From 1689 to 1697 Britain was at war with France - one of the consequences of the Glorious Revolution that Whig historians do not emphasise too much. In 1702 the country went to war again with France. During the summer of 1711 Lord Bolingbroke, Queen Anne's Secretary of State for the Northern Department began secret peace negotiations with the French Foreign Minister, Torcy and a preliminary peace treaty was signed on September 27.
Two months later Jonathan Swift published The Conduct of the Allies, a withering attack on the Whig Ministry, its bellicose behaviour, Britain's allies and the great commander, the Duke of Marlborough.
In a country, exhausted by the war, the book became a great popular success and by the end of January 1712 11,000 copies were sold - a respectable number that would be envied by almost all writers even now.
What caught my eye is a comment the Dean made in his discussion of the people who, for their own nefarious purposes, opposed the peace negotiations, one that can be applied to a good many other times and political situations:
It is the Folly of too many to mistake the echo of a London coffee-house for the voice of the Kingdom.He then explains at length why the denizens of the City and of Westminster coffee-houses are not to be trusted.