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THE CREATION OF THE MODERN WORLD The Untold Story

of the

British Enlightenment

ROT PORTER

W. W. Norton

New

York

8c •

Company

London

To Natsu,

Copyright

the love of

©

life

2000 by Roy Porter

American

First

my

edition

2000

Originally published in England under the tide Enlightenment: Britain

and

the Creation

of the Modern World

All rights reserved

Printed in the United States of America

For information about permission to reproduce selections from Permissions,

The

text of this

book

W. W. Norton & Company, is

composed

in

Monotype

Inc.,

500

Fifth

this

New

book, write to York,

Baskerville with the display set in

Manufacturing by Quebecor

ISBN

Avenue,

NY

Monotype

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0-393-04872-1

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York, N.Y. 10110

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Ltd., 10 Coptic Street,

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London

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WC1A 1PU

Baskerville

CONTENTS LIST OF ILL US TRA TIONS

vii

A CKNO WLED GEMENTS

INTRODUCTION 1

2

xi xvii

A BLIND SPOT?

i

THE BIRTH OF AN IDEOLOGY

24

J CLEARING AWAY THE RUBBISH 4

.//>'

PRINT CULTURE

J2

J RATIONALIZING RELIC ION

96

6 THE CULTURE OF SCIENCE

IJO

7

ANATOMIZING HUMAN NATURE

8 THE SCIENCE OF POL I I ICS

/

///./

SECULARIZING

205

10

MODERNIZING

230

11

HAPPINESS

258

12

FROM GOOD SENSE TO SENSIBILITY

276

(j

J NATURE

295

I

14

DID THE MIND HA VE A SEX?

320

Ij

ED UCA TION: A PANA CEA ?

jjg

16

THE VULGAR

364

v

CONTENTS j

7

THE PURSUIT OF WEALTH

l8

REFORM

Kj

PROGRESS

20

THE REVOLUTIONARY

9

ERA-MODERN

PHILOSOPHY' 21

LASTING LIGHT?

NOTES BIBLIOGRAPHY

INDEX

vi

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS (Photographic acknowledgements in brackets, where applicable)

1.

Giovanni Battista Pittoni the Younger, An Sir Isaac

(photo: 2.

c.

1725, in the Fitzwilliam

Monument

to

Museum, Cambridge

Bridgeman Art Library)

Title-page of Opticks, 1704, by Sir Isaac

& 3.

Newton,

Allegorical

Newton

(photo: Science

Society Picture Library)

Illustration

ofBidston lighthouse, showing an

signal reflectors,

from A

early

example of

Treatise on .Vara! Architecture,

1794,

by

William Hutchison (photo: Science & Society Picture Library) 4.

Paul

Sandby,

Lantern

Jlie

Slide

Show,

undated (photo: The

Fotomas Index) 5.

Francois Xavier Vispre, John Fan reading Horace's 70, in the

6.

Ashmolean Museum,

Francis Jukes and Helluones librorurn

(

)des,

c.

1765

heford

John Kirby Baldrey

( 'Bookworms'):

(

alter

Robert Chilton,

Astronomer Samuel Vince reading

in

his rooms at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, by the light of a shaded

lamp, his emaciated cat perusing

The Wellcome 7.

10.

c.

1784? (photo:

(Bible Reading at the Cottage Door),

National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh

Valentine Green, An Abridgement of Mr. Pope's Essay on Illustrated with notes, critical

9.

Ladies' Diary,

London)

Alexander Carse, Sunday Morning in the

8.

Library,

The

and moral,

The Wellcome

authors,

1769 (photo:

Anon.,

A

(photo:

The Wellcome

Female Philosopher

in

Man,

extracted from other celebrated

Library,

London)

Extasy at Solving a Problem/, 1772

Library, London)

Hugh Douglas Hamilton, Frederick Hervey, Bishop ofDeny and Fourth Earl of Bristol, with his Grand- daughter Lady Caroline Crichton,

vii

in the

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS Gardens of the

Villa Borghese,

The National 11.

Gallery of Ireland, Dublin

William Hogarth, The Cholmondley Family, tion (photo:

12.

Rome, 1790, reproduced by courtesy of

The Bridgeman Art

Library)

Arthur Devis, John Bacon and his Family, of the

1742-3, in the collection

c.

of Master

Federation

British

1732, in a private collec-

Printers

(photo:

The

Bridgeman Art Library) 13.

Johann Zoffany, The

Woodley Family,

1766, in the collection

c.

of the Kingston Lacy Estate, Dorset (photo: National Trust

Photographic Library /John 14.

Anon., English School,

Hammond)

detail of Dixton Harvesters,

c.

1725, in the

Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museums, Gloucestershire

The Bridgeman Art 15.

Library)

Title-page of pamphlet advertising William James's coach service

between London and 16.

(photo:

The Fotomas

Index)

Room of the Foundling Hospital, 1773, the Coram Foundation, London (photo: The Bridgeman Art

John Sanders, The in

Bristol, 1758 (photo:

Girls' Dining

Library) 17.

William Hogarth, The

18.

Anon., English School, Curds and Whey in the

19.

Museum

Idle 'Prentice Executed at Tyburn, 1747

Canaletto, Ranelagh Gardens: The

Thomas Rowlandson, National

21.

Museum

of the Rotunda,

Interior

The Bridgeman Art

London: Skaters on

1730,

c.

1751, in a

Library)

the Serpentine,

1784, in the

of Wales, Cardiff

Pieter Angillis, Covent Garden,

Art, Paul

c.

of London

private collection (photo: 20.

Seller in Cheapside,

c.

1726, in the

Yale Center for British

Mellon Collection, New Haven (photo: The Bridgeman

Art Library) 22.

Anon.,

A Masonic Anecdote,

description of the exposure of a fraud.

'Balsamo', at a lodge in London, 1786, in the British

London 23.

The Bridgeman Art

Henry Bunbury, Four Smoking,

24.

(photo:

c.

1794 (photo:

Gentlemen at

Transit of Venus,

Library)

their

The Wellcome

Anon., An Apparatus Adapted

Museum.

Club Seriously Engaged ml

Library,

to the Reflecting

London)

Telescope for Shewing tht\

undated (photo: The Wellcome Library, London I

viii

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 25.

James Gillray, ^4fifo m

Walker, a Natural Philosopher, performing Scientific

Experiments, 1796 (photo: 26.

The Wellcome

British Library,

by

Party from

1780, in the National

Francis

Adam

London)

System of Familiar

Walker

(photo:

H.M.S.

Resolution Shooting Sea-Horses,

Maritime Museum, London

Chesham, 'The King of Dahomey's Levee',

from The

The

London)

John Webber, A c.

28.

A

Inigo Barlow, 'Electricity', illustration from Philosophy in Twelve Lectures, 1799,

27.

Library,

illustration

by Archibald Dalzel (photo:

History of Dahomey, 1793,

Corbis/ Historical Picture Archive) 29.

Inigo Barlow, Asiatic Devices Allusive

The Bridgeman Art 30. Allan

to the

Cosmogony,

c.

1790 (photo:

Library)

Ramsay, David I limit

in

,

the Scottish National Portrait

Gallery, Edinburgh 31.

Richard Samuel, Hie Nine Muses

the characters oj the

Anna

Letitia

Living

Muses

Temple

in the

of (ireat Britain: Portraits in

(Elizabeth Carter,

of Apollo

Barbauld, Angelica Kauffinan, Elizabeth

Hannah

Sheridan, Catharine Macaulay, Elizabeth Montagu,

More, Elizabeth Montagu and Charlotte Lennox), duced by courtesy of the National 32.

Benjamin West, A

Portrait

33.

Richard Cosway,

Portrait Gallery,

of Sir Joseph Banks,

collection (photo: Sotheby's

Lancelot 'Capability' Brown,

John Raphael Smith, Darwin, 1797 (photo:

35.

36.

after

London

1770, in a private

An

c.

1770

75, in a pri-

Librar)

Joseph Wright of Derby, Erasmus

The Wellcome

Henry Raeburn, James Portrait Gallery,

c.

1779, repro-

ture Library

Pic

vate collection (photo: The Bridgeman 34.

c.

Anne

Hutton,

c.

Library,

London)

1776, in the Scottish National

Edinburgh

Ellen Sharpies, Joseph

Priestley,

c.

1797, in

a private collection

(photo by courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, London) 37.

John Kay, 'Lord Karnes, Hugo Arnott and Lord Monboddo', eighteenth-century caricature reproduced as an illustration in Kay's Edinburgh Portraits, Vol.

38.

George

Stubbs,

'The

1,

1885,

Human

by James Paterson

Skeleton:

Lateral

View

in

Crouching Posture', from the series^ Comparative Anatomical Expoix

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS of

sition

the Structure

of

the

Common Fowl, 1795- 1806,

Human Body in the

Yale Center for British Art, Paul

New Haven

Mellon Collection, Library) 39.

(photo: f

Johann Zoffany,

The Bridgeman Art T

Dr. William Hunter, Professor of Anatomy, Lecturing

Royal Academy,

at the

with that of a Tiger and a

c.

1772, in the

Royal College of Physicians,

after James

Dunthorpe, The Hypochondriac

London 40.

Thomas Rowlandson

Surrounded by Doleful Spectres, 1788 (photo:

The Wellcome

Library,

London) 41.

William Taylor,

manner

in

after

William Smellie, 'Representations of the

which the foetus

is

nourished in utero, also a view of

the membrana decidua discovered by the late Dr. Hunter', illustration

from the Royal

Encyclopedia,

The Wellcome

1791 (photo:

Library, London) 42.

Joshua Reynolds, Mrs. Richard Hoare Holding Her Son, in the

Museum

Henry,

c.

1763,

of Fine Arts, Boston. Charles H. Bayley Picture

and Painting Fund, 1982.138 43.

Robert Smirke, A Royal

Humane

Man Recuperating in Bed at a Receiving- House of the

Society, after resuscitation by

Coakley Lettsom from near-drowning,

William

Hawes and John

undated (photo: The Wellcome

Library, London) 44.

James Cranke,Jnr, Glassmaking at Warrington, c. 1780, in Warrington Museum and Art Gallery, Cheshire (photo: The Bridgeman Art Library)

45.

Johann Zoffany, John Cuff and an Assistant, 1772, in The Royal Collection, Windsor Castie © 2000, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth

46.

II

Trade card

for

Richard

Siddall, chemist at the

Golden Head

in

Panton Street, showing a pharmacist in his workshop surrounded by the paraphernalia of his trade, undated (photo: The Wellcome Library,

London)

A

CKNO WLEDGEMENTS

]\/[y interest in the Enlightenment stems from the time when, as a member of the proverbial class of '68, I had the great good fortune to be taught by Jack Plumb and Quentin Skinner at Christ's College,

Cambridge. Jack showed

me

that the eighteenth

century, far from being the stylized high political coined) of manners so

commonly

presented, was rather

.1

time of turbulence, indeed a

great watershed; Quentin lor his part whetted

challenges of intellectual history.

opened

my mind

How

would have wanned

m\

appetite for the

these marvellous teachers

the hearts of the protagonists

of this book.

Typed by candlelight

in 197.

my first ever lectures given

\

during the miners

to the

Cambridge

3

strike p< >wer cuts,

history faculty

the English Enlightenment - then, for sure (and

now,

still

were on suspect)

I

a topic which raised quizzical eyebrows. During the intervening quarter century,

my

have always meant

Over clarify

the years,

my thinking.

whose proposal

passion for the subject has never flagged,

to put

m\ views down on paper.

many

scholars have challenged

1

on 'The Enlightenment

in

pitifully parochial. Special

this subject

and a

we should

stage a seminar series

National Context'

made my

thinking

less

who

has

thanks also to Sylvana Tomaselli,

critic

helped

thank Mikulas Teich,

long been a devoted reader of everything

around

I

like to

should particularly

in the late 1970s thai

me and

and

I

have written on and

blessed with that candour so dear to

enlightened radicals. I

owe much

to the writings of many other scholars

who,

explicitly

or obliquely, have been addressing this topic. John Pocock, Margaret

Jacob, J. C. D. Clark and, for Scotland, Nicholas Phillipson must be singled out. In their contrasting

ways and with xi

their very disparate

WLEDGEMENTS

A CKJVO

opinions, each has insisted there

Over

the twelve

months

it

is

a problem to be addressed.

took to write, chapters and drafts of

book have been read by Hannah Augstein,

this

Bynum, Luke

Goldbloom, ftona MacDonald,

Brian Dolan, Alex

Davidson,

Bill

Michael Neve, Clare Spark, Christine Stevenson, Jane Walsh and

Andrew Wear. To them I am deeply grateful for a welter of invaluable comments, I

spent

criticisms, stimuli

and

friendly support.

many happy years at the Wellcome Institute for the History

of Medicine in London, recently disbanded by the Wellcome Trust. I

am

delighted to acknowledge the enormous support given to

by individual members of the

notably

staff,

Houser, research assistant Caroline Overy and

my

me

secretary Frieda

at the

Xerox machine

Andy Foley and Stuart Fricker. Additional exemplary research assistance has been provided by Sally Scovell and Sharon Messenger, and retyping of the seemingly endless drafts has been done by the Sheila Lawler, Jan Pinkerton Gill

tireless

and Tracey Wickham, with help from

Doyle and Joanna Kafouris. Jed Lawler has helped a computer

illiterate.

At Penguin,

I

am

very grateful to Sally Holloway, Cecilia

Mackay and Janet Dudley

for their expert copy-editing, picture-

researching and indexing respectively. the British

Academy

for

awarding

I

me

am

profoundly grateful to

a fellowship under their

research leave scheme for the academic year 1998-9, during which this

book, so long

Thanks

to

stalled,

has been completed.

my publisher, Simon Winder,

whose

faith in this

has taken the practical form of a flow of helpful comments. finally like to

pay

tribute to Gill Coleridge,

the last decade she has brought life,

in a

can

I

manner

that has simply

method

made

say?

Xll

all

my literary

to the

should

agent.

mess of

the difference.

I

my

book

Over

literary

What more

'It is it

a history-book, Sir, (which

may possibly recommend

to the world) of what passes in a

Laurence sterne, The Life and

man's own mind.'

Opinions of Tristram Shandy

(1759-67)

'I

to

am

a true Englishman, formed to discover nothing but

improve anything.

1

WILLIAM GODWIN,

'So convenient a thing it

enables one to find or

is it

to

make

riled in

Don

Lo( k(\

A

Fantasy of Reason (1980)

be a

reasonable creature, since

a reason for everything one

has a mind to do.'

benjamin franklin,

'Within

limits, the

Autobiography (1793)

Enlightenment was what one thinks

it

was.'

norman hampson, 'Distrust

is

The Enlightenment (1968)

a necessary qualification of a student in history.'

samuel johnson, 'Review of the Account of the Conduct of the Duchess of Marlborough'

'Many of the books which now croud justiy suspected to

the world,

be written for the sake of some

(1742)

may

be

invisible

order of beings, for surely they are of no use to any of the corporeal inhabitants of the world.'

samuel johnson, 'A Review of Soamejenyns' xui

(1757)

'I'm sick of Portraits

Viol da I

and wish very much

Gamba and walk off to some

to take

and

my

sweet Village where

can paint Landskips and enjoy the fag End of

quietness

up

Life in

9

ease.'

thomas Gainsborough, letter to WilliamJackson (c. 'The Husbandman puts

&

Ground

his seed in the

1760)

the

& Wisdom of God have pledged themselves, that he shall have Bread, and Health, & Quietness in return for Industry, & Simplicity of Wants, & InnoGoodness, Power,

cence.

The author

and wasted Health,

scatters his seed

&

all

- with aching head,

the heart-leapings of Anxiety

-

& the Folly, the Vices, the Fickleness of Man promise him Printers' Bills & the Debtors Side of Newgate, as full & sufficient

Payment.'

samuel taylor coleridge,

letter to

(Tuesday, 13

'I

am now

Modern

trying

December

Poole 1796)

an Experiment very frequent among

Authors; which

Jonathan swift, A 'I

Thomas

to write

is,

Tale of a Tub, and Other Satires (1704)

wonder, however, that so

who might well have

upon Nothing.'

left it

many

people have written,

alone.'

samuel johnson, A Journey

to the

Western Islands of Scotland (1775)

'No expectation

is

more fallacious than that which authors

form of the reception which mankind. Scarcely any

their labours will find

man publishes

a book, whatever

be, without believing that he has caught the

the publick attention

is

vacant to his

disposed in a particular

manner

among

call,

it

moment when

and the world

to learn the art

is

which he

undertakes to teach.'

samuel johnson, Preface Dictionary of Trade

xiv

to

Richard Rolt,

and Commerce (1756)

'A

man may

doggedly to

write at any time,

if

he

will set

himself

it.'

samuel johnson The

xv

in James Boswell,

Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)

INTRODUCTION [T]he historiography of enlightenment in England remains that of a black hole. j.

few preliminaries w able.

For

starters,

unsatisfactory.

terms of

ill

make

this

w hich are

art,

Injohn Pocock's opinion,

following his

own example,

1

1

hook more approach-

as inescapable as they are tin*

phrase

"English Enlightenment" does not ring quite shall

POCOCK

a. A.

be using

1

"the" (or "an")

true'. it

Maybe;

2

the same.

all

admittedly an anachronistic term, but n captures,

I

but, It

is

believe, the

thinking and temper of a movement, one of whose leading lights

could declare, 'our enlighten

it'.

3

1

first

concern, as lovers of our country, must he to

have, however, avoided the term 'pre-Enlightenment',

since that confuses rather than clarifies status

quo ante or something

refer to the 'early' or the

more akin 'first'

LS

it

supposed

to a prelude?).

my

book.

I

is

middle of the century, or what

part of the book, that

is,

shall,

denote

a

however,

mainly covered

also write of the 'late

'second' Enlightenment, indicating in broad terms after the

I

to

Enlightenment, alluding roughly to

pre-1750 developments or, approximately, to w hat in the first eleven chapters of

4

may

1

or

what happened

be found in the

latter

the enlightened critique of Enlightenment.

'The long eighteenth century' sometimes serves as a shorthand for the entire span from Restoration to Regency,

markers,

like

and other chronological

'Georgian' and 'Hanoverian', are used equally elas-

tically.

Over

the years Pocock

and others have been urging

avoid making progressive voices sound too

XVll

much

like

that, to

a caucus or a

INTRODUCTION conspiracy,

we should drop

capital letter,

and maybe

also the

and speak not of 'The Enlightenment' but rather of

'enlightenment', or better typically

the definite article

still

'enlightenments'.

shrewd suggestion, which

is

I

particularly

fully

endorse

germane

this

to Britain

where there never emerged, as some think there did in France, un petit troupeau des philosophes - a little flock, a party of humanity. The British avant-garde

was not a network of persecuted

ground samizdat authors, destined

democracy

to

hand down

to

Kennedy's America or

rebels or under-

the torch of liberal

Blair's Britain.

They

are better

likened to the mixed clientele talking, talking, talking in a hot,

smoky and crowded and sympathies but

coffee house;

differing,

men

sharing broad convictions

and agreeing

to differ,

on matters dear

to their hearts.

Mention of 'men'

leads to the vexed issue of gendered language.

Like those coffee house politicians, the great majority of the thinkers discussed below are male.

'man of mode',

'the

they used - 'man of

The idiom

letters',

common man', etc. - was gendered through and

through, as were their assumptions:

when

thinkers like John Locke

spoke of 'man', there doubtiess lurked a generic

if tacit

notion of

'mankind' in general, but the people they actually envisaged as doing the teaching

and preaching, writing and

enlightening, were male.

They did not think much of women in such public contexts, and when they did, they singled them out

specifically.

This

silently

gendered

language reflected a man's world as defined by dominant male and, to catch the tones of the times,

I

elites;

largely follow their practice

here. 5

One

further note

on terms. The Act of Union

(1707)

united the

parliaments of England and Scotland, creating Great Britain. Scot-

land thereby accepted the Act of Settlement, enacted by Westminster in 1701,

which designated the Hanoverians

as

Queen Anne's

suc-

A second Act of Union of 180 incorporated Ireland into the 'United Kingdom'. My usage of national terms in the following pages

cessors.

will

be

less

1

technically constitutionalist.

I

often

employ

'English' as a

shorthand for 'English language', and the terms 'English' and 'British' somewhat interchangeably when referring to ideas and developments xviii

INTRODUCTION broadly shared by

elites living in

the British

Isles,

since practically

all

enlightened thinking was then actually coming out of English heads, especially during the

first

third of the eighteenth century.

and

to this 'lumping' habit, 'English'

when and

I

I

am

shall

'Scottish' will

much of chapter

10 to

eminence, but, except fleetingly

do not focus on controversies taking place

and Wales. Usage

seems confusing or reflects the realities

to people

In this give

is

clarified

galling to

of a time

born anywhere

book

much

taste,

be

will

far too

when our

in

modern

about Ireland

laxity

sometimes

nationalist sensibilities,

'English was

many themes

and

if this

5

Isles'.

example -

chapters 10 and 20,

in

commonly

it

applied

7

receive short incisure.

space to political debate, literature and the

I

do not

arts, to tides

of

the commercialization of culture or the forging of nationalism.

Apart from space constraints, the reasons are have appeared recently

sound foundations, of

Price, for

within

by context;

and

thinkers of Irish

Welsh extraction - John Toland and Richard also achieved

and themes,

developments characteristic

Numerous

of the Scottish Enlightenment. 6

I

be distinguished

specifically addressing regional traditions

devote

By contrast

my

tried to build

on the Spade work

fellow historians." Likewise, lew extended exegeses of

Once

philosophies are offered here. studies already exist,

9

and

in

books

these are. is and. rather than redigging

in all

have instead

I

plain: splendid

an) ease

the intricacies of, say, Hobbes, the interplay of activists, ideas

again,

my

many

in

and

instances, fine

chief concern

Hume, Hutton

major

lies less

with

or Hazlitt than with

society.

Historians of the Scottish Enlightenment

may

feel particularly

aggrieved: does not the north British contribution deserve greater attention? Don't the literati of Aberdeen, St

not to mention the 'Athens of the North'

warrant chapters

all

to themselves?

I

Andrews and Glasgow,

itself,

New Town and

would not scant the

all,

brilliance

of the Caledonian contribution but, once again, notable studies already exist

upon which

I

shall

more with meanings and impacts than with cavalierly,

a whole.

chosen to

my

draw; and since origins,

I

interest

is

have, perhaps

splice Scottish thinkers into the British story as

10

XIX

INTRODUCTION greatly regret that

I

influences

upon

Britain,

more

not said here about Continental

is

and the reciprocal uptake of British thinking

overseas. Insular history has

no

virtues,

and any claims staked below

about the Englishness of the English Enlightenment, or about 'English

exceptionalism V must rest on firmer foundations than Tog over 1

the Channel' obliviousness to developments elsewhere.

can only

I

plead that adequate discussion of such issues would have

made

long book lengthier

into the

literati

that

it

would require research

my competence.

the soul

and xheje

nesais qucd of the

self,

have an excuse for some of these omissions:

topics in

12

other issues cry out for greater attention - the contro-

which raged over mind and body, Heaven and

afterlife, I

and

of Milan, Mainz and Madrid far beyond

Numerous versies

still,

a

I

to

Hell, the

name just

a few.

plan to address such

my next book, which will examine the triangle of the moral,

the material

and the medical

Next, a word on where

I

in the

anglophone Enlightenment.

stand. Enlightenment historiography has

been distorted by hindsight, and remains unashamedly partijms. Progressives have long praised the philosophes for being the begetters

Man, or have traced a lineage from them to the American Republic - indeed, the distinguished American historian of the Rights of

Henry Commager once claimed that Europe dreamed the Enlightenment and America made that dream come true. 13 For their part, right-wing scholars, echoing Burke and the

blamed the Enlightenment

for

Abbe

Barruel, have

handing the Terror

its

ideological

ammunition, while Rousseau's doctrine of the general will supposedly begat 'totalitarian democracy', lethally sanctioning fascism, Nazism

and

Stalinism.

to paint the 'totalitarian'

14

it

has

Enlightenment black. After

became

gerial rationality life'

In some quarters

become almost de rigueur the Second World War,

the epithet for an Enlightenment

was alleged

which inexorably reduced

to

whose mana-

have imposed an 'administered

society to 'a universal concentration

camp'. 15 Echoing such readings, Michel Foucault held its

rhetoric, the true logic of the

and dominate rather than critical circles take

a no

Enlightenment was to control

to emancipate.

less

that, despite

16

Certain

modern

literary

jaundiced view. 'The "new" eighteenth XX

INTRODUCTION century to be found in postmodernist scholarship,' Terry Castle drily observes,

not so

'is

and

repression,

Hobsbawm

much an

age of reason, but one of paranoia,

incipient madness.'

'These days,' remarked Eric

17

in 1997, in a similar vein, 'the

Enlightenment can be

dismissed as anything from superficial and intellectually naive to a

conspiracy of dead white

men

in periwigs to provide the intellectual

18 foundation for Western imperialism'. Voltaire likened history to a

box of

tricks

objectivity

is

we

play on the dead, and none would gainsay that

a mirage; yet

I

and postmod-

believe these Foucauldian

ernist readings are wilfully lopsided,

and

I

shall

show how and why

below. I

find enlightened

feel

more

in

minds congenial:

I

savour their pithy prose, and

tune with those warm, witt\

say, the aggrieved Puritans

who

.

book

will

than with,

enthral ye! appal Christopher Mill

or with Peter Gay's earnestly erotic Victorians. this

men

clubbable

I

however, that

trust,

be read as a work of analysis rather than one of

advocacy or apology. The Enlightenment

is

not a

good thing or

a bad thing, to be cheered or jeered. Apart from anything

would be absurd, because,

heroes-and-villains judgementalism shall insist

project'.

ad nauseam, there never was

.1

was

ironic

1

monolithic 'Enlightenment

rather than

Enlightenment was not a crusade, observes 3

of voice, a

sensibility.'

19

dogmatic. 'The

Mark Goldie, 'but a tone

Tolerance was central, and protagonists

could shake hands on some matters while shaking

lists

on others. For

of his career, Joseph Priestley, that unflagging religio-political

liberal,

looked upon

Edmund Burke

as a sympathizer,

amity ended abruptly with the French Revolution. Priestley took issue with the infidel rise,

as

Enlightened thinkers were broad-minded, they espoused

pluralism, their register

much

else,

though

their

Then again, while

Edward Gibbon's account of its

they shared, in large measure, criticisms of the corruptions of

Christianity. Priestley

even

made

a point of publishing his polemical

exchanges with his co-Nonconformist Dr Richard Price, in the candid if quaint

Little

conviction that dissent should be seen as the spur to truth. 20

was

fixed,

debate came before doctrine, and culture wars went

on among the enlightened

as well as against their foes.

XXI

INTRODUCTION we must be

In short,

sensitive to chiaroscuro so as to descry the

Enlightenment's contours, attending to liberations, in recognition (as ever) that

its

limits

resist

being seduced by

self-evident.

its

truths

We

must

and neither hypostatize the

slogans,

its

than

less

what permitted some

be interrogated was that others remaine5

to

no

Enlightenment as the manifest destiny of humanity nor, conversely, diabolize

it

as a plot of dead white males: rather

a cluster of overlapping and interacting to

modernize.

Our social vantage on

nuanced, taking

in the

from the provinces less

elites

should be seen as

it

who

shared a mission

enlightened ideologues must be

view 'from below' as well as 'from above',

as well as the metropolis,

than male responses.

21

It

embracing female no

must be capacious enough

to disclose

how particular preferences led some (Jeremy Bentham, for instance) to proceed in the name of cost-efficient rationality, while others, like John Wilkes, played the liberty trump. To some (David Hume, for example) enlightenment was primarily a matter of emancipation

from

religious bigotry within the political status quo; for others, like

Dr Richard

Price,

by Providence.

it

Avoiding taking

moved light 'in

meant a pathway

to political liberty picked out

22

book

sides, this

strives to

make

sense of

what

progressive intellectuals by laying bare their thinking, in the

we must understand

of Locke's dictum that

the sense he uses them,

and not

man's particular philosophy, mind' of that author.

23

This

as they are appropriated,

by each

to conceptions that never entered the

is

a particularly important undertaking

because the world they were making that secular value system to

a thinker's terms,

is

the one

we have

inherited,

which most of us subscribe today which

upholds the unity of mankind and basic personal freedoms, and the

worth of tolerance, knowledge, education and opportunity. As the Enlightenment's children,

we should

try to

fathom our parents.

As ever, that is not straightforward. While in the eighteenth century progressive intellectuals backed many causes now typically approved, they also espoused others which today we find abhorrent. John Locke

championed the natural freedom of mankind, yet 'The Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina', framed by him in 1669, granted free men XXll

INTRODUCTION in the

new colony

Bentham

24 absolute jurisdiction over their slaves.

deplored the criminalization of homosexuality, yet proposed castrat-

and tattooing convicts -

ing rapists

happiness principle.

25

Mary

on the

all

basis of the greatest

Wollstonecraft vindicated the rights of

women, but out-misogynized most women-haters. 'The age of enlightenment,' Ronald cisms.'

26

Knox once noted,

'was also an age of fanati-

Complexities, convolutions and contradictions leap out from

my pages. 'Reason, with most people, means their 27

the saturnine William Hazlitt.

own

opinion': thus wrote

Without succumbing wholly

to that

we must beware presentism

Hazlittian mulishness born of defeat,

and recognize

that every age, especially perhaps the age of reason,

rationalizes in

its

and

implicit.

freedom;

regime

it

own way and

To

was

spelt social control

caveat against simplistic

"all

enlightenments' readings.

do

is

to

meaning codes, spoken

n

would regulate

rational

abandoning 'Enlightenment'

dead

ow

only spell personal

also disciplinary, a tool in the forging

Benthamism thus

the

its

utilitarians, rationality did no(

which the

in

has

28

is,

of that

The

the rest.

as a historical category:

it

is

Nothing could be

into today's conceptual corsets.

understand them

all

the

than

sillier

draw

gratefully

hectoring

in the battle lor

upon

the best historians have rarely

the

letters, into

registers, I

and

a

to tightlace

the world will

in

done justice

to the

Grub

this

book

the mind. to fellow histori-

work of literary

afforded by literary investigations into

of

merely

The most we can hope to

While cheerfully acknowledging my massive debts also

for

lor the best in the best ol all possible

is

problematizes the progressives

I

fact that

however, no argument

not change them! Far from judging saints and sinners,

ans,

efficient

scholars.

Even

remarkable insights

Street

and the republic

authorship and readership, into genres, canons and

into fictionalizations of self and society. In

highlight the part played

by

poets, critics

and

what

follows

novelists in debates

over identity, individuality and subjectivity, and the role of the

imagination in the politics of the gendered the eighteenth century authors'.

was

truly, as

29

XXlll

self,

in the belief that

Johnson thought, an

'age of

INTRODUCTION Enlightened avant-gardes condemned the fossilized, prized novelty (while also mistrusting

and

self-celebration.

was materializing

in

it)

and thrived upon controversy,

Through

the

medium

of print, public opinion

a manner uncannily prefiguring the

tieth-century data revolution

twen-

late

and those contemporary expressions of

the electric information explosion, the Internet

Web. The

self-criticism

and the World Wide

progress of print was a development

upon which those

two mighty adversaries Samuel Johnson and David

Hume

for

once

found themselves of a mind. 'The mass of every people must be barbarous where there

is

no printing and consequently knowledge

not generally diffused,' ruled Johnson;

Hume,

'a

these last

sudden and sensible change fifty

years,

print revolution

30

there

is

had been, sensed

in the opinions of men within

by the progress of learning and

liberty'.

31

The

and the rise of the reading public brought new cadres

of knowledge-mongers into being, serving as society's eyes, ears, brains

and mouthpieces. 32

intelligentsia has

How

curious that this budding British

been ignored. This book aims

to

make a modest

contribution to changing that, rethinking Albion's Enlightenment

and shedding

light

on the

'black hole'.

have tried to give

full citations to

the quotations

(Note:

I

used.

have not, however, been scrupulously consistent

I

original punctuation

and

capitalization.)

xxiv

I

have

in following

I

BLIND SPOT?

A

The

eighteenth century sailed forward into an era of unparal-

leled stability

.

.

.

No

ferment of ideas or memories remained.

PERRY ANDERSON

The year 1783 brought the launching not can Republic but sellschaft

also,

more modestly, of

(Wednesday Club),

German

sprouting in

broached the question: 'What followed.

just

of the Ameri-

the Berliner

Mittwochge-

a debating society

cities. In a local

Three hundred and

is

1

i\

pica]

one

periodical,

of those then

ofits

members

enlightenment?' Strenuous debate

sixty miles to the east, in

Kdnigsberg,

a professor of philosophy offered his contribution. In his 'Answer to the Question:

What

Kant deemed

that

is

Enlightenment?'

'if it is

now asked whether we

enlightened age, the answer in

(1784), the great

is:

enlightened.

To

present

in

No', although he did add, 'we do

an age of enlightenment': Europe was 2

li\c at

Immanuel

in

an

live

the throes of becoming

How?

secure 'man's release from his self-incurred immaturity',

Kant

judged, people must think for themselves under the watchword sapere aude

Yet

it

- 'dare

was not

to

know' - a tag from the

so simple.

nevertheless,

in

primary duty

lies in

his

The

Roman

poet Horace. 3

thinker must indeed 'dare to

capacity as clergyman or serving his church

civil

and obeying

know

servant,

his prince

;

his

-

in

Kant's case, Frederick the Great, king of Prussia, an enlightened

monarch, no doubt, and a fan of Voltaire, but a militaristic

bound

and

autocratic. Subjects,

to swallow dissent

1

Machiavellian,

Kant concluded, were duty-

and uphold the royal

disorder.

man

will so as to

preclude

THE CREATION OF THE MODERN WORLD Kant's denial that his age was enlightened historians.

may

4

Yet, taken for historical fact,

well apply to his

on Russia's 1724

own

often endorsed by

it is

utterly misleading. It

university city, the

modern Kaliningrad,

where he had been born

Baltic coast, east of Poland,

and would

is

die eighty years later

-

in his entire

life

in

the philoso-

pher, while boldly voyaging in the mind, never ventured his gouty toes outside East Prussia. His daily constitutional as

was almost

he ever went - and such a regular was he that the

to set their watches

Not

all

many

that

hung over

by the

professorial tread.

Konigsbergers, one suspects, had

their beds.

And

Frederick's

officials

sapere aude

Kant's denial arguably applies more

manned by

whose forced labour sustained a haughty landed

cadre of tame

were said

5

broadly to Prussia at large, a feudal kingdom serfs

locals

as far

and a fearsome

own advanced postures and

the epithet 'enlightened' only in a

hereditary nobility, a

military machine. Despite

policies, Prussia qualifies for

somewhat Pickwickian

sense.

'A government, supported by an army of 180,000 men,' tersely

commented

Moore, 'may

the English traveller John

the criticisms of a few speculative politicians, satirist.'

safely disregard

and the pen of the

6

A faithful state functionary, Professor Kant's ideal of freedom was as timid as the

man

himself. Elsewhere in Europe, the question of

enlightenment had been raised and,

many were

sure, resolved,

decades before Berlin's Wednesday talking shop was even dreamed up.

However sublime

a philosopher, as a culture-watcher Kant was

fated to be a

man on the margins,

to the west,

where phrases

ten-a-penny. Thinker 17 1 8,

7

In England,

hardly aufait with political

like 'this

enlightened age' had long been

Ambrose

had adopted Horace's

realities

Philips's

'sapere aude' as its

magazine the

masthead

Free-

as early as

launching an assault on superstition; and in a nation in which

formal censorship had ceased back in 1695, such an assertion of free-thinking raised few eyebrows contrast, positively gave

its

-

the Mittwochgesellschaft, by

imprimatur

to press censorship.

8

Already, by Phillips's time, Englishmen prided themselves upon living in the light.

A

full

three-quarters of a century before Kant,

BLIND SPOT?

A

Anthony Ashley Cooper, the 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury, had addressed a comrade in the Netherlands in far more spirited terms:

There

is

a mighty Light which spreads

Successes

advance the

turn;

and

we have

had,

Cause of Theisme it

than

Heaven sends

I

the Affairs of

Knowledge must

impossible but Letters and

it is

will lose

when

whom

us soon a peace suitable to the great

Proportion than ever ...

in greater

better for

if

over the world especially in

and Holland; on

those two free Nations of England

Europe now

self

its

anything by

fair

I

am

far

Dispute.

wish the Establishment of an

from thinking I

can never

.

.

.

that

wish

intire Philosophicall

Liberty. 9

As

this

book

Whig

will stress, the

Philosophicall Liberty' in a free

and progressive country was shared

How

by many of his contemporaries. have had so

little

to say

European Enlightenment

Complex was

revisionisms

slighted

about the as a

peer's elation at enjoying 'intire

w

peculiar, then, that historians

role of English thinkers in the

hole!

mark our

times. For long the

by Anglo-Ameriean scholars

as

l

been achieving decisive in the

Gay reinstated

More

recently,

recognition -

and oddballs

however, the Enlightenment has

sometimes notoriety

making of modernity.

10

as a

movement

The American historian Peter

the philosophes as dauntless critics, wrestling with prob-

lems of modern

life

which

still

tax us today. 11

And

since then, our

understanding of the Aujklarung has been further enriched.

now

see

it

3

an arid or pretentious

interlude, personified by know-alls such as Voltaire

such as Rousseau.

age of reason

as stretching far

beyond the

'little

We

can

flock of philosophes'

celebrated by Gay: today's cultural historians point to the ferment of

new

thinking amongst the reading public at large, stimulated

via

newspapers, novels, prints and even pornography - the Enlighten-

ment should be viewed not

as a

canon of

classics

but as a living

language, a revolution in mood, a blaze of slogans, delivering the

shock of the new.

It

decreed

new ways of seeing, advanced by a range

of protagonists, male and female, of various nationalities and discrete status, professional

and

interest groups.

3

12

THE CREATION OF THE MODERN WORLD This image of an engage Enlightenment, calling for practical

improvement on a broad

front, represents a

major advance upon the dated image of periwigged poseurs

on

in Parisian salons. In this

welcome

and

criticizing, cajoling

prattling

revisionist, however, the role

of Britain remains oddly neglected. That

is

nothing new. In

his

establishing of the Enlightenment pantheon, Ernst Cassirer's magisterial

and profoundly

translated

influential The Philosophy of the Enlightenment,

from the German

in 1951,

had not

so

much

as

mentioned

Bolingbroke and Bentham, Priestley, Price and Paine or Godwin

and Wollstonecraft

Enlightenment's premier husband-and-wife

(the

team), or that astonishing polymath Erasmus Darwin,

Anglo-Scottish political

preachers

like

economy - no Adam Smith!

