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 ancient pursuits all the way down to the perception of the Decline and Fall itself.

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Sample text

England and Switzerland, –                                     Before we further consider Gibbon’s juvenile progress towards a religious crisis, then, we must inspect how at the same time he moved towards becoming a historian. We are the more obliged to consider the latter progress because Gibbon in his Memoirs leaves us a detailed account of this vocation and dates it from his childhood. These reminiscences, however, have not the status of direct evidence.

But the religious and political tensions of Restoration England, rendered acute if seldom edifying by the unstable relations of the crown with the church, gave rise to a new and militant kind of low churchmanship, sometimes brutal and sometimes philosophically subtle, originating in the determination that spiritual authority must never ²⁸ The best selection and account is Patrides, . See also Cragg, ; Ealy, . ²⁹ For the alliance between Anglicanism and natural philosophy, see M. C.

England and Switzerland, –                                     Before we further consider Gibbon’s juvenile progress towards a religious crisis, then, we must inspect how at the same time he moved towards becoming a historian. We are the more obliged to consider the latter progress because Gibbon in his Memoirs leaves us a detailed account of this vocation and dates it from his childhood. These reminiscences, however, have not the status of direct evidence.

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