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SKETCH OF HIS LIFE.
EDMUND BURKE, the greatest of political philosophers, was born in the City of Dublin on the 12th of January. The day of his birth we learn from a letter of his to Lord Rockingham, dated January 12, 1775, in which he says, “My birth-day; I need not say how long ago.”
But what was so well known then stands in some doubt now. The time of his entering college is easily ascertained ; and from the registry then made of his age it seems probable that the year of his birth was 1728; but this is somewhat uncertain; it may have been 1729. His father, Richard Burke, was a respectable attorney, of good practice, but of a rather irritable and unhappy temper. Of course he was a Protestant, else he could not have been a member of the Dublin Bar. His wife, the mother of all his children, was Mary Nagle, and she and all her family were devout Roman Catholics. Of their children only four grew to maturity, - three sons, Garret, Edmund, and Richard, and one daughter, Juliana. The sons were educated in the religion of their father; the daughter in that of her mother.
In his earlier years, Edmund's health was frail and delicate, and much of his childhood was spent with his mother's kindred, the Nagles, at Castletown Roche, in the south of Ireland. As these people were of a pleasant and amiable temper, he is said to have been much happier with them than at his father's house. There it was that his great, warm, manly heart had much of its best early nursing; thus rightly predisposing him to be, what he afterwards became, the untiring champion of the oppressed Roman Catholics of his native land against the dreadful bigotry and intolerance of the then governing classes of Ireland.
In May, 1741, Burke, then in his fourteenth year, went to Ballitore, some twenty-eight miles south of Dublin, where he spent the next two years in the school of Abraham Shackleton, a most intelligent, upright, and amiable Quaker, for whom he ever after entertained the deepest respect and affection. There his preparation for college was made; and, what was still better, there he formed a life-long friendship with his good teacher's son, Richard Shackleton, whose noble and benevolent character was thenceforth enshrined among his dearest memories. As Burke was himself a most lovely character, the love he bore the Shackletons was heartily reciprocated by them.
In the Spring of 1743, Burke entered Trinity College, Dublin. Though well grounded in the classics, especially in Latin, he did not particularly distinguish himself in the prescribed studies, his passion for general reading being so strong as to divert him overmuch from them. However, he took his regular degree in 1748, and not long after set out for London, to engage in the study of the law, his name having been entered in the Middle Temple some time before. He continued nominally a Templar for three years, and then threw up the study of the law altogether. In truth, he never did, and probably never could, draw his mind down closely to that study: the instincts of his genius were against it; and surely no man ever had those instincts in greater strength. His most discursive and most