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INTRODUCTION - Robert Molesworth, An Account of Denmark, With Francogallia and Some Considerations for the Promoting of Agriculture and Employing the Poor 
An Account of Denmark, With Francogallia and Some Considerations for the Promoting of Agriculture and Employing the Poor, Edited and with an Introduction by Justin Champion (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2011).
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Robert Molesworth and Gothic Liberty
Robert Molesworth (1656–1725) famously diagnosed the causes of a disordered commonwealth in the much reprinted and translated An Account of Denmark (1694).1 His works connected the three ages of revolution between 1649 and 1776.2 According to his insights, manners and customs were shaped by the experience of the institutions and laws of a nation: liberty was cultivated by the land. Through his writing, his parliamentary career, and his stewardship of his own country estates in England and Ireland, Molesworth embodied republican ideals of the industrious and independent gentleman, stalwart in defense of public liberty, hostile to tyranny, yet dynamic in nurturing improvement.
A consistent defender of “civil rights,” Molesworth conceived his political career as defending the continuing liberty first manifest in the “ancient free state.” He hoped “that my friends, relations and children, with their posterity, will inherit their share of this inestimable blessing, and that I have contributed my part to it.”3 A defense of this vision was the consistent pattern of his post-1689 life. The edition of the radical Calvinist writer François Hotman’s Francogallia (1574) executed in 1705, first published in 1711 and republished in 1721, is testimony to this durability of political commitment and indeed to Molesworth’s political imagination in reconfiguring Hotman for an eighteenth-century readership.
John Cannon has dismissed Molesworth’s legacy as one of “bookish radicals with antiquarian tastes” whose “scale of operations was small, their impact on important politicians slight, and their influence on the public at large negligible.”4 This volume aims to provide evidence to the contrary.
Unlike many modern historians, Molesworth perceived no discontinuity between the commonwealth ideologies of the 1640s and the 1700s: the core principle of this ideology was that “the Good of the Whole is taken care of by the Whole.”5 Importantly, this made the question of whether a monarchy existed constitutionally irrelevant; as he put it, “the having a King or Queen at the Head of it, alters not the Case.”6 Such a political community, committed to universal liberty, and independent of religious confession, would encourage each to use their “Body, Estate, and Understanding, for the publick Good.”7 The end of such a community was to provide the grounding for improvement so that each could “securely and peaceably enjoy Property and Liberty both of Mind and Body.”8 By such provision both individuals and the entire community benefited: as he clarified, “the thriving of any one single Person by honest Means, is the thriving of the Commonwealth wherein he resides.”9 Molesworth’s conception of the purpose of political society was to enable a flourishing and industrious civic life.
Molesworth’s political reputation as “the patriot brave and sage” was shaped by the reception and afterlife of his first and most infamous work, An account of Denmark as it was in the year 1692 (1694), a republican counterblast to modern tyranny.10 Combined with his defense of the Glorious Revolution of 1689, his translation of François Hotman’s Francogallia (1574), and the evidence of a parliamentary career (in England and Ireland) that spanned three decades, Molesworth has been recognized as the last of the “Real Whigs.” Understood through the historiographical prism of Caroline Robbins’s The Eighteenth-Century Commonwealthman, Molesworth and his friends exercised a powerful influence over the “Republican fringe” of eighteenth-century Whiggism. It is worth citing her conclusions at length:
The Whiggish malcontents or Commonwealthmen in varying ways provided a deterrent to complacency, and reminders of the need for improvement and the continual adaptation of even good governments to economic and political changes. . . . In an age when Englishmen stressed the sovereignty, not of a divinely appointed king but of a triumphant parliament, the Real Whigs reminded them of the rights of electors and of the unenfranchised, of the virtues of rotation in office and of the necessity of constant vigilance against the corruptions of power whether wielded by king, ministers or estates. Molesworth and his friends admonished their countrymen about present dangers. They called attention to the lessons of history and the possibilities of the future.11
This account of the powerful and persisting legacy of Molesworth’s republican critique of monarchy and public power is worth reassessing in the light of more contemporary historical writing, which characterizes the eighteenth century as an age of ancien régime institutions and cultural values.
The rallying call of what Thomas Hollis admiringly referred to as Molesworth’s “golden prefaces” continued, decades later, to exercise an enchanting authority over oppositional ideologies, most notably mobilizing support around John Wilkes in the 1760s and those defending colonial independence in the 1770s.12 The longer works, which presented a neo-Tacitean account of the mechanics of modern tyranny, meshed with the writings of Trenchard and Gordon to provide a standard source for the analysis of political corruption. Unlike Locke, Molesworth provided insight into processes of corruption rather than simply a set of prescriptive juristic values. In the Account of Denmark especially, Molesworth established how tyranny worked, identifying the contaminating ideologies and institutions. De jure divino claims to authority—the “designs of priestcraft”—especially from the Church, lay at the root of all perfidy.13
Molesworth’s works, reprinted throughout the eighteenth century, were read in the British Islands, continental Europe, and North America— where Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison, and James Logan all owned copies. The Elegy printed upon his death celebrated Molesworth’s deeds, not just as a defender of the Revolution but as “the labourers friend.” Just as his political and diplomatic acts saved the kingdom from “a proud oppressing slave,” so his improving economics “found work for one hundred-thousand hands.”14
For Molesworth, associated as he was with many of the leading political figures of the period, his political career promised more than it achieved. Concerned with principle as much as place, Molesworth was never cautious about advancing either his own opinions or abilities, or (later) those of his sons, to the ministers and even kings of the day.
Outspoken against political and religious corruption, Molesworth was rewarded with a measure of recognition after 1714 by the Hanoverian regime, only (as he saw it) to be thrust into opposition by corrupt men after the debacle of the South Sea Bubble. It is a measure of his charisma and vitality of commitment that as a man in his late sixties he was considered by others, and indeed considered himself, a suitable candidate for contesting the parliamentary seat of Westminster in 1722.
Molesworth was not a lone commonwealthman but gathered a circle of like-minded men into his milieu. The most notorious of these was John Toland, with whom he had been acquainted since the early 1700s.15 Like many of his relationships, this connection, although driven primarily by political ambition, also had literary dimensions. While Molesworth hoped to persuade his friend to collaborate on a “history of the late wars,” Toland had certainy seen a now lost work of Molesworth’s resembling “so nearly Cicero’s de respublica.”;16
Molesworth moved freely in circles of political influence and sociability in Dublin, London, and Yorkshire. His surviving correspondence with men like Shaftesbury, Godolphin, and William King allows a detailed reconstruction of this political life. Molesworth’s correspondence also gives an intimate and at times touching account of his family life and political connections.17 His involvement with diplomatic and political circles is manifest, while his continual disappointment at the conduct of leading ministers, the missed opportunities for personal advancement, and the cost of promoting himself and his sons are persistent themes. At times all these themes merged, as he noted in November 1695: “My election, if I carry it, will cost me sauce, so that we must endeavour to make it up by good husbandry.”18
Insight into his self-esteem and political commitments is unparalleled. As he wrote to Mrs. Molesworth in September 1712, he managed to combine a reflection on the death of his friend Godolphin with remarks about his own continual disappointment not to be called to great office: “My dear Lord Godolphin is dead! The greatest man in the whole world for honesty, capacity, courage, friendship, generosity, is gone: my best friend is gone! As if my friendship were fatal to all that ever take it up for me. So now there is another great article to be added to the misfortunes of my family this year, which indeed are insupportable. This great patriot could not survive the liberties of his country, whilst I like a wretch, am like to live a slave, and have reared up children to no better an end.”19
His letters deliver (among many other topics of the day) commentaries on the Peace of 1711, the South Sea Bubble, the conduct of the High Church faction in Convocation, and, interestingly, drafts of his position in regard to the issue of Irish independency in 1719.20 Molesworth’s persistent parliamentary defense of liberty and the Hanoverian succession was associated with a formal political thought premised on the vindication of liberty and a profoundly anticlerical commitment to religious toleration. It shows that Molesworth was a man driven not just by political commitments and opportunities for agricultural improvement but also by the life of the mind. Although his collaborative reading with Toland is evidence enough of this, his archive also contains glimpses of a broader intellectual culture that saw Molesworth at the center of a community involved in the circulation of scribal works.21
After Toland’s death, when Molesworth withdrew from the mainstream of national politics, he became the focus of another circle of younger thinkers and writers. Unfortunately, no records of Molesworth’s library or book purchases survive, but there is some evidence to suggest that Molesworth encouraged reading and learning in his own household. His daughter Lettice noted that her child “Little Missy” was learning to spell as a precondition for reading: “I take all possible care of her eyes and hold her books as you desired.”22
That Molesworth had encouraged his daughters as well as sons into commerce with books and learning is clear from the life and work of his daughter Mary Monck (1677–1715), whose poems were posthumously published in 1716 and edited by her father. Marinda: Poems and translationsupon several occasions [by Mary Monck] was published in London by Jacob Tonson. The work was dedicated to Caroline, Princess of Wales, and included a long preface written by Molesworth underscoring his commitment to the education of women. This in itself is a significant elaboration of the position developed by Toland in his Letters to Serena (1704), dedicated to the Queen of Prussia. Molesworth made this connection explicit when he applauded Caroline’s “frequent and intimate conversation with that incomparable princess, the late Electress Sophia, and your indefatigable Reading the best books in all the modern languages.”23
Molesworth presented his deceased daughter’s work to the new court as a product worthy of public emulation for its liberty, honor, and virtue. Mary’s poems were the result of her reading in a “good library.” Spending her leisure hours reading, this gentlewoman had acquired several languages and “the good morals and principles contain’d in those books, so as to put them in practice.” Some of Mary’s work was already in scribal circulation through the agency of the young Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, but this impressive volume (with parallel pages of the original text and an English translation) broadcast her learning to a wider audience, and, most important, was framed within the political languages of liberty and what Molesworth called “the Good Old English Customs.”
