The Eighteenth-Century Commonwealthman: Studies in the Transmission, Development, and Circumstance of English Liberal Thought from the Restoration of Charles II until the War with the Thirteen Colonies

The Eighteenth-Century Commonwealthman: Studies in the Transmission, Development, and Circumstance of English Liberal Thought from the Restoration of Charles II until the War with the Thirteen Colonies

The Eighteenth-Century Commonwealthman: Studies in the Transmission, Development, and Circumstance of English Liberal Thought from the Restoration of Charles II until the War with the Thirteen Colonies

The Eighteenth-Century Commonwealthman: Studies in the Transmission, Development, and Circumstance of English Liberal Thought from the Restoration of Charles II until the War with the Thirteen Colonies

Excerpt

"A True Whig is not afraid of the name of a Commonwealthsman, because so many foolish People who know not what it means, run it down." This often-quoted definition proudly claimed for the Real Whigs -- as they liked to call themselves -- kinship with luminaries of republican thought like Milton, Harrington, Sidney, and others. In the eighteenth century the majority of the ruling oligarchy and the greater part of their fellow countrymen emphatically denied any continuity or connection between the innovators and Levellers of the Puritan Revolution (1641-1660), and the philosophers and Whiggish statesmen of the struggle (1679- 1710) to exclude James Stuart and secure the Glorious Revolution. An eccentric antiquarian might hang a copy of Charles the First's execution writ in his closet and speak slightingly of kings and superstitions, but in general all talk of '41 alarmed Englishmen as much or more than the sight of Jacobite toasts "over the water." Any proposed tampering with the fabric of the church and state produced dismal recollections and dire predictions.

The Commonwealthmen were only a fraction of politically conscious Britons in the August an Age, and formed a small minority among the many Whigs. No achievements in England of any consequence can be credited to them. English development shows scarcely a trace of efforts to restore or amend the mixed or Gothic government they esteemed. Their continued existence and activity . . .

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