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A story "too tedious to relate at large"? Response to the Levellers, 1647-1653 Amongst all the Engines of Dissention, there hath been none more powerful in all Times, than the fixing Names upon one another of Contumely and Reproach,...such things ever begin in Jest and end in Blood, and the same word that maketh the Company merry, grows in time to a Military Signal to cut one anothers Throats. George Savile, Marquis of Halifax, The Character of a Trimmer, 2nd edition, 1689, Preface, A2r. Despite the volume of scholarship which the Leveller movement has attracted, w e still know surprisingly little about what contemporaries thought of Leveller ideas - no doubt because the pamphlet literature has little to say on the subject.1 This scarcity of material may itself be of significance, lending support 1 The pamphlets I have been able to discover are as follows: A Declaration of some proceedings of Lt.Col. John Lilburne, And his Associates, London, (Feb.14), 1647/8, E427(6); R. Jackson, Quaeries Proposed for the Agitators in the Army, n.p., (Nov.3, 1647), E412(22); The Character of an Agitator, n.p., (Nov.11), 1647, E414(3); A Bloody Independent Plot Discovered, n.p., (Nov.25), 1647, E419(2); Mercurius Pragmaticus, The Levellers Levell'd..An Interlude, (Dec.3), 1647, E419(4); Surahniho (John Harris?), The Grand Designe, (Dec.8), 1647, E419(15); W . Prynne, The Levellers Levelled to the very Ground, London, (Feb.21), 1647/8, E428(7); An Agitator Anatomiz'd, (Mar.30), 1648, E434(8); R.L., The Free Mans Plea for Freedom, London (May 18), 1648, E443(10); The Faerie Leveller, (July 27), 1648, E454(23); The Levellers Institutions for a Good People, (Nov.30) 1648, E474(4); The Levellers Remonstrance, Concerning the Parliament and Army, London, (May 10), 1649, E555(2); A Declaration from his Excellencie, London, (May 12), 1649, E555(6); The Declaration of Lieut-Gen. Cromwell Concerning the Levellers, London, (May 14) 1649, E555(12); J. Philolaus, A Serious Aviso to the Good People of this Nation, Concerning that Sort of Men , called Levellers, London, (May 18), 1649, E555(28); The Souldiers Demand, (May 18), 1649, E555(29); Henry Denne, The Levellers Designe Discovered, London, (May 24), 1649, E556(ll); The Discoverer, London, (June 2), 1649, E558(2); England's Discoverer; or the Levellers Creed, London , (June 6)! 1649, E559(2); A Form of Prayer: to be used for both the days of Publique Thanksgiving For the seasonable and happy reducing of the Levellers, (June 6), 1649, E558(22); The Discoverer: Being an Answer to a Book entituled, Engl'ands New Chain, The Second Part, Discovered, London, (July 13), 1649, E564(9); A New Bull-Bayting , (Aug.7), 1649, E568(6); A Declaration of the Parliament of England, In Vindication of their Proceedings, And Discovering the Dangerous Practices of several Interests, London, (Oct.3), 1649, E575(9); An Anatomy of Lieut. Col. John Lilburne's Spirit and Pamphlets, London, (Oct.16), 1649 E575(21); [Henry Parker], A Letter of Due Censure and Redarguation to Lieut. Col. John Lilburne, London, (June 21), 1650, E603(14); [A. Hesehige , Lieut. Colonel John Lilburne Tryed and Cast, London, 1653, (Nov.22), £"20(2); Terrible and bloudy Newes from the disloyall Army in the North, (Sept.ll), 1648, E462(28): 1. Strange Newes from the Levellers Declaring their proceedings under the Command of Col. Martin ... to the great terrour and amazement of all his 136 M. Sampson to recent suggestions that the extent of Leveller influence has been much exaggerated by past historians.2 It remains intriguing, nevertheless, that the Leveller pamphlets did not provoke greater response in print, for this was a period not lacking in animadversions, rejoinders and replies. Henry Parker attributed "other men's silence" to their fear of attracting the unwelcome attentions of John Lilburne: so few declare against you . . . when you are really become a publick scandall . . . This man pretends you are a stranger to him, that man intimates you are below his reprehension: a third, objects that you are . . . beyond the benefit of any ingenuous reprehension.^ Such faint-hearted critics, when they did appear in print, tended to direct their criticism less to...


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