First published in 1999, this rewarding volume offers a close and systematic analysis of the General Infirmary at Bath, which was founded in 1739 to grant ‘lepers and cripples, and other indigent strangers’ access to the spa waters. Four main themes are pursued in order to locate the hospital within its economic, socio-cultural and political contexts: arrangements for management and finance under the conditions of a prospering commercial economy; the rewards and restrictions experienced by the physicians and surgeons who donated their professional services free of charge; and the constructions of an integrated social and political élite around the physical and moral rehabilitation of the sick poor. In this way, the example of Bath – a stylish resort whose visitors and residents exemplified the dynamic of fashionable philanthropy – is used to open up issues of significance to our understanding of Georgian Britain as a whole.
Table of Contents
Part 1. Introduction. 1. Britain in the Long Eighteenth Century. Part 2. The Commercial Economy. 2. The Promotion of Civic Virtue. 3. The Achievement of Financial Solvency. Part 3. The Medical Profession. 4. The Rewards of Service. 5. The Limits of Autonomy. Part 4. The Moral Economy. 6. The Obligations of Paternalism. 7. From Mercantilism to Laissez-Faire. Part 5. Status, Politics and Power. 8. The Pursuit of Social Status. 9. The Integration of the Political Élite. 10. The Education of the Lower Orders. Part 6. Conclusion. 11. Medical Charity and the Middling Sort.