After some preliminaries in the seventeenth century, the controversy over the termination of the War of the Spanish Succession was the first example in England of a public debate of a great national issue with full media participation. Aspects of foreign, military, domestic and social policy combined to form a set of complex issues of the utmost significance. The debate about the Peace of Utrecht - with its intertwinement of domestic and foreign policy - is the prototype of political contention conducted in public. The significance and impact of the debate attracted a wide range of writers. They made known their stance on the issue of war and peace, which virtually divided the nation, with unprecedented completeness and clarity. This important debate may therefore be regarded as the focal point of a public political culture as it developed in early eighteenth-century England and was eventually to have a lasting impact even abroad.
The debate about the Peace of Utrecht, which was the first full-fledged manifestation in eighteenth-century England of an emerging 'public political culture' - a term which will be explained more fully in the course of this introduction - and in the long term also set an example for the rest of the world, has for quite some time been of increasing interest as an object of research. The following survey briefly sketches some historiographical approaches to the early eighteenth century in so far as they have proved useful for the present study. Our own research draws on this material, which therefore deserves to be mentioned at least in outline.
Especially valuable have been the investigations since the nineteen-sixties which attempt a reappraisal of late seventeenth and early eighteenth-century English political history. After Walcott's hapless attempt to apply Namierean categories to early eighteenth-century Englandhad been fended off, there was an adequate assessment of the political conditions which did justice to the special characteristics of the period. The crucial fact that the opposing views of Whigs and Tories manifested themselves strictly along party lines with rather clear-cut ideological divisions, which is so typical of the political debate under Queen Anne, was analysed ever more thoroughly. Although political parties were a familiar phenomenon, they were still regarded with suspicion - Shaftesbury, for example, condemned them as an abuse of social impulses- and were unequivocally approved of by only a few contemporaries such as Shute Barrington. But this did not weaken the parties' actual impact on the political life of the period. The factual evidence showing the ideological differences between the parties, which historiography has so amply provided, is an indispensable prerequisite for our own approach. In this context one thinks of the combined efforts of such distinguished historians as Geoffrey Holmes, J.H. Plumb, W.A. Speck and Henry Horwitz, whose work opened the way to an adequate evaluation of early eighteenth-century political life in England.
One aim of the renewed historiographical interest in the early eighteenth century is to shed some light on the interdependence between high politics - both government and opposition - and propaganda. It has been shown that political decisions were increasingly underpinned by laying open their rationale. Already in Queen Anne's reign a decisive breakthrough occurred when senior politicians accepted the fact that publicly debating political decisions - whether still pending or already implemented - and subjecting them to media scrutiny had become an irreversible ingredient of contemporary politics. Henry L. Snyder has shown in several articles how the process of political decision making was increasingly accompanied by propaganda activities . It was then J.A. Downie, who, in his monograph of 1979 , provided detailed insight into the way in which Harley deliberately encouraged propaganda, which proves that those engaged in the decision making process saw the necessity to seek public approval. Harley's systematic use of propaganda shows that the need to publicly justify political action was regarded as irrevocable and had thus become a permanent feature of national politics.
Historiography's new and more extensive approach to the early eighteenth century, which has set important guidelines for the present book as well, has also increased our knowledge of the general environment in which British journalism developed since the turn of the eighteenth century. In this context the detailed analysis of the legal conditions of the period, first undertaken by Laurence Hanson in his standard work and pursued further with more precise results especially by John Feather , must be mentioned. Commercial and technological factors, too, influenced the process of transformation of English journalism especially after 1695. This occupation with the setting of expanding journalism also includes a precise account of the circumstances which proved relevant to the development of the book market and the publishing trade. The findings of Michael Treadwell deserve special mention in this connection.
