New Edition of John Toland's An Account of the Courts of Prussia and Hanover (1705)

Post date: Dec 03, 2013 4:42:16 PM

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An Account of the Courts of Prussia and Hanover by John Toland (1670-1722)

- re-issued in print and e-book editions -

posted 3 Dec 2013, 16:42

A new edition of John Toland’s early 18th century pamphlet, An Account of the Courts of Prussia and Hanover, has just been published in print and e-book editions by The Manuscript Publisher. It follows the publication late last year of Toland's 1714 pamphlet, Reasons for Naturalizing the Jews in Great Britain and Ireland. Author and historical biographer, J.N. Duggan serves as General Editor for both of these publishing projects.

According to the book's publisher, "The appearance of this new edition will be of interest to students of Irish and European history of the early Enlightenment period, as well as anyone familiar with the life and work of one who has been described as 'Ireland’s forgotten philosopher'. Its availability in modern, accessible formats, will further popularise the writings of one who is largely unknown in the English-speaking world and sadly neglected in his home country."

John Toland was born in Co. Donegal in 1670. He achieved notoriety in his lifetime for his fiery polemics that challenged political and ecclesiastical authority of the day. At the same time, these Accounts also show him to be a capable chronicler and a keen social observer. Even after 300 years, they remain highly readable and continue to be cited by historians of the period.

Forced to leave Ireland, following the controversy surrounding his first book, Christianity not Mysterious, Toland found himself in England, where he earned a living from writing, mainly as a pamphleteer championing various Whig causes. One such pamphlet, entitled Anglia Libera published in 1701, supported the Act of Settlement of the same year. This led to Toland being invited to travel to Hanover, as part of Lord Macclesfield's delegation, which delivered the Act to Sophia, Electress of Hanover. The Act named Sophia and her Protestant descendants as heirs to the British throne, should Queen Anne die without a successor.

In Hanover, Toland was well received, particularly by the Electress Sophia:

"... it was noted that during the daily walks around the gardens of Herrenhausen, Sophia and the Irishman would distance themselves from the attendant courtiers so that they could talk in private." - from John Toland ... by J.N. Duggan (2010)

He was also introduced to the court philosopher, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, who thought him to be "a man of esprit and is not lacking in erudition, but he pushes things too far." (see J.N. Duggan, 2010)

Toland visited the court of Berlin the following year, where he made a similar impression on the Electress’s daughter, the Queen in Prussia, Sophia Charlotte. The two had a lot in common and struck up a warm friendship. Toland even addressed one of his books to her, Letters to Serena published in 1704. In the Accounts, she is referred to as having, "so just an Idea of Government, that in all Germany they call her the Republican Queen."

Toland’s support for the Hanoverian succession might appear to be at odds with his staunch Republican leaning, which expressed itself in opposition to the Divine Right of Kings. In common with other Whigs however, Toland based his support on the assumption that ultimately, real power would be vested in Parliament:

"I have always been, now am, and ever shall be persuaded that all sorts of magistrates are made for and by the people, and not the people for or by the magistrates ... and consequently that it is lawful to resist and punish tyrants of all sorts ... I am therefore avowedly a Commonwealth's man" - John Toland, Vindicius liberus (1702)

An Account of the Courts of Prussia and Hanover; sent to a Minister of State in Holland by John Toland is available to buy online, in print and e-book editions, along with other works by Toland. J.N. Duggan's 2010 biography, John Toland: Ireland's Forgotten Philosopher, Scholar ... and Heretic serves as a companion to this series. All of these titles are published by The Manuscript Publisher.

Signed copies of Books by J.N. Duggan are available to buy exclusively from our Online Book Shop

"What we get from reading them is an engaging and accessible picture of life in those German courts, and of the people who inhabited them at the turn of the 17th to 18th Century." - J.N. Duggan, General Editor and author of John Toland: Ireland’s Forgotten Philosopher, Scholar ... and Heretic (2010)