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By M. J. D. Roberts

Campaigns for ethical reform have been a recurrent and virtue of public lifestyles in later Georgian and Victorian England. Antislavery, temperance, charity agency, cruelty prevention, ‘social purity’ advocates and extra – all promoted their explanations in the course of the mobilisation of citizen volunteer help. This ebook units out to discover the realm of those volunteer networks, their foci of shock, their styles of recruitment, their tools of operation, and the responses they aroused. In its exploration of this tradition of self-consciously altruistic associational attempt, the e-book presents the 1st systematic survey of ethical reform activities as a different culture of citizen motion over the interval, in addition to casting gentle at the formation of a middle-class tradition torn, during this level of monetary and political nation-building, among attractiveness of a market-organised society and unease concerning the cultural effects of doing so. it is a revelatory booklet that's either compelling and available.

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Extra resources for Making English morals: voluntary association and moral reform in England, 1787-1886

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The Parliamentary Reform Movement in British Politics 1760–1785 (1962), p. 72. J. G. A. Pocock, The Machiavellian Moment. 14–15, esp. p. 510. Cf. 82–5, 131; Zouch, Hints, p. 16. 32 Making English Morals the profligate and opportunist mood of the moment as their superiors. 56 Under these circumstances even the most forbearing and role-hardened members of the ruling elite were being driven privately to admit that ‘the people’ were ‘to be sure . . very debauch’d’. 57 The traditional response to such crises was to use the legal system to ‘make examples’ of selected offenders in the expectation of deterring others but, by 1785, it needed a strong nerve to continue unqualified support for such a policy.

The existence, that is to say, of a set of rules and channels of communication which assumed the legitimacy (even mutual benefit) of exchange of opinion between state authorities and associations of private citizens was a precondition for the emergence of the politics of volunteer moral activism which forms 22 23 24 J. 149–67, esp. pp. l46. Curtis and Speck, ‘Societies for the Reformation of Manners’, pp. 59–60. For evidence of a redirection of some volunteer energies back into the mould of the ‘religious society’, see J.

469. L. Stone, The Family, Sex and Marriage in England 1500–1800 (1977), pp. 221–9. Cf. R. Shoemaker, Gender in English Society 1650–1850 (1998), ch. 4, esp. pp. 88–90. 46 Both these broad and overlapping groupings, therefore, found common ground in deploring a threat to family cohesion as they perceived it. In 1775 Sheridan had been able to raise a laugh about the issue: Madam, a circulating library in a town is as an evergreen tree of diabolical knowledge. It blossoms through the year. 47 But during the 1780s the ‘problem’ became more widespread, more visible and more worrying to educated elites accustomed to regard print as a medium for instruction rather than for market-assisted recreation.

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