Burke replied in tones of firm self-repression; complained of the attack that had been made upon him; reviewed Fox's charges of inconsistency; enumerated the points on which they had disagreed, and remarked that such disagreements had never broken their friendship. But whatever the risk of enmity, and however bitter the loss of friendship, he would never cease from the warning to flee from the French constitution. "But there is no loss of friends," said Fox in an eager undertone. "Yes," said Burke, "there is a loss of friends. I know the penalty of toy conduct. I have done my duty at the price of my friend - our friendship is at an end." Fox rose, but was so overcome that for some moments he could not speak. At length, his eyes streaming with tears, and in a broken voice, he deplored the breach of a twenty years' friendship on a political question. Burke was inexorable. To him the political question was so vivid, so real, so intense, as to make all personal sentiment no more than dust in the balance.
Burke confronted Jacobinism with the relentlessness of a Jacobin. The rupture was never healed, and Fox and he had no relations with one another henceforth beyond such formal interviews as took place in the manager's box in Westminster Hall in connexion with the impeachment.
A few months afterwards Burke published the Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs, a grave, calm and most cogent vindication of the perfect consistency of his criticisms upon the English Revolution of 1688 and upon the French Revolution of 1789, with the doctrines of the great Whigs who conducted and afterwards defended in Anne's reign the transfer of the crown from James to William and Mary. The Appeal was justly accepted as a satisfactory performance for the purpose with which it was written. Events, however, were doing more than words could do, to confirm the public opinion of Burke's sagacity and foresight. He had always divined by the instinct of hatred that the French moderates must gradually be swept away by the Jacobins, and now it was all coming true. The humiliation of the king and queen after their capture at Varennes; the compulsory acceptance of the constitution; the plain incompetence of the new Legislative Assembly; the growing violence of the Parisian mob, and the ascendency of the Jacobins at the Common Hall; the fierce day of the 20th of June (1792), when the mob flooded the Tuileries, and the bloodier day of the 10th of August, when the Swiss guard was massacred and the royal family flung into prison; the murders in the prisons in September; the trial and execution of the king in January (1793); the proscription of the Girondins in June, the execution of the queen in October - if we realize the impression likely to be made upon the sober and homely English imagination by such a heightening of horror by horror, we may easily understand how people came to listen to Burke's voice as the voice of inspiration, and to look on his burning anger as the holy fervour of a prophet of the Lord.
Fox still held to his old opinions as stoutly as he could, and condemned and opposed the war which England had declared against the French republic. Burke, who was profoundly incapable of the meanness of letting personal estrangement blind his eyes to what was best for the commonwealth, kept hoping against hope that each new trait of excess in France would at length bring the great Whig leader to a better mind. He used to declaim by the hour in the conclaves at Burlington House upon the necessity of securing Fox; upon the strength which his genius would lend to the administration in its task of grappling with the sanguinary giant; upon the impossibility, at least, of doing either with him or without him. Fox's most important political friends who had long wavered, at length, to Burke's great satisfaction, went over to the side of the government. In July 1794 the duke of Portland, Lord Fitzwilliam, Windham and Grenville took office under Pitt. Fox was left with a minority which was satirically said not to have been more than enough to fill a hackney coach. "That is a calumny," said one of the party, "we should have filled two." The war was prosecuted with the aid of both the great parliamentary parties of the country, and with the approval of the great bulk of the nation.
Perhaps the one man in England who in his heart approved of it less than any other was William Pitt. The difference between Pitt and Burke was nearly as great as that between Burke and Fox. Burke would be content with nothing short of a crusade against France, and war to the death with her rulers. "I cannot persuade myself," he said, "that this war bears any the least resemblance to any that has ever existed in the world. I cannot persuade myself that any examples or any reasonings drawn from other wars and other politics are at all applicable to it" (Corr. iv. 219). Pitt, on the other hand, as Lord Russell truly says, treated Robespierre and Carnot as he would have treated any other French rulers, whose ambition was to be resisted, and whose interference in the affairs of other nations was to be checked. And he entered upon the matter in the spirit of a man of business, by sending ships to seize some islands belonging to France in the West Indies, so as to make certain of repayment of the expenses of the war.
In the summer of 1794 Burke was struck to the ground by a blow to his deepest affection in life, and he never recovered from it. His whole soul was wrapped up in his only son, of whose abilities he had the most extravagant estimate and hope. All the evidence goes to show that Richard Burke was one of the most presumptuous and empty-headed of human beings. "He is the most impudent and opiniative fellow I ever knew," said Wolfe Tone. Gilbert Elliot, a very different man, gives the same account. "Burke," he says, describing a dinner party at Lord Fitzwilliam's in 1793, "has now got such a train after him as would sink anybody but himself: his son, who is quite nauseated by all mankind; his brother, who is liked better than his son, but is rather oppressive with animal spirits and brogue; and his cousin, William Burke, who is just returned unexpectedly from India, as much ruined as when he went years ago, and who is a fresh charge on any prospects of power Burke may ever have. Mrs Burke has in her train Miss French [Burke's niece], the most perfect She Paddy that ever was caught. Notwithstanding these disadvantages Burke is in himself a sort of power in the state.