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'Manuscripts of Mine Abroad': John Toland and the Circulation of Ideas, c.1700-1722

J. A. I. Champion
Eighteenth-Century Ireland / Iris an dá chultúr
Vol. 14 (1999), pp. 9-36
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30071408
Page Count: 28
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'Manuscripts of Mine Abroad': John Toland and the Circulation of Ideas, c.1700-1722
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Abstract

When he died in 1722, John Toland left behind a brief fragment entitled ' Manuscripts of mine abroad'. This document offers a valuable insight into the nature of print and scribal culture in the early eighteenth century. Careful examination of it suggests that the material form of a text did not necessarily determine its function: a 'published' text might not have been printed, while a printed text may not have been published. Nor were Toland's clandestine activities always designed to shield his work from public attention. The evidence compiled in the essay leads to a far more complex account of the nature of manuscript circulation in the period, drawing on the work of Harold Love and others. In reconstructing the recipients of Toland's scribal publications, the paper suggests that the exchange of texts (whether printed or scribal) was not only intellectual but social too: a community of readers was constructed by the transmission of Toland's manuscripts. Close attention to Toland's relationship with one of his readers in particular, Robert Viscount Molesworth, indicates the dynamics of clandestine learning, and the exchange of ideas between them is placed in political context.

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