Establishing the authorship of relevant texts and dating them are further objectives of research on the early eighteenth century relevant to this study. In spite of the present author's acute awareness of these problems he has little to contribute to their solution. Furbank's and Owens' book on Daniel Defoe illustrates the often insurmountable difficulties besetting any attempt to establish with certainty the authorship of texts. The same is true with regard to the dates of texts. This is why one is particularly grateful if there is as firm a basis to build on as that provided by David Woolley with regard to Jonathan Swift's political prose towards the end of Queen Anne's reign . Repeatedly faced with pragmatic considerations, the present author could not but date certain texts simply according to likelihood. The reader should therefore be prepared to tolerate a degree of uncertainty in this respect.
Excellent work has been done, with ever more thorough studies on the public political culture of the early eighteenth century. These enable us to form a detailed picture of the period. However, so far there is no systematic study of the rhetorical implementation of the controversy over the termination of the War of the Spanish Succession. At the end of this admittedly brief survey, I want to define my own objective more closely by setting it against some outstanding monographs that have already cast some light on important aspects of the subject. In his pioneering study of 1881 Alexandre Beljame had shown that in an atmosphere of party-political strife a particular brand of journalism had developed which provided authors of otherwise modest means with a profitable source of income; and D.H. Stevens in his book of 1916 , in which he concentrated mainly on the journals and periodicals of the time, showed how under Queen Anne writers and their work had become politicised, a development which, however, he referred to somewhat inadequately as a perversion of literary standards through political constraints . But otherwise he saw quite clearly the consequences of conducting political controversies in public, namely that writers were drawn into the maelstrom of political propaganda.
Then, in 1958, after a lapse of time owing perhaps to historiography's changed priorities over the years, Douglas S. Coombs in a substantial monograph showed from a primarily Dutch, and naturally slanted perspective, how party-political disputes were conducted both intensively and extensively to support foreign-policy goals. Our own study follows Coombs' approach of using the largest possible corpus of texts and is based on a comprehensive examination of all available material with due emphasis on representative samples in order to highlight particular features. With regard to the time pattern of the debate, its internal rhythm, on which Coombs sometimes remains somewhat vague, we aim at greater precision. In particular, for all the impressive documentary evidence of the political parties' fierce public exchanges, there is practically nothing in Coombs on h o w rhetoric was made to serve propagandistic ends, no close analysis of the forms of propaganda and the techniques of polemical interaction.
Finally, Downie's monograph of 1979, Robert Harley and the Press. Propaganda and Public Opinion in the Age of Swift and Defoe, provided convincing proof that public political debate was an indispensable element of the political system, that the strategies for influencing public opinion were closely connected with the political Establishment. After early attempts by Lord Somers at the beginning of the century, Harley's circumspect use of propaganda marked the irreversible integration of public political controversy into the political process of the time. In his book Downie shows that this development was particularly strong in the years after 1710 and eventually resulted in subjecting every significant political issue to the scrutiny of public opinion, which was polarised along the dividing lines of an antagonistic two-party system. The proof that Downie furnishes in his book of the interlinking of politics and propaganda, and the insight he offers into the sophisticated ways in which journalism was made to serve as a backup for the political process, have further encouraged the present writer to analyse the entire range of rhetorical efforts which were made to secure a favourable reaction from the public, and to describe how the will to exercise political power translated into diverse forms of polemics. In other words, we are trying to provide the 'rhetorical correlative' to the culture of political contention as it was firmly established towards the end of Queen Anne's reign.
