The Utopian Tradition in Henry Neville’s ‘The Isle of Pines’

The Isle of Pines( 1668 )

Written in the wake of the English Revolution and the Restoration of the Stuart Monarchy,The Isle of Pinesis the work of a republican extremist politician. Henry Neville was known for being an associate of the republican James Harrington and a member of the Rota Club. He was known as an sharp guardian of Harrington’s theories and sought to implement portion of Harrington’s political strategies during the 1659 Parliament in which he was a leader of the Harringtonian group. Thomas Hobbes believed that Neville might hold had a manus in Harrington’sOceana: ‘Mr. T. Hobbes was wont to state that H. Nevil had a finger in ye pye, and Ti like adequate. That ingeniose Tractat, together with his an H. Nevill’s smart discourses and ingrainings, dayly at Coffee-houses, made many Proselytes’ . [ 1 ] Neville contributed to the political arguments of his clip, which revolved around the struggle between monarchism and republicanism, through a series of booklets and satirical libels such asShuffling, Cutting and Dealing in a Game of Piquet( 1659 ), News from the New Exchange, or the Commonwealth of Ladies( 1650 ) ,The Parliament of Ladies( 1647 ) , a Utopian travel narration entitledThe Isle of Pines, and a profound republican treatise entitledPlato Redivivus( 1681 ) . This text was written as a response to the Exclusion Crisis. Like Harrington’sOceana, it promoted the author’s belief that political power is connected to landed belongings. For his, as for Harrington, landed belongings is power. Henry and Harrington believed that the equal distribution of land can decrease the political power of the sovereign and the blue bloods and give the populace a function to play in the political personal businesss of their state. They advocated a displacement of power from the one and few to the many.

My focal point in this subdivision is onThe Isle of Pinesas a work that belongs to the Utopian tradition imitated by More, and followed Bacon, and Harrington. The publication fortunes ofThe Isle of Pinesis complex, to state the least. It appeared in three distinguishable parts. The first portion, which constitutes the chief organic structure of the text and narrates the narrative of George Pine and his shipwreck with four adult females on the uninhabited island, appeared in June 1668. The 2nd portion, a missive written by the Dutch crewman Henry Cornelius Van Sloeten that narrates the find of the island of the English Pines in the Pacific Ocean and the narrative of the latest swayer of the island, William Pine, appeared on July 22, 1668. Five yearss subsequently, a 3rd piece, which comprises the first two pieces with extra associating stuff, appeared.

The work enjoyed a great trade of popularity in the undermentioned centuries and was translated into legion linguistic communications. For illustration, the chief narration of George Pines’ shipwreck and his life with the four adult females and their posterities on the island until his decease, was translated into Gallic and Dutch in 1668, non long after the visual aspect of the work. From the Gallic and Dutch interlingual renditions, the text was farther translated into Italian and German. Most of the German editions were based on the Dutch interlingual rendition of the text. Some of these plants were close actual interlingual renditions of the original English text. Other were either sum-ups or versions or imitations of George Pine’s narrative. Equally far as the English editions are concerned, in add-on to the five editions of 1668, two editions appeared in the 18th century in 1750 and 1768. The 1768 edition of the text was reprinted for Thomas Cadell in London, at the petition of Thomas Hollis who was trying to animate a republican canon in the 1760s. [ 2 ] This edition merely comprises the first portion of the original. This edition is grouped together with a reissue ofThe Parliament of Ladiesof the same twelvemonth in an annotated volume that makes a mention to Thomas Hollis, presented on July 29, 1768. Further, an edition ofThe Isle of Pinesappeared in the settlements in the 18th century. This edition was a reissue fromThe Grand MagazineinThe New American Magazineof January 1759. [ 3 ]

