By J. E. Cookson
The buddies of Peace is a research of the war-opposition in England in the course of what has often been provided because the nice patriotic fight opposed to innovative and Napoleonic France. Protest opposed to the wars used to be led via liberal writers, execs and businessmen. Dr Cookson argues that the significance of those anti-war liberals hasn't ever been sufficiently stated. They have been usually an influence of their neighborhood groups and have been strongly associated via non secular (especially Unitarian) Dissent and the actions of the clicking. through accomplished and systematic use of the provincial press, the most manuscript assets, revealed collections and the huge pamphlet literature which this articulate minority generated, Dr Cookson has pointed out them as maybe the 1st of the nonconformist strain teams working at the flanks of the Whig social gathering, and established that they performed an important half in making it liberal and well known. within the face of the conservative and Anglican response of the 1790s, they turned the executive competitors of the oligarchical society, drastically hastening the advance of a middle-class ideology.
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13 Biblical exegesis and the defence of revelation were two major preoccupations of late eighteenth-century scholarship. This devotion to Christian truth, or unwillingness to proceed from any but Christian assumptions, was avowed with extraordinary intensity during the war period ; it was, quite possibly, the last time secular explanation was kept at bay to this extent. The first rush of the evangelical revival cannot be said to have been the primary influence ; it was not an evangelical consciousness which led the young Coleridge to lecture on 'revealed religion' in Bristol, or Gilbert Wakefield to persevere with New Testament translation and commentary and attack Paine for his Age of Reason, or Priestley to labour over the ' ancient prophecies' in his American retreat.
49 There were few cases where this confidence was shattered or even severely disturbed. Those liberals who had lapsed into ' infidelity' were of course vulnerable because they had to fall back on a secular defence of the doctrine of progress; sensationalist psychology was a useful starting-point, but in the laboratory of history was less than convincing insofar as it was difficult to accept that man had prospered morally as well as materially and intellectually. 50 The importance of the religious underpinning of the idea of perfectibility can be gauged from an article in the Monthly Magazine of 1 799, for it reveals how the historical proof of progress could evaporate into nothing.
S application of the case seems to have been a common one. For Mrs Barbauld war was justified only by the ' extremest necessity', for Roscoe only when it became ' the sole means of providing for the gener2J safety'. Gilbert Wakefield in 1 794 asked : ' if the war be just and necessary, in assertion of your religion and liberties and laws ; to secure these objects, must you traverse the seas ? to defend yourselves, must you seize by treachery the towns of the republicam, burn their property, lay waste their provinces, and meditate the total extermination of their race by famine and the sword .
The Friends of Peace: Anti-War Liberalism in England 1793-1815 by J. E. Cookson