Lectures on the Relation between Law & Public Opinion in England: During the Nineteenth Century

By A. V. Dicey | Go to book overview

LECTURE IV
THE THREE MAIN CURRENTS OF PUBLIC OPINION

THE nineteenth century falls into three periods, during each of which a different current or stream of opinion was predominant, and in the main governed the development of the law of England.


I. The Period of Old Toryism or Legislative Quiescence (1800-1830) 1

This was the era of Blackstonian optimism reinforced, as the century went on, by Eldonian toryism or reaction; it may be termed the period of legislative quiescence, or (in the language of censors) stagnation. Political or legislative changes were first checked by that pride in the English constitution, and intense satisfaction with things as they were, which was inherited from a preceding generation, and is best represented by the studied optimism of Blackstone; they were next arrested by that reaction against Jacobinism and revolutionary violence which is represented by the legislative timidity of Lord

____________________
1
See R. K. Wilson, Modern English Law, chap. iii., and Lect. V. post.

It is for our present purpose convenient to treat 1800, in accordance with popular phraseology, as belonging to the nineteenth century.

-62-

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