The Isle of Pinescould be read as both a Utopia and a work of political sarcasm. The Utopian dimension of the text is manifested in the island scene, and the effort of the shipwrecked party to set up a peculiar societal order on the uninhabited island. Besides,The Isle of Pinesfalls into the Utopian tradition as it could be read as strategy for puting the foundation of a good authorities and set uping an ideal societal order.The Isle of Pines, like Bacon’sNew Atlantis, and More’sUtopia,is located in unknown Waterss ; it is isolated by its geographical location. The shipwreck of George Pine and his four female comrades anticipates the narrative of Defoe’sRobinson Crusoe. Like Crusoe’s island, the island in Neville’s work, unlike those in the plants of More, Bacon, and Harrington, is uninhibited:

beinga big Island, and disjoyned, and out of sight of any other Land, waswhollyuninhabited by any people, neitherwasthere any hurtful animal to rag us. But on the contrary, the Countrey so really pleasant beingalwaysclothedwith viridity, and full of pleasantfruits, and assortment ofBirds, of all time warm, and nevercolderthen inEnglandinSeptember:so that this topographic point ( had it the civilization that adept people might confer on it ) would turn out aEden.[ 4 ]

This description of the island gives the text an Arcadian instead than Utopian character. The repose of the scene and the harmoniousness between adult male and nature where any act or desire for domination is absent. It is a manifestation of a group of people populating in a province of natural artlessness. Further, George Pine and his comrades, enjoy the copiousness of nutrient that the island provides without the demand to work for it, at least for the first few months of their stay on the island:

TheWoodsaffordedus a kind ofNuts, every bit large as a big Apple, whose kernilbeingpleasant and dry, wemadeuse of alternatively of Bread, that Fowl beforementioned, and a kind of Water-fowl likeDucks, and theirEggs, and a Beast about the size of a Goat, and about such a similar Animal, whichbroughttwo youngonesat a clip, and that twice a twelvemonth, of which the LowLandsandWoodswerevery full, beinga really harmless Animal and tame, so that we couldeasilytake and killthem: Fish besides, especiallyShell-fish ( which we could outdo come by ) wehadgreat shop of, so that in consequence as to Food wewantednothing and therefore, and by such like aids, we continued six moneths, without any perturbation of privation. [ 5 ]

The province of idling and copiousness in which Pine and the four female subsisters find themselves leads into a province of lecherousness and turns the narrative into a love affair of sexual autonomy, therefore stoping the natural artlessness is lost with Pine taking ownership of the female subsisters: ‘Idleness and comprehensiveness of everything begot in me a desire of basking the adult females, get downing now to turn more familiar’ . [ 6 ] Sexual brushs are first done in private, and subsequently in public. Further, Pine and the four adult females lived on the island without any duties to moral Torahs or limitations. They lived harmonizing to their natural inclinations and were satisfied with their conditions. Following this period of sexual autonomy, and the birth of the first coevals of their kids, George Pine realises that some kind of societal order is needed. He, hence, divides his kids into four groups harmonizing to their female parents. He besides divides the island into four parts and allocates one for each of these groups. At this point in the narrative, the character of the text is shifted from the Arcadian to the Utopian. The text’s Utopian character is represented in the demand for order and administration. The province of easiness that George Pine and the four adult females have enjoyed prior to the birth of their kids is now replaced by the demand for a signifier of authorities to govern the island. Pine, in line with utopias, identifies justness and equality as the basis of his system.

This system, nevertheless, failed to keep the status of coexistence that George Pine hoped for. The effects of his earlier evildoings started to go more seeable in the 3rd coevals of his ascendants. Necessity, which he used as a justification for get marrieding his boies and girls of the first coevals, was now replaced by abandon and lecherousness. The moral impairment of society at this phase is attributed to ‘a disregard of hearing the Bible read’ , [ 7 ] was manifested in the Acts of the Apostless of prostitution, incest, and adultery. The model penalty for these Acts of the Apostless, issued by the Pines’ new male monarch, Henry, proved uneffective to halt the devolution of society. Neville, like More, Bacon, and Harrington, acknowledged the demand for jurisprudence to keep order. He believed that for any Utopian vision to win, a signifier of authorities is needed to enforce authorization and pull off the personal businesss of the ideal community. Yet, when compared to the Utopia of More, Bacon, and Harrington, Neville’s utopia ne’er reached the degrees of order and administration that characterise those utopias. Equally far as the laminitiss of Utopia in these plants are concerned, ‘George Pine is no great legislator like King Utopus or Olphaus Megaletor, and surely no early modern Lycurgus’ , to utilize the words of Gaby Wahlberg. [ 8 ] Order is established on the island through ‘piecemeal reform’ , and because of the absence of the ‘the right foundations, the ideal society could non be achieved’ . [ 9 ] Like the laminitiss of utopias in More, Bacon, and Defoe subsequently, George Pines exercises the colonial act of naming, giving his state a name and individuality:

