Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-768ffcd9cc-96qlp Total loading time: 0.38 Render date: 2022-12-03T06:15:01.438Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": false } hasContentIssue true

9 - Poetry, peripheries and empire

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 November 2008

Maureen N. McLane
Affiliation:
Harvard University, Massachusetts
James Chandler
Affiliation:
University of Chicago
Get access

Summary

In 1768, when Captain James Cook set sail for Tahiti, Britain had only recently wrested control of Quebec from France. It still ruled its American colonies from London. Spain was still the imperial power in Mexico, California, and “Louisiana” - a vast area of which nobody knew the limits, for parts of America's northwest coast were still uncharted. Britons knew still less of Africa, and were second to the Dutch in the exploration of South East Asia.

By 1833 the picture had changed vastly: Britain had lost its first American empire and, after fifty years of intense exploration and conquest, acquired a new one. It had colonized Australia, spread its missionaries to Polynesia, and planted its manufacturers in South America. It had penetrated Africa, and charted much of the Polar seas and America's west coast. It had crossed Canada, taken possession of India, occupied Burma and founded Singapore. Unrivalled on the seas, it was the most powerful empire in Europe and its explorers were national heroes.

Global power changed culture at home and these changes helped precipitate Romanticism. From the 1780s, London became a city of shows, teeming with the products of empire. As a Russian visitor remarked, it was like a “continuous fair”; its shops offered spectacular displays of “absolutely everything one can think of.” Oriental muslins, Chinese porcelain, Javanese furniture, even caymans and leopards could be viewed, handled, and purchased. And many Britons, rich from the profits of colonial crops, including coffee, indigo, sugar, and, increasingly as empire in India was extended, opium, could afford to cultivate a taste for the exotic.

Type
Chapter
Information
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2008

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)
1
Cited by

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×