By Ian Crowe
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Extra resources for An Imaginative Whig: Reassessing the Life and Thought of Edmund Burke
Burke, Writings, 6:301–3, 346. 36. , 2:362. 37. , 7:265–8, 278. 34 ` F. P. LOCK Burke may have developed. Unlike Jones, Halhed does not reject Hindu chronology out of hand. Admittedly, he calls the “same confidential Reliance” which Hindus and Christians have in their respective scriptures “mistaken Prejudices” on the part of the Hindus. But no reader would mistake Halhed’s subtext: Hindus and Christians both have an “equal Right . . ”38 In Voltaire or Gibbon, we should read this ironically, as equally subverting both Hinduism and Christianity.
This spectacular interest seems a necessary condition also of every feeling of compassion and every act we may perform of emergency assistance. Still, the interest is premoral and, to repeat, it is also nonmoral. It may impel us to join the scene in a rush of enthusiasm that leads to violence. Plainly, too, though Burke does not say so, there must be people of strong susceptibility who aim to get as close as they can to such scenes, who are aware of and even cultivate the tendency in themselves.
Especially relevant to my argument is Spectator no. ” In short, Burke was a theist first and a Christian second. In one sense, he was a Christian by historical contingency, because he was born in Ireland. Had he never given much thought to religion, we might conclude that he was indeed a Christian by default, or at least by education. But the ample evidence of the attention Burke gave to the philosophy and politics of religion suggests that we should 41. Dreyer, “Burke’s Religion”; J. C. D. Clark, English Society, 1660–1832, 2nd ed.