Some of the ideas in this
chapter have appeared, in rather different form,
Conti , Parliament the Mirror of the
Nation: Representation, Deliberation, and
Democracy in VictorianBritain ( Cambridge , 2019 ), esp. 13 – 76
Throughout the nineteenth century, the term ‘uncomfortable houses’ was used to describe properties where restless spirits made life unpleasant for any living persons who tried to claim these supernatural residences as their own. This article uses the idea of ‘uncomfortable houses’ to examine how this ghostly discomfort related to larger cultural issues of economics and class in Victorian Britain. Authors such as Charlotte Riddell and Margaret Oliphant used the haunted house story as a means of social critique which commented on the financial problems facing many lower- and middle-class Victorians. Their stories focus on the moral development of the protagonists and reconciliation through the figure of the ghost, ultimately giving readers the happy endings that many male-authored ghost stories lack. Riddell‘s ‘The Old House in Vauxhall Walk’ and ‘Walnut-Tree House’ and Oliphant‘s ‘The Open Door’ serve as important examples of this ‘suburban Gothic’ literature.
In an age of Imperial confidence, the social rhetoric of Victorian Britain frequently manifested a perceptible unease when considering cultural problems within the home nation. The imagery of ‘darkest England’, dependant as it was upon a powerful colonialist discourse, authorised and transmitted a register of language whereby an internal Other might be configured as uncivilised, and thus capable of being subject to the explorer and the missionary. Much, of course, has already been written upon the Gothic possibilities of this phenomena which characterised an Imperial age which allegedly declined with the nineteenth century. No similar consideration, however, has yet been made of its continuation into the twentieth century, a progressively post-colonial era in which the Imperial (or Imperialised) Other, in consequence, functions differently. This article considers two Gothic short stories, one in a reprinted Edwardian collection, the other a component of an original collection, both of which were issued in volume form in the late 1940s. The two narratives examine classic ‘cultures-within-cultures’, pockets of resistance within the fabric of the Imperial nation, though in a cultural context radically different from their Victorian predecessors. Algernon Blackwood‘s ‘Ancient Sorceries’ (1908), published in the 1947 reprint of his John Silence, and L.T.C. Rolt‘s ‘Cwm Garon’ published in Sleep No More (1948) share a preoccupation with the casual, localised, travelling which has replaced Imperial adventure, and with the decline of identifiable Christian institutions and landmarks themselves the products of earlier missionary activity in a familiar, though threatening, European landscape. In both short stories a form of devil worship is enacted before the eyes of the traveller, and in a landscape which fascinates and somehow holds him. In ‘Ancient Sorceries’, where the Devil does attend the bacchanal, the protagonist is almost seduced into willing participation but, on evading the sexual lure of the sabbat, vows never to return. Rolt, writing after the recent horrors of the Second World War, discards the presiding Devil in favour of a mortal substitute, but still leaves open the possibility that, in Kilvert‘s words, ‘an angel satyr walks these hills’. Neither welcomed nor seduced by the satanic community, Rolts protagonist finds himself fascinated by the land, and thus drawn into unwilling participation. In colonial terms, these two narratives explore the frequently rehearsed dangers of ‘going native’ that lie at the core of, among other works, Kipling‘s ‘The Mark of the Beast’, Rider Haggard‘s She and Conrad‘s Heart of Darkness. A subject people is identified, but their strength either supernatural or merely cultural, the ability to preserve a distinctive and resistant way of life tests the limits of the perceiving power. These are, in a sense, Imperial fantasies for a post-colonial world, a reflexing of colonised culture back in upon the formerly colonising nation.
This book examines the mid-Victorian Conservative Party's significant but overlooked role in British foreign policy and in contemporary debate about Britain's relations with Europe. It considers the Conservatives' response—in opposition and government—to the tumultuous era of Napoleon III, the Crimean War and Italian Unification. Within a clear chronological framework, the book focuses on ‘high’ politics, and offers a detailed account of the party's foreign policy in government under its longest-serving but forgotten leader, the fourteenth Earl of Derby. It attaches equal significance to domestic politics, and incorporates an analysis of Disraeli's role in internal tussles over policy, illuminating the roots of the power struggle he would later win against Derby's son in the 1870s. Overall, the book helps provide us with a fuller picture of mid-Victorian Britain's engagement with the world.
The later nineteenth century was a time of regulation and codification, which was part of the Victorian search for reliability and respectability. This book examines the intersection between empire, navy, and manhood in British society from 1870 to 1918. It sheds light upon social and cultural constructions of working-class rather than elite masculinities by focusing on portrayals of non-commissioned naval men, the 'lower deck', rather than naval officers. Through an analysis of sources that include courts-martial cases, sailors' own writings, and the HMS Pinafore, the book charts new depictions of naval manhood during the Age of Empire. It was a period of radical transformation of the navy, intensification of imperial competition, democratisation of British society, and advent of mass culture. The book argues that popular representations of naval men increasingly reflected and informed imperial masculine ideals in Victorian and Edwardian Britain. It explains how imperial challenges, technological changes and domestic pressures transformed the navy and naval service from the wake of the Crimean War to the First World War. How female-run naval philanthropic organisations domesticated the reputation of naval men by refashioning the imagery of the drunken debauched sailor through temperance and evangelical campaigns is explained. The naval temperance movement was not singular in revealing the clear class dimensions in the portrayal of naval manhood. The book unveils how the British Bluejacket as both patriotic defender and dutiful husband and father stood in sharp contrast to the stereotypic image of the brave but bawdy tar of the Georgian navy.
ambivalent position both at the core of the inside yet on the outside:
an insider-out. The orphan is perceived of as a racialised other who is,
through emigration, involved in a programme of racial cleansing as
VictorianBritain attempted to displace the racialised indigenous other
in the colonies. Orphanhood, and the unknown genealogy it implies, is
also the embodiment of Victorian culture’s fears of illegitimacy
debates on its morality in VictorianBritain. Was this truly the same Empire?
Dudley Le Souef,
The voices of animals remain largely silent throughout
this history. Their tribulations rarely troubled
soldier dressed in a khaki jacket, war-worn but proudly carrying a large
British flag. The caption urged Britons to support the war financially,
declaring: ‘He carried the flag to Victory. Share his Glory by
buying National War Bonds.’ 10
Finally, what of the groups who had been targeted as
‘martial races’? In the context of the late VictorianBritish Empire, Highlanders, Sikhs and Gurkhas were identified
in responses to criminal poisoning in VictorianBritain. Through an analysis of criminal poisoning and the social, cultural, legal and scientific responses it elicited, this book seeks to show how and why this was so. 12
The poison discussed in the coming pages is limited to that used (or thought to be used) for criminal purposes, ‘detection’ in turn referring to toxicology and the ancillary medico-legal knowledges that might be brought to bear on a case of suspected criminal poisoning. Focusing on this dimension to the exclusion of other, broader possibilities