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 .
To save content items to your Kindle, first ensure firstname.lastname@example.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.
This chapter explores the high hopes for Irish commerce that were aroused by the American Revolution, and their complex interactions with British attempts to reform and consolidate the remnants of its mercantile empire following its American debacle. Irish campaigns for ‘free trade’ and ‘legislative independence’ were animated by the hope that the liberation of the Kingdom’s foreign trade would enable it to chart its own course in a more peaceful Europe. This vision clashed fundamentally with a rival, British reform agenda, embodied in William Pitt the Younger’s unsuccessful Irish Commercial Propositions of 1785, which balanced an extension of imperial trading privileges to Ireland with its closer integration into the British market. The rejection of Pitt’s proposals by the Irish parliament, after their heavy modification by British slaving and manufacturing interests, produced an unstable equilibrium, dominated by patronage and executive power, that was ripe for criticism by the more radical forces that would take up the fallen mantle of Irish ‘patriotism’ in the 1790s.
This chapter identifies the emergence of an Enlightenment critique of empire in Ireland. This laid the intellectual foundations for the Union of 1801 by connecting the exclusion of the Irish Kingdom from free participation in imperial and European trade with the exclusion of its Catholic subjects, under the terms of the ‘Penal Laws’, from the benefits of property and political representation. For thinkers such as Josiah Tucker and David Hume, the suppression of Irish commerce was striking evidence of how British policy carried ‘jealousy of trade’ to extremes that jeopardised the security of the empire. For Charles O’Connor, Edmund Burke, Arthur Young, and Adam Smith, meanwhile, the Penal Laws had ruined Ireland’s prospects for ‘improvement’ by alienating the Irish majority from property and the state. It was Smith who linked these two problematics together, creating a new kind of argument for a parliamentary union between Britain and Ireland.
Arguments for the 1801 Union of the British and Irish parliaments drew on the intellectual resources of the later British Enlightenment to implement a new system of economic and political regulation of Irish society. Proponents of Union articulated a renewed belief in the ability of commercial integration with Britain to act as a solvent to the confessional and ethnic tensions laid bare by the United Irish rising and attempted French invasions of 1796-8. The 'diffusion' of British capital to Ireland would give Ireland’s shattered Anglican aristocracy the opportunity to re-establish its political legitimacy, while forcing them to share power with a rising Catholic mercantile and professional class. The case for Union was interpreted in a broad European context of state competition and reform. The leading continental defender of British policy, the Prussian diplomat and publicist Friedrich von Gentz, hailed the legislative unification of the British Empire as a model for a necessary consolidation of the European states-system in the wake of French revolutionary violence.
This first comprehensive account of the utilitarians' historical thought intellectually resituates their conceptions of philosophy and politics, at a time when the past acquired new significances as both a means and object of study. Drawing on published and unpublished writings - and set against the intellectual backdrops of Scottish philosophical history, German and French historicism, romanticism, positivism, and the rise of social science and scientific history - Callum Barrell recovers the depth with which Jeremy Bentham, James Mill, George Grote, and John Stuart Mill thought about history as a site of philosophy and politics. He argues that the utilitarians, contrary to their reputations as ahistorical and even antihistorical thinkers, developed complex frameworks in which to learn from and negotiate the past, inviting us to rethink the foundations of their ideas, as well as their place in - and relationship to - nineteenth-century philosophy and political thought.
Chapter 2 introduces selections from Aristotle, Polybius, William Blackstone, and Edmund Burke, and lays out the basic tenets of classical republicanism. By focusing on the “res-publica”, the common good, republicanism embraces a corporatist and organic vision of both the people and the state. The political community is envisioned as a human body, suggesting that the body politic grows naturally; each organ or member contributes a different task and the health of the whole depends on the well-being of each member. Moreover, republican theorists suggest the need to adapt political institutions to the character and changing circumstances of the people. Selections from Aristotle focus on the organic origin of the political community and on the mixed regime. Polybius introduces the idea of checks-and-balances and the importance of religious beliefs for the stability of the political order. Blackstone and Burke tried to accommodate some of the new liberal ideas in their theoretical framework, attempting to reconcile theoretically opposed visions—an approach that would prove particularly popular during the American founding.
In the mid-nineteenth century, Frederick Douglass changed his opinion on the proslavery character of the U.S. Constitution. Most scholarship seeks to locate the core of Douglass’s politics in the critical patriotism of his post-change of opinion oratorical and literary output. However, if we keep the occasion for Douglass’s change of opinion firmly in view, that is, his critical engagement with the question of the pro- or antislavery character of the Constitution, there is a possibility not only of appreciating an experience of crucial significance to the development of his politics, but also of relocating the core of his politics in an ongoing ambivalence about the “moral power” of the United States. This chapter situates Douglass as a political thinker participating in a transatlantic paradigm shift in the rhetoric of sociopolitical change, a shift that gave rise to a new modern dilemma as to which form of change, reform or revolution, best suited one’s problem-solving needs.