The importance of good reading and a virtuous education in the principles of liberty and true religion (rather than bigotry and superstition) underlay much of Molesworth’s political commitment to the reform of the universities after 1716. This commitment took an even more academic turn in late 1722, when Molesworth became involved in the affairs of the University of Glasgow, where he had been appointed Rector by popular assent of a clique of radical students. One correspondent, William Wishart, writing in October 1713, applauded Molesworth for his role in “the dawnings of a revival of ancient virtue and the love of true liberty.”24 Holding up the model of Molesworth’s preface to the Account of Denmark, which distinguished the educational principles of philosophy and priestcraft, Wishart bewailed the fact that “the abettors of savage zeal, fierce bigotry and dire superstition have the advantages of those corrupt passions and inveterate prejudices of men’s minds to favour their designs.”25
The anticlericalism of this correspondence was profound: in a later letter George Turnbull condemned the “proud domineering pedantic priests, whose interest it is to train up the youth in a profound veneration to their sensible metaphysical creeds and catechisms.”26 Such tuition was not only bewildering but was also “admirably fitted . . . indeed to enslave young understandings and to beget an early antipathy against all free thought.”27 Both Wishart and James Arbuckle acknowledged that they had read Molesworth’s work on Denmark and “Cato’s letters,” but they also made inquiry about suitable further reading.28
Molesworth not only recommended books but even sent copies of his own works. As George Turnbull wrote, “There is nothing I would be prouder of than to have your works in my library ex dono the worthy author.”29 Molesworth offered detailed directions toward further reading. William Wishart in passing his thanks to the older man explained what he had done with his “excellent instructions.” He started by reading Buchanan’s De jure regni apud Scotos, which gave him excellent notions “of the nature and design of government and the just boundaries of it,” describing the beautiful lineaments of a good king and the ghastly picture of a tyrant. This was followed by reading Machiavelli on Livy, “by which I have received a great deal of light into the true principles of politics.” The final books recommended by Molesworth were Harrington’s works (edited by Toland, of course) and Confucius’s morals, which the student had only “dipped into.”30
Led by Molesworth’s reading lists, these young men gathered as a literary club to discourse “upon matters of learning for their mutual improvement.” The club attracted a reputation for heterodoxy, and its members were vilified as “a set of Latitudinarians, Free-thinkers, Non-subscribers, and Bangorians, and in a word, Enemies to the jurisdictions, powers, and the divine authority of the clergy.”31
There is little doubt that Molesworth, who had Toland design electoral propaganda representing himself as Cato, was a key figure in preserving the republican tradition into the eighteenth century (as well as founding a short-lived dynasty of Whig politicians). Ample testimony to this reputation is evident in Thomas Hollis’s admiration for the Irishman’s life and works. As Hollis recorded, he regarded Molesworth as the author who most neatly captured “My Faith.” Indeed, Hollis was very active in disseminating Molesworth’s writings (which were included in his list of “canonical books”). Blackburne recorded (in his edition of the Memoirs of Thomas Hollis) that Hollis had given away twenty copies of the Account of Denmark.32 Hollis placed a high value on Molesworth’s contributions to the republican tradition, noting him as one of the “last of the English.”
This admiration took a variety of forms. The most public was the reprinting and distribution of Molesworth’s works, but Hollis also commissioned an engraved portrait of Molesworth from Thomas Snelling. A more intimate commemoration can be seen in the “invisible pantheon” inscribed into the landscape at Dorset. As Patrick Eyres has explained, a key signal of Hollis’s admiration for Molesworth’s contributions is embodied in his naming the highest fields on the downland ridge above his Urles farm after him (and his political intimate, Shaftesbury). So Moles-worth was not only central to the Whig canon but also stands at the apex of Hollis’s Dorset pantheon.33
Hollis personally owned two volumes of Molesworth’s works and related pieces, which although evidently specially bound in red morocco, are not decorated with any of his commonplace characteristic symbols of liberty embossed in gilt on the spine or covers.34 As many have noted, Hollis typically annotated his volumes with a record of his intellectual dispositions. So it was with copies of Molesworth’s works. On the initial blank leaves of both volumes, there are scribal notes made by Hollis consisting of a quotation of six lines from the poet Mark Akenside’s Odes and on the following blank page: “The Preface to the Account of Denmark, and the Translator’s Preface to the Franco-Gallia, are justly esteemed two of the most manly, & noble Compositions, in their kind, in the English Language.”
In volume 2 of these works (which includes a copy of the 1721 printing of Hotman’s Francogallia), Hollis has written on the title page “A most curious valuable Treatise.” Above “The Translator’s Preface” he commented, “Observe this Preface. The Translator’s preface to the Francogallia, and the preface to the Acc. of Denmark are two of the NOBLEST prefaces in the English language.”35 These “Golden prefaces” were to remain a staple of the eighteenth-century-commonwealth outlook in Europe and North America.36
The high-water mark of Molesworth’s reputation, prompted especially by the reception of the Account of Denmark, was achieved in the second half of the eighteenth century. On this subject he was, as Aylmer has noted, “much the most controversial writer of the whole century.”37 Molesworth had inside knowledge of the Danish context, having been chosen by William III in 1689 as envoy to counter Louis XIV’s influence at that court. More specifically, his task was to organize the supply of Danish troops for William’s campaigns. The difficulty of arranging the exchange of subsidy for arms—and the deceitful behavior of the French faction—set the tone for Molesworth’s hostility to the Danish monarchy.38 Molesworth, a convinced follower of Sidney’s anticourt disposition, clearly held no deference for Danish regality, as William King, a hostile source, reported. Molesworth broke protocols of access and indeed poached the Danish king’s hares without remorse. As one hostile account noted, “These Actions being represented to the King, his Majesty was extreamly offended at them, and showed it by the cold Reception the Envoy afterwards met with at Court.”39 There was little surprise then that Molesworth, declared persona non grata, took pleasure in reproducing Sidney’s notorious annotation of the ambassadorial commonplace book: manus haec, inimica tyrannis ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem.40
Molesworth’s account of the constitutional revolution of the lex regia in Denmark of 1660 (which saw Gothic liberty displaced by a formal legal hereditary absolutism) remained dominant for a century. His bold question, “How did the Danes lose their freedom?” was a persistently urgent one not only for those contemporaries in the British Isles, but for Frenchmen living under Louis XIV, and later for Middlesex citizens and Americans living under George III.