This interdisciplinary study, which has also benefited greatly from the substantial analyses of the interrelationship between politics and journalism in Frances Harris' unpublished dissertation , focuses on how the political debate unfolded in the years 1710-1713, what means and techniques of political propaganda were employed and what forms of political rhetoric served which particular purpose. 'Forms of political rhetoric' here means 'genres' in political literature as they appeared during the political debate. 'Rhetoric' describes on the one hand any individual linguistic effort to influence the formation of public opinion and on the other hand refers in a more general sense to the sum total of such efforts. Thus, as a collective term 'rhetoric' covers the diverse forms of writing that participated in the formation of public opinion without doors with a possible influence on decisions taken within doors. 'Propaganda', a term I use - like Schwoerer for example - without any implied value judgment, refers to the way in which certain rhetorical objectives were realised and also to the entire corpus of political literature in which rhetoric was thus employed; finally 'propaganda' refers to the underlying political intentions. Occasionally I use 'discourse' to refer to publicly conducted controversy; more than 'propaganda' it underlines the dependence of such public debate on historical circumstance. Our analysis of political rhetoric so defined aims to show how political notions were voiced by applying linguistic strategies which in turn reflected the specific conditions in which a public political culture was developing in early eighteenth century England. In view of the comprehensiveness of the political debate at the time and the wide range of related genres it seems reasonable to apply the traditional categories of rhetoric to the analysis of political texts, but sufficiently fine-tune them to do justice to any particular context or situation. This less restricted approach, which makes use of categories that are universally applicable to all forms of political writing, seems more appropriate in our case than to do what Quentin Skinner and J.G.A. Pocock, for example, did so well, namely to reconstruct those variations of political language which mark the high points of political thought and then use these to elucidate the history of ideas along pragmatic lines . Although Skinner, too, is concerned with establishing meaning in the intentional sense in specific contexts, the writings of the great political thinkers with their considerable historical and intellectual depth require a more complex treatment, while those genres involved in the conduct of day-to-day politics and more directly governed by the laws of rhetoric may be illuminated by bringing them briefly into sharp focus to reveal their polemical structures. As indicated above, we will at the end of our investigation come full circle, so to speak, by drawing a final conclusion as to the state of public political culture in England as mirrored in the debate on the ending of the War of the Spanish Succession.
after the Glorious Revolution
As Joseph Klaits has shown, the French absolutist regime, too, would not miss the opportunity to make use of the printed word for propaganda purposes, for instance in foreign-policy matters. In various ways propaganda in France was diplomacy by other means. In England, on the other hand, the political culture developing after the Revolution of 1688/89 was truly 'public' in the sense that political issues were more and more often debated in the public arena, which, though not entirely free from state interference, was far from being subjected to any rigorous control. Since the end of the seventeenth century discussion of political issues in England took place in a semi-autonomous sphere in which freedom of expression was practically guaranteed to an extent completely unknown on the European Continent. There foreign-policy issues were almost never discussed publicly , not even in the case of France, where a fair measure of public debate already existed, as has been maintained for example by Mona Ozouf . 'Public' in this connection also describes the fact that support was not only secured - by order from above, so to speak - for government decisions, but that government and opposition alike - witness the bipartisan practice of free distribution of political literature - put their conflicting views before a wider forum beyond the confines of Parliament, where they had to pass the test of public judgment and occasionally had to be revised. Moreover, the term 'public political culture' refers to the need that policy makers felt to seek assent from a wider audience, to have their decisions judged by a kind of ad hoc forum which, though acting in a constitutional void, as it were, was in actual fact - at least in essence - a kind of complementary controlling institution. The political class seemed increasingly inclined to no longer ignore that the "larger political nation" , avid for political literature, demonstrated a growing political commitment and in its wake expected that decisions be transparent and stand the test of rational analysis. At the same time public political culture, despite its inherent, often deplored contentiousness, exercised a stabilising function by enabling a bridge to be built between the numerically inferior political class and the vast majority of the population, which demanded its share in the political debate.
