Posts Tagged ‘Eighteenth Century’

South Sea Bubble

5 November 2010

Shared by Lisa Marie Griffith

The South Sea company was an English company which, in 1720, was granted a monopoly to trade with South America. In return for the monopoly the company lent £7 million to the English government and underwrote the national debt (which then stood at £30 million) for an interest rate of 5 per cent per annum. Demand for stock in the company grew overnight and conditions all of a sudden became ripe for one of the most famous bubbles in English history. Clearly the English had learnt nothing from the Dutch and their fanaticism for Tulips!

I came across this Rory Bremner clip the other day while looking for some material relating to early modern financial bubbles to show a class and thought I would share it. Not that we need an explanation of what a bubble is these days but I thought this explained it very well in the context of the early eighteenth century.

A glimpse into the eighteenth century book trade: How to encourage book buying

19 July 2010

I came across a re-print of this wonderful 1745  pamphlet when I was undertaking my Masters research on the Dublin printer George Grierson (1680?-1753). Grierson was the King’s printer and as the only printer allowed to print bibles between 1732 and 1753 the catalogue of books that he printed is quiet dry.  This means that the following collaboration with Jonathan Swift’s printer George Faulkner (1703-1775), who was a colleague and friend of Grierson, is both surprising and out of character. While Faulkner was known as a satirist in his own right (although some have suggested he simply mimicked Swift), the fact that both men signed their names to this, shows they were of a similar disposition and there was a little more to Grierson then meets the eye and that you can’t always judge a printer by his books. If you love books you will enjoy this.

The pamphlet was written during a supposed slump in the book trade to encourage Dubliners to start buying books. As the citizens of Dublin are aware books are of so little use, containing only knowledge and learning, that the authors are suggesting some alternative uses which Dubliners could put their books to. Some of their ideas are quite novel and may send a shiver up the spines of book lovers but bear in mind that it is a satire! Read more

Happily Ever After?

17 March 2010

By Christina Morin

With my own nuptials swiftly approaching, I’ve admittedly become a bit wedding-obsessed. In a bid to wean myself off my growing addiction to wedding magazines and wedding discussion forums, as well as to distract myself from the various seating plans, dress swatches, and rsvp cards with which I increasingly find myself surrounded, I popped into Waterstones for a browse. That I thought I could momentarily escape all things wedding related in a book shop was perhaps a little naive, but surely there had to be at least one or two books that I could flick through without reminding myself of the various to-do lists waiting for me on my desk? Realisation and resignation settled in when the first thing my eyes lit upon was Wendy Moore’s compellingly-titled exploration of marriage in eighteenth-century Britain, Wedlock: How Georgian Britain’s Worst Husband Met his Match (2009). Following fast on the heels of Duchess, the 2008 cinematic rendering of the wedded trials of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, Wedlock looks at the matrimonial horrors suffered by Mary Eleanor Bowes, the Countess of Strathmore. The richest heiress in late-eighteenth century England upon the death of her coal magnate father, Mary Eleanor became prey to the mercenary intents of the superficially charming but unscrupulous Irish soldier, Andrew Robinson Stoney – tellingly, the root of the contemporary expression still in use today: ‘ston(e)y broke’. Read more

Vampiric Delights

2 March 2010

By Christina Morin

I began to emerge last week from the enervating fug of research funding applications that has literally engulfed me since early December. Physically, I escaped relatively unscathed; mentally and intellectually, however, I was reduced to a fraction of my former self. In terms of my long abandoned leisure reading, I knew now was not the time to embark on War and Peace. So, instead, I picked up a collection of short stories I’d been meaning to read for a while, The Vampyre and Other Tales of the Macabre (Oxford UP, 1997). An assortment of Gothic short stories published in a variety of British magazines during the first half of the nineteenth century, Tales of the Macabre definitely suited my inert post-funding-application despondency and lack of attention. Short enough to read in a bus journey to town, and dark enough to satisfy the most pessimistic, recession-obsessed mind, the tales in this collection are definitive examples of the Gothic short story tradition in Britain during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. These short stories often merged with, or later became, full blown novels, suggesting the fluidity of borders during the Romantic period between genres such as the ‘novel’ and the ‘short story’, while also highlighting the continued, cross-generic appeal of the Gothic mode. Polidori’s ‘The Vampyre’ (1819), originally published in the New Monthly magazine, for instance, was penned alongside Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818) and, in ‘introduc[ing] the vampire into English fiction’, as the editors, Robert Morrison and Chris Baldick argue, undoubtedly influenced countless novels and short stories to come, including Maturin’s Melmoth the Wanderer (1820) and Stoker’s Dracula (1897). Read More

Evelina! Evelina!

