Texas Tech University

OCEANA & OTHER WORKS BY JAMES HARRINGTON

Publication Date: 1737

Harrington (1611-1677) was an attendant of Charles I; after the king's execution, he is said to have fallen into a deep melancholy. This depression may have served as impetus toward the writing of this great Utopian political treatise; he aims to create society anew in a republic based in a moderate aristocracy with a balance of property.

The views embodied in Oceana, particularly that bearing on vote by ballot and rotation of magistrates and legislators, endeavored to push practically, but with no success. In November 1661, by order of Charles II, Harrington was arrested, apparently without sufficient cause, on a charge of conspiracy, and was thrown into the Tower. The Oceana is a hard, prolix, and in many respects heavy exposition of an ideal constitution, "Oceana" being England, and the lawgiver Olphaus Megaletor, Oliver Cromwell. The details are elaborated with infinite care, even the salaries of officials being computed, but the main ideas are two in number, each with a practical corollary. The first is that the determining element of power in a state is property generally, property in land in particular; the second is that the executive power ought not to be vested for any considerable time in the same men or class of men." #0159

 

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