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The Neo-Classical Englishman

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Chapter Summary

Seeing Englishness as a congerie of rights and liberties with more or less radical implications was but one way of construing nationality in political terms. The fundamental point about the Roman definition of slavery was that the slaves were in the power of their masters. Englishness is by now firmly attached, among a whole generation of parliamentarians to liberty. The latter mostly focuses on the exercise of arbitrary power in specific circumstances as a quotation from the Engagement Vindicated makes clear: it is 'not so much Titles as tyrannous, or arbitrary actions that make the people miserable'. Parker saw more deeply into the situation and desired to present a much more philosophically disturbing set of observations. English cannot be twisted to serve the cause of compulsion in little matters as in great. It is a free discourse belonging to free people, and is part of what constitutes their particular greatness.

Keywords: English liberty; Englishman; Englishness; Parker; Roman tradition

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