A Liberal Descent: Victorian historians and the English past by J. W. Burrow

By J. W. Burrow

The belief of a 'Whig interpretation' of English background comprises the 2 primary notions of growth and continuity. the previous made it attainable to learn English historical past as a 'success story', the latter recommended a realistic, gradualist political variety because the beginning of English freedom. Dr Burrow's ebook discover those rules, and the tensions among them in reports of 4 significant Victorian historians: Macaulay, Stubbs, Freeman and (as whatever of an anti style) Froude. It analyses their works by way of their rhetorical suggestiveness in addition to their particular 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 historical past - 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 ebook will curiosity scholars and academics engaged on nineteenth-century English heritage, literature or social and political concept, the background of principles, and criminal and constitutional heritage. it is going to even be of worth to the overall reader attracted to Victorian literature and cultural background.

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Extra resources for A Liberal Descent: Victorian historians and the English past

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For both, to be English was to belong to a people privileged in its history and worthy of its privilege. The chief point on which Macaulay takes issue with Hallam in his review of the latter's History is his unsympathetic treatment of the more radical and undeniably innovative measures of the Long Parliament in 1642, in particular the proposal to assume control of the militia, and the Nineteen Propositions. Hallam's sympathies were with Clarendon and the Parliamentarians who changed sides at that point; Macaulay's were resolutely with the Parliamentary leaders.

Russell's 'sociology' in fact derives much more from the older Machiavellian71 theories of the civic humanist tradition than from the distinctively Scottish notion of social and economic stages, though this is a line of thought also perceptible in Millar. For both Millar and Russell the initial problem is the difference between ancient and modern liberty. The former belonged essentially to the city state, and was lost when conquests brought an extended dominion and eroded military vigour and public spirit.

The Reigns of James I and Charles I, ed. Duncan Forbes (Penguin edn 1970), p. 134. , p. 418. 62 Hallam, View, iii. 155-8. 63 Fox, op. , pp. ix-x. Trevelyan, Life, p. 522 A heritage and its history 2 7 Hume's position is initially similar to that of the early eighteenth-century Whig apologists for Walpole, in that it incorporates a conception of progress and holds liberty to be on the whole modern rather than ancient. Of course Hume's version was far subtler, having nothing of that stark political Manichaeanism which Walpole's pamphleteers had perforce taken over from Bolingbroke and the Country Party polemics when standing their arguments on their head.

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