Commentary on Letter to Lord North. With great admiration, Burke discusses the yet-unpublished Letter to Lord North by Philip Francis with his correspondent, John Bourke. The remarkable Letter to Lord North was written in September 1777, but not published until 1793. Burke had been sent the "papers," and "spent the greater part of the Night in reading them. This morning I went through the whole. I don't know that I ever read any state paper drawn with more ability; & indeed I have seldom read a paper of any kind with more pleasure."
At issue is the nature and determination of property tenure, especially of land: "Mr Francis thinks, that the occupier of the soil, & not the Government, is the true proprieter of the land in Bengal," and Burke agrees that "a nice scrutiny into the property & tenures of a whole Nation is almost always more alarming to the people, than advantageous to Government. It is never undertaken without some suspecion at least of an attempt to impose some new Burthen upon them . . . ."
With regard to the issue of equality, Burke waxes profound: "The idea of forcing every thing to an artificial equality has something, at first view, very captivating in it. It has all the appearance imaginable of Justice and good order . . . you know that it is this very rage for equality, which has blown up the flames of this present cursed War in America. I am, for one, entirely satisfied, that the inequality, which grows out of the nature of things by time, custom, successions, accumulation, permutation, & improvement of property, is much nearer that true equality, which is the foundation of equity & just policy, than any thing which can be contrived by the Tricks & devices of human Skill."
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