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3VAF6CBA GREAT BRITAIN SINCE 1918


SCHEDULE
Session 1 20/01 Introduction: Britain in 1918
Session 2 27/01
 Method for writing a textual analysis or a reflective essay
The post-war political landscape: “The Strange Death of the Liberal Party”
Session 3 3/02 The post-war social and economic landscape (1926-1938)
Session 4 10/02 The People’s War (1939-45)
Session 5 17/02 Labour in Power: the foundation of the Welfare State (1945-51)
Mid-Term Break
Session 6 03/03 – Foreign Affairs: Britain’s adjustment to the post-war international context (1945-73)
Mid-term paper (to be handed in)
Session 7 10/03 – “Never Had It So Good!”
Session 8 17/03 – Swinging Sixties: the Wilson Years (1964-70)
Session 9 24/03 – The Watershed: the crisis of the 1970s and Thatcherism I
Session 10 31/03 – Thatcherism II
7/04 No class
Session 11 14/04 - Old Conservatives, New Labour?
Session 12 21/04 Final exam

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Peter Clarke, Hope and Glory. Britain 1900-2000, Macmillan, 2004
Martin Pugh, State and Society, British Political and Social History, 1870-1992, Arnold, 1994.
COURSE AND READING ASSIGNMENTS – Every week you are to complement the course by reading the corresponding chapters in the reference books on the reading list. You will also be asked to deal with a specific question or a textual analysis. I strongly encourage you to hand in several papers over the course of the semester as a training and in order to balance a potential poor mark the day of the exam.
There are two compulsory papers: a mid-term paper (coef.1) and a final exam in class (coef. 2). The final mark includes extra papers and oral participation.
ATTENDANCE - As part as the course-based assessment you are to attend every class and every exam. On no circumstances should you be absent more than three times. In such a case, you would be considered as “DF” (“défaillant”). Medical certificates will not excuse an absence. If you should be absent the day of the exam, you would be considered “ABI” (“absence non justifiée”) and would have to take the June extra session. If you cannot meet these requirements, you have five weeks to enroll for the “contrôle dérogatoire”.

Doc 1 Leader's speech, London 1924 J. Ramsay MacDonald (Labour) Source http://www.britishpoliticalspeech.org/
I. Contextualisation
1. Look up for the underlined terms in the text below.
2. Who was Ramsay MacDonald in 1924? When was the Labour Party created? Find about the immediate circumstances in which the speech was made.

II. Comprehension
After reading the text, answer the following questions by referring yourself to the relevant passage (s) in the text:
1. How does MacDonald account for the Labour Party’s success during the recent elections?
2. What does MacDonald take to be the main challenges of peacetime at home?
3. How does MacDonald intend to deal with the question of national security in the future?

§1.Last year, that optimistic prophet and calculator, Sir Sidney Webb, told you from this chair that by 1926 the Labour Party would have a majority and be in office. We cheered, but, I am sure, as we cheered; we doubted. Had he told you that he had made a calculation or had had a vision that within seven months of his addressing you your representatives in Parliament would form the Government, and that the next time you would be called together the Chairman’s address would be delivered by a Prime Minister and the front chairs on the platform occupied by heads of Departments your comments, I am sure, would have been of the nature of ‘Poor old Webb,’ and in the evening you would has filled your glasses to drink to his memory. And yet that apparently insane miracle has happened. As a matter of fact it was one of the most likely of things to follow an election whenever it came.

2.Mr. Baldwin precipitated the events by a miscalculation of the strength of his Party and of Protection, and dissolved Parliament. A hurried union of the divided Liberal force followed. Although we were the official Opposition at the time, throughout the critical part of the election the Press seemed to have conspired to say the very minimum about us. Our meetings were hardly reported. When the success of our campaign became disquieting and some notice had to be taken of us, you will remember that false reporting became the rule and forecasts of the most discouraging kind appeared from our constituencies. In spite of such a campaign, with all its loud speakers, lobster tin cans, and the mobilisation of all the humbug that could be brought together to deceive the electors, we won 47 seats, and brought our representation from 144 to 191, truly a satisfactory achievement gained almost exclusively owing to the confidence we had earned whilst acting as the responsible Opposition. There is some comfort in the assurance thus given to us that there is a fixed limit to the influence of tricky conspiracies and resourceful demagogues.
3.The Conservative Party was well under half the House of Commons; we came next with a clear lead over the Liberals. No coalition was possible; the Labour Party, if it thought it desirable to take office, must; under the circumstances, very soon have had a chance of taking office.
4.When the opportunity came, so far as I was concerned I never had a moment's hesitation as to what we should do. To have shirked responsibility would have been cowardly, and this country does not like cowards; it would have put us into a bad Parliamentary fix. Altogether it would have shown the spirit of shivering fear rather than that of trustful gallantry and the latter is the spirit of the Labour Party.

