It is hardly an accident that the first history of the Renaissance ...
It is hardly an accident that the first history of the Renaissance came from Liverpool and that the most conspicuous memorial of the Utilitarianís is a History of Greece. Across the ages, the modern Englishman recognized his peers.
But we must be careful if we are to keep the picture true, not to view the early Victorian age of production through that distorting medium, the late Victorian age of finance.
Science touched the imagination by its tangible results. It was immersed in matter, and it conformed directly to the Augustan canon of historic progress by its immediate contribution to the 'order, regularity, and refinement of life'. Romance and the Revolution bred ideas of human
purpose which only slowly permeatedthe English mind.
Even in 1830-far more powerfully in 1840-they were beginning to work. But the common intelligence was still dominated by the solid humanism of the Augustans, to which the Eighteenth Proposition of Oxford Liberalism would have seemed a self-evident truth: Virtue is the child of Knowledge: Vice of Ignorance: therefore education, periodical literature, railway travelling, ventilation, and the arts of life, when fully carried out, serve to make a population moral and happy.' As explained, for example, by an Irish judge in 1798. 'Society consists of noblemen, baronets, knights, esquires, gentlemen, yeomen, tradesmen and artificers.' The jury found that, as the subject had ceased to be a breeches maker without becoming a gentleman, he must be a yeoman for who there were separate doors in the Birmingham taverns....next page >>