Addison and

Steele.

From

alone

let

or lay

-

his philosophical eyrie,

Cassirer patronized those few English thinkers he did deign to discuss:

'among

the leaders of this movement', he concluded of the Deists,

'there

no thinker of real depth and of truly

is

Cassirer's erudition

proved justifiably

original stamp'.

influential,

and

13

his neglect

of England characterized his successors. Leonard Marsak's anthology The Enlightenment presented no readings at

all

from English

writers,

while Lester Crocker's equivalent barely did better, with a token four

out of fifty. 14

The

pattern thus set a generation ago continues: James

Schmidt's recent What

Is Enlightenment?

contains thirty-four essays,

not one of which focuses on England. 15

A

survey of religion and

philosophy in Georgian Britain got by without using the term 'Enlightenment' at

all;

Christopher Hill likewise, deprecating the

mystifying rationality of 'Yahoo society'; and literary historians have often opted for the label 'Augustan', partly because 'age of reason' 16 has been thought to suggest a 'winter of the imagination'.

And

when not thus ignored, English achievements have been denied. Henry Steele Commager rated England 'a bit outside the Enlightenment', while a fellow American pronounced as recentiy as 1976, 'the

term "English Enlightenment" would be jarring and incongruous it

were ever heard'. 17 This book

will, I trust,

if

be a jarring experience.

Such scholarly disdain has deep roots. Unlike the self-styled lumieres or illuminati across the Channel, Georgian gentlemen did not in so 4

BLIND SPOT?

A

many words term

themselves 'enlighteners', nor did the phrase 'the

Enlightenment' enter English usage until the mid- Victorian era, even then being used to curl a

Voltaire

lip at

and the other

facile scoffers

of that 'age of reason' which the Romantics and Victorians so

abhorred. 18

The term

continues to carry pejorative

edition of The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary glosses

and pretentious

'shallow

authority

and

airs: it

intellectualism, unreasonable

tradition, etc., applied esp. to the spirit

the 1973

as denoting

contempt

for

and aims of the

French philosophers of the 18th c' - a definition proud

to perpetuate

not just English philistinism but Oxonian deference to 'authority and 19

tradition'. It

does not

come

'The English Enlightenment' or 'The nearest is

is

John Redwood's

at least subtitled

1750'.

'

British Enlightenment'; the

The Age of Enlightenment

chance, went on to become incapable of mounting a

it

(

which

England, 1660

who, hardly

b)

Sonservative Party politician

advances rational

trad)

in

Souls, Oxford,

All

a far right

and outspoken Eurosceptic,

.1

rum

decidedl)

critique of

case:

Throne and

enemies of the Establishment had instead, rather

stooped

caddishly,

exists called

Reason, Ridicule and Religion (1970),

Written by a fellow of

Altar, rationalist

no book

as a surprise, therefore, that

to

railler)

conservative historians like J. C. Souls, have in effect denied

and 1

).

(

ridicule.

Mark,

20

who

Subsequent also did time

neo.it

All

by silence an Anglo-Enlightenment,

holding that Hanoverian England remained a 'confessional state with Church and King beliefs supreme. For intelligence, Clark's reading political superstructure,

up

in society at large.

is

scholarship and

highly idiosyncratic: eyes glued on the

he overlooks the zest for change bubbling

Yet

his stress

High Church and Tory convictions it

all its

on the is

durability of

valuable in

highlights the intensity of ideological conflict,

that enlightened attitudes

its

hidebound

own way,

and

since

so reminds us

formed not some bland background music

to events but a partisan voice, expressive of sectional interests

divided

elites.

There

and

21

are, of course, distinguished exceptions to this

blind spot

9

- J. G. A. Pocock and Margaret Jacob, 5

academic

in particular,

have

THE CREATION OF THE MODERN WORLD made and

and what

a point of utilizing the term,

upon

gratefully

follows will

draw greatly

their pioneering scholarship. Nevertheless, there

has been no study of the 'British Enlightenment' as such, nor any

debate on 'English Enlightenment' comparable to those over the scientific

and

What makes

industrial revolutions. 22

all this

odd

so very

is

that the philosophes themselves

looked to England as the birthplace of the modern. Anglophiles in

Roman Empire

France, Italy and the Holy constitutional its

prosperity

celebrated Britain's

monarchy and freedom under the law, and

religious toleration.

its

open

society,

'The English are the only

people upon earth,' declared Voltaire in his significantly philosophiques ou Lettres anglaises (1733), the first

titled Lettres

grenade lobbed

at the

ancien regime,

who have been

able to prescribe limits to the

them; and who, by a

series

of struggles, have at

Government, where the Prince time

is

restrain'd

no

resisting

established that wise

last

powerful to do good, and at the same

evil;

Vassals;

government without confusion.

However

is all

from committing

insolence, tho' there are

power of Kings by

where the Nobles are great without

and where the People share

in the

23

idealized, Voltaire's

homage was

at least

first-hand experience. After a spat with the Chevalier de

based upon

Rohan, the

young writer had been roughed up by the nobleman's bully boys and thrown into the Bastille, and was released only on condition that he went

into exile. Resident in

England

for three years

from

1726,

he

enjoyed the companionship of poets and politicians and plunged into the works of English scientists, philosophers thinkers.

The

and

religious free-

24

Lettres

saluted England as a 'nation of philosophers'

cradle of liberty, tolerance

and

sense, using

it,

like

and the

Montesquieu later,

own patrie. Francis Bacon was the prophet of Isaac Newton had revealed the laws of the universe,

as a stick to beat his

modern

science,

and John Locke had demolished Descartes and on the bedrock of experience.

25

rebuilt philosophy

Together, their teachings beat a path

6

in

I

\

I

D SP01

?

between dogmatism and scepticism, opening up new views of nature, morals and society.

A

of a younger generation, Denis Diderot

philosophe

ardent. Reflecting

phy

is

cultivated',

on the 'two countries he drew a

in

Europe

telling distinction: 'In

phers are honoured, respected; they

rise to

no

felt

less

which philoso-

in

England, philoso-

public offices, they are

buried with the kings ... In France warrants are issued against them, they are persecuted, pelted with pastoral letters

England

is

any the worse

for

it?'

.

.

.

Do we

see that

26

France 'owes to England', the Journal encyclopedique was to acknowledge, 'the great revolution

which can contribute

more

flourishing'.

27

to render peoples

Progressives in Paris

fanclub, while a popular

who had

which has taken place

comedy of the

more happy and

States

formed an informal English

1760s guyed the

'Hogard' and 'HindeP on his

in everything

lips,

Anglomaniac

drank only

tea,

read

nothing but Shakespeare and Pope and declared: 'The teachers of

mankind have been born

in

London, and

it is

from them we must

28

There was even a touch of truth in that caricature, as Edward Gibbon - hardly a vulgar chauvinist - found when visiting

take lessons.'

Paris just after the inglorious

War: 'Our opinions, our

Bourbon

defeat in the Seven Years

fashions, even our games,

were adopted

in

France; a ray of national glory illuminated each individual, and every

Englishman was supposed

to

be born a patriot and a philosopher.' 29

Continentals lapped up English ideas. Take another Anglophile, the Piedmontese

nobleman Alberto Radicati

di Passerano.

'He

absorbed the more violent and polemical elements from English deism,' the great Italian historian Franco Venturi once observed:

He dreamed time,

of a world without property or authority, and, at the same

showed enthusiasm

for the

which he experienced during

mixed government of the

his difficult

the most diverse elements from the original

way

.

.

.

formed

in

exile.

commonwealthmen

He combined

in a curious

and

Every aspect of this example, both the ideological and the

political, reveals particularly well the

ideas

and troubled

British Isles,

England

at the turn

penetration on the continent of the

of the century. 30

7

THE CREATION OF THE MODERN WORLD Continental savants were galvanized by English innovations in politics

much

and

so that Diderot

was led

reason and philosophy would in France'.

and even

ethics, epistemology, aesthetics

31

belles lettres

-

so

to exclaim that 'without the English, still

be

most despicable infancy

in the

Religious critiques infiltrated France through the works

of Toland, Tindal, Collins, Wollaston, Woolston and those Deistical aristocrats Shaftesbury afield, via

and Bolingbroke, spreading even

Leibniz and the Electress Sophia to the

into Italy through

farther

German states, and

Giannone. 32

English moral benevolism also rippled to the Continent. Diderot's passion for philosophes

his translating Shaftesbury;

33

other

applauded Pope's An Essay on Man (1733-4), while Rousseau

found balm larly

was kindled by

vertue

in

Addison and

Steele, confessing,

my

pleased me, and improved

mind.'

34

'

The Spectator particu-

Later on, British

utili-

tarianism spurred legal reformers, a Spaniard declaring 'the grand

Baintham'

to

have been

- a Solon, a

ever produced

was exporting 'vortices'

and a Lope de Vega'. 35 Nor the natural sciences - with Newtonian

less brisk in

gravitation finally 36

most universal genius which the world

'the

- and

Plato,

weaning the French

off their beloved Cartesian

also in the practical arts: 'France

owes

to

England

the great revolution which has taken place in her literature,' gushed the Journal encyclopedique in 1758:

How many useful arts

excellent works

.

- upon agriculture

.

.

.

.

have appeared in recent years upon the .

upon commerce,

navigation and the colonies, in short to render peoples

The

more happy and

peerless Encyclopedic

itself,

d'Alembert and completed

scheme

to translate

appeared back

Even

British fiction

upon everything which can contribute

States

more

launched

flourishing. 37

in

1751

by Diderot and

in twenty-eight volumes, originated in a

Ephraim Chambers's

in 1728.

finance, manufactures,

Cyclopaedia,

which had

38

became

Germany by storm - by

fashionable. Robinson Crusoe (1726) took

1760 over forty sequels had appeared; so did

the verse of Ossian, the 'Scottish Homer', at a later date; while

sentimental

drama and

novels ravished Continental hearts:

8

'O

A

had been

Pamela, 'thou shalt be

oi'

French

so a

short,

SP01

\ I)

man unique

Richardson, Richardson, the author

BL1

critic

my

in

my

eyes,'

sang Diderot

oi

39

In

reading at

all

something of an English flavour about

Contemporary comment thus

our own: the

it'.

suggests

40

it

was an English sun which

up many of the Continental children of light. How,

do we explain modern verdicts accounted

French

level

Francophone,

-

41

that of historical tastes

By custom,

albeit

in that case,

R. R. Palmer's?

like

'The Enlightenment

for:

affair.'

letters

no longer welcomed or valued anything that had not

...

At a banal

times!'

confessed in 1768, once English

tasted, 'a revolution quickly took place in

Frenchman

lit

'

the

is

- the paradox

ordinarily thought of as a

movement

perhaps finding

easily

is

its

is

assumed

to

be

metaphysical apotheosis

among German philosophers. 'There were many philosophies,

'

ruled

Gay, 'but there was only one Enlightenment' - and that was Francecentred,

headed by that Voltairian party of humanity which cham-

pioned

the

materialism. ily

modern 42

trinity

of

atheism,

republicanism

and

Leonard Marsak dubbed the Enlightenment 'primar-

a French phenomenon';

it

was 'pre-eminently and focally French',

agreed Lester Crocker, while Robert Darnton has recently restated that

it

was

'in

ment took

off.

Paris in the early eighteenth century' that enlighten43

Such readings owe much

Edmund Burke and

the

to the

assumption current ever since

Abbe Barruel

that the Enlightenment's

climax - or nadir - lay in what Palmer styled 'democratic revolution', enshrined first in the American and then in the French Revolutions. 44

The

fact that there

Bull

proved the bulwark of counter-revolution, seems to lend support

was no English

to the idea that there

revolt to match, indeed that John

can have been no English Enlightenment

worthy of the name. Indeed, small surprise that historians should

opments

if

the Enlightenment's defining features are taken to be the

atheism, republicanism philosophes'

belittle British devel-

big guns

and materialism supposedly

fired

by the

and sparking the French Revolution. Hailed thus

as the authorized prophets of the

modern, 45 must not the avant-garde

9

THE CREATION OF THE MODERN WORLD have been

'radical' to the

very marrow?

like 'revolutionaries', 'skeptics',

Enlightenment

is

Gay freely bestows bouquets

'democrats' and*' atheists'; and

primarily to be read, following him, as the

modern paganism',

must make sense

it

if

the

'rise

of

to put into the foreground

Voltaire's ecrasez Vinfame, along with d'Holbach's atheistic materialism. 46

Hence, finding

panting to throttle the easy

England few pagans or

insurrectionists

last

king with the guts of the

last priest,

to conclude that the 'English Enlightenment'

is

it

in

misnomer or an oxymoron. Yet their

in sober truth

German,

materialists or atheists.

the loathing

Dutch

many

The

48

must be a

47

few French

Italian or

how

philosophes,

rhetoric of

some

and even

truly felt for cardinals

virtually

none of

were devoted democrats,

confreres,

shrill

and

be mistaken for practical plans to turn society

philosophes,

and

kings, should not

itself

upside-down.

Dazzling sloganizing made the French Enlightenment central to later radical mythologies

and reactionary demonologies alike, but the links

between the High Enlightenment and revolutionary anything but clear selves

cut.

49

Many philosophes,

activity

as revolutionaries

were

them-

complained, had feathered nests for themselves under the

ancien regime

Johnson.

50

- d'Alembert,

To what

after

extent,

all,

and

Dr

held four more sinecures than

when, would Voltaire or

until

had they lived to see the Revolution, have applauded its course - one which beheaded the chemist Lavoisier and drove

Diderot, actual

Condorcet

to suicide,

and was

criticized

Raynal and Marmontel? Looking tively

through modern

by

at the

latter-day philosophes like

Enlightenment retrospec-

political lenses creates

a

fatally distorting

teleology.

Anglophone developments have

also

been skipped over thanks

to

the intellectualist fallacy dear to academics who, echoing Cassirer's verdict thinkers

on the on an

Deists, prize 'profundity'

abstrusity scale.

Given

above

all

this scholarly

and

rate

dead

snobbery, such

seminal figures as the idiosyncratic Shaftesbury, the ironist Toland, the suave Steele or the populist Paine get low marks.

decision to call his

Even

the

book the philosophy of the Enlightenment perhaps

involved Cassirer in a distortion, a betrayal even, of its

10

spirit,

especi-

1

A ally insofar as lettre,

/>'/,/ \

D SPO

l

?

he imagined the philosopher stumblingly trying, avant

to write 77ie Critique oj Pure Reason. After

la

scholasticism was

all,

the last thing activists were trying to advance.

Anyone embracing Cassirer's

would

criteria

discourse pretty low grade, though they might Scottish academics like

certainly find English

award more points

Thomas Reid and Dugald

methodical manuals of methodology.

duced no Kant, but that

Stewart for their

Undoubtedly England pro-

51

not the point: there

is

to

is

no earthly reason

why systematic metaphysics should be taken as the acme of enlightenment. 52 Thinkers

Locke abhorred

like

the old scholastic cobwebs; the foolish

was

to

(and

and swept aside

be a system-monger, quipped Shaftesbury,

indigestible scholastic husks; they

men

de systeme

most ingenious way of becoming

ridicule the test of truth. England's

but

I'esprit

modernizers had no stomach for

were not ivory-towered academics

women) of letters who made

politan market place

who made

and courted the

their pitch in the

metro-

public, hoping, with

Joseph

who supported Cicero's praise of Socrates for bringing philosophy down from the heavens, to make it 'dwell in Clubs

Addison,

and Assemblies,

at

Tea-Tables and

in Coffee Houses'. 53 Selling

philosophy to urbanites, and uniting the the world, English thinkers practical If

and

made

it

man of letters to the man of

their business to

be palatable,

pleasing.

academics have misled themselves with monolithic and ana-

chronistic

models of what

things are changing.

'true enlightenment'

Recent scholarship has been

must have been, in a disaggregating

mood, replacing the old essentialist assumptions of a pure and unitary (for

which, read French)

movement with

a pluralism, appreciative of

a variety of blooms, from Dublin to Lublin, from York to

York, each with

its

own

seeds

and

soil,

problems, priorities and

programmes. In place of the old emphasis on enlightened circles are

now

which accommodate E.

P.

-

superstars, wider

being investigated from perspectives

Thompson's

'peculiarities

of the English'

alongside, of course, those of the Prussians, the Poles

Portuguese.

54

Today it seems

New

arbitrary

and anachronistic

and the

to rule that

only crusaders for atheism, republicanism and materialism deserve

1

THE CREATION OF THE MODERN WORLD the adjective 'enlightened'; the time

might surely have

is

ripe, as

said, to rescue the English

the 'enormous condescension of posterity'.

To

by

trace the part played

Thompson

himself

Enlightenment from

55

British thinkers in the

making of

modernity, better mappings are needed of the contacts and circuits

The

of literati and their listeners.

loops between London, Edinburgh

and Dublin, between the metropolis and the provinces, between cultures high all

and low,

religious

and

secular,

male and female, must

be traced. Appealing against guilty verdicts on the treason of the

- Perry Anderson's withering

intellectuals

'no ferment of ideas or

memories' - Thompson points to the formation of 'scores of intellectual enclaves, dispersed over

England, Wales and Scotland, which

made up for what they lost in cohesion by the multiplicity of initiatives afforded by these many bases'. 56 J. H. Plumb likewise has guided the bedazzled eye away from the 'peaks of culture': 'too much attention, it

seems to me,' he wrote,

'is

the intellectual giants, too

acquire

little

to their social acceptance. Ideas

dynamism when they become

happening

book

paid to the monopoly of ideas amongst

in England.'

takes up.

I

shall

57

now

and

this

was

These are some of the challenges

this

social attitudes

turn to the core problems of the British

Enlightenment, and signpost the key themes covered in the chapters to follow.

Britain experienced

profound transformations during the long

eight-

eenth century: the overthrow of absolutism, accelerating population growth, urbanization, a commercial revolution marked by rising disposable income, the origins of industrialization. Shifts in consciousness helped to bring these changes about, to level criticism at its

delights

and

make

sense of and

them, and to direct public attention to modernity,

its

discontents.

58

Striking changes were afoot in 'high culture'. Protestant scriptural-

ism - the belief that every word of the Bible had been dictated

by the Holy Ghost - was refined into a new rational faith, attended by more optimistic models of man's lot under the Supreme Being (see

chapter

5).

Basking in Newton's glory, the

12

new

science

was

HUM)

A

acclaimed and extended Scientific

methods,

SPOl

'

new, natural and soda!

to pastures

alike.

political arithmetic, probabilistic thinking, sys-

tematic observation, experiment and quantification and appeals to the yardstick of Nature

chapter

all

gained prestige and applicability

6).

new

Partly as a consequence of these capital

(see

was vested

in creating sciences of

beliefs, vast intellectual

man and

Hobbes,

society.

anatomized the mind and emotions, and recognizable precursors of today's social and human sciences Locke and

their successors

psychology, economics, anthropology, sociology and so forth - took

shape

(see

chapters

17).

3, 7,

Divine Right and other prescriptive

dogmas which had buttressed a assailed

by

critical

to utilitarian

static,

hierarchical social order were

thinking on power, leading to the

reformism and to the Rights of Man

calculus,

felicific

(see

chapters 8 and

18). I

shall

be scrutinizing these and

many

and

theological, psychological, social

tific,

other innovations in scienpolitical discourse,

focusing on such key figures as Newton, Locke, Bernard de

David Hartley, Erasmus Darwin,

ville,

Godwin and ideas

Wollstonecraft,

by Addison and

Much work has been done

remains fragmentary; the pieces have yet

it

be put together and the

Bentham,

Pope and Sterne and a host of

other poets, preachers and popularizers.

to

Mande-

and examining the publicizing of their

Steele, Defoe,

on such past masters, but

Priestley, Paine,

by

full

jigsaw revealed.

Big ideas must be contextualized in terms of broader transformations in casts of

and

mind, habits of thinking and shades of

their diffusion

among

sensibility,

the reading public must be addressed, so

that the practical consequences of enlightened ideologies can be

grasped.

Only then

outlooks

become

will the

fundamental revisions wrought

clear: biblicism

in public

and providentialism were being

challenged by naturalism; custom was elbowed aside by an itch for

change and

faith in the

new. In

self-identity, artistic taste,

to tradition

was spurned

boosters conjuring

many

fields

-

in

moral quandaries,

reading habits, leisure pursuits - deference as antiquated,

up brighter

backward or plebeian by

futures there for the taking. Central

13

THE CREATION OF THE MODERN WORLD to enlightened

modernizing were the

conveyed through

glittering prospects of progress

print.

In Britain, at least, the Enlightenment was thus not just a matter

of pure

breakthroughs;

epistemological

was primarily the

it

new mental and moral values, new canons of sociability and views of human nature. And these

expression of

of

styles

typically

assumed

taste,

embodiment: urban renewal; the establishment of

practical

and prisons; the acceleration of communi-

hospitals, schools, factories

cations; the spread of newspapers,

commercial

outlets

and consumer

behaviour; the marketing of new merchandise and cultural services. All such

developments repatterned the loom of life, with inevitable

repercussions for social prospects and agendas of personal fulfilment.

England's avant-garde enjoyed different prospects from those to

be expected elsewhere. Activists were not thwarted turn by monarchical State,

Church and

fiat,

lettres

society.

de cachet or

an

at every twist

ossified status quo in

Quite the reverse. After the Glorious

Revolution of 1688, the very statute book incorporated enlightened wish

list:

and

much

of the

freedom of the person under habeas corpus,

the rule of law, Parliament, religious toleration,

and so forth. Further-

more, unlike elsewhere, neither censorship, police ecclesiastical protocols

spies

nor petrified

stopped the articulate and ambitious from

pursuing their goals, be they experiments in free-thinking and

-living,

self-enrichment or the pursuit of pleasure. Promoters of enlightened rationality did not

need

to

within the system, giving

maxim: faber suae fortune').

ment's

Not

storm barricades, for doors swung open

some

plausibility to

quisquefortunae ('each

man

[is]

Bacon's oft-quoted

the

maker of his own

until late in the eighteenth century did the Enlighten-

new men

feel radically alienated

from the English Estab-

lishment.

Hardly

surprisingly, therefore,

one

trait

of enlightened England

was a buoyant pragmatism, underpinned by a Baconian philosophy of action.

The proof of 'pudding time'

enjoyment of well-being. Foreign

lay in the uses of freedom, the

visitors

marvelled at England's

thriving hive. 'The English are great in practical mechanics,' declared 59 while Pastor Moritz from the Swiss-American Louis Simond,

14

A

BLIND SPOT?

Prussia drgaled over English improvements,

of 'roasting "toast" \ sis

60

r

down

i^lit

of buttered bread before the

slices

Predictably, English piety

on works not words:

'religion in

the smallest villages,' envied the in hospitals for the sick,

to the

fire

.

.

.

knack called

was also esteemed for its emphaEngland,

Abbe

Prevost, 'finds

homes of refuge

and even

in towns,

for the

in

expression

its

poor and aged of

both sexes, schools for the education of the children'. 61

when on Grand Tour,

Conversely,

the enlightened British were

not slow to bridle at Continental benightedness, and were shocked

by the misery they met. Finding the peasantry of the Palatinate 'poor

and wretched', Elizabeth Montagu drew the hackneyed contrast between starving yokels and 'princes so magnificent'. 62 thinking they groan under oppression,'

lamenting the 'poverty, misery, and France'.

'I

cannot help

commented Tobias

dirt,

among

the

Smollett,

commonalty of

63

British

pragmatism was more than mere worldliness:

it

embodied

a philosophy of expediency, a dedication to the art, science

and duty

of living well in the here and now. Lord Chesterfield's commendation to his son of

hedonism and

'Our Business here

is

not to

savoir vivre finessed

know all things, but those which concern

our Conduct' - Pope's view that man'.

64

Locke's dictum that

Would it be fanciful to

'the

proper study of mankind

suggest that Prime Minister Walpole's

preferred self-presentation as 'no saint, no Spartan, no reformer'

an enlightened in

tint?

The displacement of Calvinism by a

set

opportunities,

and the

practical

scramble' of a market society,

saders

waved

this

about exploiting a commercial society pregnant with skills

needed

to drive

Modernizers faced pressing predicaments. Above

which would

had

confidence

cosmic benevolism blessed the pursuit of happiness, and to

end Britons

is

66

how could a stable

facilitate the pursuit

it.

all,

65

in the 'great

order be achieved

of happiness? Enlightened cru-

the liberty banner, legitimizing such claims through

Lockean liberalism and the moral and psychological formulae known as benevolism, sensationalism, associationism

not each

man

best

know how

and

utilitarianism.

best to pursue pleasure? 'Virtue

15

is

Did the

THE CREATION OF THE MODERN WORLD conformity to a rule of life,' explained the the actions of

Revdjohn Gay,

'directing

T

rational creatures with re spect to each other's

all

happiness.' 67 Glossing a

famous phrase from Pope's An Essay

on

Man,

another respected Anglican divine, the Revd William Paley, deemed that 'whatever

expedient

is

is

right'

- a breathtaking maxim

come

to

from the pen of a Cambridge tutor and member of the Church of England. 68 Sanctifying Priestley urged:

self-interest

most advisable

'it is

liberty to serve himself'.

69

bishop, doubted

we were

convinced that

will

to

it'.

70

And

it

egoism

and

Even

private judgement, Joseph

to leave every

at perfect

the sober Joseph Butler, later a

justified in

pursuing virtue,

be for our happiness, in practice

man

had a

or, at least,

'till

we

are

not contrary

pretty free run amidst the

trappings of what admittedly remained a confusing and cluttered hierarchy.

The endorsement from Locke to Smith of the

irryiolabjlity

of private property, and the assurance that 'the inconveniences which

have arisen to a nation from leaving trade quite open are

found expression ii

and

economic liberalism and

laissez-faire (see

71

chapters

17).

has furthermore been argued that

It

which brought, first

in

few',

at least

it

was enlightened England

amongst genteel and professional people, the

flowering of 'affective individualism' within the conjugal family:

greater exercise of choice as regards marriage partner,

some degree

of female emancipation from stern patriarchy, and for children from the parental rod (see chapters 12

and

15).

Over from France, Madame 'live in

much

Writers and

artists

du Boccage found that the daughters of the gentry less

young

constraint than

unwonted

similarly

basked

freedom

really

spinning

London concert

in

exclaimed

is!'

amongst

ladies

I

have

it

in

'How

opportunities.

Haydn

tours.

'I

sweet

this bit

of

in 1791,

on one of his money-

had a kind

prince, but sometimes

was I obliged to be dependent on base

and now

us'.

72

souls. I often

sighed for release,

some measure.' 73

This emancipation of the ego from hidebound tradition and the stern

judgementalism of

elders, family

and

peers, this rejection or

74 attenuation of the ancestral 'moral economy', was widely thought

worth the

risk

as

a feelgood factor

16

became programmed

into

BL1

A

enlightened expectations. cast off

D SP01

\

lonvictioil

(

from the old world and

set

?

grew

that the time

cape of

for a

sail

was

ipe to

r

Good Mope;

Moderns could and should outdo Ancients. The auguries were picious:

human

nature was not flawed by the

able, society improvable,

emerge from what All this

yet

dubbed man's

chimed with a new itself,

was

desir-

knowledge progressive and good would

Priestley

universe, like society

Fall; desire

aus-

'endless cravings'.

Nature

faith in

75

Newton's

at large:

was doubtless composed of myriad atoms,

ensemble comprised a harmonious and resplendent natural

its

which

order,

science

man had a right to

and the

explore and master through natural

practical arts (see chapter

6).

And

confidence also

grew about the Divine Order. God's benevolence resolved the theodicy problem: Satan was but a metaphor, evil at bottom mere error.

Providence - Smith's

'invisible

hand' - had bid

be the same in a programme of amelioration; fortunately, 'public benefits';

and

self-interest

ened. In Shaftesbury's sunny phrase: 'The

and

First

is

and Chief in nature, had made

private Interest

Good'

77

-

and Good of everyone,

or, in the less lofty

social

'private vices' were,

could also be enlight-

Wisdom it

and

to

of what rules,

be according to the

work towards the general

.

.

.

animates the world [and] gives

78

Thus heartened, Albion's their

self-love

sentiments of Frederick Eden, 'the

desire of bettering our condition

birth to every social virtue'.

to

76

polite

and commercial people

seized

chance to express themselves, to escape the iron cages of

Calvinism, custom and kinship - and even to indulge their 'whims'. 79 Acquisitiveness,

pleasure-seeking,

discovery, social climbing

emotional

and

erotic

self-

and the joys of fashion slipped the moral

and

religious straitjackets of guilt, sin

12).

Harshness towards children was relaxed, while philanthropy

kindled sympathy towards lunatics and disabled (see chapters 15

and

16).

80

and

retribution (see chapter

dumb

animals, the deaf and

Yet, enlightened elites

still

had

to

prove that self-emancipation and pleasure-seeking could actually be ventured without precipitating the moral ruin and social chaos widely feared.

Sodom and Gomorrah, Babylon and Rome -

lapsed; the pious bloodshed of the Civil

17

War and

all

had

col-

Interregnum had

THE CREATION OF THE MODERN WORLD deep

left

and the

scars;

salutary reminder of how

the bottle,

libertinism of the Cavalier

Court was a

hedonism not only destroyed

itself through

pox or pistol, but

also

meant

sinister alliances

Hobbes had hurled down a

tyranny.

incurably

more than Divine Right kingship or

Hobbism an option Hence

the

man was excesses? No

challenge: since

could not Leviathan alone curb his

selfish,

with Popish

the theocracy of saints

admissible to enlightened minds.

problem

lay in ensuring that private fulfilment did not

subvert public orderliness.

And any proposed

solution

had

into account certain singular features of English society. thing, tion,

having bid absolutism good riddance

enlightened

Rowdy

was

elites

at the Glorious

to take

For one Revolu-

were confronted with a truculent populace. 81

street politics,

mused

the Prussian

Johann Wilhelm von

Archenholz, was the price the nation paid for freedom: 'The idea of liberty,'

he wrote, 'and the consciousness of protection from the laws,

are the reasons

why the

their superiors.'

humoured.

we

82

people in general

Subjects

who

testify

could not be

but

little

respect for

hammered had

to

be

Madame du Boccage did not mince her words: 'In France

cringe to the great, in England the great cringe to the people.' 83

Furthermore, England's free market economy,

itself

fanned by

enlightened individualism, depended on consumerism permeating

down through

the social strata.

With

the renaissance of provincial

towns, the growth of communications and service industries and the

commercialization of news, information and

leisure,

an expanding

public hankered to participate in pleasures traditionally exclusive to the elite (see chapter n).

about England,

'that

'It is

evident,' observed

man, whatever he may

be,

Madame Roland is

here reckoned

84 something, and that a handful of rich does not constitute the nation.'

It

was under these circumstances, with plaudits

to

freedom pealing

out from Parliament, press and pulpit, that opinion-makers spelt out their strategies for fabric. ists

accommodating egoism within a

stable social

One choice lay in embracing inclusiveness. Whilst propagand-

spoke for propertied and privileged

which espoused universalism: attribute enjoyed

elites, theirs

was an ideology

potentially, at least, reason

by the whole nation, including 18

was an

women and

the

BLIND SP01

I

plebs. in

The

best bid for

accommodation and harmony would

assimilating the 'people' within the 'public'

qualified themselves for entry

by

that

all,

thus

lie

who

is,

their industry, civility, affluence or

manifest loyalty. Impossible to impose by the sword, order might

thereby be achieved through what

under the law, meritocratic expectations.

social mobility, the reduction of civil

The

and

allegiance

ized: religious fanatics,

game were

Qbdurate lawbreakers and the

would be subjected

to

who

be stigmat-

idle

to increasingly severe

and

rising

corollary of this was, of course, that those

could not or would not play the conformity serving poor

styled 'opinion', equality

and the manipulation of

religious disabilities 85

Hume

and unde-

measures of

disapproval and discipline. 86 But in a society dismissive of predestination

and doubtful about ancestral pedigree per se, few aspirant males

were automatically debarred by birth or blood. Enlightened opinion tried out various strategies for achieving inclusiveness.

One

involved philanthropy and 'paternalism'. 87

The

needy and the 'unfortunate' could be bought off by a humanitarianism realized in schools, hospitals, dispensaries, asylums, reformatories

and other charitable lay in fostering sensibility (see

outlets.

The beauty of such

amongst the

chapter

16).

bien pensants

enlightened largesse

the glow of a superior

88

Another assimilation strategy lay Foreigners were astonished to see

in displays of social openness.

how

the 'Quality' consented to

mingle with, rather than seclude themselves from, the nation at large.

The

hustings, sporting events, spas, pleasure gardens

parades -

all

encouraged

social concourse. It startled the Prussian

Carl Philip Moritz to find that in England

uniform but dress as

Park so

St James's

of people.'

London's

The French

resorts:

both sexes, and cricket?

civilians'.

special,

and urban

'officers

do not go

in

Having puzzled over what made

he concluded:

traveller P. J.

'It is

the astonishing medley

Grosley reacted similarly to

'The pleasures of Vauxhall and Ranelagh unite

all

ranks and conditions.'

'Everyone plays

it,'

common people and also men

And what was

it

about

Cesar de Saussure concluded, of rank.'

Why, responded Louis Simond,

it

And the

'the

English stagecoach?

contained 'passengers of all sexes,

THE CREATION OF THE MODERN WORLD and

ages,

conditions'. Likewise the coffee house: '[W]hat a lesson,'

remarked the Abbe Prevost, shoemaker, a

a lord, or two, a baronet, a

'to see

a wine-merchant, and a few others of the same

tailor,

stamp poring over the same newspapers. Truly the coffee houses are the seats of English liberty.'

.

.

.

89

While historians point to a widening gulf between elite and popular culture, 90 in

outrageous

England counter-currents were

hamming went on

dees, flouncing

around

at

also at work.

Vauxhall or

at the hustings,

social success to hopefuls like

modern

but

much

of

partiality for

and preening. Enlightened

display, fashion

doubt

in the public theatricals of the gran-

the population expected to participate in the

amusement,

No

fables sold

William Hogarth's 'industrious appren-

while improving books for children courted those

tice',

Who from a State And

of Rags and Care,

having Shoes but half a Pair;

Their Fortune and their

And

gallop in a

Fame would

Coach and

Six.

fix,

91

Carrots lured those bent on embourgeoisement: the Lord Mayor's coach, Archdeacon Paley noted, was not for society's entree

tain

-

into a

to fire the prentice boy's ambition.

his benefit,

Money

92

modern commercial dream world which

led

but for

offered

all

an

to enter-

hopes and allowed quite a few to realize them.

In

what seemed,

especially to foreigners, a society perilously short

of legal and regal subordination, integrative gestures also marked other enlightened strategies. As will strands were

woven

become

clear, reconciliatory

into enlightened discourse

-

confidence in the

money and gentility, self-love science and religion, even men and women. The tragic

compatibility of individual and society,

and conscience,

mind

set

of Stoicism and the otherworldly fixations of Christianity

yielded to a faith in man's temporal capacity to remould himself and, in the course of time,

surmount dichotomies. Whereas Christian

humanism gloried in arduous choice - witness Samson Agonistes or Rasselas - the enlightened always wanted, nay, expected to have their cake and eat

it.

20

BLIND SPOT?

A

Addressing nagging fears that individualism would dig grave,

it

has here been suggested that one bid for

and market

Another

forces.

were doubtless hurled

jumbo which - but

ation to

to

social roles

lay in putting confidence in a validating

framework of natural order and darts

own

harmony was

emerge from

vest faith in the equilibrium expected to

its

religio-ethical teachings. Critical

metaphysical

at the so-called

legitimized oppression

- be

it

mumbo-

Platonism or predestin-

there were very few utter cynics or sceptics determined

deny cosmic truth

altogether. 93

There was a

desire to destabilize

and dismantle, yet we must never scant the enlightened

desire to

replace exploded systems with a superior orderliness, the urge not just to

probe and puncture but to prove, preach and prescribe.

Obsolete teachings were rejected, partly for being untrue, but chiefly

had patently - witness

because, whilst promising godly order, they the

Wars of Religion -

To

failed to deliver.

enlightened minds, the past was a nightmare of barbarism and

bigotry: fanaticism

had precipitated bloody

of Charles Stuart, that

man

repudiated old militancy for

modern

civility.

had divided brother from brother, must England's

saw

and peaceful

'free

this

benefit of

could people

sword of the

saints

cease; rudeness

had

happening before

his

which

to yield

very eyes in

in London, a place

more venerable than

mankind. There the Jew, the Mahometan, and the Christian all

profess'd the

same

religion,

and

give the

of Infidel to none but bankrupts. There the Presbyterian confides in

the Anabaptist, all

how

of justice, where the representatives of all nations meet for the

transact together as tho' they

name

But

assemblies':

Take a view of the Royal Exchange

many courts

the axing

of blood, in 1649. Enlightened opinion

adjust to each other? Sectarianism, that

to refinement. Voltaire

war and

civil

and the Churchman depends on the Quaker's word. And

are satisfied. 94

This passage squares with the enlightened belief that commerce

would unite those

men

content,

differ

- the

whom creeds set asunder.

and content

philosophe

to

be content -

Moreover, by depicting

differing,

but agreeing to

pointed towards a rethinking of the summum

21

THE CREATION

THE MODERN WORLD

OF,

bonum, a shift from God-fearingness to a selfhood ally oriented.

tion

The Enlightenment

'How can I be

thus translated the ultimate ques-

saved?' into the pragmatic

- thereby heralding a

new praxis

more psychologic-

T

f

'How can I be happy?'

of personal and social adjustment.

This accent on refinement was no footling obsession with petty punctilio;

was a desperate remedy meant

it

to heal the chronic social

and personal traumas stemming from

conflict

civil

and domestic

tyranny and topsy-turvy social values. Politeness could be taught by education - Locke and his successors stressed 'learning in the uses of the world'

James

- and perfected by

Boswell, 'of living easy

'The great

practice.

and happy

in society

is

art,'

preached

to study

proper

behaviour, and even with our most intimate friends, to observe politeness.'

Above

95

(That raucous drunk never learned.)

was to be a function of energetic sociability. Solitude 'one of the greatest obstacles to 96 pleasure and improvement' bred hypochondria: cooped up in his all,

the refinement of the self

study, the costive scholar

David Hartley, 'can

succumbed to

easily

spleen. '[NJothing,' deplored

exceed the Vain-glory, Self-conceit, Arro-

gance, Emulation, and Envy, that are found in the eminent Professors

of the Sciences.' 97 or, in

To be enlightened, a gentleman had to be sociable,

Johnson's coinage, 'clubbable' (and the Great Cham's

Literary

Club boasted the top minds of the

day).

