Vol. 10: Archibald, Douglas.

Type: Article

Archibald, Douglas. ‘Edmund Burke and the Conservative Imagination’, Eighteenth-century Ireland/Iris an dá chultúr, Vol. 10 (1995), pp 127-147.

According to Douglas Archibald, the ‘conservative imagination’ of Edmund Burke resides in a fragile balance between vision and realism, contrasting with a personal longing and impulsiveness hinging on hysteria. “Burke defines the conservative imagination in its moments of excess as well as in its moments of insight and harmony. He is our model of the pathology of that imagination as well as of its strengths.” Archibald discusses Burke’s background as an Irish catholic of no connection or wealth, who despite his insight and unwavering faith in tradition and the party, was the political underdog in Irish politics and subsequently suffered political and personal defeat. Archibald concludes that the often ‘apocalyptic’ characteristics of Burke’s ‘conservative imagination’ are felt also in the writings of Swift, Pope and W. B. Yeats.