Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A master on the subject he knows best5 Jun. 2007
- Published on Amazon.com
J.H. Plumb is a master historian who writes here a general introduction to the period he knows best , England in the 18th century. The book is divided into three parts, the first the Age of Walpole, the second The Age of Chatham, and the third the Age of Pitt. Plumb discusses the general social and economic background of the period, and provides real insight into its moving spirits, and their tone. He favorably cites DeFoe on the importance of Trade for England. And he gives a real sense of the dynamism of England in this time. He discusses the various economic players from the merchant princes to the simple landless agricultural workers. He provides an interesting picture of the way England looked and worked at the time, from the pot- holed broken roads to the rapidly expanding water- routes which facilitated trade. He writes of the great agricultural estates, the movement towards enclosure of the land, the hard fate of the peasants and lower classes in general. The energy of the Age in expansion of literacy and means of communication, the hunger for knowledge are also part of the picture. The technical innovations which were often sought out beforehand to solve a problem, and which in some way improved life are also written about. The craftsman and the artisans were ' the bridge of life'between rich and poor. Plumb also writes about the British relations to Ireland and India, about their foreign policy and the vast expansion of the Empire through War. He concludes with a look at the complicated and difficult situation Britain is in at the end of this remarkable period of its development.
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
The Ages of Walpole, Chatham, and Pitt3 Jun. 2008
Mary E. Sibley
- Published on Amazon.com
The book has three parts-- the Ages of Walpole, 1714-1742, of Chatham, 1742-1784, and Pitt, 1784-1815, the prime ministers. Bishops became politicians. Clerical life attracted the younger sons of the nobility, the gentry.
Walpole was energetic. He sought power. His temperament and will were suited to the office of Prime Minister. Walpole reorganized the customs system. By 1726 England was more or less at war with Spain. In 1729 he made the Treaty of Seville with Spain. In 1737 Queen Caroline died. For ten years she had been Walpole's most loyal ally. Walpole resigned in 1742 and was dead three years later. Under Walpole there had been rapid expansion of British trade. Early industrialists were supported by a canal system.
In the Age of Chatham there was rapid change in agriculture. There were social consequences to the industrial revolution. There was a problem with rural poverty. In the towns there were commissions to carry out governmental and social functions. London and provincial towns were clean and orderly. Factories and mines hired children as workers. They didn't have that ingrained antipathy to factory work. The factory system spread slowly. Craft and the old domestic system survived.
Wesley's parents were Tories. Methodism was for the poor. Brutality of life, a constant sense of death, was an inner tragedy providing the emotional core of Methodism. It gave its adherents emotional release and a sense of purpose.
Priestly and Cavendish dominated the scientific world of the 18th century, Reynolds the artistic world, and Dr. Johnson the literary world. Priestly isolated oxygen. He discovered the Law of Inverse Squares.
Pitt entered the government in 1746. He had great gifts, a manic-depressive functioning as the mouthpiece of destiny. John Wilkes and George III clashed. The American Revolutionary War was a war of incompetence on both sides. By the time of Cornwallis's surrender in 1781, Britain's situation was desperate.
In the intensification of the industrial revolution, roads, ships, and ports imporved. Population grew. Wealth was not diffused. Most people remained in the position of the laboring poor. Rural poverty was more widespread than urban poverty. William Pitt was one of the greatest peace ministers. By 1815, after battling Napoleon for twenty years, Britian verged on bankruptcy and social revolution.
This compact history constitutes a succinct treatment of British progress.