By Simon J. White (auth.)
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Extra resources for Romanticism and the Rural Community
Young is aware that critics will say the ‘slovenly condition’ of many gardens kept by labouring people means they would not make proper use of the land granted to them through his scheme. But for Young it is unfair to suggest that ‘because they are bad cultivators without this main inducement [sufficient land to give them a chance of a semi-independent living…] they would be the same with it’ (p. 34). He argues that labouring people do not have the resources to properly cultivate the land they do have, and cites the example of Lord Hardwick at Wimpole who, having given 38 Romanticism and the Rural Community gardens to his cottagers, observed ‘them very badly cultivated, [and…] offered premiums, to encourage better cultivation.
Both agreed that more smallholders and cottagers were needed in the countryside. But their ideas were not rooted in social reality. Why would labouring people change their moral value system, in the way that More advocated, when it was shaped 34 Romanticism and the Rural Community by the desperate poverty of their lives? Spence was sensitive to this problem. But where would the political revolution that he saw as the route to change come from? If the lives of labouring people were as bad as he believed they were, and the landless poor had not rebelled, what would cause them to revolt?
Those who attain positions of responsibility further the work of the Cheap Repository as they promote their work ethic and restrained version of popular culture. In the rural villages imagined by More, all have a responsibility to regulate one another’s behaviour and moderate one another’s failings. In that it is often individuals from a labouringclass background who perform this regulatory function, More’s vision is revolutionary. 35 More was not opposed to social mobility, and imagines a world in which the most able, rather than just those with inherited authority, are inspired to reshape and reinvigorate their communities.
Romanticism and the Rural Community by Simon J. White (auth.)