Barbarism and Religion, Vol. 1: The Enlightenments of Edward by J. G. A. Pocock

By J. G. A. Pocock

During this first quantity, The Enlightenments of Edward Gibbon, John Pocock follows Gibbon via his younger exile in Switzerland and his criticisms of the Encyclop?die and lines the expansion of his ancient pursuits right down to the belief of the Decline and Fall itself.

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Additional info for Barbarism and Religion, Vol. 1: The Enlightenments of Edward Gibbon, 1737-1764

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Tironum ad usum (London, ); An Institution of General History, part  (London, ); The Elements of History from the Creation of the World to the Reign of Constantine the Great . . Done for the Use of Young Students (London, ). Gibbon, Decline and Fall, ch. , n.  ( in Bury), calls him ‘that learned historian, who is not sufficiently known’. ⁵⁹ Howel, , , sig. A b. ⁶⁰ It was the late John Kenyon whom I once heard declare that James II was in his own way an Anglican.

Where we cannot – as we sometimes can – check Gibbon’s statements in these texts against evidence existing independently of them, we have to decide how to treat them; and a possible interpretative strategy is to say that they constitute attempts by a major historian to present his own life as history and situate it in history as he understood it. On this reading it is possible for us, where we cannot test the veracity of his statements, to consider the hypothetical effects of accepting them: to consider to what interpretations of his life they will lead us if we adopt them, and in what ways we may integrate them with interpretations of our own.

This was the parliament confronted by the financial crisis of , which fined Edward Gibbon I of much of his estate and fortune, and of this incident his grandson observed: Such bold oppression can scarcely be shielded by the omnipotence of Parliament: and yet, it may be seriously questioned whether the Judges of the South Sea Directors were the true and legal representatives of their country. The first Parliament of George I had been chosen () for three years: the term was elapsed: their trust was expired; and the four additional years (–) during which they continued to sit, were derived not from the people, but from themselves; from the strong measure of the septennial bill, which can only be paralleled by il serrar di Consiglio of the Venetian history.

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