From Rank to Class: Innovation in Georgian England

Penelope Corfield finds that economic progress and new self-awareness in language and gesture disturbed the tranquility of the ‘Age of Elegance'.

'The swinish multitude' in Hogarth's famous cartoon of the effect of cheap drink on the masses, 'Gin Lane'Society in eighteenth-century England has often been depicted as static, harmonious, unchanging verging upon the torpid. In caricature: a world in which an obsequious peasantry stood endlessly doffing their hats to a complacent gentry, in a tranquil countryside.

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