Skip to comments.Edmund Burke on Manners
Posted on 12/29/2012 5:03:02 AM PST by don-o
It took Edmund Burke a very little time to decide that French Revolutionary philosophy posed a massive threat to civilization and social stability throughout Europe. By the end of his life, eight years after the storming of the Bastille, his fears of Jacobin contagion had led him to ask for a secret grave, removed from his family sepulchre and hidden from those-the English Jacobins-who would plunder the lead from tombs for bullets to assassinate the living. In 1796 he wrote: ...out of the tomb of the murdered monarchy in France has arisen a vast, tremendous, unformed spectre, in a far more terrific guise than any which ever yet have overpowered the imagination, and subdued the fortitude of man. He demanded nothing short of a war of extermination against this armed doctrine.
It is somewhat surprising, then, to find that this enormous threat brought out Burkes most urgent defense of an aspect of civilization as trivial as manners. Of course, the very fact that we consider manners trivial was all part of the problem from the start, as far as Burke was concerned, and he felt driven to state his case unambiguously in his First Letter on a Regicide Peace (1796):Manners are of more importance than laws. Upon them, in a great measure, the laws depend. How can this apparent inversion of common sense be justified?
Manners are clearly not the same as laws. They are generally unwritten (unless we are talking about ritual), and they lack the regular, codified sanctions that support institutes and decrees. However, they have a similar function: in our small social communities and informal relationships they lay down expectations of behavior that facilitate the smooth-running and therefore expedite the purpose of these various bodies from the nuclear family to the shopping mall.
That there be one of the best drinking songs ever.
Well, technically, he did sleep with both of us at the same time. Heh.
All -Laz shared a cottage with onyx and me. :)
That and Strokin’ by Clarence Carter. :)
Boy, we accidentally hijacked your thread. Sorry, don-o.
Well, I apologize for my part in it.
Apology accepted - FReepmail
Check your Freepmail! FW Rodeo invite. Hope you can come.
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