Clubs

like

own

Mr

masonic lodges, taverns, coffee houses and friendly - miniature free republics of rational society - sprang up to

Spectator's, societies

promote fellowship and good feeling. 98 And the enlightened set about devising the arts

and

crafts

of pleasing.

Human nature was malleable;

people must cheerfully accommodate each other; good breeding, conversation and discreet

overcome

charm were

the lubricants which

social friction, contributing 'as

Ease and Happiness of Mankind'.

99

of amicable

collision.'

The

as possible to the

'We polish one another,' reflected

Shaftesbury, 'and rub off our corners 100

much

would

and rough

rational arts of ease,

sides

by a

sort

good humour,

sympathy, restraint and moderation, based upon acceptance of

human

nature -

all

marked

the

new

felicific

formulae. 101 This book

will stress these distinctively British enlightening strategies: the drive

22

A

BLIND SP01

not to subvert the system, hut to secure satisfaction

and

it

?

so as to achieve individual

collective stability, within the post-

1

688 framework.

Regardless of the fortunes of this or that ideology, a deeper trans-

formation was afoot: the

rise

and triumph of lay and secular public

opinion, the fourth estate, the information society, involving the birth, infancy sia.

102

Many

and troubled adolescence of the modern

features

mark

Britain's

doxical anti-intellectualism), which

men

of

make

intelligent-

letters (notably

a para-

when

seen in

sense only

terms of the unique circumstances of the Enlightenment's birth pangs. Enlightened opinion-makers gazed

upon

their navels,

pon-

dering their self-identity and their strategies for the seduction of society

by the printed word -

pricked their pretensions.

as did such satirists as Swift,

who

The pen is mightier than the sword, Bulwer

Lytton was soon to proclaim; that apergu would have sounded more curious

still

without the enlightenment experience. 103

23

2

,

r

THE BIRTH OF AN IDEOLOGY 'Tis well

And

an Old Age

is

out,

time to begin a New.

JOHN DRYDEN

I

am

1

here in a country which hardly resembles the rest of

Europe. This nation individual

is

is

passionately fond of liberty

.

.

every

.

independent.

MONTESQUIEU 2

The half-century after tions to British civil strife

power

politics

1660 brought decisive transforma-

and

its

clashing ideologies. Years of

led to the beheading of the Lord's anointed, Charles

30 January 1649,

me

on

I,

establishment of a republic, the abolition of the

House of Lords and

the

Bench of Bishops, and

to the rule of the

Major Generals and Cromwell's doomed Protectorate - events which drove the young John Locke to despair of land'.

3

During the Interregnum, England's

been bruised and battered, ravaged by

as

'this

great

Bedlam Enghad

traditional governors

God's own nation was redeemed or

New Model Army

pikemen,

chiliastic

preachers and

antinomian agitators advancing 'New Jerusalem' schemes which

ranged from the communism of the Diggers

Hence

to

free love.

the audible relief at the Restoration. 'Never so joyfull a day,'

John Evelyn recorded London:

'I

in his diary the

day Charles

stood in the Strand and beheld

it

travels; the old political nation

in the Cavalier

was bent on

Parliament

this

24

II

rode into

and blessed God.' 4

was not only the King who hoped never again

many

Ranter

to

have

to

go on

his

and

for

stabilization,

meant vengeance

It

against

and

HE SIR

7

repression of those

who had

doing so again.

-

tin

l

\

IDE OLOG

2

ned the world upside-down and, as

5

Measures were passed

eges.

01

II

Monarchist Rising showed, had every intention of

the [662 Fifth

Church was

I

to

restored, with

ram

its

the lid back on.

bishops, courts

The

Censorship was reimposed.

The Anglican

and most of its

so-called

privil-

Clarendon Code

the Corporation Act (1661), the Act of Uniformity (1662), the

Conventicle Act (1662), the Five Mile Act (1665) and the Test Acts ~~

(166 1, 1673)

harassed non- Anglicans, curbing their rights to preach,

teach and hold all

clergy

ity to

office.

The Act

of Uniformity, for example, required

and schoolmasters to subscribe

the Anglican liturgy

and

to a declaration of conform-

6 to forswear disloyal oaths.

The

next

decades saw the apogee of Divine Right preaching and of royal

Thomas Hobbes might be

thaumaturgical healing. nate, but

the Devil incar-

he was hardly alone in looking to a mighty sovereign to end

feuding and fanaticism. 7 In

some ways,

the Restoration worked. Building

recent conquests overseas, trade prospered.

on Cromwell's

The Court exuded

a

louche brilliance and the 'Merrie Monarch' a winning charm, at

who had

least for those

Culturally

and

loathed the Puritan Zeal-of-the-land-busies.

artistically,

work of Wren, Gibbons,

a dazzling half-century followed, with the

Lely, Kneller, Purcell,

and the dramas of

Dryden, Aphra Behn, Etheridge, Wycherley, Congreve, Vanbrugh

and Farquhar, 8 while the Royal to best the

world

in science.

Society, chartered in 1662,

promised

9

Restoring order, however, proved easier said than done. Interreg-

num England had grown fatally scores to settle. No realist could would now

flock

many

- an

and everyone had

expect that the entire kingdom

back into the Anglican

Catholicism, while sectarian roots

factionalized,

fold; the

Court dallied with

of the middling sort had put

identity given

down

permanence once the

sturdy

repressive

Clarendon Code alienated even mainstream Protestant dissent. icians locked

horns over law and

Polit-

liberty, the religious settlement,

Crown- Parliament relations and foreign alignments. As commercial policy began to count for more to what was becoming a 'trading 25

THE CREATION OF THE MODERN WORLD XIV's militarism grew more threatening, discord

nation', "and Louis

deepened and

parties formed. 10

Meanwhile, Charles was playing with

His Declaration of

fire.

Indulgence (1672) opportunistically suspended statutes against Nonconformists and Catholics - a measure he was soon forced to rescind,

but which inevitably deepened debates over the accommodation

A little before, he had

('comprehension') or the muzzling of dissent. 11

acted treacherously, in the secret clauses of the Treaty of Dover (1670),

by providing

for England's conversion to Catholicism in

Sun King's

return for the

gold, in a

move meant

independence from Parliament. Smelling a Whigs, led by the Earl of Shaftesbury,

fell

rat,

to secure

Crown

more extreme

the

to conspiracies, desperate

at all costs to stave off re-Catholicization.

This clove the

political

was

nation: the succession of Charles IFs Papist brother, James,

feared since

posed palpable threats

it

to Protestantism,

was whipped up by the fabricated 'Popish

Plot'.

and

hysteria

Radical Whigs

resorted to desperate measures in the Exclusion Crisis, backing the

succession of the

Duke of Monmouth,

at least Protestant, son.

Charles's illegitimate, but

Spying was met by counter-espionage,

12

accusation by counter-charge. Outmanoeuvred, Shaftesbury

and

his secretary, John

them, found refuge

Locke, joined him in

in the

Dutch

exile.

republic, that

fled,

Radicals who,

like

hotbed of dissidence,

conspired with emigres from France, especially after Louis' Revocation of the Edict of Nantes (1685) created a Huguenot diaspora which fed pan-Protestant paranoia.

Contained

in the twilight years of Charles's reign, crisis erupted

after James IPs accession in 1685.

ously at

Sedgemoor but,

in the

Monmouth's

revolt

ended

wake of that debacle, the

inglori-

arbitrariness

of royal repression alienated top politicians and bishops, mighty aristocrats,

urban corporations and the

servatives temporarily in

universities.

Natural con-

found themselves bedfellows with hotheads

repudiating a regime contemptuous of legality and rights, one

increasingly ruling through prerogative

When James's

consort,

Mary

and smelling of Popery.

of Modena, belatedly gave birth to an

heir (spurious, according to the 'warming-pan legend'), events

26

were

7

HE

IU R

l

II

F

\

I

I

DEO LOG

I

triggered which led to an invitation to William of Orange, the

and

stadtholder, to invade

Yet James's 'abdication'

eject James Stuart.

Dutch

11

in the bloodless 'Glorious

Revolution' of

November 1688 sparked as many problems as it solved. The Bill of Rights, imposed upon William in the Revolutionary Settlement as a condition for his accession to the throne, guaranteed regular (triennial)

and property, broad

parliaments, security of person

for Protestants

and other freedoms. In

basic instincts, the political nation

contrary to

effect,

had been

toleration

driven, in the

own name of its

safeguarding rights and religion, to pass measures which, at the Restoration,

would

certainly have

been regarded

unsettling. Stuart folly, parliamentary factionalism

as dangerously

and the

fickleness

of fate had brought about what proved an irreversible liberalization of the constitution - one which most of the

elite

wanted

to

be

final.

14

Yet, the genie was out of the bottle once again, as during the

Interregnum; the demons raised by James could not be silenced.

Quite the reverse. office

was up

The

post- 1688 political

for grabs, allegiances

were

machinery was untried,

volatile

and the

principles

and policies of William and Mary's regime became matters of raging controversy. Radical arguments repudiating Divine Right

archalism

15

had been enunciated to

then the expulsion reign

and

rule?

of,

Had

nation? If so, did that

rationalize

James. But by what

first

title

and patri-

resistance to,

and

did William himself

such a right been conferred upon him by the

amount to popular sovereignty?

If a 'Protestant

wind' had blown him to Torbay in 1688, did Providence bless each

and every

victorious usurper?

Could

prelates

who had broken

their

sacred oaths of allegiance to James then in conscience swear fealty to

William?

Moreover, 1688 could nowise be a

final solution.

ter-coups long remained threatening.

16

Jacobite coun-

Orangism dragged England

into the 'world war' against France, that finale of the

Religion. William's strategic senters put the

Wars of

rapprochement with Protestant Dis-

Church of England under ever

greater strain,

religious tensions intensified with the arrival of some

not refugees, fanning anti-Catholic panic.

27

The

and

80,000 Hugue-

'pacification'

of

THE CREATION OF THE MODERN WORLD and the expansion

Ireland, the cost of William's 'grand alliance' wars

of the executive and standing

army

(serving,

T

many

averred,

rather than British interests) further deepened divisions.

cooled somewhat with the

If things

Queen Anne, her own

failure to

less

and on whose

controversial reign of

produce a surviving heir reopened

- who was

the succession sore. Questions of principle successor,

Dutch

17

the legitimate

- became inseparable from

say-so?

the

jockeyings of Whigs and Tories to gain and retain the ever fatter

of

spoils

18

office.

The

post-1688 years hence brought the 'rage of

party' in a 'divided nation' split over the fundamentals of

Church

King and Parliament, Whig and Tory, High and Low Church, subject and citizen - satirized by Swift in terms of Big

and

State,

and

Little

Enders.

momentous

And

all

these controversies were occurring

and economic change

institutional

foundation of the Bank of England (1694), the

at

home, with the

new money markets

and the Stock Exchange, and the mushrooming of the state'

19

-

all

amid

'fiscal

against a backdrop of a ravaged, war-torn

which the Protestant cause sometimes seemed

military

Europe

in

close to ruin at the

hands of the dreaded Sun King.

These times of crisis brought pamphlets,

ganda

galore,

emicists. It

the

1

from

was

all

sides

and

penned by

slants,

damning tyranny and

priestcraft in the

ate the will

momentous

be helpful

20

advanced

especially

by

21

intellectual

first

to

consequences of these developments,

examine the radicalization ofJohn Locke. 22

Restoration found Locke holding a 'studentship'

fellowship) at Christ

names of

who formed the 'Country' faction. To appreci-

those militant Whigs

Church, Oxford. Somerset-born

been ten years old when I

brilliant pol-

680s that formed the catalyst of enlightenment, unleashing

freedom, property, autonomy and reason,

The

and other propa-

crescendo of religio-political controversy from

this

volleys of polemics

it

prints

his father

and twenty-one when he thus

from Heav'n a finish'd hero the Interregnum turmoil,

fell.'

and

had taken up arms

(in effect,

in 1632,

a

he had

against Charles

saluted Oliver Cromwell: 'You, Sir, 23

Though of Puritan stock, he hated

his early thinking

28

took a conservative

I

turn, prizing order

Government'

HE

HI R

above

(written in

I

II

all,

OF AN I DEO LOG!

as

evident from his

is

'

Two

Tracts on

1660-61 but not published), which cham-

pioned passive obedience and upheld the magistrate's right to impose religious uniformity.

24

Declining to take holy orders, Locke became physician and secretary to

Lord Ashley

Trade during

(later Shaftesbury),

his master's chancellorship

Inescapably entangled in exclusionist Shaftesbury cook up the 'Popish

Rye House

Plot (1682), he

Plot'.

of the Exchequer in 1672.

politics,

Under

burned or buried

In Rotterdam he

liberal

helped

surveillance after the

papers and fled to

withdrawn on royal

in with conspiring

fell

and the Remonstrants, those

may have

he

his

the United Provinces, his studentship being

command.

on the Council of

serving

Whig

refugees

Dutch Nonconformists who

upheld a minimal religious creed; moving to Utrecht, he was again at the thick

the

of intrigues, probably advising Viscount Mordaunt on

Monmouth

when James

II

Rebellion,

and being ordered out of town

in 1686

sought his extradition along with other suspects.

Returning to England after the Glorious Revolution, Locke played a central role in Treatises

its

vindication, publishing

of Government (1690), a radical

anonymously the Two

work written

at the

time of

the Exclusion Crisis in order to legitimize rebellion in terms of

a contractual theory of government (see chapter

8).

25

He

exerted

considerable sway as adviser to the Junto Whigs, Somers, Halifax

and Mordaunt. As an Excise commissioner, he became growing

fiscal

bureaucracy; serving on the Board of Trade, he was

was

energetic in commercial policy; he the

active in the

Bank of England,

also

an original subscriber

while, together with Halifax

to

and Isaac Newton,

he presided over the 'great recoinage' of 1694-6. Enlightened thinkers liked to view philosophers as piloting the ship of state:

Locke

provided the perfect prototype.

Over the course of forty years, had undergone a profound

the habitually watchful philosopher

radicalization,

one indicative of how bold

minds were driven by darkening times into enlightened convictions.

Back

in the early 1660s, fearing religious turmoil,

champion of order and obedience

in

29

Church and

Locke had been a State.

Responding

THE CREATION OF THE MODERN WORLD he turned into the leading theorist of toleration:

to circumstances,

Locke unfolded antij nnatis t arguments'

in the Essay concerning

Understanding (1690) (see the discussion in chapter on Government spelt out theories of

the right of resistance;

became, almost

and

3);

Two

his

Human

Treatises

government accountability and

his religious

orthodoxy crumbled as he

certainly, a closet Unitarian (see chapter

5).

In short,

the Restoration conservative turned into a philosophical radical.

think that both Locke atheists as Spinoza,' sity

and

my

Lord Shaftesbury were

'I

as ^rrant

an informant told Dr Charlett, master of Univer-

damned as a man Oxford Tory Thomas Hearne. 26

College, Oxford, in 1706, while Locke was also

of Very bad principles' by the

Appraising these decisive decades, the distinguished American

his-

torian Margaret

first

found voice

Jacob has claimed

that enlightened thinking

in the contexts of these domestic politico-religious broils

and of the Sun King's imperial ambitions. Naming 1689 as its nativity, she has declared that 'the Enlightenment at large, in both

and

radical forms,

began

in

its

moderate

England' with the Glorious Revolution,

following hard on the heels of Isaac Newton's Principia (1687). 27 While finessing her formulations over the years, 28

situated the

and

movement's onset

intellectual revolution,

Jacob has

consistently

in that conjunction of political crisis

buoyed up by the stimulating

social

atmosphere provided by swarms of refugees, pamphlet wars, coffee houses and clubs, and the international

Luck and

logic

meant

that with

web

of the republic of letters.

George Ps succession

in 1714, the

subsequent botched Jacobite invasion and the resulting entrench-

ment of the Hanoverian Constitutional

and

dynasty, progressive ideologies triumphed.

politico-religious liberties

the personal powers of the

were vindicated, and

Crown and the pretensions

bishops were curbed in what proved an unshakeable

of High-flying

commitment

the quadruple alliance of freedom, Protestantism, patriotism prosperity.

29

to

and

This chain of events produced strange kinks, however:

progressive thinkers, hitherto automatically oppositional,

themselves brokers of power under the

new dynasty.

30

now found

No longer did

they have to fear constant harassment, for most opinions could be

30

7

HE

IU HI

OF

II

A V I

DEO LOG

)

published with impunity once the lapse of the Licensing Aei put an

end

to pre-publication censorship.

phemy, obscenity and

and

the situation

was

light years

Spain or almost anywhere

by Locke

in exile.

print wars

31

(

f

}

laws against blas-

remained on the

seditious libel

offensive publications could

Though

\^

statute book,

be presented before the courts,

still

away from

that obtaining in France,

else in ancien regime

Europe - or that faced

This exceptional freedom of expression sparked

which gave the

minds

battles for

and which led enlightened

their

enduring energies,

devour

activists ultimately to

their

own

parents.

In these circumstances, enlightened ideologies were to assume a

unique inflection in England: one quo than to vindicate

low.

it

concerned to lambast the

less

against adversaries

left

and

right,

Poachers were turning gamekeepers; implacable

status

high and critics

of

now became something more like apologists for them; those who had held that power corrupted now found themselves, with the advent of political stabilization, praising the Whig regime as the princes

bulwark of Protestant liberties. These are paradoxes which have been brilliantly teased

out by the historian John Pocock.

In a series of distinguished writings, Pocock has analysed the

advanced discourses which vindicated the post- 1688 and post- 17 14 settlements against the motley

senting enthusiasts

mix of Jacobites,

and 'Good Old Cause' republicans seemingly

threatening to drag Britain back into Sights trained

civil strife

and wars of

on the school of Peter Gay, he challenges

of Enlightenment as radical liberation which has

speak of an English Enlightenment at

were uniquely able

to enjoy

all'.

32

be crushed.

33

The

'the

made

it

faith.

paradigm so hard to

English, in his view,

an enlightenment without

precisely because, at least after 1714, there to

High-flyers, Dis-

philosophes

was no longer any

infame

Since a broadly liberalized regime was already in

power, what was chiefly required was

its

the ghosts of Laud, Strafford ('Black Hostility to religion as such

defence against diehards and

Tom

Tyrant')

and Cromwell.

would have been misplaced because,

the Act of Toleration (1689), faith functioned within the

what Locke memorably dubbed

'the reasonableness

after

framework of

of Christianity'.

THE CREATION OF THE MODERN WORLD There was no further need

to

contemplate regicide because Great

was already a mixed monarchy, with

Britain

inbuilt constitutional

checks on the royal

will;

nobility, since they

had abandoned feudalism

Pocock

nor would radicals howl to string up the for finance.

What

was thus a

tentatively calls the 'conservative enlightenment'

holding operation, rationalizing the post- 1688 settlement, pathologizing

its

and

enemies and dangling seductive prospects of future security

prosperity.

established

The Enlightenment became

became

enlightened.

established

and the

34

A seemingly paradoxical instance of an intellectual vanguard vindicating the status quo, the English Enlightenment derived

Pocock holds, from the reaction Stuart century;

it

identity,

to the traumatic experiences of the

was the ideology of a post-Puritan ruling order

which made England both the most modern and most counter-revolutionary tively,

its

state in

Europe.

(eventually) the

Or, more provoca-

35

being too modern to need an Enlightenment', England 'was c

already engaged

upon

the quarrel with modernity

itself.'

36

Especially

after 17 14, enlightened ideologues thus enlisted in defence of the

Whig

new

1 order, one perpetuating certain features of the ancien regime*

but notably unlike the other great monarchies.

Supplementing such views, Margaret Jacob has further shown

how the Newtonian

universe was recruited to bolster the

tutional order against

its

foes.

38

Repudiating

new consti-

alike the scandalous

materialism of Hobbes and Spinoza and also the outmoded occultism

of the sectaries, Newtonian cosmology afforded the perfect paradigm for a

modern,

caprice.

39

stable,

God and

harmonious Christian

polity ruled

by law, not

the Georges were the constitutional

respectively of the universe

and the

nation.

A

garden

monarchs laid out at

Richmond by George IPs consort, Queen Caroline, rooted these new teachings in busts of Newton, Samuel Clarke and Locke, planted there because 'they were the Glory of their Country,

Dignity on

Human Nature';

they would serve as expressions of faith

in the trinity of experimental science, rational religion

principles.

and stamp'd a

and Revolution

40

This realignment of enlightened propaganda so as to validate the

32

7

HE

HI R

l

II

OF AJ\ I DEO LOG

Georgian order naturally sparked thinkers.

41

Dissenting voices

'Good Old Cause'

fierce-

1714

enough

far

Ideological affinities ironically

who had been

the Tories,

by Walpole

'country' or 'true' Whigs,

alarmed and outraged

radicals

had not gone

among advanced

divisions

came from

growth of patronage, placemen and

and

\

politicking, in

at the pestiferous

adamant

muzzling throne and

emerged between such

Tory

altar.

agitators

so deftly outflanked after 17 14.

into long-term opposition,

that 1688

and

Cornered

wits sported a libertar-

ianism of their own: Jonathan Swift, otherwise the great scourge of the trendy

was

literati,

all his cry'.

42

could carve as his political epitaph: 'Fair liberty

Such a

pilfering of liberal clothes does not, of

course, turn the Tories into Enlightenment

the

quick-change

men,

it

merely reveals

masquerading of an age when enlightened

propagandists providentially found themselves, for once, calling the shots.

Rancorous

in the extreme, late Stuart

and

early

ideological enmities did not then just peter out: there

Hanoverian

was no 'end of

Throughout the century, self-styled progressives wage war - sometimes phoney - on darkness and

ideology' slumber.

continued to

despotism; indeed, there continued to be droves of dyed-in-the-wool

Non-Jurors, Jacobites, Tories, anti-Newtonians and anti-Lockeans, while Oxford remained a den of disaffection

were not ably

all

born

losers).

43

(its

classic lost causes

Moreover, enlightened

made new enemies - not just peppery wits,

publicists inevit-

congenital naysayers

and doomsters, but Methodists and Evangelicals convinced rational religion in a mechanical universe

was the

slippery slope

towards unbelief and anarchy. Meanwhile, enlightened tinued

down

critics

con-

the decades to target the citadels of power, as with

Jeremy Bentham's exposures of the arcana of the logic of rational religion did

law. For some, the

indeed inexorably lead to rejection of

Christianity, while the radical distrust of power authorized

and others might teach evil.

that

that

government

how

Later chapters will explore

continued to track

new

monsters. *

33

itself

by Locke

was an unnecessary

the sleuths of enlightenment

THE CREA TION

THE MODERN WORLD

OF,

As the new century dawned and the Act of Union was signed (1707), the Moderns could thus pride themselves upon living in the light, because Great Britain's constitutional and

seemed

framework

guarantee fundamental freedoms. There were other

to

grounds, too, for self-congratulation. just with

ecclesiastical

The times seemed pregnant not

change but with improvement, and halcyon days beckoned:

would not

and the new

trade, industry, enterprise

sparkling contrast to

all

that

was passe, vulgar or

science spell a

rustic?

The civilizations of Greece and Rome were still, of course, revered; nearer home, however, lay the conspicuous success story of the

Golden Age Dutch Sir

republic, acclaimed

William Temple;

44

by such respected

figures as

and, though progress was far from uniform,

many declared that England, too - if not yet Scotland - was enjoying rapid and remarkable commercial changes and bourgeois

developments driven by and especially

enrichment,

London, headquarters of print, pleasure and

London dominated city

is

now what

'the seat

Britain as

ancient

Rome

self-

visible

in

politeness.

no other European

capital: 'This

once was,' boasted the London

Guide;

of Liberty, the encourager of arts, and the admiration of the

whole world.' 45

And

not only was enlightenment overwhelmingly a

metropolitan bloom but, within the city

itself,

the axis of culture

was

itself shifting.

The

arts

had always been watered by

ecclesiastical, royal

and

noble patronage; the pre-Reformation Church had commissioned artworks,

and courtly

culture

had found expression

in lavish cere-

monial, in exquisite art collections and in splendid edifices Jones's Whitehall Banqueting House.

46

From

like

Inigo

the late seventeenth

century, however, the cultural centre of gravity was conspicuously

migrating away from Court into metropolitan spaces at large - into coffee houses, taverns, learned societies, salons, assembly rooms,

debating clubs, theatres, galleries and concert rooms; formerly the

minions of monarchy, the

arts

and letters were to become the consorts

47 of commerce and the citizenry.

Between the Restoration and George years later, culture

became one of the 34

Ill's

coronation a hundred

capital's

key growth

sectors.

THE BIRTH Swarms of promoters,

W

0/

IDE0L0G1

publishers, journalists

and middlemen looked

openings, employment and profit not only, and certainly no

for

longer primarily, to the King and his courtiers - the

Georges were either boorish or stingy - but

and

society clienteles. This shift

three

first

to chocolate house, club

from Court

to

Town

helped make

London

the metropolis ajajnqde. Visitors marvelled at the ceaseless

throb of

activity, the flutter

of news, personalities, fashion, talk and

diversion to be found from Cheapside to Chelsea.

They were

ished by the bustle of the rebuilt post-Fire City to the east, the

sumptuous display of the developing West End, by the

aston-

and by brilliant

shops around the Strand and Piccadilly, by theatres and exhibitions,

exchanges and markets, the river teeming with shipping and royal

The capital became a non-stop

parks shimmering with promenaders.

parade, bursting with

sites for

culture-watchers, a festival of the

senses offering convivial, culinary

pleasure gardens

be

made - and

right in

in

its

taverns,

and bagnios, places where fame and fortune could

lost.

Georgian

and sexual pleasures

48

art

London became a

and thought,

Here malice, rapine,

And now

Here

And

the

falling

fell

its

own

often cast in the villain's role:

accident, conspire,

a rabble rages,

Their ambush here

And here

if

lead character in

now

a

fire;

relentless ruffians lay,

attorney prowls for prey;

houses thunder on your head,

here a female atheist talks you dead. 49

As an addictive imaginary space, London was endlessly praised or pilloried

by

essayists like

Addison, Steele and Defoe, by Pope, Swift,

Gay, Fielding and other poets and

novelists,

and by

Hogarth: Londoners evidentiy could not get enough.

artists like

50

Seminal for news, novelty and gossip were the coffee houses.

That Restoration innovation spread rapidly, a 1739 survey finding a staggering tally of 551 - ten times more than in Vienna! - to say nothing of the 447 taverns and 207 inns also in the capital. they sprang up around the Royal Exchange and the in the City, serving as clearing

Initially

Custom House

houses for news, foreign and domestic.

35

THE CREATION OF THE MODERN WORLD Clients -of the East India institutions (including,

their deals

amid

Company and

financial

T

from 1694, the *Bank of England) clinched

the smoke. Lloyd's coffee house

become

Street in 1691 to

booming

other

moved to Lombard

the focus of marine insurance, while the

tragicomedy of the South Sea Bubble was played out in and around Jonathan's and Garraway's in Exchange Alley. 51 If business

became

provided the

initial rationale,

crucial to cultural networking.

the coffee house soon

Dryden held court at Will's

in

Covent Garden, where Pope was later an habitue; Addison patronized nearby Button's, and the Tory wits went to the Smyrna Mall.

The Bedford was popular

St Martin's

Lane became the

Edinburgh cronies gathered Cross.

52

with thespians; Old Slaughter's in

artists'

haunt; and,

had

its

when

at the British coffee house,

Newspapers and pamphlets were

coffee house even

own

in Pall

library

laid

- while

on -

critics

in

London,

by Charing

the Chapter

held forth and

debates raged on the latest opera, political squib, Court scandal or

news

heretical sermon. Taverns, too, functioned as

centres. 'Ask

any landlord why he takes the newspapers,' pronounced the young William Cobbett,

later in the century, 'he'll tell

you that

it

attracts

people to his house.' 53 All such institutions thus worked to put their clienteles in the

declared are

TTie

commercial

'What

Craftsman magazine; 'our Coffee-houses

of them.'

full

54

The happy conjunction

outlet tailor-made for

attracts

enormously

and other public 'all

know: 'We are become a Nation of Statesmen,'

and Taverns

of culture-seekers and a

them was

plain to foreigners.

in these coffee-houses are the gazettes

papers,' wrote the Swiss visitor Cesar de Saussure;

Englishmen are great newsmongers.

Workmen

habitually begin

55 the day by going to coffee-rooms in order to read the latest news.'

The

Irish

clergyman Dr Thomas Campbell noted

specimen of English freedom', when

some of his saws under glass of

his

arm, came

'a

Chapter

'a

whitesmith in his apron

&

in, sat

at the

down and

called for his

punch and the paper, both of which he used with

as

much

56 ease as a Lord'.

The

coffee house served as the prototype of the club,

which were modelled on the

fictional

36

many

of

specimen immortalized in the

7

Spectator.

(

HE BIR1

or

ii

\

IDE0L0G1

2,000 clubs and other societies said to exist in early

)f the

Georgian London, some were Beefsteaks at the Bedford), Society),

.1

and others

social (like the

some debating

Whig

Robin Hood

Club, whose gatherings at the Turk's

Head

Dr Johnson's

Edmund Burke,

Gerrard

in

The

men

grandees and

while pride of place later went to

included the politician

the

(like

the Society of Dilettanti). 57

artistic (like

Kit-Cat became the rendezvous for letters,

Sublime Society of

of

Literary

Street,

Soho,

the painter Joshua Reynolds,

the playwright Oliver Goldsmith, the naturalist Sir

the musicologist Charles Burney, the theatre

Joseph Banks,

men David

Garrick,

Richard Brinsley Sheridan and George Colman, the historian

Edward Gibbon,

Adam

Smith.

found?

58

Where

Clubs came

else

could such a galaxy of talent be habitually

in all guises: the Spitalfields

was a self-improvement club of

letters for

masonic lodge.

1731 'to institute a repub-

promoting the Arts and Sciences', was probably a

59

Convivial and political clubs abounded,

Sons of Freedom, or the Antigallicans,

ofjohn Wilkes.

Mathematical Society

for tradesmen; the 'Society for the

Encouragement of Learning', established in lic

and the economist

the orientalist Sir William Jones

like the

who campaigned on

behalf

Self-styled custodians of culture, clubs fulfilled certain

of the functions of the Paris salon or the university the capital then lacked: they established circuits of conversation. 60

Private in format like the club but public in British innovation freemasonry.

Commonwealth, with apprentices,

its

Modelled

members divided

as a

its

facade was that

microcosm of the

into the three estates of

journeymen and masters, the lodge promoted

enlight-

ened conduct: brotherhood, benevolence, conviviality, liberty, ation.

The

'Royal Art', proclaimed the movement's

been practised by the in the polite nations'.

'free

born

.

.

.

civiliz-

Constitutions,

had

from the beginning of the world,

61

Freemasonry achieved phenomenal lodges affiliated to form the

Grand Master. Within

success. In 17 17 the

Grand Lodge of England, with

eight years, there

were

London its

own

fifty-two lodges in

Great Britain alone, while by 1768 nearly 300 British lodges had been

:\7

THE CREATION OF THE MODERN WORLD founded, including eighty-seven in the metropolis.

The lodge created

a social milieu rejoicing in British constitutionalism and prosperity,

and dedicated to virtue and humanity under the Great Architect; 62 yet

masonry was

also riddled with typically British ideological tensions,

combining deference

to hierarchy with a

measure of egalitarianism,

acceptance of distinction with social exclusivity and commitment to rationality with a taste for mysteries

and

Overall, the proliferation of clubs, societies

the expansion of the press flourishing print-based

and Grub

and

Street to boost culture as a

4).

London supported numerous other ideas

and lodges joined with

communications enterprise serving a varied

public at large (see chapter

modern

63

ritual.

public platforms for staging

values, flaunting political

and

artistic allegiances

and promoting the new. The most prominent of these modernity was the theatre. Condemned as threats playhouses had been closed

down by

1660, the theatre initially took

its

staggering 3,611,

late

to godly order,

the Puritans. Re-established in

cue from royal and noble patronage,

but in time began to pitch for wider audiences and

grew ever larger -

tastes, as auditoria

eighteenth-century Drury Lane seated a

and even Norwich's

theatre held over a thousand.

Mingling sensation and instruction rather

like television today,

and regaling audiences with costume drama, great satire

lives, history,

and moral mazes, theatre broadened outlooks and

also serving as a

pulpits of

sounding board for opinion and

tastes while

politics.

Taken

as

a burlesque on Sir Robert Walpole, John Gay's Beggar's Opera (1728) thus proved phenomenally popular, being performed sixty-two times

and enjoyed by up

to 40,000 people in

its first

season alone.

in 1763 the aristocratic libertine the Earl of Sandwich

welshed on

drinking companion John Wilkes, he quickly became dubbed Twitcher', the thief

who

proved a sobriquet that

Complementing

new

art galleries.

where the

When his

Jemmy

betrayed Gay's hero, Macheath, and

stuck.

it

64

the theatre as fare for the fancy were London's

There was the Shakespeare Gallery

in Pall Mall,

art dealer John Boydell specialized in paintings of scenes

from the Bard; and the Poets' Gallery 38

in Fleet Street,

which featured

HE

I

HI R

works inspired by famous R( >yal

I

II

OF

A

\

I

DEO LOG!

lines ofBritish verse.

Founded

in 1709,

the

Aeademy held annual exhibitions whose appeal was enormous:

an amazing 1,680 in 1769 for the

Museums,

visitors

jammed

into

Somerset House one Friday

RA show! 65 were

too,

in 1753, the British

novelties.

Museum was

Founded by an the

first

public

act of parliament

museum

in

Europe

intended 'not only for the inspection and entertainment of the learned

and the

curious, but for the general use

Numerous beautiful,'

to Sir

benefit of the public'. 66

museums sprang up, too. 'The birds of humming birds, were I think among the most

private-venture

and the

paradise,

and

wrote Susan Burney, Fanny's

Ashton Lever's museum

sister,

returning from a

(or 'Holophusikon', in his hifalutin

phrase) in Leicester Square. 'There are several pelicans -

peacocks (one quite white) - a penguin.

hippopotamus

(sea-horse) of

an immense

from the Tower - a Greenland bear and three leopards.'

67

or magic lanterns, cashed in on novelty

London

Among

size, its

declared,

if

and

- flamingoes the beasts a

an elephant, a tyger

cub - a wolf - two or

Other commercial operations,

wonders of the world

visit

like 'eidophysicons'

sensation, bringing the

to the curious. In 1773 a listing of the sights of

with a touch of exaggeration, that there were

'Lions, Tygers, Elephants, &c. in every Street in

Town'. Cherokee

midgets and giants, stone-eaters and other freaks,

chiefs taking tea,

'philosophical fireworks', chess-playing automata, lectures

sexual rejuvenation or

mesmerism -

all

these,

besides, titivated the fancy, sparked controversy

and

on

health,

scores

more

and became part of

the cultural baggage of anyone wanting to pass as a somebody. 68

Such developments owed much

John Rich,

new breed

of entrepreneur.

the theatrical manager, decked playhouses out with

sophisticated stage ario J. J.

to a

machinery and

Heidegger staged

risque

lavish scenery; the

opera impres-

masquerades; Jonathan Tyers,

proprietor of Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, patronized artists

composers.

modest ance,

69

The

cost, in

a

becoming

and

swelling metropolitan public could thus share, at

new and

refined world of art, letters

better informed, exercising taste

contemporary refinement:

'there

is

39

nothing

like

and perform-

and basking

in

a playhouse for fine

THE CREATION OF THE MODERN WORLD one playgoer reputedly exclaimed, \.

prospects',

and

trouble,

Not

to

one can see

all

Europe,

be outdone, provincial

.

without fatigue,

well lightedfor a shilling'. 10

part developed their

cities for their

own sites for news, events and culture. While mirroring the metropolis - 'we

.

.

.

imitate your fashions,

castle writer

- they

71

York, Exeter, activity

Bristol,

Norwich and elsewhere,

generated venues for

gathered for

evil',

proclaimed a New-

also forged distinctive regional identities. In

recitals, plays

elegant all-purpose assembly elites

good and

rooms

(still

and

political

cultural

concerts, notably the

highly

balls, charity fundraisers,

and

visible),

where

local

music-making and per-

formances. Comfortable coaching inns, shopping parades, parks and stylish

squares tempted the gentry to linger in town beyond the

calls

of business, in a show of urbanity. Meanwhile, Bath and other spas

boomed,

seductively

if implausibly

claiming to combine the recovery

of health with the pursuit of pleasure. 72

The enjoyments quickened and quenched by these new public amenities fed off economic growth at large. England was now a premier 'trading nation', ran the cliche,

being

'a polite

and commercial

ination of the slave trade

consumption 'a

kind of

at

74

home.

Emporium

whose

people'.

natives could take pride in

73

Colonization, British

and rapid overseas expansion fed whole Earth', a view extended

nation at large by Daniel Defoe's Tour Thro' Britain (1724-7), that national

mercial and industrial. the Atlantic

boom

rising

London, proclaimed Addison, had become

for the

75

dom-

anthem

the

Whole Island of Great

to progress, agricultural,

The Revd Alexander

to the

com-

Catcott, his parish in

port of Bristol, gloried in Britain's mercantile

ascendancy: 'Our island has put on quite a different face, since the increase of

commerce among

beries, trade

us.'

76

was held up as a source not just of profit but of civilization:

Commerce

gives Arts, as well as Gain;

By Commerce wafted

And

In defiance of traditional snob-

o'er the

Main

77 .

.

,

not only civilization: trade, so the boosters claimed, promoted

confidence,

harmony and unity,

fostering contacts

40

and gathering the

7

ends

of*

HE

HI Hi

ll

()/•

I

IDEOLOGl

\

the Million into a single circuit. Better post roads, turnpikes

and coaching

and distance.

services dramatically abridged time

1754 the Newcastle to

London

trip

had taken

six days;

In

within thirty

The four and a half days needed to get London at mid-century had been slashed to

years that had been halved.

from Manchester

to

twenty-eight hours by 1788. Improved roads boosted as socio-economic multipliers; the

fashion.

