Edmund Burke's Marriage

Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter XXXV

There was something more than perfect rest required in such a case. Rest would, indeed, recruit the body, worn out by the mind's overaction, but the mind also needed some healing process. Some gentle hand should soothe the overstrained chords of thought, and touch them just sufficiently to stimulate their action with gentlest suasion, while it carefully avoided all that might irritate or weary; And such help and healing was found for Burke, or, haply, from bodily debility, mental weakness might have developed itself into mental malady; and the irritability of weakness, to which cultivated minds are often most subjected, might have ended, even for a time, if not wisely treated, in the violence of lunacy.

It was natural that the doctor's daughter should assist in the doctor's work; and, perhaps, not less natural that the patient should be fascinated by her. In a short time the cure was perfected, and Burke obtained the greatest earthly blessing for which any man can crave—a devoted wife, a loving companion, a wise adviser, and, above all, a sympathizing friend, to whom all which interested her husband, either in public or private, was her interest as much as, and, if possible, even more than his. Burke's public career certainly opened with happy auspices.

He was introduced by the Earl of Charlemont to Mr. Hamilton in 1759, and in 1761 he returned to Ireland in the capacity of private secretary to that gentleman. Mr. Hamilton has acquired, as is well known, the appellation of "single speech," and it is thought he employed Burke to compose his oration; it is probable that he required his assistance in more important ways. But the connexion was soon dissolved, not without some angry words on both sides. Hamilton taunted Burke with having taken him out of a garret, which was not true, for Burke's social position was scarcely inferior to his own; Burke replied with ready wit that he regretted having descended to know him.