The Oceana Of James Harrington

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by James Harrington

Oceana, on which Harrington's contemporary and much more his posthumous reputation rested, earned him not only disciples but also critics, although not as many of the latter as he seems to have wished. Hobbes, whom he had attacked in Oceana (albeit highly respectfully) for having failed, among other faults, to distinguish between authority and power, never replied. Harrington thought of his critics as principally clerics and Oxford men, although the most able of them, Matthew Wren, was neither. Harrington answered him in The Prerogative of Popular Government (1657), and again in Politicaster, a much slighter work of 1659. During the confused period following Oliver Cromwell's death on 3 September 1658, Harringtonian opinions about the political order conducive to a permanent settlement for England were frequently voiced in Richard Cromwell's parliament in 1659, but to no avail: Harrington's main concern at this time was to prevent the restoration of anything like a hereditary House of Lords or a nominated replacement, but the parliament voted for the restoration of the Lords. The ‘republicans’ in this parliament included a few supporters of ‘classical republican’ ideas like Harrington's (eight or ten according to Brief Lives, ed. Dick, 284) out of perhaps fifty opponents of the continuation of military oligarchy, or monarchy, or a restored House of Lords, but they could not agree. [1]

Bibliographic Information

Author: James Harrington, (1611-1677)

Title: The Oceana Of James Harrington, And His Other Works: Som [sic] Wherof Are Now First Publish'd From His Own Manuscripts

Published: London: Printed by J. Darby? and are to be sold by the booksellers of London and Westminster, 1700.


Evidence for Inclusion in Wythe's Library

Description of the Wolf Law Library's copy

View this book in William & Mary's online catalog.

External Links

Google Books


  1. H. M. Höpfl, ‘Harrington, James (1611–1677)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Oct 2007 accessed 11 June 2013