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George Berkeley and the Jacobite Heresy: Some Comments on Irish Augustan Politics

  • Graham P. Conroy


“In 1727 Swift met Bolingbroke, Pope, and Arbuthnot for the last time; that autumn he went back to Ireland for good, and the Augustan circle was dispersed. The next summer Pope took a riding tour on an elderly pony that rolled Lord Cobham's lawns at Stowe; only on his journey did he discover that this veteran had been brave Derwentwater's charger in the '15.”

So says Keith Grahame Feiling with great wistfulness of the passing of the turbulent times surrounding the abortive Second Stuart Restoration and its impact on English and Irish social and political life in the opening page of his The Second Tory Party, 1714-1832.

Prior to this time the Irish philosopher and patriot George Berkeley, author of the celebrated Treatise on the Principles of Human Nature and the ingenious Querist was a member of that same circle and after the breaking of the circle charges of Jacobitism that had been levelled at the members of this brilliant and select group trotted behind his footsteps as he moved through the remaining decades of his life. The following pages are an attempt to explain Berkeley's connections with the Augustan Circle and to mitigate the criticisms brought against him by those opposed to the views of some of that group.



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1 H. North to Sancroft, 2 April 1693, Tanner MSS 25, Bodleian Library, Oxford.

2 Robbins, Caroline, The Eighteenth-Century Commonwealthman (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1961), p. 137.

3 Berkeley, George, The Works of George Berkeley Bishop of Cloyne, ed. Luce, A. A. and Jessop, T. E. (London: Thos. Nelson & Sons, 19481952), [hereafter cited as Works], Vol. VIII, Letter no. 3.

4 Works, Vol. VIII, Introduction, p. 2.

5 Ibid.

6 Works, Vol. VIII, Letter no. 8.

7 Ibid., Letter no. 12.

8 Ibid., Letter no. 15.

9 Works, Vol. IX, comments on Letter no. 15.

10 Works, Vol. VIII, Letter no. 225.

11 Ibid.

12 Works, Vol. I, Philosophical Commentaries nos. 393, 394.


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