By Ian Crowe
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Additional info for An Imaginative Whig: Reassessing the Life and Thought of Edmund Burke
Burke and Religion ` 31 The difficulty of the problem is evident from the contradictory ways in which Burke’s personal religion has been interpreted. 28 His Anglicanism has, however, been questioned. In his own day, Burke was often accused of being a secret Catholic. The mass of such contemporary material, of course, is nothing more than ad hominem political abuse (the most graphic examples are the caricatures, in which Burke is often depicted as a monk or a Jesuit). 29 Equally if oppositely skeptical of Burke’s Anglicanism is the view that he had little or no personal religious faith and that he valued religion chiefly as a useful prop for the political establishment.
This was especially true in Ireland, where political, social, and economic divides largely followed sectarian lines, and where confessional differences were part of the fabric of daily life. Even so, Burke’s situation was surely uncommon. 1 His mother, whom he loved, was a Catholic. With the Catholic Nagles, his mother’s family, Burke spent some years of his childhood, and he remained in touch with them, making theirs the more powerful family influence. From 1741 to 1744, Burke attended a school at Ballitore, under the aegis of Abraham Shackleton, a Quaker.
Burke, Reflections, 242. 44. O’Brien, Great Melody, xxii–xxiii. 18 ` IAN CROWE ened” thought itself from similar debasement at the hands of leveling, rancorous, rational minds. That said, it has always been a little too tempting to consider the antiJacobin writings of Burke’s final years as somehow the apogee, the defining statement, of his thought. While the examination of his critique of ideology avant la lettre, which provided such fuel for the postwar Burke revival in America, has brought considerable light to our understanding of Burke’s intellectual genius, it falls short of situating Burke authentically within the wider intellectual currents of eighteenth-century thought.
An Imaginative Whig: Reassessing the Life and Thought of Edmund Burke by Ian Crowe