"The Only Liberty Is A Liberty Connected With Order"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Edmund Burke on this occasion was seeking election to the House of Commons, and he spoke knowingly when he pointed out that Bristol was "a main pillar in the commercial interest of Great Britain, [which] must totter on its base by the slightest mistake with regard to our American measures." He knew that Bristol men could see their advantage in a solution to the problems with the American Colonies which would allow them continued prosperous trade with those Colonies. In this speech Burke tries to show that he supports the British constitutional system and commerce, and that his aim is always to reconcile the liberties of Americans as Britishers with the constitutional system of Great Britain. As he did consistently through his long public career, Burke in this speech clings to a constructively conservative position; his friendliness to the American cause was motivated by his wishes to keep any changes within the structure of the political institutions which had grown up over the centuries:

When I first devoted myself to the public services, I considered how I should render myself fit for it; and this I did by endeavouring to discover what it was that gave this country the rank it holds in the world. I found that our prosperity and dignity arose principally, if not solely, from two sources; our Constitution and commerce. Both these I have spared no study to understand, and no endeavour to support.
The distinguishing part of our Constitution is its liberty. To preserve that liberty inviolate, seems the particular duty and proper trust of a member of the House of Commons. But the liberty, the only liberty, I mean is a liberty connected with order; that not only exists along with order and virtue, but which cannot exist at all without them. It inheres in good and steady government, as in its substance and vital principle.