Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 383
Reflections on the Revolution in France was written by Anglo-Irish politician and philosopher Edmund Burke in 1790. It reflected what can best be described as a conservative perspective on the French Revolution and became a sort of founding document for classical conservatism. Burke, who had been generally sympathetic to the American revolutionaries a decade earlier, was deeply concerned about events in France. (It should be noted here that Burke wrote in 1790, more than four years before the revolution entered its bloodiest phase, the Terror of 1793-1794.) What concerned Burke was that the French revolutionaries were breaking with centuries of tradition, especially in their treatment of the Catholic Church, and were seeking to establish institutions that were not organically rooted in the French past. This, he claimed, would ultimately lead to anarchy and tyranny. Burke was particularly concerned that the Revolution in France would lead to revolution in England. Reflections on the Revolution in France was written shortly after a sermon honoring the French Revolutionaries by radical minister Richard Price. Price had compared the principles espoused by the French to those of the English Glorious Revolution, and Burke was quick to reject this assertion. He argued that the Glorious Revolution was actually conservative, inasmuch as it corrected a violation of the English constitution by the Stuart monarch James II. Rather than anything that needed to be asserted by revolutionaries, the English constitution was time-honored and based on centuries of tradition:
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