There is little doubt that Molesworth was a key player in the republican refurbishment of Whig ideology after 1689. As an active diplomat and politician in Westminster and Dublin, he both engaged in practical politics and developed an ideological account of republican traditions adapted to present circumstances. He was the backbone of the “true,” “old,” and “real” Whiggism, which as M. A. Goldie has put it, “remained consistently committed to a fundamental redistribution of constitutional power.”41 Molesworth’s works—both the Account of Denmark and his edition of Francogallia —combined to provide eighteenth-century British, European, and North American audiences with a robust and authoritative account of the institutional and historical origins of liberty in the West.
Building on traditions that drew from Tacitus’s Germania and a variety of ancient constitutionalisms, Molesworth provided a comparative account of both the flourishing and the corruption of political liberty. The historical cast of the ancient freedoms of the Franks recorded in the edition of Hotman was balanced by the analysis of a contemporary sociology of liberty in the Danish example. Molesworth’s project was not naively nostalgic, but sought to establish the existence of living traditions in modern institutions and to nurture such traditions where they already existed. As he explained, in translating the account of the “ancient free state” of Europe, he desired to instruct “the only Possessors of true Liberty in the World, what Right and Title they have to that Liberty.”42
Many historians have engaged with the political uses of the past in the early modern period. Accounts of the complex historical relationships between the ancient constitution, the feudal law, the so-called Gothic bequest, and the Norman Conquest, all had contested consequences for contemporary political society.43 As J. G. A. Pocock has underscored, “to understand the role of historical argument after 1688–89, we must understand that the Gothic liberties and the Norman Yoke, as well as the ancient constitution and the feudal law, persisted into the coming century.”44 Although not explored by Pocock, Molesworth’s writings were the starting point for the continuation and repositioning of this earlier discourse. His encounter with the Gothic past operated in a more profound way than simply the invocation of perdurable historical precedent. Far from declining as a way of engaging with the present, the events of the Glorious Revolution of 1688–89, and the 1701 Act of Settlement, prompted a renegotiation of past and present. These “Gothic” claims—articulated powerfully by writers like Nathaniel Bacon and Algernon Sidney—were distinct from the immemorialism of legal mindsets articulated earlier in the seventeenth century, which proclaimed the precedence of common law. A core value, and one fundamental to Molesworth’s account, was that any crown was held conditionally by consent of the people. Molesworth’s decision to redeploy the Gothic model described in Francogallia for eighteenth-century readers meant that those who encountered the text had to establish for themselves the pertinence of sixteenth-century arguments for their own contemporary contexts.45
The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries saw very different (and competing) historical constructions of these “Gothic” traditions. Some recovered fundamental constitutions; others explored the history of the elective crown in Saxon history. Historical inquiries into the nature of the Norman Conquest, into the origins and authority of Parliament (or more specifically into the rights and privileges of the Commons), were frequently influenced by accounts of these continental “Gothic” experiences. Indeed, the permeability of this pan-European constitution implied that nationally specific experience was potentially comprehended from these broader traditions. Molesworth’s writings are a classic expression of this. In the Account he delivered an analysis of Danish tyranny; in his edition of Hotman he presented the glories of Frankish liberty. Both of these works were regarded as having specific pertinence to the contemporary British experience, and British readers were expected to make sense of these nonindigenous traditions and apply them to their own circumstances.
The strength of Molesworth’s writing was that, as Colin Kidd has noted, it delivered a “robust science of society,” which resonated with a variety of powerful anti-absolutist discourses exploring the ethnic and institutional dimensions of liberty. After Molesworth, “in France as well as England, Denmark had become a byword for modern despotism.”46 More important, Molesworth’s Account delivered a method as well as a message. As emphasized in his preface, the examination of a “constitution” (whether physical or political) was a matter of natural observation. By observational experience, gathered from the rational study of history or derived from traveling, it was possible to know “experimentally” the causes of the decay of liberty and health.
This empirical dimension to Molesworth’s work was recognized by contemporaries—indeed, extracts and abridgements from the Account were included in collections of travel and ethnographic writings in the 1740s and 1760s. A member of the Royal Society, Molesworth was adept at reading the political consequences of cultural practices, as his collaborative annotation with Toland of Martin Martin’s Western Isles demonstrated.47 Core to this method was the principle of a good education calculated to liberate the mind from dependence on “slavish opinion.” As Molesworth insisted, “good learning as well as travel is a great antidote against the plague of tyranny.” Here his polemic was directed against even the Protestant churchmen of his time who, in their stranglehold on the universities, were perceived as the main corruptors of the “public spirit.” For Molesworth, since tyranny began in the mind, the principles of liberty and the free state needed to be promoted by a philosophical education. The monkish bigotry of the pulpit taught only “servile opinions” in place of the principles of rational liberty.
Whig political thought in Molesworth’s time was a complex mixture of contract, resistance, and ancient constitution—in effect a blend of history and theory. A common assumption underpinning this complexity was that liberty had premodern origins: “I conceive the original of the subject’s libertie was by those our forefathers brought out of Germany.”48 For many, the Saxon origin of such Gothic liberty was “a matter of fact”; for opponents of such historical assumptions like the Tory Brady, this was “meer Romance.”49 The source most commonly associated with this account was Tacitus’s Germania, which represented a primitive Gothic honor and simplicity against a vision of Roman urban luxury and moral torpor. As one commentator noted in 1689, “some have sent us to Tacitus and as far as Germany to learn our English Constitution.” The assumption promulgated by Molesworth was neatly summarized and shared even by court Whig John Oldmixon in 1724: “no nation has preserv’d their Gothic constitution better than the English.”50 Written in the 1690s and 1700s in the context of the Hanoverian succession, Molesworth’s defense of an anglia libera, prompted by a Tacitean reading of Frankish liberty, provided a British readership with a non-Roman and anti-Gallic source of constitutional legitimacy.51
The political context for Molesworth’s contributions was not simply domestic but European: internally the war against popery and arbitrary power in the guise of Tory Jacobitism was rendered more complex by the threat of Louis XIV’s foreign policy. The fragility of the Revolution settlement and, especially after 1700, the insecurity of the succession of the Hanoverian line meant that Molesworth’s polemic against Danish absolutism was a stalking horse for the indictment of latent tyranny at home and practical despotism abroad. The lamentation for the loss of Danish freedom was tuned to English, French, and Dutch ears. Great attention was paid to the preparation of the many French editions of the Account. The inclusion of maps and emblematic frontispieces representing Danish liberty is evidence of this concern to ensure an engaged readership. Later French editions also included useful indices drawing the attention of the reader to significant themes: for example, “Absolus. Les Princes n’ont pû acquerir legitiment le droit d’être absolus”; “Governement Anglois, trop parfait pour recevoir aucun amendement”; and “Prêtres, ont beaucoup contributé à render le gouvernement de la Russie et de la Muscovie tirannique”; “Les païsans de la Zelande y sont aussi esclaves que les negres dans les Barbades.”52 It is clear that the Huguenot diaspora of the 1690s would have valued the anti-absolutist thrust of the Account; what is more significant is that twenty years after its initial publication (alongside the edition of Francogallia) French audiences found it a useful resource for engaging with the Ludovicean regime.53 Certainly in the decade of 1710 the reception of the two works connected with the nobilaire and parlementaire resistance in France especially associated with the so-called Burgundian circle coordinated by Boulainvilliers. The nature of the Gothic constitution described in Hotman’s work and the Account set some of the key terms of political debate.54 The Francogallian constitution with its emphasis on the role of an ancient and virtuous aristocracy was a useful polemical weapon against Louis XIV’s conception of monarchy.55
Indeed, the French reception of Molesworth’s project was a contributing element to the complex diplomatic politics surrounding the peace settlement of the War of the Spanish Succession, between 1709 and 1712. Contributing to the paper war around the so-called renunciation crisis (which demanded the recall of the Estates-General to formally register Philip of Spain’s renunciation of the French throne), civil history was pitched as a challenge to Ludovicean absolutism. Very much like Molesworth, Boulainvilliers exploited historical writing to deliver a narrative of the past that showed an unhallowed conspiracy of Gaulish bishops and Merovingian kings subverting Frankish liberty. Ambitious clergy, credulous laymen, and despotic kings are recurring themes of both English and French commonwealth historical writing. Dynastic privilege was dismissed as an “absurd fact”: constitutional form, which promoted the involvement of aristocratic virtue over hereditary principle, was commonly applauded.56
Much later in the 1780s, Molesworth’s polemic account of the history of Danish tyranny was redeployed for revolutionary French audiences in a short extract of chapters 7 and 8. The brief prefatory comments of this pamphlet remark, “Ce livre n’a point été fait pour les circonstances présentes; il est dans toutes les Bibliothèques; J’en ai tiré deux chapitres, dont la lecture m’a fait frémir.”57 The point of reproducing the text was to indict the role of the Church as an agent of despotism. Despite the existence of a good constitution, the Church had turned the Danes into slaves: “cette Révolution fut opérée par le dévoument hypocrite des prêtres; par la colère aveugle des communes, par l’imprudent obstination des nobles.”58 The afterlife of Molesworth’s writing was persistent.