26 January 2010

By Christina Morin

As I was reading Frances Burney’s Evelina (1778), it became pretty clear to me why critics of the developing novel in the mid to late eighteenth century were so concerned about its potential effect on the impressionable minds of young women. Concerned that the imaginative, if not entirely implausible, narratives of the novel as a genre would prompt young female readers to ‘dream impossible dreams’, so to speak, many eighteenth-century critics condemned novels as ‘unsafe’ and ‘unsuitable’ for female consumption. Such anxieties were, in many instances, linked to ideological concerns about patriarchal order and the prescribed private and domestic role of women in society. Novels, it was understood, frequently urged women to consider entering into the public realm, thereby vitally disordering society as a whole. At the very least, novels such as Evelina, it was thought, could prompt women to desire things they shouldn’t want, things that they really had no right desiring in the first place. Take Lord Orville – the impossibly handsome, polite, and gentlemanly hero of Burney’s novel.  Had I been, like the novel’s eponymous heroine is supposed to be, a penniless orphan, I feel sure I would’ve dreamt day and night about a rich nobleman falling in love with me and soliciting my hand in marriage, all the while knowing I was simply a genteel country bumpkin with no money, connections, or resources to bring to the match.  Of course, I’d probably also fantasise about being revealed as the rightful daughter and heiress to a rich, ex-profligate desirous of repenting for the mistakes of his past (i.e. deserting my mother, burning their marriage certificate, denying they had ever married, and dooming me to a life of poverty and dependence.) These things happen every day, right?! Read More

Review of Clifford D. Conner’s Arthur O’Connor

27 November 2009

By Lisa-Marie Griffith

Clifford D. Conner promises a full and exacting review of the life and career of the United Irishman with the title Arthur O’Connor: The most important Irish revolutionary you may never have heard of. As one of the highest ranking members of the United Irishmen Conner argues that Arthur O’Connor suffers from neglect, with just one other biography of O’Connor. This he claims is because unlike Lord Edward Fitzgerald and Theobald Wolfe Tone he survived 1798 and had a long life. Unlike Tone or Robert Emmett, O’Connor was not executed by the government in the afternmath of the 1798 rebellion, was never hailed as a romantic figure and so he has been sidelined by history. Unfortunately many of the significant republicans and politicians of this era are without a full modern biography. Thomas Addis Emmet and James Napper Tandy, both prominent figures in the republican movement, have also been neglected, perhaps because they too survived the 1798 rebellion, possibly because there is not enough surviving correspondence and primary source material to construct detailed biography or, more plausibly still, because despite the wide-spread celebration (and consequently out-pour of publications) of the double centenary of the 1798 rebellion in 1998 there is still a lot of work to be done on the political figures of the period.

While a welcome addition to the historiography of eighteenth-century Ireland and to the biographies of major Irish political and republican figures Conner’s biography falls down on three points.  Read more

An Epic Read?

25 November 2009

Contributed by Christina Morin.

On my way to a conference last month, I found myself with a bit too much time in the airport and nothing better to do than wander about Duty Free and find myself something to read on the flight. Accordingly, I popped into the nearest Hughes and Hughes for a bit of a browse, overpriced latte in hand. I was looking for something light to read – not as light as the gossipy rags stocking the magazine rails (though I have been known to buy those from time to time, all the while insisting that I never usually read them!) but certainly nothing as heavy as the research monographs I’d packed in my bag, just in case. As it happened, I was in luck; after passing by the latest Martina Cole and Cecilia Ahern offerings, I lighted upon what I thought was a perfect medium between the two extremes of light and heavy reading: John Mulcahy’s 2009 novel Union. I had read briefly of the book’s publication earlier and was delighted to see a fictional attempt to deal with the Anglo-Irish Union (1801) – an absolutely central event in late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth century Irish social, political, and cultural history which, oddly, has very rarely provided the background for popular, historical fiction. Credit is certainly due to Mulcahy for attempting to recover, in an entertaining but educational manner, this important event to a general reading audience.