5.But there was another call also in the situation. We honestly believed that the country was in bad hands and that its policy was not well directed. Could we manage to do something to mould national policy in new shapes? Some things we should like to do we saw quite plainly we could not do, and in these we had to face boldly a little disappointment amongst our own people and a violent attack from the other parties. But, my friends, let there be no doubt about this. To ask a party to undergo the discipline and the loyalty of confessing that it has not been able to create or command the power and the conditions necessary for success on this great issue and on that, to get our rank and file to understand that the bigger and more enduring the structure the greater is the preparation required for laying its foundations and for beginning it, that, my friends, is essential to the gathering together of a movement that will not be blown hither and thither by every fair or troublesome wind.

6.Other things we thought we could do. We believed that the very fact of our existence would have an encouraging influence upon movements and political ideals similar to ours all over the world. We believed that we could make our country stand for something inspiring and attractive to the other nations. We had no hope of a new world created by magic. We had hope of the old world beginning to show a response to a new creative spirit. I think we have succeeded in that.
Some of our work had to be frankly patchwork. Problems like unemployment, an essential feature in the economic system and one that was aggravated by the political, financial and industrial disturbances of the war, and perhaps even more by the hot-headed follies of the peace, present an intricate system of adjustments that have to be dealt with in detail, involving labour, thought, experiment and change in supporting opinion.

7.For real constructive work practically no preparation had been made by our predecessors, whose assumption seemed to have been that, after a few years – I think they generally thought months – of relief work, conditions would become normal. Thus it was that relief work, which ought to be employed as a reserve by men striving to effect economic changes, was used by our opponents as a fund to be exhausted whilst they were whistling for the change of wind, and they did not get it. We came in when the reserve was getting pretty low down, and obviously whilst we turned to consider the best schemes for reconstruction we had to see to it that the relief work reserve was added to and used economically, whilst the Insurance Funds were better adapted to the needs of the unemployed. A cure for unemployment is not yet, but I can claim that no Government has done more than this, under such unprecedented conditions, to alleviate the hard lot of the victims of unemployment.

8.So with housing. Again we found a policy being pursued, the benefits of which directly affected only a stratum of our people either at the top of the wage-earning classes or even above that. To that we offer no opposition. None whatever. The professional man in a small way and the whole class of people with modestly good incomes have a right to be housed, but that alone leaves untouched the great mass of wage-earners whose incomes are low and intermittent. They had been left out of account because the problem of how to house them is by far and away the most difficult part of the housing shortage to solve. There again we have brought new ideas to our assistance, and not merely more money. A combination of capital and labour, an organisation of the whole trade for the service of the community, is the most promising industrial development that has taken place in recent years, under Government influence. I appeal to every section to make it a success. The machinery may have to be adjusted, adapted and re-adapted. Rome was not built in a day, as the homely proverb runs, but the possibilities and evolution of Mr. Wheatley’s expedient are unlimited.

9.In national finance we have been doing equally distinctive work. A Budget, which took 6d. off Income Tax and a 1d. off beer, was followed by one of ours which took 1¼d. off a pound of sugar and 3d. to 4d. off tea, and put £30,000,000 into the pockets of the consumers of the country, and whilst it did that it took other burdens off the backs of the middle classes. That is business, and the next Labour Budget will carry on this good work. That reflection is, perhaps, the real explanation of our present difficulties. A second Labour Budget would jeopardise the lives of the two other parties.
10.In a different field the Government has also been striving against very troublesome forces. When we took office I determined to take upon my own back a double burden, not that I was unmindful of the weakness of human flesh or ignorant of the weight and the worry I was taking upon myself, but I was convinced that if our country was to pull its full weight the authority of the Premiership would have to be cast into the same scale as that of the Foreign Secretaryship. So I made my will and took up my burdens, leaving one of those burdens, and that a very considerable one, on the capable shoulders of Mr. Clynes. The circumstances which called for this were exceptional; national interests asked for it, and we responded. What was the situation?

