Yet an age in which great questions were handled by great men could not be either an unfruitful or an uninteresting one. It might be unfruitful, in the sense of reaping no great harvest of results; and it might be uninteresting, in respect of not having much to show upon the surface, and exhibiting no great variety of active life. But much good fruit for the future was being developed and matured; and no one, who cares to see how the present grows out of the past, will readily allow that the religious thought and the religious action of the eighteenth century are deficient in interest to our times. Our debt is greater than many are inclined to acknowledge. People see clearly that the Church of that age was, in many respects, in an undoubtedly unsatisfactory condition, sleepy and full of abuses, and are sometimes apt to think that the Evangelical revival (the expression being used in its widest sense) was the one redeeming feature of it. And as in theological and ecclesiastical thought, in philosophy, in art, in poetry, the general tendency has been reactionary, the students and writers of the eighteenth century have in many respects scarcely received their due share of appreciation. Moreover, negative results make little display. There is not much to show for the earnest toil that has very likely been spent in arriving at them; and a great deal of the intellectual labour of the last century was of this kind. Reason had been more completely emancipated at the Reformation than it was at first at all aware of. Men who were engaged in battling against certain definite abuses, and certain specified errors, scarcely discovered at first, nor indeed for long afterwards, that they were in reality contending also for principles which would affect for the future the whole groundwork of religious conviction. They were not yet in a position to see that henceforward authority could take only a secondary place, and that they were installing in its room either reason or a more subtle spiritual faculty superior even to reason in the perception of spiritual things. It was not until near the end of the seventeenth century that the mind began to awaken to a full perception of the freedom it had won--a freedom far more complete in principle than was as yet allowed in practice. In the eighteenth century this fundamental postulate of the Reformation became for the first time a prominent, and, to many minds, an absorbing subject of inquiry. For the first time it was no longer disguised from sight by the incidental interest of its side issues. The assertors of the supremacy of reason were at first arrogantly, or even insolently, self-confident, as those who were secure of carrying all before them. Gradually, the wiser of them began to feel that their ambition must be largely moderated, and that they must be content with far more negative results than they had at first imagined. The question came to be, what is reason unable to do? What are its limits? and how is it to be supplemented? An immensity of learning, and of arguments good and bad, was lavished on either side in the controversy between the deists and the orthodox. In the end, it may perhaps be said that two axioms were established, which may sound in our own day like commonplaces, but which were certainly very insufficiently realized when the controversy began. It was seen on the one hand that reason was free, and that on the other it was encompassed by limitations against which it strives in vain. The Deists lost the day. Their objections to revelation fell through; and Christianity rose again, strengthened rather than weakened by their attack. Yet they had not labored in vain, if success may be measured, not by the gaining of an immediate purpose, but by solid good effected, however contrary in kind to the object proposed. So far as a man works with a single hearted desire to win truth, he should rejoice if his very errors are made, in the hands of an overruling Providence, instrumental in establishing truth. Christianity in England had arrived in the eighteenth century at one of those periods of revision when it has become absolutely necessary to examine the foundations of its teaching, at any risk of temporary disturbance to the faith of individuals. The advantage ultimately gained was twofold. It was not only that the vital doctrines of Christian faith had been scrutinized both by friends and enemies, and were felt to have stood the proof. But also defenders of received doctrine learnt, almost insensibly, very much from its opponents. They became aware--or if not they, at all events their successors became aware--that orthodoxy must, in some respects, modify the stringency of its conclusions; that there was need, in other instances, of disentangling Christian verities from the scholastic refinements which had gradually grown up around them; and that there were many questions which might safely be left open to debate without in any way impairing the real defenses of Christianity. A sixteenth or seventeenth-century theologian regarded most religious questions from a standing point widely different in general character from that of his equal in piety and learning in the eighteenth century. The circumstances and tone of thought which gave rise to the Deistic and its attendant controversies mark with tolerable definiteness the chief period of transition.
