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Patience, Utility and Revolution

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Chapter Summary

In 1839, Richard Whately, the Archbishop of Dublin, grounded his warning against the evils of organized and erudite infidelity in the terrifyingly recent example of the French Revolution. Whately of course recognized that irreligious intellectual systems were not merely continental imports nor did they suddenly appear at the end of the eighteenth century. Britain had produced homegrown anti-Christian writers like Thomas Hobbes and David Hume. But Whately claimed that these "highly anti-democratical" men wrote almost exclusively for a select educated audience. The modern adversaries of religion sought to infect a much wider swath of public opinion. Living infidel philosophers like Jeremy Bentham, failing to learn the lessons of the French Revolution, catered to a "blind craving for novelty for its own sake, and a veneration for the ingenuity of one's own inventions". The cultivation of patience and humility became matters not just of individual salvation but of national survival.

Keywords: cultivation of patience; David Hume; French Revolution; humility; Richard Whately; Thomas Hobbes

10.1163/9789004263352_007
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