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Edmund Burke

Edmund Burke, 1729-1797, Irish writer and statesman.

Burke's first important work, A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful (1757), was a milestone in the history of the vogue for the sublime and the Gothic. Burke entered Parliament in 1765 as a supporter of Rockingham and the Whig party, which he supported in his Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents (1770). He favored a moderate course of Parliamentary reform, encouraging greater independence of the Commons, but was unwilling to go as far as some reformers in reducing the rights of the Church of England.

Although Burke defended the rights of the American colonists in the middle 1770s, he was a virulent opponent of the French Revolution, as he argues in his Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790). He played a leading part in the impeachment trial of Warren Hastings, whose draconian policies toward the natives in India disgusted Burke.

Wollstonecraft refers to his Reflections on the Revolution in France.