Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-55597f9d44-2qt69 Total loading time: 0.363 Render date: 2022-08-11T22:04:13.062Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true } hasContentIssue true

6 - Godwin, Political Justice

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 July 2011

Pamela Clemit
Affiliation:
University of Durham
Get access

Summary

In the British controversy on the French Revolution, William Godwin's An Enquiry concerning Political Justice stood alone. Its format was significantly different from the mass of pamphlets which appeared in reply to Edmund Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790). They were designed as interventions in public debate, were published quickly and cheaply, and were likely to be read only once. Political Justice, by contrast, was a philosophical treatise published in two quarto volumes, written for posterity as well as for contemporaries. Its expansive typographical lay-out, frequent sub-divisions and marginal glosses, were meant for readers who would weigh its arguments carefully and often. Its high price of thirty-six shillings – not three guineas as stated in some early accounts – suggested that its intended readership was mainly confined to the educated middling and higher classes of society, and confirmed its distance from the ‘dangerous portability’ of the occasional pamphlet.

Political Justice did not represent a decisive break with Godwin’s intellectual past. When in 1789 his heart ‘beat high with great swelling sentiments of liberty’, he had already been ‘for nine years in principles a republican’ (though he always remained ‘in practice a Whig’). Political Justice was no sudden outgrowth of revolutionary enthusiasm, but drew on longstanding traditions of British thought. Godwin was educated in the philosophical and theological traditions of eighteenth-century Protestant dissent, which had been extended to the secular sphere by the Rational Dissenters.

Type
Chapter
Information
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2011

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

  • Godwin, Political Justice
  • Edited by Pamela Clemit, University of Durham
  • Book: The Cambridge Companion to British Literature of the French Revolution in the 1790s
  • Online publication: 28 July 2011
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CCOL9780521516075.006
Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

  • Godwin, Political Justice
  • Edited by Pamela Clemit, University of Durham
  • Book: The Cambridge Companion to British Literature of the French Revolution in the 1790s
  • Online publication: 28 July 2011
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CCOL9780521516075.006
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Godwin, Political Justice
  • Edited by Pamela Clemit, University of Durham
  • Book: The Cambridge Companion to British Literature of the French Revolution in the 1790s
  • Online publication: 28 July 2011
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CCOL9780521516075.006
Available formats
×