11.The world was steadily falling back into the old ruts of alliance and pact, and force and its organisation, without the nations being made fully aware of what was happening, were creeping back into the minds of statesmen as, the only bulwark upon which they could lean for security. We found waiting for us a draft Treaty of Mutual Guarantee, in some ways a great advance on what had none before, marked in several of its provisions by the hand of men who undoubtedly had laboured hard and sincerely for peace, but yet a great menace to the League of Nations, and essentially a war preparation document. By persistent propaganda and pressure the question of national security had become exclusively one of armed force. Young nations born in the war, old nations exhausted by the war, were beginning to look round and in the sky of each they saw a cloud of menace, set there mostly by their own hands.

12.Once international policy was determined by that psychology, then farewell to peace; then limitation of armaments is nothing but an easement of burdens of taxation, it is not a measure of peace. Peace is something different from a mere limitation in preparation for war. Peace is not an interlude of apparent quiet in a germinating war policy. Peace has its own natural policy and organisation, its own method of handling questions, its own mentality, its own standards of justice, of right and of wrong. We came in just at the moment when the future was being settled. In that future alone we shall be able to see with what measure of success our work has been attended. A good fight has been put up, but we must scrutinise with almost meticulous care every proposal that is being made lest the germs of the old-world minds of militarism cling to them, for these germs will destroy them if they are there. We are not to be rushed. This is a job which has to be done in an efficient and workmanlike way, and it has to be done bit by bit as the nations find increasing security in a ruling justice. Of this I am sure. The work of the Labour Dele¬gation at Geneva last month may give pride to all the men and women who, longing for the security of peace, have joined the Labour Party in search of it. Sometimes when I see the facts from the inside, I am never quite sure whether I should be indignant with the chicanery or wild with the ignorance of people who imagine that the war has left us in the position we were in before it broke out, and that all we have got to do is to wait for it to drift back into the old condition.

13. In all this unmaking and remaking of Europe - and, indeed, of the whole world - there is involved a disquieting upsetting of old trade conditions. To this natural dislocation has been added the purely gratuitous one of Reparations imposed in such ways as to show sublime ignorance of, the most elementary facts of economics. This error has been woven so closely into the peace settlement that no Government can, by employing the simple method of a pair of scissors, return to a sound position, either for itself or for the rest of the world. We were fortunate in that the Experts’ Report gave us an opportunity of creating a machinery of control which I hope will in the end bring us back to wisdom. But meantime we must pass through some troubled waters before we get out of our present conditions, which we inherited from the war and the peacemakers.

14.Our method of punishing Germany has, as a matter of simple fact contributed to her efficiency as a competitor, whilst it has weakened ourselves; and we must face for some time the pressure of Germany as an exporter. Our predecessors wasted valuable years after the armistice either in pursuing policies that were short-sighted or in doing nothing to direct our industry and to save our people. I know as a matter of fact that they were warned again and again by, friends both at home and abroad of what was coming, but all that happened was that the Tariff Reformer enjoyed some facilities to tinker with legislation. Mr. Baldwin with commendable courage - whatever the result may have been to his party - did produce his nostrum. It was no good. He said it was his only cure, but he has now dropped it. For ourselves we have asked the guidance of some of the most repre-sentative business men and workers - the two sides equally efficiently represented - and we shall be vigilant in protecting our interests.

