The Works ... With a Portrait, and Life of the Author

BURKE, Edmund. The Works ... With a Portrait, and Life of the Author.

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From the library of the canningite politician Sir John Gladstone, father of William Ewart Gladstone, who held Burke to be 'sometimes almost divine'

BURKE, Edmund. The Works ... With a Portrait, and Life of the Author. London: Howlett and Brimmer [I-IV] and W. Lewis [V-VIII] for Thomas M'Lean, 1823.

8vo (205 x 129mm), 8 volumes. Contemporary English full calf gilt, boards with gilt-ruled borders enclosing decorative pattern in blind, the flat spines gilt in compartments, gilt morocco lettering pieces in two, others decorated with flower and other tools, grey-green endpapers, all edges marbled; engraved portrait frontispiece by T.W. Fry after a medallion by T.R. Poole, retaining final blanks II, 2G4 and VI, 2C2; extremities lightly rubbed, some slight marking or fading of leather, occasional marginal paper-flaws, a few causing small losses and one affecting text on VIII, G1, small marginal tear causing minor loss on vol. VII title, short, skilfully-repaired tears on VI, 2B3 and VII, B1, the first touching text, vol. I with light offsetting onto title and light marginal staining, occasional light spotting or marking in other volumes, but nonetheless a very fresh set in a Regency binding; provenance: Sir John Gladstone, 1st Bt, Fasque (1764-1851, engraved booklabels with pencilled pressmarks on upper pastedowns), pencilled markings on V, p. 435.
This set of Burke's Works is from the library of the Scottish-born merchant and politician Sir John Gladstone, first Baronet, who moved to Liverpool and accrued great wealth through trade with the colonies. An interest in politics led him to manage Canning's election campaigns for Liverpool in 1812, 1816, 1818, and 1820, and he was elected MP for Lancaster in 1818, for Woodstock in 1820, and for Berwick upon Tweed in 1826; although he lost his seat in the following year, he pursued politics vicariously through the career of his son, the future Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone (his other two sons Thomas and John Neilson also became MPs). In 1829 Sir John purchased Fasque House with its 'particularly good first-floor library with a commanding view to the south-west' (R. Jenkins Gladstone (London: 1995), p. 6), together with the estate of Fasque and Balfour, for nearly £80,000, and he settled there permanently a few years later, assembling important collections of paintings, furniture and books in the house. It seems probable that Sir John Gladstone would have admired Burke as Canning -- who considered Burke's thought 'the manual of my politics' (quoted in ODNB) -- did, and W.E. Gladstone recalled the formation of his political views at home thus in a parliamentary speech: 'I was bred [...] under the shadow of the great name of Canning; every influence connected with that name governed the politics of my childhood and of my youth; with Canning, I rejoiced in the opening he made towards the establishment of free commercial interchanges between nations; with Canning, and under the shadow of the yet more venerable name of Burke, my youthful mind and imagination were impressed' (Morley I, p. 25), and it seems likely that he would have used this set as a young man, or as an adult returning to the family home at Fasque. The earliest reference to Burke in Gladstone's Diaries occurs on 13 July 1826, when the sixteen-year-old Eton schoolboy records that he 'read papers -- a little of Burke' (M.R.D. Foot and H.C.G. Matthew (eds) The Gladstone Diaries (Oxford: 1968-1994), I, p. 61); a few years later in his diary entry for 16 October 1832 he notes that he 'learnt a passage of Burke by heart' (op. cit. I, p. 580), and Gladstone returned to Burke's writings throughout his life, finding him a constant source of interest and inspiration. John Morley, quoting from Gladstone's diary, describes the 'Grand Old Man' in his 70s, grappling with the problems of Home Rule for Ireland, thus: 'Above all, he nearly every day reads Burke:--"December 18. -- Read Burke; what a magazine of wisdom on Ireland and America. January 9. -- Made many extracts from Burke -- sometimes almost divine" We may easily imagine how the heat from that profound and glowing furnace still further inflamed strong purposes and exalted resolution in Mr. Gladstone' (The Life of W.E. Gladstone (London: 1903), III, p. 280). The impact that Burke had on the youthful Gladstone is re-stated and its context elaborated in an autobiographical note of 1894: 'The stock in trade of ideas with which I set out on the career of parliamentary life was a small one. I do not think the general tendencies of my mind were even in the time of my youth illiberal. It was a great accident that threw me into the anti-liberal attitude, but having taken it up I held to it with energy. It was the accident of the Reform bill of 1831. For teachers or idols or both in politics I had had Mr. Burke and Mr. Canning. I followed them in their dread of reform, and probably caricatured them as a raw and unskilled student caricatures his master' (Morley I, p. 208).
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