By J. W. Burrow
The assumption of a 'Whig interpretation' of English historical past accommodates the 2 primary notions of development and continuity. the previous made it attainable to learn English historical past as a 'success story', the latter recommended a practical, gradualist political variety because the beginning of English freedom. Dr Burrow's booklet discover those principles, and the tensions among them in stories of 4 significant Victorian historians: Macaulay, Stubbs, Freeman and (as anything of an anti style) 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 publication 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 previous. The booklet will curiosity scholars and lecturers engaged on nineteenth-century English background, literature or social and political suggestion, the background of rules, and criminal and constitutional background. it's going to even be of price to the overall reader drawn to Victorian literature and cultural historical past.
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Extra info for A Liberal Descent: Victorian historians and the English past
Millar is certainly even more overtly cosmopolitan than Hume; comparison is a constant preoccupation with him in his history, as one might expect from the author of the 'sociological' Origin of the Distinction of Ranks. Millar was the heir of that whole characteristic and impressive late eighteenthcentury Scottish enterprise, the reconstruction and explanation of the History of Civil Society through a typology of 'stages'. He is clearly heavily indebted not only to Hume but to Adam Smith. 69 Similarly, if one turns to Brodie, it is not hard to relate his intentions, at least, to the Scottish tradition; he has a conception of social and economic history rare at the time in England, and clearly derivative from an eighteenth-century conception of 'civil society'.
It is for that reason that Magna Carta is so important to him; it is the first 'national' event; it is for the same reason that he dwells proudly on the absence of legal distinction between gentry and freemen. It was a contention which, in the agitation for extensions of the franchise - to which Hallam refers in the conclusion to his History - could have a useful duality, enjoining mutual trust on both haves and havenots. English liberty was unique but also capacious; the message of Hallam's History is a justified sense of shared privilege.
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 both, to be English was to belong to a people privileged in its history and worthy of its privilege.
A Liberal Descent: Victorian historians and the English past by J. W. Burrow