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Negotiating TolerationDissent and the Hanoverian Succession, 1714-1760$
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Nigel Aston and Benjamin Bankurst

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198804222

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198804222.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use.date: 02 July 2022

‘But what if the Queen should die?’

‘But what if the Queen should die?’

Defoe, the Dissenters, and the Succession

(p.15) 1 ‘But what if the Queen should die?’
Negotiating Toleration

W. R. Owens

Oxford University Press

Chapter 1 discusses Daniel Defoe’s writings on Dissent and the Succession during the last years of Queen Anne and the opening years of the reign of George I. His relationship with his Dissenting co-religionists had always been a complicated one, especially over the issue of Occasional Conformity. Although thinking it indefensible that Dissenters be forced out of public office by the Corporation and Test Acts, Defoe believed equally firmly that no conscientious Dissenter should engage in Occasional Conformity to get round the law. In 1702 he was imprisoned for publishing The Shortest Way with the Dissenters, an ironical attack on High-Church opponents of Occasional Conformity which fooled readers on both sides. In 1713, he again risked using irony for polemical purposes, intervening dramatically in the growing public debate over who should succeed Queen Anne in the event of her death. Between February and April, he published a linked set of three ironical pamphlets putting forward (clearly spurious) arguments why it would be better if the Pretender succeeded, rather than the Elector George. The issues raised by the Protestant succession were central to Defoe’s political philosophy, as can be seen again in his Memoirs of the Church of Scotland (1717) where he argued that the principles that had animated Scottish Covenanters in their armed resistance to Charles II were the same as those which justified the Glorious Revolution and on which the Hanoverian Succession was founded.

Keywords:   Defoe, Dissenters, irony, Occasional Conformity, succession, Pretender, Queen Anne, George I, Covenanters, resistance

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