rachel trocchio â University of California, Berkeley Cause and Defect Peter Oliverâs Subjunctive Loyalism One of the piquancies of reading Peter Oliverâs 1781 Origin and Progress of the American Rebellion lies in its manner of insisting that at any number of points the Revolution could have been averted, or staunched. âIt is much to be deplored,â Oliver laments at the outset, âthat the Springs of the English Government too often lost of their Elasticity; which, perhaps, had they have been in many Cases wound up, would have had Force enough to have prevented the present Rebellionâ (26). Hardly have we gone past the gateâthe âPorch,â as Oliver figures his introduction (9)âthan we are presented with these weltering conjugations of the verb to be: had they have been; would have had; elsewhere it may or it must; otherwise I hope or I promise. These phrases, I will suggest, ask us to entertain an alternate history, in which the mechanisms of British imperial power were effectively discharged, and the Revolution was cut off at the root. Reality being what it is, or was, such cognitive play cannot endure. Oliver did not, after all, claim to write a fiction but a
Early American Literature – University of North Carolina Press
Published: Oct 31, 2017
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