Published within the last few months, Union has an impressive list of politicians, historians, and writers gracing its back cover with exuberant words of praise. Patrick Geoghegan, for instance, is credited with hailing the novel as ‘[a]n unconventional love story [… that] captures brilliantly the chaos and intensity of the 1798 Rebellion, the passing of the Act of Union, and the doomed heroism of Robert Emmet’. Mulcahy’s novel, as you’ll deduce from Geoghegan’s comments, is concerned with more than just the immediate period surrounding Anglo-Irish Union. Instead, it attempts to capture the decade or so leading up to and following Union, gesturing towards the political and emotional fervour that surrounded all three events that Geoghegan mentions.

I suppose I should’ve been clued in to Mulcahy’s rather more far-reaching intent than his title suggests when I saw the novel’s cover- Read more

Rapairi on TG4

13 November 2009

By Lisa Marie Griffith

10111The first of TG4’s new series ‘Rapairi’, an examination of  Irish outlaws from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, aired last night. The opening show made ambitious claims. The show aims to look at 6 outlaws, tories and raparees as they were referred to in the proclamations of the day, their lives and to establish the reality behind the folklore. It also aims to examine why Irish people are disrespectful to the law. As a social historian of the eighteenth century I have often come across ‘tories and raparees’ in my research. These are men who are on the run, have skipped a court hearing, have escaped from jail and who are known and wanted criminals. Many of these men went into hiding, escaped to rural Ireland and lived like bandits and the term basically described villains and criminals. TG4, however, chose to focus on the raparee heroes of early modern Ireland- gentlemen who had been pushed outside the law because of some injustice that they had suffered.

I will have to admit I was a little bemused by TG4’s twenty-first century version of a raparee; the Rossport 5. Interspersed with their attempt to explain what an early-modern raparee was the programme had clips of the Rossport 5 outside court and anti-Shell-protests. Read more

A Design for Life

28 September 2009

By Kevin O’Sullivan

Kevin McCloud’s Grand Tour, Channel 4, Sunday 27 September 2009

Pantheon by PaniniConsider this. You’ve come up with a brilliant idea for a mini series on the British grand tourists who travelled through early modern Europe, the places they visited, the foods they tasted, the ideas they borrowed, the things they saw. The second of four instalments details the link between the reconstruction of London after the Great Fire and the architecture of early modern Florence and Rome. In the corners of these majestic cities it uncovers the influences borrowed by the architect Christopher Wren in the construction of St Paul’s Cathedral, the greatest monument to his elaborate and uncompleted plans to transform and rejuvenate a devastated London.

So far, so good, you might think.

But then you place your knowledgeable and articulate presenter (Kevin McCloud of the excellent Grand Designs) on the floor of the Medici Chapel in Florence and have him gaze up at the simple beauty of its Michelangelo-designed dome. McCloud utters something profound about the master’s craft, about this being architecture as power rather than architecture for the people. This is, he tells us, the place where ‘classical mythology meets dynasty, without the shoulder pads. Come to think of it, with the shoulder pads.’

And there it is: the slap in the face for the unsuspecting viewer, the reminder that this is diet history, history zero, history free, or whichever faddish description most tickles your fancy. But is it forgivable?

Just about. Read More

Curio(u)s: A Miscellany of Literary Tidbits

23 September 2009

Contributed by Christina Morin

the beggar's opera

As I was reading through the recent posts here on Pue’s Occurrences, it struck me that a blog is, for all intents and purposes, a twenty-first century equivalent of that peculiarly eighteenth-century literary form: the miscellany. In very general terms, a miscellany is, according to the OED, ‘[a] mixture, medley, or assortment; (a collection of) miscellaneous objects or items’. In literary terms, it’s ‘[a] book, volume, or literary production containing miscellaneous pieces on various subjects’. Working from this definition, my little summaries of eighteenth-century novels and review of contemporary adaptations of eighteenth century plays could be pretty accurately described as a miscellany, too – a Reader’s Digest of eighteenth-century fictional and dramatic greats (abridged). 

While I have mixed feelings about this thought, primarily owing to caution ensuing from an as yet short but somehow all too long teaching career, in this context I prefer to think, along with Samuel Johnson, that ‘[i]t is by studying the little things that we attain the great art of having as little misery and as much happiness as possible’. Here, of course, I am grandly interpreting the literary précis as one of these so-called ‘little things’, and I offer forth my (admittedly highly biased) musings on eighteenth-century literature hoping first and foremost to entertain. I’d be lying, however, if I didn’t admit to being completely elated when a reader responded to my first post to say that he had actually gone out and read Castle Rackrent. (Bless you, Patrick!) Read more