The Age of the Chartists, 1832-1854: A Study of Discontent

The Age of the Chartists, 1832-1854: A Study of Discontent

The Age of the Chartists, 1832-1854: A Study of Discontent

The Age of the Chartists, 1832-1854: A Study of Discontent

Excerpt

In two earlier works, The Town Labourer and The Skilled Labourer, the writers made a study of the life of those parts of England that were affected most directly by the first Industrial Revolution. Those books ended at 1832. The Age of the Chartists treats the social life of the same districts for the period between the passing of the Reform Bill and the outbreak of the Crimean War. The title might suggest a wider scope, for the Chartist movement was not, of course, confined to the North and the Midlands, or indeed to England. But this book is not, in any sense, a history of the Chartist movement. That movement, so long neglected by historians, has been treated in three excellent books, all published in the last twenty years; one by a French writer, M. Édouard Dolléans, the others by young English writers, Mr. Mark Hovell and Mr. Julius West, whose early deaths were a calamity to English scholarship. In this book the writers are attempting to describe the society that was brought to life by the great changes of the time; the spirit of that society; the first efforts to regulate its life, and the discontent that distinguished this phase of English history. If the same period were discussed with special reference to the ideas that guided its constructive efforts, it might be called the Age of Bentham; if with special reference to the liberal and sanguine outlook of the time, the Age of Cobden; if, again, with special reference to the dominating figure in its politics, the Age of Peel. But if it is examined with special reference to the unrest of the time, and the relation of that unrest to the life of this new society, it is convenient to take the name that symbolises that unrest. The title has therefore been chosen because it calls attention to this dis-

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