Mary Astell

An Impartial Enquiry

into the Causes of

Rebellion and Civil War


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       Popery was the Cry 'tis true, but the Establish'd Church was the thing aim'd at; 'twas this they covenanted to destroy Root and Branch: The Tumults began with No Bishops, No Bishops, then no Common Prayer; and when they had the King at their Mercy, nothing wou'd satisfie them but a course for attaining the just Ends, (as they call'd them) express'd in the solemn League and Covenant; that is, the pulling down of the Church, and the depriving the King of all his just and legal Rights.  Nor wou'd even this have satisfy'd them, without the Destruction of his Person: And for what Reason? but because they consider'd what themselves might suffer, if he shou'd come to Reign again, as their own Historian May himself confesseth, saith my Author, Their Guilt indeed, was a strong and well-grounded Apprehension: But who might they thank for it? It was this that wou'd not suffer them to be quiet, when the King had redress'd all their pretended Grievances, mov'd every Shadow of Oppression, and granted them all that they had the confidence to ask.
       The short is; The true and the principal Cause of that Great Rebellion, and that Horrid fact which compleated it, and which we can never enough deplore, was this: Some Cunning and Self-ended Men, whose Wickedness was equal to their Craft, and their Craft sufficient to carry them thro' their Wickedness; these had Thoughts and Meanings to destroy the Government in Church and State, and to set up a Model of their own Invention, agreeable to their own private Interests and Designs, under the specious Pretences of the Peoples Rights and Liberties.  They did not indeed speak out, and declare this at first, for that wou'd have spoil'd the Intrigue, every body wou'd have abhorr'd them; but a little Discernment might have found what they drove at.  For to lessen and incroach upon the Royal Authority, is the only way to null it by degrees, as an ingenious Person observes upon this Occasion.

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Astell, Mary. An Impartial Enquiry into the Causes of Rebellion and Civil War.
Women and Men Political Theorists: Englightened Conversations.
Kristin Waters, ed.
Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 2000. 58-59.

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