Citation Macleod E (2005) La Question du Citoyen Actif: Les conservateurs Britanniques face à la Révolution française [The problem of the active citizen: conservative reactions to the French Revolution in Britain]. Annales Historiques de la Revolution Francaise, (342), pp. 47-72. http://www.jstor.org/stable/41889217
Abstract Abstract. This paper seeks to summarize and comment on the main writings in English over the last two decades on conservative reactions in Britain to the French Revolution. Since the 1980s, scholars working on British conservatives in the 1790s have responded to E.P. Thompson’s call, previously taken up by students of British reformers and radicals, to pay attention to members of the middling and lower orders as participants in the political arena and not simply as objects of elite political discussion. This has led historians to discuss the problem of the active loyal citizen for late eighteenth-century Britain. That is, scholars have generally shown much more interest in loyalists below the level of the political and social elite than was the case until the 1980s; these men and women have been treated not just as objects of elite discussion, but as participants in the political process, pace Edmund Burke; Burke himself has consequently, despite the publication of major works of scholarship discussing his life and editing his writings, had his place in the political process of the 1790s queried and even reduced; and, finally, historians have been interested in the paradox of how the British state allowed and even encouraged the lower and middle orders to defend its elitist constitution. As Kevin Gilmartin put it, ‘how was public opinion mobilized in defense of a regime committed to limiting the political force of public opinion?’ While these enquiries have resulted in the mining of a great wealth of new detail about Britain in the revolutionary decade in many respects, research on the Scottish experience has only very recently begun to gather speed.
Keywords Burke; conservatism; loyalism; church; press; France History Revolution, 1789-1799 Influence; France History Revolution, 1789-1799 Foreign public opinion British
Journal Annales Historiques de la Revolution Francaise, Issue 342