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The Plot

Clark, J. Kent (1991) The Plot. Humanities Working Paper, 148. California Institute of Technology , Pasadena, CA.

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<p>The following essay on the Popish Plot is chapter nine of my biography of Thomas, 5th Baron, 1st Earl, and 1st Marquess of Wharton; and perhaps it is the only chapter in the history of biography that barely mentions the name of the protagonist. This odd state of affairs arises because neither the political career of Thomas Wharton, who later became de facto prince of the Whigs, nor the English Revolution, which he vigorously supported, can be understood without considerable background knowledge of the famous Plot. The plot crisis, with its bizarre mixture of lies and truths, conditioned politics for years to come.</p> <p>If I could have assigned my readers to put down my biography after chapter eight and go read John Phillips Kenyon's excellent book The Popish Plot (London, New York, 1972), I might have skipped this chapter entirely. Certainly I would never have written forty-odd pages on the subject (a total that will have to be reduced by at least half before the biography is published). On the other hand, I like to think that my treatment of the crisis, as I try to explain to myself and my contemporaries the hysterias of another age, has a certain immediacy for people who have cut their teeth on conspiracy theories, who have dealt with Fascist and Red Menaces, and who have learned to distrust their own governments and more especially their own secret police. I like to think too that the traumas of the past sixty years allow me and my readers to understand the actors in the Plot drama in a way that would have been difficult in a less threatened era. Finally, I have found the story of the Plot fascinating simply as a story. The world of Oates, Tonge, La Chaise, Scroggs, Charles, James, Coleman, Ruvigny, Danby, and Godfrey is at least as mad as our -own; and if I seem to be carried away in tracing the step-by-step development of a national nervous breakdown, I hope the reader will empathize. We will sober up later.</p>

Item Type:Report or Paper (Working Paper)
Group:Humanities Working Papers
Series Name:Humanities Working Paper
Issue or Number:148
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20130729-103819107
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Official Citation:Clark, J.Kent. The Plot. Pasadena, CA: California Institute of Technology, 1991. Humanities Working Paper, No. 148.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:39625
Deposited By: Lindsay Cleary
Deposited On:06 Sep 2013 21:06
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 05:09

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