Bardle 2012

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Stephen Bardle, The Literary Underground in the 1660s: Andrew Marvell, George Wither, Ralph Wallis, and the World of Restoration Satire and Pamphleteering. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2012.

"Over the last twenty years scholars have overhauled our understanding of the Restoration to show that, far from being stable and prosperous, this was a crisis-ridden period. Puritanism remained a (p.2) powerful force. Republican ideas continued to circulate, after having enjoyed a new, short lease of life in the period between the fall of the Protectorate and the Restoration. An oppositional political culture soon emerged and thrived in the 1660s, gaining momentum as the restored government struggled to achieve its promises of peace and prosperity. The worst plague epidemic in living memory, a devastating fire in London, and humiliating defeat to the Dutch in the Second Anglo-Dutch War all undermined the government's popularity. Against this turbulent religious and political context, Restoration Augustanism was not so much a natural expression of political harmony as a highly polished cover-up." (1-2)
"The engine which sustained this oppositional culture was the underground printing press and its numerous personnel: its printers, publishers, distributors, booksellers, and authors. This entrepreneurial and risk-friendly industry was a constant thorn in the government's side. " (2)

Licensing Act of 1662 -- every book needed a license

Number of printers limited to 20 master printers

Roger L'Estrange, in charge of regulating the press (Surveyor of the Press)

  • "He was convinced an unlicensed press would result in a re-run of the civil wars, with politically subversive and religiously heretical ideas gaining credence amongst an uncivil and untrustworthy population. " (3)
  • had John Twyn tried and executed for treason for printing "A treatise of the execution of justice"

Prosecution of printers tended to backfire -- many were willing to risk it because of high prices that underground works fetched

Shared printing -- split up printing duties over a number of printers

"Question of oppositional authorial agency, and in particular, the projection of political and religious opposition in both literary content and literary form" (5)

"By excluding so many highly articulate people, the Restoration religious settlement inadvertently created a vibrant nonconformist literary culture, based around concepts of patience, suffering, and the anticipation of deliverance. But my own narrative, based as it is upon the activities of the literary underground, attempts to tell a different story, one of political opposition and activism, which, had it succeeded, would have resulted in a more tolerant religious settlement and thereby prevented the development of nonconformist Puritan culture in the first place." (6)

Focus on three poets: Marvell, George Wither, Ralph Wallis

Focus on three occasions of change: passing of Uniformity, Second Anglo-Dutch War, renewal of Uniformity in 1670 -- each encouraged the underground press

Resisting Uniformity 1660-1664

George Wither

  • writing in the Patriot tradition, "based around notions of counsel-giving, deliberation, and service to monarch and country through the right of petitioning" (12)