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The Accession of James II.




By coincidence, I was planning to put a copy of Macaulay's History of England, Vol. I, online, and when looking for more information about it, I discovered that Project Gutenberg had just done it a few months earlier. So I've taken the text they provide and adapted it for this site, the Street Corner Society.

The two editions are somewhat different. Project Gutenberg's Etext is based on an edition published in Philadelphia by Porter & Coates (no date given). It has a few more footnotes than the hardcopy edition I have, which was published by Harper & Brothers, New York (no date given). In the contents page the breaks between different items are sometimes placed a little differently, and a few of these items have variant spellings (e.g., Shipmoney vs. Ship-Money).

Other than that, there aren't many differences between the two texts, and in the spirit of the Gutenberg Project, I have resisted the temptation to make substantive changes. Someone who saves "as text" from the pages here will get almost exactly the same text that they provide. (See their "Small Print" if you haven't already.) I've simply divided chapters into sections (of 45 to 70K each), added titles to the text from the Contents pages, divied up the footnotes to the appropriate sections, and provided links throughout.

Also, as I am mainly interested in Quaker history, and that's what the site is about, I plan to add internal anchors for links from a page that will serve as a guide to Macaulay's History from a Quaker perspective. This page is already linked from A Quaker Page. The result will be that the text has reddish asterisks scattered through. If you as a visitor are completely uninterested in Quaker history, you should at least keep in mind that Macaulay was a fairly mainstream character, vis-a-vis the Quakers of his own time and in his regard for radical sectarians of the period he wrote about. So take what he says about Friends with a few grains of salt!

It seems to me that Macaulay's History must be a "classic" in British history, with all that comes with this status. Perhaps six generations of schoolkids have grown up having it taught at them, and British historians writing about the 1600s definitely have it in the back of their minds, which I never really understood until I read the book. Now that I've read it, I finally understand why the Monmouth Rebellion remains so important to the Brits, and where cliches in the pseudo-intellectual media such as "Bloody Assizes" come from.

For any radical looking for traces of the revolution in Britain that occurred in the 1600s, Macaulay's book is fascinating. See my essay World Turned Upside Down, for contrast. Remember that Macaulay was a liberal in the mold of the early to mid-1800s, and he was personally involved in the growth and consolidation of the British Empire, so he has a very peculiar take on his radical forebears.

From a Quaker perspective, the section on William Penn alone makes this book interesting, and I hope that visitors to this site will find other sections as provocative as I do. Read Macaulay's account of the events before, during, and after the Monmouth Rebellion (in chapter 5) and you won't read newspaper stories about Kosovo, Chetchnia, Guatemala, and Indonesia the same way again.

And the beat goes on...

Kirk Wattles <CONTACT>

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