A Short History of the European Working Class by W. Abendroth

By W. Abendroth

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Ferguson, along with Macpherson, wanted to bear witness to a social order that had beforehand been uncorrupted for 2,000 years. It had had its drawbacks, certainly, but also 24 Adam Ferguson, Philosophy, Politics and Society its achievements. Its poetry was wonderful, keeping alive the spirit of Homer. It bound men in comradeship on the battlefield in a way modern military discipline could scarcely rival. In civilian life, too, it created loyalties between superiors and inferiors where in modern life there were only antagonisms.

Stewart errs with Scott in placing Ferguson on the field of Fontenoy, but unlike Scott, Stewart adds some more interesting detail. Stewart’s story has Colonel Munro see Ferguson ‘in the ranks’, and utter ‘a friendly caution’ that, … there was no necessity to expose himself to unnecessary danger … Mr Ferguson thanked Sir Robert for his friendly advice, but added … he had a duty which he was imperiously called upon to perform. Accordingly, he continued with the regiment during the whole of the action, in the hottest of the fire, praying with the dying, attending to the wounded, and directing them to be carried to a place of safety.

31 Whether there is, among the range of possibilities, an ideal size of state is harder to say. It all depends on context: ‘The measure of enlargement to be wished for by any particular state is often to be taken from the condition of its neighbours. Where a number of states are contiguous, they should be near an equality, in order that they may possess that independence in which the life of a political nation consists’. 32 According to him, then, the main motive behind the English desire for Union with Scotland in 1707 had been the need to keep up with rivals in an environment of growing imperial competition.

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