Read e-book online A Liberal Descent: Victorian historians and the English past PDF

By J. W. Burrow

ISBN-10: 0521240794

ISBN-13: 9780521240796

The assumption of a 'Whig interpretation' of English background accommodates the 2 primary notions of growth and continuity. the previous made it attainable to learn English background as a 'success story', the latter recommended a practical, gradualist political kind because the beginning of English freedom. Dr Burrow's booklet discover those principles, and the tensions among them in reports of 4 significant Victorian historians: Macaulay, Stubbs, Freeman and (as whatever of an anti kind) Froude. It analyses their works by way of their rhetorical suggestiveness in addition to their specific arguments, and makes an attempt to put them of their cultural and historiographical context. In doing so, the ebook additionally seeks to set up the importance for the Victorians of 3 nice crises of English heritage - the Norman conquest, the reformation and the revolution of the 17th century - and the character and boundaries of the self-confidence they have been capable of derive from the nationwide prior. The e-book will curiosity scholars and academics engaged on nineteenth-century English heritage, literature or social and political concept, the background of rules, and criminal and constitutional background. it is going to even be of price to the final reader drawn to Victorian literature and cultural heritage.

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The essay on Hallam, and the 'Speeches on the Reform Bill', Works, v. viii. g. 'Horace Walpole' (1833), Works, vi, esp. pp. 19-28. Again a favourite theme. g. Trevelyan, Life, p. 344. Macaulay: progress and piety 39 The similarities, indeed the debts - particularly in the first chapter of Macaulay's History — to Hallam, are obvious enough. 13 Hallam's reverent gratitude for a heritage of constitutional freedom, reconciling liberty with order, was something Macaulay enthusiastically shared; Hallam would find no difficulty in admitting him to the communion rail.

For Macaulay on the latter, see Works, v. 158. Macaulay: progress and piety 43 needless to illustrate in detail his more general, more celebrated and celebratory remarks on progress. It is amusing, though, to find him even invoking his favourite concept to deal with a kink in the Whig genealogy. The disturbance caused to the Whig canon by the revelation of Algernon Sydney's dealings with France has already been mentioned. Some, like Millar and Fox, resolved to brazen it out. 31 To admit these imperfections and speak of the constitution in its full bloom as necessarily the work of time had become a standard feature of Whig historiography, but Macaulay is unusual in the emphasis and directness with which he amplifies this explanation with the concepts and diction of eighteenth-century 'sociological' history.

What was not accepted, as we have seen in Millar and Russell, was the neo-classical rhetoric of republican patriotism made fashionable by the French Revolution. 84 Phrygian caps and classical pseudonyms were not wanted at Westminster; the habit of clothing the statues of deceased statesmen - including Fox himself in togas descended from more urbanely Augustan notions of civic dignity and virtue. It was reassuring to return to the pieties of the Whig tradition, to Hampden, the Petition of Right and the Convention Parliament.

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