By J. R. Wordie
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Additional info for Agriculture and Politics in England, 1815–1939
In view of the total, and surprisingly rapid, success of this movement once its campaigns had got under way in the early 1840s in persuading a majority that the Corn Laws were utterly iniquitous and completely unacceptable, it is rather surprising to notice how patiently the Corn Laws had been endured by the bulk of the population prior to that time, during the quarter of a century or so that followed 1815. It has been argued by some historians that the Corn Laws were not, in fact, ‘patiently endured’ by those classes who were disadvantaged by them, and that voices of protest were raised by the wage-earning labourers, the industrial manufacturers, and the urban middle classes.
But what do these autobiographies have to tell us about their opinions on the Corn Laws? The answer is, very little. 24 After many years of research, in 1955 the American scholar William Matthews produced An Annotated Bibliography of British Autobiographies which, although far from complete, is still our best single guide to the subject. Matthews listed 6654 autobiographies in all, most of them relating to the nineteenth century, and provided a very brief commentary on each one. He then equipped his book with an invaluable subject index, which cross-referenced his entries.
Beckett, The Amateur Military Tradition, 1558–1945 (Manchester, 1991) pp. 73–7, 120–8, 130–7; A. Verey and S. Sampson, The Berkshire Yeomanry (Stroud, 1994) pp. 1–12. 10. Quoted in N. McCord, The Anti-Corn Law League, 1838–1846 (1967) p. 30. 11. O. Mosley, My Life (1968) pp. 111–77. 12. G. Wright, Popular Radicalism: the Working-Class Experience, 1780–1880 (1988) p. 72. 13. See R. Gibson and M. Blinkhorn (eds), Landownership and Power in Modern Europe (1991), esp. p. 176. 14. L. Thompson, English Landed Society in the Nineteenth Century (1963) p.