Seamus Deane was one of the most vital and versatile authors of our time. Small World presents an unmatched survey of Irish writing, and of writing about Irish issues, from 1798 to the present day. Elegant, polemical, and incisive, it addresses the political, aesthetic, and cultural dimensions of several notable literary and historical moments, and monuments, from the island's past and present. The style of Swift; the continuing influence of Edmund Burke's political thought in the USA; the echoing debates about national character; aspects of Joyce's and of Elizabeth Bowen's relation to modernism; memories of Seamus Heaney; analysis of the representation of Northern Ireland in Anna Burns's fiction – these topics constitute only a partial list of the themes addressed by a volume that should be mandatory reading for all those who care about Ireland and its history. The writings included here, from one of Irish literature's most renowned critics, have individually had a piercing impact, but they are now collectively amplified by being gathered together here for the first time between one set of covers. Small World: Ireland, 1798–2018 is an indispensable collection from one of the most important voices in Irish literature and culture.
This chapter focuses on the fortunes of Burke’s party engagements and his views on party in the decades after the Present Discontents (1770). America, India, and especially the French Revolution are treated insofar as they are related to party. The American Crisis gave coherence to both government and opposition, and because they had repealed the Stamp Act, the Rockingham Whigs could pose as the real friends of America. Following the French Revolution, however, Burke split dramatically with Charles James Fox, who had emerged as party leader after the death of Burke’s master Rockingham in 1782. In his Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs (1791), Burke contended that he had not abandoned his party’s principles and that it was the Foxite Whigs who had morphed into a new party. The chapter demonstrates, however, that while Burke believed that the French Revolution rendered old party battles largely irrelevant, he had not lost his confidence in the idea of party as such.
This chapter is partly contextual, considering the political changes ushered in by the unexpected death of Henry Pelham in 1754, and partly textual, as it deals with Hume’s last essay on party (‘Of the Coalition of Parties’, 1758) and Edmund Burke’s first, unpublished essay on party (1757). Both essays were commentaries on high politics at the beginning of the Seven Years’ War, as well as wider reflections on the meaning of partisanship and its problems for historical writing, the place of party in a constitutional system, and, in the case of Burke, the distinction between party and faction.
This chapter considers Burke’s most famous text in defence of party: Thoughts on the Cause of Present Discontent (1770). With political life having been essentially purged of Jacobitism, an unapologetic case for party was now possible. This party, posing as the Whig party, viewed itself as the protector of Britain’s Revolution Settlement and its mixed and balanced constitution in opposition to what was perceived as a revived Toryism supporting George III and his favourite Bute’s ‘court system’. Burke viewed men and measures as interlinked and believed that a party had to seek office and negotiate with the monarch as a corps. This was diametrically opposed to the earlier ‘not men, but measures’ slogan at the heart of John Brown’s writings and the Pittite patriot platform.
In the 1760s, an alternative vision of party emerged: Edmund Burke’s party of principle. This chapter considers the formation of Burke’s party, the Rockingham Whigs, in the context of George III’s accession to the throne and the conclusion of the Seven Years’ War. Burke’s close friend and writing collaborator William Burke introduced him to the circle of the Marquess of Rockingham, and when Rockingham took office as First Lord of the Treasury in July 1765, Burke became his private secretary. At the end of that year, Burke was elected as MP for Wendover and in the following years he emerged as the leading publicist of the Rockingham Whigs. This chapter considers Burke’s early writings in service of his party, especially his understudied Observations on a Late State of the Nation (1769).
Political parties are taken for granted today, but how was the idea of party viewed in the eighteenth century, when core components of modern, representative politics were trialled? From Bolingbroke to Burke, political thinkers regarded party as a fundamental concept of politics, especially in the parliamentary system of Great Britain. The paradox of party was best formulated by David Hume: while parties often threatened the total dissolution of the government, they were also the source of life and vigour in modern politics. In the eighteenth century, party was usually understood as a set of flexible and evolving principles, associated with names and traditions, which categorised and managed political actors, voters, and commentators. Max Skjönsberg thus demonstrates that the idea of party as ideological unity is not purely a nineteenth- or twentieth-century phenomenon but can be traced to the eighteenth century.
The second chapter considers the use of chivalric romance tropes in Life and Adventures of Joseph Emin, an Armenian. Written in English by himself (1792). In Emin’s letters to his Bluestocking patronesses Elizabeth Montagu, Elizabeth Carter, and Catherine Talbot, he plays a humble knight errant or “Persian Slave” as a strategy to master British politeness. In doing so, he befriends patrons such as George Lyttleton, Edmund Burke, and William Augustus Duke of Cumberland, the youngest son of King George II and commander of a German army Emin had joined in 1757. His epistolary interaction with the Bluestockings who coproduced his romantic fantasies allows him to identify Persian-Islamic notions of chivalry with British liberty. His memoir records ironic episodes in which he affiliates with brotherly Muslim warriors during his Islamophobic quest to liberate his people in the Caucasus from Ottoman and Persian despots. Such affinities render him a patriotic English gentleman while his lady friends expand their civic roles by adopting cosmopolitan identities, an exchange that compensates for a British manhood scarred by military failures during the Seven Years’ War.
