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Politics and the NationBritain in the Mid-Eighteenth Century$
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Robert Harris

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780199246939

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199246939.001.0001

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Virtue, Liberty, and the ‘Country Interest’

Virtue, Liberty, and the ‘Country Interest’

(p.67) CHAPTER TWO Virtue, Liberty, and the ‘Country Interest’
Politics and the Nation

Bob Harris

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the ideological construction and content of the politics of virtue in England and Wales in the mid-18th century. This politics was known at the time as the country interest or patriotism. In particular, the nature and content of patriot argument and ideology are analysed. A major theme is how far the focus and content of this argument changed during the period. Put simply, under the impact of political disillusionment from the later 1740s, patriot writers focused their attention much more closely than during the years of Robert Walpole's rule on society rather than politics as the source and well-spring of corruption. They also focused renewed attention on irreligion and declining morals as debilitating political ills. Such themes were in themselves hardly new; what was striking, none the less, was the insistence on how deeply and widely luxurious habits had penetrated throughout society, together with the general mood of pessimism which infused their commentaries on society and politics.

Keywords:   patriotism, England, Wales, politics, corruption, ideology, irreligion, morals, virtue, country interest

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