Augustan Age Tories. An unsigned review of The Social and Political Ideas of Some English Thinkers of the Augustan Age, A.D. 1650-1750, ed. F. J. C. Hearnshaw
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510 ] Augustan Age Tories An unsigned review of The Social and Political Ideas of Some English Thinkers of the Augustan Age, A.D. 1650-1750, ed. F. J. C. Hearnshaw London: George G. Harrap, 1928. Pp. 246. The Times Literary Supplement, 1398 (15 Nov 1928) 846 This is the fifth volume of a series which has been edited by Professor Hearnshaw, of London University: each volume consists of a series of lectures at Kings College during the academic year, and each lecture is by a different authority. It is no small commendation to say that this volume is quite one of the best of the series. The average of the nine lectures is high; some are brilliant, but all are authoritative, just and useful. The choice of subjects, also, gives this book more coherence than some of the others. The book gains over its predecessor (Some Great Thinkers of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries)1 by being limited to England and to men whose work as social and political thinkers can be dealt with in one lecture each, and whose work is closely related. In the previous volume single lectures on such men as Spinoza or even Suarez provided an almost impossible task, and the lectures did not hang together. In this book we have a really useful handbook of the period, which gives the opportunity for general reflection. After an introductory essay on the whole period by Mr. G. N. Clark, the subjects treated are Filmer, Halifax, Locke, “Jacobites and Non-Jurors,” Bishop Hoadly, Defoe, Swift and Bolingbroke.2 Not the least interesting arethepaperson“JacobitesandNon-Jurors”andHoadly,byMr.H.Broxap and the Rev. Norman Sykes respectively.3 The subjects are important and little known, the essays are valuable, and Mr. Broxap, in particular, has performed a useful service by digesting into one lecture the material which he has displayed fully in his two standard works on the subject.4 We should mention with particular approval Mr. J. W. Allen’s lecture on Filmer and the editor’s lecture on Bolingbroke.5 The former is the fairest, as well as the most spirited, exposition of the views of this singular political philosopher that we have ever seen. It amounts, indeed, to something very like a rehabilitation , and ought to send many readers direct to the works of a writer [ 511 Augustan Age Tories who at least was logical, who had by no means the worst of it in controversy, and whose greatest fault was that his own time, as well as all succeeding times, had little sympathy with him. We are in fact better able to understand and even to learn from him now than were any of our ancestors. He was, as Mr. Allen points out, not only traduced but travestied; and there is good reason for believing that Locke not only misunderstood him, but had not even read his works, except the Patriarcha. And, as Mr. Allen observes: That is no kind of an excuse for Locke. To write about Filmer when you have only read the Patriarcha is, from my point of view, mere dishonesty. In any case, if you want to understand Filmer’s thought it is no manner of use to read Locke. [27] Filmer, if his doctrine is to be found reasonable, must be approached from the negative side. He was opposed to the type of political doctrine that developed later in Rousseau, he was opposed to humanitarian Liberalism. It was, in 1648, being loudly asserted that Man6† is born free; that he is free by nature; that no man has a right to give commands to another unless by his consent. It was asserted that, originally, men were under no obligation to obedience to any authority but that of God; or even that they were under no obligation of any sort unless to themselves. Consequently, it was declared, all human authority is created by the act of man, even though God sanctions it and commands obedience to it. [31] Filmer proceeds to a shrewd attack upon democratic government. His views have never been adopted, and the tide was already strong against him; but neither have his views been refuted or replaced. “His answer,” says Mr. Allen, “was unsatisfactory, and even, in detail, extravagant. But if anyone supposes that we, nowadays, are in possession of an answer much more satisfactory, I should very much like to know what that answer is” [46]. To turn from Mr. Allen’s Filmer to Mr. Hearnshaw’s Bolingbroke...


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