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Gentleman Spectator (Easter 1677 issue)

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Another season at court begins. The Windsor season, now nearly six months in the past, continues to cause ripples in the pond of English politics. The joy at having a new Queen is tempered by the realization that England cannot protect itself from sinister forces at home and abroad.


England is at a crossroads in terms of its politics, diplomacy and economic development. The tensions between the Court Party and the Country Party will likely continue. The reopening of the coffee houses is more likely to stoke further contention than allay it. With the Country party firmly in control of the House of Commons and the Court Party in control of the House of Lords, there is likely to be stalemate on major pieces of legislation. Look for the King to dissolve Parliament again if there is no progress by summer. There is talk of a second Test Act to ban Catholics from Parliament. There is need for more revenues to strengthen the defenses of the realm. One has to wonder whether politics of division are the correct path forward; or, in the spirit of Easter, that there be a resurrection of tolerance and moderation.


In the field of foreign policy, talk is avid about alliances with the United Provinces aided by an impending marriage between William of Orange and Princess Mary. In is easy to forget past alliances with France when they are whispered to have had a hand in the attack at Windsor. Memories are short that England has fought the Dutch three times in recent years while allied with France. Pamphleteers would have you believe that the King of France was behind a handful of persons who had no better idea of killing a King than shooting bows and pistols from the shore of the Thames. Is there any serious thought that if the King of France truly wanted our monarch dead that he did not have the resources or opportunity to accomplish it? Likewise, if our good King should wish the King of France assassinated, it would be accomplished soon enough. It is not the nature of kings to employ petty assassins. Rather, it is evidence of more limited means and limited imaginations.


As for the economic crossroads, France became rich with its fertile land and sizable holdings. The Dutch became rich through trade. England shall become rich because of its fertile colonies producing sugar, tea, coffee, and tobacco, as well as trade. Parliament seeks new sources of revenue. It must unfetter trade and it must pass laws to encourage development of the West Indies and North American. Both offer unlimited opportunity for wealth. Companies like the West Indies Company should be encouraged through legislation as they create new markets, increase shipbuilding, and direct revenues from spices and commodities away from the French and Dutch to England shareholders instead. A golden age for England is on the horizon, waiting to enrich the realm with gold for every Englishman willing to invest in an almost certain future.

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