politics. While the affect of the heterodox free-liver would change markedly from 1700 to the 1790s - in the process move away from the rough masculinity of the rake and the showmanship of the courtier - nevertheless the free-living, freethinking radical came into being several decades before the more extreme Romantics like Lord Byron made him, or her, famous. Early in the century, Toland's circle, particularly his continental associations with the coterie around Eugene of Savoy, had the scent of the libertine, the heterodox, and the republican about it;27 in the 1760s, there was Wilkes and his cronies, and then in the 1790s we have the life of Mary Wollstonecraft. She combined free-living, republicanism and her version of deism; by the children she bore out of wedlock, she managed to shock even upstanding republicans.
Various prominent British families provide examples of the new secularism to be found after 1750. The Watts of steam engine fame came from good commercial and Scottish stock who were the soul of respectability. By the 1790s, they were also immensely wealthy and famous. In the letters from family members, mother to son, husband to wife, brother to brother, there is barely a mention of the deity, not a prayer or invocation. Watt Sr. thought of funeral services as 'a ceremony which can be of no avail to the deceased, nor even to the survivor'.28 Even in bereavement he did not mention God; indeed the word seems barely a part of his vocabulary. Watt's will of 1819 left not a shilling to church or chapel.29 A similar set of lacunae appear in the letters of the famous industrialist Strutt and his family in Derbyshire. They were also involved in the circle of Erasmus Darwin who, of course, knew the Watts and Priestley. Darwin's pantheistic materialism and his free-living are well known, as is the radicalism of his own Derbyshire Philosophical Society during the 1790s. As members of the Society the Strutts evince no interest in the deity, churches, chapels, or clergymen. A letter of condolence from Elizabeth Darwin to William Strutt in 1804 never mentioned God or providence, and there was little to suggest that Strutt would have found that odd. When the radical Irish poet Thomas Moore visited the family in 1814 he found them 'true Jacobins'.30
In the second half of the eighteenth century in France and the Netherlands a similar process of secularization has been observed. Wills by both men and women begin to show fewer requests for Masses to be said for the repose of the soul. People of eighteenth-century France had begun to see 'death not as a mystery but as a fact'.31 The number of men seeking ordination to the priesthood dropped markedly, and where once in the provinces men flocked to the confraternities, now they joined masonic lodges. In the Low Countries a similar trend appears. In the southern Netherlands where the Catholic clergy had ruled with a heavy hand, by the 1770s freemasonry is visible in almost
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