Article Title

A Loser's Ingenuity


Raymond Astbury


Lois G. Schwoerer, The Ingenious Mr. Henry Care, Restoration Publicist. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001. Pp. xxvii, 349. $32.

Stephen Parks ed., The Luttrell File: Narcissus Luttrell's Dates on Contemporary Pamphlets, 1678-1730. Assisted by Earle Havens, with a Chronological Index compiled by Carolyn Nelson. New Haven, Connecticut: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, 1999. (The Yale University Library Gazette Occasional Supplement 3). Pp. vi, 223. $25.

The Ingenious Mr. Henry Careis the latest monograph in a series of scholarly articles, essays, and edited works on a range of subjects, by Lois G. Schwoerer, Kayser Professor of History Emeritus at the George Washington University. Schwoerer's work has addressed, among other topics, the history of British political thought, the Restoration, the Revolution of 1688/89, the Declaration of Rights, Lady Rachel Russell, Lord William Russell, Lord Chief Justice Scroggs, the Standing Army controversy, and the use of the press in the politics of the seventeenth century. This new book is not a conventional biography (archives of Care's life are not extant) but a study of his journalism and pamphleteering, analyzing and interpreting how his writing intersected, reflected, and helped to mold the major political, religious, constitutional, and ideological issues of the time. Schwoerer uses Care's journalism as a prism to illuminate the era in order to contribute to a remodeling of Restoration historiography.

Schwoerer is one of the few historians who assert that the Restoration press emerged as a prototype fourth estate, playing a more important role in politics, religion, and society than is usually acknowledged. She presents Care (1646-1688), who came from a more lowly social background than, for example, Marchamont Nedham, Sir Roger L'Estrange, or Daniel Defoe, as a writer who made a significant contribution to the public debates of his day on religion, politics, and society. Schwoerer argues that Care's writing enfranchised those who were not part of the political class, thereby helping to create a public sphere (at a point in time earlier than Habermas' identified). According to Schwoerer, through Care's writing the political awareness of the marginally-educated lower orders in society was raised, empowering them to contribute to the stabilization, or destabilization, of authority in church and state. She reevaluates Care's role within the print culture of the time, rehabilitates his reputation, and rescues him from the relative obscurity into which he has fallen in the early twenty-first century.