The Revolution of 1688/89 may be regarded as the beginning of a public political culture in England. The focus of power shifted from the Crown to the various aristocratic factions competing in Parliament; this led to a change in the constitutional pattern which fostered the rise of English journalism. In France, however, the competitive, individualistic element of public discourse never allowed the ideal of integration to disappear . William III's propaganda efforts to lead the Glorious Revolution to success ushered in a new age for journalism, too, as L.G. Schwoerer has shown in great detail in one of his articles . After a short period of political unity a power struggle developed from 1694 onwards in the wake of the Triennial Act. It was this struggle between the aristocratic factions dominating the political parties which turned out to be a seedbed for public political disputes. The struggle between Whigs and Tories transcended the parliamentary arena with its political in-groups and thus turned the wider public into a kind of new appellate authority. The vast majority of the population, that is all those who did not have the right to vote, were thus given a chance to participate in the process of political communication. The rivalries between the parties fostered the formation of political opinions among a pluralistic public susceptible to different forms of propaganda according to social background and wooed by government and opposition alike publicly arguing their case. Of course one must keep in mind that in most cases "it is almost impossible to assess how far it [propaganda] reflected and how far it formed opinion" .
When the Licensing Act expired in 1695, this was for all practical purposes also the end of state censorship. Conditions were henceforth more favourable to the development of a public political culture that met the needs inherent in British politics. After the lapse of the Licensing Act printing and publishing experienced a tremendous boom. In the wake of unlicensed printing in London alone ten new papers were founded within ten years , and of the newly founded periodicals under Queen Anne a surprisingly large number were political . In 1695 there had been only one newspaper, the official London Gazette, and now new publications were mushrooming. The Daily Courant, the first daily paper, appeared in 1702, the Evening Post, the first evening paper, in 1706 . In 1704 the foundation of Defoe's Review marked the growing importance of periodicals; the periodical essayists were soon to become important figures in the struggle to influence public opinion. The Review had been preceded by the Observator, which catered for a certain section of the public with its dialogue format. In the Tatler of 21 May 1709 Joseph Addison seemed somewhat amused by the fact that so many papers were competing to meet the needs of a public hungry for political information . The participation of periodicals and newspapers in the public debate - something that did not exist to any comparable degree before 1695 - created conditions in which the battle for public support could take place uninterrupted over longer periods . Especially those periodicals which specialized in commentary and the formation of opinion and had apparently met with little response at first but expanded fast after 1702 became a measure of the growing intensity of public political controversy and the concomitant increasing polarisation of the political parties. The diversity and range of political literature can hardly be overrated. Nearly all genres were represented and almost all the well-known authors contributed to the public dispute , which experienced another boost after 1710 . Although research has not been able so far to provide reliable figures on the reading public - this applies even to the London area - there is sufficient evidence that the public debate of political issues, conducted with hitherto unknown intensity - which can be measured by the impressive number of responses to all forms of political writing -, met with a widely positive reaction, and the emergence of a public political culture may well be seen as a revolution in its own right.
It is not easy to judge the reading public in terms of sheer numbers. Some reliable figures on the circulation of periodicals do exist , but they say little about how many people actually read them. Addison, as we know, assumed that each issue of the Spectator, on display in coffee houses, was read by about twenty people , but optimistic guesses put this figure much higher . As to the Evening Post, a 'partisan paper', each copy is assumed to have had ten readers . But then circulation figures reveal comparatively little about a paper's or a periodical's political impact , Defoe's Review being a good case in point.
It is also difficult to quantify the potential readership of political literature. It may be assumed with some certainty that the high educational standard that prevailed in mid-seventeenth century England as compared with the European Continent continued well into Queen Anne's reign . Literacy was especially widespread among the middle class . However, research infers literacy from the sole fact that people were able to write their names, a method that has over and again been rightly criticised as facile , because the simple fact that people were able to sign documents says little about whether they actually understood particular texts . Significantly, historians on the one hand and literary historians on the other differ in their assessment of literacy, with the former usually being more optimistic. But even these optimistic figures need to be qualified according to whether they refer to London, other cities and towns or rural areas; similar distinctions have to be made with regard to social background.
