[The following passage comes from “Caste,” a lecture delivered at the Royal Institution, London, in 1867. I have excerpted it from the Project Gutenberg online version of Kingsley’s The Ancien Régime. — George P. Landow

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here never was any Ancien Régime in England. Therefore, when the Stuarts tried to establish in England a system which might have led to a political condition like that of the Continent, all classes combined and exterminated them; while the course of English society went on as before. On the contrary, England was the mother of every movement which undermined, and at last destroyed, the Ancien Régime.

From England went forth those political theories which, transmitted from America to France, became the principles of the French Revolution. From England went forth the philosophy of Locke, with all its immense results. It is noteworthy, that when Voltaire tries to persuade people, in a certain famous passage, that philosophers do not care to trouble the world—of the ten names to whom he does honour, seven names are English. “It is,” he says, “neither Montaigne, nor Locke, nor Boyle, nor Spinoza, nor Hobbes, nor Lord Shaftesbury, nor Mr. Collins, nor Mr. Toland, nor Fludd, nor Baker, who have carried the torch of discord into their countries.” It is worth notice, that not only are the majority of these names English, but that they belong not to the latter but to the former half of the eighteenth century; and indeed, to the latter half of the seventeenth.

Related material


Kingsley, Charles. The Ancien Régime. London: Macmillan and Co., 1902 Project Gutenberg [eBook #1335] Produced by David Price. Web. 23 June 2018.

Last modified 22 June 2018