Rebels & Revolutions
A youth trying to choose a career in early nineteenth-century England or France found himself caught up in the most rapid and drastic changes that had yet occurred in the Western world. If he aspired to a vocation and not merely an occupation, his choice was particularly difficult.
For it was harder than ever to form intense attachments and loyalties under the new conditions set in motion by the economic, social, ideological, and political revolutions of the previous century -- conditions which altered the structure and texture of society and the way men conducted their lives and envisaged the world and themselves. Although people were aware that profound changes had taken place which made their times very different from previous ages and that, in fact, they lived in a new age, it was not easy to fathom all dimensions of the transformation. Writers who grew up during those years tried to schernatize the tensions and explosions of the century as opposing camps within society: Carlyle pictured the dandies and the drudges, Disraeli the "two nations" of rich and poor, Balzac the avaricious and the generous, Musset the enthusiastic and the quiescent, Tocqueville the conformist and the free.
In the early 1800s, a young man might hope to find at least enthusiasm through the battles of the Napoleonic wars and, if a Frenchman, to feel that he was directly engaged in creating a new world where libertarian ideals, spread by the Enlightenment and proclaimed by the great Revolution of 1789, might prevail. But the years after the wars brought fear and disillusionment to both countries. The English dreaded civil unrest among the new class of factory hands created by a mushrooming industry and the farmers dispossessed by land enclosures. In a defeated France, the Restoration of the Bourbons in 1814 afforded few meaningful channels of action for the first generation since the Revolution without a glorious cause to champion. Their elders mourned the