Edmund Burke as painted by James Northcote

A Burkean event took place in New Haven not long ago when two distinguished leaders at Yale proposed to the Proprietors of the Grove Street Cemetery, before a standing-room-only crowd of townspeople, that to tear down the cemetery wall would “create an inviting and open atmosphere” for passersby.

The cemetery is the oldest municipally incorporated burial ground in the country, older than Père-Lachaise in Paris. Eli Whitney, Noah Webster, Roger Sherman, and Sa ...