15.The greatest danger to the industrial life of a nation is conservatism - the state of mind which has done far more damage to our agricultural interests than even the English climate - and with conservatism I put indolence, and the aim of Socialism is to get at the hearts of men, because we cannot survive unless we discover how to produce the willing worker and not merely the man who toils for reward. We have been too long thinking and speaking as though the spirit of artistic production was different in kind from the spirit required for manual production. Those of us who drank early from the refreshing springs which William Morris made to flow in a dull and deadening generation never held that heresy and never will. Men live by their generosities, by their loyalties; not by their interests, and their self-regarding impulses. And until somehow or other, by a change of heart and of condition, or both, we can put our industry on the footing of the willing gift of service, we shall have nothing but quarrels and the sacrifice of the common weal. It is the aim of getting our industry on that footing, that is the aim of the Socialist inspiration that gives us power in our Labour Movement.

16.For that reason I am no Communist. Pettifogging conspiracy, secret associations, backstair wire-pulling, mischievous stirring up of strife are neither in method nor in ideal the Socialism that has built up our Labour Party. They were detestable to our honoured founders like Hardie and Morris. They respected opinions with which they did not agree, but they kept them at arms’ length. When they had enemies they preferred to have them outside, rather than open the door to have them inside. Never was it more necessary for our Labour Movement to raise as its own flag the banner of democracy, of freedom, of progress by reason and of condemnation of tyranny by power. The war has threatened to make the world safe for dictatorships, for conspiracy, for mischief, for force coercing both the bodies and the minds of men. Unless we are prepared to engage upon a crusade against that, we had better put up our shutters and declare that we have wearied in well-doing. Communism, as we know it has nothing practical in common with us. It is a product of Czarism and war mentality, and as such we have nothing in common with it.

17.The only practical policy that could be adopted under these circumstances in order to try and bring peace on the one hand and create natural conditions of work on the other was to take Europe just as we found it with all its engagements and arrangements, and begin from what we found to straighten out point after point, one after another. That has been our aim. For instance, had Labour been at Paris, Reparations would have been very different from that they are, but the general agreement of the nations - Germany included - now is to accept the Experts’ Report and see how it is to work, watching its effects almost from day to day and being prepared by the systems of arbitration and checks provided by the London Conference and the Report itself, to adjust expectations to facts. It is very sad that you have got to teach leading statesmen theoretical economics through the pockets of other people. I wish it were their own pockets that were bearing the financial consequences of their mistakes and blunders that you unfortunately are bearing. Against one thing I would warn the Movement. The German employers are using the fact that these Reparations have to be paid as a reason for reducing the wages, increasing the hours, and intensifying the slavery of the German workers. Whatever may be the ill effects of the Experts’ Report, that is certainly not one of them, and I hope that the Labour Movement in this and in other countries will not be induced to fall into the trap thus laid for them and lend their countenance to one of the ordinary excuses which capitalism is always seeking to increase its grip on the lives of the workers.

18.The whole Trade Union Movement of the World is morally bound to support German Trade Unions struggling to recover lost ground, for so long as the deterioration in social conditions in Germany which followed the Micum Agreement and the occupation of the Ruhr in particular lasts, low industrial standards will be a common menace not only to the political tranquillity of Central Europe, but to the standards of life of every competing country. So far as I know, every International Labour Organisation has passed resolutions asking for a trial to be given to the Experts’ Report, and that has been the attitude of the Labour Government in this country.

19.In pursuance of the Government’s policy of pacification, we recognised the Government of Russia because it is the Government of Russia, for exactly the same reason that Christian Foreign Secretaries have recognised Mohammedans and people whose religious persuasions were of somewhat more doubtful quality even than that. If my colleagues and my friends are to be accused of being Bolsheviks because we recognised Russia, of what an infinity of crimes and misdemeanours is my predecessor in office - the pre-eminently respectable Marquis Curzon - to be accused for having come to an agreement with Turkey. Immediately after the recognition of the Russian Government we proceeded to negotiate Treaties which would regularise our relations. The results are before the country now, and, as there was ample evidence whilst the negotiations were still proceeding, there are interests in the country prepared in the most bitter way to sacrifice every national concern for themselves.

CV101 Homework session 2
Read « Independence could revitalise Scotland – and England too” and “The Welcome Return of the Union Jack” (you will find the them in the Identity issues section). After reading the texts, answer the following questions in your own words. You should answer the questions on a separate sheet of paper.
A. « Independence could revitalise Scotland – and England too”
1. Give the date and source of the document
2. Summarise the journalist’s main idea
3. Make a list of the main arguments in favour of the Scottish independence
4. What according to the journalist is the main obstacle to it?

