By Ian Crowe
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Extra resources for An Imaginative Whig: Reassessing the Life and Thought of Edmund Burke
As a boy, he was sympathetic to, and curious about, religion. Extant letters show that he had begun to speculate about it as early as age fourteen. A boy An earlier version of this essay was presented at the meeting of the Edmund Burke Society of America, Mecosta, Michigan, in May 2002. 19 20 ` F. P. LOCK growing up in the 1740s was exposed to a variety of religious opinions, ranging from skepticism to sectarian orthodoxy. 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.
They become impenetrable by shame—the good opinion of others no longer carries for them an enormous and inseparable value—and so they part with a salutary self-doubt. Unrestrained by the conventional wish to consult and to receive correction, they break through all the ordinary limits on greed and aggrandizement. Their actions now are driven by calculation rather than duty and take account of no greater interest than the thought of their own advantage. Such a defection from humanity Burke thought wrong in the people just as it was wrong in kings.
Note-Book, 75. 28 ` F. P. LOCK his executors. Since Burke voted against most of his colleagues in the Rockingham Party, the personal conviction behind what he said is beyond doubt. Most polities, Burke argues, have found that an established religion conduces to public peace. In Britain, the legislature is the arbiter of last resort of the constitution of the Established Church and also of its doctrines. ” But since there is no standard by which their “truth” can be ascertained, “peace” (about which we can be sure) is preferable.
An Imaginative Whig: Reassessing the Life and Thought of Edmund Burke by Ian Crowe