Because there’s nothing like a good old-fashioned 18th-century reactionary

Did you enjoy Hanging not punishment enough? Well, now you can read William Paley’s Reasons for contentment, addressed to the labouring part of the British public (1792), brought to you by Don Herzog of Left2Right.

Thanks to Brandon at Houyhnhnm Land for the tip-off.


Hannah More, Cheap repository tracts and Village politics.

This entry was posted in Early Modern, Resources. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Because there’s nothing like a good old-fashioned 18th-century reactionary

  1. Steve says:

    Jeffrey Bernard: “As if there was something romantic and glamorous about hard work … if there was something romantic about it, the Duke of Westminster would be digging his own fucking garden, wouldn’t he?”

  2. Chris Williams says:

    Paley on line. Brilliant – that’s going out to my crime and policing MA group ASAP. Unless you’ve read Paley, Hay’s _Property, Authority and the Criminal Law_ sounds like the kind of sub-Marxist paranoia that John Langbein thinks it is.

    Fab fab fab.

  3. Sharon says:

    Knew you’d like it. I think there should be more 18th-century reactionaries online. (They seem quite difficult to find, compared to the ‘other side’, say, the Liberty Library.) Apart from any satirical pleasure I might get out of cherrypicking them to juxtapose with current politicians, it seems to me that putting up the progressive/reformist/liberal writers (like Beccaria, Rousseau et al) on their own gives readers only half the story.

    Oh, and according to Paley, if you really knew the Duke you’d find he loves the simple pleasures of his garden. I’ll check the page reference.

  4. Sharon says:

    Here we go [page 8]:

    As to some other things which the poor are disposed to envy in the condition of the rich, such as their state, their appearance, the grandeur of their houses, dress, equipage, and attendance, they only envy the rich these things, because they do not know the rich. They have not opportunities of observing with what neglect and insensibility the rich possess and regard these things themselves. If they could see the great man in his retirement, and in his actual manner of life, they would find him, if pleased at all, taking pleasure in some of those simple enjoyments which they can command as well as he. They would find him amongst his children, in his husbandry, in his garden, pursuing some rural diversion, or occupied with some trifling exercise, which are all gratifications, as much within the power and reach of the poor man, as of the rich; or rather more so.

    Stop laughing at the back.

  5. Steve says:

    “…pursuing some rural diversion,”

    That is pretty conclusive, Sharon. I stand corrected. What else could this possibly mean?

Comments are closed.