What a thoroughly lovely piece, Hilary, and a great radical writer I am ashamed to say I missed out on getting to know thus far.
Many thanks for telling us about Cobbett! Superb review; made me want to re-read it. As you say, Patrick, all we can ever possibly do is read historically. The pleasures of reading Cobbett weighing into my particular soft targets — bankers, venal politicians, middlemen taking public money — are paid for in the less acceptable passages.
Essentially, although a savage critic of it, he had no real interest in overturning the existing order — he persisted against all reason in thinking that human relations could be perfectible, and that injustice and greed were the enemies — his ideal was fair reward for honest toil.
So a longer modern edition may be based on that posthumous edition. Cobbett was, for most of his life, a professed Anglican, contemptuous of Methodists. Perhaps that is what you intended to write. As for Unitarians he certainly attacked them, particularly during the French revolution but by the time he left Newgate he had become very open to the ideas of such as Eaton, upon whose punishment in thew pillory he wrote a famous piece.
Far from being prejudiced against them, he always acknowledged his debt to them. As to the Scots, he certainly teased them as did Dr Johnson , and he detested the Scots intellectuals and writers who acted as a sort of Praetorian guard for the Utilitarians and evangelicals constructing an ideology for capitalists. Still read his Rural Rides through Scotland in and you will get an idea of what he thought about a nation with which he had been well acquainted throughout his life, in New Brunswick and Pennsylvania particularly.
He was devoted to Burns for example. Cobbett wrote about 15 million words during a career which began in and ended in His Political Register alone runs to 88 volumes. Since his death he has been the object of generatioins of condescension at the hands of people who have either not read him or not understood what he was writing about.
This is particularly the case with Rural Rides. I suggest as an introduction: Better yet Google up a Political Register and read some of them. You will soon realise that the man you are dealing with is a profound and astute observer of a new society ours being born in terrible upheavals. Pity about the typos: GK Chesterton wrote a biography that is worth reading. Cole, George Spater and Daniel Green are among his other recent biographers, and they are all good.
One aspect of Cobbett that is often forgotten is his critique of US democracy and society, to be found in his 12 Volume Collected Works of Peter Porcupine which is often eerily prophetic. As an introduction to government finances it compares very well with anything currently on offer from, for example, those howling calamity over the deficit.
Chris, thank you for the corrections, and for all the additional comment, information and resources. I have only dipped the tip of my toe into this stream. But I am a huge admirer of Cobbett, believe me — he is a hero of mine, especially in the light of his unlikely comradeship with Francis Maseres. Chris, while he was an Anglican he was also pretty scathing of the Anglican clergy. He picked and chose his parsons.
He got along not at all well with the one in Botley who stopped the residents ringing the bells to celebrate his release from Newgate in He castigated others in the Political Register for gratuitously interpreting sundry passages of the Bible as an instruction to the poor to shut up and be happy with their lot. I know about it but I am eager to learn more. And, where the cases of individual Jews are concerned, as in the case of Mrs her name will come to me later the woman who was charged with exporting gold sovereigns under an ancient law, he showed no prejudice and defended her from persecution.
Again his writing on the suicide of the banker Goldsmid, did not strike me as anti-semitic, merely anti-banker. Again he disagreees with Ricardo but not as an anti-semite would and did.
One has to be careful about attributing anti-semitism. How does Coleridge write about Jews? Or Scott in Ivanhoe and elsewhere? Heine disliked him but then Marx took him very seriously. My suspicion is that Cobbett was exceedingly opportunistic so far as religion was concerned.
He detested methodists and evangelicals, partly because he sensed that they were attacking one evil slavery in order to enforce another in the form of the new, strictly regulated proletarianised society. He saw them as busybodies interfering in the rights of the poor. And he reached these conclusions long before he had become a Parliamentary Reformer. He saw the clergy of the Established Church most of whom were as impious as he was as a constituency to be relied upon.
One more thing that has struck me is that Cobbett was, in , very much the Burkean champion. As Burke had been, Cobbett was a political parvenu in Unlike Burke he refused to tolerate the airs and graces and arrogance of the Whig leadership. All very interesting to me but very boring to sensible people. Cobbett as you know brings in his extended anecdote about Maseres to underline an elaborate point he was making, after taking a look at Reigate Priory, about his conviction of the beneficent effect of monastic establishments in feeding the poor.