I gave this People ( descended from me ) the name of theEnglish Pines, George Pinebeing my name, and my Masters Daughter nameSarah English, my two other Wifes wereMary Sparkes, andElizabeth Trevor, so their several posterities are called theEnglish,theSparkes, and theTrevors, and thePhills, from the Christian Name of the Negro, which wasPhillipa, she holding no family name: And the general name of the whole theEnglish Pines. [ 10 ]

The really act of calling invokes such issues as race, patriarchal authorization, colonialism, and societal hierarchy. The fact that he gives his posterities the general name of the English Pines establishes the master-servant relationship.

At the same clip, the work could be a sarcasm that laments the impairment of the English military and commercial powers, and the diminution of the English maritime authorization in comparing with that of their Dutch challengers. The text implicitly maps the political alterations in England. The sequence of swayers on the island corresponds to the governmental alterations in the early modern England. The male parent laminitis of the Pines state and his patriarchal reign could be seen as an incarnation of the regulation of the early Stuarts. Besides, King Henry Pine, the laminitis of the new order and Torahs in the wake of civil agitation on the island, could be seen as a representation of Cromwell and his Interregnum authorities. The present swayer, King William Pine, is a thinly cloaked personification of Charles II. The renewed status of agitation on the island implies the challenges that faced the English authorities following the Restoration of Charles II. The agitation is put down by the superior military power of the Dutch crewmans, and peace and order are restored to the island. [ 11 ] The high quality of the Dutch to the English island-dwellers is revealed in the first brush between the two parties. The first scene of brush between the bare English Pines and the superior Dutch crewmans is a symbolic manifestation of the widening spread between the two states in footings of commercialism, maritime and military, and political influence. As in More’sUtopiaand Bacon’sNew Atlantis, the typical scene of brush between the European crewmans and the indigens of the Utopian islands is present inThe Isle of Pines. Neville, unlike More and Bacon, nevertheless, reverses the places of the island-dwellers and crewmans geting at the shores of the Utopian island. In More’s and Bacon’s plants, the island-dwellers are depicted as superior to the crewmans. In Neville’s work, the Dutch sailors’ position as being superior to the indigens is emphasised from the start. In More’s and Bacon’s utopias, it is the crewmans who are amazed by the superior province of the Utopian island-dwellers. In Neville’s work, in contrast, it is the island-dwellers who admire the Dutch crewmans. The indigens are depicted as bare and barbarian.

The reaching of the Dutch crewmans on the island, furthermore, disrupts the province of nature in which the Pines lived for many old ages. It besides brings the text back to the context of seventeenth-century maritime and military competition by fliping representatives of two great sea powers against each other. The brush is meant to knock the deteriorating status of English political relations and influence under the monarchal regulation. The English island-dwellers are depicted as crude people populating in crude conditions. This, for case, is represented in the Dutch sailor’s description of the King’s castle and the houses of the bulk of the island-dwellers:

Having refreshed ourselves, they invited us to the Pallace of their Price or main Ruler, some two stat mis distant off from the topographic point where we landed ; which we found to be about the largeness of one of our ordinary small town houses, it was supported with unsmooth unhewn pieces of Timber, and covered really unnaturally with boughs, so that it would maintain out the greatest showers of Rain. [ 12 ]

The bulk of people on the island live in ‘little huts under trees’ that reflect their crude conditions and the absence of any hints of civilization. Further, the sense of lower status of the island-dwellers to the visiting crewmans is besides emphasised in the scene of the first brush. Unlike the Utopians and Bensalemites in More’s and Bacon’s utopias severally, it is the island-dwellers in Nevill’s work that have to place themselves to the Dutch crewmans, non the other manner unit of ammunition as in More’s and Bacon’s plants. Besides, the contrast between the apparels of the island-dwellers and those of the Dutch crewmans, and the hapless quality of nutrient are all illustrations of their premitivity.

