A Mad, Bad, and Dangerous People?: England 1783-1846 by Boyd Hilton

By Boyd Hilton

This was once a transformative interval in English historical past. In 1783 the rustic used to be at one of many lowest issues in its fortunes, having simply misplaced its American colonies in conflict. through 1846 it used to be extra a very good imperial country, in addition to the world's most powerful strength and dominant economic climate, having benefited from what has occasionally (if misleadingly) been referred to as the 'first business revolution'. meanwhile it survived a decade of invasion fears, and emerged triumphant from greater than 20 years of 'war to the demise' opposed to Napoleonic France. but when Britain's exterior fortunes have been within the ascendant, the location at domestic remained fraught with peril. The country's inhabitants was once turning out to be at a price no longer skilled through any similar former society, and its production cities specifically have been mushrooming into filthy, disease-ridden, gin-sodden hell-holes, in flip scary the phantasmagoria of a mad, undesirable, and hazardous humans. it really is no ask yourself that those years must have skilled the main lengthy interval of social unrest because the 17th century, or that the elite must have been in consistent worry of a French-style revolution in England. The governing periods replied to those new demanding situations and by means of the mid-nineteenth century the seeds of a settled two-party procedure and of a extra socially interventionist kingdom have been either in proof, even though it can were some distance too quickly to claim at that degree no matter if these seeds might take everlasting root. one other final result of those tensions used to be the highbrow engagement with society, as for instance within the Romantic stream, a literary phenomenon that introduced English tradition to the leading edge of ecu awareness for the 1st time. while the rustic skilled the nice non secular revival, loosely defined less than the heading 'evangelicalism'. Slowly yet definitely, the raffish and rakish variety of eighteenth-century society, having reached a height within the Regency, then succumbed to the recent norms of respectability popularly referred to as 'Victorianism'.

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In this context the word ‘pirate’ came to have publishing rather than maritime connotations. Thomas Tegg, who launched his business in 1826, more or less created a market in remainders, and was rivalled later by Henry Bohn. Meanwhile, the circulation of non-fiction (or ‘rational information’) was also increasing at an incredible rate. The Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, founded in the same year, charged just sixpence for a series of publications by an enterprising Whig sympathizer, Charles Knight.

Queen Charlotte Sophia from Germany was a cipher, but she enjoyed a favourable public image owing to her genuine concern for the poor. ) A more alluring advertisement was George’s favourite grandchild, the beautiful Charlotte Augusta, daughter of the Prince Regent and the only credible heir to the throne. Her death in childbirth in 1817 provoked nationwide grief. Buildings were draped in black, shops closed for a fortnight, the press pumped out lamentations, and poets versified ad lib, Byron dubbing her the ‘fair-hair’d Daughter of the Isles’ and the ‘love of millions’.

Anyway, by playing with variables of this sort, economic historians have constructed models to test any number of explanations for economic growth, including leading-sector analysis, forward and backward linkages, exogenous and endogenous stimuli, factor scarcities, and human capital formation. Unfortunately, many of their analyses have been too sophisticated for the flimsy statistics on which they are based, besides which such approaches hardly do justice to the haphazard and contingent nature of what actually happened.

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