A Mad, Bad, and Dangerous People?: England 1783-1846 [NOOK Book]


In a period scarred by apprehensions of revolution, war, invasion, poverty, and disease, elite members of society lived in constant fear of what they thought of as the 'mad, bad, and dangerous people'. Boyd Hilton examines the changes in politics and society in the years 1783-1846, and how the raffish and rakish style of eighteenth-century society, having reached a peak in the Regency, then succumbed to the new norms of respectability popularly known as 'Victorianism'. - ;This was a transformative period in ...
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A Mad, Bad, and Dangerous People?: England 1783-1846

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In a period scarred by apprehensions of revolution, war, invasion, poverty, and disease, elite members of society lived in constant fear of what they thought of as the 'mad, bad, and dangerous people'. Boyd Hilton examines the changes in politics and society in the years 1783-1846, and how the raffish and rakish style of eighteenth-century society, having reached a peak in the Regency, then succumbed to the new norms of respectability popularly known as 'Victorianism'. - ;This was a transformative period in English history. In 1783 the country was at one of the lowest points in its fortunes, having just lost its American colonies in warfare. By 1846 it was once more a great imperial nation, as well as the world's strongest power and dominant economy, having benefited from what has sometimes (if misleadingly) been called the 'first industrial revolution'. In the meantime it survived a decade of invasion fears, and emerged victorious from more than
twenty years of 'war to the death' against Napoleonic France. But if Britain's external fortunes were in the ascendant, the situation at home remained fraught with peril. The country's population was growing at a rate not experienced by any comparable former society, and its manufacturing towns
especially were mushrooming into filthy, disease-ridden, gin-sodden hell-holes, in turn provoking the phantasmagoria of a mad, bad, and dangerous people. It is no wonder that these years should have experienced the most prolonged period of social unrest since the seventeenth century, or that the elite should have been in constant fear of a French-style revolution in England.

The governing classes responded to these new challenges and by the mid-nineteenth century the seeds of a settled two-party system and of a more socially interventionist state were both in evidence, though it would have been far too soon to say at that stage whether those seeds would take permanent root. Another consequence of these tensions was the intellectual engagement with society, as for example in the Romantic Movement, a literary phenomenon that brought English culture to the forefront
of European attention for the first time. At the same time the country experienced the great religious revival, loosely described under the heading 'evangelicalism'. Slowly but surely, the raffish and rakish style of eighteenth-century society, having reached a peak in the Regency, then succumbed to
the new norms of respectability popularly known as 'Victorianism'. - ;A scrupulously complete analysis of political and social change. - Charles Saumarez Smith, The Sunday Telegraph;History writing at its most compelling. - Adam Phillips, The Observer;The range, richness and complexity of Boyd Hilton's text are impossible to convey in summary, and hard fully to appreciate in a single reading. A mastery of the voluminous literature is complimented by an acquaintance with the sources which produce a wealth of illuminating quotation to catch the tones and inflections of the age...The analysis it offers, and the proportions and emphases which it adopts, will galvanize debate for years to come, and make it a contribution to history
such as a safer survey, less ambitious in design, enterprising in argument, and integrative in technique, could not be. - Paul Smith, The Times Literary Supplement;The main narrative is interspersed with fascinating essays on science, religion, art, architecture and literature - a generous helping for the many people who will read this book for pleasure rather than profit. - Ben Wilson, The Spectator;Boyd Hilton has produced a tour de force that will stimulate interest in and guide understanding of the period for years to come. - Peter Borsay, BBC History Magazine;A lively and wide-ranging study...[a] comprehensive, intriguing and challenging volume that has proved well worth the wait. - Tristram Hunt, New Statesman;This book, like its companion volumes, takes for its subject English society as a whole, and the Byronic nudge of the title, as well as promising entertainment, is meant to alert us to the idea that the years before the Victorian Reform Acts were ones of violence, apprehension and 18th century debauchery. - David Horspool, The Guardian
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Faced with an impossible task, Hilton's A Mad, Bad, and Dangerous People?--immensely erudite, capacious yet with a distinctive voice, and written with considerable panache--is as outstanding contribution to a series whose approach to history...."--he New York Review of Books

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780191606823
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 2/16/2006
  • Series: New Oxford History of England
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: ePub
  • File size: 11 MB
  • Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

Meet the Author

Boyd Hilton is Reader in Modern British History the University of Cambridge and has been a Fellow of Trinity College since 1974. He has served as Senior Tutor, Dean, and Steward of the College.