To prepare session 3
Read the Leading article : “The Welcome Return of the Union Jack”
1. Date/source of the document?
2. Look up for Gordon Brown and for Alex Salmond on the Internet. Who are they?
3. What has been the impact of the Olympic Games on the flag as a symbol?

CV101 To prepare session 4
A. Read about nationalism and minorities in the UK in J. Oakland, An Introduction to British Civilization.
B. Find some recent demographic data by religious and ethnic minority in the 2011 census (recensement).
C. Read the article "The World Comes to London", p. 22 in your textbook and answer the following questions on a separate sheet of paper :
1. How has net immigration evolved over the past decades?
2. How can you account for the massive immigration in the last 20 years?
3. What have been the main effects of immigration on Britain?
4. How does The Economist view immigration overall?

CV101 To prepare session 5
A. Look up for Brixton, Toxteth, Tottenham, Hackney on http://fr.mapsofworld.com/united-kingdom/london-city-map.html
B. Read the article “France’s style of rioting is a very suburban affair” (p. 24, 1st text). Answer the following questions:
1. Find about the Brixton riots (1981)
2. Compare the Brixton riots and the 2005 Paris riots. Find information in the text.
3. What do you learn about town planning (urbanism) in the UK and town planning in France (Paris mainly)?
C. After reading the text "Urban Riots : Thirthy Years after Brixton" (p. 24 bis), answer the following questions:
1. What are the common points between the 1981 riots and the 2011 riots?
2. What has changed since 1981?
3. Synthesis : what is the journalist's point ?

CV101 To prepare session 7 (December 1)
Read "A Revolution Postponed", p.52 on the Monarchy. Answer the following questions:
1. When was the article published? Find the date thanks to indications in the text .
2. What other institution does the journalist compare the monarchy with? (§2)
3. How does the journalist account for the British monarchy's continued existence in the 21st century (three main reasons given)?
4. What is the main question raised by the journalist? What is the journalist's main idea (30 words approx.)?


CV501 Religion and Politics in England (1534-1689)
Course outline and reading assignments

The textbook is available from the English Department Website. You will be given a paper version in class.

Session 1 – Introduction to the course : England in 1534. The political and religious background
 Read Smith “Prologue”; read textbook pp. 6-11
 List lay criticisms of the Church

Session 2 – Introduction II : Reformation in England
Method
 Read Smith (ch.1 & 2); pp. 12-24
 Study The First Act of Supremacy (1534) focusing on the notion of supremacy : How is it defined?
What kind of legitimation is sought in this act? What role is given to Parliament?

Session 3 – Henry VIII (1509-1547) & the Breach with Rome
 Read Smith ch. 8 & 10; textbook pp. 25-34
 Study Mary’s Act of Repeal (1554) focusing on : Mary’s aim and posture; the tone of the document

Session 4 - Edward VI (1547-1553) and Mary Tudor (1553-1558) : the uncertainties of Reformation in Tudor EnglandSynthesis :
Synthesis : To what extent can we say the Church was reformed in 1547?
 Read Foster “An Elizabethan Church Legacy?”; textbook pp. 35-38
 Study The Act of Uniformity (1559) focusing on: the aim of the act; the notions of unity, of uniformity. How is the act supposed to be enforced?

Session 5 - Elizabeth I (1558- 1603) (I) : the ‘Elizabethan Settlement’
 Read textbook pp. 39-49
 Synthesis on Elizabeth and the Tudors : Religious concord in Elizabethan England

Session 6 - Elizabeth I (II) : Unity and dissent in Elizabethan England
 Revise the Tudors

Session 7 - Mid-term exam : textual analysis on the Tudors
 Read textbook pp. 50-57
 Study James I on monarchy : What images does James I use to evoke the function of “king”? What impact do they have? What fundamental distinction does he make in defining the role of kings? What is his definition of a tyrant?

Session 8 – The reign of James I of England/ James VI of Scotland (1603- 1625) and the divine right of kings
+ Correction of the mid-term exam
 Read textbook pp. 58-66
 Study The Petition of Right (1628) p. 58 : Who are the petitioners? What is the king accused of? List the historical references you have in the text. What purpose do they serve?

