chapter  1
18 Pages

Sources of Conservatism

WithRobert Nisbet, Brad Lowell Stone

Conservatism did not become a part of political speech until about 1830 in England. But its philosophical substance was brought into being in 1790 by Edmund Burke in his Reflections on the Revolution in France. He himself was clearly aware that the French Revolution was at bottom a European revolution, but that truth had to await the writings of such ardent traditionalists as Bonald, de Maistre, and Tocqueville for its detailed statement. In addition to the church, there were the historic towns and guilds throughout Western Europe which turned increasingly, as the cosmopolitanism of the Enlightenment spread, to their own native histories, traditions, saints, heroes, governments and crafts. So far as English conservative thought is concerned, there is no doubt something which Burke, a devoted Whig, owed to the Tory Party, which was older and favored by the monarchy and much of the aristocracy.