Daniel Defoe: The Shortest Way with Dissenters

(1075 words)
  • Penny Pritchard (University of Hertfordshire)

The Shortest Way was to prove Defoe's most explosive political satire. The death of Defoe's patron, William III, in March 1702 led to the ascendancy of Queen Anne (1702-1714) who was a zealous supporter of the Church of England and intolerant of the “occasional conformity” whereby Dissenters enabled themselves to qualify as members of the Church of England by the device of turning up for service one day in each year. Subscription to the doctrinal articles of the Church of England (whose head was the monarch) was a legal prerequisite for holding public office so “occasional conformity” was the device whereby leading Dissenters managed to compromise their religious beliefs with being Members of Parliament, Lord Mayors and …

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Pritchard, Penny. "The Shortest Way with Dissenters". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 24 January 2002
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=7730, accessed 28 September 2016.]