As of

1740, only

serving

pace of life quickened and remote

areas were sucked into the national

and

traffic,

economy of consumption, news

one stagecoach a day had

rattled

its

way from Birmingham to London; by 1763 there were thirty. Arthur Young - like Defoe, a non-stop proselytizer - gushed at the idea of on the move:

the nation

The

exertions

- fresh activity to every branch of industry; people

good roads, who were never seen with bad ones, and and

industry,

provinces.

which flow with a

John Byng in .

.

But

I

.

.

.

all

residing

among

the animation

between the

all

were of that mind.

1790, 'to

'I

am just old

capital

.

.

and the

remember Turnpike roads

few,

and those bad

am of the very few, perhaps alone, who regret the times

you.'

79

to

lowed the

.

.

.

be play'd off

How impertinent the provinces had grown!

Better roads spelt better post. Traditionally the mail simply

ment of

.

enough,' groused

now, every abuse, and trickery of London are ready

upon

— new

78

However, not

.

full tide

ideas

new people - new

general impetus given to circulation;

fol-

axial post roads out of London, but thanks to the develop-

'cross-posts',

a veritable lattice of routes emerged.

By

1756

there were daily services

- Sundays excepted - from London west

Plymouth and

Swansea and Pembroke; the Holyhead post

to Bristol,

to

road had a weekday service, with services on to Ireland, while the

Great North

Road

also carried the mail daily.

By

contrast,

most

provincial cities in France were receiving the Paris mail only twice a

week. 80

Such improvements found house of London. 'The

their

new Penny

in 1794,

41

most extreme form Post Office,'

in the hot-

beamed The

Times

THE CREATION OF THE MODERN WORLD is

likely to

will

be

letters

prove such a very great accommodation, to the public

six deliveries

by nine

each day

morning

in the

same afternoon.

in all parts of the .

.

may

.

town

like the

mused George Colman, when

of the past thanks to 'the

amusements,

was a

their

from London the

coming of e-mail.

way

amendment of the and

vices,

'like

the cara-

had become a thing

that

all

Time

in consciousness.

had been

travel

van over the deserts of Arabia'; but

make

there

.

Persons putting in

.

receive answers

Such developments brought a revolution

fashions,

.

.

81

The impact must have been was,

.

.

roads

.

.

the manners,

.

now

of the metropolis,

follies

to the remotest corners of the land'.

The

82

result

'global village' effect, netting within the national culture

provincials

who

'scarce half a century

species, almost as different

natives of the

ago

.

.

.

were regarded

from those of the metropolis,

Cape of Good Hope'.

83

Now, exclaimed

as a

as the

the Swiss-

American visitor Louis Simond fifty years later, 'nobody is provincial in this country'. in a nation

84

much

And in

all this,

taken by

its

the best place o{ improvement,'

the school

London.'

we go

London remained the prime mover

own

energies.

'I

look upon your city as

remarked Dr South

to the university, but

in the 1690s; 'from

from the

universities to

85

Small wonder, then, that the British talked themselves up as a singularly free

and fortunate race - indeed, one uniquely enlightened.

86 was, of This 'enveloping haze of patriotic self-congratulation'

course, fostered

by propaganda. 'We enjoy

the Daily Courant

on

in

War, or

Hour,' declared

13 June 1734,

an uninterrupted Peace, while

engaged

at this

is

the rest of

all

on the very Brink of

it.

Europe

is

Our Trade

either actually is

at

Heighth than ever, while other Countries have scarce any, thro' Incapacity, or the Nature of their

Government.

our Properties are perfectly secure.

42

their

own

We are free from Religious

Disturbances, which distract almost every other Nation. 87

a greater

Our

liberties

and

SIR

ill

I

ll

I

0/

l

became

Set to verse, such sentiments

IDE0L0G

A

the

1

bombast of the Scot James

Thomson: The

nations, not so blest as thee,

Must

in their turn to tyrants fall;

While thou

shalt flourish great

The dread and envy

and

of them

free,

all.

'Rule, Britannia, rule the waves;

Britons never will be slaves.' 88

At the drop of a

hat,

it

seems, natives launched into

congratulation. 'Hail Britain, happiest of countries! climate,

fertility, situation,

and commerce; but

peculiar nature of thy laws

Oliver Goldsmith.

89

hit

selves

who

up

felt

happier in the

upon another

'Hail':

A glorious word,

In other countries scarcely heard

Rarely had Britons

90 .

.

.

so truculently triumphalist, or puffed

so chauvinistically

in thy

and government,' sang the Irish-born

Charles Churchill

Hail, liberty!

still

Happy

self-

-

them-

witness the engravings of Hogarth,

signed himself ironically 'Britophil'. Touring Italy in 1729, Lord

Hervey - Pope's 'Sporus' - came out Throughout

What

all

in couplets:

Italy beside,

does one find, but

Farces of Superstitious

Want and pride?

folly,

Decay, Distress, and Melancholy:

The Havock

of Despotick Power,

A Country rich, its owners poor It

had not been so very long previously,

that Italy

91 .

.

it is

.

worth remembering,

had been the very cynosu re of the English

(if also

considered

the sink of depravity).

A trip to Lisbon in 1775 similarly made Thomas

Pelham bubble:

what joy and gratitude must every Englishman

reflect

other'.

'with

on the happiness of

his

own

nation in comparison of any

92

The bullish

chorus, brilliantly satirized by the 'Britophil' Hogarth,

43

THE CREATION OF THE MODERN WORLD did not escape foreigners. visitor

de Saussure,

perfect

freedom

cups, Squire

The people will tell you, observed the

'that there

may be

Swiss

no country in the world where such

is

enjoyed as in England'. 93 Doubtless, in their

Booby and

his drinking

companions cursed mercenary

placemen and those damn'd dogs the Excise men

but, travelling

abroad, they pilloried or pitied the natives (while enjoying the paintings

and the painted

land 'great and

and plumed themselves upon

ladies)

living in a

Enlightenment and patriotism made a heady

free'.

brew.

Enlightenment was more than

more

light

around. 'Most of the

remarked de Saussure, new

however; there was quite

talk,

to

streets are

London,

wonderfully well lighted,'

'for in front

of each house

hangs a lantern or a large globe of glass, inside of which

lamp which burns

94

Some

literally

is

placed a

later, the

Prussian Archen-

holz marvelled: 'In Oxford-street alone there are

more lamps than

in all Paris.'

good

95

all night.'

time

Pastor Moritz, too, was 'astonished at the unusually

lighting of the streets,

pretty poor show'. 96

the bright lights

compared with which

had been got up

replaced by big sash windows;

and creamy

lamp made glass

all

makes a

A German princeling, the story ran, thought all specially to

Taste and technology each played

for pale

Berlin

tints;

98

its

part.

honour him. 97

Leaded casements were

interior design a la

and, from the 1780s, the

the difference indoors after dark.

Its

Adam

went

new Argand

in oil

tubular wick and

chimney produced a continuous bright and almost smoke- and

smell-free light far superior to candles.

had been

at

work on

Argand patented

Birmingham's Lunar Society

the idea in the 1770s,

his version,

and when the Swiss Louis

Matthew Boulton of Birmingham won

99 the exclusive manufacturing rights.

Nor was Murdoch,

gas far behind. Boulton's friend, the engineer William gas-lit his

own house

in 1792;

and ten years

later

he

illuminated Boulton and Watt's factory to celebrate the Peace of

Amiens - a 'luminous spouted an enthusiast.

spectacle ... as novel as

it

was astounding',

100

Light has always been a potent symbol.

44

Its

creation

was God's

first

THE BIRTH act {fiat lux: 'Let there ( lr

be

OF

A

\

IDE0L0G1

while the miracle of (he

light*),

final

cation was the light of human reason {lumen animae). Isaiah

that 'the in the

men who walked in

New

through a

'as

world'.

101

Dominus

illuminatio

man

that

'a

great

for

its

cometh

light',

tells

us

while,

'the true

into the world'. Sinners

but Jesus would be the

glass, darkly',

The Vulgate

Cambridge

had seen

Testament, St John speaks n eo-Platonically of

Light which lighteth every

saw

darkness'

day of

'light

of the

part calls the Lord 'my illumination' -

mea (the Oxford University Press's motto); while

Psalm

Platonists, following

20, spoke of reason as the

'candle of the Lord', an illumination divinely implanted in the soul. 102

Light bore secular meanings, too. If the metaphor was one to

which the Sun King laid claim, Albion later made of the conceit that

was an Englishman who had,

it

speaking, actually discovered light the peerless itself

Newton explained

-

that

is,

eludicate d

light

Light

itself,

all

refraction. 103

which every thing

Shone undiscover'd, Untwisted

principles: as

comprises a spectrum of the

and obeys the laws of reflection and Even

its

scientifically

in his Opticks (1704), light propagates

through particles and white

colours

her own, because

it

till

displays,

his brighter

mind

the shining robe of day

104 .

.

.

- though James Thomson's lines were plonking by contrast to Pope's sublime: Nature, and Nature's Laws lay hid in Night:

God It is,

said, Let Newton be!

Light.

105

of course, no accident that, after Newton, the chief light-struck

natural philosopher

was

that enlightened

author of The History and Present Light,

and All was

and Colours

(1772).

State

polymath Joseph

Priestley,

of Discoveries Relating

to

Light and enlightenment pervaded public consciousness. 'Light of Knowledge', claimed William universally breaking

Vision,

106

on the world';

107

Young

in 1722,

The

was 'now

sixty years on, Gilbert Stuart

spoke of 'this enlightened age of philosophy and reflexion'; 108 Abra-

ham Tucker popularized Locke in his 45

The Light ofNature Pursued (1768);

1

THE CREATION OF T#E MODERN WORLD Gibbon celebrated

Tree and enlightened country'; the Lunar

his

Society, that gathering of

monthly

at full

moon

make

(to

Spence praised the 'Sun of jubilant over

Tom

Midlands

- while Burke jeered

home easier); Thomas and Mary Wollstonecraft was

at

-

'this

enlightened age'. 109 As

'What we have

do

to

is

as clear as

110

As a marker of how

come

it,

met

journey

Liberty';

Paine so succinctly put

light.'

their

intellectual aristocracy,

to the fore,

connotations had

light's secular, practical

Samuel Johnson defined

'to

enlighten' as 'to

illuminate, to supply with light, to instruct, to furnish with increase

of knowledge, to cheer, to exhilarate, to gladden, to supply with to

quicken

in the faculty

to the natural order;

of vision'.

but

it

1 1

Assuredly, light was thus integral

could also be a

manmade

piercing the gloom, dispelling darkness. Light's spell

is

in the world, of contrivance except that of the

divine William Paley,

'it

an

intelligent Creator.'

112

dominant epistemology,

we draw from it, Above all, light was

Human

for a host of later texts

know was

sufficient to

obscura.

henceforth to

Lemuel Gulliver was English

hero.

114

113

No

literature's

newly

problem of knowsee.

John

was paradigmatic

which explained cognition through

that

light so

declared the

crucial to the

Understanding (1690)

metaphors, the mind as a camera

With

no example

as to the necessity of

as empiricism turned the

ing into a matter of seeing: to

Locke's Essay concerning

eye,'

would be alone

support the conclusion which

searchlight,

evident in the

intense interest taken in the science of sight. 'Were there

Cambridge

sight,

visual

accident, perhaps, first

bespectacled

supercharged, enlightenment became a rallying cry.

'Why are the nations of the world so patient under despotism?' demanded the Revd Richard Price. 'Is it not because they are kept and want knowledge? Enlighten them and you will them.' 115 Almost inevitably, Tom Paine - not just a political

in darkness,

elevate

radical but a designer of smokeless candles

-

also

milked that image

in his The Rights of Man (1792), claiming the transparency of truth: 'the

116 sun needs no inscription to distinguish him from darkness'.

Light, he held,

was God's

gift,

a natural asset - no wonder William

46

1

Pitt's

HE

HI R

window

notorious

tax

I

II

OF AJS I DEO LOG!

was so

branding the Prime Minister 'Mr All this resplendence

made

Billy Taxlight'.

light intoxicating,

among

excited sense of involvement in change sapere aude.

well.

came

superiority' its

mean facere

aude

Grumble though he might

innovation',

in

to

- not just

that

all

to

117

and there arose an a people for

know but

was 'running

whom

to act as

mad

after

Samuel Johnson could compliment 'his own age' for 'its over the Ancients - 'in every respect', that was, 'except

reverence for government'. 118 Indeed, Boswell records that

great cant hater protesting that

'I

am

always angry

ancient times praised at the expence of

we

squib

bitterly resented, a radical

live in

is

modern

a busy age in which knowledge

is

when

times.'

119

I

hear

'The age

rapidly advancing

towards perfection,' enthused the young Jeremy Bentham, launching a 6o-year career dedicated to reforming the house of the Hanoverians

according to the yardstick of utility. 'In the natural world, in particular,

every thing teems with discovery and with improvement.' 120

There were many Englands, but one was the stage of thrusting achievers, sold

on

science, dedicated to the diffusion of rational

knowledge and eager intellectual.

for innovation

They were men devoted

- be

it

to the

practical, artistic or

promotion of a new

material well-being and leisure; aspiring provincials, Dissenters, sceptics

in

and

political realists resentful at the traditional authority

Church and

State.

of the Enlightenment.

Such Moderns 121

47

it

imbued

was who were the fomenters

3





CLEARING AWAY THE RUBBISH Reason

the glory of human nature.

is

ISAAC WATTS

M

ore like a

communing of clubbable men than a

or a conspiracy, the Enlightenment derived largely

a language as a programme. Powerful 'this

or, as

as

as

much

we have

seen,

enlightened age'. Another keyword was emancipation:

societies crave the

custom,

clique

coherence in Britain

among these,

Moderns dramatized deliverance and

Some

studied escapology. 2

transcendence of the otherworldly; others revere

with Renaissance

The enlightened, by forge a new future.

age.

its

from a shared currency of images and idioms - it was

was light:

1

3

Italy,

contrast,

hanker

aimed

Emancipation might be portrayed

in

a previous golden

after

to

break the chains and

terms of a natural maturing

or coming of age, a growing out of swaddling bands. generally envisaged, however, was something

more

What was

violent

and

trau-

matic: snatching off a blindfold or bursting free from a straitjacket.

Bogged down acles',

4

in

semantic quicksands, fettered in 'mind-forg'd man-

or hoodwinked by sinister foes, enlightened

escape from the

murk of time

spirits

craved

or the mental maze. Narratives of

emancipation were not, of course, without precedent - folklore

abounds

in tales of captors

and

captives,

romances are travelogues

of the search, and the Christian master narrative

and redeemed'

tale

of Paradise

guishes the Enlightenment

is

lost

is

itself

a 'doomed

and regained. But what

the secularity of its

5

distin-

model of mankind

questing freedom through the Socratic 'know yourself and

modern

corollary, 'do

it

yourself.

48

its

CLEAR! VG

A

WA

I

THE RUBBISH

Escape scenarios gained their immediacy from two experiences,

one negative, the other

positive.

Firstly

malignant forces which had wreaked destruction still

was the threat of

there

in the past

and were

darkening the present. In Britain, as elsewhere, Protestantism

had never

secure against a Catholicism cast not merely as

felt

erroneous and corrupt, but as

evil incarnate, the

Whore

of Babylon,

the Beast of the Apocalypse. Partly thanks to the Council of Trent

(1545-63),

Rome had had

at

disposal the Index of Prohibited

its

Books, the Inquisition, the Society of Jesus and other battalions of the

Church

Militant,

which had then gone about

their

work with

fire

and faggot, leaving a gory toll of carnage and martyrs. The Protestant alliance

had been mauled

was renewing the

common

assault.

What

now

Years War;

in the Thirty

gave Britons such

Louis

XIV

sense of

fitful

cause and shared identity as they did possess was anti-

Catholicism, a visceral loathing of 'the insupportable

most Pompous and Tyrannical so long as Jacobitism

As chapter 5

was waiting

will detail,

The

fears

were readily fanned

it.

Rome was demonized

as

perverse apotheosis of self-abasement and

Popery

sanctified theological

tism, ritualized idolatry, drilled

windows

the post-Gutenberg duty of

believers to read

all

into

dogma-

men's souls and denied God's Book by the

7

Enlightened anti-Catholicism furthermore presumed association.

Mankind

enlightened minds inherited Protestant

slavish submission to tyranny,

candle of Reason.

the

in the wings.

anti-Catholicism and then rationalized the inveterate foe.

ever enslav'd

Policy that

under the name or shew of Religion'. 6 Such

Yoke of

guilt

by

Basing their creed on the Bible alone, Protestants

denounced the dependency of Romish dogma upon Eastern gnosticism, Hellenistic Platonism, neo-Aristotelianism

and other

non-Christian sources: key tenets of Catholicism such as transubstantiation

and purgatory had been shown

whatever,

Church

to possess

being fabricated entirely on

tradition

Platonism and

and Vatican

Thomism

ian empiricism,

it

decrees.

no

scriptural basis

scholastic

As the 'new

metaphysics,

science' assailed

with Cartesian systematic doubt or Bacon-

was inevitable

that the citadel of scholastic theology

49

THE CREATION OF THE MODERN WORLD would

also

be sapped, so dubious were

Welding Protestantism

its

metaphysical foundations.

to enlightened thinking,

Locke was

in his The Reasonableness of Christianity (1695) that all that

to assert

was required

of a Christian was to profess that the Bible was the word of God and Jesus the Messiah. Such professions aside, theology (that

knowledge of God) was business.

essentially

is,

the

beyond man's needs, powers and

8

The academic heritage was trashed over and again by enlightened propagandists as a tragicomedy of errors - gazing up at the heavens,

pedants had stumbled into a ditch. Thus Plato, proceeding - according to Viscount Bolingbroke theologian', likewise

had

'diverted

-

'like

men from

mad

a bombast poet and a the pursuit of truth'.

9

Gibbon

lamented misguided learning. 'Several of these masters,' he

men

jeered at the neo-Platonists of late Antiquity, 'were

of profound

thought and intense application; but, by mistaking the true object of philosophy, their labours contributed

corrupt the

human

much

less to

improve than

understanding.' In the medieval period, further-

more, so prone to 'credulity and submission', monkish contracted 'the vices of a physics

to

slave',

had perpetuated a

and

sterile

for fifteen

casuists

had

hundred years meta-

obscurantism. 10

Once hitched to the papal propaganda machine, otherwise innocuous sophistries had turned positively dangerous. Rome commanded a fiendish indoctrination department in which iniquity trapped innocence, be evil

it

through devious dogma or gaudy images. The Antichrist's

empire was endlessly portrayed as a

lethal threat to the freeborn

Englishman's enjoyment of his God-given It

was not

just

faculties.

11

from Popery that post-Restoration

elites

were

seeking deliverance, however: collective memories had also been scarred by the Civil War.

had bred 'enthusiasm', conviction of personal

The

that

Calvinist

awesome,

infallibility (see

dogma

irresistible

chapter

5).

of predestination

and

unfalsifiable

Presbyterians, anti-

nomian 'mechanic preachers' spewing up prophecies as the spirit moved them, and other self-elected saints had loosed torrents of chiliastic still

bloodshed. Those experiences came back as nightmares:

in the 1780s the unflappable

Edward Gibbon could

50

descry in

CI E

Gordon

rioters

Roundhead

Fanatics

the

(1790).

12

II*

R

I

I

VC

A

WA

THE RUBBISH

)

rampaging through the

bogeymen soon

c

apital the ghosts of

recycled

in

Burke

s

Reflections

Popery was the epitome of despotism, imposed from

above, Puritanism was anarchy incarnate, breaking out from below.

Who could say which was the more pernicious? Luckily, light

devastation

was dawning, hinting that

and death might nearly be

this

over.

13

long reign of delusion,

Holy war was going out

of fashion: Europe-wide, princes and even prelates were becoming

more wary about was turning,

as

heretic-

is

and witch-burning, while the mental

tide

evident from the popularity of burlesques of the

bigots:

Such

The

as

do build

their faith

holy text of pike and gun

Decide

all

controversies

Infallible artillery

As

upon

if

religion

For nothing

In particular - this

was making headway

is

.

.

by

.

were intended else

but to be mended. 14

the positive development

science

as a solid platform for knowledge. Telescopes

and microscopes were revealing new worlds,

infinitely distant, infin-

anatomy was laying bodily

itely large

or small;

England's

own William Harvey had discovered the

blood. Observation

- natural

structures bare,

and

circulation of the

and experiment were revealing Nature's

laws,

while inventions like the airpump and, a bit later,

Newcomen's steam

engine were contributing to that 'effecting of

all

things possible'

trumpeted by Bacon; and meantime, brave new worlds were being discovered by circumnavigators. So stench, there

were

if

the Civil

books'.

left

an acrid

also harbingers of hope.

This intellectual watershed was signposted 15

War

The Renaissance had venerated

in

the 'batde of the

classical

achievements in

Hippocrates and Galen

philosophy, science, letters

and the

remained the medical

and humanists continued

bibles;

geocentric (earth-centred)

arts;

to

uphold the

and homocentric (man-centred) cosmos

51

THE CREATION OF THE MODERN WORLD espoused by Greek science, with

man

at the

hub and

as the

measure

of the divinely created system. Xenophon, Cicero, Livy, Virgil and other classical poets, philosophers, moralists, historians and states-

men

chaired the school of virtue in which students of culture should

enrol. Renaissance 'anticomania' set in stone, the

To come

was consoling: wisdom was already

custodian of civilization.

enlightened eyes, however, the humanist tenet that what had first

was best had been overtaken by time:

and Hobbes pointed

out,

it

Bacon

as

all,

was the Modern Age which was

produced a new optic on the

old. Historical scholarship

lenging the

after

truly

past, chal-

Renaissance identification with the Ancients and

accentuating the radical differences between the old world of Antiquity and the

new one marked by guns and printing. Authentic

new worlds had been discovered, above all America, disclosing scenes of exotic life unknown to Aristotle or Ptolemy. The seventeenth century moreover proved intellectually revolutionary.

The

dazzling

'new sciences' of astronomy, cosmology and physics pioneered by Kepler and Galileo challenged the cosy commonplaces of both Greek philosophy and the Bible. Heliocentric astronomy decentred the earth, reducing

dauntingly

it

to a tiny,

minor planet nowhere

infinite universe

newly glimpsed through the telescope,

whose immense spaces frightened not only astronomy' was complemented by a

which stripped Nature of

in particular in that

its

machine made up of material

Pascal.

And

new 'mechanical

purposive particles

vitality,

reducing

it

to a

governed by universal laws, If daunting

also full of promise.

Empirical discoveries fostered a authorities,

'new

philosophy',

whose motions could be given mathematical expression.

and dangerous, science was

this

new

spirit,

eager to question

even the Bible, a sceptical turn robustly expressed in the

Dictionnaire (1697)

16 of that unbiddable Huguenot Pierre Bayle.

Many

of Europe's greatest minds of Bayle's generation concluded that, in the search for truth, neither implicit faith in the Bible nor automatic reliance

on the Ancients would any longer

William Temple's Essay upon

the Ancient

suffice. If, as late as 1690,

and Modern Learning upheld the

superiority of the Ancients, William Wotton's Reflections upon Ancient

52

CLE \RING

WA

A

THE RUBBISH

/

and Modern Learning (1694) countered that,

in

had been wholly eclipsed by the Moderns.

It

the sciences

had been, or could

be, excelled:

they

remained hotly disputed,

however, whether Antiquity's achievements the fine arts

at least,

in poetry,

drama and

would the contemporary

Homer please step forward? But Moderns like Alexander Pope had their own solution to that problem: the classics could be translated, simplified

and modernized

Such confusions,

crises

meet the needs of modern audiences. 17

to

and controversies frame the key enlighten-

demand for a clear-out and clean-up of the lumber house of the mind, condemned as dark, dilapidated and dangerous, unfit for habitation: metaphysics was dismissed as moonment escape

and

shine

strategy, the

were ridiculed

traditional teachings

fantasies, fables or fallacies.

system-building were

Bigotry,

all

damned by Moderns

and

must be demolished, and knowledge

tions.

Enlightened publicists thus

wisdom: obsolete

set

rebuilt

on firm founda-

about cleansing, scouring,

winnowing the mental grain from the

injunctions of the

chaff,

echoing the

Words; Things, not Thinking

Operation, not meerly Speculation.'

Bulk of Mankind in

all

violently attached to the Opinions,

they have been used

to',

19

down

'folly'.

and strong Reasons.' It

became

days.

.

Ages, and in

all

Countries, are

Customs, and even Habits, which

when

'Sounds, Shews, Prejudices, vain and idle Ter.

.

.

operate

more upon them than

true

20

de rigueur to

denounce the bad old ways of the bad old

George Berkeley, philosopher, mathematician and later bishop,

prompted and

.

averred the free-thinker John Trenchard,

Phantoms, Delusions

rors,

.

Emancipation would not come

adopting the patronizing air favoured by enlightened authors putting

sift-

Helmontian chemist and doctor George Thomson

in the 1660s: 'Works, not

easily: 'the

folk

other houses of cards or castles of

all

error

back

equally eager to deride

shapes and sizes had to be swept away. Magic,

mysticism, scholasticism

ing, sieving,

as fictions, frauds,

dogmatism and overweening

and other hand-me-down

'old wives' tales'

orthodoxies in

18

himself:

recalling

'Mem.:

Men

to

to

be eternally banishing Metaphisics

Common 53

Sense.'

21

etc.

Locke's pupil, the 3rd

THE CREATION OF THE MODERN WORLD condemned f'all

Earl of Shaftesbury, similarly

Metaphysicks,

that pretended studdy'.

all

22

Dinn

that

Where then

inquiry? 'To philosophize, in a just Signification,

Good-Breeding a

step higher'

academic eunuchs

if

& Noise To

but

is

lay true

carry

- thinking could be rescued from

23

undertaken by gentlemen in a

of

the

liberal spirit.

Crucial to these truth strategies - impatience with obscurity and a prizing of clarification

and transparency - was

Royal Society's apologist Thomas Sprat dubbed

Taking over

from the 'new

their cue

verba)

words must not be

distrust of 'the cheat

what the

of words'.

science', enlightened thinkers set

reified, reality

must replace

res

rhetoric.

Sprat called for language to 'return back to primitive purity, and shortness,

when men

number of

words'.

Samuel Johnson, earth,

24

deliver'd so

He was

many

not so

'as to forget that

things, almost in

'lost in

an equal

lexicography',

words are the daughters of the

and that things are the sons of heaven'. 25 Since 'words are so apt

am resolved

to

impose on the understanding,' despaired Berkeley,

in

my inquiries to make as little use of them as possibly I can.' 26 Setting reality above verbality, the

unambiguous and trustworthy? superlative

Words and

Were not numbers,

at least,

'Instead of using only comparative

intellectual

Arguments,' explained Sir

William Petty, a founder fellow of the Royal Society, course ... to express myself in

'I

coming English empiricism also

looked favourably on quantification.

and

mused

Terms ofNumber,

'I

have taken the

Weight, or Measure.'

27

Eternal intellectual vigilance was essential, however, because inanity

was endemic and error

infectious.

Their feared triumph in a

cacophonous babel formed the nightmare vision of Alexander Pope's Dunciad (1728), the climax of which depicted the final eclipse of reason at the

hands of the Queen of Dulness: Lo! thy dread Empire, chaos!

is

restor'd;

Light dies before thy uncreating word:

Thy hand,

And

great Anarch!

lets

the curtain

Universal Darkness buries

All.

fall;

28

Pope's abhorrence of quack versification reflected the suspicion of fabling

and

fiction, as

expressed in the notorious put-down of poetry

54

CLEARING itself attributed to

the

ingenious nonsense'.

WA

A

Cambridge

Though

THE RUBBISH

I

professor Isaac Barrow:

hardly one of

its

'a

kind

front-men. Pope

shared the Enlightenment's hatred of a prion scholiasts, choppers, pedants, know-alls and other dunces: in

man

heed

to

couplets.

Man

his limits, his Essay on

its

logic-

warnings to

reads like Locke in heroic

29

anew on rock solid

Like natural science, philosophy had to be built foundations.

It

would have

to

be transparent, stripped of verbiage,

dead wood and ancestor- worship. in

of

must be

common

Nature and squaring with

clear thinking, plain words,

It

sense

self-critical,

and experience. Only

candour and modesty would end the

reign of error. Hopelessly clipped, counterfeited the debased intellectual coinage

currency.

grounded

had

to

and compromised,

be replaced by a sound

30

In the framing of such convictions, the printing press played a key, if double-edged, role.

The printed word was praised as the guarantor

of plain, stable fact - by contrast, for instance, to the imprecisions, instabilities

mouth

and exaggerations inherent

teachings. In that sense,

it

in

complemented the Baconian

science of hard, solid facts. But the printed

and authors

ized,

largely hinged truth.

ossified into authorities.

upon

handed-down word-ofbook was

The

'battle

the ambiguities of books as the repositories of

bid central to the identity of enlightening

was symbolically presided over by three intrepid earlier generations.

32

One^ was Descartes, who

Method (1637) coolly announced notably the

distinct

am.'

of the books'

31

The emancipatory

ing,

readily fetish-

commitment

first

principles:

'I

in think-

to clear

and

think, therefore

the senses were irreparably deceptive, reason

his Geometry (1637) trail-blazed

justify his

I

was

confidence,

co-ordinate geometry and algebra, and

his Principles of Philosophy (1644) set

God

in his Discourse on

doubt and

capable of establishing truth, and, almost to

which

intellectuals of

Copernican revolution

to universal

reasoning derived from

Though

his

elites

out a mechanical philosophy in

directed a mechanical universe sustained by 'cause

55

and

THE CREATION OF THE MODERN WORLD effect'

contact action and propelled through a ?wirl of vortices

{tour-

billons).

With -

its

cogito ergo

promise of a renovation of thinking on a rationalist footing sum - Descartes' philosophy enjoyed a vogue in England

around the Restoration, being taken up by, among bridge Platonists like

others,

Cam-

Henry More. By validating the immaterial soul,

Descartes particularly appealed to anti-Calvinists keen to reinstate the dignity of homo

The Frenchman's clockwork crypto-atheistic;

tures except

34

moreover,

humans

(did not animals

But

rationalis.

its

a priorism never convinced. 33

universe could easily be dismissed as

his denial of consciousness to

many English writers as both implausible

struck

have sense organs?) and

of Divine Benevolence.

any crea-

And

heartless, flying in the face

the physiological basis of Cartesian

dualism - body and soul fundamentally distinct and joined only the obscure isthmus of the pineal gland deep in the

makeshift.

Not

Gland jokes ran and

least,

via

brain - seemed

ran. 35

advances in natural philosophy subverted Descartes'

physics, especially his vortices

and plenum, and the mechanics of

billiard-ball contact action. Since English scientists led the field in

discrediting these views tional

astrophysics

vacuum it

a

Descartes' star

vacuum on

via

Newton's void space gravita-

and Boyle's airpump demonstrations of the

would leave the world find

- notably

waned

full

on

rapidly in Britain: a

Frenchman

quitting Paris, quipped Voltaire, but

arriving in

London. 36

Happily Descartes' reputation could be played off against that of native English thinkers, in particular Francis Bacon, apotheosized in

The

37 the Enlightenment.

gramme first

for the

philosophical Lord Chancellor's pro-

reform and revitalization of natural philosophy was

outlined in his Advancement of Learning (1605), where, to hold at

bay churchmen diplomatically

hostile to

prying into God's secrets, science was

demarcated

from

theology,

thereby

validating

unfettered investigation.

Bacon opened

his

reformation of knowledge by rejecting blind

worship of authorities

like Aristotle:

bad science buried

itself in

musty books instead of first-hand observation of the Book of Nature. 56

C

/

EAR1 G \

A

WA

I

RUBBISH

7 ///.

Repudiating syllogisms, which toyed with terms while ignoring

new

physical reality, he unfolded a faithful

records of natural

them 'aphorisms' up

Inquiry should start with

logic.

phenomena, proceeding

(system-free inferences);

into generalizations,

and use

to derive!

horn

would then gather these

it

'negative instances' to falsify faulty

ones.

While science had

the distortions, both individual

defining the four

Bacon warned of

to start with the senses,

and

'idols' (or illusions)

those of the cave, herd, theatre

inherent in perception,

social,

which warped sense experience:

and market

anti-idolatry of this kind clearly mirrored

its

place. (Philosophical

Protestant twin.) These

hazards could be overcome through a controlled ascent from fact to

moving on

theory, then

to the acid test of practice, in the generation

of discoveries and inventions beneficial to mankind. Science should

be a collective enterprise, best organized in research groups ('Solo-

mon's Temple'), and mental and material

up

prove immensely first

in the Civil

cumulative findings would pilot progress,

alike.

Synthesized in the to

its

Magna

Instauratio

era and then by the Royal Society in the

1660s,

which acknowledged the

as

inspiration. Voltaire eulogized the

its

hail as 'the greatest, the

Bacon's thinking was

His reformist blueprints were taken

influential.

War

(1620),

most

'father of experimental philosophy'

universal,

philosophers', underwriting as he did so

man

d'Alembert was to

and the most eloquent of

much

of the enlightened

agenda: the assault on bibliolatry; the iconoclastic rejection of tradition,

speculation

observation; serve

and

a priori systems; the

grounding of inquiry

and experiment and the conviction

that science

in

must

mankind. Indeed, the Baconian mapping of knowledge via the

three fundamental faculties of the

mind - memory, reason and

imagination - was embraced in the 'Preliminary Discourse' to the Encyclopedic.

With

his

adoption as the Royal Society's mascot, enlight-

ened Britain gained a big-name philosopher of her own - and one

who was Lord Chancellor to boot. The third modern philosopher

definitive

of enlightened

understanding was the most problematic - yet also propitious.

57

self-

It is

not

THE CREATION OF surprising that

MODERN WORLD

TtiE

Thomas Hobbes was bentjon

cleansing, since he

had been driven into

horrors pervaded his mature thinking. writings, root

politico-philosophical

exile in the Civil

38

War, whose

In Leviathan (1650) and other

and branch reform of language and logic were deemed and

indispensable to future peace

and he himself proposed

order,

a severe philosophical purge through a radical nominalism and

materialism targeted against spurious scholastic terms: 'For True

and

False are attributes of

and

false

dogmatism

Speech, not of

spelt chaos: 'For

Things.'

39

words are wise mens counters,

mony

they do but reckon by them; but they are the

Words must never be allowed

Woolly thinking

to take

on a

life

of

fooles.'

40

of their own; entities

must not unnecessarily be multiplied and all fictions must be banished - directives

whose

drastic implications included

Hobbes's denial of

the immaterial as utter nonsense: 'The universe ... is

body

to say,

Universe.'

no

.

And

no

spirit, It

41

.

.

and

that

that

was

which

The

that.

is

not Body,

is

corporeall, that

is

no part of the

implications were

momentous:

lords spiritual.

was with

this nominalist, materialist

Hobbes redrew human

nature.

and monist pencil

Man was a machine,

motion; thoughts and feelings were

that

mere matter

stirrings in the sense

in

organs

induced by external pressures and producing in turn those brain

waves called

ideas; imagination

persisted in the

memory was

after the original stimuli

had died away, and

their recollection. All such activities

ently of speech as well as

mind

was the consciousness of ideas which

and hence

{pace Descartes)

were

went on independ-

common

to animals

humans.

Men and

beasts were also of a piece in possessing 'passions',

disturbances in the internal organs matching images in the brain, incessantly reactivated ally

was not only the

that future needs

by external

and

that

would

to another'.

also

42

It

'a

be

gratified.

did,

were therefore

Hence

emotion-

but the assurance

felicity

could have

continuall progresse of the desire, from

however, have an absolute negation,

was death. Hedges against

self-defence,

What counted

satisfaction of present desires

nofinis ultimus, being rather one object

stimuli.

violent death, including ruthless

essential.

58

No man

being an island, a

CLEARING 'perpetual contention

lor

A

WA

T

THE RUBBISH

honour, riches, and authority

-

entailing the notorious nightmare of a state of Nature life

of man was

'solitary,

Hobbesian view of life after

poore, nasty, brutish and short'.

as 'a perpetuall

power, that ceaseth onely

-

secular Calvinism

providing the

first

in

and

his philosophical

resulted,

which the

43

While the

restlesse desire

Death' was thus dismal

of power a kind of

determinism was offered as

principles for a salutary politics of absolutism

obedience, and hence a recipe for order.

and

44

Hobbism might also rationalize a black power play - the 'Malmesbury monster', or

For Restoration

comedy of

in

1

wits,

egoistic

English Machiavelli, could serve as an alluring mentor for rakes like

Rochester

who endorsed

his kneejerk anti-clericalism. Critics,

however, were appalled by his corrosive denial of normative natural

law and the Christian Deity as traditionally understood. 45 Effectively dethroning, or at least defaming, God, Hobbes's mordant material-

ism seemed aimed not only at Vain philosophy, and fabulous tra-

-

demons and other 'abstract essences' bred by fevered imaginations - but against Christianity as such. 46 Hobbists ditions'

became

like angels,

targets: in 1668,

Christi College,

one Daniel

Scargill,

a fellow of Corpus

Cambridge, was expelled from the university

for

having 'asserted several Impious and Atheistical Tenets to the great dishonour of God', while in 1683 Oxford consigned Leviathan to the flames, together with his

For

all his

own

De

Cive (1642).

disclaimers,

tantamount to an

atheist.

47

Hobbes

That

is

thus

became execrated

what made him

as

so useful to

enlightened philosophers. So long as they piously disowned him, they could also quietly incorporate

many

aspects of his conceptual

rubbish-cleansing: tactical Hobbes-bashing allowed

more

them

to pass as

correct than they actually were.

This enlightened cleansing of 'the Rubbish of the Schools', was

brought to a rousing climax by David

When we

run over

must we make?

If

libraries,

we

persuaded of these principles, what havoc

take in our

metaphysics, for instance,

let

Hume:

hand any volume of

us ask, Does

59

it

divinity or school

contain any abstract reasoning

THE CREATION OF THE MODERN WORLD concerning quantity or number?'No. matters offact

and existencePNo.

nothing but sophistry and

The way forward and

facts

figures

strict limits to

given

illusion.

