Showing posts from May, 2011

Historical quotation of the month

The opinion of General Sir Charles James Napier, sent to suppress Chartist disturbances in the North, 1839:

Manchester is the chimney of the world. Rich rascals, poor rogues, drunken ragamuffins, and prostitutes form the moral; soot made into paste by the rain the physique, and the only view is a long chimney: what a place! The entrance to hell realised!
Life and Opinions of General Sir Charles James Napier (1857), vol. II, p. 8.

19th century cake wrecks

Here's yet another website - - that has made me look at historical evidence in a new way.

I've recently re-read Peter Brett's article on the significance of political dinners in the early nineteenth century. He describes the centrepiece of the table at a dinner in honour of the memory of Fox in Norfolk in 1820:

Temple of Liberty sculpted in sugar surmounted by a representation of Fame holding a flag of Whig colours inscribed with the initials MC for Magna Carta.One suspects it was a right cake wreck. 

Brett, Peter, ‘Political Dinners in Early Nineteenth Century Britain: Platform, Meeting Place and Battleground’, History, 81: 264 (Oct. 1996), 532

passive aggressive historical notes

Having got a little bit addicted to this 'passive aggressive notes' website, I now read historical handbills and posters in a new way.

How about this one, issued by the Manchester boroughreeve and constables to advertise the celebrations for the peace treaty with France in October 1801:
'No warehouses or factories should be illuminated; nor any injury done to properties of such persons whose religious opinions may prevent their joining in the general mode of rejoicing on this occasion'. [Chetham's library, Cambrics scrapbook, p. 53]The authorities obviously feared a recurrence of the 'Church and King' riots that had disturbed Unitarians and Catholics in 1794, but it is the almost modern tone of the notice that is striking [such persons whose religious opinions...']

complaints about lack of street lighting contributing to crime rates

'We are deeply concerned to hear of the great increase of vice and crime in this town, especially at night; and the difficulty of preventing and detecting offences is much augments by the want of sufficient light; by the total absence of lamps in some places - particularly apply to the north of Manchester and Bolton Railway Station, where numbers of loose and disorderly people are frequently collected for their evil purposes'.
George Piggot, the vicar and churchwardens to the trustees of Great Bolton, 3 February 1840, Bolton Archives, ZHE 36/10, Heywood papers.

Reading List

Now it's approaching summer, I'm getting back to those piles of paper all around my desk that will eventually transmogrify into a book manuscript. I'm trying to sort out my bibliography and revisiting relevant books and articles that have informed my work. So I've decided to blog what I'm reading or revisiting here, just to keep a record. It may be of use if you're interested in popular politics and protest 1789-1848.

Today - the clamp down on radical spaces in the 1790s:
Christina Parolin, Radical Spaces: Venues of Popular Politics in London, 1790-1845 (ANU epress)

Michael Lobban, 'From Seditious Libel to Unlawful Assembly: Peterloo and the Changing Face of Political Crime, 1770-1820', Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, 10:3 (1990) is an article I've come back to and re-read, and am utterly convinced by his argument.

Lobban argues that governments attempted to clamp down on political radicalism using the laws against seditious libel until the crisis…

Livestreaming seminars

I've been working on how to live stream the 1 July colloquium on protest history. I'm fairly impressed by how the new digital history seminar at the IHR do it -

So I'm attempting to use Livestream for the broadcast, and zoho chat for the chat function, together with a live twitter feed.

Any suggestions for useful technologies (especially free ones) most welcome.

Here's my first webcam experiment with an advert for the workshop: completely amateurish, but I was just testing the technology.

I've also set up a discussion board for questions for 1 July: