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The Trumpington Street Irregulars

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Irene Coltman Brown on a welcome new insight into the intellectual landscape of 17th century Britain

Henry Stubbe, Radical Protestantism and the early Enlightenment by James R. Jacob

232 pp. (Cambridge University Press, 1983)

During recent years, the intellectual landscape of the late seventeenth century in England has been shaken by frequent earthquake tremors. Caused by the reinterpretations of skilful historical miners such as John Dunn, Richard Tuck, Julian Franklin, Warren Chernaik, to mention only some – like the book under review – published by the Cambridge University Press, the general trend has been towards a more radical picture of formerly statuesque figures, now set in devious motion through the political and intellectual underground of the Restoration.

After the established new John Locke (caught conspiring by Richard Ashcraft where government agents failed, and in whom John Dunn rightly detected a premonitory twinge of 'Maoism'), we have just been given an overdue re-radicalised Marvell; and in this new book from Cambridge, Professor James Jacob continues the exposure of radicalism beneath Restoration decorum in his presentation of a radicalised Henry Stubbe's notorious polemic against Sprat's History of the Royal Society and its luminous vision of science and rational religion together implementing the Baconian programme to 'the Glory of God and the relief of man's estate'.

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