The scene of brush between the English and Dutch as delineated in the text is intended as a unfavorable judgment of the province of insignificance into which England as a political power has regressed. While England, one time a great maritime, commercial, colonial, and military power, is reduced into a province of failing and impairment under the bonds of the monarchy, the Dutch imperium has become a ace commercial and colonial power catching England, which was considered to be its equal challenger. Neville lays the incrimination for the diminution of England as a ace power at the door of the monarchy which has reduced England from a province of glorification into a status of failing and pandemonium. In add-on, Neville’s word picture of the island-dwellers are unarmed people as compared with the superior military power of the Dutch crewmans could be read as a contemplation the 2nd Anglo-Dutch War of 1776. The influences of that war on the English military power was black where the ground forces of the United Provinces destroyed the bulk of the English fleet in Chatham. The war ended with England losing the settlement of Surinam to the Dutch after the Treaty of Breda, and with surrendering of Pola Run which handed the Dutch important advantage in the Spice Trade. [ 13 ]

It is important to advert that Neville ne’er attacks the Dutch in his work. His review is aimed at the English monarchy under the Stuart. As a republican, Neville continued to see the Dutch as natural Alliess over the Gallic. He even refers to them explicitly as ‘friends’ in the text. [ 14 ] They ne’er attempt to colonize the island or contend the right of the Pines to it. Rather, they provide the Pines with utile tools and assist their male monarch squelch the civil agitation on the island. [ 15 ] The island of Pines is non an ideal theoretical account to be imitated by the English people and lawgivers to better the conditions of England. Rather, the United Provinces stands as an alternate theoretical account to be emulated in England. [ 16 ] Through the island, a representation of the worsening England, Neville juxtaposes corrupt and weak England in resistance to the far superior United Provinces. His purpose is to knock the province of his state under the regulation of monarchy by showing it against a existent and far superior opposite number which was one time its challenger and chief rival in footings of sea trade and nautical authorization.

Finally, the brush between the English island-dwellers and the Dutch crewmans could be looked upon as a contemplation on the colonial policies of the two corresponding states. Neville depicts the island in his work as a closed society that has no involvement in set uping any kind of connexions with the outside universe. The Pines owned the land but non the techniques to better cultivate it. Neville, like his friend Harrington, acknowledged the importance of people for the constitution of the commonwealth. For Harrington, people were ‘the stuffs of a commonwealth’ . [ 17 ] For him, people would assist keep the societal order through the act of engagement. For Neville, people are the chief constituent for the accomplishment of national prosperity. On the Isle of Pines, the island is populated and the English race is perpetuated. What the Pines deficiency, nevertheless, is sense of way and intent. [ 18 ] For Neville, colonization does non merely intend the ownership of land. It is a combination of the ownership of land, the efficiency of its cultivation, the usage of labor and the trade of its merchandises. [ 19 ] However, the manner the Pines are depicted in the text indicates that the English state is non ready to follow this expression. He portrays the English as idle and lazy people who enjoy lying lazily on ‘Mossey Banks’ . [ 20 ] In contrast, the Dutch are delineated as a people who knows how to underscore their authorization on their settlements. This is exemplified in the mode they restored order to the isle following an incident of agitation.

To sum this subdivision up,The Isle of Pinesis a Utopian work that belongs to the Utopian tradition of More, Bacon, and Harrington. It does non depict an ideal society that should be taken as a theoretical account to be adopted or imitated. Rather, it is a work that is designated chiefly to knock the corrupt and worsening England under the reign of the Stuarts. The brush between the English island-dwellers and the visiting Dutch crewmans is an illustration, or as Adam Beach puts it, a instance survey of ‘English degeneration and Dutch Supremacy’ . [ 21 ] The high quality of the Dutch crewmans to the crude English island-dwellers is meant to knock the diminution of England as a ace military, nautical, and commercial force, in comparing with the lifting Dutch power. Like earlier Utopia,The Isle of Pinesreflects on subjects such as colonialism, patriarchal authorization, and societal hierarchy. It besides stresses the subject of order and administration. The scenes of polygamy, incest and criminal conversation are nil more than a thin mask for Neville’s onslaught on the monarchy and the influences of its black policies on early modern England.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *