Sunteți pe pagina 1din 1

the Augustan state was a ramshackle anomaly with some notable weaknesses.

For instance, in 1660 crown and gentry recognized their need of one
another; and in return for parliamentary support, the gentry were allowed
a free hand in the shires. Thus the bargain at the very foundation of the
restored monarchy made ideas of establishing a centralized administrative
machine irrelevant. Eighteenth-century governmental policies, and the
increasingly uniform, professional, and accountable government of the
parishes and towns of Britain, were a result of JPs, constables, aldermen,
and their communities making common cause with the state. When it came
to the taxes which underpinned the war effort, we are reminded that the
state was implementing and harnessing the energy of the propertied classes,
those who thought a war was necessary, just, or even beneficial: "warfare
on the English model was a triumph for an enterprising and acquisitive
society, not an authoritarian state."33 Although the increase in government
tax receipts in this period has often been assumed to reflect economic
growth, it now seems that the rise was due to increased taxation. The
economy was certainly growing - at 0.69 percent per annum in real terms
between 1700 and 1760 - but the spectacular increases were a nineteenthcentury
phenomenon. The most significant developments of the late
seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries were rising agricultural productivity
,
an increase in the number of people living in towns, and an increase
in the number of people engaged in non-agricultural production. By 1750
less than 50 percent of the population was working in agriculture. The rest
were engaged in industry, commerce, services, or the professions.
As we have already seen, these economic and social changes had created
new forms of property and new elites, which had a more intimate relationship
with the government and the state than the landed gentry. The monied
interest would have been unpopular in any context, as yuppies exploiting
the mysteries of high finance, where money miraculously makes money,
and the deeply suspicious stocks, shares, and securities allow speculators to
accumulate without having contributed. But they were doubly damned
because of their involvement with the government and with the war which
the landed gentry believed they were subsidizing. The professions, too,
were often associated with the state, which created all the opportunities for
pen-pushers, tax-collectors, and career soldiers. These changes represented
a tremendous growth in the leisured classes and of those with a little extra
time and money to spend on themselves, whether it was by consulting a
doctor, visiting Bath, or simply going shopping. In brief, life was improving
for all. From about 1680, population, economic resources, and employment
seem to have maintained a happy balance. Money wages were rising
and prices of consumable goods remained steady and some, particularly