Parliament cares about India little more than the Cabinet. The English people, too, are very slow and very careless about everything that does not immediately affect them. They cannot be excited to any effort of India except under the pressure of some great calamity, and when that calamity is removed they fall back into their usual state of apathy.(John Bright, 1860). The sentiment of empire is innate in every Briton. (William Gladstone, 1878) The trouble with the English is that their history happened overseas, so they don't know what it means. (Salman Rushdie, 1989) For historians of the nineteenth century, the question is, arguably, not whether empire had an impact on domestic life and experience, but how. The realm of high politics is a domain where those influences are most evident, though the role of imperialism in shaping it has received comparatively little attention. If historians have been slow to see and to recognise the impact of empire on ‘domestic’ history, Britons who followed high politics from the 1830s until just after Queen Victoria's death in 1901 could not have ignored the ways in which imperial questions impinged upon and helped to shape Victorian democracy across the nineteenth century. Swing rioters and other ‘criminals’ were exiled to Australia; opium debates made their way to the floor of the House; and Irishmen and women together with former Caribbean slaves were involved in Chartist agitations – whose spokesmen drew in turn on metaphors of slavery to inform their political demands.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAt Home with the Empire
Subtitle of host publicationMetropolitan Culture and the Imperial World
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9780511802263
ISBN (Print)0521854067, 9780521854061
StatePublished - Jan 1 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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