For many people the late eighteenth century was a period of political corruption, with the political world waiting for the triumph of reform. In this lucidly written study, now in a revised edition, John Derry shows that the traditional political system was more remarkable for its resilience than for its defects, and that it succeeded to an astonishing extent in meeting the challenges of war, the threat from the French Revolution, and the problems caused by unprecedented social and economic change. A vigorous narrative is combined with pungent analysis of the assumptions on which the practice of politics was based and the fashion in which politicians responded to the demands made of them. Due weight is given to the element of continuity. The king continued to play a significant role in politics and no ministry could survive without the confidence of the crown and the support of the country gentlemen, and Pitt and Liverpool owed their success to their ability to appeal to these two powerful political forces.
The importance of the French Revolution is not underplayed, but war is seen as a greater factor than ideology in bringing about a polarisation of opinion and the dominance of a conservatism which rested squarely upon traditional values. But trasnformation was also part of the story, and this study is fascinating in the manner in which it demonstrates the subtle blend of the old and the new which gave politics their unique flavour. The personalities of George III, Fox, Pitt and Liverpool are brought to life with deft and succinct characterisation in a style which will entertain as well as inform.
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(216mm x 138mm x 11mm)
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
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Author Biography - John W. Derry
JOHN W. DERRY is Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Newcastle.