Molesworth not only defended the value of liberty but also undertook a philosophical and historical inquiry into the conditions for its preservation and corruption. In effect he extended the project of Machiavelli’s commentaries on Livy into the circumstance of more modern and contemporary societies. Despite the work of Nathaniel Bacon and Algernon Sidney, in the absence of an account of a specifically Britto-Gallian past (George Buchanan’s history of Scottish liberty and Hotman’s French version provided prescriptive models), Molesworth produced material for the political imagination of British audiences.59 He provided, however, not simply an ancient constitution for implementation but a broader sociological inquiry into the origins and fortunes of liberty, which readers might refine and apply to contemporary circumstances. The evidence of Molesworth’s political writings and their afterlife also allows us to glimpse how traditions of thinking about liberty developed between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. Molesworth’s edition of Francogallia acted as a conduit for repositioning the resistance theory of the French wars of religion into a form digestible and pertinent to the age of revolutions. With this “contagion of liberty,” works written as livres de circonstance, in order to legitimate specific acts of resistance against religious tyranny, were transformed into volumes encouraging ideological opposition to corruptions in contemporary political societies. Readers of Francogallia in the 1570s might have been embarked on raising arms against the French or Spanish monarchy, whereas readers of the English editions in the 1710s or 1760s read more to validate public political principles shared by large numbers of other like-minded readerships.60 Recommendations to read the works in newspapers and advertisements significantly broadened their readerships and enhanced the possibilities of their enjoying practical political consequences.
Molesworth’s writings provide ample material for an answer to J. W. Gough’s very pertinent question, “How did political liberty in the eighteenth century depend on what had happened in ancient France?”61 Molesworth mobilized historical erudition for public debate. Working with earlier discourses he searched for what was regarded as a set of historically intelligible fundamental principles. By combining Hotman’s gaulois constitution with Tacitus’s Germanist traditions, he claimed to have identified extant institutions and processes that instantiated principles of liberty. He also identified those agencies (beliefs and institutions) that corrupted freedom. The point of the combination of the edition of Francogallia and the analysis of the Danish case was to establish how historically contingent these traditions of freedom were. By drawing from the final chapter of the 1576 version of Francogallia (not reproduced in Molesworth’s editions) on superstition, Molesworth significantly contributed to the identification of the corrupting role of clerical institutions.
Scattered throughout Molesworth’s correspondence are barbed comments about the popery and tyranny of the High Church. Even men like the Low Church polemicist Benjamin Hoadly were dismissed as traitors when they accepted preferment over principle.62 This is not to say that Molesworth was irreligious: he left money in his will to build a church at Philipstown; in 1704 he instructed his wife not to forget to “enter the children’s ages in the great bible at Breckdenston.”63 Even late in his life he took a lively concern in the selection of curates: his son dismissed one candidate with the comment that “when he finds himself armed with credentials from Heaven and the Ecclesiastical Authority on earth to back them, it would be very extraordinary if he grew more modest.”64
Throughout his political career in London and Dublin, Molesworth had opposed intolerance and ecclesiastical tyranny. This had led him to support attempts to strengthen the legal basis of liberty of conscience. But it had also led him into direct conflict with the political institution of the Church in Ireland in 1713 when he suffered deprivation of his privy council seat for accusing the High Church clergy of turning “the world upside down.”65 As a consequence Molesworth was regarded as being in “odious colours” for his “intolerable profanation of the Holy Scriptures.”66
A friend of freethinking and heterodox men like Toland, Matthew Tindal, and Anthony Collins, Molesworth was explicit in regarding all clerical claims to political authority as “popery” and priestcraft. According to Molesworth, churchmen, even of Protestant varieties, exploited their authority in education to create servile prejudice and their own advancement—intolerance, persecution, and mental dependence lay at the root of tyranny. Citing the case that the Protestant Calvin had burned Servetus at Geneva, he confirmed “whosoever is against Liberty of Mind, is, in effect, against Liberty of Body too.” All de jure divino claims, such as “Monarchy, Episcopacy, Synods, Tythes, the Hereditary Succession to the Crown,” were improper and unacceptable to “real Whigs.”67 Indeed, as Molesworth took delight in reinforcing, Whiggism was constrained to no particular religious confession—Jews, Turks, even “Papists,” might be “great lovers of the constitution and liberty.” Toleration should be extended to “Pagans, Turks, Jews, Papists, Quakers, Socinians, Presbyterians, or others” because, Molesworth insisted, bigotry was the “very Bane of human Society, and the Offspring of Interest and Ignorance, which has occasion’d most of the great Mischiefs that have afflicted Mankind.”68 Religious tyranny created a dependent mind and by consequence a more effective political slavery: true commonwealth liberty lay in the freedom of reason and a good constitution.
Molesworth’s writings transformed the resistance theory of the previous century into an ideology of vigilance against the latent possibilities of contemporary despotism. This account of commonwealth ideology did not categorically oppose either monarchy or the modern and developing institutional forms of the state and society; however, it warned its readers to remain alert to the preconditions of tyranny in cultural, political, and economic forms.
The History and Reception of the Texts
An Account of Denmark was recorded in the Stationer’s Register on December 16, 1693, to publisher Timothy Goodwin. Subsequently, Daniel Poplar was threatened with prosecution for licensing the work. David Hayton has discovered evidence that throws important light on the scribal circulation of the text in the winter of 1693. John Stanley noted in correspondence with Robert Harley (at that time the driving force of the Country interest) that he possessed a copy of the work to which Molesworth was keen to restrict access. “Importuned by some of his friends,” Molesworth judged that it was best to coordinate publication with the new Parliamentary session in early October.69
After publication, although the Account was admired by many Whigs, the reputation of the work was tarnished by the king of Denmark’s formal complaint to the Privy Council.70 Nevertheless (or perhaps because of this), demand was such that Goodwin, his first edition possibly selling some one thousand per week, produced a third edition in March 1694. A second “foxed” edition was also produced by unknown persons. It is estimated that some six thousand copies were sold at this early stage. Continental editions followed almost immediately, with Dutch clandestine versions in French produced under the imprints (fictitious and not) of Pieter Rabus, Adrian Braakman, and Pierre Marteau. Certainly the work remained available for purchase. The exiled Thomas Johnson in the book-shop familiarly named the Libraire Anglois, Pooten in the Hague, offered copies in the 1700s alongside other classics of the Whig and republican canon such as Buchanan, Ludlow, Spinoza, Locke, Tyrrell, and Sidney. The work was a best-seller, outperforming contemporary works by Locke and others and receiving reviews in English and continental literary journals such as Journal de Hambourg (1695) and Histoire des ouvrages des scavans (1694). A fragment of the preface was also published in 1713.71 As the Bibliographical Descriptions indicate, the work reached some twenty-two editions in the eighteenth century. Records of book ownership suggest it was widely owned in the British Isles and North America.
