An Analysis of ASA Briggs "Victorian People"

Essay by ClublightUniversity, Bachelor'sA, March 2003

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An Analysis of ASA Briggs Victorian People

Victorian People, by ASA Briggs, tells a unique story about the mid- Victorian period of England from 1851 to 1867 and is very successful in showing unity among it's people, their thoughts and ideas. The period begins with the Great Exhibition of 1851 and ends with the second reform Bill of 1867. The period from 1851 to 1867 is considered the period of high Victorian England. The social balance produced a distinctive civilization of its own. ASA Briggs used a study of selected people of 1850's and 1860's to try to discover the unity of society. He chose people like Smiles, Trollope, Bagehot, Hughes, and Applegarth to illustrate how such different people shared similar characteristics. In addition, he uses people like Roebuck and Disraeli to show how changes in beliefs affected English politics. The unity of a period can be shown in various ways.

"In mid-Victorian England the balance was so nicely adjusted that it permitted order and change." (Briggs, p. 8)

The Great Exhibition of 1851 held in the Crystal Palace was the first true world's fair. It displayed the wonders of the new industrial world. The purpose of the Great Exhibition was to present a true test and give a living picture of the point of development at which the whole of mankind had arrived and a new starting point, from which all nations would be able to direct their future exertions. The great exhibition established the superiority of British manufacturers, proclaimed the gospel of free trade, and universal peace. This display also allowed foreigners to marvel at the attractions of British constitution. "We are all agreed", the Duchess of Gloucester wrote to the Queen the day after the opening of the Exhibition, "in rejoicing that foreigners should have witnessed the...