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 strains the expansion of his historic pursuits all the way down to the perception of the Decline and Fall itself.
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Extra resources for Barbarism and Religion, Vol. 1: The Enlightenments of Edward Gibbon, 1737-1764
Memoir F), Gibbon recalls the year spent in the library left behind at Putney by his grandfather James Porten, when he ﬂed his creditors in (after Judith Gibbon’s death), and the encouragement given by his aunt Catherine, ‘who indulged herself in moral and religious speculation’ (its nature unrecorded). At pp. – (A, p. , Memoir B), he remarks on Law’s contribution to the high-church component of Edward Gibbon II’s library at Buriton, where he began to read on his return to England in .
Problems of this order were in the making before the revolution of , but were aggravated by the implications of that event and all that followed. There came to be an explicit, if only an occasional, association between strong support of the Revolution and Hanoverian succession, an ecclesiology which reduced the Church of England to a civil association, an epistemology which reduced the knowledge of God to the holding of opinions, and a theology which reduced Christ to something less than a co-equal and co-eternal person of the Trinity.
But: My ﬁrst introduction to the Historic scenes, which have since engaged so many years of my life, must be ascribed to an accident. In the summer of I accompanied my father on a visit to Mr. Hoare’s in Wiltshire: but I was less delighted with the beauties of Stourhead, than with discovering in the library a common book, the continuation of Echard’s Roman history which is indeed executed with more skill and taste than the praevious work: to me the reigns of the successors of Constantine were absolutely new; and I was immersed in the passage of the Goths over the Danube when the summons of the dinner-bell reluctantly dragged me from my intellectual feast.