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patriots. The name was appropriated by the opponents to Walpole since it implied that the interests of the nation were neglected by a supine and corrupt government. William Pitt, in particular, beat the patriotic drum when he inveighed against Britain's subservience to Hanover, a ‘despicable electorate’. Ministers, in reply, were scornful of patriotic rhetoric: ‘it is but refusing to gratify an unreasonable or insolent demand,’ declared Walpole, ‘and up starts a patriot.’ The phrase was so overworked that it became pejorative, indicating factious and self-seeking opposition—hence Johnson's famous (and much misunderstood) remark in 1775, ‘Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.’

J. A. Cannon

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