The semiofficial response of the Danish government was coordinated by Skeel from April 1694. The complaint that William III should have the book burned and the author executed met with a frosty response: “That I cannot do but, if you please, I will tell him what you say, and he shall put it into the next edition of his book.”72 A number of profoundly hostile English-language works, notably William King’s Animadversions on a pretended account of Denmark (1694), disputed Molesworth’s reports of “habitual slavery” as “due obedience to supreme powers.”73 Evidence of the capacity of the work to provoke debate is confirmed by the fact that it was later cited in the House of Commons by a member of Parliament critical of William III’s use of the veto.74
Molesworth completed his translation of Hotman’s Francogallia sometime in 1705; it was first published in 1711 by Timothy Goodwin, without the original editorial preface, which was regarded as too incendiary for the times. Subsequently, the complete edition was published in 1721 by another publisher, Edward Valentine, this time with additional material from Pierre Bayle’s biographical account of Hotman. The preface—later known under the title The Principles of a Real Whig —became a clarion call for the commonwealth tradition in the eighteenth century. Editions of both the Account and Francogallia were available throughout the century. Booksellers’ advertisements in newspapers indicate that the two volumes were usually sold for common binding, or for binding together in one volume. (The publication of new editions of the Account prompted notice of the translation of Hotman’s French work, as the flurry of monthly ads in the London Evening Post between January 1758 and 1761 indicates.)
Evidence of the persisting relevance of the edition can be found in an item in the Gazetteer and London Daily Advertiser of March 13, 1764, responding to defenses of royal prerogative; the author of that “ill designed piece is either a madman, or an arrant Tory, i.e., a villain willingly ready to metamorphose himself into a low petty fawning cur to any ignorant weak king, as soon as such a one shall sit on the throne.” Extracting passages from chapter 15 of Francogallia, which suggested monarchs were secondary to the “whole politic body,” the article continued to recommend “the serious reading not only of the Francogallia, but also of the other most valuable performances of that rare patriot, the real nobleman, Lord Molesworth.” Men like him, “the immortal Whigs,” had begun and completed “the preservation and defence of the natural and social rights of Great Britain,” which were a durable model of how to engage with “tyrannical oppression.”75 Newspaper comments in 1788 and 1793 reinforced this persisting afterlife in commending the lessons of Francogallia to the cause of “publick liberty” in France.76
The edition of Hotman’s work was translated from a combination of the first edition and the 1576 Latin edition. Between the publication of the 1705 and 1721 editions, Molesworth included supplementary material from the original (chapter 19, “concerning the most important affairs of religion”).77 This latter edition saw the expansion of the “preface” from one that made brief remarks about the defense of liberty to the full-blown articulation of “real Whig” ideology.
Indeed, in the interval between the two versions the precise context for the work altered considerably. The 1711 edition had been published under the rule of a queen (which accounts for the judicious remarks made by Molesworth, who was critical of Hotman’s hostile tone in the chapter concerning the rule of queens). The book was also made public at a time when Louis XIV’s military power threatened the security of the Protestant succession (it may well have been calculated to appeal to audiences involved in the complex diplomatic context of the end of the War of the Spanish Succession).
Molesworth also included (in both editions) a biographical portrait of Hotman drawn almost exclusively from Pierre Bayle’s Historical Dictionary. This account reworked the complex ballet between main text and footnotes in Bayle’s original into a seamless celebration of Hotman’s dedication to the principles of constitutional liberty and erudition. Interestingly, Molesworth decided to exclude the material Bayle composed related to Hotman’s theological commitments, preferring to represent his contributions as predominantly civil in idiom.
While complete editions of Francogallia were subsequently republished after 1738, the afterlife of the preface to the volume was even more complex. Large fragments were published in John Ker’s memoirs.78 A full transcription was included in the Wilkesite monthly pamphlet The Political Register, produced by John Almon (later successfully prosecuted for publishing Junius’s letters) in April 1768. The issue was subsequently reprinted in collected volumes of the same work. Almon, under the sobriquet “an independent Whig,” was later to publish works by Paine, Wilkes, and others. Indeed, it seems likely that he also published an unacknowledged history of Denmark based on Molesworth’s work. A list of books and pamphlets printed in 1768 notes “this day are published” An Account of Denmark. Antient and Modern, which was meant to contain “its history from Swain the first Christian King to the present time.” Ornamented with a print of the contemporary king and queen, it was priced at “3s. sewed.”79 Demand was such that John Almon certainly produced a new printing of Francogallia in the winter of 1771–72.80
Even more significantly, an edition of the preface was produced by the “real Whig” London Association in 1775 (sold at 3d each or fifty copies for 8 shillings), dedicated to the “protesting peers, the uncorrupted minority in the House of Commons, the patriotic Freeholders of Middlesex.” Indeed the preface was suitable for “every true, free Englishman, in the British Empire, who is willing and ready to maintain a steady opposition to the introduction of Popery and Slavery into these realms.”81 Thomas Hollis had displayed sympathy for American attempts to preserve the traditions of English liberty and indeed circulated copies of works like James Otis’s Rights of the British colonists asserted and proved. Closely allied with Wilkes and printers like Almon, groups of like-minded common-wealthmen gathered in London clubs like the Honest Whigs, the Bill of Rights Society, and the Constitutional Society to mobilize civic support for America among the common councilmen and aldermen.
Published in the early autumn of 1775, Molesworth’s preface was offered to a new readership as a radical defense of the revolutionary military resistance of the colonies at Lexington and Concord against arbitrary power. The London Association, formed in the summer of 1775 at the Globe Tavern from a group of the capital’s more radical tradesmen and artisans, was, as a hostile contemporary noted, “principally intended to recommend and abett in this country the Rebellion which now exists in America.”82 Produced by men with connections to both John Wilkes and Thomas Hollis, the publication explicitly connected the traditions of 1689 with the political values inscribed in Molesworth’s preface: promotion of a frequent and independent parliament, regulations against bribery and corrupt office holding, pro-trade taxation policy, anti–standing army, and pro–citizen militia. The 1775 republication chimed with the ambitions of the colonies in promoting “Constitutional Freedom and National Happiness.” As the London Association’s attached circular letter made clear, “arbitrary” behavior by ministers had “openly violated and endeavoured to subvert our excellent constitution.”; The ambition was to encourage similar associations for “reciprocal communication.” To this end the London Association in partnership with the bookseller John Williams, and following Hollis’s model, offered a range of other works, “[including] in a few days will be published, elegantly printed, HOTOMAN’s FRANCO-GALLIA, translated by the late Lord Molesworth.” On this list were many works of Wilkes and others defending popular rights of petitioning, popular sovereignty, and civic freedom.83 The London Association also sponsored the colonialists’ Declaration . . . setting forth the causes and necessity of taking up Arms (1775) “for the noble purpose of opposing the Inroads of Tyranny.”84
The London Association used the newspapers to promote an ideology based almost exclusively on Molesworth’s preface. The September 14 edition of the London Evening News, noting the forthcoming publication of Molesworth’s preface, recommended it to the “public” as encapsulating “those genuine principles of a real Whig which actuate the London Association, and are the solid groundwork of all their resolutions.” Reading Molesworth would restore the constitution and “save a sinking nation.” To complement this invocation of the real Whig legacy, the London Association had duplicate copies published of an account of the reading habits of a Whig Shrewsbury brass-metal worker of the 1730s. As it described how the unnamed worthy, persecuted by Tories, found solace and “rapture” in frequent reading of Molesworth’s works, the distinction between those who approved of encroachments on the constitution and those who maintained the “people’s prerogative” was ever persistent. The nomenclature of Cavaliers and Roundheads, High Church and Low, Court and Country was more generally recorded as Whig and Tory. Too many were deluded by “a numerous herd of prostitute writers” into an unthinking dependency, but underneath, “the majority of people are naturally OLD WHIGS.” Now was the time to abandon neutrality by reading Molesworth’s preface. As the item concluded, “I wish every man in the nation would condescend to read it.”85
Evidence that Molesworth was a sensitive and thoughtful witness of contemporary society is found in the economic reflections and recommendations of the final text included in this collection: Some considerations for the promoting of agriculture, and employing the poor, published in Dublin in 1723. Surviving correspondence reveals Molesworth to have been a keen observer of natural and agricultural life. His letters are littered with repeated discussions of a variety of agricultural matters: the stocking of fishponds was evidently a particular interest.86 The arguments developed in the Considerations drew from his skill and abilities in the world of estate management and domestic economy. He turned this practical experience into a thoughtful discussion of the role the state could assume in developing a more productive economy and social policy. As with the Account of Denmark, Molesworth understood that there was a connection between material circumstances, public institutions, and political values.