Maseres, descended from Huguenots, constantly argued that the Catholic Church was corrupt, in particular that crafty priests inveigled people into leaving money away from their family. Another source has it that he used to live quite frugally, and invest his surplus income each year in the funds, never calculating how much he was worth, so had no idea that the value of his estate so far out-stripped what he left to his family. Fellowes, on the other hand, this is not in Cobbett gave up the parson-ing, bought an estate in Reigate Doods, I think , and lived the life of a gentleman.
Reviewing my comments I feel bound to apologise for my pomposity. Thank you for your information on Maseres who had a career in Canada as you know when William was a baby. I seem to recall that Maseres was a mathematical genius and grew rich by shrewd speculation. I am sorry that you do not like Cobbett, I suspect that he would have liked your blog. Are you therefore Chris Harries? Thank you for all your comments, which were helpful and enlightening.
There is much about Maseres to fascinate — his financial speculation was accidentally shrewd and possibly a lesson to us all. He lived within his means and only ever put his surplus income into Consols, where it all just quietly accumulated until he was a very wealthy man. He was renowned for dressing all his life in the fashions of his youth in the s. He lived comfortably in London and Reigate, but not extravagantly — his big indulgence was publishing, and he was a prolific author, editor and sponsor of work by writers he supported, which he published in luxurious editions at his own expense.
He gave a collection of books to the Public Library in Reigate which still exists as the Cranston Library — all of them his own works. The collection includes his extensive mathematical work, including his book refuting the legitmacy of using the negative sign in arithmetic. His main claim to mathematical fame was his work on compound interest and annuities, which is the foundation of actuarial science.
He also collected papers on the history of the French in Canada, and also Parliamentary tracts, and published them in collections. All still there, all apart from the work on annuities which has recently been republished forgotten these days, I think. My interest in Cobbett has been rekindled, after first hearing about him over forty years ago whilst taking GCE O Level history, and I have now ordered the book plus two biographies from Amazon. Have just catalogued two editions of this book for the Royal Geographical Society of South Australia.
Am researching biographical information on Pitt Cobbett who edited a revised edition during his curacy as the vicar of Crofton, He was a wine merchant in Adelaide around and returned to England and entered the ministry in These connections to Australia are of interest to the Society and the users of the collection. I would greatly appreciate any further information about Pitt Cobbett. Perhaps, someone may know if he was related to William Cobbett as the surname suggests.
Rural Rides by William Cobbett. Travelling on horseback through southern England in the early 19th century, William Cob. Penguin Classics Rural Rides [William Cobbett, Ian Dyck] on linawycatuzy.gq * FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Travelling on horseback through southern.
You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Twitter account. You are commenting using your Facebook account. Notify me of new posts via email. Follow us on Twitter: Subscribe to this site's feed via FeedBurner or click here for an email subscription. The Rides are topographical narratives, but intended as a vehicle for Economical and Political Observations relative to matters applicable to, and illustrated by, the State of those Counties respectively.
Then Cobbett rides away through the lovely landscape I travel most days, from Reigate towards Dorking, past my parish church, and describes it thus: Chilworth Friday Evening, Oct.
Sarah Murison March 10, Conor March 10, Hilary March 10, Jackie March 10, Patrick Murtha March 12, Minnie March 15, Hilary March 15, Chris Harries September 6, Hilary September 6, Jonathan April 3, Chris Harries April 3, Hilary April 4, Ellis March 15, It remains one of the greatest celebrations of agrarian England, admired by thinkers as diverse as Marx, Chesterton and Belloc. Paperback , pages. Published September 27th by Penguin Classics first published To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
To ask other readers questions about Rural Rides , please sign up.
Lists with This Book. Mar 31, russell barnes rated it liked it Shelves: On the one hand a really really boring series of rides around Surrey, Hampshire, Gloucestershire and Worcestershire during the s. He describes fields of turnips, almost relentlessly on every page, the state of corn and wheat, and the fatness of oxen. And when he's not doing that he's railing against the Jews and the Scots. Oh, and he always seems to end up in the same villages, and then tells the same tales, and inevitably compares the turnip crops.
