March 9 was the birthday in 1762 of William Cobbett, an important member of the literary patrimony. A High Tory, he championed principle over party. An Anglican himself, he nevertheless was the first popular writer to challenge the Whig view of history in his account of the Reformation and its aftermath, and to champion Catholic Emancipation. Cobbett also linked the ideologies of the so-called “Glorious” and American Revolutions – an uncomfortable proposition for his countrymen then and for Catholic Americans now – albeit for opposite reasons! Cobbett glorified the English countryside in his “Rural Rides,” and was an inspiration thereby for such as H.J. Massingham and Tolkien. He also had a tremendous influence on Belloc and Chesterton, who wrote a biography of him. The William Cobbett Society seeks to keep his life and work alive.
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