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Jonathan Mayhew: Conservative Revolutionary
Unformatted Document Text:  admonished, living “under the iron sceptre of merciless despotism,” would “most ardently desire to be in our situation, and to stand in the like relation to Great Britain.” The colonists must not forget that their felicity is bound to this relationship; “let us not entertain a thought of novelties or innovations, or be “given to change””(Snare Broken, 255). This admonition not to impart bad motives to Britain’s political leaders and to encourage a return to a pre-1765 condition had socially and politically conservative roots. Socially, Mayhew suggests that while the colonists had never known “a season of such universal consternation and anxiety among people of all ranks and ages,” it was now “expedient” for the colonists “to do something more, and talk something less; every one “studying to be quiet, and to do his own business”; letting things return peaceably into their old channels, and natural courses, after so long an interruption” (Snare Broken, 263). A return to “industry, good order and harmony,” however, required that all the colonists “apply [themselves] with diligence . . . to the duties of [their] respective stations.” This duty, Mayhew added, was particularly true for “the poor, and labouring part of the community, whom I am very far from despising,” for they “have had so much to say about government and politics, in the late times of danger, tumult and confusion, that many of them seemed to forget, they had any thing to do” (Snare Broken, 262). Speaking to everyone, though in particular to this latter rank, Mayhew implored them to support “all persons in authority, in the lawful exercise of their several offices,” adding that their happiness was not attainable “where there is no order, no subordination; but anarchy and confusion reign” (Snare Broken, 263). Mayhew consistently spoke of society in terms of a fixed order throughout his sermons. As John Corrigan observes, Mayhew looked not just to custom but also to scripture as a basis for distinctions among men. “DISRESPECTFUL or contemptuous behaviour towards your 20

Authors: Lubert, Howard.
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admonished, living “under the iron sceptre of merciless despotism,” would “most ardently desire
to be in our situation, and to stand in the like relation to Great Britain.” The colonists must not
forget that their felicity is bound to this relationship; “let us not entertain a thought of novelties
or innovations, or be “given to change””(Snare Broken, 255).
This admonition not to impart bad motives to Britain’s political leaders and to encourage
a return to a pre-1765 condition had socially and politically conservative roots. Socially,
Mayhew suggests that while the colonists had never known “a season of such universal
consternation and anxiety among people of all ranks and ages,” it was now “expedient” for the
colonists “to do something more, and talk something less; every one “studying to be quiet, and to
do his own business”; letting things return peaceably into their old channels, and natural courses,
after so long an interruption” (Snare Broken, 263). A return to “industry, good order and
harmony,” however, required that all the colonists “apply [themselves] with diligence . . . to the
duties of [their] respective stations.” This duty, Mayhew added, was particularly true for “the
poor, and labouring part of the community, whom I am very far from despising,” for they “have
had so much to say about government and politics, in the late times of danger, tumult and
confusion, that many of them seemed to forget, they had any thing to do” (Snare Broken, 262).
Speaking to everyone, though in particular to this latter rank, Mayhew implored them to support
“all persons in authority, in the lawful exercise of their several offices,” adding that their
happiness was not attainable “where there is no order, no subordination; but anarchy and
confusion reign” (Snare Broken, 263).
Mayhew consistently spoke of society in terms of a fixed order throughout his sermons.
As John Corrigan observes, Mayhew looked not just to custom but also to scripture as a basis for
distinctions among men. “DISRESPECTFUL or contemptuous behaviour towards your
20


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