A Tour through England & Wales: Divided into Circuits or Journies - Vol. 1

A Tour through England & Wales: Divided into Circuits or Journies - Vol. 1

A Tour through England & Wales: Divided into Circuits or Journies - Vol. 1

A Tour through England & Wales: Divided into Circuits or Journies - Vol. 1

Excerpt

Between the civil commotions of the seventeenth century and the great changes, political and economic, of the eventful years after Watt's steam engine and the French and American Revolutions lies a tract of time, well known to students of politics and literature, but for the economic historian still largely uncharted and unexplored. Economic histories, until the last few years, have been apt to deal fully with the days of Queen Elizabeth and then, after a half-hearted sally into the seventeenth century, to take a deep breath and leap straight to the Industrial Revolution. The "antecedents " of that revolution are, indeed, described; and we axe told a good deal about the Mercantile System and the State's ways of regulating trade and commerce, and also a good deal about the so-called Domestic System in the textile industries. A famous passage from Defoe Tour, which I am seeking to introduce to the modern reader, is often quoted, and hardly less often misunderstood, when the Domestic System is being described. We are told of Cromwell's Navigation Act, and, very hazily, of Walpole's economic reforms. The East India Company and the newly created Bank of England loom large in the background. But the picture of economic and social England in the Augustan Age is left woefully incomplete and more than a little misleading even in the best of the text-books. In all of them, there is too much about Mercantilism and the Domestic System, and too little about the social and economic structure of the British community in this dawning time of the modern age.

Slowly, indeed, this defect is being put right. Historians who quarrel about the effects of the Industrial Revolution and its repercussions upon the working people are compelled to go back in search of evidence for the support of their several opinions. Mrs. George scholarly London Life in the Eighteenth Century has been used by partisans as a counterblast to the alleged radical romanticism of the picture painted by Mr. and Mrs. Hammond in their books on the period of . . .

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