William Cobbett - Legacy


Cobbett is considered to have begun as an inherently conservative journalist who, angered by the corrupt British political establishment, became increasingly radical and sympathetic to anti-government and democratic ideals. He provides an alternative view of rural England in the age of an Industrial Revolution with which he was not in sympathy. Cobbett wished England would return to the rural England of the 1760s to which he was born. Unlike fellow radical Thomas Paine, Cobbett was not an internationalist cosmopolitan and did not support a republican Britain. He boasted that he was not a "citizen of world": "it is quite enough for me to think about what is best for England, Scotland and Ireland". Possessing a firm national identity, he often criticised rival countries and warned them that they should not "swagger about and be saucy to England". He said his identification with the Church of England was due in part because it "bears the name of my country". Ian Dyck claimed that Cobbett supported "the eighteenth-century Country Party platform". Edward Tangye Lean described him as "an archaic English Tory".

Cobbett has been praised by many thinkers of various political persuasions, such as Matthew Arnold, Karl Marx, G. K. Chesterton, A. J. P. Taylor, Raymond Williams, E. P. Thompson and Michael Foot.

Cobbett's birthplace, a public house in Farnham named "The Jolly Farmer", has now been renamed "The William Cobbett".

The Brooklyn-based history band PiƱataland has performed a song about William Cobbett's quest to rebury Thomas Paine entitled "An American Man".

A story by Cobbett in 1807 led to the use of red herring to mean a distraction from the important issue.

An equestrian statue of Cobbett is planned for a site in Farnham.

William Cobbett Junior school in Farnham was named in his honour, whose logo is a porcupine.

Cobbett's sons were trained as solicitors and founded a law firm in Manchester, still called Cobbetts in his honour.

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