By Simon Schama
'While Britain used to be wasting an empire, it was once discovering itself...' The compelling starting phrases to "The destiny of the Empire", set the tone and schedule for the ultimate level of Simon Schama's epic voyage round Britain, her humans and her previous. Spanning centuries, crossing the breadth of the empire and masking an enormous 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, notwithstanding its spirit of fiery defiance and Romantic idealism did, sparking off a around of radical revolts and reforms that accrued momentum over the arrival century - from the Irish uprising to the Chartist Petition. the good query of the Victorian century used to be how the world's first commercial society may come via its becoming pains with no falling aside in social and political clash. could the desktop age wreck or advance the associations that held Britain jointly, from the relatives to the farm? And if the British Empire helped to make Britain strong and wealthy, did it dwell as much as its promise to assist the governed in addition to the rulers? with a view 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 twentieth century, and during the voices of Churchill, Orwell and H. G. Wells, it asks the query that continues to be with us - is the vast weight of our background a blessing or a curse, a present or a millstone round the neck of our destiny? it's a sizeable compelling epic, made extra so via the full of life storytelling and massive daring characters on the center of the motion. yet along flamboyant heroes, like Nelson and Churchill, Schama remembers unsung heroines and nearly unknown enemies. along the grand rules, he exposes the grand illusions that expense untold lives. Schama appears head on on the evidence and asks, 'What went improper with the liberal dream?' The solutions emerge in "The destiny of the Empire", which unearths the residing beliefs of Britain's lengthy heritage, '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
Rousseau walked through Dovedale in his strange ‘Armenian’ costume where locals later remembered ‘owd Ross Hall coming and going in his comical cap and ploddy gown and gathering his yerbs’. Occasionally, too, he would let himself be taken to Calwich Abbey where he met a group of local admirers and disciples, including Brooke Boothby, who were already committed to remaking themselves as Men and Women of Feeling (a novel by Henry Mackenzie, entitled A Man of Feeling, would be the best-seller of 1771).
An unbroken colt he was riding failed to respond to the tender touch, and threw Day on his head. The problem with Day’s experiment, some of his friends might have told him, was that virtuous conditioning could only go so far. Perhaps the damage to Sabrina’s and Lucretia’s natures had already been done by the time that Day got to them, beginning with the contamination of their mother’s milk. For it was another of Rousseau’s axioms that virtue began at the nursing nipple, from which moral as well as physical sustenance was imparted.
But there were probably as many wretched people like the Datchworth victims in the south (especially the impoverished southwest of England) than in Bewick’s Northumbria. For it was in southern England that the social results of ‘rural improvement’ – for good as well as for ill – were most dramatically apparent, especially in the lean years of the 1760s, when a succession of wheat harvest failures sent prices soaring and unleashed food riots in the towns and cities all the way from London to Derbyshire.