By Bernard Cottret
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Additional info for Bolingbroke’s Political Writings: The Conservative Enlightenment
On 27 July 1714, Bolingbroke succeeded in ousting the Earl of Oxford, but unfortunately for him, the end of the week brought his ascendancy to an end: 'The Earl of Oxford was removed on Tuesday; the Queen died on Sunday. 10 The following ten years should have been the darkest in Bolingbroke's life; in the event they proved extremely beneficial. His French exile allowed Bolingbroke to achieve a philosophical status, which was largely the effect of uprooting. Francis Bacon or Clarendon, whom he deeply admired, had likewise taken advantage of their estrangement from the political turmoil of their times to indulge in the pure joys of literary activity.
While, according to Bolingbroke, Walpole and George II only aim at corruption and division, his own role is to remind the inhabitants of the kingdom of their duty to control and censure the exercise of power. In his Letter X, Bolingbroke takes up this difference between 'constitution' and 'government' to insist that the 'friends' of a government may the 'enemies' of the constitution. Walpole's ascendancy is thereby declared illegal. Bolingbroke's revolution would be a reassertion of legality, and not an illegal coup.
He simply relied on received imagery to unite all his compatriots against Walpole. Even passing references to 1688 should be properly decoded: a new 1688 was bound to happen, but this time against Walpole and George II. Another important assumption to be found in the Dissertation is the distinction between 'constitution' and 'government': 'Government is the business of those, who are appointed to govern, and of those who are appointed to controul them. ' While, according to Bolingbroke, Walpole and George II only aim at corruption and division, his own role is to remind the inhabitants of the kingdom of their duty to control and censure the exercise of power.
Bolingbroke’s Political Writings: The Conservative Enlightenment by Bernard Cottret
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