Enlightenment: Britain and the Creation of the Modern World
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For generations the traditional focus for those wishing to understand the roots of the modern world has been France on the eve of the Revolution. Porter certainly acknowledges France's importance, but here makes an overwhelming case for consideringBritain the true home of modernity - a country driven by an exuberance, diversity and power of invention comparable only to twentieth-century America. Porter immerses the reader in a society which, recovering from the horrors of the Civil War and decisively reinvigorated by the revolution of 1688, had emerged as something new and extraordinary - a society unlike any other in the world.
him and study his development. Practical Education describes the psychological experiments the Edgeworths performed upon Peter, who was by then quite an old man, in order to put the nature/nurture controversy to the test. While he had ‘all his senses in remarkable perfection’, Peter could only articulate ‘imperfectly a few words, in particular King George’.44 Experiments were devised to gauge his idiocy, and attempts made to activate his faculties by disrupting his ‘automatic habits’.45 For
Westminster for editing a magazine, the Flagellant, against flogging and other undemocratic practices. He carried around a copy of Goethe's Werther. 88 ‘On the Prospect of Establishing a Pantisocracy in America’ (1826), in Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Complete Poems (1997), p. 58. 89 Coleridge's later account stated; ‘I was a sharer in the general vortex, though my little world described the path of its revolution in an orbit of its own’: Barbara E. Rooke (ed.), The Collected Works of
religious persecution, Sunday schools, the Philanthropic Society, dispensaries, hydrophobia, sea-bathing infirmaries, and ‘A Substitute for Wheat Bread’ – Indian corn made a thrifty porridge. It all amounted to a veritable enlightenment omnium gatherum. If piqued at his exclusion, as a Quaker, from the fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians, Lettsom was a passionate champion of science and his own profession. He waged newspaper wars against quacks, became an early advocate of smallpox
words, the individual was autonomous, though bound by the law of Nature; in civil society action became subject to public judgement – private persons became public persons, and private acts were replaced by public ones, in a transformation designed to strengthen the protection of life, liberty and property.12 An ultimate right was retained to resist a government in breach of its contract – a right not to be activated individually but exercised by the ‘people’ (a notion left studiously vague):
reasoned, to conquer the nightmarish phantasms associated with funerary rituals, and the attendant palaver of Hell, damnation and demons.31 Secularization also infiltrated the social rituals surrounding death. Testamentary references to God were being pared down to formal preambles; the typical English will came to serve almost exclusively as an instrument for transmitting property within the family; and the elaborate funeral sermon was giving way to the obituary notice in the press.32 And what