Peter Mathias’s subject is the creation in late eighteenth-century England of the industrial system – and thereby the present world. That unique conjuncture poses the sharpest questions about the nature of industrialization, social change and historical explanation, issues that are his principal scholarly concern. For many readers these collected studies will be as indispensable as the author’s general introduction, The First Industrial Nation, whether for the richness of their material or the freedom and subtlety of his analysis.
These fascinating essays are divided into two groups: general themes, the ‘uniqueness’ in Europe of the industrial revolution, capital formation, taxation, the growth of skills, science and technical change, leisure and wages, diagnoses of poverty; and topics, the social structure, the industrialization of brewing, coinage, agriculture and the drink industries, advances in public health and the armed forces, British and American public finance in the War of Independence, Dr Johnson and the business world.
This book was first published in 1979.
Acknowledgements Preface Part I: Themes 1. British industrialization: unique or not? 2. Skills and the diffusion of innovations from Britain in the eighteenth century 3. Who unbound Prometheus? Science and technical change, 1600–1800 4. Science and technology during the Industrial Revolution: some general problems 5. Capital, credit and enterprise in the Industrial Revolution 6. Taxation and industrialization in Britain, 1700–1870 7. Adam’s burden: historical diagnoses of poverty 8. Leisure and wages in theory and practice Part II: Topics 9. The social structure in the eighteenth century: a calculation by Joseph Massie 10. The people’s money in the eighteenth century: the Royal Mint, trade tokens and the economy