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Editor’s Introduction

By Joseph Pappin III

The 2011 volume of Studies in Burke and His Time follows a four year gap in publication. This lapse reflects, in part, the economic conditions of our times, and the struggle to acquire the necessary funding to continue publication. Fortunately, through the support of the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal, we are able to renew what we believe to be a vital organ for Burke studies.

With this issue we introduce an enhanced editorial team. As of this issue, Elizabeth Lambert will share with myself the position of Editor, together with all the “rights and privileges thereof.” Professor Lambert’s stature as a noted biographer of Burke is well known, particularly through her work Edmund Burke of Beaconsfield. Her contribution to this issue and future installments of Studies in Burke brings renewed vitality to this journal. Likewise, Dr. Ian Crowe will assume the position of Executive Editor. Dr. Crowe’s editorial abilities are already established, as through his two noteworthy anthologies of Burke, The Enduring Edmund Burke and An Imaginative Whig: Reassessing the Life and Thought of Edmund Burke. We await, next year, the publication by Stanford University Press of Professor Crowe’s own monograph on Burke.

Most deserving of special notice is the passing of the founding editor of this journal, Dr. Peter Stanlis. Dr. Stanlis’ fame as a Burke scholar of international repute is arguably unsurpassed, as is his encouragement and support for innumerable Burke scholars whom he helped nourish and encourage, this editor included. He recently served as Editor Emeritus of the current version of this journal, and inspired the effort it represents to renew the studies of Burke. His passing, and that of another renown Burke scholar, Fr. Francis Canavan, S.J., who served as a member of our Editorial Board, mark the loss of two of the most prominent of Burke scholars. Both Dr. Stanlis and Fr. Canavan are noted in memorials in this issue.

We are sad also to report the death of Godfrey French Laurence on 18 January of this year, aged ninety-six. Godfrey was a direct descendant of Richard Laurence, younger brother of Burke’s great friend and associate French Laurence, and a stalwart member of the Edmund Burke Society in Great Britain. He will be greatly missed by all who were privileged to know him. Ian Crowe, director of the Edmund Burke Society of America, wrote on hearing of Godfrey’s passing: “I knew Godfrey first as a meticulous researcher who had accumulated an extensive fund and fascinating variety of information on the Laurence family and Bath and its environs, and possessed an infectious enthusiasm for the world of French Laurence and Edmund Burke. He was also remarkably objective in his judgments and never without that sense of humor and compassion which come from a deep experience of human nature. I was struck, re-reading an article that we co-authored on French Laurence for the Burke Newsletter a few years ago, by some words from the eulogy that Samuel Whitbread delivered in the House in March 1809: ‘[T]his house and the country have, in Dr. Laurence, lost a vast fund of knowledge, an exemplary instance of public and private virtue, and a larger portion of pure principles, and political integrity, than perhaps have ever been united in any one individual.’ Even up against those exceptional, rhetorical standards, I suspect that those who were privileged to meet Godfrey will agree that he fully earned the honor of bearing his ancestor’s name.”

Finally, I wish especially to thank the present contributors to this issue for their patience and endurance in awaiting the publication of this issue of Studies in Burke and His Time. We are proud, now, to be able to present those contributions, confident that they will contribute to the furtherance of Burke studies, and enrich the debate on his stature as one of the most important of political philosophers in the history of political philosophy.

Articles in this Issue

In his essay on “The Meal at the Saracen’s Head: Edmund Burke and the Scottish Literati,” Michael Brown develops a remarkable account of the famed, yet ignored, breakfast gathering in Glasgow, prior to Burke’s inauguration as Provost of the University of Glasgow. At the table on this occasion were, among others, Adam Smith, John Millar, Dugald Stewart and James Boswell—in effect, the Scottish and Irish enlightenments in conversation, with implications of a British Enlightenment. Brown’s essay takes as a pivotal point the late arrival and hesitant entrance of Boswell, with his tortured search for his own identity within a group at once heterogeneous and homogenous. Brown’s article dexterously combines history, psychology, and political philosophy to produce a piece of high and engrossing scholarship.

The essay on “Burke and Beauty” by Michael Funk Deckard offers a sustained analysis of Burke’s philosophy of “beauty” with particular emphasis on how he differentiates beauty from the classical treatment in terms of “proportionality.” Deckard places Burke’s understanding of beauty both in its historical and contemporary, mid-eighteenth-century, context. He considers the charge of subjectivism against Burke, explores the role of cultural contexts, the possibility of a transcendental interpretation, and offers not only arguably one of the most sustained analysis of beauty in Burke’s Philosophical Enquiry into the Sublime and Beautiful, but also significant insights into the Enquiry itself.

Robert H. Bell’s essay “Fool for Love: The Sentimental Romances of Laurence Sterne” presents Sterne as a “seductive personality for the age of sensibility, not swaggering or rakish, but keenly attentive and warmly receptive” to the women who paraded through his life. Bell’s account of Sterne ties deftly into Tristram Shandy, and he also finds parallels between Sterne and “Philip Roth’s Everyman.” Bell describes Sterne both as minister and a fantastical romantic who, in the midst of fame, is attached to an “ethereal substance,” Eliza Draper. This unconsummated, idealized attraction fills the void in his life caused by the separation from his wife and daughter. In this essay Bell skillfully captures the emotional state of Sterne as one who is “fleeing unbearable reality” while soothing and deluding himself with “rhapsodic fantasies.”

Stephen Millies considers a neglected aspect of Burke’s thought, namely the possible influence upon it of his exposure to Quakerism while a student at Ballitore, under the tutelage of Abraham Shakelton, and his friendship with the latter’s son, Richard Shakelton. In his essay on “The Inner Light of Edmund Burke: A Biographical Approach to Burke’s Religious Life and Epistemology,” Millies affirms the classical natural law interpretation of Burke’s political philosophy, but also seeks to explore the source of Burke’s emphasis on reason and on “enthusiasm” in the affective dimension of his thought. Millies argues that Burke’s time at the Quaker school in Ballitore prior to his entry into Trinity College, and the consequent emphasis by Quaker’s on the “Inner Light” is reflected in Burke’s own emphasis on “enthusiasm” as necessary to an adequate understanding of his epistemology. In doing so, Millies sheds light on a neglected and controversial aspect of Burke’s thought through the Quaker background to his intellectual and religious development.

Studies in Burke and His Time 22 (2011)

Posted: March 3, 2013

 
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