Political Economy in Parliament, 1819-1823

Political Economy in Parliament, 1819-1823

Political Economy in Parliament, 1819-1823

Political Economy in Parliament, 1819-1823

Excerpt

Gone is that gold, the marvel of mankind,
And pirates barter all that's left behind.
No more the hirelings, purchased near and far,
Crowd to the ranks of mercenary war.
The idle merchant on the useless quay
Droops o'er the bales no bark may bear away;
Or, back returning, sees rejected stores
Rot piecemeal on his own encumber'd shores:
The starved mechanic breaks his rusting loom,
And desperate mans him 'gainst the coming doom.
Then in the senate of your sinking state
Show me the man whose counsels may have weight.

Lord Byron
The Curse of Minerva (1811)

This is a study of the interaction of economic doctrine, political practice and the train of events during difficult days for the British economy. The period was also a crucial one in the development of economic thought.

If one phrase could capture the reality of the times it would be 'silent revolution'. That phrase was on the lips of a number of the more perceptive contemporary observers and has occurred to a few modern historians. In truth, much of the original stuff of the later nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was fashioned at this juncture although, at first glance, the years concerned might be discounted as portion of a limbo extending from near the end of the turbulence of the immediate post-Napoleonic period to the first reform of parliament.

British society, wracked by tensions, was still struggling to find a new equilibrium after over twenty years of involvement in war. An unpopular, and sometimes reactionary, government was managing to cling to power with the aid of an ineffectual, almost diffident, opposition. At the same time, that government was beginning to effect a change in the nature of statutory social reform. One consequence of this was an alteration in the . . .

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