It is probably not far from the truth to assume that just as eighteenth-century literature in the sense of belles-lettres was mainly written for the middle and upper classes - a familiar fact to any literary historian - so was political literature. Political propaganda thus followed the pattern of the reading public's expectations and abilities, which in turn depended on the educational standards of the respective social strata . We do not, by the way, concern ourselves in this study with any such distinction between the metropolis and the provinces as to the production and reception of political propaganda. In fact, our study is based throughout on the conditions and circumstances as they prevailed in and around London.
Although English journalism was admired and envied on the Continent, its legal foundation was anything but solid. Not only did the "law of seditious libel", frequently invoked by political bodies , hang like the sword of Damocles over the heads of wayward writers , as Swift experienced to his cost after the publication of The Public Spirit of the Whigs (1714) , there were also attempts by Parliament towards the end of Queen Anne's reign to muzzle journalists and publishers. This was usually justified by those who were opposed to granting any freedom to the press with the latter's alleged licentiousness. In the contemporary debate on how much freedom should be granted to the press, the pendulum swung between the extreme positions of liberty and licentiousness. But in spite of efforts to turn back the clock in the development of journalism - between 1695 and 1704 there were no fewer than nine bills before Parliament to bring back censorship -, it is a sign of the level which the public political culture had attained that none of these attempts got beyond the committee stage and that - as John Feather remarks - there was no new licensing system. In only a few cases, moreover, were legal proceedings actually initiated in connection with particular publications. And when, between 1711 and 1714, Lord Bolingbroke and some High Church Tories again polemically denounced journalistic licentiousness and demanded legislative measures to curb journalism's baleful influence, it was to no avail in spite of the Queen's benevolent support .
In this context the Stamp Act of 1712, which was especially aimed at newspapers , may be regarded as a compromise measure supported in particular by Bolingbroke and intended to contain the expansion of the press through taxation. Although opinion is divided as to the motives behind the Stamp Act, whether the objectives were mainly political or primarily fiscal , it did not - apart from some drastic short-term effect - succeed in putting journalism permanently on a leash. It seems as if broadside ballads were indeed seriously affected , but a legal loophole allowed newspapers consisting of more than one sheet to be registered as pamphlets, and they were thus able to improve their financial situation . So, in a way, the Stamp Act even facilitated certain innovative changes in the journalistic landscape.
The extent to which 'freedom of the press' had become a firmly-rooted concept in people's minds is indicated by the manifestos written by prominent authors under the threat of restraining measures. In Reasons against Restraining the Press (1704) Matthew Tindal, to whom freedom of the press was equal to a Protestant basic right, maintained that any suppressive measure would give one party an edge over the other . Similarly, in his Essay on the Regulation of the Press, also published in 1704, Defoe argued in favour of a free press not least because it would give equal opportunity to both parties in their attempt to win over public opinion . When towards the end of Queen Anne's reign the High Church wing of the Tory party was actually flirting with the idea of reintroducing stricter measures to control the press - clear evidence of this is provided by W. Mascall's memorandum A Proposal for Restraining the Great Licentiousness of the Press (ca. 1712) - Addison joined the debate and in The Thoughts of a Tory Author concerning the Press (1712) weighed the pros and cons of unlicensed printing. In order to weaken the position of Bolingbroke and the High Tories, who favoured stricter press laws, he aimed his essay at the Tory moderates, appealing to them to adopt a more conciliatory stance. Addison, whose position was similar to Defoe's, reminded the Tories with pointed humour that they in particular had recently been taking advantage of the opportunities of a free press , thus referring to the symbiotic relationship between a free press and party politics. Addison, too, left no doubt that curtailing the public's right to debate political issues would be at odds with the concept of a political culture of which the struggle between parties was an integral feature. Defoe, as mentioned above, also supported the idea of a free press because it gave equal chances to both parties, whose existence, however, he nevertheless regretted. The commitment of these writers to defending the right of free expression of opinion must be rated as an unmistakable sign that political parties and a free press were seen as belonging together. The arguments brought forward in support of this view showed that the concept of the printed word as a means of wooing public opinion had become an integral feature of the public political culture under Queen Anne .