The Evangelical revival, both that which is chiefly connected with the name of the Wesley's and of Whitefield, and that which was carried on more exclusively within the Church of England, closely corresponded in many of its details to what had often occurred before in the history of the Christian Church. But it had also a special connection with the controversies which preceded it. When minds had become tranquilized through the subsidence of discussions which had threatened to overthrow their faith, they were the more prepared to listen with attention and respect to the stirring calls of the Evangelical preacher. The very sense of weariness, now that long controversy had at last come to its termination, tended to give a more entirely practical form to the new religious movement. And although many of its leaders were men who had not come to their prime till the Deistical controversy was almost over, and who would probably have viewed the strife, if it had still been raging, with scarcely any other feeling than one of alarmed concern, this was at all events not the case with John Wesley. There are tolerably clear signs that it had materially modified the character of his opinions. The train of thought which produced the younger Dodwell's 'Christianity not Founded upon Argument'--a book of which people scarcely knew, when it appeared, whether it was a serious blow to the Deist cause, or a formidable assistance to it--considerably influenced Wesley's mind, as it also did that of William Law and his followers. He entirely repudiated the mysticism which at one time had begun to attract him; but, like the German pietists, who were in some sense the religious complement of Rationalism, he never ceased to be comparatively indifferent to orthodoxy, so long as the man had the witness of the Spirit proving itself in works of faith. In whatever age of the Church Wesley had lived, he would have been no doubt an active agent in the holy work of evangelisation. But opposed as he was to prevailing influences, he was yet a man of his time. We can hardly fancy the John Wesley whom we know living in any other century than his own. Spending the most plastic, perhaps also the most reflective period of his life in a chief centre of theological activity, he was not unimpressed by the storm of argument which was at that time going on around him. It was uncongenial to his temper, but it did not fail to leave upon him its lasting mark.
In March 1848 the Austrian Emperor, (or rather his advisors as then holder of that title, although widely respected, was a somewhat simple-minded and good-natured individual), authorised the announcement of the principle of the abolition of the Robot obligation "within a year, at the latest by 31 March 1849".
There was to be some compensation paid to the landlords with the amounts being settled upon by local Diets or political assemblies.
In effect, the rise of politeness constituted a double development. For one thing, the language of politeness rewrote the definition of a gentleman.14 Without renouncing the traditional criteria of gentility (such as land, pedigree and public service), the language of politeness foregrounded what one could call the expressive accomplishments of this gentleman, whether in the social or the cultural sphere. In other words, in the language of politeness, the archetypal gentleman was envisioned in the company of his peers demonstrating good taste in the manner of his social interactions or in the character of his cultural predilections and activities. Under the aspect of politeness, other points of gentlemanly identity (such as political activity, estate management, local justice and so forth) were not so much excluded as left invisible. Thus, politeness represented an alternative to the picture of the English gentleman as a denizen of the country attached with fierce loyalty to his economic independence, his moral autonomy and his virtuous simplicity. Calling politeness a new definition of gentility does not imply that it supplanted other available models (though it was a signal addition to the gentlemanly repertoire) ;for politeness was frequently an object of suspicion, and among its attackers were various civic-minded figures to be discussed below.
Projects of comprehension had ended in failure before the eighteenth century opened. But they were still fresh in memory, and men who had taken great interest in them were still living, and holding places of honor. For years to come there were many who greatly regretted that the scheme of 1689 had not been carried out, and whose minds constantly recurred to the possibility of another opportunity coming about in their time. Such ideas, though they scarcely took any practical form, cannot be left out of account in the Church history of the period. In the midst of all that strife of parties which characterised Queen Anne's reign, a longing desire for Church unity was by no means absent. Only these aspirations had taken by this time a somewhat altered form. The history of the English Constitution has ever been marked by alternations, in which Conservatism and attachment to established authority have sometimes been altogether predominant, at other times a resolute, even passionate contention for the security and increase of liberty. In Queen Anne's reign a reaction of the former kind set in, not indeed by any means universal, but sufficient to contrast very strongly with the period which had preceded it. One of the symptoms of it was a very decided current of popular feeling in favor of the Church. People began to think it possible, or even probable, that with the existing generation of Dissenters English Nonconformity would so nearly end, as to be no longer a power that would have to be taken into any practical account. Concession, therefore, to the scruples of 'weak brethren' seemed to be no longer needful; and if alterations were not really called for, evidently they would be only useless and unsettling. In this reign, therefore, aspirations after unity chiefly took the form of friendly overtures between Church dignitaries in England and the Lutheran and other reformed communities abroad, as also with such leaders of the Gallican party as were inclined, if possible, to throw off the Papal supremacy and to effect at the same time certain religious and ecclesiastical reforms. Throughout the middle of the century there was not so much any craving for unity as what bore some outward resemblance to it, an indolent love of mere tranquility. The correspondence, however, that passed between Doddridge and some of the bishops, and the interest excited by the 