48

infallible oracles, laying

and creating a

human

men powers

lay the

Commit it then to the flames; for it can contain

lay not in 'school metaphysics' but intellectual

debunking

humility:

Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning

sound foundations

culture of criticism. If there were

knowledge, no matter, since

God had

sufficient to discharge their earthly offices.

the Rubbish, that

in clearing lies in

the

Ground a

little,

as 'an

and removing some of

way to Knowledge',

for the true 'master-builders'

surely

Herein

enormous appeal of Locke's image of the philosopher

Under-Labourer

in

so as to beat a path

- that is, such scientists as Robert Boyle,

Thomas Sydenham and Isaac Newton, who were actually raising the temple of truth. 49

Far and away the key philosopher in

was John Locke. From the

modern mould, however,

this

we have

1670s, as

politically radicalized, thereafter playing

seen, he

became

a decisive part in political

debate, economic policy, currency reform, and in promoting religious toleration. His Essay concerning

Human

Understanding (1690)

masterwork, presenting a persuasive vision of the

new

times,

in the

grounded upon an

In stark contrast to Descartes,

Hobbes and

the other rationalists,

To

Hobbes, reason could range omnipotent;

from the empirical

minefields.

no scope

mind

50

Locke's truth claims were models of modesty. idolizing

his

for the

analysis of the workings of the

making of true knowledge.

straying

new man

was

straight

the Galileo-

for Locke,

and narrow led

any

into mental

While Hobbes proposed proofs modo geometrico, Locke saw

for Euclidian certainty.

reason just sufficient for distrust of pure reason

Man

human purposes.

were backed by the

was a limited being, and 51

His

anti-h,t.ys ••(A?\ wrth

thu baubU/hUju th.n itfrre

111 tin'/ hi fteens.

.hi

hotufiMmu du

tufhlefi

wrrk

frith

it fer.

for*

fore

Mufinitrd

imJ h'fri jxwr pit*

tf(hd The k\oui thai

fluids I's

u /itzne

.'

briclgment ofArPopR'.t Efsay oiiMan•. ,md Monti, rjctnirtnl/rvm oUur irlfbmtnl .hithvrs.bv KG.ijtui.

Xotrs. Morning.

I Wtdmefdmy J Arrives at the

Three Cups,

in

Bread

C Friday E/ery < Saturday

from the T11 nee Cera, iuBread-

Set
Morning.

\waatji*t 3

Ifmfih

And Returns

Every

London,

f Salwday Every < Mmday

Noon. to

B1

Tlfurfiay, Friday,

1 1

ro

l,

and Monday Noon.

For the greater Convenience, Goods and Passengers arc put down and taken up at the Black and White Bean, and White Herfe Cellar in Piccm+Ulfy* Thrfe are the not Expeditious WAGGONS that go from Bristol to London, being only four Nights on the Road. They are likewife made very commodious and warm for Passengers, who will meet with the heft of Usaci. All Gentlemen, Merchants, and Others, may depend upon the ntmofl Care being taWeo of all Goods, tfc that may be intruded with me, and their Favours thankfully acknowledged,

%•

By

For further Pa of Tuo. Cox or

Richard

their

ulars enquire of

or l

m»Jt tbediiut

Wm.

John Goli.ick,

and

obliged

bumble Servant,

WILLIAM JAMES.

James, at his Hwfc in the Old-Market, or theWarehoufe in St. Peter -jJreet, Brifiet\

at

ards, at the Three Cafs in Bread./reett load**.

[i8]

Leisure The Mndci

ns

aimed

to get the

[.9]

mix

liked 10 ihink of themselves as not

poor

rm,

from the

activists

its

for

*

7

Promoting

1780 to

in

1

pump

lonstitutional Information

(

out propaganda for political

including Rational Dissenters and such prominent

reformers asjohnjebb, the ubiquitous

Thomas Day and Major John

Cartwright. Four years earlier, in his Take Tour Choice, Cartwright

programme of annual

had drafted the

radical

male

the ballot, equal representation

suffrage,

members;

Hampden Club

SPCI endorsed

1782 the

found the Friends of the

for reform, helping to

People in 1792 and the

the Radical

and payment of

and pamphlets, he then

for half a century, in speeches

campaigned

tirelessly

parliaments, universal

in 1812.

Growing

steadily,

by

programme of parliamentary

reform favoured by yet another Radical caucus, the Westminster

whose members included

Association,

Tooke, both graced

The

philologists.

radical

Sir

William Jones and

Whig

the

Home

Duke of Richmond

dinner in 1782, drinking toasts to 'Magna Carta', 'The

its

Majesty of the People' and 'America in our arms, Despotism our

feet'.

Too

radical to

however, after the

command

failure of Pitt's

widespread support,

Parliamentary Reform

but the French Revolution revitalized generation.

The a Scot

its

it

at

faltered,

Bill in 1785,

efforts to enlighten the rising

38

archetypal enlightened radical of this era was James Burgh,

who

settled in

of reformist idealism.

London

39

in the 1740s

and began a long career

Urging a thorough reformation of 'sentiments

and manners', he looked

in his early writings to a

grand national

association of upright aristocrats, proceeding to spend the early 1760s instructing the stables of

lon

3

how

politicized, proposing, in the

of the 1770s, a

'(

to cleanse the

in

more

Augean in

Baby-

populist atmosphere

rrand National Association for Restoring the Consti-

Written In the

Disquisitions

authors

III as to

Westminster and unify the people. The 'moralist

became

tution'.

young George

(1774

5)

spirit

of a true Independent Whig",

resurrected

support of public

liberty

the ,

403

canonical

his Political

commonwealth

targeting the peerage, lamenting

THE CREA TION OF THE MODERN WORLD national degeneracy

and urging constitutional checks on tyranny and T

corruption. His early cridques of the enerVating effects of luxury

turned into portents of national disaster: 'Ten millions of people are not to

sit still

and

see a villainous junta overthrow their liberties.' 40

Burgh's rhetoric derived from the Bible. 41 'Assert thy supreme

dominion over those who impiously pretend

upon

to

be thy vicegerents

he charged the Lord of Hosts: 'Arise

earth,'

nings enlighten the world.'

42

His

politics,

expressed the values and idiom of the

new

.

.

.

Let thy

light-

however, increasingly

liberalism. Just as

Smith

damned monopolies and aristocratic prodigality, and Priestley sought 'free scope to abilities', so Burgh began to demand for all 'an equal chance

and equal opportunities became

to rise to honours'. Fairness

among

men

start

from

equal situations and with equal advantages, as horses do on the

turf,'

the swelling refrain

such

circles. 'All

should

declared the Dissenting minister David Williams, an admirer of Priestley

and Franklin: 'afterwards everything is 43

and

merit.'

lei

us start

Godwin

all

the advantages

institutions accessible to every

exertions'.

Political

44

ability

man

and honours of

life:

social

in proportion to his talents

and

Liberalism was a child of the late Enlightenment.

reformers

made common

enlargement of religious terian Dissenters

can

depend on

likewise looked to a meritocratic race of

render

fair,

to

liberties.

cause with those pressing for the

While the trend among Presby-

was towards Socinianism or Unitarianism, 45 Angli-

rationalists expressed

growing

hostility to the

Thirty-nine Articles. Their inspiration was

tyranny of the

Edmund Law,

master of

Peterhouse and presiding genius of the liberal turn in Cambridge divinity.

His pupil Francis Blackburne, rector of Richmond in York-

shire, allegedly

owed

who

'Young man,

told him:

his convictions to a let

the

first

bridge be "Locke

upon Government".'

and

Blackburne held

religion alike,

the Bible,

and the Bible

alone,

46

'worthy old lay gentleman'

book thou readest

at

Cam-

A stalwart liberal in politics

in The Confessional (17'66) that since

was the

religion of Protestants,

no

church had the right to demand subscription beyond an avowal of the Scriptures as the

word of God. 404

In any case, the Articles were

RE FORM theologically suspect

and compulsory subscription hied

,

spiritual

dishonesty.

A campaign was mounted

for the abolition

of subscription and the

modification of the Articles, headed by Socinian-leaning Anglicans like

Feathers Tavern in the

A

Theophilus Lindsey, the vicar of Catterick.

House of

London

Commons

meeting

at the

led to the presentation of a petition to

in 1772,

embodying Blackburne's proposal

to replace subscription with a profession of belief in the Scriptures.

On its rejection,

Lindsey

John Disney. Shortly

left

the Church, followed by his son-in-law,

afterwards, with the support of the Earl of

Shelburne, the

Duke of Grafton and other grandees, Lindsey opened

England's

designated Unitarian church, in Essex Street off the

first

Strand. Blessed with such superior patrons, Unitarianism force in the land;

Amongst

became a

by 1800 nearly 200 chapels had sprung up. 47

Lindsey's

allies

had been John Jebb, another protege of

Law at Peterhouse, where he lectured in mathematics and the Greek Testament. Jebb campaigned for the reform of the Cambridge

tripos,

proposing annual examinations. Developing Unitarian leanings, he too participated in the Feathers Tavern Petition, resigning his living

and taking up medicine.

48

'It is

subsequently

now well

known',

he asserted, that a majority of the thinking clergy are disposed to

embrace the hypothesis

of Arius or Socinus, with regard to the person ofjesus.

And that the opinion

of Athanasius, though sanctified by the acts of uniformity,

by almost every reader of the

Bible.

Wishful thinking, doubtless, but none the these

Paralleling

liberal

altogether weightier in

its

is

now exploded

49

tendencies

a sign of the times.

less

within

Anglicanism,

but

consequences, was the radicalization of

Nonconformity. Under William and Mary, Dissent had achieved

freedom of worship but not brought for

civil

many Nonconformists

searching to a

more

their muscles with a

existence depends

rational

and

equality.

a

shift

Subsequent decades

from theological

political stance:

growing sense of

and they

historical destiny.

soul-

flexed

"Your ver\

on your changing the reason of your dissent which 405

THE CREATION OF THE MODERN WORLD used to be an opinion of superior orthodoxy and superior purity of faith

and w orship,' David Williams apprised fellow Nonconformists

in 1777*

another which

for

is

the only rational

and universal

inalienable

and justifiable reason of dissent - the

right of private

judgement, and the necessity of

an unrestrained enquiry and freedom of debate and discussion on

and

subjects of knowledge, morality,

religion.

This

may be

all

called Intellectual

This should be the general reason of dissent. 50

Liberty.

Exercising 'Intellectual Liberty' in those 'shaking times', Rational Dissent gravitated towards Unitarianism, the enlightened excellence

twenty-six volumes,

proofs

52

-

Priestley

and he

died,

51

priest

almost inevitably, correcting

championed freedom of inquiry more than any

other as the rationale of a rational Christian 'Train our youth to the

new

bursting out in favour of the

Hackney Academy let

of

was Joseph Priestley. polymath born with a perpetual-motion pen - his works fill

Protestantism par

A

whose high

mode

every young

which

civil rights

is

of endless progress.

now

almost everywhere

of men,' he called upon the

and

in 1791,

mind expand

light

life

itself,

catch the rising gale, and partake of the

glorious enthusiasm, the great objects of which are the flourishing state of science, arts, manufactures,

calamities incident to distinctions,

and commerce, the extinction of wars, with the

mankind

for

them, the abolishing of

which were an offspring of a barbarous

age.

all

useless

53

Largely ignored by most historians of the Enlightenment, Priestley

is

central to the distinctive arc of British developments.

Born

in 1733 the

son of a poor Yorkshire cloth-dresser, on his

mother's early death Priestley was adopted by a well-to-do aunt, a Presbyterian but no bigot,

who

kept open house for the local Dis-

senting ministers, even ones 'obnoxious ...

if

she thought

As a

new

on account of

their heresy

them honest and good men'. 54

lad, Priestley felt the full Calvinist horrors: 'Believing that a

birth,

produced by the immediate agency of the

was necessary

to salvation,'

he was to 406

recall,

Spirit of

God,

'and not being able to

FORM

RE myself that

satisfy

I

had experienced anything

occasionally such distress describe.'

of*

mind

as

not

is

it

the kind,

of in

my power

all,

the heretics taking tea at his aunt's

good men' could legitimately think 1

showed

for themselves.

56

'a

for,

and

that 'honest

57

)estined for the Presbyterian ministry, Priestley

grammar

to

These brushes with Calvinist 'darkness' drove him to

55

peculiar sense of the value of rational principles of religion' after

frit

I

was educated

way

school until he was sixteen, later reading his

at

into

Chaldean, Syriac and Arabic, as well as modern languages, mathematics, physics

Academy, a

and philosophy. At nineteen he entered the Daventry he always cherished. 'While your

liberal institution

Universities resemble pools of stagnant water,' he told William Pitt in a public letter in 1787, 'ours

the Nonconformist academies]

[i.e.,

are like rivers, which, taking their natural course, fertilize a whole country.' 58 Unlike

hidebound Oxbridge,

who

inquiry, claimed Priestley,

became a

fierce controversialist.

pupils, 'that

At Daventry, (1749),

made

to

Priestley hit

methods fostered

'I

do not

recollect,' stated

least displeasure at the strongest

what he

delivered.'

59

on David Hartley's

Observations on

won him

over.

The

no mystifying

and

everything,

effects.

their

Moreover, Hartley implied that education was

through learning, associationism

education and progress.

60

Not

Hartley,

I

consider

and a Christian

Mr Hume

justified faith in

to

both

the pious Hartley's rejection of

least,

and mind-body dualism convinced

determinist, a materialist

Dr

and

and the prospects of progress boundless. By pointing

perfectibility

free will

'the laws

Lockean bent:

or 'innate instincts', only ideas

'faculties'

Man

transparent simplicity of

Hartley's philosophy gratified Priestley's no-nonsense

causes

one of his

which account of the workings of the mind by

of association' quite

and

rejoiced in free interchange

he ever showed the

objections that were

their very

Priestley

all at

once: 'compared with

even a

as not

he could be a

child'.

61

Hume's

conservative politics, in any case, were as distasteful to Priestley as his flippant unbelief. trast,

were

concerning

after his

Human

62

Hartley's earnest morality

own

Liberty

heart.

and

Anthony

Necessity

4°7

171

and

faith,

by con-

Collins's Philosophical Inquiry ]

\

had already sapped

his

THE 1

(

relief in free will,

He proved

REATION OF THE MODERN WORLD and Hartley now provided him with an

a lifelong disciple: in 1775 he ^bridged the Observations as

Human Mind

Hartley's TJieory of the

Philosophical Inquiry.

on the Principle of the Association of

producing a new edition of Collins's

Ideas (1775), fifteen years later 63

In 1755, aged twenty- two, Priestley gained his

Needham Market,

at

and

his

becoming

academy

he

in Cheshire,

ments, including an in 1761

at

criticism,

set

up a

'electrical

first

congregation,

not a success - he stammered, his flock.

Moving

to

school, buying scientific instru-

machine' and an airpump, before

'Tutor of the languages' to the Nonconformist

Warrington, soon to become the most

There he gave the world

Dissenters' universities.

New

He was

Suffolk.

Arian theological unorthodoxies galled

Nantwich

alternative.

grammar,

and

history

illustrious

of the

his reflections

law, his Chart of Biography (1765)

Chart of History (1769) proving popular teaching texts.

polymath was never daunted: he was the

self-taught lawyer

64

on

and

The

whose A

Few Remarks on Blackstone's Commentaries (1769) bearded England's most erudite jurist,

and the

stutterer

Oratory and Criticism (1777).

On

London,

visits to

65

who

published a Course of Lectures on

Specialization

Priestley

made

was arcane and

friends with scientists

philosophers, notably Benjamin Franklin

Nonconformist divine, actuary and former led to The History and Experiments (1767), the

on a

first

subject to the

is

67

His

electrical inquiries,

same laws

scientific

Price, the

Contacts with the

he proudly reported,

that 'the attraction of electricity

as that of gravitation,

the square of the distances'.

on

statistician.

66

Present State of Electricity, with Original

show experimentally

to

and Richard

and

work which put the understanding of electricity

scientific footing.

were the

suspect.

68

method. While

That work at heart a

and

is

therefore as

also contained his thoughts

Baconian

fact-collector, the

free-thinking controversialist did not dismiss theory, only dogmatism.

'A philosopher .

.

.

will not,

who

has been long attached to a favourite hypothesis

sometimes, be convinced of

its falsity

by the plainest

evidence of fact.' 69 In 1767 Priestley accepted an invitation to address the people of Mill Hill, Leeds, a congregation which found his religious stance

408

RE OR M /•

He had

congenial.

long abandoned hoth orthodox

and the Atonement. 70

Now

the enlightened

and simple moved from Arianism that Christ

was

he was divine

as

The Messiah was just

all.

initar

i

champion

ianism

of the plain

Socinianism, denying not only

same substance'

'of the

at

to

I

God the Father but that 'a man like ourselves', 'a

man approved by God', neither unerring nor unblemished - 'as much a creature of God as a loaf of bread'. His bold Socinianism rejected Christ worship as 'idolatrous' - while Trinitarianism,

ation.

71

he

railed,

was

just as

Priestley's Theological Repository, set

magazine avowedly dedicated

of Christianity (1782)

and

Christ (1786),

were devoted

the Gospels.

73

up

bad

levelling indeed! as transubstanti-

in 1769,

to free religious inquiry.

Priestiey's later theological writings, tions

- theological

was the

first

72

notably An History of the Corrup-

his History ofEarly Opinions Concerning Jesus

to

proving that Socinianism squared with

Yet he was doomed, he lamented,

to pleasing none:

philosophical acquaintance ridicule

my

attachment to Christianity, and yet the generality of Christians

will

'The greater part of not allow

Gibbon

me

told

improvements ill

belong to them

to

him

my

at

all.'

74

Indeed: the unbeliever

to stick to 'those sciences in

can

be made',

75

which

real

and

useful

while, for their part, Christians

disposed to embrace a materialist and a determinist

Original Sin, the Trinity and the Atonement.

who

were

rejected

He was 'one of the most

dangerous enemies of Christianity', judged John Wesley; detesting

anonymous Appeal

'enthusiasm', Priestley retaliated in an fessors of Christianity (1770),

tian love in a

76

to the

Pro-

while the Methodists paraded their Chris-

hymn: Stretch out thy hands, thou Triune God:

Attacks

left

The

Unitarian fiend expel

And

chase his doctrine back to Hell. 77

Priestley quite

hand of Providence explained

at

undaunted, however, as he saw the

work everywhere. 'Even

71ie Doctrine of Philosophical Necessity Illustrated (1777), 'are

only

and advancing them

to a

God were

thus

giving the precedence to the persecuted,

much

the persecutors.*

higher degree of perfection.'

409

78

'The ways of

THE CREATION OF THE MODERN WORLD

On

progressive.

younger son*s early death

his

in 1795,

he expressed

the belief that he 'had the foundation of somethkig in his character,

on which a good superstructure

dead were destined Priestley's

to

may be

raised hereafter'. 79

Even

the

improve.

Leeds years were not wholly given over to the demystifi-

cation of theology, however. In 1772 he published a history of optics, 80

before plunging into chemistry - with a characteristic utilitarian bent,

chemical publication taught

his first

how

to substitute artificial soda

w ater for imported spa waters. Addressing the problem of 'different kinds of

or the composition of the atmosphere, his Experiments

air',

and Observations on

what he Science

-

called 'dephlogisticated air'

never approved the

won

name

as

today's oxygen, although he

or the Lavoisierian theory behind

Priestley national fame,

proposed him

observer'

'scientific

and

was scuppered. The next

Shelburne made him 'librarian and held until 1780,

when he moved

to

(Jommonsense,

Dr Beattie's Essay

Dr Oswald's Appeal as (

it

was

at

Hume,

lommon Sense

tur.

82

to

Common

it.

81

Joseph Banks Pacific

notorious,

and

year, however, the Earl of

literary

companion', a post he

Birmingham.

into the

appeared

Human Mind

in

An

1774:

on the Principles of

on the Nature and Immutability of Truth, and Sense on Behalf of Religion. Piously

the thinking of Reid

philosophers might have

But he was a loyal

1771

had grown

Priestley's first philosophical publication

Examination of Dr Reid's Inquiry

in

on Cook's second

expedition. But his theological heterodoxy

the design

augmented knowledge of

ofAir (1774)

Different Kinds

and

won

aimed

his fellow Scottish

Priestley's

imprima-

disciple of Hartley and, via Hartley, of

Locke's 'way of ideas', over which the Scots had qualms, spying therein the root of

all

Humean

evil.

Reid's Inquiry was but 'an

ingenious piece of sophistry', Priestley judged, and, turning to the Presbyterian minister and philosopher

'unaccountable

.

.

.

James Oswald, he found

that such a performance should ever have excited

any other sentiments than those of contempt, been

in

any person who had

initiated into the elements of this kind of

Locke'.

83

In replacing Locke's

mind with

'such a

it

and Hartley's

number of independent, 410

knowledge by

Mr

scientific theories

of

arbitrary, instinctive

REFORM principles, that the very ('numeration of

them

Common

deemed,

Sense

'Common

sense'

philosophy

was

in truth

he

was,

euphemism

hut a

example,

in

obscurantist." 4 mystification, a

lor

'instinctive' truths -

roadblock to further inquiry. All their so-called belief, for

really tiresome',

is

an 'external world' - could be derived from

experience by means of a single crystal-clear principle: association. In his edition of Hartley, Priestley is

made up

perception

proposed that

'the

man

whole

of some uniform composition, and that the property of is

the brain'. 85

the result ... of such an organical structure as that of

Such materialism predictably created a furore:

newspapers,' protested Priestley, in revelation,

and no

'I

better than

was represented an

Atheist.'

as

an unbeliever

He was

86

'In all the

resolved,

however, to show that that charge was unwarranted, both religiously

and

philosophically.

Theologically, conceded his Disquisitions Relating

materialism had been

(1777) ,

was

deemed

not, however, 'naturally'

God had

at

Matter and

Spirit

odds with immortality.

Man

immortal

at all

to

but only so because

chosen to resurrect him. That was primarily a resurrection

of the body - and of the

mind only as a result of its being incorporated.

Philosophical anti-materialism was based tions of matter as inert, impenetrable

upon

and

solid.

discredited concep-

Hence

87

there

was

no incompatibility between matter and mental powers, but there were sound reasons

for rejecting the traditional doctrine of

opposed substances, mind and matter, with Popery) could never explain

fied

for

two

dualism (which he identi-

how

the twain could possibly

interact.

In 1777 again, in his Doctrine ofPhilosophical Necessity ley

drew heavily on

free will.

dence;

88

it

It

Collins

and Hartley

as

A

and

it

was

precluded Proviit

made

ethically objectionable, because

proved a worthy antagonist,

tussles, his old

their

it

action

left

moral

comrade Richard

correspondence published

Free Discussion of the Doctrines ofMaterialism

(1778) )

it

was metaphysical moonshine, because

choice arbitrary. In such doctrinal Price

to clinch his case against

was theologically erroneous, because

unintelligible;

Illustrated, Priest-

and Philosophical

.

Vecessity

being held up as a model of candour. Price argued that

411

THE CREATION OF THE MODERN WORLD C

preached the

Ihristianity

free will" which alone

responsibility; Priestley rejected

Providential: 'we have

can

move

himself, that

a stone can

terms

like

move

it

as arbitrary, irrational

no more reason

and counter-

God

alone had that power. 89 For Priestley,

base or blameworthy should be scrapped: rather

be said that individuals had acted from motives good or social happiness

ad ion. Adroit

would be increased or diminished by

social

man

... to conclude that a

that he can will without motives, than that

is,

itself:

would ground moral

ill

it

should

and

that

or that

this

manipulation of 'rewards and punishments'

would promote morality and law-abidingness. 90

Such

ethical utilitarianism also

He

thinking.

any

party';

cared

watermarked

Priestley's political

for high politics, disdaining the 'language of

little

what concerned him was freedom. But here

ences as a Dissenter radicalized him, as he became

less

his experi-

inclined to

accept that liberty could thrive in the prevailing socio-political

soil.

Priestley's early Essay on the First Principles of Government (1768) distin-

between two

ct ii shed

consisted in the

sorts

of liberty,

civil liberty, 'that

members of

power over

must not

that

voting and office-holding. 92

)(

by

contrast,

>wer? 'The

of the

which

and which

their

'the right to magistracy'

Of the

two,

it

was

-

civil liberty

two great freedoms upon which he

(the

were pragmatic - who was

state,'

which everything related reading

this, 93

least corruptible

good and happiness of the members,

members of any

Eureka').

actions,

being religion and education). Questions of political leader-

insisted

I

was

infringe'; the latter

which was fundamental ship,

own

their

the state reserve to themselves,

officers is,

and political. 91 The former

civil

Bentham

he wrote,

to that state

'is

that

must finally be determined' (on

'cried out, as

its

the majority

the great standard by

it

were

in

an inward ecstasy

Government should no longer intervene

customarily taken for

is,

by

in

many

matters

province, and resistance was sanctioned,

if

the existing order were destructive of the greatest happiness or of civil liberties.

On

toleration, Priestley far

out-Locked Locke, favouring

'unbounded liberty in matters of religion' - 'full toleration' for Roman Catholics and atheists no

Up

less

than Dissenters. 94

to the 1760s, while defending minorities,

412

however, Priestley

RE FORM was

content with the constitution; and,

fairly

still

established

Church

if

disdaining the

an alliance of 'worldly minded men,

as

temporal emolument', he had not urged

its

disestablishment.

the years, however, his pamphlets in defence of Dissenters strident. tins

95

In 1785, in his Reflections on

the Present State

Over

grew more

of Free Inquiry

in

he spoke of Dissenters as 'laying gunpowder, grain by

(Country,

grain,

under the old building of error and

spark

may

which a

superstition,

single

hereafter inflame so as to produce an instantaneous

explosion' - hence the

nickname 'Gunpowder Joe'. 96

up residence

In 1780 Priestley took

Lunar

lor their

new

Society. Living in the

warmly sympathetic towards the

He

industrialists.

below that of any of the

on

brutes'.

man .

.

.

.

defeated the purposes of

reduced him

bottom

it

to a condition

While he warned against

97

proved

confinement and meagre

solitary

at

.

.

social discipline Priestley

effective utilitarian deterrents;

punishment,

of the Midlands

then criticized the Poor Laws, which in his view

Providence with respect to him, and

punishment,

he grew

industrial heartlands,

laissez-faire attitudes

had 'debased the very nature of

ing legislation,

Birmingham, joining the

in

and

was better

stern. Capital

diets

since prevention

centraliz-

could

all

be

was the point of

that the innocent suffer than the

guilty escape.

Crucial to his later politics was the French Revolution: as British

opinion hardened, Priestley grew more radical. As Letters to

Edmund Burke

France (1791) Principles

and

his

is

clear

anonymous A same

Political Dialogue on the General

year, 98 he

had ceased

to think of

the British as the best of constitutions, while the Anglican

a 'fungus upon the noble plant of Christianity'.

doning the view that sovereignty lay in the balance of king,

and Lords, ment'. fall

'a

100

'our only proper sovereign', he

Hereditary

titles

before the 'prevailing

Unitarian

in religion

as a Unitarian in both:

ought

to

be but one

his

Occasioned by His Reflections on the Revolution in

of Government of the

now seemed

from

now

held,

and kingship were feudal spirit

relics

in every

will',

Aban-

Commons the Parlia-

which must

of industry and Knnmerce'. 101 Long

but a Trinitarian in polities', he

102

'is

Church 99

anc

state as in l

that

413

now paraded

every single person there

was the

people's: reform the

HE CREATION OF THE MODERN WORLD

1

I

louse of Commons

any

and

difficulty whatever'.

Prime Minister's

'every other reform could be 103

Denouncing

failure to relieve the

infhis Letter

made without (1787) the

to Pitt

Nonconformists by abolishing

who

the Test Acts, Priestley scorned his

kowtowing

were recorded

most jealous, the most timorous,

in all histories, as the

to the bishops,

and of course the most vindictive of all men'. 104 Such inflammatory statements

On

1

made enemies

aplenty.

4 July 1 79 1 a dinner was organized

Birmingham -

in

was not himself present - by 'Friends of the Revolution' orate the storming of the Bastille. ities,

a

mob

chanting

'Damn

With

local Dissenting chapels, before turning

him with a his

commem-

the connivance of the author-

Priestley'

destroying his library and laboratory.

to

Priestley

stormed and burned the

on

Priestley's

The French

own

house,

duly honoured

enhanced

seat in the National Assembly, but this hardly

popularity back home, especially after France's declaration of

war

in 1793.

And

so, in 1794, Priestley sailed for

Northumberland, Pennsylvania. Though he

America,

settling in

failed to gain a

perman-

ent congregation - Unitarianism was also regarded as suspect in

America - he did Discourses Relating

by the

deliver a series of Socinian lectures, published in

to the

Evidence ofRevealed Religion (1794-9).

political intolerance

he encountered in the

and finding good servants hard

to

come

habitual candour, told his hosts that there

knowledge

in the

105

New World as well

by), Priestley,

was

'less

Alarmed with his

virtue as well as less

United States than in most European countries'. 106

Before Priestley went west, he had explicated the 'second coming': '

The Present State of Europe Compared with Antient Prophecies'

(1794) expressed his persuasion 'that the calamitous times foretold in

the Scriptures are at hand'.

Study of the prophecies of the Book of

Daniel led him to anticipate Christ's return within twenty years: take ten

it

that the ten horns of the great beast in revelations,

crowned heads of Europe,' he explained, 'and

of the king of France Nelson's victories

is

the falling off of the

fulfilled Isaiah's

Newton, such immersion anachronism.

first

prophecies.

in the prophetic

107

414

mean

'I

the

that the execution

of those horns', while

Normal

in the age of

books was becoming an

R

Bold, energetic

I

I

and plain-speaking,

mate plain man's Enlightenment

commitment

OR a Priestley

truth

embodied

was simple, open

to natural rights jibed with his utilitarianism,

the

to

ulti-

all.

His

and both

served the overriding goal of improvement. His liberalism, which

preached freedom from

state tyranny, priests

with an endorsement of

- meant

hospitals

new

to instruct

institutions

and

this

would

went

factories, gaols, schools,

promised a future

deliver happiness to the people.

108

which

in

Paramount

in all

was mental autonomy: 'should free inquiry lead to the destruction

of Christianity it

superstition,

discipline. In the fight against the

mystifications of power, materialism

science

-

and

itself,'

he reflected,

ought not, on that account, to be discontinued; for we can only wish for

the prevalence of Christianity fall its

on the supposition of its being

before the influence of free inquiry,

not being true.

can only do so

it

in

true;

and

if it

consequence of

109

Such statements epitomized the Dissenting politics of candour and impartiality: truth

would

prevail given fair opportunities, liberty

would bring enlightenment, and enlightenment abet mankind. 110

The

was

Providentialist in Priestley

also confident that out of discord

would ultimately emerge: 'The consequence of free

unity

discussion,'

he wrote in 1787, 'would in time, produce a rational and permanent uniformity. For truth, contest.'

The

we need

not doubt, will finally prevail in every

111

call for

idioms and

reform came

priorities,

in

though

many all

different guises, with different

had much

most systematically radical of the

late

in

common. Perhaps

Enlightenment reformers was

Jeremy Bentham, whose exceptionally lengthy mindedly devoted 'all is

to the reform, first

the

life

was

single-

and foremost of the law (where

darkness') but also of the State, according to the criterion of

utility.

112

The son of a Tory lawyer, Bentham went up to Oxford as graduating,

lie

after attending

Westminster school

a 12-year-okl stripling in 1760.

Upon

enrolled at Lincoln's Inn, briefly returning, however.

3

THE CREATION OF THE MODERN WORLD to his alma mater to hear the lectures of the celebrated professor of

law William Blackstone. Published

Bentham's

1776,

jurist's

law.

1

1

first

anonymously in that annus mirabilis

work, the Fragment on Government, debunked the

complacent paeans

to the British constitution

and common

While attracting only passing interest, the pithy, witty Fragment

was fundamental ciple of utility

to

Bentham's

which drove

project, since

all his later

formulated the prin-

it

theorizing:

Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain

and

pleasure. It

well as to right

is

for

them alone

determine what

we

to point out

shall do.

On

what we ought

the one

hand

and wrong, on the other the chain of causes and

to their throne.

every effort

They govern

we can make

demonstrate and confirm

us in

we

do, in

man may

In words a

empire: but in reality he will remain subject to of utility

recognizes this subjection, and assumes

system, the object of which

is

we

all

are fastened

say, in all

we

will serve

think:

but to

pretend to abjure their

it all it

the standard of

effects,

throw off our subjection,

to it.

all

to do, as

the while.

The principle

for the foundation of that

to rear the fabric of felicity

reason and of law. Systems which attempt to question

by the hands of

it,

deal in sounds

114 instead of senses, in caprice instead of reason, in darkness instead of light.

While Bentham elaborated these archetypal enlightened views over the course of the next half century, training his searchlight into the

shadowy

recesses of

power and the

law, his basic principles never

wavered.

The proper goal of society was the happiness of its members, and it

was the

legislator's

job to aid that end. 115 Well-being consisted in

maximizing individual pleasure and minimizing pain. Government should ensure the welfare of all, each person counting equally, be he patrician or pleb.

number was

to

The

securing of the happiness of the greatest

be achieved through a proper mixture of personal

freedom and administrative measures. Fundamental

to state policy

were security of the person and property. Also important was parity of treatment and of fortunes. Other things being equal, equality

maximized public happiness, because to experience pleasure

and

all

had a comparable capacity

pain; with inequality, each additional

416

RE

brought diminishing returns* Absolute

unit ol wealth

unnatural, however, on

ac

count of differentials

owing to the pain

felt

in talents,

nor was confiscation the way to maximize

etc.

if

FORM

utility

by losers and the alarm spread

was

industry,

or pleasure,

in the

community

property were rendered precarious. Attacks on security were, after

all,

attacks

on expectation,

that imaginative chain

which bound the

present to the future. Security was thus a primary goal, although gross inequalities could be whittled

Government, which was parent and accountable. against misrule.

away over

time.

to serve the people,

needed

to

be trans-

The glare of publicity would protect subjects

Government must create a system which harmonized

using the law to ensure the coalescence of interest and duty.

interests,

Laws must engage with motives - hence 'springs of action'

it

was

be thoroughly analysed and

crucial that those

classified in the cre-

ation of a 'logic of the will'. Sanctions - sources of pleasure or pain inducing men to act in certain ways - came in five sorts: physical, 116

moral

political,

(or popular), religious

political sanction

also

had

at

its

was

and sympathetic. Only the

directly in the sovereign's hands, but the State

disposal indirect

means of persuasion,

like

public

opinion. It

was up

to

government, manipulating the system of sanctions,

to

provide a framework of laws and punishment which would expedite

optimal individual action. But though everyone potentially

own

interest, the

their noses,

uneducated,

like children,

would grab opportunities

knew

his

seeing no further than

to steal or

squander without

regard to the future. Education, discipline and the law were therefore necessary. Primarily

an engine of social control, the law must be both

knowable and known; detected

A

all

must understand that

infractions

would be

and punished.

true child of the Enlightenment,

Bentham

believed

power had

ensconced itself by mystification. Monarchy, the Church, the peerage

and the professions -

all

had cooked up

self-serving mythologies:

Divine Right, the ancient constitution, theology,

precedent.

was the lawyer's worship of the tyrann) oi 'Ah! when will the yoke of custom - custom, the blind

Especially obnoxious tradition:

ritual,

4i7

THE CREATION OF THE MODERN WORLD make

tyrant of which other tyrants

misery-perpetuating yoke be shaken off? seated on her Throne?'

-

their slave

-

when

ah!

Whfn

will

will that

Reason be

117

The pleasure-pain nexus was real, however, because it was grounded in human nature. The greatest happiness of the greatest number was the only scientific Power must be

scrutinized, fictions exposed.

measure of right and wrong. All other honour, divine

on

variants

man were

will,

and

criteria (convention, contract,

down

so forth) either ultimately boiled

to

or were mendacious blather: even the rights of

utility

a kind of nonsense. 118 Every social arrangement had to be

appraised in terms of

consequences -

its

its

happiness-producing

tendency. Hence, in drawing up laws, the statesman had to take dispositions

This

is

and

intentions into account. 119

why Bentham believed the analysis of motives so important.

At bottom,

all

sanctions were reducible to the physical, that

expectations of calculable pleasures

and

fears of tangible pains.

is,

The

cash value of a pleasure or a pain would vary according to its intensity, duration, certainty, propinquity, fecundity

(its

likelihood of being

followed by sensations of the same kind) and purity (the probability of not being followed sive

by sensations of the

knowledge of what moved

opposite type).

men would

120

A comprehen-

be the grounding of a

science of the law.

Bentham revered Bacon:

'fiat lux,'

cried

Fiat experimentum,

made'.

121

all

the canonical Enlightenment heroes, notably

Bentham, 'were the words of the Almighty: -

were the words of the brightest genius he ever

Locke was another of his

of the laws tage before

is

Locke and Helvetius had 122

And

embodied key enlightened ,ike

digest

both had exposed

his philosophical radicalism patently

Home Tooke, Bentham abhorred loose

language, creating, to rectify

however,

written', for

values.

others from Locke to

Ironically,

was Helvetius: 'A

a work that could not have been executed with advan-

the witchery of words.

I

idols, as

this,

a

new

lexicon of law

his quest for precision involved

and

obscure neolo-

gisms and linguistic solipsism, leading Hazlitt to quip that

ought to be translated into English. 123 418

politics.

Bentham

RE FORM He was

furthermore an unabashed materialist, denying

ority of the so-called spiritual

over the physical

pleasure being equal, pushpin

as

is

good

supei

i-

'quantities of

and betraying

as poetry'

none of the Christian humanist aversion

the.

hedonism. 124

to sensory

A

cash value could be put on everything. Bentham's materialism shows in his attitude issue.

125

towards the disposal of

Early in

dissected

'if I

life

Bentham had

own body

his

- a contention-

directed that his corpse should be

should chance to die of any such disease' whose study

would advance

'the art of

Surgery or science of Physic'. Later, he

conducted investigations into embalming techniques, leading Auto-icon;

or,

Farther Uses of the

Dead

to the

show

as edification

statues.

men

should be put on

and the process would be cheaper than carving

126

Bentham was a staunch vidual's aim; everyone

and,

form of

Living (1831). In the

the 'auto-icon', the stuffed bodies of great

to his

ceteris

possible.

paribus,

Happiness was the

individualist.

knew

best

government or

He thus endorsed the

where

his

own

happiness

society should interfere as

laissez-faire

indilay;

little

as

economics of Adam Smith,

trusting to a natural market-place identification of interests. Whilst

suspicious of natural rights theories ('nonsense

on

stilts'),

he reach

conclusions similar to Priestley as to the paramountcy of individual liberty,

and, as already discussed, he sought a liberalization of the

laws regulating sexuality. 127

Loathing privilege, Bentham detested the Christianity of the churches. Organized religion was despotism and theology was bunk.

'A

man who

after reading the scriptures

can bring himself to fancy

the doctrines of the Athanasian Creed,' he declared in 1777, 'state

of prepared imbecility'.

