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The Language of Impartiality and Party-Political Discourse in England, 1680–1745

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Chapter Summary

The terms 'impartiality' and, more particularly, 'impartial', play an important, if curiously under-researched role in party-political discourse during the period 1680-1745. This is the period that witnessed the birth of political parties in England, following the bitter ideological divisions of the English Civil War and restored monarchy of Charles II in 1660. Recent studies of the language which the Whigs and Tories used to try to prove their non-partisanship have focused on their rival efforts to appropriate key terms such as 'patriot', 'patriotism', 'country party', 'national interest' and 'public spirit'. The political rhetoric of patriotism is analogous to, and in some ways related to, rhetoric of impartiality. Patriotism exploits emotional attachments, and impartiality presupposes neutrality and detachment from the passions. Both the 'patriot' and the 'impartial' claim to be able to rise above the narrow and partisan demands of political immediacy, to see things from a larger and longer perspective.

Keywords: Charles II; emotional attachments; England; English Civil War; impartiality; party-political discourse; patriotism



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