'Free and Candid Disquisitions,' showed that ideas of Church comprehension were not yet forgotten. About this date, another cause, in addition to the _quieta non movere_ principle, interfered to the hindrance of any such proposals. Persons who entertained Arian and other heterodox opinions upon the doctrine of the Trinity were an active and increasing party; and there was fear lest any attempt to enlarge the borders of the Church should only, or chiefly, result in their procuring some modifications of the Liturgy in their favour. Later in the century, the general question revived in immediate interest under a new form. It was no longer asked, how shall we win to our national communion those who have hitherto declined to recognize its authority? The great ecclesiastical question of the day--if only it could have been taken in hand with sufficient earnestness--was rather this: how shall we keep among us in true Church fellowship this great body of religiously minded men and women who, by the mouth of their principal leader, profess real attachment to the Church of England, and yet want a liberty and freedom from rule which we know not how to give? No doubt it was a difficulty--more difficult than may at first appear--to incorporate the activities of Methodism into the general system of the National Church. Only it is very certain that obstacles which might have been overcome were not generally grappled with in the spirit, or with the seriousness of purpose, which the crisis deserved. Meanwhile, at the close of the period, when this question had scarcely been finally decided, the Revolution broke out in France. In the terror of that convulsion, when Christianity itself was for the first time deposed in France, and none knew how widely the outbreak would extend, or what would be the bound of such insurrection against laws human and divine, the unity of a common Christianity could not fail to be felt more strongly than any lesser causes of disunion. There was a kindness and sympathy of feeling manifested towards the banished French clergy, which was something almost new in the history of Protestantism. The same cause contributed to promote the good understanding which at this time subsisted between a considerable section of Churchmen and Dissenters. Possibly some practical efforts might have been set on foot towards healing religious divisions, if the open war waged against Christianity had long been in suspense. As it was, other feelings came in, which tended rather to widen than to diminish the breach between men of strong and earnest opinions on different sides. In some men of warm religious feeling the Revolution excited a fervent spirit of Radicalism. However much they deplored the excesses and horrors which had taken place in France, they did not cease to contemplate with passionate hope the tumultuous upheaval of all old institutions, trusting that out of the ruins of the past a new and better future would derive its birth. The great majority of Englishmen, on the other hand, startled and terrified with what they saw, became fixed in a resolute determination that they would endure no sort of tampering with the English Constitution in Church or State. Whatever changes might be made for better or for worse, they would in any case have no change now. Conservatism became in their eyes a sort of religious principle from which they could not deviate without peril of treason to their faith. This was an exceedingly common feeling; among none more so than with that general bulk of steady sober-minded people of the middle classes without whose consent changes, in which they would feel strongly interested, could never be carried out. The extreme end of the last century was not a time when Church legislation, for however excellent an object, was likely to be carried out, or even thought of.
In terms of international impact, arguably no one rivals the main representatives of what became known as German idealism: Kant, Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel. Although these authors never thought of themselves as a group or movement, they explored roughly similar approaches to fundamental philosophical problems by asking how the thinking subject should conceive of itself, the external world, and the relation between them. Political matters are discussed within this comprehensive framework and with quite different results by Kant, Fichte, and Hegel (and not much at all by Schelling).
Immanuel Kant’s (1724–1804) contributions to political thought were undervalued for a long time, mostly because his groundbreaking treatises on theoretical and moral philosophy, including Critique of Pure Reason (1781/1787), Critique of Practical Reason (1788), and Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals (1785), drew so much attention. This has changed, not least because of the homage paid by John Rawls, Jürgen Habermas, and others. Kant is the paradigmatic enlightenment thinker, believing in reason and progress. He viewed the social contract as an idea of reason, demanding that reason’s moral law of justice and right—related to, but not identical with, the famous “categorical imperative”—set the normative imperative for politics. Reason requires (1) a republican constitutional order within states, (2) a republican order between states, and (3) a rudimentary cosmopolitan order beyond the state. Among other things, these demands made Kant one of the progenitors of democratic peace theory.
They were open to being associated with contemporary German Liberalism and Nationalism having been adopted by "patriotic" Germany in the days of the Wars of Liberation against Napoleon but were also open to being thought of as being associated with the earlier "Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation."
The following day a political amnesty brought about the release of the Polish revolutionist Mieroslawski and his forty followers from their two years of imprisonment at Moabit jail.
Hume intended for his essays to have a wide audience, but since he presupposed that his readers would have a broad knowledge of literature, history, and contemporary affairs, his footnotes are quite sparse and sketchy by today's standards. He often refers to persons or events without explaining who or what they are. He frequently quotes in languages other than English, and often he fails to identify an author or the work from which he is quoting. He sometimes misquotes his sources or gives misleading citations. No doubt the informed eighteenth-century reader could have filled in many of these lacunae, but such background knowledge can no longer be presupposed.