Thursday, 29 May 2014

On This Oak Apple Day, by David Lindsay

The Whig Revolution of 1688 led to very deep and very wide disaffection among Catholics, High Churchmen, Congregationalists, Baptists, Quakers and others.
 
Within those subcultures, long after the death of the Stuart cause as such with Cardinal York in 1807, there persisted a feeling that Hanoverian Britain, her Empire, and that Empire’s capitalist ideology, imported and at least initially controlled from William of Orange’s Netherlands, were less than fully legitimate.
 
This was to have startlingly radical consequences.
 
First in seventeenth-century England and then in the eighteenth-century France that looked to that precedent, gentry-cum-mercantile republican absolutism was an inversion of Jean Bodin’s princely absolutism, itself an Early Modern aberration.
 
But what of the creation of a gentry-cum-mercantile republic in the former American Colonies? Did it, too, ultimately derive from reaction against the Stuarts, inverting their newfangled ideology against them?
 
No, it ultimately derived from loyalty to them, a loyalty which regarded the Hanoverian monarchy as illegitimate.
 
Since 1776 predates 1789, the American Republic is not a product of the Revolution, but nevertheless sits under a radically orthodox theological critique, most obviously by reference to pre-Revolutionary traditions of Catholic and Protestant republican thought.
 
On the Catholic side, that is perhaps Venetian. On the Protestant side, it is perhaps Dutch. On both sides, it is perhaps to be found at cantonal level in Switzerland, where it is possible that such thought might hold sway even now.
 
There simply were Protestant Dutch Republics before the Revolution. There simply was a Catholic Venetian Republic before the Revolution. There simply were, and there simply are, Protestant and Catholic cantons in Switzerland, predating the Revolution. The literature must be there, for those who can read the languages sufficiently well.
 
Furthermore, there is no shortage of Americans whose ancestors came from the Netherlands or from Italy, and there may well be many who assume from their surnames that their bloodline is German or Italian (or possibly French) when in fact it is Swiss.
 
It is time for a few of them to go looking for these things, with a view to applying them as the radically orthodox theological critique of that pre-Revolutionary creation, the American Republic.
 
Within that wider context, far more Jacobites went into exile from these Islands than Huguenots sought refuge here.
 
The Jacobites founded the Russian Navy of Peter the Great. They maintained a network of merchants in the ports circling the Continent. Their banking dynasties had branches in several great European cities. They introduced much new science and technology to their host countries. They dominated the Swedish East India and Madagascar Companies. They fought with the French in India.
 
And very many of them ended up either in the West Indies or in North America. New York seems the most obvious place to look for them, being named after its initial proprietor as a colony, the future James VII and II.
 
The Highlanders in North Carolina spoke Gaelic into the 1890s, but in vain had the rebellious legislature there issued a manifesto in that language a century earlier: like many people of directly Scots rather than of Scots-Irish origin or descent, they remained loyal to the Crown during the Revolutionary War.
 
However, there were many Jacobite Congregationalists, such as Edward Roberts, the exiled James’s emissary to the anti-Williamite Dutch republics, and Edward Nosworthy, a gentleman of his Privy Council both before and after 1688. There was that Catholic enclave, Maryland.
 
And there was Pennsylvania: almost, if almost, all of the Quakers were at least initially Jacobites, and William Penn himself was arrested for Jacobitism four times between 1689 and 1691.
 
Many Baptists were also Jacobites, and the name, episcopal succession and several other features of the American Episcopal Church derive, not from the Church of England, but from the staunchly Jacobite Episcopal Church in Scotland, which provided the American Colonies with a bishop, Samuel Seabury, in defiance of the Church of England and of the Hanoverian monarchy to which it was attached.
 
Early Methodists were regularly accused of Jacobitism. John Wesley himself had been a High Church missionary in America, and Methodism was initially an outgrowth of pre-Tractarian, often at least sentimentally Jacobite, High Churchmanship. Very many people conformed to the Established Church but either refused to take the Oath or declared that they would so refuse if called upon to take it.
 
With its anti-Calvinist soteriology, it high sacramentalism and Eucharistic theology, and its hymnody based on the liturgical year, early Methodism appealed to them. Wesley also supported, and corresponded with, William Wilberforce, even refusing tea because it was slave-grown; indeed, Wesley’s last letter was to Wilberforce. They wrote as one High Tory to another.
 
Wilberforce was later a friend of Blessed John Henry Newman, whose Letter to the Duke of Norfolk constitutes the supreme Catholic contribution to the old Tory tradition of the English Confessional State, in the same era as Henry Edward Manning’s Catholic social activism, and the beginning of Catholic Social Teaching’s strong critique of both capitalism and Marxism.
 
Whiggery, by contrast, had produced a “free trade” even in “goods” that were human beings. The coalition against the slave trade contained no shortage of Methodists, Baptists, Congregationalists or Quakers.
 
Yet the slave trade was integral to the Whig Empire’s capitalist ideology. If slavery were wrong, then something was wrong at a far deeper level. James Edward Oglethorpe, a Jacobite, opposed slavery in Georgia. Anti-slavery Southerners during the American Civil War were called “Tories”.
 
Radical Liberals were anti-capitalist in their opposition to opium dens, to unregulated drinking and gambling, and to the compelling of people to work seven-day weeks, all of which have returned as features of the British scene.
 
Catholics, Methodists, Congregationalists, Baptists and Quakers fought as one for the extension of the franchise and for other political reforms.
 
It was Disraeli, a Tory, who doubled the franchise in response to that agitation. To demand or deliver such change called seriously into question the legitimacy of the preceding Whig oligarchy.
 
It is almost impossible to overstate the importance of Catholicism, of the Anglo-Catholicism that High Churchmanship mostly became at least to some extent, of the Baptist and Reformed (including Congregational) traditions, and, above all, of Methodism, to the emergence and development of the Labour Movement.
 
Quakerism and Methodism, especially the Primitive and Independent varieties, were in the forefront of opposition to the First World War, which also produced the Guild of the Pope’s Peace, and which had a following among Anglo-Catholics of either of what were then the more extreme kinds, “English Use” and “Western Use”. Each of those included Jacobites among, admittedly, its many eccentrics.
 
Above all in Wales, where Catholic sentiment was still widely expressed in the old tongue well into the eighteenth century, Quakers and Methodists had very recently stood shoulder to shoulder with Presbyterians, Congregationalists and Baptists, including Lloyd George, against the Boer War.
 
Paleoconservatives who would rightly locate the great American experiment within a wider British tradition need to recognise that that tradition encompasses the campaign against the slave trade, the Radical and Tory use of State action against social evils, the extension of the franchise, the creation of the Labour Movement, and the opposition to the Boer and First World Wars.
 
All of those arose out of disaffection with Whiggery, with the Whigs’ imported capitalist system, with their imported dynasty, and with that system’s and that dynasty’s Empire.
 
A disaffection on the part of Catholics, High Churchmen (and thus first Methodists and then also Anglo-Catholics, as well as Scottish and therefore also American Episcopalians), Congregationalists, Baptists, Quakers and others.
 
Behind these great movements for social justice and for peace was still a sense that the present British State (not any, but the one then in existence) was itself somehow less than fully legitimate.
 
In other words, the view that there was ultimately something profoundly wrong about this country and her policies, both domestic and foreign, was a distant echo of an ancestral Jacobitism.
 
Radical action for social justice and for peace derived from testing the State and its policies against theologically grounded criteria of legitimacy.
 
It still does.

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