By J. W. Burrow
The assumption of a 'Whig interpretation' of English historical past comprises the 2 basic notions of development and continuity. the previous made it attainable to learn English historical past as a 'success story', the latter recommended a realistic, gradualist political sort because the origin of English freedom. Dr Burrow's publication discover those principles, and the tensions among them in reports of 4 significant Victorian historians: Macaulay, Stubbs, Freeman and (as whatever of an anti variety) Froude. It analyses their works when it comes to their rhetorical suggestiveness in addition to their particular arguments, and makes an attempt to put them of their cultural and historiographical context. In doing so, the ebook additionally seeks to set up the importance for the Victorians of 3 nice crises of English historical past - the Norman conquest, the reformation and the revolution of the 17th century - and the character and boundaries of the self-confidence they have been in a position to derive from the nationwide earlier. The ebook will curiosity scholars and lecturers engaged on nineteenth-century English heritage, literature or social and political concept, the historical past of principles, and felony and constitutional historical past. it's going to even be of price to the final reader attracted to Victorian literature and cultural background.
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Additional info for A Liberal Descent: Victorian historians and the English past
Essentially, Macaulay's view of English history was a version of the Whig compromise considered in the last chapter. There was no stress on the constitution as ancient, that is, Saxon. On the contrary, its history is one of almost continuous improvement. It was in the thirteenth century that England became a nation, and from there that English history and with it English liberties take their origin. 8 But though not abrogated by a Tudor absolutism, the constitution was rude and ill-defined, imperfect and insecure.
M a c a u l a y , Works, i. 4 4 9 , 4 7 7 ; ii. 4 3 2 ; iv. ; v. ; vii. j6. Millar, iii. 1 1 2 - 2 4 .
Pocock, 'Burke a n d the Ancient Constitution', Politics, Language and Time Revision (1971). A heritage and its history 2 3 immediately striking in both the Scottish conception of progress and the Burkean notion of a political tradition creating itself through time is the repudiation of antiquarianism as the approved mode of political argument, though this implication is muted and sometimes obscured in the more Burkean lines of argument by the continuing respect for precedent. The characteristically Scottish conception of stages of the history of civil society, on the other hand, though it fostered classification and comparison, and even, as for example in the work of Adam Ferguson,46 provided the basis for a critique of modern commercial society, allowed, obviously, for no appeal to earlier 'stages' to determine questions of right.