Liveblogging Wood's The Idea of America: It's a Conspiracy!
"More than any other period of English history, the century or so following the Restoration was the great era of conspiratorial fears and imagined intrigues... Pretense and hypocrisy were everywhere, and nothing seemed as it really was. Politics, especially in the decades from the Restoration to the Hanoverian accession, appeared to be little more than one intrigue and deception after another. It had to be a "horrid plot," said Scrub in George Farquhar's The Beaux Stratagem of 1707. "First, it must be a plot because there's a woman in't. Secondly, it must be a plot because there's a priest in't. Thirdly, it must be a plot because there's French gold in't. And fourthly, it must be a plot because I don't know what to make on't." With so many like Scrub wanting to know but with so little revealed, inferences if hidden designs and conspiracies flourished... Everywhere people senses designs within designs, cabals within cabals; there were court conspiracies, backstairs conspiracies, ministerial conspiracies, factional conspiracies, aristocratic conspiracies, and by the last half of the eighteenth century even conspiracies of gigantic secret societies that cut across national boundaries and spanned the Atlantic." (p. 87-88)