Terrific L.A. Times op-ed by David Bromwich using Burke's "Letter to the Sherrifs of Bristol" (1777) in reference to our own times:
" This was not the first mistake of North and his administration. Burke believed that their preference for force over diplomacy had been the cause of the war. Why did they do it?
'Let them but once get us into a war, and then their power is safe, and an act of oblivion passed for all their misconduct.'
'Has any of these gentlemen, who are so eager to govern all mankind, shown himself possessed of the first qualification towards government, some knowledge of the object, and of the difficulties which occur in the task they have undertaken?'
'They promise their private fortunes, and they mortgage their country. They have all the merit of volunteers, without the risk of person or charge of contribution.'
'They are continually boasting of unanimity, or calling for it. But before this unanimity can be matter either of wish or congratulation, we ought to be pretty sure that we are engaged in a rational pursuit.'
By a recent act of Parliament, England had suspended the protection of habeas corpus. Persons accused of treason in America could now be transported to England and jailed without a chance to confront the charges against them:
'To try a man under that act is, in effect, to condemn him unheard. A person is brought hither in the dungeon of a ship's hold; thence he is vomited into a dungeon on land; loaded with irons, unfurnished with money, unsupported by friends, three thousand miles from all means of calling upon or confronting evidence, where no one local circumstance that tends to detect perjury, can possibly be judged of; %u2014 such a person may be executed according to form, but he can never be tried according to justice.'"