128

was

in a

In time-honoured Deist fashion, Not

Paul but Jesus, published over forty-five years later, proved the apostle

an

impostor, 129

denounced

while,

around the same time, Bentham

also

'cold, selfish, priest-ridden, lawyer-ridden, lord-ridden,

squire-ridden, soldier-ridden England'. 130

Benthamism was a philosophy of action par excellence', alongside Poor Laws (see chapter 16 above), the chief crusade

to

the

which Bentham

devoted himself was prison reform, by then a major cause for concern.

I")

THE CREATION OF THE MODERN WORLD As noted

in

chapter

for criticism: there

was a prime

the British" penal system

9,

was

little

rationality

in^he

statute book, in the

sentences of the Bench, or in punishments like the pillory

was a whimsical mix of brutality and mercy. The code was counter-productive, especially

and gaols were 'schools of vice'.

131

in

target

- justice

severity of the penal

view of its arbitrariness,

Confusion, reformers argued, must

be replaced by consistency, and physical punishments reinforced by psychological sanctions. In response to such critiques, late in the century the

began

to

be devised,

its

modern prison

advocates, like those of workhouses

lunatic asylums, displaying

an ardent

faith in salvation

and

by bricks

and mortar. With the old lock-ups denounced as dens of depravity and disease, new model prisons - efficient, disciplined, accountable, economical - were touted as the solution to the problems of crimin-

Long-term prison sentences, reformers taught, would

ality.

deliver authentic punishment, because they took

of the rights of man:

liberty.

away

finally

that sweetest

For that same reason, they would

And most important of all, they would rehabilitate. Whereas the traditional menu of corporal and capital punishments was brutalizing, the carefully calibrated regime of the new purpose-built and scientifically administered penitentiary would mould men anew,

deter.

replacing caprice, cruelty and corruption by the application of 'a just

measure of pain'. 132

Some

reformers, notably religious Evangelicals like Jonas

and John Howard, pinned

their

Hanway

hopes on the 'separate system',

securing prisoners in solitary confinement, enforcing silent segregation. Traditional prisoner subcultures

criminality

would cease

to

would thereby be crushed,

be contagious and solitude would work a

change of heart.

Bentham shared many, but not

own

via

all,

such views, setting out his

the architectural jewel of the Panopticon, 'a

obtaining power of example'.

The

mind over mind,

in

new mode

of

a quantity hitherto without

basic structure of this building

was

to

be circular or

around the circumference. At the core would be a central inspection area of galleries and lodge, from which

polygonal, with

cells

420

RE FORM authority could exercise constant surveillance while remaining invisible. pillars,

for

ii

I

arches, staircases

was

more

lighter,

stone or brick. Also, lilt

methods would make

ligh-tech building

-resistant.

(

ilass

and

were

galleries

flexible, less

to

be

was

be used extensively,

to

The

this possible.

made

of cast iron,

bulky and perhaps cheaper than

would not harbour putrid

it

itself

and was

infection

in skylights,

and there

would be two large windows for each cell. The penitentiary's distinctive design, with

its

central conning-station (the spider in the web) ensuring

the complete visibility of all prisoners, each in his

own

aimed

cell,

achieve absolute control and regularity through total surveillance.

No

less

to

133

important was the programme of management. Convicts

would be worked extremely hard - by way of punishment, the costs of their crime,

and

work fourteen hours a day

An

to instil discipline.

at sedentary

to

meet

inmate would

labour and spend one and a

and an hour for dinner: no 'particle' of time would be unaccounted for and convicts would be under constant surveillance. The scheme - a half hours eating his two meals a day, half an hour for breakfast

'mill for

grinding rogues honest' 134 - embodied utilitarian simplicity:

'Morals reformed - health preserved - industry invigorated - instruc-

- public burthens lightened - economy seated as it were upon a rock - the gordian knot of the Poor Laws not cut but untied - all by simple Idea in Architecture!' 135 tion diffused

Bentham submitted

three utilitarian criteria for prison adminis-

tration: leniency (a convict dicial to health or

be more

eligible

reservations,

to suffer bodily in

severity (the prisoner's condition

ways prejuought not to

than that of paupers); and economy (saving those

economy must

were thus meant

Bentham

life);

ought not

to

go hand

prevail).

in

hand.

136

Humanity and

efficiency

137

power of

entertained a godlike vision of the

his

new

B. the most ambitious of the ambitious,' he mused: 'His 'J. empire the empire he aspires to - extending to, and comprehendin g,

science:

the whole

human

a lifelong fantasy

race, in

all

places ... at

all

future time.' 138 His w as

of mastery, to serve the cause of maximizing

if it were possible

to find a

which might happen

utility,

method ofbecoming master of everything

to a certain

number of men, he '

421

thus pondered:

THE CREATION OF THE MODERN WORLD dispose of everything around therrrso as to produce

to

impression, to the

c

irc

make

umstances of their

oppose the desired w

t

on them the desired

and of all

certain of their actions, of their connections,

effect,

so that nothing could escape, nor could

lives,

it

cannot be doubted that a method of this kind

be a very powerful and a very useful instrument which governments

>ukl

might apply to various objects of the utmost importance. 139

Bentham did not merely dream of playing God, he turned tarianism into a secular religion.

founder of a

dreamt

it

was

the British Enlightenment, he legal reforms, notably the

141

-

his secretary

disciples:

statutes,

were

(and St Paul), James Mill, aristocratic corruption,

democratic direction; 142

Bentham, a

like

- helped usher

through the press.

eddying stream of

reduce capital

political thinking in a

the artisan Francis Place

his master's

violent atheist

and a

Not Paul but Jesus (1823)

143

however, was no Benthamite monopoly -

had emerged from various

itself

to

consumed with hatred of

developed Benthamite

Utility,

in the

had dependable and devoted

campaign

pursued by Samuel Romilly;

birth-controller

was a

I

called the sect of the Utilitarians.' 140 In this,

he was spot-on. Unlike most other figures

a low-born Scot

t'other night that

he wrote: 'of course a personage of great sanctity

sect',

and importance:

'I

utili-

after

sources, including the

Gay, Francis Hutcheson and Joseph

Of

Priestley.

high priest was William Paley.

144

all,

the idea

Revdjohn

the theological first

book, The

IMnciples of Moral and Political Philosophy (1785), destined to

become a

utilitarians, the

Cambridge

set text, reveals the striking theological radicalism

the pre- 1 789 era. Slavery

property was an rich

man

the truth

and

'it is

a mistake to suppose that the

maintains his servants, tradesmen, tenants and labourers: is,

they maintain him'. There should be, he argued, a all

dissenters

from the established church',

w hile the Oath of Allegiance 'permits resistance ill

behaviour or imbecility

to the

of

was 'abominable tyranny'; inequality of

evil per se;

'complete toleration of

his

His

community'. Not

least

is

such, as to

make

to the king,

when

resistance beneficial

he related the parable of the pigeons,

which ridiculed the 'paradoxical and unnatural'

422

distribution of

R E FORM property, ninety-nine out of a hundred birds fathering into a

heap and keeping 1

pigeon of the

flock'.

146

for 'one,

it

Strong

stuff'

all

they go

I

and the weakest, perhaps worst from a Cambridge divine, and

small surprise thai in 1802 the Anti-Jacobin Review 'hesitated not to affirm' that in

it

'the

tion of his principles,

The

most determined Jacobin might

and a sanction

find a justifica-

for his conduct'.

146

'second Enlightenment' decisively underwrote earlier commit-

ments

to

freedom, toleration and constitutionality.

Its thrust,

how-

ever, lay in stressing the shortcomings rather than the success of the

and

British socio-political order,

commitments

half-fulfilled.

The

it

pressed for the completion of

and demands of

aspirations

summed up by

'Enlightenment within the Enlightenment' were well the

this

Manchester cotton manufacturer, Dissenter and political

activist,

Thomas Walker: [We do not insisted .

.

.

an equality of wealth and possessions

on by the

friends of

that every person

of society;

make any

seek]

may

the laws

talents

he

.

may

Reform

is

.

The

equality

be equally entitled to the protection and benefit

equally have a voice in the election of those persons .

.

may

Commonplace

who

and may have a fair opportunity of exerting to advantage

Race of life'.

possess.

The

rule

is

not

'let all

it.

But

mankind be perpetually

'let all

mankind

start fair

147

in the 1770s

across a broad spectrum. writing, they

.

AN EQUALITY OF RIGHTS

equal' - God and nature have forbidden in the

.

and

By

1780s, these views

1794,

however, the time Walker was

had become contentious.

423

found wellwishers

PROGRESS Nature revolves, but

man

advances.

EDWARD YOUNG All well written books, that discuss the actions of reality so

many

men, are

1

in

histories of the progress of mind.

THOMAS HOLCROFT 2 [W]e

live

but to improve.

ANNIE WATT 3

No Man can pretend to set Bounds to the be

made

more

in

Agriculture and Manufacture ...

natural

and reasonable

the Beginning only,

we

Progress that is

we

to suppose, that

it

may yet

not

much

are rather at

and just got within the Threshold, than

that

arc arrived at the ne plus ultra of useful Discoveries?

JOSIAH TUCKER 4

[I)|rink success to Philosophy

and Trade.

ERASMUS DARWIN 5

I

Iistory

is

progressive, proclaimed enlightened activists in

an ever-swelling chorus,

improvement. originally,'

that

all is

6

on the future

in

'Rousseau exerts himself to prove that

commented Mary

now

wave

as they crested the

c

Wollstonecraft,

an age of

all

was right

a crowd of authors

right: and I, that all will be right.' Sights became fixed - though not the Apocalypse of Christian eschatology 7

but one end-on with the here and now. Indeed, the Enlightenment

424

PROGRESS brought the birth

Samuel Madden \s Memoirs of the or the

anonymous and none

of George Vf icjoo

and the futurologk

of science fiction

Twentieth Century (1733J, for instance,

too chronologically inaccurate The Reign

1925 (1763).

8

The Anglican Edmund Law

The scent of progress was pervasive. professed his faith in the 'continual

Improvement of

general' while the Scot John Millar taught of j

remarkable differences between that wonderful capacity for the

even

at the

novel

al

man and

how

World

the

in

'one of the most

other animals consists in

improvement of his

faculties'.

'Who

9

beginning of this century,' asked Richard Price, fired by

rational Dissent,

would have thought,

a few years, mankind would acquire the power

that, in

of subjecting to their wills the dreadful force of lightning, and of flying in aerostatic .

.

.

and

machines?

it

may

.

.

.

Many similar discoveries may remain

not be too extravagant to expect that (should

ments throw no obstacles cease

till it

that Paradisiacal state which, according to the

evils,

set ofThis

intellectual glory, celebrating 'the great

not

and restored

Mosaic History, preceded

demographic gloom against

and unlooked

for discoveries

that have taken place of late years in natural philosophy

ardent and unshackled

spirit

of inquiry that prevails'.

self-improvement became a keynote. In his Son (1796), John Aikin stressed

11

In

.

.

.

the

all this,

Letters from a Father to his

how man was

'an improvable being',

(glaring daggers at Burke) countered 'Declamations against

improvement' and the 'Sneering manner of opposing' by

how

will

10

Even 'Population' Malthus

and

made

govern-

civil

way) the progress of improvement

in the

has excluded from the earth most of its worst

the present state.

be

to

'Perfection'

was

'attainable in civil institutions'.

stressing

12

Late Enlightenment belief in progress was, to be sure, a secular theodicy - progress was the of religiose myth-making, precisely the

optimism. yet rather

same way

The it

opium of enlightenment - but

'all

will

be

right'

as a piece

was not complacent

as earlier Leibnizian

'all

is

in

for the best'

world, as Wollstonecraft explained, was not perfect

was man's duty

to perfect

4*5

it,

through criticism, reform.

HE CREA TION OF THE MODERN WORLD

1

The

education, knowledge, science, industry and sheer energy.

stunning information revolution then in train wpuld

make

difference: the temporal 'second cause' of advancement,

David Hartley, was orders of men, to

accelerated velocity'.

dropping of ancestral

fears

Priestley, that

developments, 14

Darwin,

peoples', a

about 'forbidden knowledge', was buoyed

in the thinking of the likes of Hartley, Price

Providence - the

or, as

ranks and

now be stopped, but proceeds ever with an And all this optimism about the future, this

13

up by the conviction,

the

proclaimed

all

and

nations, kindred, tongues,

all

progress which 'cannot

and

of knowledge to

'the diffusion

all

'first

cause'

- guaranteed such

suggested in the model of the Deist Erasmus

social progress

was underwritten by biological evolution

at

large.

Progress was the universalization of 'improvement', that ultimate

Georgian buzzword. The public got hooked on novelty. Landscapes, gardens, manufactures, manners, taste, art and literature constantly talked 'latest' in sartorial

commerce, and all

were sold on

and

sake

up

all

were

as 'improving', while advertisers puffed the

or culinary elegance or the 'modern method' in

literary classics it

-

- Swiftian

were modernized

satirists

for the masses.

ridiculed novelty for novelty's

for that very reason the public

had

to

be endlessly

reassured that change was truly educative, morally edifying socially

advantageous.

and allayed by Gibbon, a man

(

Would

lestroyed

and the present were addressed

constitutionally sceptical of facile

not, as civic humanists feared, the calamities that

ency of improvement. From savagery

command to

had

Rome recur in 'this enlightened age'? No: the great 'source

of comforl and hope', soothed the Decline and

and

and

15

Traditional doubts about the past

credos.

Not

Fall,

man had

was the perman-

'gradually arisen to

the animals, to fertilize the earth, to traverse the ocean,

measure the heavens'. Such betterment had no doubt been

'irregular',

with 'vicissitudes of light and darkness', yet the 'experience

of four thousand years should enlarge our hopes' - since technical skills

could never be

lost,

no people would

barbarism'. At bottom, therefore,

'relapse into their original

mankind could

426

'acquiesce in the

PROGR ESS pleasing conclusion that every age of the world has increased, and

and

increases, the real wealth, the happiness, the knowledge,

still

perhaps the virtue,

ol the

human

made, gains were

foreseeable limits, for, once

on the

tions

Fall

rounded off the (iothic

'

of the Empire

first

Moreover, progress had no

race'.

'Observa-

irreversible.

the West', the long essay which

in

half of Gibbon's history, explained that any

invaders could succeed only by

assimilating

first

new

modern

achievements, not least military technology: 'before they can conquer they must cease to be barbarians'. 16 In short, by 1800, progress was the big idea, set to turn into the great panacea, or

Whiggery

up by

in

of

ignis fatuus,

Macaulay's 'march of mind' - and as such to be sent

Thomas Love

that enlightened tailender

As already highlighted

in chapter 6, science

Peacock. 17

and

positive

knowledge

were mighty generators of optimism. Over time, the culture of science

down through

spread more widely and rapidly, percolating

and rippling out

into the provinces.

remained the nation's senior

added

was set up in in

In

1785.

and its

The Royal

reformism joined forces

in the

Royal Irish Academy,

Dissent and political

Lunar Society of Birmingham, and

similar organizations in Manchester, Newcastle

and

cial

industrializing centres. Science

not just to

utility

in

and other commer-

was acclaimed

as integral

but to the civilizing process. Launching a literary

and philosophical minister William practical value:

(1788)

Society of Edinburgh

Irish counterpart, the

English regions science,

the

bodies were

Linnean Society of London

Institution (1799).

1783,

While the Royal Society

scientific society, further

in the capital, notably the

and the Royal

18

society

society in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, the Unitarian

Turner underscored

would not such similarly

cultural

no

less

than

19

The

its

and

societies 'increase the pleasures

advantage of social intercourse'?

Thomas Henry,

its

leading light in Manchester,

pronounced the pursuit of natural

philosophy preferable to 'the tavern, the gaming table, or the brothel'. 20

Literary in

1

To

realize this vision of science as rational culture,

and Philosophical Society of Manchester had been

78 1, including

among

its

set

early promoters local physicians

427

tin-

up

and

THE CREA TIOA OF THE MODERN WORLD among its honorary members Erasmus Darwin, T and Josiah Wedgwood

manufacturers, and

Joseph

Priestley

The most

r

.

embodying enlightened

energetic of such gatherings

faith in science

was the Lunar

which brought together

Society,

likeminded luminaries from the West Midlands. Though, at the beginning of the eighteenth century, Birmingham was

market town, rapid expansion followed; by 1760, considerably, to 30,000 inhabitants, factory

it

and

it

Matthew Boulton's Soho

in

gained a machine-tool works of international repute. Wilcity,

Birmingham an ethos he had not encountered elsewhere:

been among dreamers, but now

From about tists,

I

in science

men

saw

home, once a month

awake.'

- leading

1765 a group of friends

educators, Dissenting ministers

at Boulton's

moon,

and technology and the new

their activities,' their

it

'I

had

industrialists, scien-

and physicians - began

at full

found

21

to

meet

to discuss innovations

industrial order they

instrumental in creating. 'The association of Lunar

were

members and

has been claimed, 'shows a conscious shaping of

world and a deliberate application to solve the problems of

industrializing

England that

as characteristic

fits ill

is,

somehow,

nation of Newtons and Lockes

Watts'.

the picture of classic

harmony and

same time also regarded of eighteenth-century England' - or, more pithily,

Augustan balance which

'a

a small

had already grown

liam Hutton, later the author of a patriotic history of the in

still

at the

became a nation of Boultons and

22

'Improvement' was a label also often applied serving as a

codeword

The improving

to the use of the land,

for capitalist farming, notably enclosure.

discussed in chapter

spirit in agriculture,

13,

was

increasingly associated with science. In the introduction to his 600-

page

Phytologia (1800),

Erasmus Darwin,

regrets that 'Agriculture

consisting of

and Gardening

numerous detached

a true theory to connect them'.

would

truly progress only

23

facts

.

for instance, expressed his .

.

continue to be only Arts,

and vague opinions, without

This had to change. Those domains

when made

fully rational

and

businesslike,

thanks to the teachings of political economy. 'Pasturage cannot exist

428

S

PROG RES without property both

the soil

in

and the herds which

nurtures,'

it

he insisted,

and

for the invention of ai

ture,

some must

think,

and production of

ts,

of society must succeed.

With

as the efforts of some will

and others labour; and

crowned with greater success than

tools necessary to agriculDe-

an inequality of the ranks

that of others,

24

capitalist agriculture

being thus cast as rational, farming

became managed as a form of manufacturing, with Robert Bakewell's fat

sheep serving, rather

ment.

and

25

The

like

Newton's prism,

as icons of enlighten-

Leicestershire stockrearer explicitly bred sheep, cattle

pigs as meat-producing engines, selected so as to

maximize

expensive cuts and minimize bones and waste: animals were thus

turned into machines. 26

As

this

example

hints, if agriculture

Arthur Young's phrase, as

'the greatest

another branch of progress which

now

was celebrated - indeed, of all manufactures'

27

in

- it was

received the warmest praise:

manufacturing. Progressives had long expressed their fascination with industry in the traditional meaning of skilled work, promoting the image of homo faber:

These are thy

Whom labour

blessings, Industry, still

attends,

rough power!

and sweat, and

Yet the kind source of every gentle

And

all

pain;

art

the soft civility of life:

Raiser of human kind! 28

sangjames Thomson

Overcome with ment:

'I

in 1744.

despair,

was wet, had no

Robinson Crusoe surveyed

clothes to shift

eat or drink, to comfort me; neither did

his predica-

me, nor anything either I

see

to

any prospect before

me, but that of perishing with hunger, or being devoured by wild 1

beasts. Salvation

came, however,

for Defoe's

hero

in the

implements

and weapons he fished out from the shipwreck: knives and forks,

a

spade and pickaxe, needles and thread, muskets, gunpowder and shot.

Implements formed the

basis of civilization reborn:

429

I

had never

THE CREATION OF THE MODERN WORLD handled a tool

my

in

and contrivance

I

life*;

found

have made, especially

if I

and

yet, in time,

at last tfyat I

had the

by labour, application,

panted nothing but

tools.'

I

could

29

Innovation was advancing on a broad front. Water-wheel technol-

ogy became a model of experimental

John Smeaton perfected

efficiency,

and the engineer

lighthouse design. In 1758 the 'Improved

Birmingham Coach' had blazoned on

side

its

'friction annihil-

ated', and by 1801 Richard Trevithick had a perfected steam carriage.

Above

all,

textile

technology was transformed and the steam

engine revolutionized power. Industrialization gathered pace and

production grew rapidly: averaging about

£9

million a year in 1780,

exports had rocketed to -£22 million by the century's close. Iron

and

shipments, running at 16,770 tons in 1765-74, had almost

steel

doubled by 1800. Over the same period, cottons exports rose from!

£236,000

to a staggering

^S?

1

*

000

30 -

At the dawn of this stunning transformation, John Dalton's Descriptive

Poem

(1755) carried a telling preface.

It

opened with a paean

to

agriculture:

When we behold rich improvements of a wild and uncultivated soil, in their state

of maturity, without having observed their

struck with

wonder and astonishment,

rise

and

progress,

to see the face of

Nature

we

are

totally

changed.

But then

it

significantly

changed

tack:

may be,

But

how

still

surpassed by that arising from the extraordinary increase of a trading

great

and

Town, and new the author after

rational soever the pleasure of such a sight

plantations of Houses

felt at

and Men. Such was the

the appearance of the

an absence of somewhat

less

and

artists

town and harbour of Whitehaven.!

31 than thirty years.

encultured nascent industrialization.

shire painter Joseph

emblems of

is.

satisfaction!

Admiringly recording technological progress with pen or writers

it

Wright portrayed

The Derby-

local industrial worthies with-

their enterprise: the geologist

John Whitehurst with

stratigraphical section, the lead-mining squire Francis

430

paints,

2

Hart witr

j

PROGRESS a

chunk of galena and

while Arkwrighfs cotton mills

model spinning frame also caught his eye.

Steam also

Cromford

at

The people

in

minds was many-

to enlightened

Technology became headline news

novelty.

a

12

The appeal of manufacturing sided.

ow ner Richard Arkwright with

the factory

edge of

as the cutting

London, Manchester and Birmingham are

mad,' Matthew Boulton assured James Watt. 33 Industry

mill

formed a prime instance of disciplined

mentalist in his

own

right,

Josiah

'make such machines of Men

as

among

to ensure punctuality

the progress visible across the

rationality.

Wedgwood

cannot

the potter

experi-

aimed

to

introducing clocking-on

err',

his workforce.

An

34

In 1783 he applauded

West Midlands:

Industry and the machine have been the parent of this happy change. well directed

and long continued

series

of industrious exertions, has so

changed, for the better, the face of our country,

and the manners and deportment of its Business, in other words,

A

its

buildings, lands, roads

inhabitants, too. 35

promoted not

just wealth but well-being

too.

Manufacturing was producing, boosters claimed, a new breed of heroes, principally the 'captain of industry', retailed as the self-made

man, back

raising capital for factories, forges profits,

and

foundries, ploughing

organizing productive capacity, recruiting, training and

deploying the workforce and calculating market trends and opportunities.

Long

before Samuel Smiles, the industrialist was vaunted as

a national hero.

One

improving Evenings

of the children's tales in

Home: Or

at

the Juvenile

celebrates Richard Arkwright's rise to

what manufacturers can

do,'

reator,

and

like the

work and say

fame and

Papa explains

it

is

great Creator, he

good/ Showing what inn

fictional father insists to a cultivated

diversion',

;

mind

in

it

his

may

to his children, in

man

is

is

an

a kind of

please himself

there

is

seeing a pin made, than

431

fortune. 'This

w ith

his

youngsters round a factory, the

all is:

"

Barbauld's

Budget Opened (1794-8)

enlightened idiom approaching profanity: 'here c

Anna

"more entertainment in

many

a

fashionable

THE CREATION OF THE MODERN WORLD The entrepreneur was shall

'I

never forget

Boswell of a \\

at

(

visit to

>rld desires to

work

...

hailed as the exemplar of modern energy.

Mr

Boulton's expression to me,' recalled James

the

Soho works:

have,

'

"I

sell

what

here, Sir,

all

the

- Power." He had about seven hundred people

he seemed to be a father to

this tribe.'

37

In a motif

congenial to minds analysing the transition from feudal to commerindustry was

cial society,

commended

as the

means

war with peaceful

into ploughshares, supplanting

to beat

rivalry.

swords

'Do you

really think

we can make

Wedgwood

inquired in 1771 about market prospects - the very

a compleat conquest of France?' Josiah

made his 'blood move quicker'. 38 Wedgwood, like Boulton, was one of a remarkable new breed

thought

of

men conspicuous for pursuing business through enlightened thinking. Though of meagre formal faith in reason,

education, he displayed a

and a passion

recording and experimenting:

would, he maintained,

for measuring, weighing, observing, all

problems

in politics

- he was

hostile to slavery,

American

colonists

and

'I

shall

partner,

in ceramics

'yield to experiment'.

extended beyond business to Unitarianism

big:

consummate

later of the

39

manufacture

His rational outlook

in religion

and radicalism

and a warm supporter of the

French Revolution.

He

thought

Astonish the World All at Once,' he declared to his

Thomas Bentley,

'for I

hate piddling you know.' 40

Becoming

'vase-maker general to the universe', he died worth half a million. the businessman might thus figure as Britain's answer to the

If

enlightened absolutist, Robert preneurs, a

consummate

Owen was the Sun King among entre-

illustration

ideas to the empire of industry. first

employment

as

the century,

Born

in

mid- Wales,

Owen

got his

an errand boy; then he moved into drapery,

rising to take a partnership in a of

of the application of enlightened

Manchester

firm, before, at the turn

becoming partner and manager of the

New

Lanark

on Clydeside. For the next two decades he combined entrepreneurship with social reform. In his A New View of Society (18 13) - in Mills

today's jargon

it

would be

called his 'mission statement'

-

Owen

urged rational social rebuilding on the basis of universal education.

Manufacturing would provide the foundation

432

for happiness, but only

PROGRESS once divested of the arbitrariness of the market and reorganized ording

ac
a

1

1

moment, except ignorance,

that obstacle, a school, a

such a

museum, a music

hall

and a

room had been built, Southey noted, reflecting the entrepreneur's

desire to increase the happiness of his (

to prevent

of society from becoming universal.

To overcome I

at this

little, if

Hven was thus a logical

terminus

work people a hundredfold.

ad quern of enlightened thought,

imagining and realizing comprehensive benevolent control within a

scheme of

industrialization,

with education

and

and displaying

discipline over his

Helvetius-like concern

'human machines'. 46

Uniting science and imagination, poetry and social theory,

penned anthems

James

improvement, from the Poet Laureate Henry

Pye's Progress of Refinement (1783) to Shelley's The Triumph ofLife,

uncompleted natura,

to

many

at his

death in 1822. 47 Modelled on Lucretius's De rerum

Richard Payne Knight's The

divided into

six

Progress of Civil Society (1796)

was

books whose very titles - 'Of Hunting', 'Of Pasturage',

'Of Agriculture', 'Of

Arts,

Manufactures, and Commerce', 'Of

434

PROGR ESS (

Ilimate

that he

Soil

was

setting enlightened speculative

1

and

Government and Conquest' - clearly show

and

)f(

(

giving a poetic rendition of the lessons of

anthropology

Adam

to verse,

Smith's stages of

society:

Each found

the produce of his

own demands,

His

Whence each

exceed

toil

of luxury or need;

the superfluity resign'd,

More

useful objects in return to find:

Each

freely

gave what each too

In equal plenty to enjoy the

The most

much

rest.

possess'd,

48

notable and prominent poetic prophet of progress,

however, was Erasmus Darwin. Born near Nottingham

Darwin was

49

1731,

and industrious' lawyer with a taste

the son of an 'honest

for antiquities.

in

In 1750 the lad went

up

to St

John's College,

Cambridge, then crossed the Tweed (like so many others) to complete his

He then set up in medical practice

medical training in Edinburgh.

in Lichfield,

Though,

which proved like Priestley,

his

circle

which developed

'learned insane'.

its

Matthew Boulton, Darwin was

becoming noted

talker,

conventions and Christianity.

he became familiar with the Society, with

at that

flirting

for twenty-five years.

a stammerer, the energetic and ebullient

Darwin was a domineering raillery directed against

home

time

still

His

earliest

for his wit

From the into the

close

and

1760s

Lunar

friend

was

primarily a buckle manufacturer.

with the idea of building a

'fiery chariot';

though

Boulton was not convinced of the practicality of such a steam carriage,

way

Darwin's enthusiasm drew him to steam and thus paved the

for his partnership with James

'favourite friend'

America with a

late 1760s

Darwin's

was Dr William Small, who had arrived from

letter

of recommendation from Benjamin Franklin,

but he also grew close to Josiah

had opened

Watt. In the

in 17(H).

(

)n

Wedgwood, w hose

promoting the

first

pottery works

major English canal, the

Trent and Mersey, the energetic W'edgwood found a staunch in

Darwin,

who

helped by writing pamphlets and

influential support tor the costly

investment

435

ally

drumming up

THE CREATION OF THE MODERN WORLD The

who

next addition to Darwin's set was Richard Lovell Edgeworth,

shared with him a desire to design a carriage which would not

- Darwin's

overturn. Both were also keen educationalists

interest

being partly stimulated by an acquaintance with Jean-Jacques Rousseau, then living in exile in Derbyshire; Edgeworth's Practical Education (1798) (see chapter 15) less

proved

progressive, Plan for

the

far

more

substantial than Darwin's

Conduct of Female Education (1797).

no

50

The Glasgow-based James Watt had pioneered the separate condenser as an improvement to the steam engine. Coming to England 1767 with his invention

in

still

undeveloped, he visited Darwin,

already a steam enthusiast, and disclosed the blueprint of his invention.

Darwin and Watt became

fast friends,

and over the years Watt

looked to him for encouragement, ideas and medical counsel. In the

same year Darwin's old Edinburgh chum, James Keir, the

army

to live at

West Bromwich, where

at his

he succeeded in making caustic soda from

salt

Tipton

on a

retired alkali

from

works

large scale

and

thus helped launch industrial chemistry.

From the late 1760s this group of friends - Boulton, Darwin, Small, Wedgwood, Edgeworth, Watt and Keir - with later additions notably Joseph Priestley, who settled in Birmingham in 1780) would occasionally meet up. The gatherings grew more regular, held monthly at full moon, to help light them home - hence Lunar Society at the very hub of the modern technological world.

A

years, arid its

and foremost, Darwin practised for some forty ^ponomia (1794-6) - his 1,400-page magnum opus which in

physician

first

third edition ran to 2,000 pages

theory,

heavily

physiology.

51

energies into

influenced

- was

by

essentially a

Hartleyan

work of medical

materialist

neuro-

Despite his busy practice, Darwin poured his boundless

many

other channels. In 1771 he was dabbling with a

speaking machine or mechanical voicebox; 52 in the next year he had long discussions with

Wedgwood and

the engineer James Brindley

about extending the Grand Trunk Canal; with

Boothby he founded the Lichfield Botanic site

Brooke

which

in time

Society,

brought out translations of Linnaeus. His botanic

somed on a

his friend

interests also blos-

west of Lichfield, where in 1778 he established a

436

PROGRESS botanic garden,

name.

the

inspiration

of

his

later

poem

of the same

53

Uniting arts and sciences, medicine, physics and technology, the corpulent Darwin was not only a the very

man

embodiment of enlightened

of the broadest interests but

values. 'All those

who knew him

allow that sympathy and benevolence were the most striking

will

features,'

wrote Keir. 'He despised the monkish abstinences and the

hypocritical pretensions

which so often impose on the world. The

communication of happiness and the

relief

held as the only standard of moral merit.'

of misery were by him

54

Darwin's was a benevolence independent of - indeed, hostile to Christian values

and motives. From

had

early years, he

rejected

Christianity in favour of Deism. 'That there exists a superior

Entium, which formed these wonderful creatures,

is

Ens

a mathematical

demonstration,' he proclaimed, but reason gave no warrant for believing that that First things

Cause was a Jehovah: 'That

by a particular providence,

is

not so evident

He .

.

.

influences

The

of Nature affords us not a single argument for a future

state.'

Indeed, he found the Christian Almighty quite repellent:

could a truly loving Father children?

56

visit

terrible diseases

55

how

upon innocent

Darwin regarded the notion of a jealous Lord

perverse; he loathed the Church's fixation

light

as quite

upon punishment,

guilt

and suffering; and his ^ponomia pathologized religious enthusiasm and superstition, diagnosing such religiosity as

Like

many

symptomatic of madness. 57

other enlightened scoffers, Darwin had a taste for the

blasphemous:

his

speaking machine, for example, was meant to recite

'the Lord's prayer, the creed,

and ten Commandments

in the vulgar

tongue'. 58

Championing

Hartley's philosophy,

Darwin was a

through and through. 'Dr Darwin often used to the

say,'

materialist

remembered

pious Quaker Mrs Schimmelpenninck,

Man

is

an eating animal, a drinking animal, and a sleeping animal, and

one placed

in a

can

He

desire.

material world, which alone furnishes

is

gifted besides with

knowing

437

all

the

human animal

faculties, practically to

explore

THE CREATION OF THE MODERN WORLD and

to. apply the resources

All else

of

world

this

T

nothing; conscience and sentifnent a re

is

These are

to his use.

realities.

mere figments of the

imagination. 59

(One suspects other than

that, in front

of his male cronies, Darwin used a phrase

sleeping animal'.)

'a

Anti-Christian materialism shaped Darwin's humanitarianism: bigots loved blaming, but ize.

Hearing of an

letter to his

men of reason would inquire and sympath-

infanticidal mother,

he wrote a commiserating

correspondent:

The Women

that have

committed

this

most unnatural Grime, are

Objects of our greatest Pity; their education has produced in them so

Modesty, or Sense of Shame, that Instincts of Nature!

agonies!

.

Hence

.

this artificial

in their

Cause of this most horrid Crime

the

is

an excess of what

Nature!

is

is

really

the Condition of

60

Darwin was a dyed-in-the-wool

liberal.

His books and

echo with condemnations of bloodshed (T hate

ism and slavery. Josiah

Minds, what

.

Politically letters

much

Passion overturns the very

- what Struggles must there be

a Virtue, of the Sense of Shame, or Modesty. Such

human

real

61

Wedgwood,

T have just

heard,' he raged

'that there are

war'), despot-

on one occasion

muzzles or gags

made

to

Birming-

at

ham for the slaves in our island. If this be true, and such an instrument could be exhibited by a speaker in the House of Commons,

have a great

effect.'

62

From

R evolution, and after the him

thing

minds

useful,

in all ages

outset he supported the French

its

Birmingham riots he wrote to Priestley by fanatics - while also courteously advis-

to quit his theological

more

might

1791

deploring his victimization ing

it

namely

maunderings and get on with some-

scientific

of the world,

experiments. 'Almost

who have endeavoured

mankind, have been persecuted by them,' he wrote

to him,

all

great

to benefit

on behalf

of the Derby Philosophical Society: Galileo for his philosophical discoveries was imprisoned by the inquisition;

and Socrates found a cup of hemlock

his

438

reward

for teaching 'there

is

one

PR OG R E SS God'. Your enemies, unable

had recourse

Darwin's

to violence/'

politics

to

conquer your arguments by reason, have

1

were, however, never revolutionary. Law, order

and property were

essential

components of the

social progress

which

would be achieved within the framework of free-market capitalism

and

industrialization.

Articulating his myriad ideas first

comprehensive theory of biological evolution: 'would

bold to imagine, that

one

and outlooks, Darwin developed the

living filament,

mality?'

64

Though

warm-blooded animals have

all

which The Great

different

First

it

be too

arisen

from

Cause endued with

ani-

from the now generally accepted theory

of his grandson, Charles, Erasmus Darwin's speculations were well

grounded

of his day and gave voice to philosophical

in the science

tenets central to the Enlightenment. 65 Nature, he contended,

everywhere

motion: the butterfly emerged from the caterpillar,

in

and creatures adapted themselves

and partridges of the

latitudes

to their

from generation

to

Through

to generation, as in the

Man's capacity

seemed

'the hares

'artificial

or accidental

moreover, beings underwent 'great changes' transmitted

cultivation',

dogs.

environment -

which are long buried in snow, become

white during the winter months'. 66

67

was

to

produce

breeding ofpedigree cats and

artificial

breeds via domestication

be transforming the very face of Nature: 'Many of these

enormities of shape are propagated, and continued as a variety at least, if

not as a

new

species of animal.' 68

Nature thus changed and, standing

its

dynamics lay

for

Darwin, the starting point for under-

in the inherent motility possessed

ized matter: 'In every contraction of the fibre there

of the sensorial power, or

spirit

of animation.'

69

is

an expenditure

Living beings were

those entities which did not react solely in a mechanical

environmental inputs, but possessed their

own:

70

manner

to

an inherent responsiveness of

living bodies, in short, were those with the capacity to

interact with their

fibres

by organ-

environment. 71

had the power

to contract,

producing

led to 'sensation'; while, in their turn, pleasure

439

'irritation'; irritation

and pain generated

THE CREATION OF THE MODERN WORLD ieelings.of desire

and

aversion, creating the superior plane of bodily

operation, volition, which constituted a'creatifre's capacity to act in

response to pleasure and pain sensations. Volition should not, however,

be confused (he explained, drawing on Hartley and

with the discredited theological conception of free

will,

Priestley)

which was no

an arbitrary act of the mind or understanding. 72

better than

Probing the functions of the mind, Darwin addressed the

between

volition

and

habit.

Frequent repetition of an action

up patterns of behaviour; once performance demanded piano thus had to give

less

habits

the

it

conscious play of mind.

it

The

tyro at the

concentration, whereas the expert

all his

merely pitched

built

were established, subsequent

pianist could attend to other things as well. volition,

links

on

Habit did not supersede

to a higher plane, better

adapted to

complex needs of beings simultaneously performing a multiplicity

of actions. 73

The power

of the will to advance from isolated acts to behaviour

model for the understanding of change. Animals - humans included - were not born inherently

patterns supplied a comprehensive

endowed with a and

skills.

repertoire of dispositions, capacities, propensities

Schooled

in Locke,

Common

their Scottish

Darwin rubbished innate

ideas

and

Sense variant. Rather, he noted, on the

repetition of particular actions, habits formed,

74

which, undergoing

modification over time, tailored behaviour to environmental pressures, opportunities

and

niches.

The

sures and pains - enabled organisms

sanctions of the senses to learn and,

-

plea-

through learning,

to progress. Sense responses translated, via habit, into the volition

which gave

all

creatures the capacity to change

What enabled association. classic

progressive. 75

such adaptive behaviour to assume truly complex

forms, especially in humans, was a further 76

and be

power of the organism:

This associative capacity - Darwin had in mind the

conception of the association of ideas as spelt out by Locke,

Hartley and

Hume

- was

like gravitational attraction,

77

and

it

was

the key to the exceptionally subtle interactivity of organic behaviour as a whole.

