Reflections on the Revolution in France
An Abridgement with Supporting Texts
  • Publication Date: December 1, 2021
  • ISBN: 9781554814428 / 1554814421
  • 320 pages; 5½" x 8½"

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Reflections on the Revolution in France

An Abridgement with Supporting Texts

  • Publication Date: December 1, 2021
  • ISBN: 9781554814428 / 1554814421
  • 320 pages; 5½" x 8½"

This abridgement of Reflections on the Revolution in France preserves the dynamism of Edmund Burke’s polemic while excising a number of detail-laden passages that may be of less interest to modern readers. Brian R. Clack’s introduction offers a compelling overview of the text and explores the consistency and coherence of Burke’s views on revolution. Burke’s critique of revolutionary politics is illuminated further by the extensive supplementary materials collected in a number of themed appendices. These include a selection of background material essential for an understanding of the Reflections, an overview of Burke’s response to the American Revolution, a sampling of his earliest and later views on the French Revolution, selections from Burke’s writings on reform, passages from A Letter to a Member of the National Assembly, and a representative sampling of contemporary critical responses to the Reflections.


“In this expertly curated edition of Burke’s Reflections, Brian Clack makes a convincing, well-researched, and beautifully written case against the view that Burke’s political views changed drastically with the penning of the Reflections—that he was once the defender of liberty and reform, and suddenly became a reactionary defender of the monarchical status quo. Clack’s introduction is masterful—beautifully written, balanced, and well researched. Nearly every anticipation I felt as I read was met, as Clack has both an understanding of the scholarship on Burke and a writing style that takes the reader down a winding path, unveiling insights that the reader hopes are just around the next turn.” — Seth Vannatta, Morgan State University

Appendix A: Background Materials

  • 1. Sir George Savile, Marquis of Halifax, from The Character of a Trimmer (1688)
  • 2. The Bill of Rights, 1689
  • 3. Edmund Burke, from A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful (1757)
  • 4. Declaration of the Rights of Men and of Citizens (1789)
  • 5. Richard Price, from A Discourse on the Love of our Country (1789)
  • 6. Congratulatory Address from the Revolution Society to the National Assembly of France, Nov. 4, 1789

Appendix B: Burke and the American Revolution

Appendix C: Burke’s First Responses to the French Revolution: “Gazing with Astonishment”

  • 1. From a Letter to the Earl of Charlemont, 9 August 1789
  • 2. From a Letter to Charles-Jean-François Depont, November 1789
  • 3. From “Substance of the Speech on the Army Estimates”, 9 February 1790

Appendix D: Burke’s Later Thoughts on the Revolution: “At War with an Armed Doctrine”

  • 1. From Thoughts on French Affairs (1791)
  • 2. From “Remarks on the Policy of the Allies” (1793)
  • 3. From Letters on a Regicide Peace (1795-1797)

Appendix E: Burke on Reform and Innovation

  • 1. From “Speech on St. George’s Fields Massacre”, 8 March 1769
  • 2. From Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents (1770)
  • 3. From “Speech on the Bill for Explaining the Powers of Juries in Prosecutions for Libels”, March 7, 1771
  • 4. From “Speech on Presenting to the House of Commons (on the 11th February, 1780) a Plan for the Better Security of the Independence of Parliament, and the Economical Reformation of the Civil and other Establishments” (1780)
  • 5. From “Speech on a Motion Made in the House of Commons, May 7, 1782, for a Committee to Inquire into the State of the Representation of the Commons in Parliament” (1782)
  • 6. From An Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs (1791)
  • 7. From “A Letter to Sir Hercules Langrishe on the Subject of the Roman Catholics of Ireland” (1792)
  • 8. From “A Letter to a Noble Lord” (1796)

Appendix F: Burke on Rousseau and the “Philosophy of Vanity”

  • 1. From “A Letter to a Member of the National Assembly in Answer to Some Objections to his Book on French Affairs” (1791)

Appendix G: Contemporary Responses to Burke’s Censure of the French Revolution

  • 1. The Mercer-Burke Correspondence, February 1790
  • 2. Philip Francis, from a Letter to Edmund Burke, 3 November 1790
  • 3. Frances Burney (Madame D’Arblay), from The Diary and Letters of Madame D’Arblay (1778-1840)
  • 4. Richard Price, from A Discourse on the Love of our Country (Fourth edition) (1790)
  • 5. Mary Wollstonecraft, from A Vindication of the Rights of Men (1790)
  • 6. Catherine Macaulay, from Observations on the Reflections of the Right Hon. Edmund Burke on the Revolution in France (1790)
  • 7. Joseph Priestley, from Letters to the Right Honourable Edmund Burke Occasioned by his Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790)
  • 8. Thomas Paine, from Rights of Man: Being an Answer to Mr. Burke’s Attack on the French Revolution (1791)
  • 9. Jane Burke, from a Letter to William Burke, 21 March 1791 (documenting King George III’s reaction to Burke’s Reflections)
  • 10. Thomas Jefferson, from a Letter to Benjamin Vaughan, 11 May 1791
  • 11. James Mackintosh, from Vindiciae Gallicae: Defence of the French Revolution and its English Admirers, against the Accusations of the Right Hon. Edmund Burke (1791)
  • 12. The Mackintosh-Burke Correspondence, December 1796

Appendix H: “Delivered Over to Infamy at the End of a Long Life”

  • 1. Selections from Burke’s two speeches on the Quebec Bill, May 1791

Brian R. Clack is Professor of Philosophy and A. Vassiliadis Director of the Humanities Center at the University of San Diego. He is the author or co-author of several books including The Philosophy of Religion: A Critical Introduction (Polity), and co-editor of Philosophy and the Human Condition (Oxford University Press).