The intention of this paper is to inquire into Burke's doctrine of traditionalism—as it may be termed—from a point of view not quite identical with that usually adopted. The aspect of Burke's thought thus isolated may or may not be the most important or the most characteristic, but it is the most familiar and that with which the student first becomes acquainted. Burke held—to summarize what may be found in a hundred text-books on the history of conservatism—that a nation's institutions were the fruit of its experience, that they had taken shape slowly as the result, and were in themselves the record, of a thousand adjustments to the needs of circumstance, each one of which, if it had been found by trial and error, to answer recurrent needs, had been preserved in the usages and established rules of the nation concerned. He also held that political knowledge was the fruit of experience and that reason in this field had nothing to operate on except experience; from which it followed that, since the knowledge of an individual or a generation of individuals was limited by the amount of experience on which it was based, there was always a case for the view that the reason of the living, though it might clearly enough discern the disadvantages, might not fully perceive the advantages of existing and ancient institutions, for these might contain the fruits of more experience than was available to living individuals as the sum of their personal or reported experience of the world. It also followed that since the wisdom embodied in institutions was based on experience and nothing but experience, it could not be completely rationalized, that is, reduced to first principles which might be clearly enunciated, shown to be the cause of the institutions' first being set up, or employed to criticize their subsequent workings. There was, in short, always more in laws and institutions than met the eye of critical reason, always a case for them undiminished by anything that could be said against them.