Politics: Responses to The Grounds

  • Beverley C. Southgate
Part of the International Archives of the History of Ideas / Archives Internationales D’Histoire Des Idés book series (ARCH, volume 134)


First off the mark in responding to White’s political treatise was his arch enemy George Leyburn. As then President of the English College at Douai, he wrote, probably late in 1655, a letter to the Vicar General, Andrew Knightley, asking that his criticisms be made known to his colleagues in the English Chapter; and although that letter itself no longer exists, its gist may be gained from references and quoted extracts in the 1660 Encyclical Epistle of the Chapter and Leyburn’s own Encyclical Answer of 1661. Leyburn’s early commentary is particularly interesting, as being made still within the immediate context of The Grounds’ actual composition. So while he realises that the Blackloists were aiming to curry favour with Cromwell, he goes on, uniquely, to criticise White for incompetence and even stupidity in that respect. Interpreting the work as being essentially anti-monarchical, Leyburn reasonably argues that it must be as much opposed to Cromwell as it is to Charles: it makes Catholics “odious to all Christian Princes... [and] is against the Protector Cromwell as much as any”, since Cromwell himself was “then kinging it” and “conceipted himself to be as great a Magistrate, and Monarch, as any other whatsoever.” White’s doctrines therefore are not only in their theory “horrid, unparalleled, unauthorised, and unchristian”, but also in practical terms “void of common-sense.” It was no wonder that Cromwell himself had reportedly been much angered by White’s work.1


Public Good Common Good English College Blind Obedience Public Peace 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Beverley C. Southgate
    • 1
  1. 1.University of HertfordshireUK

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