For Darwin, the expression of emotion - anger,

fear,

laughter - comprised the learnt product of chains of responses,

440

PROGRESS transmitted from parents to offspring, over the generations, by the

power of imitation. Association was crucial to Darwin's concept of progress, and thus

Through that mechanism, behaviour attained

to his evolutionism.

ever

more complex

expression, generating, for instance, the sense of

beauty and feelings of sympathy which created mutual affection

among mankind and the brain in turn

other sociable animals.

Through imagination

became the storehouse of experience. 78 And the imagination

played a crucial role in reproduction.

Controversy had long raged over the mechanics of generation and heredity.

among

Darwin repudiated the

the

amounted

to

early little

'preformationist' theory, popular

mechanical philosophers, that foetal growth

more than

the mechanistic enlargement of micro-

scopic parts 'given' from the beginning: offspring did not remain

carbon copies down the generations, he retorted. 79 Most importantly, he was convinced that the mind had a part to play in hereditary transmission to the offspring. Views of that kind were not for folklore

uncommon,

and certain medical theorists alike credited to the mother's

imagination the power to impress

conception - 'monstrous'

births

its

contents

upon

had been explained

the

embryo

in that

at

way. 80

That view was rejected by Darwin, but he did propose an analogous (and equally

sexist) doctrine,

which impressed

itself

upon

the idea that

it

the conceptus.

was the male imagination

81

A mechanism was thus

provided whereby 'improvements', the products of experience, could

be passed on to offspring: as with

his

contemporary Lamarck, Eras-

mus Darwin's evolutionary theory built

in the idea of the inheritance

of acquired characteristics.

Darwin held sexual reproduction optimal for the future of a species: simpler, pre-sexual forms of reproduction - for example, that of plant

bulbs

led to deterioration over the generations. 82 In

coupling provided the opportunity for

'joy',

and

it

any case, sexual

carried a further

advantage: by supplying the means whereby the 'ideas' of the mind or imagination could be conveyed to the next generation, sexual

breeding could be evolutionarily progressive, the adaptations of one generation being passed

down

to the next.

44'

89

THE CREATION OF THE MODERN WORLD Analysis ofliving beings for repeated, continued,

own

their

showed

that

life

contained the capacity

gradual modifications

'in

part produced by

and

exertions in consequence of their desires

and

their pleasures

aversions, of

their pains, or of irritations, or of associations;

and many of these acquired forms or propensities are transmitted their posterity'.

84

Hence

to

the argument for evolution was predicated

upon, and clinched by, the general animation of life, leading Darwin to hail the evolutionary process as a whole:

would arisen

be too bold to imagine that ...

it

from one

living filament,

animality, with the

by

and thus possessing the

which The Great

First

Cause endued with

parts, attended with

and

irritations, sensations, volitions,

faculty of continuing to

improve by its own inherent to

its

world without end? 85 radical alternative to Genesis, evolution

was

social implications

were further

spelt out in his

The Temple of Nature, posthumously published in 1803.

panorama of change was of nebulae up to Irritation

was the

potentialities

modern initial

first

estab-

human didactic poem

lished in largely biomedical terms in Darwin's ^oonomia.

and

new

associations;

and of delivering down those improvements by generation

posterity,

As a

warm-blooded animals have

power of acquiring new

propensities, directed

activity,

all

Its

A

sublime

there unfolded, from the coagulation society,

from mushrooms

trigger of the

life

forces,

to

monarchs.

unlocking the

of animated powers, leading to the awakening of

feelings:

Next the long nerves unite

their silver train,

And young sensation permeates Through each new

the brain;

sense the keen emotions dart,

86 Flush the young cheek, and swell the throbbing heart.

Sensation in turn quickened the perceptions of pleasure and pain

and triggered

From

volition:

pain and pleasure quick volitions

Lift the

rise,

87 strong arm, or point the inquiring eyes.

442

PROGRESS These (hen produced association and the awakening of mind: Last in thick

Thoughts

Whence

swarms ASSOCIATIONS

join to thoughts, to

in

spring,

motions motions

cling;

long trains of catenation flow

Imagined joy, and voluntary woe. 88

And

came

with the association of ideas

habit, imitation, imagination

and the higher mental powers, which

generated lan-

in their turn

guage, the arts and sciences, the love of beauty and the moral and social

powers engendered by sympathy. Through such evolutionary

processes

man had become

the lord of creation

-

his

preeminence

did not stem from a divine mission or from any innate Cartesian

endowments, but because of basic physical

facts:

highly sensitive

hands, for instance, had permitted the development of superior

powers of volition and understanding. 89 'All

nature exists in a state of perpetual improvement', and so

possessed the potential for unlimited improvement.

90

The

endless

mutual competition of burgeoning organic forms within the raqueous globe

also

resulted

in

death,

destruction

life

ter-

and even

extinction:

From Hunger's arm

And one

the shafts of Death are hurl'd,

great Slaughter-house the warring world! 91

Nevertheless, rather as for

Adam

Smith, in Darwin's view the law of

competition brought about net improvement, and the aggregate

rise

of population spelt not Malthusian misery but an augmentation of

happiness on a cosmic

felicific

calculus:

Shout round the globe, how Reproduction

With vanquished Death - and Happiness

How

strives

survives;

Life increasing peoples every clime,

And young

renascent Nature conquers Time. 92

Darwin's evolutionism provided the British Enlightenment's most sublime theory of boundless improvement. 93

443

THE CREATION OF THE MODERN WORLD Contrast the epic of human progress, implicit or explicit in most

late

Enlightenment opinion and given tangible form by Darwin, to such earlier visions as Paradise Lost

and the Essay

Man. For Milton, what

on

God and man command - and man's

was fundamental was the relationship between

Adam's destiny

offence lay in his violation of God's

was couched

presented a view of the

ordained

human

for his part

condition as fixed on a divinely

scale:

Plac'd

on

this

isthmus of a middle

state,

A being darkly wise, and rudely great With a

Pope

in a transcendental revelation.

94 .

.

,

'Chain of Being' in mind, 95 Pope viewed beings as

static

suspended between the divine and the animal, a predicament

at

once

laughable and lamentable, Created half to

rise,

and half to

fall;

Great lord of all things, yet a prey

to

all.

96

Darwin, by contrast, painted a wholly optimistic, this-worldly picture,

(

\i

ended

and

Human capacities were

grounded on evolution.

the products of biological

naturalistic

and physiological development which

to 'the progress of the Mind'.

97

Not only was

there

no

Mil tonic Lucifer and Fall, neither was there any Popean conflict (

ountenanced between mind and body,

man and

Nature. Viewing

humanity from Nature's perspective, not God's, Darwin granted a f

ar

more elevated

position to mankind:

man alone had consciousness

of the natural order. Whereas Pope scorned pride as hubristic, for I

);ir

win, as for

Hume

before him, pride and

legitimate basis in Nature.

its

triumphs had their

The mankind Pope

satirized,

Darwin

celebrated.

Darwin's vision of evolution had potent ideological implications. His writings amount to an early and society, rationalized

as part of the natural order. love,

vindication of industrial

through a social biology. 98 In

theodicy, struggle, sexual selection

were

full

and competition were presented

Yet no

less

sympathy and co-operation 444

his naturalistic

prominent

his

in his vision

poems and

letters give

PR OGRESS abundant testimony

and empire.

99

to his

Nor was

he was concerned to

his

rescue

other than a machine.

He

enduring hatred of violence, cruelty, war a merely mechanical view of man; indeed,

man from

the aspersion of being nothing

man's inner energies and

stressed

drives,

both the capacity and the need to learn, the inventiveness and adaptiveness of homo faber, the offered a vision of

man

for the

man who makes

himself.

Darwin

machine age, but not of man the

machine. Progress proved the ultimate Enlightenment gospel.

It

kindled

optimism and pointed to a programme: the promise of a better future

would expose and highlight whatever remained wrong in the present. It

was a vision of hope, a doctrine of change.

mankind's

tale in

terms of disobedience, sin and punishment - and

perhaps redemption - so as to if

the Essay on

even

if in

If Paradise Lost told

Man

justify the

ways of God

offered an enigmatic view of

principle at least capable of

knowledge, Darwin and

his peers

man

to

man; and

as a riddle,

improvement through

self-

presented a man-centred view of

man making himself - a Promethean vision of infinite possibilities. God had become a distant cause of causes; what counted was man acting in Nature. secularized.

The

theodicy, the master narrative,

100

445

had become

20

,

THE REVOLUTIONARY ERA: 'MODERN PHILOSOPHY' The Voluntary Actions

of Men Originate in their Opinions.

WILLIAM GODWIN

[S]uch

is

the irresistible nature of truth, that

wants,

is

the liberty of appearing.

him from

to distinguish

all it asks,

The sun needs no

and

1

all it

inscription

darkness.

THOMAS PAINE 2

The English national memory gloried in the Glorious Revolution.

Recording centennial junketings

Chronicle

reported on

The Revolution British annals liberties I.k

tures

.

is

.

.

i

November

Britain has

arts

equalled (

)\

cr a

Maid's

illustrious

been

.

.

.

and happy aera

in the

the grand bulwark of the

of Europe and of the Protestant religion. Hence agriculture, manu-

and commerce have

risen to a height

mm reased the wealth of the community. tlx

Norwich, the Norfolk

1788:

undoubtedly the most

Hence

in

of social in

life

Hence

have been improved

any part of universal

history.

in a

science, polite literature

manner

that

.

.

.

and

cannot be

3

hundred gentlemen had supped

Head with

which has surprisingly

at the city centre tavern the

a Dissenter in the chair. 'The immortal

memory

of King William' produced three cheers; 'The Bishop of the Diocese'

was

feted, as

were

There were more 'freedom to

'the

Lord Lieutenant' and

'the City

Members'.

radical toasts too: 'the Majesty of the People'

slaves'.

Nearer home, the diners had a whipround

4 the miserable debtors languishing in the city's gaols.

The

and for

event

captures the true flavour of the English Enlightenment, progressive

446

HE REVOLUTIONARY ERAi 'MODERN PHILOSOPHY*

I

but not incendiary, broad church toasts to prelates

and people

and confident enough

to include

embrace Anglic ans and

alike, to

Dis-

extend sympathy to unfortunates. Such relaxed,

senters,

and

tolerant

optimism did not long survive the outbreak of the French

to

Revolution. Initially,

much

John

applauded the storming of the

Bull

the greatest event that has ever

proclaimed the

Whig

leader Charles James Fox;

universal liberty', cheered

Wedgwood

'rejoiced' in the 'glorious revolution'

bonnets rouges

reaction in later).

Europe

and

salutations as

with

'the

dawn of

crony Josiah

telling phrase.

5

much gadding around

'citoyeri'

(comparable with the

to the destruction of the Berlin

Wall two centuries

Wordsworth's I

see, I see!

glad Liberty succeed

With every caught the mood. the

festive,

his

- a

'How

in the world,'

was

it

Erasmus Darwin, while

For a while the atmosphere was

wearing

happened

Bastille.

Channel

patriot virtue in her train! 6

To share in the exhilaration, young William crossed

in 1790, landingjust before the anniversary of 'that great

federal day', 14 July. Writing later in the Prelude (although

the salad days radical

Europe

had changed

at that time

his tune)

was

thrilled

by then

he recalled:

with joy,

France standing on the top of golden hours,

And human

nature seeming born again. 7

Dancing around the bonfire of the

ancien regime

was

easy, but the

Revolution also had to be understood within the great pageant of history.

This was what was in

Richard Price rose

1789,

mind when, on 4 November an address to commemorate the

his

to deliver

Glorious Revolution. 8 That had gone

down

dom

insisted constitutionalists,

as a conservative event: James

in reality 'abdicated'

II,

in British political wis-

and the great chain of legality had never been

snapped. Daringly, the reverend doctor, taking link

it

1688.

with current events in

What

Britain

had

it

upon himself

to

France, challenged such a reading of

had begun, France was completing: now

447

the

THE CREATION OF THE MODERN WORLD tocsin

had sounded

had a

truly radical ring.

thundered the

What an

frail

is this! I

could almost say, Lord, now

undermined

'Tremble

lettest

have lived

have

-

idea of it.

lost the

am

his peroration

oppressors of the world!'

1

thankful that

I

have lived

to

it;

and

I

thou thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have

to see a diffusion of

and error -

superstition

better understood than ever; to

all yer

old Dissenter:

eventful period

seen thy salvation. I

Hence

for the rights of the people.

have lived

I

knowledge, which has

to see the rights of

men

and nations panting for liberty, which seemed have lived to see thirty millions of people,

indignant and resolute, spurning at slavery, and demanding liberty with an voice

irresistible

been spared

Wagging

to

.

.

.

After sharing in the benefits of one Revolution,

his finger at the 'oppressors', Price

You cannot now hold increasing light

And

and

liberality.

he challenged

ciples

warned: no longer against

the world in darkness. Struggle

Restore to mankind their

rights;

and you are destroyed

correction of abuses, before they

to the

have

I

be a witness of two other Revolutions, both glorious. 9

his compatriots: if they

of 1688 and were true believers in

and consent together. 10

supported the real prin-

liberty,

they must embrace

the French Revolution.

was

It

Edmund Burke who

the Revolution in

took up the gauntlet. His

France (1790) never

astonishing that has hitherto

doubted

magnitude:

cause besides,

rebels

back

.

.

damned the

completely pulled

down

to the

ground

and

revolutionaries ('the

edifice laboriously erected over the centuries: .

most

in the 1770s

ablest architects of ruin') as 'cannibal philosophers' set

an

'the

happened in the world'. But the veteran

Whig, who had defended the American

many another liberal

its

Reflections on

on destroying

'The French have

their

monarchy,

their

church, their nobility, their law, their revenue, their army, their navy, their

commerce,

their arts

and

their manufactures.' Theirs

wrecking rage: 'The age of chivalry sophisters, economists

and

is

was a

gone,' wrote Burke, 'that of

calculators has succeeded.

The

glory of

extinguished for ever.' Evidently politics should not be

Europe

is

reduced

to a science.

11

Burke never scanted reform -

448

'a state

without

77/ E R E the

VOLU TI ONA R 1 ERA: 'MODERA PHILOSOPHY*

means of some change

but,

without the means

is

come

he insisted, change must

ol

its

(

onservation'

gradually and

'

1

must be

it

consensual.

Not even Burke's

rhetoric could stem the tide. Political societies

sprang up, comprising radical craftsmen and the petty bourgeoisie,

headed by

journalists, intellectuals

clamour was renewed

and

for constitutional reform.

are already free,' declared the

be

word of enlightenment,' ran one

the next year. 14

so.'

13

Society in

'For God's sake, send

letter the Society

Demanding parliamentary

Friends of the People, also founded in 1792,

The

'Frenchmen, you

London Corresponding

1792, 'but the Britons are preparing to

us the

disaffected gentlemen.

received

reform, the Society of

deemed

Britain not a

paradise of liberty but a prison of oligarchy: only one Englishman in eight possessed the franchise,

elected

by just over 11,000

and a numerical majority of MPs were

voters.

15

Many returned Burke's fire - the Reflections drew at least thirty-eight replies,

including

Mary Wollstonecraft's

(1790),

which reproved

above

all

Tom

Paine

his 'mortal antipathy to reason'.

who pleaded

corrupt Establishment and installed

by a

Vindication of the Rights ofMen

its

16

But

it

was

the people's cause against a

hirelings.

Attacking a regime

first

'banditti of ruffians', the Rights of Man (1791-2) spoke

directly to the cobblers, printers,

weavers and carpenters

who were

and the torchbearers of plebeian enlightenment. Alarmed by Paine 'our peasantry,' whinged T.J. Mathias, the soul of urban radicalism

'now read the

Rights of Man

way side' - in May 17

writings'. title

on mountains, and moors, and by the

1792 Pitt issued a proclamation against 'seditious

Paine prudently

fled,

but

left his

inspiration behind.

The

of his The Age ofReason, which appeared the next year and carried

the attack to the churches,

became

the radical catchphrase.

Were

they prepared to remain the 'footballs and shuttlecocks of tyrants'?

demanded

the

Nore mutineers of

at last revolved.'

Some hoped,

1797: 'No.

The age of reason

has

18

others feared, that the revolutionary blaze would

leap the Channel. Jacobin doctrines were inflammatory enough, and the tinder of discontent everywhere: soaring inflation, agrarian riots

449

THE

C

TION OF THE

R EA

(notably over enclosures) ii(

it.

and

MODERN WORLD

unsettling industrialization. Insurrec-

m was in the air, old paternalism was crumbling, and deference with Awarding

versifier

On

ancestral vengefulness a

warned Swill

new weapon, an anonymous

the Quality:

and Grains you wish the poor

And underneath

the Gullintine

w hile a notice nailed

to a

to

be fed

we could wish

to see

your heads.

church door expressed new sentiments:

Downe with your Constitucion Arect a republick': 19 no longer 'ours', now the constitution was 'yours'. This new 'them and us' mood was captured by Thomas Walker. The people had grown aware, noted k

the Manchester manufacturer, 'how the few have permanently contrived to live in affluence

and luxurious indulgence, while the many

drag on an existence laborious and miserable, in ignorance and in

pain and poverty!'

Yet the old order was not decisively war, radicals at alienated

and

many

home found

Once France declared a cleft stick. The Terror

tested.

themselves in

erstwhile supporters; 21 the propertied closed ranks,

patriotic support,

spontaneous or staged, swelled in 'Church and

King' demonstrations against foreign enemies and domestic like Priestley.

vice,

20

The proclamation

'traitors'

against 'Seditious Writings' (1792)

made mention of Tom Paine dangerous, and he was hanged in effigy. 22 The Scottish

trials

of 1793-4, with radical leaders sentenced to

transportation for attending an alternative parliament, served warning to militants elsewhere. In England, meanwhile, Pitt

had

set

up

spy networks, believing, or professing to believe, that the radical societies

modern

threatened a 'whole system of insurrection doctrine of the rights of man'.

was suspended, and

in the next

23

their

martyrdom would have

was bent on tyranny.

The

.

laid in the

treason prosecution

radicals, including

Tooke, John Thelwall and Thomas Hardy. their acquittal later in the year

.

In April 1794 habeas corpus

month a high

was launched against leading London

.

24

Home

For the government,

proved a blessing

in disguise, since

lent credence to the charges that Pitt

25

radical surge subsided,

and

after 1794

45°

it

was economic misery

THE REVOIJ! 1 1().\AR) ERA MODERh PHILOSOPHY* When

that kept opposition alive.

seized the opportunity to batten the

'Two

Oc tober 1795

a year ol sky-

stones were thrown at the King's coach, Pitt

rocketing wheat prices

means of

in

The

Acts'.

assemblies of more than

down

the hatches

further by

still

Seditious Meetings Act prohibited

people without aJP's permission, while

fifty

the Treasonable Practices Act extended the sedition laws. Charles

James Fox, leader of

the opposition

Whig rump,

parliamentary reformers were, technically at transportation, while

retorted that

least,

Samuel Taylor Coleridge,

now

still

all

liable to

in his radical

phase, prophesied that 'the cadaverous tranquillity of despotism will

succeed the generous order

muzzled by

and

1795,

.

.

.

of freedom'. 26 Opposition had been

at crisis point public

opinion

into line

fell

behind the government, judging that Britain's priority was national salvation.

Things were different

discontent alliance

came

however, where

political

an

to a boil in the revolutionary nineties, with

and Jacobin ideology through of Wolfe Tone and the United Irishmen movement -

between native

the inspiration

in Ireland,

Irish resistance

defeated in the end by internal dissensions and ferocious repression. 27 If,

however, the threat of revolution receded, commentators sensed

that the old order

turmoil,

now no

was disappearing,

too. English society

longer based on a rural order

still

to

was

in

be found

throughout most of the Continent. Labourers were leaving the land

- or rather being turfed

off it

by enclosure and the other innovations

brought by agrarian capitalism. 'Two causes, and only two,

will

rouse

a peasantry to rebellion,' opined Robert Southey, a radical turned

Tory: 'intolerable oppression, or religious

zeal.'

But that moderately

comforting scenario no longer applied: 'A manufacturing poor

more they

easily instigated to revolt: they

know enough of what

themselves politicians.'

28

is

have no

local

England's rulers must pay heed:

must come, and

Friends of enlightenment

London Corresponding

.

.

.

passing in the political world to think

manufacturing system continues to be extended, tion inevitably

attachments

is

in

its

became

most

I

'If

the

believe that revolu-

fearful shape.'

29

friends of the .Revolution.

The

Society set about disseminating political

45 1

THE CREATION OF THE MODERN WORLD Revolution in the Minds of

kiK >w lrdge, so as to effect 'a .

.

.

An

enlightened nation immediately become^

free.'

was Thomas Paine.

oracle of enlightened philosophy

Born a Quaker, Paine had had a chequered career

[the] 30

Nation

The

chief

31

as a staymaker,

schoolmaster and excise officer before migrating to America and vindicating the rebellion in his to

Europe

book Common

insurrectionary flames in Britain. in

hoped, to keep

it

Returning

outbreak of the French Revolution, he fanned

after the

was published

Sense (1776).

March

The

1791 at 3s.

first

part of his Rights of Man

- dear enough, the government

out of the hands of the swinish multitude. Within a

few weeks, however, aided by the London Constitutional Society,

which distributed Paine to

make

later,

a cheap reprint of the

were allegedly

'When,

was issued first.

34

in circulation

of that number.

sold.

available in cheaper format,

it

appearing a year

50,000 copies had been

it,

By

32

33

Upon

appeals to

the second part,

accompanied by

in a 6d. edition,

1793, a staggering 200,000 copies

- Burke's

Reflections sold

only a seventh

35

in countries that are called civilized,'

declaimed Paine,

painting a sombre picture of oppression, 'we see age going to the

workhouse and youth

to the gallows,

the system of government.' privilege: 'the idea

hereditary author'.

is

What was

to

in

blame? In Paine's view,

of hereditary legislators 36

as

is

.

.

.

absurd as an

Power came from the people and must ever

dwell in them: 'The vanity the grave,

something must be wrong

and presumption of governing beyond

the most ridiculous

and

37 insolent of all tyrannies.'

Paine jeered at the very words prince and peer which, depending as they did

upon

the nonsense of hereditariness, were insults to

reason: 'mankind are not

now

to

be told they

shall

not think or

they shall not read'. Arbitrary power that squandered millions on pensions, patronage

government by

and warfare, must end, and be replaced by

'election

and representation'

against the abuse of power lay in universal

:

the only safeguard

manhood

suffrage.

Paine was bold in his predictions - monarchy and aristocracy

would not 'continue seven years longer in any of the enlightened countries of Europe' - but, true to his Quaker colours, he did not preach 452

THE REVOLUTIONARt ERA: MOD ERA 1

bloodshed. Nor did he envisage is

as level as water

certain',

1 ,

equality.

strict

I'll 1

SO I* II Y

1.

'

'The floor of freedom

but that "that property will ever be unequal

on account of differentials in

and

talents

industry.

is

88

Paine's quarrel with Burke concerned the stranglehold of history.

Burke had contended that the Revolutionary Settlement bound posthus denying the people's right to choose or cashier their

terity,

governors. But the parliament of 1688 that, asserted Paine,

to act for

had

actually

done precisely

and 'every age and generation must be

itself, in all cases,

as the ages

own

as free

and generations which preceded

'Governing beyond the grave' was arrant tyranny, and Burke's

it'.

lament for the 'age of chivalry' quite absurd: he but forgets the dying bird'.

The

'pities

origin of the rights of

the Creation. All histories,

man

and

lay in the origin of

particularly the

born equal, and with equal natural

were grounded, which existed

civil society,

because not

all

himself:

establishing

'in

mean that ... all men are 40 rights'. Upon these rights civil

one point, the unity of man, by which

did

man

Mosaic - 'whether

taken as divine authority or merely historical' — agreed

rights

the plumage,

39

I

for the

same Lockean reason

as

natural rights could be safeguarded

by the individual alone. Some, such

as

untouched

such as the right to judge and

in civil society; others,

own

act in one's

case,

freedom of religion, remained

were relinquished

in

exchange for

justice.

Legitimate government rested upon popular sovereignty. Part

Two

of the Rights of Man took as

American Revolution,

since the

in the political world,

where the

could begin'.

compelled a cooperation.

The

spirit

its

departure point the

New World had been

principles of universal reformation

diversity of its settlers with their

of compromise, and

Whereas

the

'the only spot

tilling

myriad

faiths

had

the wilderness required

American regime promoted

Europe was awash with 'hordes of miserable poor', while

prosperity, 'the

greedy

hand of government' invaded 'every corner and crevice of industry'. 41 There was a seeming contradiction out of his populism.

and the

State, set

to supply the

He embraced

up by

contract,

in Paine's position

liberalism:

was 'no

which arose

man was

born

free,

farther necessary than

few cases to which society and

civilization are not

THE CREATION OF THE MODERN WORLD conveniently competent'. In other words, 'government, even in best state,

is

but a necessary

evil',

a 'badge of last innocence'.

42

its

Yet

concluding chapters of Part Two, he painted a picture of an

in the

energetic State meeting the needs of the people: relief for a quarter

of a million poor families, universal elementary education, family

allowances for children under fourteen, old age pensions, maternity

workshops

benefits, funeral allowances,

works for London's poor.

To pay

and a graduated income

cuts

which could

say:

tax.

for this Paine looked to military

The

'my poor are happy'.

civilized society

the

elitist

idiom. cruel

44

Brimming with indignation

and

arbitrary

be good.'

45

'I

God,

it

and

text, translating

prelates into a populist

Old Testament's

ridiculed the 'riddles' of the Scriptures,

believe,'

is

good that teaches man

ran Paine's anti-creed,

professed by the Jewish Church, by the ( 1

follow-up, The Age

against the

religion: 'Every religion

do not

Its

an Enlightenment

less

Deist critique of theologians

and praised natural (o

was no

was the one

43

The Rights of Man became the radical bible. of Reason (1794-96),

and public

for youngsters

Roman

'in

the creed

Church, by the

reek Church, by the Turkish Church, by the Protestant Church,

nor by any church that

I

know of.

My own mind my own church.' 46 is

Established religion insulted reason, the Bible was packed with obscenities, bishops set

up

profit'.

'to terrify

As soon

were the toadies of tyrants and churches were

and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and

as the destruction of priestcraft put

an end

to mystery-

tnongering, 'the present age will hereafter merit to be called the

Age

embraced enlightened cosmopolitanism - 'My he insisted, 'is the world' - and he looked forward to when

of Reason'. 47 Paine country,'

the present generation will

new in

world'.

48

appear to the future

Hugely popular

as the

as the voice of hope,

a profane anthem:

GOD save great Thomas Paine, His 'Rights of Man' explain

To every soul. He makes the blind

454

to see

Adam

of a

he was hymned

I

HE

l
ned

permanent

faith in

the great principles of government, nor

Moreover, the Re\

made no

VVe know that we have

think that no discoveries are to he

in

liberty,

k

philosophes to

British radicalism to the

to

118

French Revolution,

rank illuminism, was the Edinburgh professor

John Robison, author of Proofs and Governments of Europe (1798),

of a Conspiracy against All

who urged

the

Moderns

the Religions

abandon

to

the 'bloodstained road': 'Illumination, he pronounced, 'turns out to 5

be worse than darkness.' 119 Most reactionaries, however, were more

homespun. The lawyer John Reeves issued prospectus of an association against republicans

and

in

November

protecting Liberty

'for

and Property

Believing liberty's fate

levellers'.

defence of property, Reeves dubbed the Radicals

1792 the

hung on

'levellers'.

120

the

Others

too harped on this potent fear, hitherto deployed by enlightened activists against religious enthusiasts.

be a

leveller,' insisted

politics,

'The true Christian

Arthur Young,

or to French philosophy.'

to the Anti Jacobin Review,

caricatures of sans 1

Who

.1

Ready

which rejoiced

heart) Jacobin,

ow

ns

to

no God, and dreads no Sin,

dash through thick and thin

For Freedom

.

.

listen to

French

enlightened ideas was meat

crackpots:

calotte

am

never

never

121

The lunacy seemingly pumping up and drink

'will

will

.'"

in Gillrayan

THE CREATION OF THE MODERN WORLD and reduced the agenda of enlightenment

to Dun(jiad-\ike twaddle:

Reason, Philosophy, 'fiddledum, diddledum' Peace and Fraternity, higgledy, piggledy Higgledy piggledy, 'fiddledy, diddledum'. 123

A

print in the

magazine

for

August 1798 shows the apostles of reason

New

turned devout, worshipping at the altar of 'The

Godwin, a jackass, braying aloud from

Political Justice:

Morality':

Paine, a croco-

dile in stays; Holcroft, an 'acquitted felon', in leg irons; while from

a 'Cornucopia of Ignorance' pour the Wrongs of Woman and Godwin's

Memoirs of

Mary

Wollstonecraft. 124 Significantly, the Review pin-

pointed the root of

modern

all

'We have long considered

evils:

the

establishment of newspapers in this country as a misfortune to be regretted.'

125

Yet, by

mere

its

masthead beloved of the (

treat

Truth and

radicals:

will Prevail').

print power; indeed,

Magna

Ijoves

of

the Plants (1789),

it

shared the

est Veritas et Praevalebit

126

'The Loves of the Triangles', a

In

The

is

the Anti-Jacobin tacitly

existence,

embraced the same philosophy -

skit

on Erasmus Darwin's

Godwinian

the Anti-Jacobin parodied

perfectibilist pretensions:

We i

contend, that

if,

abbages of the field to

f

existence, by U

folly,

as

demonstrable,

is

we have

our present comparatively

tlx-

risen

from a

intelligent

mere exertion of our own

energies',

and

we

level

with the

dignified state

should,

if

these

were not repressed and subdued by the operation of prejudice, and

1

by KINO-CRAFT and priest-craft

ourselves: [raising]

Man

of his

endowments and

were,

all

mind

Other

.

.

.

from

his present

.

.

.

continue to exert and expand

biped

state, to

aspirations; to a rank in

and never

die,

but by

his

own

a rank more worthy

which he would be,

consent.

as

it

127

satires chortled at similar rationalist tripe. In

her

Letters

of a

Hindoo Rajah (1796), Elizabeth Hamilton presented philosophers with

names

like

Mr Vapour

ism, solemnly training

and characterized by quirks

young sparrows

to

swarm

Memoirs of Modern Philosophers (1800) burlesqued

like

bees.

vegetarian-

128

Her

Mary Hays

later

in the

guise of Bridgetina Botherim, planning to settle in primal felicity

466

)

THE REVOLT among

the Hottentots.

were

pcrfcctibilisni

i

ist it

Tom

and

Tom

equality'.

dost look so like a

tom: (looking on

his book.)

had the good luck

jack:

A

good

to

looking into a hook for

TOM: Matter?

Why

jack:

What

I

I'll

meet with

iberty!

it.

want

I

I

Send 1

I

find here that I'm very

book.

this

O

'tis

I

known

if I

had

a precious book!

unhappy without

find out you're

the matter?

Come man, cheer

Thou

little

art

too

an honest fellow

much

at the

in the

main, tho'

Rose and Crown.

constitution.

thought thou hadst been a desperate healthy fellow.

for the doctor then.

mm: I'm not

jack:

want a new

Why

jack: Indeed!

I

has one fetched a warrant for thee?

thou dost tipple and prate a no,

new

liberty.

be bound for thee. -

tom: No,

is

Why

should never have

I

you can't

What

'a

'What book art reading?' Jack asks

Cause enough.

sign tho'; that

and who wants

Paine,

hang dog?'

unhappy, and very miserable; which

up,

Better than

Hod, a mason, who has been seduced

namesake,

his

ntion, liberty

Tom, 'Why

not

Half a Loaf is

or,

Bread (1795), takes the form of a dialogue between Jack Anvil, an

honest blacksmith, and




(1963), p. 457.

Alvin

would involve a travesty of the open and

23 Cited

Rrmrdy

I h,

Johnson (1934 -50), vol.

ring-fence the Enlightenment in Britain

pluralist character

Starobinski,

eds.

Locke or Hume, but

denounce progressives

To

Jem

29 W.J.

Swift, lor instance, ridiculed ol>fus< .itory

metaphysic

;

Jonathan

ism.

riti


Society,

The

Understanding (1748).

p. 402;

Government and

the

Europe

C. B. A. Behrens,

Enlightenment (1985).

7 For examples, see chapter 2 below and

book. Prussians

Portable Enlightenment Reader (1995), pp. 1-7.

elsewhere in

Another eminent contributor was Moses

Moritz and Johann Wilhelm von Archenholz

Mendelssohn: James Schmidt, 'The Question

were scared

of Enlightenment (1989). 9

see

On

such

Richard van Dulmen, The

societies,

Society

of the

3

'(

>ur age,'

Kant maintained,

(I'd.),

Emmanuel

'is,

and

everything must submit': see

Smith

to find so

in especial

to criticism

Norman Kemp

Kant's Critique of Pure

much

like

Pastor

liberty in

England; Kant might possibly have had the

same reaction had he ever gone

comments do

Enlightenment (1992), pp. 52f.

degree, the age of criticism,

this

not, of course,

west.

My

impugn Kant's

philosophical genius, for which see Ernst Cassirer, Kant

s Life

Schneewind, The

8 For censorship,

and Tfiought (1982); J. B.

Invention ofAutonomy (1998).

see Eckhart Hellmuth.

Reason (1963), p. 9; R. Koselleck, Critique and

'Enlightenment and the Freedom of the

Crisis (1988), p. 191,

Press' (1998); Black (ed.), Eighteenth Centur,

4 See Dorinda Outram, Thi Enlightenment (•995)^ PP-

«*

5 Kant broadened

Europe ijoo-ij8(), p. 404. For Phillips, see

George his

outlook by reading,

being famously awakened from

his

"dogmatical slumbers' by reading

Hume's

S.

Marr, The

Periodical Essayists of the

Eighteenth Century (1971), p. 57.

9 Anthony Ashley Cooper, 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury, to Jean Le Clerc (1706), quoted

487

VOTES in B.

Rand. The

Life,

Unpublished Letters and

Shaftesbury (1900). p. 353.

Enlightenment (1969).

Shaftesbury began

The Age of

(ed.),

kobert Anchor's The

Enlightenment Tradition (1967), a general survey,

Concerning Enthusiasm" by

his 'Letter

G. Crocker

(1972); L.

Philosophical Regimen ofAnthony, Earl of

discusses only

one Briton more than

Hume

Among

observing that modern Britons were

passingly:

fortunate to live in a culture of criticism:

the nineteen Enlightenment protagonists she

1688

made

all

the difference:

England since the Revolution, .

.

.

than Old England by

to

be better

includes just two Britons, Locke

degree':

unaccountably omitting

many a

Anthony Ashley Cooper, 3rd Earl of

and Smith:

Shaftesbury, Characteristicks ofMen, Manners,

15 James Schmidt

Opinions, Times (1999 [171

(1996).

Any

10

1]),

vol.

p. 10.

i,

naive belief in an 'age of reason' was

doiroyed

In Carl Becker's waspish The

is

Modernity (1998),

been stated

who

Enlightenment, modernity

has

associated with

vol.

Int. initiation,

(1967), vol.

ii:

12 Influential

Darnton, 1971

'In

and

i:

The in

I

(ed.),

Enlightenment'

An

earlier Alfred

Enlightenment historiography.

Emu

Stuart Mill's verdict that

Bentham and

14

L

Bentham 'was not a (ed.),

Mill on

Coleridge (1962), p. 48.

M. Marsak

(ed.),

(1976), p. 608.

Cobban deemed

and

Mind in

Some

years

the term in

),

the Nineteenth Century (1975);

2nd

ed.

under 'Enlightenment'. For

'illuminati' etc., see Society

19 The

7.

Secularization of the

see the Oxford English Dictionary,

(1989-

The

The

Richard van Diilmen,

of the Enlightenment (1992), p. 105.

Shorter Oxford English Dictionary on

Historical Principles (1973),

Compare John

great philosopher': F. R. Leavis

Robert R. Palmer,

quoted by Arthur

Wilson, 'The Enlightenment

Casnrer, The Philosophy of the

Enlightenment (1951), p. 174.

Commager, The Empire of

4;

W. O. Chadwick,

European

The Darnton Debate (1998). Outram, The

Enlightenment, offers a succinct survey of

13

18

The High Enlightenment and the Pre-Revolutionary

and

English': In Search of Humanity (i960), p.

revisionism was Robert

Haydn T. Mason

Science

ijgo-ig^o

Enlightenment 'hardly naturalized

Search of the Enlightenment'

in

in the

'Turgot: Paragon of the Continental

The Rise of Modern Paganism

ranee' (1982); see also

Harris, Reason and Nature

17 Henry Steele

Science of Ereedom (1970).

Low-Life of Literature

W.

Reason (1977), p.

urbanisation and rationalisation.' Enlightenment,

R.

Kenneth Clark, quoted

(1967), ch. 3.

apitalism, industrialism, secularisation,

'////

A. R. Humphreys,

English Poetry, a Historical Sketch

eomplishments are associated with

Cay.

(1978);

Hill, Reformation to Industrial

judgements, see Douglas Bush,

emergence

innovation and change. All of these

11 Petri

is

The Portable

Eighteenth Century (1968), p. 234; for similar

of civil society, with political equality, with




of the People J.

io/

Trevor May, An

Economic and Social History of Britain, 1760-1970

(1987);

(1987); John Rule, Albion's People (1992J,

18-19.

The

has

Vital Century (1992); Jeremy

1688-1793

backgrounds.

Roy

(1996);

Century (1990). (ed.),

Progress in Eighteenth Century Britain (1990),

England (1968), p. 47.

60 R.

Enlightenment had anything

England

was located not

it

a British

in

England

but in Scodand.'

52 In any

Nettel in

(ed.),

F. Prevost,

de qualite (1927 [1728-31]), p. 136.

63 Tobias

171

1);

March

Literature

Century'

and The

(1972),

Leisure 1973);

in the

Eighteenth

6, p. 46.

55

Essay concerning

in

political

National Context. See

on Englishness

Thompson hoped

in

on

Man,

in J.

economy is

Butt

(ed.),

chapter

(see

66 The phrase

to 'rescue the

para.

The Poems of

17

is

Adam

-

below).

Smith's: Lectures on

Jurisprudence (1982 [1762-3]), vol.

iv, p.

