By Jeremy Black
During this first quantity within the new Palgrave ''History of Britain'' sequence, Jeremy Black builds an image of 18th century society and polity amazing via its variety, range of instance, and fascinating freshness of fashion. scholars may still locate this a useful advisor to the interval, and others will benefit from the lightness of contact with which a powerful physique of information is deployed .
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Additional resources for Eighteenth-Century Britain, 1688-1783
These attempts ranged from friendly societies with their collective emphasis on self-help, and increasingly generous poor relief to advances in med ical science. Scientific developments opened up the prospect of a changed rela tionship between man and the environment, and also brought improvement in many particulars. Several attracted particular attention. Lightning was tamed by lightning conductors, while smallpox was resisted. Yet the constraints and catastrophes that affected individuals and communities continued to be grievous.
The precondition of economic growth was the ability to maintain agricultural development whilst shedding labour from agricul ture. British agriculture did so, and was efficient by European standards. Nevertheless, it would be mistaken to suggest that agricultural improvement and shedding labour were co-terminous. In practice, the situation was far more complex, and also differed with reference to various patterns of land use. Enclosure could lead to rural depopulation, but the replacement of pasture land by tillage required more labour.
It was often accompanied by revision in tenure, by the replacement of tithes by land or grain rents, and by a series of expensive changes including improved land drainage, farm buildings and roads, and new agricultural methods. Enclosure played a major role in the literature of agricultural improvement. Enclosure, however, did not necessarily increase efficiency. There are exam ples of unenclosed areas that witnessed agricultural improvement, the introduc tion of new crops and techniques, and better crop strains.