Counterfactual Sentence of the Day: From Joseph Edgar Chamberlin's Book, "The Ifs of History" (1907)

As you all may have noticed, I'm trying to be more attentive to my blog after quite a while on sporadic hiatus.

My book probably won't be finished for another 2 years (sigh), but I'd like to keep the blog active in preparation for the book's eventual appearance.

I realized the importance of maintaining the blog not too long ago when I googled "counterfactual history" and The Counterfactual Review only appeared on the third page of hits.  What???  Once upon a time, when I was blogging a ton, the blog usually appeared as the second or third hit on the first page.  

It was then that I realized that letting the blog go pretty dormant was bad for the objective "reality" of its existence.  (Kinda like a tree in the forest that falls but makes no sound).

So in the interest of boosting the blog's web presence, I thought I'd introduce some new semi-frequent features.

One is the "counterfactual sentence of the day." 

I've seen some really striking formulations in the course of my research -- of sentences that invoke wildly extravagant language (usually in 19th century texts) that cannot but help but catch the eye of contemporary readers.  

Today's sentence comes to us courtesy of Joseph Edgar Chamberlin, in his pioneering anthology, The Ifs of History (1907):

In an essay on the question of Queen Elizabeth potentially having a son, Chamberlin pointed out how an heir would have prevented the Stuarts coming to power in the early 1600s.  But, in a classic paradox, he added that the chaos caused by Stuart rule actually proved beneficial for English history.

As he wrote:

"Without [King] James's mingled it, Puritanism would [not] have had its spasm of ascendency [and] English history would have been spared an epoch of chaos,... wild experimentation, [and] political empirics."


Apparently "poltroonery" dates back to 1590 and means "cowardice," as in "the poltroonery of those politicians who caved into pressure from the special interests."

Who knew?

I now have a new vocabulary word to describe Trump-supporters.