163.

67 [John Gay], 'A Dissertation Concerning the

Fundamental Principle and Immediate

Criterion of Virtue*, in the Origin oj Evil (1721),

condescension of posterity': Ihe Making of the

68 W.

W.

King, An Essay on

pp. xvii

xviii.

Paley, The Principles of Moral and

Political Philosophy (1785), p. 61.

orking Class (1968), p. 13. '

1,

the blueprint for a capitalist

Joanna Southcott, from the enormous

W

Human

ch.

economy.

Nikolaus

and even the deluded follower of

56 Thompson,

I,

See also J. L. Axtell, The Educational

Utilitarianism

"obsolete" hand-loom weaver, the "Utopian"

English

bk

>

poor stockinger, the Euddite cropper, the

artisan,

1698-

65 For example, the development of a

Peculiarities of the

Pevsner, The Englishness of English Art (1976). E. P.

Traveller in France,

Alexander Pope (1965 [1733-4])* P- 5 l6 1 2

Hie Enlightenment

the reflections

pp. 197-8. See also C.

Works ofJohn Locke (1968); Alexander Pope,

An Essay

Street (1972).

Roy Porter and Mikulas Teich

English', p. 42; (eds.),

ii,

Understanding (1975 [1690]),

See chapter 4 below.

54 Thompson, 'The

(ed.), Bluestocking

Smollett, Travels through France and

64 John Locke, An

and

Commercialization of

Pat Rogers, Grub

aventures d'un

Frontiers (1999).

H. Plumb, 'The Public,

and the Arts

et

1815 (1932); Brian Dolan, Exploring European

For pioneering studies of

the social production of knowledge

Memoires

Maxwell, The English

Cicero, Tusculan Disputations (1927),

letters, see J.

in

61 A.

Italy (1766), vol.

V.iv.io, pp. 434-5.

Journeys of a German

Letters (1926), p. 90.

Steele, The

no. 10, p. 44 (12

Regency

homme

53 Joseph Addison and Richard i,

in

1782 (1965), p. 33.

gargantuan codification of the law.

Spectator (1965), vol.

An American

62 R. Brimley Johnson

case, certain systematic writings

were indeed produced, notably Bentham's

and

An

Porter, English Society

in the Eighteenth

pp. 10- 11: 'to the extent that the French

Black,

of Eighteenth- Century Britain,

Illustrated History

59 C. Hibbert

counterpart,

.

Modern England

the lives even

like

n

A. Sharpe. Earl)

51 According to D. Spadafora, The Idea of

titled

Kathleen

as 'a

of most of d'Holbach's circle - as one might expect from their

2.

in

'In

Coterie (1976),

shown how conventional were

|>p.

.

Wilson, Ihe Sense

High Enlightenment

pretty mild affiur', see

\sn,

David Dabydcen,

hesent

Statt

(1759). PP- >83

86

L. P.

England' 11989),

,

in

may

so call

life

it.

catch

not logic, and

p. 2t>.

497

Polite

learning in Europe

4.

Commerce and

198;,

I

Thompson, (juoted

'Radical Patriotism

,

most advanced

as they rise, study

'Eighteenth-century English Literature on Slavery'

is

have the world as correspondents': Enquiry

\Ciiny.

Manhandi.y

Regency England

where the members of

manners

ice

in

Oliver Goldsmith's

this large university, if

lonourahleness of the

and

Language of Learning (1986),

Compare

that 'Learning

populous

Polite

Robert DeMaria Jr, Johnson's

in

and

modernized by Bishop (Jibson, and Edward

\

A

117.

William Camden's Britannia (1695), edited and

he Antiquity

1794).

in St James's Chronicle (6

Langford,

Commercial People, p.

84

books pulling Kngland included

'I

British Post Office

1761).

pp. 132-3.

Ingliae. \otitia

'I

misses.'

82 George Colman

Steele, The Spectator (1965),

.

he groused:

Spaces ofModernity, p. 203;

81 The Times (28 February

75 Addison and

76 Alexander Cateott,

up,'

Maxine

Dictionary

lhambcrlayne's

all

224-5, 2 49' Daniel Roche, France

85 Quoted

C

wish with

Enlightenment (1998), p. 234.

Consumers and

no. 69, p. 293 (Saturday, 19

'I

meet milkmaids on the road, with the dress

The

VVeatherill, Consumer Behaviour and

Pre- Industrial

p. 149:

kingdom were plough'd

World of Goods (1993);

the

The Torrington

(ed.),

ii,

that half the turnpike roads of the

England and America (1990).

)ther

3,

Homer

astonishing Revolution accomplished [in

(1968), p. 59.

(

clergyman,

claimed that there had never been a 'more

Shammas, Tie

i,

Homer, An

Means of Preserving and Improving

A Warwickshire

Material Culture, 1660-1760 (1988); Carole

vol.

>,\

Roads of Tils Kingdom C17G7;, pp.

the Publick

in the

74 Neil McKendrick,

Lorna

into the

p.

.

Spaces of Modernity,

(1948), pp. 99f.; John Rule, The Vital Century

The Middling Sort of

(eds),

People (1994).

.

On

Enquiry

Howard Robinson,

and Commercial

Barry and

People (1989); Jonathan

Christopher Brooks

eds

\

Ogborn.

in

80 Ogborn,

1360-1815 (1990).

73 Paul Langfbrd, A

Birth of a

and Shiver

e

p. 202.

my heart

Favvcett, The Rise of English

of the Promenade' (1986), and Tie English

English Spa

1790

)abydeen,

I

Thing wears the Face of Dispatch". Clark and

in P.

in Transition,

72 Trevor

in

Country, than has been within the Compass

(1994), p. 172.

Towns

.

transportation] in the internal System of any

Selling Art in Georgian

London (1983).

Quoted

1

lommen

6, 8.

28; Pears, The Discovery of Painting, pp. 77-87;

71

p.

ii,

'Eighteenth-century Lnglish Literature on

Altick, 7fo £Aoatf

'masque the

/-'

77 Edwsitl

Roy

in

A Showman

(•993-4)' PP- 21

68

;/

S01 iety

usscd

.iikI dis< «

1

1

pp.

in

in

Linda Collev.

Eighteenth-century

p. 183.

NO 87 Jeremy Black Walpole

(i

(ed.), Britain in the .Age

984), p.

Roger Lonsdale

The New

(ed.),

Freedom created a

Allen, Tides (1958), vol.

still

Shall to thy

Blest Isle! with matchless

And manly

99 Robert

beauty crowned,

(ed.),

)liver

p. 146

E. Schofield, The Lunar Society of

(

letters to

oil-lamps);

Benjamin Rumford, 'Of the Management of

Many

Light in Illumination' (1970 [1812]).

Lunar Society luminaries were painted by

(1760), p. 286.

For the secularization of the Protestant

that painter of light, Joseph Wright; see

notion of the chosen nation into a kind of

Benedict Nicolson, Joseph Wright ofDerby

manifest destiny, see Christopher Hill, The

(1968); see also

World Turned Upside

90

(

Down

[1764]),

(1972), p. 248.

100 Quoted

and

the

101 Isaiah

Grand

Tour (1985), p. 174. See also Black's 'Ideology, 1

li

it)

story,

Xenophobia and

the

World of Print

Fightecnth-century England'

Touring

Italy,

Gibbon abhorred

Padua a 'dying

Memoirs of My

92

Corinthians

Black, The British and the Grand Tour (1985),

4:16; John 1:9;

Compare

Rosalie L.

set in

The

Handel's

Foreign View of England in

trans.),

pp. 23f.

one

Cambridge

light did

Platonists

not extinguish

another. For an exclusively Christian view of

Charles Wesley's 'Morning

Hymn'

(1740):

7725-25(1995), p. in.

and

13:12.

Platonists (1971),

light see

p. 180.

(ed.

Never Done (1982), p. 33.

Matthew

Colie, Light and Enlightenment (1957).

insisted that

94 Madame Van Muyden

A

102 FrederickJ. Powicke, The Cambridge

Gibbon,

Life, p. 135.

93 C. de Saussure, A

Davidson,

Messiah.

the

taper':

I

is

9:2;

passage from Isaiah was

(1991).

oppression, and found the once-famous university of

in Caroline A.

Woman's Work

P 5«British

Michael Baxandall, Shadows

and Enlightenment (1995).

Charles Churchill, The Duellist (1984

91 Jeremy Black, The

11.

of Erasmus Darwin (1981),

Letters

Darwin wrote eleven

Wedgwood, mainly about

Goldsmith, 'The Comparative

View of Races and Nations'

The

fair!

Britons never will be slaves.'

(

Note the new use of

For further information, see D. King-Hele

"Rule, Britannia, rule the waves,

89

p. 73.

Schivelbusch, Disenchanted Night (1988), p.

repair;

hearts to guard the

English Taste (16ig- 1800)

in

ii,

Birmingham (1963), pp. 196, 347; Wolfgang

with freedom found,

happy coast

excessively

'modernized'.

flourishing

commerce, the consequence of which was: The muses,

Lumley Casde,

had been

it

'modernized by sash-windows': B. Sprague

ofAlfred

Oxford Book of Eighteenth -century Verse (1984), p. 192.

visiting

complained

88 James Thomson, The Masque (1740), in

Montagu,

of

1.

Christ,

A

whose glory

fills

the skies,

Christ, the true, the only light

.

.

.

Foreign View of England in the Reigns of George I

& George II (1902), p. 67.

Anthologized

95 Johann Wilhelm von Archenholz, A

Book of Eighteenth- century

Picture of England (1791), p. 85.

103 Isaac Newton,

96

(

^arl

Philip Moritz, Journeys of a German in

England (1982 [1783]), P- 3 6

98

In 1752

Dr

City

Opticks, or

A

a

New

335. Treatise

George Berkeley, An Essay

Theory of Vision,

2nd edn

of the

& Colours of (1709);

towards

G. N.

Cantor, 'The History of "Georgian" Optics'

Lyttelton observed in

(1978);

Cornwall that there were very few cottages without sash windows. Six years later

The New Oxford

Verse, p.

Reflections, Refractions, Inflections

Light (1704);

-

97 Joachim Senior, Nights in the Big (1998); Porter, 'Visiting London'.

in Lonsdale,

Mrs

Marjorie

Demands

the

Muse

Hope

Nicolson, Newton

(1946).

104 James Thomson, 'Ode

498

to the

Memory

to (>p.

of Sir

Newton'

Isaac

\rw Oxford Hook

1

ndury

two related

/he

(1727J, in I>>nsdale,

of l-.i^httnith

42 7 to

10 the invisible.

Verse,

pro eption I

dismissed perception of the invisible

p. l(,o.

105 Alexander Pope, 'Epitaph: Intended Sir Isaac

Newton

in

spe< tres,

lor

Westminster Abbey'

(1730), in John Butt fed.), I he

106 Joseph

Poems of

to light,

112 William Paley, Natural Theology

from superstition

p. 81,

to

sound knowledge': Memoirs of Dr Joseph Priestley, Written

work of a diseased

imagination.

Priestley spoke ol the 'change

from darkness

phantoms, supernatural ghosts,

miracles, dreams] as the

Alexander Pope (1965), p. 808.

quoted

in

Searby,

A

University of Cambridge, vol.

iii,

113 See the discussions

Robert A.

in

p. 299.

1820 (1997), p. 28; Leigh Schmidt, Hearing

107 Jeremy Black

(ed.), Eighteenth

Things (2000), ch.

Century

1;

and chapter

3 below.

Europe ijoo-iy8g (1990), p. 186.

Locke viewed human psychology

108 Gilbert

'the

Stuart, The History of the

114 Rogers,

109 Gibbon, Memoirs ofMy

Thomas

The

186;

Wollstonecraft,

ofMen with

Woman

Edmund

A

(1995 [1790

Burke,

A

Our Country

The Burkean

course, reinstated darkness:

Burke,

Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the

Sublime and

the Beautiful (1757).

110 Thomas Paine, 'American 83), in

Crisis' (1776—

The Complete Writings of Thomas Paine

(1945), vol.

i,

(ed.),

(1978), p. 64.

118 George Birkbeck

Hill,

Johnson (1934-50), vol.

iii,

BosweWs

Hill,

vision into four

1.

Sight; the faculty of seeing.

The

'I

& Present', in

appearance; a spectre; a

iii,

p. 3,

sincerely think,' the

'that this

age

is

better

in a

dream.

to a sleeping, a vision

A dream

is

M.

The Hypochondriack (January 1782),

Bailey

(ed.),

BosweWs Column

(1951),

no. 52, p. 267.

phantom. something shown

do

than ancient times': James Boswell, "On Past

act of seeing.

waking man.

Life ofJohnson, vol.

biographer opined,

2.

to a

BosweWs Life of

p. 3; see the

Progress in Eighteenth- century Britain (1990),

vol. iv, p. 217.

happen

The Long

discussion in D. Spadafora, The Idea of

119

dream happens

Rights ofMan (1984

117 Quoted in Theo Barker

and

A dream;

Love of

March of Everyman ij$o-ig6o

(1755), Johnson divided categories -

4.

the

p. 40.

p. 125.

A supernatural

A Discourse on

(1789), pp. 15-16.

Ell In his Dictionary of the English Language

3.

poor.

[1791]), p. 159.

sublime, of

Edmund

is

1.

him

equivocal: the glasses help

116 Thomas Paine, The

1792]), p. 112;

Reflections on the Revolution in

France (1790), p. 207.

Eighteenth Century Encounters, p.

is

115 Richard Price,

Vindication of

Vindication of the Rights

and

device

see but confirm that his vision

Spence, The Meridian Sun of Liberty

Mary

the Rights

Life, p.

terms of

in

Bounds between the enlightened and

dark Parts of Things'.

Establishment of the Reformation of Religion in Scotland (1780), p. 206.

of

fi8o2),

History of the

Ferguson, The American Enlightenment 1750-

on Himself (1904 [1795]),

p. 156.

(1796);

two

of the visible

he \/n kean tradition

A

may supposed

natural, a vision miraculous; hut they are

120 Jeremy Bentham, A Fragment Government (1988 [1776]), p.

121 Clark, English

My passage

confounded.

499

is

Society,

on

3.

1688-1832,

a precis of Clark.

p. 42.

NOTES 3 1

CLEARING AWAY THE RUBBISH and Fall of the Roman Empire (1994

Isaac Watts. Logick (1724), introduction.

2 Basil Willcy. The Eighteenth Century Background (1962), p.

1:

vol.

Willey stressed escape

11

no

less

i,

On

important was escape sought.

was

5.

figures

including Pierre Bayle,

James

Bender, Imagining

it

Not a few Enlightenment

so seductive.

themes of imprisonment and deliverance to the fore: John

below, chapter

'priestcraft', see

Throughout the long eighteenth century, the remained

[1776]),

pp. 398-9.

Catholicism was doubly dangerous since

achieved ('One meets everywhere a sense of relief);

T

f

underwent temporary conversion,

Boswell: Colin

Edward Gibbon and

Haydon,

Anti-

the Penitentiary (1987).

Catholicism in Eighteenth- century England, c.1714—

3 Peter Burke. Hie Renaissance Sense of the Past

80

(i97o).

12 J. E. Norton

4 For Blake's phrase, see G. Keynes

Gibbon (1956), vol.

(ed.),

(1993). (ed.), ii,

The

Letters

of Edward

commented on

p. 245;

The Complete Writings of William Blake (1957),

by Iain McCalman: 'Mad Lord George and

p. 170.

Madame La Motte'

5 See

W.

B.

Carnochan,

Confinement and Flight

(1977); for the

theme

Warner, From

the Beast to the

in folklore, see

Marina

Turbulent, Seditious

and The

Christopher

A

Hill,

and Factious People (1989),

'Be Sober

Intellectual Consequences

and Reasonable': The

Enthusiasm

Revolution (1993).

in the Seventeenth

Centuries (1995); in

Some

of the English Revolution (1980); Michael Heyd,

English Bible and the Seventeenth- century

6 John Toland, quoted

Virtue,

13 For the trauma of the wars of religion, see

Blonde (1994). For

Christian tellings, see Christopher Hill,

Pocock,

(1996);

Commerce, and History, p. 155.

Stephen H.

Critique of

and Early Eighteenth

R. A. Knox, Enthusiasm

(i950)-

Daniel, John Toland: His Methods, Manners, and

14 Samuel Butler, Hudibras, Part I and II and

Mind (1984),

Selected Other Writings (1973 [1663]),

p. 6;

Linda Colley,

Britons (1992);

John Lucas, England and Englishness

part, canto

(1990).

In

istopher Hill, Antichrist

8

Almond's Heaven and Hell

!.

p. 7,

11.

M.

16 See Elisabeth Labrousse, Bayle

in

(1983).

17 Well discussed in Jonathan Brody

Rational Protestant rejection of the Greek

Kramnick, Making

metaphysics colouring Christian theology;

18 Bcntham's favourite term: Jeremy

G. A. Pocock,

History (1985), p. 143.

113, 132,

Virtue,

Priestley,

season of Fiction

An

History of

of Christianity (1871 [1721]), pp. 9,

where he was

tarred with the brush

of 'oriental philosophy'. See chapter 5 below.

9

1

Icnry St John, Viscount Bolingbroke,

Essays on

Human

Knowledge, in The Works of

Imd Bolingbroke (1969 vol.

iii,

[reprint of 1841 edn]),

p. 294.

10 Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline

the

English Canon (1999).

Bentham, The Book of Fallacies

Commerce, and

For Plato as

mystagogue, see Joseph the Corruptions

193-5.

Levine, The Battle of the

Enlightenment England (1994) illuminates the

see also J.

First

Books (1992).

(1971).

(

(1936); Joseph

in Seventeenth-century

England P.

The

15 See R. F.Jones, Ancients and Moderns

7 For an analysis of such prejudices, see (

1,

'The Argument',

pronounced

is

in his

A

Fragment on Government

(1988 [1776]), p.

53 - Mary

that 'as early as

A

denounced "the Fiction"

':

1748-179 2

P.

Mack

notes

Fragment on Government he

pestilential breath of

Jeremy Bentham,

An

Odyssey of Ideas,

(!9 6 2), P- 76.

19 Jones, Ancients and Moderns,

Thomson's words make contrasting old

500

'The

(1824);

now over,' he

p. 261.

As

evident, rhetorics

and new,

fiction

and

fact,

to

won

from on tunvc

t.u

i

pp.

///

S(ieme\, id.fj

iii


on

hum

Don't

words what the book

in three

A history!

a history.

yourself -

in a

recommended, should be

It is

of who? what? where? when? It is

'indulge their, children in

a history-book, Sir,

which may possibly recommend

what passes

-

is.

man's own mind.

Sterne. 7 mtram Shandy, vol.

into

Earl of Chesterfield

p. 107.

102 Mary Hays, Memoirs of Emma

1

1

Alexander Pope. Butt

Tin

Dunaad

1

17*28).

1.

9 Richard D.

in

I,

3 W.J. Bate, J.

A

11 A. Beljame,

M.

(1963), no. 115, p.

457

Johnson (1934), vol.

(11

Hill, iii,

p.

and

Idler

L. F.

Powell

December BoswelVs

Pre Revolutionary Prance (1996),

Work of Writing

1778).

Best-Sellers

and The

'What

is

Adrian Johns,

was then repeated

his

Journal (18

March

1754):

Benjamin Collins and

Trade

degree

of theatrical

(1998).

A Foucauldian might

{\^\

(1977); see the

Roger Chartier, The

Order of

p. 29.

Law,

in the Salisbury

C. Y. Ferdinand,

to the

Theory of Religion (1745), p. 25.

14 George Davie, The Democratic

A

(1961), p. 66;

censorship was

introduced by the Licensing Act

Edmund

Considerations on the State of the World, with

Regard

Newspaper

Century (1997), p. 155.

the

Scheme and Conduct, Procedure and Extent ofMan's

I he Nature

'

Redemption (sn, 1743), pp. 155-6;

the Provincial

in the Eighteenth

Pleasures of the

13 William Worthington, An Essay on

(1991).

of the Book (1998), pp. iHjL I

(1927), p. 21.

an Author?'

Books

7

English

the 'author function': Michel Foucault,

of

Business

the impact of the book, see Frnest Gellner,

in

the

1660-1744

modify Pope and write of the appearance of

discussion in

ussion

(1937), p. 68.

Imagination (1997), p. 428; Clifford Siskin, The

Life of

of Enlightenment (1979). For a metahistory of

dis(

ofMan

Common

of Letters and

12 See John Brewer, The

1753).

293 (16 April

Robert Darnton, The Forbidden

of the i,

(1948), p. 309; A. S. Collins, Authorship in the

Days ofJohnson

and Adventurer

5 For censorship on the Continent, see

Sword and Book

Men

Public in the Eighteenth Century,

Bullitt,

4 George Birkbeck

6 See

Perfectibility

10 James Sutherland, Defoe Dictionary of the English

Samuel Johnson: The

Plough,

(1932), vol.

Altick, The English

Reader {1957), p. 49.

Language (l755)j preface.

(eds.),

Letters

PRINT CULTURE

(1965), P- 349-

2 Samuel Johnson,

The

(ed.),

His Son

Sources of the Self p. 174.

Poems ofAlexander Pope

(ed.), 77ie

please'.

05 John Passmore, The

106 Taylor,

p. 330, letter 90. Parents, she

4

John

like

may be moulded

(1970), pp. 171-212.

103 Samuel Richardson, Pamela (1883-4 iii,

to

and

when,

p. 292, letter 168.

Courtney

('996 [1796]), p. 23.

[1740]), vol.

what shape they

104 Charles Strachey

ch. 2,

ii,

habits,

their head, at a time

wax, their tender minds

to the world) of

it

them

give

careful not to

bad

Scottish People,

T. C. Smout,

1560-1830

A

Intellect

History of the

(1969), p. 478;

R. A.

Houston, 'Scottish Education and Literacy,

(1737).

8 James Raven, Naomi Tadmorc and Helen

1600- 1800'

Small

15 According to a parliamentary survey, in

(eds),

Reading

The

in Britain

Practice

and Representation of

1500-Kjoo

and A

18 1 9 there

(1996), pp. 4fT.;

John Feather, 'The Power of Print'

(1997),

were 4,167 'endowed' schools

England, including

grammar

165,433 pupils; 14,282

History of British Publishing (1988);

Marjorie Plant, The English Book Trade (1965).

(1989).

from 'dame schools'

506

in

schools, with

unendowed

schools,

to Dissenting academies,

tO

with 178,84(1 pupils; and the pool |>upils. .1

,

Sunday

",,i*>^'

hools with

Sec John Liwson and Harold

Social lliston of Education in

pp. 22t>

(1994), p.

;

1*22;

Johnson put Jenyns

improperly bestowed, but lest

I

1824', in J.

appearance of salutary

I

the

should be

'

(1757), in B.

Bronson

17

edn

Selected Prose

254-5.

Common Reader

Roy McKeen

36fF.;

Two

Wiles,

in Provincial

Centuries Ago' (1976), pp. 85-

"5Altick, The English

1800-igoo, p.

57.

Common Reader

Apprenticed to a cobbler,

(1993). Professor

(eds.),

On

to

his first

London,

London

but bought instead a copy of Edward

Forte;

Money is

Young's Aight Thoughts (1742-5). Becoming a

engaged on a biography of Cannon. 19 G. D. H. and Margaret Cole

as a cobbler.

Christmas he went to get Christmas dinner -

in the

Market-Place, or "Caesar Adsum Jam

buy books. In 1774 he moved

working

Pleasures of the Imagination,

set

about educating himself, going without food to

'

First

Lackington became a Methodist and ofMy Life (1966

Money, 'Teaching

Pompey Aderat"

and Popular Culture

of the Life ofJames Lackington, 7th

(1794), pp.

25 See

(ed.),

[1796]), p. 36.

p. 187; John

The Prose

24 Lackington, Memoirs of the First Forty-five

England

(1971), p. 224.

Edward Gibbon, Memoirs

18 Brewer, The

(eds.),

Bread, Knowledge and Freedom (1982;.

1800- igoo, pp.

Free Inquiry into the Nature and

Samuel Johnson, Rasselas, Poems and

3rd edn

and

Literacy

257; see Altick, The English

in seeing others

Samuel Johnson, 'A Review of Soame

"A

A. Tibbie

'The Relish for Reading

Origin of Evil"

but

silent

Tears of the Life ofJames Lackington, pp. 232,

depressed.

Jenyns'

W. and

Forty-five Tears

indulging the lust of dominion, and that

malevolence which delights

'My

23 James Lackington, Memoirs of the

persuade myself that

restraints,

Popular

>>)

more of the

desiring

i,

Clare (1951), p. 14.

(1989),

always fear to

maxims of policy; and under

inn formation

1 991), pp. 31, 90:

22 David Vincent,

be

should be yielding to the I

I

vol.

21 John Clare, 'The Autobiography, 1793

ofJohn

may sometimes shall

I

suggestions of pride, while

following the

49-50.

in his place:

privileges of educ ation

withhold them,

Free Inquiry into

(1757), pp.

(

\^q>,

Anderson. 7 he

ia

exciting conversation with books.

I he Enlightenment's Fable

Soamejenyns,

llo

iygo-1860

Culture

.

mind was ever

the Nature and Origin of Evil

am

Printed Image an//

Silver,

England 197

9; rrpr.

\'

[

7'*-l

1

critics that

I

Cobbett

(Jobbett,

qualified:

look to are the public

Lindsay, William Blake: His Life and Work

88 For

(1978), p. 3.

is

83 Brewer, The Pleasures of the Imagination,

People more absolutely necessary than a

84 "Madam, as It

town

a circulating library in a

an evergreen

tree of diabolical

March

knowledge!

blossoms through the year! - and depend

upon

it,

Mrs Malaprop,

that they

fond of handling the leaves, fruit at last':

libraries see

from

the

scene

Industrial

Towns'

(1996), p. 175

M.

and adjusting

phenomena

[

A

l

75°-5 2 ]), vol

no. 10, p. 54.

i,

p. xxviii.

Steele, The Spectator, vol.

ofMen, Manners,

Shaftesbury,

expunged from the published

Opinions, Times (1999 [1711]);

text: as society

naturally

becomes,

employment, the

like

sole

.

Characteristic/is

Klein, Shaftesbury and

.

every other

(1994);

occupation of a

Lawrence

the Culture

1671-1713 (1984).

particular class of citizens': Ad. mi Smith,

94

'Early Draft of Part of Tht Wealth ofNations'

Manners, Opinions, Times, vol.

(1762), in lectures on Jurisprudence (1982),

95 David Hume, 'Of Essay Writing'

Outram, The

in

Enlightenment, p. 14; see also

Adam Smith, An

Inquiry into the Nature

and Causes ofthe

Nations (uyjb [1776]), bk

86 Jonathan

Swift,

'On

I,

ch.

1,

\ \

ealth

11.

Shaftesbury, Characteristicks of Men. ii,

p. 207. (1741), in

Selected Essays (1993), p. 2.

96 David Hume,.-! 2nd edn (1978

of

Treatise

f

oj

Human Natun

40]), p. 269;

[17311

t,

Ernest

Campbell Mossner, The Uje of David Hume

para. 9.

Poetry' (1733),

E.

of Politeness

Robert Voitle, The Third Earl of

Shaftesbury:

pp. 570-74. See discussion

i,

93 Anthony Ashley Cooper, 3rd Earl of

344-5, from the draft for

the Wealth ofNations, written in 1769 but

.

its

Joseph Addison's Sociable Animal (1971).

Smith as Student and

progressed, 'philosophy, or speculation

to

90 Donoghue, The Fame Machine. 91 Edward A. Bloom and Lilian D. Bloom, 92 Addison and

Professor (1937), pp.

itself is

corrective, revising

89 Samuel Johnson, The Rambler (1969

85 W. R.

Adam

and

particular

Governess in the Age ofJane Austen (1988), p. 67.

Scott,

appeal to standards of

implacable model of discourse'.

'library

(ed.),

its

typically conservative

(1985); James

Martin

11

Function of

Eagleton, the

absolutism, the critical gesture

Great houses might even contain

servants' libraries: Joanna

The Tatler

(ed.),

universal reason signifies a resistance to

to Proscription'

- Raven proclaims a

Bond

Terry Eagleton, The

fact that 'while

33-7.

1773-1784 (i960);

Raven, 'From Promotion

revolution'.

long for the

ii, 11.

1710).

F.

no. 144, p. 318 (Saturday,

ii,

Criticism (1984), pp. 31, 4: for

'The Enlightened Reader and

Flavell,

New

I,

Donald

irony of Enlightenment criticism lay in the

are so

Paul Kaufman, Borrowings

the Bristol Library,

Kay

will

who

Richard Brinsley Sheridan, The

Rivals (1961 [1775]), act

On

hardly a Person in the whole Mass of the

(1987), vol.

is

."

Nation of Liberty, there

Steele: 'In a

Censor':

p. .78.

j

85.

The Opinions of William

p. 42. Characteristically

in

asa

e

Ialeofa 7 uh

I

of

'a sort

and

Paul Fussell, Ihe Rhetorical World

p. 1V2; see also

Pat Rogers, The Augustan Vision (1974),

up with

Swift,

p. T>7-

p. 8; John

at

presented as

Critic/? is

k, set

rade,

Jonathan

Reader, p. 54; Olivia Smith,

ofhinguage tJOJ

go

;

Smolletl and

Alti< k,

| P- 19-

7 Quoted in

extremely selective, chiefly

essentially omits the

John Beresford

6 John Walsh, Colin Haydon and Stephen

dealing with the question of religious

discussions taking place

1);

Taylor

Ejghteenth Century Pulpit (1969).

This chapter

(1966

Quakers were those who abandoned

171

Remval and Religion

Life

huntsmen' was a

coinage of the poet George Crabbe. 'Gay'

and Ireland (1996); Jane Garnett and Colin (eds.),

'

'

3 For historiography, see Sheridan Gilley, For background, see Gerald R. Cragg, From

W.

Young, "The Soul-sleeping System" (1994);

Tfie Periodical Essayists

and

Enlightenment England (1994); B.

in

4 Edward Gibbon, Memoirs ofMy

ihristianity

of the

304-7, in

11.

Eighteenth Century (1971), p. 144.

(

Pit:

and unhononr"d

125 Gibbon, Memoirs ofMy

Sprat, The History of the Royal Society

Marr,

Hiram Caton, The

ftogress (1988), p. 207;

heated

Politics

Religious Liberalism in Eighteenth -century

on particular

(1954), p. 2.

of

Roland N. Stromberg.

For High Church

men

England

see

doctrines, for instance questions of the soul

George Every,

and of Heaven and Hell and the

afterlife; sec,

77/5(1956).

Many

'The

'atheists' as

mete bogeymen, but David

however, the account

of the

would

Butt, The Poems ofAlexander Pope, p. 646.

(1983);

London (1667), p. 374.

S.

Mam

to mortify a Wit,

Second Book of Horace'

Benedict

oj

George

pi.

RA TIONALIZING RELIGION

5 Thomas

remains

still

Alexander Pope, 'The

Anne

Lorraine Daston, 'The Ideal and Reality of

1

1

crowd;

Who

Enlightenment Thought (1977), p. 3; see the English

p.

.

sense-less, worth-less,

(1779-80).

Thomas

Sc hlereth, The Cosmopolitan Ideal in

Kramnick, Making

\~

The many-headed Monster

A

Goldsmith's:

the

arraign the public:

P- 332-

123 The phrase

in

i

124 Anthony Puquin [pteud.], Memoirs

Porter,

Manners and

Johnson, vol.

122 Henry Mackenzie, The

u


A

(1967), p. 326; Peter

History of the University of Cambridge

v °l-

iii,

P- 281,

who

brings out Clarke's

51 Quoted in David Brown, 'Butler and

Deism'

limits.

(1992), p. 9.

52 Samuel Clarke, The

Collins

continued: 'And even these he justly observes, are of less

pp. 10^0-4; J. P. Ferguson,

friendship with the Arian William Whiston.

by

readily exploited

(

be

positions, as will

drove their logic to the

this

i,

Gay, The Enlightenment

and

Locke: Resistance, Religion

Responsibility, p. 454.

44 Quoted

vof

Eighteenth Century Heretic (1976), pp. 23f.; Peter

Trinity (1712); John

than any of

and Religion (1976), ch.

own Happiness of human

Scripture-doctrine

Redwood,

Compare M.

7.

of the

Reason, Ridicule

Greig,

those parts of religion which in their

'The Reasonableness of Christianity?'

nature tend to the

Isaac Watts too sweated over the Trinity for

(1993).

Society': Discourse of Freethinking (sn, 1713),

twenty years, until he had to admit that he

p. 136.

had only 'learned more of my own

45

Most

John Tillotson, The Works of the

Reverend I)r John Tillotson (1820), vol. Tillotson, The

46

John

Tillotson, vol.

Norman

i,

i,

p.

468. For analysis, see

Sykes, Church and State

England

in

The Eighteenth Century Pulpit, pp. 10,

PP- 152

47

Our

i.

sermon

6,

Life of Jesus Christ

Tom

6, p. 71.

i,

sermon

Paine later styled Jesus

and an amiable man', a

'a

Enquiries concerning

and concerning

I 'rider standing

England, idfm

( >rrat

Religion, p. 28.

1712).

55 Quoted in Nigel Smith, 'The Charge of Atheism and the Language of Radical Speculation, 1640-1660' (1992), p.

Deist

A

Israel

of

W. M. the

Debate on Miracles

The

Scribner

131.

( 1

(eds.),

From

W. K.Jordan,

Persecution

1

'Religious Toleration' (1974);

)

to

England

(1965 [1932-40]); Elisabeth Labrousse,

98

I.

The

Development of Religious Toleration

in

Henry Kamen,

The Rise of Toleration (1967); John Christian

Layman's

Anthony

and N. Tyacke

O.

in the

P. Grell, J.

M.

Laursen and CaryJ. Nederman

Collins

the Persecuting Society (1998);

and Roy Porter

(eds.),

and O.

Beyond

P. Grell

(eds.), Toleration in the

Enlightenment (2000).

Treethinking, p. 171.

Attributes

and Intolerance

Church of

man 'whom all English own as their head': Discourse of

50 Samuel Clarke, A

(eds.), Tolerance

Toleration (1991);

the

freethinkers

and

Steele, The Spectator, vol. iv,

European Reformation (1996);

1700 (1993), p. 60; R.

49 Quinlan, Samuel Johnson: him

Physico-Theology (1713),

no. 465, pp. 141 -5 (Saturday, 23 August

David

in

the Principles

Spellman, The Latitudmarians and

ailed

art a threefold

Religious Liberalism in

p. 467.

Human

Morals (1966 [1751]), pp. iogf;

(

Stromberg,

56 For a conspectus, see O. P. Grell and B.

48 David Hume, 'Of Miracles',

Burnt, The

God

ought to know the

Eighteenth- century England, p. 36.

'virtuous

reformer'.

Hume.

such a

in

worship, whether he be one pure

53 William Derham,

Consider'd as

Tillotson, vol.

I

finally driven to chide

him

and simple or whether thou deity':

Example', Tillotson, The Works of the

Most Reverend Drjohn

virtuous

I

54 Addison and

73-

The

'

Tillotson, vol.

Most

and he was

for leaving

quandary: 'Surely

See

15.

Maker

whom

in

Downey,

see also

also John Tillotson, The Works of the

nmd l)r John

p. 475.

Works of the Most Reverend Dr

the Eighteenth Century (1934);

R>,

ignorance', his

Demonstration of the Being

of God (1705), quoted

in

Stephen,

57 See John Dunn, 'The Claim of Conscience' (1991);

516

to

Freedom

Henry Kamen, The

,

ft

Rtu

I

l

LockuA

'fnim

yoHon,

John 58

nlemtmn I967), pp. lUi)[

especially p.

1

He

11:

then

pp.

1,

1

Boswell

,

thought, was not jocular

when he heard

that

concluded he was a

known some

a

that the

when he

man was

rascal,

Sec thr Reform

fa

154

religious,

ussion in Strvvart, Opinion and

dis
.(

7V0 29

(

)n the state of nature, see

Meek.

Social Science

and

Ronald

the Ignoble

TES

L.

Philosophical Dialogue in the British Enlightenment

Savage (1975);

(1996), p. 35-

Robert \ Voider. 'Anthropology and

38 Hutcheson undertook

Conjectural History in the Enlightenment'

Principles of the late Earl of Shaftesbury'

(1995)-

to

30

On

Locke's anthropology, see G. A.J.

Mind'

the errors of 'the

in

Hume's

39

(1993).

Political Philosophy (1992), p. 76.

Francis Hutcheson,

An

Inquiry into the

31 See William Knight, Lord Monboddo and

Original of Our Ideas concerning Beauty, Order,

Some of His Contemporaries (1900); discussion of

Harmony, Design (1973

an

'original' state

amounted

Darling, 'The

to a recasting of

Hutcheson'

original sin.

32 Adam Ferguson, An

CM

Society

Essay on

(1995 [1767]), p.

33 Francis Hutcheson, A

the History

Mind

Short Introduction

(1747), p. 2;

Moral Philosophy

(1755), vol.

cf. i,

his

A

...

is

[1725]), p. 2; John

Moral Teaching of Francis

(1989); J.

Arcadian Vision'

of

14.

Moral Philosophy

and

Author of the Fable

of the Bees': John B. Stewart, Opinion and Reform

Rogers, 'Locke, Anthropology and Models of the

show

to explain 'the

Mordaunt Crook, 'The

(1988), pp.

48-9. 'The

and has not Power

passive,

directly to prevent the perception of Ideas':

to

Hutcheson, An

System of

pp. 1-2;

Inquiry into the Original of Our

Ideas concerning Beauty, Order, Harmony, Design,

Vincent Hope,

Virtue by Consensus (1989);

p. 2.

Gladys Bryson,

Man

40 David Hume, 'Of the Standard of Taste'

The

and

Society (1968), p. 19.

son of an Ulster Dissenting minister,

(1741), in Selected Essays (1993), p. 136;

David

Francis Hutcheson (1694- 1746) developed a

Marshall, 'Arguing by Analogy' (1995).

theology which replaced Calvinism with

41 Archibald Alison, Essays on

rationalism. In 1729 he accepted the chair of

Principles

moral philosophy

The Association of Ideas and

at the University

Glasgow, remaining there 1747. In

until his

of

death

42 For

metaphysics he largely followed

associationism, see John P. Wright,

Madness, and the Measures of

'Association,

ethical writings.

Probability in Locke

34 Bryson, Man and Society, p. 131. For a human an