HARRINGTON, James (1611-1677). The Benefit of the Ballot: with the Nature and Use thereof: Particularly in the Republick of Venice. [No date or place, ca 1680].
Folio (12 2/8 x 7 4/8 inches). 4-pages, numbered 1-4. Disbound.
Best known for his fictional political polemic "Oceana" in which he his revealed his ‘model’ (or blueprint) of a new political order, which he also expresses in this pamphlet. "For reasons best known to its author Oceana was presented as a fictitious history of the foundation of the commonwealth of Oceana, with lengthy orations, pseudonyms (mostly classical and/or facetious) for places, persons, offices, and institutions, and an elaborate humanist apparatus of citations from authorities, especially regarding Venice, which in many ways served Harrington as a model, notably for the complicated system of balloting to which he was addicted. The fictional format in no way implied that Harrington's proposals were not intended seriously or that he thought of himself as writing some kind of speculative utopia: on the contrary his analysis of the basis of ‘empire’ (government) in general provided in his view the only grounds on which any proposal for a permanent settlement for England, and indeed Scotland and Ireland, might be sustained. But in the last year of the Commonwealth Harrington issued numerous pamphlets, now expressly addressed to England, describing the new order he was advocating in the precise detail crucial to a political theory which relied heavily on the apt ordering of institutions to secure the well-being and permanence of the polity, but now without any of the prolixity, allegories, or ‘fancy’ of his magnum opus. And whereas in Oceana he had appeared to cast Cromwell in the role of a classical lawgiver, in these writings he offered to the public at large all the knowledge that was essential to The Art of Lawgiving (the title of one of the pamphlets, 1659), in the form of a model...In the eighteenth century Harrington became one of the principal authorities in England and especially in America for Commonwealthsmen" (H. M. Höpfl for DNB). ESTC R19369. Catalogued by Kate Hunter