The eighteenth century saw a change in British readers’ sense of their place in the world. In the first half of the century, England – and later Britain – tended to imagine itself as the vulnerable but freedom-loving object of historical and contemporary global empires, engendering early Gothic images of tyrannical violence and ghostly resistance. However, the last decades of the century brought home news of war in America, the conquests of the East India Company and the vast horrors of the transatlantic slave trade. Britons were forced to begin to confront their own resemblance to the imperial tyrants against whom they had previously defined themselves. The Gothic became a means of articulating and managing the shock of this resemblance. In a wide range of genres, from stage pantomimes and Oriental novels to political speeches and abolitionist tracts, familiar discourses of Gothic oppression were combined with images and narratives of global cultural difference and colonial violence. Whether written overtly to promote or to oppose imperial expansion, these texts often diverted feelings of disquiet about the British empire onto its victims around the world.
Chapter 1 gives the historical context for Burke’s commentary on political economy. I first provide a sketch of Burke’s biography, with particular stress on the events and activities in his life that related to questions of commerce, property, and markets. For instance, I discuss Burke’s early interest in political economy as a member of his college debating club; and I explain how his activities as a farmer on his landed estate informed his views on the British agricultural economy. This chapter also marshals evidence showing that Burke earned a strong reputation in public and private life as an authoritative thinker on commercial policy, indicating that we should study his economic thought with heightened seriousness.
I conclude that Burke was one of the most prominent advocates of economic liberty in eighteenth-century England. I then summarize Burke’s principles of political economy, placing heavy emphasis on his defense of a free internal trade, his prudential advocacy of free trade in the foreign arena, and his endorsement of private property rights. I contend that Burke’s economic thought retains a meaningful consistency with his political thought – and thus, that Burke did not perceive an inherent tension between liberty and tradition. Therefore, there was no “Burke-Smith” problem or “Das Edmund Burke Problem” to begin with. In Burke’s judgment, a careful integration of market dynamism and the moderating presences of traditional virtue and landed property was essential for commercial prosperity. The most important lesson Burke’s economic thought teaches, however, is that civil society cannot endure on transactional exchange and voluntary contracts alone. Market economies are important instruments for the commercial enrichment of a people, but the deeper chords of friendship and trust, religion and virtue, are the ultimate bedrocks of social order and progress. I end by suggesting that our temptation for gain in the modern commercial economy should not make us forget our deeper obligations to our fellow man.
Chapter 12 includes the deeper normative arguments of Burke’s economic theory that come alive in the Reflections. Burke argued that among the real rights of men were the right to industry and the right to acquisition. He further contended that abstract theory overlooked the complexity of circumstance in social life, and that rigid government edicts intended to establish equality in civil society bred social chaos. Social engineering crushed the human soul. More important, I discuss Burke’s emphasis on the limits of transactional exchange in sustaining the growth of civilization. In his view, contracts could produce commercial opulence, but civilizations required pre-transactional bonds of religion, friendship, and manners in order to endure. Man’s moral obligations thus preceded the requirements of voluntary contracts; civilization might persist without commercial vitality, but it could not survive without virtue and chivalry. I also examine Burke’s commentary in Third Letter on a Regicide Peace, in which he provides remarks on the healthy state of the English economy, an Invisible Hand-type phenomenon, and the virtues of limited government, all of which complement his thoughts in Thoughts and Details and the Reflections.
The Introduction begins by presenting the problem of Burke’s conception of political economy: while Burke is known as the most celebrated critic of the abstract theory of the French Revolution, his defense of economic freedom rested in many ways on principles some French revolutionaries also endorsed, such as individual liberty, the right to property, a free grain trade. Framed differently, although Burke has acquired a powerful reputation for defending tradition, he also championed a human activity, market exchange, which was perceived by contemporaries as a disruptive force to settled social conventions. Therefore, was there an ineradicable tension in Burke’s thought between his praise of tradition and his embrace of commercial dynamism? Did he fully champion Adam Smith’s system of natural liberty? Did Burke offer a convincing way to overcome the “Burke-Smith” problem?, or “Das Edmund Burke Problem,” that of reconciling political stability with economic change? Answering these questions, I argue, can help us comprehend Burke’s own beliefs about the relation between political economy and ethics, and offer timely lessons on the compatibility between liberty and virtue in modernity.
Chapter 3 investigates Burke’s thoughts on the Corn Laws and the enclosure movement. Burke’s support for the corn bounty was one of the rare exceptions in which he defended state intervention in the market. Burke believed that the bounty had made corn cheaper in the long run and empowered the landed interest to compete in the foreign market. I also examine how Burke generally viewed enclosure in a favorable light for encouraging productive agricultural activity; he maintained, however, that the practice should be carried out in a transparent and lawful manner. In addition, I explore broader themes of Burke’s views on the agricultural economy. He held that the rich were the trustees of the poor, and thus possessed the moral resonsibility to aid them in times of need. I further outline his discussion of the varieties of labor in Thoughts and Details, which he used to demonstrate the hazards in establishing a uniform wage regulation that overlooked such differences. I also investigate Burke’s antipathy to wealth redistribution in the grain market. In his judgment, schemes to take wealth from some to give to others would lead to universal poverty, not universal opulence, and would cause social disorder.