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Table of Contents

List of Plates     xviii
List of Figures and Maps     xx
List of Tables     xxi
Abbreviations     xxiii
England 1783-1846: A Preview     1
The Economy: Crisis and Survival     2
An Old or New Regime?     24
The Politics of Theatre and the Theatre of Politics     31
Politics in the Time of Pitt and Fox, 1783-1807     39
The Launching of Pitt and the Destruction of Fox     41
Party Government or Broad Bottom?     47
The French Revolution and Political Realignment     57
'Pitt's Terror'     65
Irish Problems     74
French Wars     82
The Fall of Pitt     91
Peace and War     98
Pittism and Plutocracy: The Social and Psychological Foundations     110
Court Whigs, Country Whigs, and the Conservative Reaction     110
Virtuous Economics     113
A New Vision of Government     119
Class Distinctions and Rentier Capitalism     124
The Late Hanoverian Aristocracy: Domination or Accommodation?     133
Commerce and the Quasi-Professions     141
Business Classes     152
Producers and Dealers: The Makings of aLesser-Middle Class?     156
Civic Cultures: A Literary and Philosophical People     162
The Evangelical Revival     174
Slavery and National Mission: The Politics of Virtue     184
The Politics of Pittism: Rhetoric and Reality     188
Politics in the Time of Liverpool and Canning, 1807-1827     195
The Development of Two-Party Politics?     195
The Narrative Resumed: All-Out Warfare     210
Liberation and Liberalism     223
Victory, the Second Empire, and a Mistaken Case of National Identity     235
'A Malady of Peace': The Foundations of Monetary Policy     251
Rethinking the Corn Laws     264
The Squires' Revolt     268
'Never a Controversial Cabinet': Lord Liverpool's System of Politics     274
The Reshuffle of 1821-1823 and the Origins of Cabinet Government     280
Divided Cabinets: Foreign and Economic Policies     286
Ruling Ideologies     309
'A Love of System'     309
Liberal Toryism versus High Toryism     314
Utilitarianism     328
Natural Theology in a Fallen World     332
The Paradoxes of Political Economy     342
Philosophic Whiggism     346
The Status of Women and Ideas about Gender     353
The Crisis of the Old Order, 1827-1832     372
Coalition and the Canningite Flame     372
The Goderich File     376
The First Blow: Test and Corporation Act Repeal     379
The Second Blow: Catholic Emancipation     384
The Emancipation of Peel     391
Money and the Millennium     397
Ultra Tory Backlash     406
The Fall of the Pittite Regime     411
The Struggle for Reform     420
A Middle-Class Bill, or a case of Landed Reaction?     429
The Status of the Borough Freeholders     437
Split Voting, Straight Voting, and Plumping     437
Contesting Mechanical Philosophy     439
The Evolutionary Moment: The Scientific Threat to Belief     441
From Romantic Science to Peelite Compromise     454
From Unitarianism to Liberal Anglicanism     460
The Oxford Movement     468
The Middle Ages, the 'Olden Time', and Ideas of Nation     475
From Romanticism to Socialism     487
Politics in the Time of Melbourne and Peel, 1833-1846     493
From Reform to Repeal: The Narrative Resumed     493
The Analysis Resumed: Party Politics without Parties     513
The Politics of Militant Dissent     524
Clouds in the West     538
Towards Free Trade: 'Mighty Athlete' or 'Wounded Giant'?     543
Towards the Pax Britannica     558
Imperial Onset     565
The Condition and Reconditioning of England     573
Social Crisis     573
The Origins of Social Policy     588
'System, Method, Science, Economy': Defining the Liberal State     599
Chartism     612
Class and Community     622
Mad Metropolis     625
Afterwards: 'There are no Barbarians any Longer'     628
Chronology     639
Bibliography     664
Index     725
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