Vol. 5: McLoughlin, T. O.

Type: Article

McLoughlin, T. O. ‘Edmund Burke’s Abridgment of English History’, Eighteenth-century Ireland/Iris an dá chultúr, Vol. 5 (1990), pp 45-59.

In 1757, Robert Dodsley contracted Edmund Burke to write the Abridgment of English History, which Burke never finished and which went unpublished until after his death. According to McLoughlin, “Little attempt has been made to answer basic questions such as why Dodsley contacted Burke to write the Abridgment, what view of history it reflects, and its significance in Burke’s early career”. This article attempts to answer these questions by giving a description of the text and an analysis of its historiography and themes, and of Burke’s personal opinions. In addition, McLoughlin compares the Abridgment to other histories of England published in the mid-eighteenth century, weighing Burke’s account of King John’s signing of the Magna Carta with those of Carte, Rapin, Hume, Echard, Smollett, and Goldsmith. McLoughlin discusses the level of impartiality achieved by each of the writers, concluding that Burke’s Abridgment had a “decidedly Whig sympathy”.