Finally, and in line with the scope of this study, I want to take a closer look at the concept of public opinion. This seems necessary for a number of reasons. On the one hand, it looks as if British and American scholars show only little interest in abstract definitions. Downie, for example, uses "public opinion" in the subtitle of his important monograph but does not discuss it in theoretical terms. On the other hand, Jürgen Habermas' Strukturwandel der Öffentlichkeit , which first appeared in 1962, has meanwhile been translated into English and is the only German contribution to the subject with any impact abroad, is burdened with certain shortcomings which impede an adequate assessment of conditions as they prevailed in England.
For an accurate historical perspective - a glance at the past might even help to explain why Anglo-American scholars have shied away from tackling the theoretical aspects of the notion of 'public opinion' - it is quite rewarding to read Matthew Prior's essay "Opinion", written in 1721. One soon notices that although nobody actually referred to it as such, public opinion did exist, despite being regarded with some suspicion , and was also seen as closely linked to the existence of political parties . In fact, as late as 1710 the clergyman Thomas Goddard had blended "Opinion and Party" in decidedly negative terms . Prior's avoidance of the actual term seems to have been in some way typical of prevailing attitudes. It is true that terms like 'public interest' , 'public spirit' and 'vox populi' indicated that people were beginning to look beyond the confines of traditional politics, but as to 'public opinion', it was used rather late, for the first time under Robert Walpole . As J.A.W. Gunn points out in a recent article , any theoretical assessment of political achievements does not appear to have been a concomitant feature of the historical process in England, as was the case in France, however, where the formation of public opinion was less far advanced. Furthermore, the press became known rather late as a 'fourth estate', in comparison with the equally eligible 'opposition' and 'people' . This seems to indicate that the theoretical elevation of public opinion to the rank of a distinct element of political life was a rather slow process lagging well behind the facts created by the actual course of events.
Contemporary Anglo-American research, too, takes an enviably pragmatic approach, given as it is to analysing historical phenomena instead of theorizing about them. Thus brilliant studies like Downie's Robert Harley and the Press, John Brewer's Party Ideology and Popular Politics at the Accession of George III (1976) and Marie Peters' Pitt and Popularity. The Patriot Minister and London Opinion during the Seven Years' War (1980) have analysed in great detail the historical consequences of the utilization of public opinion for political ends without, however, making any attempt to deal with the phenomenon in more theoretical terms. One of the few recent exceptions is Gunn's above-mentioned contribution, in which he shows that although public opinion was increasingly regarded as an irreversible fact, actually referring to it by this name was yet to happen. In the absence of any detailed theoretical analysis of public opinion, it is not surprising that those Anglo-American scholars who do take an interest in the theoretical aspect tend to draw heavily on Habermas' book .
His one-sided view, however, needs to be complemented by a more function-oriented analysis, all the more so since other German contributions have failed to fill this gap. We learn very little about the exact historical situation in England in Lucian Hölscher's article written for Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe , just as Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann's otherwise useful article in Publizistik, Massenkommunikation contributes little to our understanding of the emergence of public opinion in eighteenth-century England. Apart from the fact that Habermas' concept of 'public opinion' lacks a solid foundation of historical and empirical evidence, as Wolfgang Jäger has shown , it is simplistic in its application to England of ideas whose validity is restricted to the European Continent. Above all, Habermas sees the public and the state as diametrically opposed, and his central assumption is that the sole or, at least, predominant rationale of the process of cultivating public opinion instigated by the middle classes was to undermine the position of the ruling aristocracy. Such a view, based as it is on class antagonisms, may provide valuable insight into the conditions of eighteenth-century Germany and even the rest of continental Europe with its absolutist regimes. But it is inadequate with regard to England, where the situation was different and where the public comprised most, if not all, social groups, especially the gentry and the nobility . In no way does Habermas' approach make it easier for us to gain a better understanding of the political culture in England, where the expansion of political literature was, significantly, not an underground phenomenon as in pre-revolutionary France . Nor, for that matter, did the cultivation of public opinion simply provide a stage for exposing what was felt to be wrong with the ruling class. It was more like a free market, where political positions and views were peddled by government and opposition alike. It is precisely this bipartisan element that is particularly important for any understanding of what was going on in England. Both government and opposition generously handed out political literature in order to improve their position in the eyes of the public , although there was a certain ambivalence in the way politicians dealt with public opinion, which, after all, was still an unfamiliar phenomenon. Thus Harley, for example, who was fascinated by the various ways of influencing public opinion , supported the use of propaganda while at the same time he employed spies as a means of surveillance and, if necessary, went so far as to suppress any undesirable activities . Although in purely legal terms it was still a controversial issue whether there should be something like freedom of the press, and though governments made repeated attempts to curb free printing, there was general agreement during the reign of Queen Anne that the wooing of the public by means of the printed word had become a feature of political life which was there to stay.
