Burke, Edmund, 1729-1797
Locke, John, 1632-1704
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AbstractThe eighteenth-century traditions of Gaelic poetry and Trinity College Dublin’s academic focus on classical rhetoric are generally regarded as being two schools of thought that largely independent of each other. However, this article argues that Edmund Burke was one of those individuals who successfully drew from both these traditions in fashioning his own rhetorical practice. Burke had been stepped in Gaelic culture during the childhood years he spent living and being educated among his mother’s family, the Catholic Nagles of Cork’s Blackwater Valley and comparing Burke’s speeches (especially those that are considered original in thought or anomalous in the British canon) with Gaelic language poets we see how closely he drew from this tradition. This essay focuses more on the work of the rhetoricians of Trinity College and how Burke might be seen to have engaged with them in his treatise, A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas on the Sublime and Beautiful, while noticing that his childhood exposure to Gaelic poetry through living with the Nagles continues to haunt even this most ‘enlightened’ of texts. The article further demonstrates that the Trinity men had theories of rhetoric that might be considered as a distinct school in that they were heavily influenced by each other’s work and were in strong divergence from John Locke’s most influential concepts.