The Pre-Reform British Constitution

Diana Spearman explains the deep complexities of the pre-Victorian political landscape and electoral system in Britain. Ben Wilson offered his own historiographical perspective in this 2010 article.

“Some decent, regulated, pre-eminence, some preference given to birth is neither unnatural nor unjust, nor impolitic.”

Edmund Burke

A profound belief in the British constitution and in the virtues of British liberty pervaded every class and opinion in the eighteenth century. The chorus of praise is unanimous from Rule Britannia to Cowper’s Letters, from Horace Walpole, the son of the great Whig Minister, to the Tory Sir Walter Scott, who contrasted “our noble system of masculine freedom” with the unfortunately different arrangements that existed in France.

To continue reading this article you will need to purchase access to the online archive.

Buy Online Access  Buy Print & Archive Subscription

If you have already purchased access, or are a print & archive subscriber, please ensure you are logged in.

Please email if you have any problems.