The artificial dichotomy between public opinion and the state's claim to power, which also exists in Habermas' "The Public Sphere" and - despite acknowledging his too monolithic notion of the public - is qualified neither in the foreword to the new edition of Strukturwandel der Öffentlichkeit (1990) nor in Habermas' recent contribution to a collection of essays dedicated to him, ought to be replaced with a less rigid, more functional concept which takes into account that both, government and opposition, were ready to acknowledge that public opinion had become an increasingly significant element of political life in its own right. The public sphere, where views and opinions vied with each other which were promulgated equally by government and opposition , was a kind of representative arena for interaction, where the 'political nation' , as it was more and more often called, was able to promote its own image and express itself as effectively and freely as nowhere else. The wooing of public opinion was - despite regular complaints - an expression of an understanding of politics shared by both sides, an understanding which had left all authoritarian posturing behind. 'Interaction' in this context means two things. As regards public debate, it indicates the contest between the two (or more) opposing political camps. But - and here the term is more appropriate than the purely receptive mirror-image metaphor - 'interaction' also signifies the process of influencing through public debate the decision-making authorities and Parliament, either before or after mapping out their intended course of action. The public sphere was regarded as a terrain where the political parties could measure their room for manoeuvre, where political muscles could be flexed, without the restrictions of the parliamentary arena but with clearly intended definite consequences for the latter. There were in fact instances in which the forces operating in the public sphere virtually goaded the political institutions into action. It is precisely this potential for persuasion and thereby for effecting policy changes which Capraro fails to notice when he describes the public even in George III's reign as "a readership which could participate vicariously in political life as political voyeurs" . In fact, the mobilization of public opinion, employed by government and opposition alike as a lever against their respective opponents, had a catalytic function for the expanding indirect involvement in the political process of ever larger sections of society. As early as the beginning of the eighteenth century leading politicians began to flatter the public. They deliberately appealed to public opinion in order to justify their actions; both government and opposition saw this as an opportunity to test the popularity of their views and actions. This vying for public support thus became a kind of barometer measuring the political mood at the grass roots. Given the intensity of the political debate during the War of the Spanish Succession, it is no exaggeration to describe the culture of public contention as the lifeblood of British politics. This culture, regarded with suspicion at times, even by experienced journalists , exerted growing pressure on the political class to justify their decisions, although officially the political Establishment, which was still sheltered by the traditional and familiar institutions of Court and Parliament, kept its distance from this phenomenon, which was still striving for general acceptance. In the England of Queen Anne all relevant forces in society had in some way already reconciled themselves - some more readily than others - to the fact that the cultivation of public opinion had become a viable instrument for increasing political participation, and we shall use the term 'public opinion' in this positive sense. It was under the spell of appealing to a public deemed competent to judge and worth any effort to influence it that the impressive amount of rhetorical ingenuity as documented in the political writings relating to war and peace was displayed.