity of Edmund Burkep. 23
The Revolution of 1688p. 38
Burke's knowledge of Francep. 43
The genesis of the Reflectionsp. 53
Burke's theory of the French Revolutionp. 69
The political theory of the Reflectionsp. 85
Burke's crusade against the Revolutionp. 97
Burke's later influencep. 109
A note on the textp. 113
Biographical guidep. 115
Bibliographyp. 125
Reflections on the Revolution in Francep. 141
Preface [iii-iv]p. 143
The English constitution and the Revolution of 1688p. 145
Origins of the work [1]p. 145
The Society for Constitution Information and the Revolution Society [3]p. 146
Burke on liberty and prudence [7]p. 150
Astonishing nature of French revolution [11]p. 154
Richard Price's sermon; Nonconformity [12]p. 155
Price misrepresents the constitution [16]p. 159
Price's general interpretation of 1688 reviewed [20]p. 161
Right to choose governors denied; hereditary principle reasserted [22]p. 163
Right to cashier governors for misconduct denied [37]p. 176
Right 'to form a government for ourselves' denied [44]p. 181
Liberties as an inheritance [45]p. 181
The French Revolution
France might have repaired ancient constitution [50]p. 185
Intrinsic evils of French Revolution, [54]p. 189
Explained by composition of National Assembly [58]p. 192
Its Third Estate: predominance of lawyers [60]p. 194
Its First Estate: predominance of minor clergy [67]p. 200
Its Second Estate: role of discontented nobility [68]p. 201
Qualifications for government: virtue, wisdom, property [72]p. 205
Consequent flaws in future French constitution [77]p. 209
Price's threat to extend French principles to England [79]p. 211
Destructive consequences of natural rights claims [85]p. 215
Contrasting Whig theory of formation of civil society and rights of men within it [87]p. 217
Effects of false claims of rights: 'speculative designs', 'desperate strokes' [92]p. 221
Price's sermon implicitly condones massacre; Price compared to Hugh Peters [96]p. 224
Horrors of 5-6 October 1789 [99]p. 226
National Assembly overawed by Paris mob [100]p. 227
Events of 5-6 October [105]p. 232
Eulogy of the Queen [111]p. 236
Chivalry and 'manners' compared with 'this barbarous philosophy' [113]p. 238
Why Burke reacts differently from Price [119]p. 243
Defence of Louis XVI [122]p. 245
English society
Different conduct of the English; cause of this [124]p. 246
French philosophes compared with English Deists [132]p. 253
Religion as the basis of civil society [134]p. 254
Defence of 'our church establishment': [136]p. 256
Moral restraints on the people [138]p. 257
Obligations between generations [141]p. 259
Divine origin of civil society [146]p. 262
Religion and education [148]p. 263
Independent endowment of the Church [149]p. 264
Importance of religion to rich and poor [151]p. 266
Property rights of the Church [155]p. 268
Contrasting principles of the French Revolution
Confiscation of property [156]p. 269
Betrayal of national faith [160]p. 272
Role of 'monied interest' [163]p. 274
Role of 'political Men of Letters' [165]p. 275
Alliance of these against 'property, law and religion' [168]p. 278
French society before the Revolution
Its finances reformable; Necker [174]p. 282
Previous taxes on nobility and clergy [178]p. 286
The 'project of confiscation' [179]p. 286
A 'third option' between monarchy and democracy [184]p. 290
Nature of the French monarchy [188]p. 294
Flourishing population disproves tyranny [189]p. 294
As does France's wealth; Necker [192]p. 297
Both reduced by the Revolution [196]p. 300
Nobility and clergy had supported reform [199]p. 303
Characteristics of the French nobility [202]p. 306
Value of nobility as such [205]p. 308
Characteristics of French clergy [206]p. 309
Wrongly blamed for past offences [207]p. 310
Qualities of present clergy [212]p. 314
The expropriation of the French Church
Consequences of reform of the church: 'abolition ... of the Christian religion' [217]p. 317
Contrasting policy in England [221]p. 320
Consequences of French 'atheistical fanaticism' [225]p. 323
Its 'spirit of proselytism' across Europe [226]p. 324
Injustice of French confiscations [230]p. 327
Wisdom of moderate reform [231]p. 328
Practial bad consequences of confiscations of church property [235]p. 330
The proceedings of the National Assembly
Burke's further thoughts on the actions of the Assembly [241]p. 334
National Assembly's lack of authority [242]p. 335
Its members' lack of political wisdom [245]p. 337
Their actions regarding
The constitution of the legislature: [253]p. 343
Not to be formed on theories [253]p. 343
Basis of territory [254]p. 344
Basis of population [256]p. 346
Basis of contribution [258]p. 347
Contradictions of this scheme [259]p. 348
Its electoral consequences [262]p. 350
Its divisive consequences [265]p. 352
Contrasting electoral system in Britain [269]p. 355
General purpose of elections [271]p. 356
Superiority of ancient republics [272]p. 357
'Cementing principles': (i) confiscation [276]p. 359
Social consequences of paper currency [277]p. 360
'Cementing principles': (ii) superiority of Paris [284]p. 364
Loss of local identity [285]p. 365
Absolute power of National Assembly [286]p. 366
The constitution of the executive power: [288]p. 367
Monarch no longer the fountain of justice [289]p. 368
Monarch now powerless to execute laws [290]p. 369
Executive magistracy depends on veneration [291]p. 369
Position of king's ministers [293]p. 371
'Fictitious' position of executive [295]p. 372
The constitution of judicature: [298]p. 374
Importance of parlements [298]p. 374
Judges now subordinate to National Assembly [301]p. 377
['Cementing principles': (iii) the army] [304]p. 379
The constitution of the army: [304]p. 379
Account of war minister [305]p. 379
Collapse of discipline and loyalty [307]p. 381
Army subverted by revolutionary ideas [309]p. 382
Reimposition of discipline unlikely [311]p. 383
Constitutional errors are interlinked [313]p. 385
Relation of army to crown [315]p. 386
Relation of army to National Assembly [317]p. 387
Elective principle in army [318]p. 388
Assembly must rule by the army; [320]p. 389
Since peasantry now claim land on revolutionary principle [322]p. 391
The 'municipal army' is merely democratic [327]p. 394
The system of finance: [328]p. 395
High expectations of reform, [328]p. 395
Contrasted with report of M. Vernier [331]p. 397
Financial mistakes of National Assembly: [332]p. 398
Voluntary benevolences [333]p. 398
Patriotic donations [334]p. 399
Paper currency [336]p. 401
Failure to reduce expenditure [337]p. 401
Collapse of credit [337]p. 401
Resort to assignats as sole remedy [338]p. 402
Difficulty of securing paper credit on land [340]p. 404
Mismanagement of expropriation of the Church [342]p. 405
Effects of first issue of assignats [345]p. 407
Analogy with Law's Mississippi Company [346]p. 408
Speeches of M. Bailly [349]p. 410
General effects of financial 'dilapidation' [350]p. 410
Liberty requires wisdom and virtue [352]p. 412
Difficulty of forming a free government [353]p. 412
Commends example of the British constitution [354]p. 413
Burke's lifelong struggle for liberty of others [356]p. 414
Textual variations in subsequent editionsp. 417
Richard Price's reply to Burkep. 424
Indexp. 433
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