C.B. Macpherson, BurkeĀ (Oxford University Press, 1980).


There is no doubt that in everything he wrote and did, he venerated the traditional order. But his traditional order was already a capitalist order. He saw that it was so, and wished it to be more freely so. He had no romantic yearning for a bygone feudal order and no respect for such remnants of it as still survived, notably in the royal household … He lived in the present, and made it his business to study the economic consequences of actual and projected state policies. As MP for Bristol (1775-80) he could scarcely have done otherwise, for Bristol was then one of the greatest commercial ports in England. But his interest in economic affairs had, as we shall see in some detail, begun earlier and lasted longer than his connection with Bristol…