Edmund Burke Criticism - Essay

John MacCunn (essay date 1913)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: John MacCunn, "Religion and Politics," in The Political Philosophy of Burke, Edward Arnold, 1913, pp. 122-43.

[In the essay below, MacCunn outlines Burke's belief in a divinely-ordered society and the inseparability of church and state.]

Burke's political religion has its roots deep in three convictions. The first is that civil society rests on spiritual foundations, being indeed nothing less than a product of Divine will; the second, that this is a fact of significance so profound that the recognition of it is of vital moment, both for the corporate life of the State and for the lives of each and all of its members; and the third, that whilst all forms of...

(The entire section is 5156 words.)

Charles Parkin (essay date 1956)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE:Charles Parkin, "The Natural Relation of Society and Government," in The Moral Basis of Burke's Political Thought: An Essay, 1956. Reprint by Russell & Russell, 1968, pp. 30-53.

[Below, Parkin explains why Burke believed in the natural suitability of a Parliament composed of members of the aristocracy, and discusses Burke's ideas about the principles by which they should govern.]

The lower and higher natures in man are held in unity by the 'great primeval contract of eternal society'. For the individual, therefore, apprehension of the moral order comes to him through his instinctive nature.

Dark and inscrutable are...

(The entire section is 6524 words.)

Francis Canavan (essay date 1987)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE:Francis Canavan, "Prescription and Government," in Edmund Burke: Prescription and Providence, Carolina Academic Press, 1987, pp. 113-35.

[In the following essay, Canavan explains how Burke's theory of prescription led to his belief that preexisting moral obligations in a divinely-willed state both supersede and underpin the rights and liberties of individuals secured through social contracts.]

In relating the political order of civil society to the created order of the world, Burke's theory of prescription of government plays an important role. He says explicitly that "the doctrine of prescription … is a part of the law of nature."1 But as the...

(The entire section is 9270 words.)

Peter J. Stanlis (essay date 1991)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Peter J. Stanlis, "Burke and the Moral Natural Law," in Edmund Burke: The Enlightment and Revolution, Transaction Publishers, 1991, pp. 3-61.

[In the following excerpt, Stanlis examines how Burke's concept of a moral natural law guided both his domestic political policies and his view of Parliament's affairs with the American colonies, Ireland, India, and France.]

… Since "very early youth," Burke confessed in 1780 to a gentleman interested in reforming parliament, he had "been conversant in reading and thinking upon the subject of our laws and constitution, as well as upon those of other times, and other countries," and a decade before his death he stated in...

(The entire section is 19363 words.)