‘Spin’ seems to be everywhere in politics nowadays, and is often spoken of as if it were entirely new. This book gives the lie to that claim, showing how the art of the spin-doctor was widely practised over three hundred years ago.
The term ‘art’ is used here in the sense of artistic imagery as well as of the skill of the spinner in manipulating opinion. Langley discusses the work of authors such as Edmund Waller and painters like Antonio Verrio to illuminate the changing ideologies of the late Stuart era and the way in which ideas about sovereignty were expressed by artists.
Image Government traces some of the cranks and windings, ebbings and flowings that lead from Charles I’s downfall to Queen Anne’s coronation, as they are registered in printed literature and visual art. The poetry of Marvell and Dryden, multifarious political writings by greater and lesser figures, and the works of significant divines like the Whiggish Burnet, and Hickes, doyen of the non-jurers, are all used to show how the expression of ideas changed in the second half of the seventeenth century.
While his awareness of the contributions of modern scholarship is everywhere apparent, the author shows a magisterial grasp of often under-exploited primary sources. This book will be a valuable addition to the libraries of all students and scholars of later seventeenth-century literature, history and art in bringing to light aspects of sovereignty and the underlying principles of political cohesion in the period which have hitherto been little understood.