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Court that the choice of public magistrates belongs unto the people by God's own allowance, and that they who have the power to appoint officers and magistrates, it is in their power, also, to set the bounds and limitations of the power and place into which they call them. The reason of this is: Because the foundation of authority is laid, firstly, in the free consent of the people. This high discourse antedates the famous pamphlets on liberty by Milton. It is a half-century earlier than Locke's Treatise on government, a century and a quarter earlier than Rousseau's Contrat social, and it precedes by one hundred and thirty-eight years the American Declaration of Independence. But the slightest acquaintance with colonial writings will reveal the fact that such political radicalism as Thomas Hooker's was accompanied by an equally striking conservatism in other directions. One of these conservative traits was the pioneer's respect for property, and particularly for the land clear
Bliss Perry, The American spirit in lierature: a chronicle of great interpreters, Chapter 3: the third and fourth generation (search)
s is perfect but which will answer the prayer appointed to be read in all the churches, Grant us peace in our time, 0 Lord. The theories to which men gave their lives in the seventeenth century seem ghostly in their unreality; but the prize turnips on Sir Robert's Norfolk farm, and the wines in his cellar, and the offices at his disposal — these are very real indeed. London merchants are making money; the squire and the parson are tranquilly ruling the country parishes; the philosophy of John Locke is everywhere triumphant. Mr. Pope is the poet of the hour, and his Essay on man, counseling acceptance of our mortal situation, is considered to be the last word of human wisdom and of poetical elegance. In prose, the style of the Spectator rules — an admirable style, Franklin thought, and he imitated it patiently until its ease and urbanity had become his own. And indeed, how much of that London of the third decade of the century passed into the mind of the inquisitive, roving, loose-