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On the Rant

E.P. Thompson, 9 July 1987

Fear, Myth and History: The Ranters and the Historians 
by J.C. Davis.
Cambridge, 208 pp., £22.50, September 1986, 0 521 26243 7
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... Professor J.C. Davis has written a book to show that the Ranters did not exist. There was no Ranter sect: no organisation: no acknowledged Ranter leadership. Those alleged to be leaders did not agree with each other on some points of doctrine; or they denied that they were Ranters; or they quickly recanted; or (like Laurence Clarkson, or Claxton, who acknowledged in his autobiographical The Lost Sheep Found that he had been known as the ‘Captain of the Rant’) might have been falsifying their own record for the sake of better setting off their new convictions (Clarkson had become a Muggletonian ...

Full-Employment Utopias

Christopher Hill, 16 July 1981

Utopia and the Ideal Society: A Study of English Utopian Writing, 1516-1700 
by J.C. Davis.
Cambridge, 427 pp., £25, March 1981, 0 521 23396 8
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Science and Society in Restoration England 
by Michael Hunter.
Cambridge, 232 pp., £18.50, March 1981, 0 521 22866 2
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... Dr Davis’s book is a long, careful and detailed study of utopian writing in England from Sir Thomas More to the end of the 17th century. He has interesting things to say about well-known figures like More, Bacon, Winstanley and Harrington, but I found his chapters on lesser writers even more instructive. Robert Burton and Samuel Gott are revealed as more significant ‘utopians’ than has been recognised ...

What do we mean by it?

J.G.A. Pocock, 7 January 1993

The Cambridge History of Political Thought: 1450-1700 
edited by J.H. Burns and Mark Goldie.
Cambridge, 798 pp., £60, August 1991, 0 521 24716 0
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... is less clear what chapters on ‘constitutionalism’ (Howell Lloyd) and ‘utopianism’ (J.C. Davis), competently constructed though they are, are doing in this company; the latter does review a new and singular dialect of political thought, but one suspects that there was no international community debating for and against ‘constitutionalism’, and ...

Rolodex Man

Mark Kishlansky, 31 October 1996

Liberty against the Law: Some 17th-Century Controversies 
by Christopher Hill.
Allen Lane, 354 pp., £25, April 1996, 0 7139 9119 4
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The Rise and Fall of Revolutionary England: An Essay on the Fabrication of 17th-Century History 
by Alastair MacLaclan.
Macmillan, 431 pp., £13.99, April 1996, 0 333 62009 7
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... irrelevant or contradictory to the points they were supposed to be proving. Ten years ago, J.C. Davis offered a sustained rebuttal of his work on the Ranters, claiming that Hill’s standards for evaluating evidence were slipshod, that he accepted what he wished to believe and rejected what he didn’t Hill has been immune to criticism – a habit of mind ...
... in the 17th and 18th centuries, whose decline is succinctly analysed in a monograph by J.C. Davis published in 1962, which, although its conclusions have been qualified by the more exhaustive researches of Dr Jean Georgelin, still furnishes an instructive example for my purpose here. The decline not only in numbers and wealth but in both the capacity ...

Mmmm, chicken nuggets

Bee Wilson: The Victorian Restaurant Scene, 15 August 2019

The London Restaurant: 1840-1914 
by Brenda Assael.
Oxford, 239 pp., £60, July 2018, 978 0 19 881760 4
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... on the walls that diners were reflected multiple times. One restaurant critic, Nathaniel Newnham-Davis, called it a ‘rendezvous of the more aristocratic foreign visitors to London’, making it sound like something out of a Henry James novel. Newnham-Davis wrote that Mrs Myra Washington dined there, an American who knew ...

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