Undertaking a comparative analysis of landownership, leases, and tithing practices in Ireland and England, Molesworth turned his own experience of managing estates into an instrument for the cultivation of a better civic community. Following Harringtonian commonplaces, Molesworth emphasized the role of landownership as the platform for virtuous public service. A prerequisite for membership in the House of Commons should be the possession of “Estates in the Kingdom.” Such properties should not be “fleeting ones, which may be sent beyond Sea by Bills of Exchange by every Pacquet-Boat, but fix’d and permanent.” Those merchants, bankers, and “money’d men” ambitious of senatorial position “should have also a competent, visible Land Estate.” Disagreeing with the contemporary argument that moneyed status was preferable to having estates encumbered with debts and mortgages, he suggested that those with estates would have the same interest as the rest of the country when it came to “publick Taxes, Gains and Losses.”87
Despite this apparent conservatism, Molesworth’s broader vision of economic life was active. He was, for example, in favor of a general naturalization as a device to increase the population and stimulate trade. Expanding the number of workmen in any town would enable the community to thrive. As a consequence, “the greater will be the Demand of the Manufacture, and the Vent to foreign Parts, and the quicker Circulation of the Coin.”;88 Decrying the restrictive practices of many town corporations where commerce was entangled in complex bylaws, Molesworth argued that new unincorporated villages were “more liberal” in their regulatory structures and by consequence deserved parliamentary representation. Such “better peopled” (i.e., more populous) and “more industrious” places were preferable to wastes and deserts like Old Sarum.89
Benefiting “the public” was the criterion for economic and fiscal policy. Potentially, “Parliamentary Credit” could promote “all publick Buildings and Highways, the making all Rivers Navigable that are capable of it, employing the Poor, suppressing Idlers, restraining Monopolies upon Trade, maintaining the liberty of the Press, the just paying and encouraging of all in the publick Service.”90 Far from decrying the burdens of taxation to support such government initiatives (especially in the costly business of continental war), Molesworth insisted that “no true Englishman will grudge to pay Taxes whilst he has a Penny in his Purse.” Since the cost of government was managed in a frugal manner, a citizen who “sees the Publick Money well laid out for the great Ends for which ’tis given” would contribute according to his abilities.91 Notwithstanding Molesworth’s commitment to the virtues of landed property and its political culture, he was appreciative of the possibilities of an industrious nation.
Molesworth’s extensive correspondence reveals a predisposition to value the political function of a landed aristocracy combined with an appreciation of the contributions of commerce and industry. Molesworth spent most of his life in pursuit of financial security for his extensive family. His hope that government office would bring with it secure income was repeatedly disappointed. His sons feared that their interest was compromised by the fierce paternal reputation for “true noble Roman courage that neither rewards nor threatenings can change.”92 This pursuit of security and independence ironically drove Molesworth into an unwise decision to invest in South Sea stock, which resulted only in further debt. A frugal man (drawing only £25 per month “for all expenses relating to myself in England”), he regretted the folly of his speculative investment in South Sea stock. The £2000 he invested was borrowed in the vain hope that the stock would “further rise, and in order to cheat some other buyer, fancying that it would not die in my hands.”93 That the price fell two days after he had purchased the stock, as he lamented, served him right. Molesworth’s daughter had dabbled, too, in the hope of securing a fortune to relieve her family from uncomfortable dependence on the court. The prospect of “imaginary riches” had tempted, it seems, many in the Molesworth connection.94
The best remedy for the current crisis was “improvement” of trade. Daniel Poultney put it most succinctly when he insisted that “we must put a stop to all sort of gaming in stocks, encourage trade and manufacture, industry and frugality.”95 Molesworth’s management of his own domestic economy reflected these values. The “sheet anchor” was his Irish estate, where he and his wife had undertaken virtuous “projects in good husbandry.”96 Late in life he wrote in some considerable pique against the charge that he had been extravagant in matters of estate improvement in Yorkshire. The rumor that thousands of pounds had been spent was spread about by “envious fools.” As he explained, “I never exceed above 150 l. per annum, whatever you may hear to the contrary.” He admitted he had spent a considerable amount on digging a canal, but that had profited him by £300. He continued, “There is neither bench, statue, fountain of stone, stairs, urn or flower-pot here as yet, so that you may judge that mere grass, trees and hedges cannot cost much.”97 The evidence of his correspondence with his wife, sons, and daughters suggests that Molesworth was a landowner with a keen eye to opportunity and development of his agrarian resources. This is supported by Finola O’Kane’s brilliant study of his architectural and gardening projects, which were underpinned by his enduring concern with the rental potential of the estates in Yorkshire and Ireland.98 The decision to adjust the nature of property titles from freehold to twenty-one-year leases marked (according to his son) “a way of improvement, which it never was before.” In the same instance, he encouraged the trade in Philipstown by collaboration with two “master manufacturers” (who happened, much to the disgust of the local cleric, to be Quakers). One of these, John Pym, employed the poor to spin his wool “to the great satisfaction of all the country and increase of the market.”99 Even toward the end of his life, Molesworth had a vision for how estate improvement could pay off the family’s debts: “the selling of woods, the setting out of St. Patrick’s well land, the Alnage revenue, and the improvement of Philipstown and Swords are groundworks to raise a new estate from.”100
Attentiveness to the potential of new rentals was matched by meticulous attention to detail over the rights and privileges of his estates. Neighbors who threatened to enclose his land, tenants who took advantage of mowing allowances, and people who exploited short-term rental rates for their private advantage and at damage to the integrity of the land, were all dealt with in no uncertain terms in order, as Molesworth put it, to “vindicate our right.”101 This dedication to the integrity of the estates was not simple personal advantage. Good management of tenancies (set at a reasonable price) benefited both landlord and tenant: severe measures had beneficial effects. Replacement of “unimproving idle people” by “better tenants” made the land more productive. Molesworth did not take the fixing of his rents lightly. Having researched the historical fluctuation of costs over four decades, he was aware of the range of options. He was also profoundly aware that his relationship with individual tenants necessarily involved their dependence on him. In one instance Molesworth was explicit in this regard. He was, he explained to his wife, quite against giving his “tenants at will” parchment copies of their leases: “they are so already at their own will, and it is but just they should be so at ours.” The point in refusing a material copy of the leases was not to turn out or raise the rents upon good tenants, but to “keep them in awe and hinder them from destroying our estate.” Here is an insight into the forms of dependence that Harrington theorized in his account of empire following the balance of property.102
Molesworth, too, theorized his experience and applied its lessons to the decay of gentlemanly cultivation in Ireland. Echoing both Cicero and Harrington, he stated that it was fundamental to his convictions that “Agriculture is not only a Science, but the most useful one to Mankind.”103 The ablest statesmen, philosophers, and poets had devoted considerable effort to elucidating the best principles of agricultural practice, “knowing it to be that whereon the Life and well-being of the Community depends.”104 Fundamental to his project was the need for honest and “improving” tenants who would enable the gentry to undertake two sorts of cultivation: of the soil and of their minds. Good tenants would allow gentlemen the leisure to improve their “natural Parts” by reading; the counterexample was the experience of the Irish gentry who were forced (in order to avoid the destruction of their estates by bad tenants) to “manage their own Lands, and turn their own Husband-men.” Such low employment and mean company meant that the gentry “degenerate by degrees; the best Education of many of their Sons, reaching no higher, than to know how to make the most of a Piece of Land.” As Molesworth made very explicit, this relationship with the land was no training ground for republican virtue. Understanding “the Business of Parliament, the Duty owing to ones Country, and the Value of Publick Liberty” was not cultivated “under such a cramp’d, and low Education.” Such gentry would become “narrow Spirited, covetous and ungenteel.”105
One remedy was to create “schools for husbandry” in each county to teach the best principles of agricultural conduct and good manners. Thriving and industrious farmers would produce more food and thereby alleviate the poverty of the nation. Reform of agricultural practices that had been distorted by religious sentiment (in particular by tithes and saints’ days) would create further benefit. Such scarcely disguised anticlericalism was mixed with economic principle when Molesworth declared, “I wish all the Saints Days were let slip, with all my Heart, and that People might be left at liberty to keep open Shop, plow, sow, reap and follow their lawful Trades on those Days; they would serve God better, and their Country and private Families, than now they do.”106
Molesworth, then, had an intimate understanding of the politics and economics of his relationship with the land, his tenants, and the status they conferred. He did, upon occasion, even turn his hand to the plough (something no self-respecting Roman senator would have considered). He was able to calculate the potential financial benefits of renegotiating rentals, but also to consider mortgaging his lands for ready cash in order to ensure that his son’s embassy in Turin was a success.
Molesworth was a man who certainly took enormous delight and pride in the application of opificio to his estates: the correspondence is teeming with references to specific arboreal projects, agrarian developments, and piscatorial undertakings. He was clearly an expert across a range of horticultural and natural knowledge, and the pride he took in improvement is evident in his remarks about developments on the Yorkshire estate of Edlington: “all the coarse, rough, unimproved land is taken in and under fine grass of tillage, a deal of new closes and hedging and building, and repairs, and planting the town street full of new industrious tenants, the commons taken in and turned to the best profitable land.”107 Here the language of improvement, industry, and profit illustrates the core values of a republican understanding of the function of landed property. Constantly anxious about the need for money to support his sons in their careers, Molesworth bemoaned that “all our care and industry cannot set us at ease in the world.” Despite these moments of despair, he continued, if somewhat compulsively, to plan improvements that would secure and advance the common benefit.108
[1. ]See the list of editions detailed in Bibliographical Descriptions, pp. xliii–xlviii.
[2. ]See the arguments of J. G. A. Pocock (ed.), Three British Revolutions: 1641, 1688, 1776 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1980).
[3. ]Molesworth, “Preface to the Reader,” Francogallia (1711), p. 173.
[4. ]J. Cannon, Parliamentary Reform 1640–1832 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973), p. 45.
[5. ]Molesworth, “Translator’s Preface,” Francogallia (1721), p. 175.
[6. ]Ibid., p. 175.
[7. ]Ibid., p. 179.
[10. ]See the black-framed commemoration, M.B., An elegy on the universally lamented death of the Right honourable Robert Lord Vis. Molesworth (1725); see also M. Browne, The throne of justice; a pindaric ode; humbly dedicated to the Right Honorable the Lord Viscount Molesworth (London, 1721).
[11. ]Caroline Robbins, The Eighteenth-Century Commonwealthman (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1959), p. 133.
[12. ]The phrase is used in annotations by Hollis on the initial blank page of Mary Monck’s Marinda: Poems and Translations upon several occasions (1716) [Harvard call mark *EC75.H.7267.Zz716m].
[13. ]Robbins, Eighteenth-Century Commonwealthman, p. 95.
[14. ]M.B., Elegy on the universally lamented.
[15. ]The manuscript letters are in British Library Additional Mss 4465, Collection of Letters and Papers of John Toland, folios 19, 21, 23, 27, 29, 36, 37.
[16. ]J. Toland, Collections (1726), vol. 2, pp. 461, 487, 491.
[17. ]Historical Manuscripts Commission, Report on Manuscripts in Various Collections, vol. 8 (Hereford, 1913) [hereafter HMC], p. 319.
[18. ]HMC, p. 217.
[19. ]Ibid., p. 259.
[20. ]Ibid., pp. 252, 283–84, 287, 312.
[21. ]Ibid., pp. 258–59.
[22. ]Ibid., p. 272, October 1717, Lettice Molesworth to her mother, Lady Molesworth.
[23. ]M. Monck, Marinda: Poems and translations upon several occasions (1716), pp. 10–11.
[24. ]HMC, p. 347.
[25. ]Ibid., p. 349.
[26. ]Ibid., p. 352.
[28. ]Ibid., pp. 348, 351, 354–55.
[29. ]Ibid., pp. 360–61, May 1723.
[30. ]Ibid., pp. 366–67, November 1723.
[31. ]See M. A. Stewart, “John Smith and the Molesworth Circle.” Eighteenth-Century Ireland 2 (1987), pp. 89–102, at pp. 95–96.
[32. ]F. Blackburne, Memoirs of Thomas Hollis (1780), vol. 1, p. 235.
[33. ]See P. Eyres, ed., “The Invisible Pantheon: The plan of Thomas Hollis as Inscribed at Stowe and in Dorset.” New Arcadian Journal 55/56 (2003), pp. 45–120, at p. 86.
[34. ]Harvard Houghton Library, call mark Typ 705.38.579, vol. 1 and vol. 2. I owe these references to the kindness of David Womersley.
[35. ]Franco-Gallia (1721), Harvard Houghton Library, call mark *EC75.H7267. Zz721h (A). Similar notes are reproduced in Account of Denmark (1738), Houghton Library, *EC75.H7267.Zz738m. Again, I am very grateful to David Womersley for providing transcripts of this material.
[36. ]See Trevor Colbourn, The Lamp of Experience: Whig History and the Intellectual Origins of the American Revolution (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1965; repr., Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1998).
[37. ]G. E. Aylmer, “English Perceptions,” in Europe and Scandinavia: Aspects of Integration in the Seventeenth Century, ed. G. Rystad (Lund: Esselte Studium, 1983), pp. 181–99, at p. 190.
[38. ]M. Lane, “The Relations Between England and the Northern Powers, 1689– 1697. Part 1. Denmark.” Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 5 (1911), pp. 157– 91, at p. 161.
[39. ]William King, Animadversions on a pretended account of Denmark (1694), preface, pp. 10–11.
[40. ]“This hand, an enemy to tyrants, seeks with the sword calm peace in freedom.”
[41. ]M. A. Goldie, “The Roots of True Whiggism 1688–94.” History of Political Thought 1 (1980): 197.
[42. ]“Translator’s Preface,” Francogallia, p. 167.
[43. ]See R. J. Smith, The Gothic Bequest: Medieval Institutions in British Thought, 1688–1863 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987).
[44. ]J. G. A. Pocock, The Ancient Constitution and the Feudal Law (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1957, repr. 1987), p. 361.
[45. ]See J. W. Allen, A History of Political Thought in the Sixteenth Century (New York: Dial, 1928), p. 310, who makes the same point about Hotman’s original readers.
[46. ]C. Kidd, “Northern Antiquity: The Ethnology of Liberty in Eighteenth-Century Europe,” in Northern Antiquities and National Identities, ed. K. Haakonssen and H. Horstboll ([Copenhagen]: Royal Danish Academy, 2008), text pp. 19–40 at p. 29 and notes pp. 307–11.
[47. ]J. A. I. Champion, “Enlightened Erudition and the Politics of Reading in John Toland’s Circle.” Historical Journal 49 (2006), pp. 111–41; M. Brown, “Francis Hutcheson and the Molesworth Connection.” Eighteenth-Century Ireland 14 (1999), pp. 62–76.
