By Michael Brown
John Toland used to be infamous. Condemned via the Middlesex Grand Jury and the Irish parliament for authoring Christianity now not Mysterious (1696), he used to be to spend a lot of his profession at the heterodox fringes of highbrow lifestyles in Britain and past. but he used to be additionally an intimate of a chain of influential politicians and performed a very important half within the Hanoverian succession of 1714. A pamphleteer, a polemicist and a prankster of the 1st order, smooth scholarship has struggled to put his writings in the debates of his day. This research is the 1st to totally recount his notable biography, and to situate his writings totally in the controversies that formed them.
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Extra resources for A Political Biography of John Toland (Eighteenth-Century Political Biographies)
It was opposed by a circle of ‘Old’ or ‘True’ Whigs, which included Toland, whose debt to classical republican ideals lent force to their argument that the revolution settlement was too narrow, as it did not preclude the growth of modern innovations, notably the standing army and the national debt. The Junto was also opposed by resilient Tories, who found it hard to stomach the recent change in Church politics, even if the state’s commitment to Protestantism kept them within the fold. Outside the legitimate realm of political discourse, lay the Jacobite loyalists, whose continuing commitment to the Catholic James II placed them in opposition to the Revolution in its entirety.
81 Moreover, this reading would chime with another aspect of the title page: its original anonymity and subsequent reissue with the author’s name proudly emblazed upon it, alongside that of the publisher, Samuel Buckley, who was later to produce the Daily Courant and the Whig periodical, the Spectator. Usually anonymity would be maintained to avoid trouble, and when it was the kind of trouble Toland was brewing up, it seems strange that he would act so quickly to bring attention upon himself. 82 Perhaps youthful enthusiasm got the better of him.
2 Upon returning to London from his ill-starred visit to Dublin, in September 1697, he took up the task of producing editorial work for the printer. In the character of these compilations, Toland accorded with the political views of a freethinking commonwealth circle, known to themselves as the College, and which gathered around the Grecian Coffeehouse in Devereux Court. Frequenting the establishment was a set of republican thinkers whose public utterances and actions were drawing the attention and suspicion of political enemies as to their secret ambitions and private values.