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Pen for a Party: Dryden's Tory Propaganda in Its Contexts

Pen for a Party: Dryden's Tory Propaganda in Its Contexts

Copyright Date: 1993
Pages: 354
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    Pen for a Party: Dryden's Tory Propaganda in Its Contexts
    Book Description:

    Exploring the political climate during the final years of the reign of Charles II, when John Dryden wrote his great public poems and several of his dramatic works, Phillip Harth sheds new light on this writer's literary activity on behalf of the monarch. The poemsAbsalom and AchitophelandThe Medall, and the dramatic worksThe Duke of GuiseandAlbion and Albanius, have commonly been considered in relation to such public events as the Popish Plot, the Exclusion Crisis, and the Tory Reaction, but that approach does not explain the noticeable differences among these works or the specific purposes for which they were written. Harth argues that the immediate contexts of these works were not the historical events themselves but a constantly developing series of propaganda offensives, both Tory and Whig, designed to influence public opinion toward fluctuating conditions.

    Pen for a Partytraces the halting process by which the government of Charles II developed propaganda as an effective instrument for gradually winning the public's acquiescence in its divisive policies. It likewise shows how Dryden fashioned his own works to meet the needs of this propaganda campaign in each of its successive phases.

    Originally published in 1993.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-7278-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Chapter 1 THE PULPIT
    (pp. 3-17)

    The series of political crises that began in 1678 and came to monopolize the attention of Dryden and most other literary figures during the closing years of Charles IPs reign may strike the observer as the very antithesis of the outward harmony with which the reign had begun in 1660.¹ Yet those who spoke and wrote for the government during the Exclusion Crisis and its aftermath were in many cases exploiting a legacy of political rhetoric inherited from the framers of the Restoration Settlement and its apologists. It is with the Restoration, therefore, that we must begin.

    On the day...

    (pp. 18-61)

    The propaganda on behalf of the government in which Dry-den was to play so active a role in the last years of Charles II's reign was designed to justify a series of maneuvers that the court had been constrained to adopt, under pressure from Parliament and the public, since the autumn of 1678. Until early 1681 those maneuvers were carried out in a series of intermittent contests between the king and Parliament in which many of the Crown’s prerogatives were at stake. But beyond Westminster lay an aroused public with whose temper the king must contend, and on the outcome...

  6. Chapter 3 THE NATION’S SAVIOR
    (pp. 62-137)

    The same considerations from which the Whigs drew fresh hope in early 1681 could only convince the king and his advisers that he must bring a halt to the cycle of summoning, proroguing, and dissolving parliaments in which, as recent experience proved, his position was rapidly deteriorating. He must find the means of dispensing with parliaments, abandon his delaying tactics, and overcome his inertia. Matters had reached a critical stage in which his only hope for escape lay in finding ways of relieving both kinds of pressure—financial and popular—responsible for his present plight.

    The easier of these two...

  7. Chapter 4 THE ASSOCIATION
    (pp. 138-205)

    Shaftesbury’s grand inquest on 24 November 1681, a week after the appearance ofAbsalom and Achitophel,is a turning point in Tory propaganda, marking an end to the campaign of 1681, and serving as the starting point for a new campaign, along noticeably different lines, which would capture public attention until the middle of 1683.

    Within a few minutes of the opening of the inquest at the Old Bailey, the grand jurors found themselves overruled when they demanded that testimony should be heard in secret in accordance with “the ancient usage and custom ofEngland”; instead. Lord Chief Justice Pemberton...

    (pp. 206-268)

    If, as dryden and lee implied, Charles’s action in saving his country from possible anarchy in 1681 was more just and lawful than Henri Ill’s, it also promised to be more lasting than that of the French king, who within a few months of arranging Guise’s murder would “dye a violent Death himself; murder’d by aPriest,anEnthusiast of his own Religion” (pp. 9–10) while investing his still rebellious capital: the judgment of Providence, Dryden suggested in theVindication,for his part in the Massacre of St. Bartholomew.

    Yet Charles’s capital, while not in open rebellion, still provided...

    (pp. 269-272)

    We must not exaggerate the importance of Tory propaganda. It was not directly responsible for the government’s success or for the collapse of the “Whig party. But while such measures as dispensing with parliaments, suppressing newspapers, seizing charters, and dispersing conventicles were responsible for the government’s actual victory, it was propaganda that must win public tolerance for these debatable actions.¹ By late summer of 1683 those policies had to all appearance gained the widespread, though not of course the universal, compliance of a public for whom the Rye House Plot as skillfully exploited by the government figured as the final...

    (pp. 273-278)
    (pp. 279-285)
  12. Abbreviations and Note on Documentation
    (pp. 286-286)
  13. NOTES
    (pp. 287-328)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 329-341)