Although with less turnips. Fog that you might cut with a knife all the way from London to Newbury. This fog does not wet things. It is rather a smoke than a fog. View all 5 comments. Oct 29, Patrick Murtha rated it it was amazing. William Cobbett is a disagreeable character in some ways. He is a scold who rides his high horse, literally and figuratively, across early 19th century England.
Unless you are really well up on the political controversies of the era, many of his shots will just whizz past your head. He suffered from an unpleasant anti-Semitism that he gives frequent vent to. And yet…Cobbett is one of the outstanding writers and appreciators of the Engl William Cobbett is a disagreeable character in some ways.
And yet…Cobbett is one of the outstanding writers and appreciators of the English landscape, both wild and human-mediated, and I think he is an infinitely more interesting figure as a grumpy-lyrical artist than he would be as a purely lyrical one. Aug 10, Andrew added it Shelves: One of those books I'd heard about for years, largely through E.
Thompson's magisterial Making of the English Working Class, and basically just finished out of spite. Let me give you the tl;dr version because it's tl, and because it's totally fine if you dr: Things William Cobbett likes: Jews, tea, coffee, drinking, "Scotch philosophers" by which I ass One of those books I'd heard about for years, largely through E. Jews, tea, coffee, drinking, "Scotch philosophers" by which I assume he means Hume and Adam Smith , any activity other than the sober, industrious, Christian kind Fuck that, I'm off to go drink with some Jews and Scots.
Thompson book instead, it'll give you a better idea of the debates going on in Britain at the time.
Dec 27, Brenda rated it liked it Shelves: I couldn't follow all the of-his-time politics, nor stomach all the of-his-time prejudices and the still universal habit of name-calling. But the Rides are not boring, the descriptions of the landscapes and people are delightful, and I appreciated the tour guide.
Not a simple guy, but not a dumb one. Worth spending some time with, though maybe in small doses. One note on the politics: H I couldn't follow all the of-his-time politics, nor stomach all the of-his-time prejudices and the still universal habit of name-calling.
He took his agenda along with him, but he at least made an attempt at fact-finding. How many other parliamentarians, then or now, travel to see rather than merely to be seen? Cobbet has this pretty standard formula where first he describes the soil texture of a place and how good it is for growing turnips, and then he'll do a really cool rant about how the Pitt system of taxation is grinding the rural people down to powder.
This happens basically throughout the book but it doesn't get old too much because in some of the rants he'll put in cool anecdotes like the bit where he says that some wealthy landowner was really bad at tree maintenance.
And I can smile indulgently as I wonder about the five people, no less, who have gone crazy on account of religion, and wonder if I know any of them. Jan 16, Christine rated it did not like it Shelves: Jonathan April 3, Amazon Restaurants Food delivery from local restaurants. I skim read it, looking for the gems of useful information on agricultural wages, the cruelty of the Game Laws and the plight of farm labourers and tenant farmers.
Jan 16, Christine rated it did not like it Shelves: I was looking forward to reading another travel book especially as it covered places I knew, but an inflated ego, waffling and ridiculous generalisations got in the way. Conclusion - mostly very boring with occasional short interesting passages. Apr 03, Gwen rated it liked it. The best parts are William Cobbett's observations of rural life in the 's in England and his wonder at the natural beauty of the landscapes through which he passes on horseback. It is also striking to hear what an ascetic fellow he was, riding all day long eating only meat and bread twice a day, in bed by 8: His diatribes against Jews, Quakers, and Scots can be rather hard to take, and his railing against "tax-eaters" the rich, pensioners, the Army is repetitive and tiresome.
Overall, though, this book is worth the read simply for the way it records in great detail a way of life that no longer exists. Sep 18, Lucy rated it it was ok. Long-forgotten - or, long-won - quarrels, turnips and bacon are the chief features of this work.
Cobbett comes across as a chronically bad-tempered know-all. To be fair, the writing was probably less tedious when taken in its original serial form, and is probably of more interest if you are familiar with southern England. As it stands, though, in the Penguin English Library edition, far and away the most readable section is the excellent introduction by George Woodcock.
It's only to be recommend Long-forgotten - or, long-won - quarrels, turnips and bacon are the chief features of this work. It's only to be recommended to those who want to know what was being written and read in the nineteenth century.