[48. ]J. Rudolph, Revolution by Degrees: James Tyrrell and Whig Political Thought in the Late Seventeenth Century (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002), p. 71.
[49. ]Rudolph, Revolution by Degrees, p. 71.
[50. ]Samuel Kliger, The Goths in England (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1952), pp. 112, 202.
[51. ]D. R. Kelley, “Tacitus Noster: The Germania in the Renaissance and Reformation,” and H. D. Weinbrot, “Some Uses of Tacitus in Eighteenth-Century Britain,” in Tacitus and the Tacitean Tradition, ed. T. J. Luce (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993), at pp. 169, 178; W. Bennario, “Gordon’s Tacitus.” The Classical Journal 2 (1976–77), pp. 107–14. For an account of the context see J. Scott, Commonwealth Principles: Republican Writing of the English Revolution (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), pp. 192–99.
[52. ]Etat present (1715), Beinecke Library, Yale University, New Haven, Conn., call mark Edas692Mhf.
[53. ]See Guy H. Dodge, The Political Theory of the Huguenots of the Dispersion (New York: Columbia University Press, 1947), especially pp. 151–54.
[54. ]H. M. Baird, “Hotman and the ‘ Francogallia, ’”; American Historical Review 1 (1896), pp. 609–30, at pp. 622–23.
[55. ]See F. Ford, Robe and Sword: The Regrouping of the French Aristocracy After Louis XIV (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1966); W. Doyle, “Was There an Aristocratic Reaction in Pre-Revolutionary France.” Past and Present 57 (1972), pp. 97–122; J. H. Shennan, “The Political Role of the Parlement of Paris Under Cardinal Fleury.” English Historical Review 81 (1966), pp. 520–42.
[56. ]R. Briggs, “From the German Forests to Civil Society: The Frankish Myth and the Ancient Constitution in France,” in Civil Histories: Essays Presented to Sir Keith Thomas, ed. Peter Burke, Brian Harrison, and Paul Slack (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), pp. 231–50, at p. 233; H. A. Ellis, Boulainvilliers and the French Monarchy: Aristocratic Politics in Early Eighteenth-Century France (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1988), pp. 13, 85; J. Klaits, Printed Propaganda Under Louis XIV: Absolute Monarchy and Public Opinion (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1977); P. K. Leffler, “French Historians and the Challenge to Louis XIV’s Absolutism.” French Historical Studies 14 (1985), pp. 1–22.
[57. ]“This book was not made for the present circumstances; it is in all the libraries; I have drawn from it two chapters, the reading of which causes me to tremble.”
[58. ]“This revolution was brought about by the hypocritical self-sacrifice of the priests; by the blind anger of the people; by the reckless stubbornness of the nobility.” Extrait d’un livre intitulé: État du royaume de Dannemarck, tel qu’il étoit en 1692 . . . Traduit de l’Anglois suivant la troisième edition de Londres (Amsterdam: Adrian Braakman, 1695 ), p. 3.
[59. ]On Buchanan see H. Trevor-Roper, The Invention of Scotland: Myth and History (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008), pp. 3–74.
[60. ]For one study of such an afterlife see Bernard Bailyn, The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1967).
[61. ]J. W. Gough, “James Tyrrell, Whig Historian and Friend of John Locke.” The Historical Journal 19 (1976), pp. 581–610, at p. 588.
[62. ]HMC, p. 324, September 1721.
[63. ]Ibid., p. 229.
[64. ]Ibid., p. 327.
[65. ]See Mr. Molesworth’s Preface. With Historical and Political Remarks (1713).
[66. ]N. Tindal, The continuation of Mr. Rapin de Thoyras’s History of England, from the revolution to the accession of King George II (1751), p. 331.
[67. ]“Translator’s Preface,” Francogallia, p. 177, p. 179.
[68. ]Ibid., p. 177.
[69. ]For this account see D. Hayton, “The Personal and Political Contexts of Robert Molesworth’s Account of Denmark,”; in Northern Antiquities and National Identities, ed. K. Haakonssen and H. Horstboll ([Copenhagen]: Royal Danish Academy, 2008), pp. 41–67, at pp. 56–57.
[70. ]R. Astbury, “The Renewal of the Licensing Act in 1693 and Its Lapse in 1695,” The Library 32 (1978), pp. 296–322, at p. 298.
[71. ]See Mr. Molesworth’s Preface. With Historical and Political Remarks (1713).
[72. ]P. Ries, “Robert Molesworth’s Account of Denmark: A Study in the Art of Political Publishing and Bookselling in England and on the Continent Before 1700.” Scandinavica 7 (1968), pp. 108–25; E. Seaton, Literary Relations of England and Scandinavia in the Seventeenth Century (Oxford: Clarendon, 1935), p. 134.
[73. ]King, Animadversions, pp. 90–91.
[74. ]Hayton, “The Personal and Political Contexts,” p. 316.
[75. ]The Gazetteer and London Daily Advertiser of March 13, 1764, no. 10,918.
[76. ]See items in The Whitehall Evening Post, October 11, 1788; The Morning Chronicle, February 8, 1793; The St. James Chronicle, September 3, 1793.
[77. ]François Hotman, Francogallia, ed. Ralph E. Giesey; trans. J. M. H. Salmon, Edition “b” (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1972). Hereafter abbreviated as “GS Franc.”;
[78. ]John Ker, Memoirs and secret negotiations, part III (1726), pp. 191–217.
[79. ]See R. Rea, “The Impact of Party Journalism in the Political Register.”; The Historian 17 (1954), pp. 1–17.
[80. ]See London Evening Post, January 17, 1758; November 14, 28; December 8, 26, 1758; January 16, 1759; and further in March, April, and September 1759. Almon’s advertisement is ibid., December 5, 1771, issue 6852.
[81. ]Page 24 indicates that “in a few Days will be published, elegantly printed, Hotoman’s Francogallia, translated by the late Lord Molesworth” by J. Williams at no. 39 Fleet Street.
[82. ]J. Sainsbury, “The Pro-Americans of London, 1769 to 1782.” William and Mary Quarterly 35 (1978), pp. 423–54, at p. 436.
[83. ]This included the reprinting of works by John Somers defending the revolution of 1689 (1710) and more contemporary titles like A guide to the knowledge of the Rights and Privileges of Englishmen (1757).
[84. ]J. Sainsbury, Disaffected Patriots. London Supporters of Revolutionary America 1769–1782 (Gloucester, 1987), pp. 106–13.
[85. ]The Craftsman or Say’s Weekly Journal, September 30, 1775; see also The Gazetteer or New Daily Advertiser, September 26, 1775. Signed by “An Old English Merchant. G.I.L.H.” The first iteration also noted where Molesworth’s “preface” might be purchased and its price.
[86. ]HMC, p. 220, p. 275.
[87. ]Molesworth, “Translator’s Preface,” Francogallia, p. 181.
[88. ]Ibid., p. 183.
[89. ]Ibid., p. 184.
[90. ]Ibid., p. 189.
[91. ]Ibid., p. 190.
[92. ]HMC, pp. 287, 288–89.
[93. ]Ibid., pp. 296, 301–3.
[94. ]Ibid., pp. 312–13, 350–51.
[95. ]Ibid., p. 286.
[96. ]Ibid., p. 350.
[97. ]Ibid., p. 357.
[98. ]F. O’Kane, Landscape Design in Eighteenth-Century Ireland (Cork, Ireland: Cork University Press, 2005).
[99. ]HMC, p. 369.
[100. ]Ibid., p. 370.
[101. ]Ibid., pp. 230–31.
[102. ]HMC, pp. 239, 241, 249, 250.
[103. ]Molesworth, Some Considerations for the Promoting of Agriculture and Employing the Poor, p. 332.
[105. ]Ibid., p. 344.
[106. ]Ibid., p. 349.
[107. ]HMC, pp. 221, 257, 261.
[108. ]Ibid., pp. 248, 283.