Whig's Progress: Tom Wharton between Revolutions

Whig's Progress: Tom Wharton between Revolutions

Whig's Progress: Tom Wharton between Revolutions

Whig's Progress: Tom Wharton between Revolutions

Synopsis

Whig's Progress traces the career of the Right Honorable Thomas Wharton, eventually fifth Baron, first earl, and first Marquess of Wharton, from his birth during Cromwell's campaigns through the Revolution of 1688 - through the rise, the fall, and the rise of the Whig party, which he would ultimately lead. The narrative also follows Wharton through his education in France and his later adventures in duels, horse races, elections, parliamentary warfare, romance, and conspiracy. J. Kent Clark is Emeritus Professor of Literature at the California Institute of Technology.

Excerpt

WHIG’S PROGRESS traces the career of the right honorable Thomas Wharton, eventually fifth baron, first earl, and first marquess of Wharton, from his birth during Cromwell’s campaigns through the Revolution of 1688—through the rise, the fall, and the resurgence of the Whig party, which he would ultimately lead. The narrative also follows Wharton through his education in France and his later adventures in duels, horse races, elections, parliamentary warfare, romance, and conspiracy.

Considered simply as a story, the narrative has intrinsic drama, with a complex protagonist, a vivid cast of historical characters, and enough conflict for several novels. I have tried to write the story of Wharton’s career so that it can be followed and understood by any adult reader. I have used primary sources as much as possible, allowing the actors to speak for themselves; and I have normalized and Americanized the spelling in the text.

On another level, as a contribution to English political history, the biography demands extensive documentation—not merely to prove to scholars that I am telling the truth and allow them to follow me through the historical underbrush, but also to correct errors in secondary sources, including some of my own. For historians and literary scholars, I have retained original spelling in the notes.

Obviously, a biography of Wharton (Tom to his family, his friends, and by 1680 to political England) involves an account of the tortuous Popish Plot, the Exclusion Crisis, the formation of the Whig and Tory parties, and the prologue to the Glorious Revolution. Without oversimplifying a very complex set of events, I have tried to make my treatment both accurate and readily comprehensible to twenty-first-century readers.

This book has been made possible by the work of many contemporary scholars, who have dramatically increased our knowledge of the Restoration period. Their names will be found in my notes, and I hope they will take citations and quotations as acknowledgments of gratitude. In some special category, I must acknowledge the help of the renowned Cambridge scholar Elsie Elizabeth Duncan-Jones . . .

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