Session 9 – Charles I (1625-1649) and laudism
 Read Textbook pp. 67-82
 Study The Root and Branch Petition (1640) p. 67 : What is referred to as “roots and branches”? What are the petitioners’ claims?

Session 10 – The Civil Wars
 Read textbook pp. 83-94

Session 11 – The regicide and the Interregnum (1649-1660)
 Revise the Tudors and the Stuarts up to 1649

Session 12 – Final exam : textual analysis or reflective paper on the Tudors and the first Stuarts (1534-1649)

Session 13 – The Restoration and the Glorious Revolution
+ Correction final paper



To prepare next session (October 27th ) VLA CV 101 – M.I. DUCROCQ

A. Read about multiculturalism in the UK in Oakland
B. Read the article “France’s style of rioting is a very suburban affair” (p. 24, 1st text). Answer the following questions on a separate sheet of paper:
1. Find about the Brixton riots.
2. Compare the Brixton riots and the 2005 Paris riots. Find information in the text.
3. What do you learn about town planning (urbanism) in the UK and town planning in France (Paris mainly)?
C. Read the article “Urban Riots” (p. 24 bis). Answer the following questions.
1. What are the common points between the 1981 riots and the 2011 riots?
2. What has changed since 1981?

MyDucrocq VLA CV101 Civilisation britannique

To prepare session 3 VLA CV 101 – M.I. DUCROCQ


1. To complete the course, read about nationalism and minorities in the UK in J. Oakland, British Civilization.

2. Read the article "The World Comes to London", p. 22 in your textbook and answer the following questions on a separate sheet of paper :
- How has net immigration evolved over the past decades?
- How can you account for the massive immigration in the last 20 years?
- What have been the main effects of immigration on Britain?
- How does The Economist view immigration overall?





MyDucrocq VLA CV 301 Course outline
LES ILES BRITANNIQUES DANS LA TRANSITION REVOLUTIONNAIRE
1745-1851

PART I POLITICAL REVOLUTIONS IN BRITAIN AND IN EUROPE – chronological framework / key changes in politics

Séance 1- 1753-1775
 A reminder of the Glorious revolution & the rise of parliamentary monarchy
- The rise of the party system/ Walpole & robinocracy; the rotten boroughs
- The call for radical reform of the system : John Wilkes
- George III
- Method
o Read W. Bagehot; study Romilly on the Sale of Seats (rotten boroughs) : Find about the author. What is the nature of the document? What kind of tone is used in the text? What kind of system is Romilly describing? What is his aim in describing it? Make an organised commentary out of these remarks.

Séance 2 – 1775-1815 (1)
- The American War of Independence
- TD Romilly
o E. Burke Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790 : find about Edmund Burke. In what circumstances did he write this text? Who is he referring to when using the pronoun “we” (and adjective “our”) and when using the possessive “your” (l. 75)? what effect does it have? Comment on line 41-43. What difference does he make between the notions of “improvement” (l.14, 26) and “innovation” (l.10)? What key values does he ascribe to the British Constitution?

Séance 3 – 1775-1815 (2)
- The French Revolution and its impact in Britain
- The Napoleonic or French Wars
- TD Burke
o T.B. Macaulay – Reform Debate Speech, 1831

Séance 4 – 1815-1851
- The Radical movement : Chartism
- The 1832 electoral reform
- TD Macaulay
o The Chartist Riots – The Times

PART II ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL REVOLUTIONS

Séance 5- The Industrial revolutionS
- TD The Chartist Riots
- Chronology
- Sectors of expansion

Séance 6 – Cause or consequence? The rise of the British Empire
- The conquest of India and the African colonies
- Political organisation
- The age of Free Trade

Séance 7 – Mid-term exam (19-20/11)

Séance 8 -- The impact of industrialisation (1)
- The urban development & the transformation of landscape: London & other cities
o Study F. Engels on Manchester

Séance 9 – The impact of industrialisation (2) : the discourse on poverty
- Philantropy
- Self Help
- The emergence of class consciousness; Marx and Engels
- The political organisation of the working class/ trade unionism
- Women and child labour

