By Simon Schama
'While Britain used to be wasting an empire, it used to be discovering itself...' The compelling commencing phrases to "The destiny of the Empire", set the tone and time table for the ultimate level of Simon Schama's epic voyage round Britain, her humans and her prior. Spanning centuries, crossing the breadth of the empire and overlaying an unlimited expanse of themes - from the beginning of feminism to the destiny of freedom - he explores the forces that formed British tradition and personality from 1776 to 2000. the tale opens at the eve of a bloody revolution, yet no longer a British one. The French Revolution by no means rather crossed the Channel, even though its spirit of fiery defiance and Romantic idealism did, sparking off a around of radical revolts and reforms that amassed momentum over the arrival century - from the Irish uprising to the Chartist Petition. the nice query of the Victorian century was once how the world's first commercial society may perhaps come via its turning out to be pains with no falling aside in social and political clash. could the desktop age break or enhance the associations that held Britain jointly, from the relations to the farm? And if the British Empire helped to make Britain sturdy and wealthy, did it reside as much as its promise to assist the governed in addition to the rulers? as a way to answering those questions, "The destiny of the Empire" makes stops at either celebrations, just like the nice Exhibition, and catastrophes, just like the Irish potato famine and the Indian Mutiny. Amidst the army and fiscal shocks and traumas of the 20 th century, and during the voices of Churchill, Orwell and H. G. Wells, it asks the query that remains with us - is the titanic weight of our historical past a blessing or a curse, a present or a millstone round the neck of our destiny? it's a titanic compelling epic, made extra so via the vigorous storytelling and massive daring characters on the middle of the motion. yet along flamboyant heroes, like Nelson and Churchill, Schama recollects unsung heroines and almost unknown enemies. along the grand principles, he exposes the grand illusions that fee untold lives. Schama appears head on on the evidence and asks, 'What went incorrect with the liberal dream?' The solutions emerge in "The destiny of the Empire", which finds the residing beliefs of Britain's lengthy historical past, 'a heritage that tied jointly social justice with bloody-minded liberty'.
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Additional info for A History of Britain: Fate of Empire 1776-2001 v. 3: The Fate of Empire 1776-2000
But his cult of sensibility had put down deep roots among the sobbing and sighing classes of provincial England. Just 10 years later, the craziness had been forgotten and Rousseau’s sojourn was remembered with the kind of veneration accorded to an apostolic mission. Something like a Derbyshire Enlightenment had come into being in which radical politics kept company with the cultivation of Feeling. A botanical society had been founded in the little cathedral town of Lichfield by Brooke Boothby and the polymath Erasmus Darwin, both of them luminaries of the circle centring on Anna Seward, the poet and essayist who held a salon at her residence in the Bishop’s Palace.
In fact, what seemed to the cultivated man of the town to be the most miserable aspect of those societies – their weather-beaten coarseness – was precisely the kind of life that had to be instilled into coming generations if Britain were to be saved from degeneracy. The goal – however impossibly paradoxical on the face of it – was to preserve the instinctive freedom, playfulness and sincerity of the natural child into adulthood. The child, as Wordsworth would put it, would be ‘father to the man’.
Five editions of his A Tour in Scotland (1772) appeared before 1790. But he was not the only author making a modest fame and fortune from the rediscovery, the redefinition, of the nation. In 1778, while His Majesty’s forces were evacuating Philadelphia, and after Pennant’s description of Wales had been published, it was joined by the one of the first guides to the Lake District, written by Thomas West, a Scottish Jesuit living in Ulverston. West, like Pennant, was a scholar, much travelled through Europe.
A History of Britain: Fate of Empire 1776-2001 v. 3: The Fate of Empire 1776-2000 by Simon Schama