Correction of the exam
o Read Samuel Smiles – Self-Help ; Marx - Capital
o Study Women in the Pits

Séance 10 – The impact of industrialisation (3) : Art in the industrial age

PART III CULTURAL AND AESTHETIC REVOLUTIONS

Séance 11 - The religious landscape of Britain
- The End of Nonconformist and Catholic discrimination

Séance 12 – Final exam

Séance 13 – Scientific and artistic life
- Darwinism
- Palladianism
- Romanticism & the gothic – Burke’s Essay on the Origin of the Idea of the Sublime
- The Preraphaelite Brotherhood

Correction of the final exam


Edmund BURKE, Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790. > for questions see outline (session 2)

"You will observe that from Magna Charta to the Declaration of Right it has been the uniform policy of our constitution to claim and assert our liberties as an entailed inheritance derived to us from our forefathers, and to be transmitted to our posterity — as an estate specially belonging to the people of this kingdom, without any reference whatever to any other more general or prior right. By this means our constitution preserves a unity in so great a diversity of its parts. We have an inheritable crown, an inheritable peerage, and a House of Commons and a people inheriting privileges, franchises, and liberties from a long line of ancestors.
This policy appears to me to be the result of profound reflection, or rather the happy effect of following nature, which is wisdom without reflection, and above it. A spirit of innovation is generally the result of a selfish temper and confined views. People will not look forward to posterity, who never look backward to their ancestors. Besides, the people of England well know that the idea of inheritance furnishes a sure principle of conservation and a sure principle of transmission, without at all excluding a principle of improvement. It leaves acquisition free, but it secures what it acquires. Whatever advantages are obtained by a state proceeding on these maxims are locked fast as in a sort of family settlement, grasped as in a kind of mortmain forever. By a constitutional policy, working after the pattern of nature, we receive, we hold, we transmit our government and our privileges in the same manner in which we enjoy and transmit our property and our lives. The institutions of policy, the goods of fortune, the gifts of providence are handed down to us, and from us, in the same course and order. Our political system is placed in a just correspondence and symmetry with the order of the world and with the mode of existence decreed to a permanent body composed of transitory parts, wherein, by the disposition of a stupendous wisdom, molding together the great mysterious incorporation of the human race, the whole, at one time, is never old or middle-aged or young, but, in a condition of unchangeable constancy, moves on through the varied tenor of perpetual decay, fall, renovation, and progression. Thus, by preserving the method of nature in the conduct of the state, in what we improve we are never wholly new; in what we retain we are never wholly obsolete. By adhering in this manner and on those principles to our forefathers, we are guided not by the superstition of antiquarians, but by the spirit of philosophic analogy. In this choice of inheritance we have given to our frame of polity the image of a relation in blood, binding up the constitution of our country with our dearest domestic ties, adopting our fundamental laws into the bosom of our family affections, keeping inseparable and cherishing with the warmth of all their combined and mutually reflected charities our state, our hearths, our sepulchres, and our altars.
Through the same plan of a conformity to nature in our artificial institutions, and by calling in the aid of her unerring and powerful instincts to fortify the fallible and feeble contrivances of our reason, we have derived several other, and those no small, benefits from considering our liberties in the light of an inheritance. Always acting as if in the presence of canonized forefathers, the spirit of freedom, leading in itself to misrule and excess, is tempered with an awful gravity. This idea of a liberal descent inspires us with a sense of habitual native dignity which prevents that upstart insolence almost inevitably adhering to and disgracing those who are the first acquirers of any distinction. By this means our liberty becomes a noble freedom.
It carries an imposing and majestic aspect. It has a pedigree and illustrating ancestors. It has its bearings and its ensigns armorial. It has its gallery of portraits, its monumental inscriptions, its records, evidences, and titles. We procure reverence to our civil institutions on the principle upon which nature teaches us to revere individual men: on account of their age and on account of those from whom they are descended. All your sophisters cannot produce anything better adapted to preserve a rational and manly freedom than the course that we have pursued, who have chosen our nature rather than our speculations, our breasts rather than our inventions, for the great conservatories and magazines of our rights and privileges."
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