Canaletto. London: The Thames and the City of London from Richmond House . Detail. 1747. 44-7/8" × 39-3/8”.
Map: The Growth of London, 1720-1820.
The Great Fire [of London] , 1666.
Map: The Spread of the Great Fire from September 2nd to 5th, 1666 .
Who were Hobbes and Locke? On September 2, 1666, the better part of London was destroyed by fire. Among the achievements of this rebuilding campaign is Christopher Wren’s Saint Paul’s Cathedral (and indeed the 51 other churches that he rebuilt). At the same time, English intellectuals began to advocate rational thinking as the means to achieve a comprehensive system of ethics, aesthetics, and knowledge. Political strife inevitably raised the question of who should govern and how. In Leviathan , Thomas Hobbes argued that ordinary people were incapable of governing themselves and should willingly submit to the sovereignty of a supreme ruler. John Locke argued in opposition that humans are “by nature free, equal, and independent.” Can you provide two or three examples of how their positions play out in the politics of the era? How do they play out in John Milton’s Paradise Lost?
Frontispiece to Leviathan . 1651.
Closer Look: Wren's Saint Paul's Cathedral: Western façade.
Closer Look: Wren's Saint Paul's Cathedral: Vertical cross-section or cutaway view.
Closer Look: Wren's Saint Paul's Cathedral: Vertical cross-section or cutaway view of the ground floor.
What is satire, and how did it shape the Enlightenment in England? Deeply conscious of the fact that English society fell far short of its ideals, many writers and artists turned to satire. William Hogarth’s prints, produced for a popular audience, satirized the lifestyles of all levels of English society. Jonathan Swift aimed the barbs of his wit at the same aristocracy and lambasted English political leaders for their policies toward Ireland in his Modest Proposal . Alexander Pope’s Dunciad took on not only the English nobility, but the literary establishment that supported it. In a more serious vein, his Essay on Man attempts to define a complete ethical system in classical terms of balance and harmony. After the Glorious Revolution, in fact, English politics settled into a state of comparative harmony. How did the scientific discoveries of Isaac Newton contribute to Enlightenment thinking? How did the Lunar Society, the group that arguably launched what we think of today as the Industrial Revolution, reflect this same thinking? In music, composer George Frederick Handel’s oratorio Messiah captured Britain’s sense of identification with biblical Israel. What distinguishes the Messiah from most other oratorios?
William Hogarth. Gin Lane . 1751. 14" × 11-7/8”.
William Hogarth. The Countess’s Levée , or Morning Party , from the series Marriage à la Mode . 1743-45. 27" × 35”.
Joseph Wright. An Experiment on a Bird in the Air-Pump . 1768. 6' × 8’.
Transfer-printed Queen’s Ware. ca. 1770.
Thomas Farnolls Pritchard. Iron Bridge, Coalbrookdale, England. 1779.
What gave rise to the novel? The growing literacy of the English population, matched by an explosion in publishing, gave rise to new genres of writing. Newspapers such as Joseph Addison and Richard Steele’s The Tatler and The Spectator introduced the journalistic essay, which described and reflected upon all aspects of English society. Fiction writers experimented with many types of novel, from Daniel Defoe’s fictive autobiographies to Samuel Richardson’s epistolary works, Fielding’s “comic epic poems in prose,” and Jane Austen’s novels extolling the virtues of good sense, reason, and self-improvement. In what ways does Samuel Johnson’s assessment of the novel in his Rambler essay of 1850 apply to the works of Defoe, Richardson, and Fielding?
Frontispiece, The Life and Strange Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe of York, Mariner ... by Daniel Defoe. 1719.
Sir Joshua Reynolds. Portrait of Samuel Johnson . 1756-57. 50-1/4" × 40”.
What was the purpose of Captain Cook’s voyages to the Pacific Ocean? The peoples of the South Seas were seen by many Enlightenment thinkers to be unfettered by social hierarchy and private property. But Captain Cook saw things otherwise. How does Cook’s thinking equally reflect Enlightenment values? In New Zealand, Cook encountered the Maori, whose tattoo practices were connected to the mana , or invisible spiritual force, a manifestation of the gods on earth, with which, the culture believed, certain individuals, places, and objects were endowed. How did the concept of mana influence the cultural production of the South Seas islanders? On Easter Island, Cook discovered the remnants of a culture that had erected moai , monumental heads with torsos, since about 1000 CE. In the western half of New Guinea, he encountered the Asmat, headhunters. Why did these peoples display the heads of enemy warriors on bis poles? In Australia, Cook was the first to encounter Australian Aborigines, whose rock art represents the longest continuously practiced artistic tradition in the world. Before Cook was killed in Hawaii, he traveled to the northern Pacific, up the Canadian and Alaska coasts, as far as the Bering Sea. For what was he searching? What possibilities for trade did his expedition discover?
Map: The Islands of the South Pacific.
Sydney Parkinson. Portrait of a Maori (later engraved and published as Plate XVI in Parkinson's Journal ). 1769. 15-1/2" × 11-5/8”.
Thin moai at Rano Raraku, Easter Island. ca. 1000-1600 CE.
New Guinea, Asmat. Bis poles. Irian Jaya, Faretsj River, Omadesep village, Asmat people. Mid-twentieth century. Height: 18’.
Australia, Arnhem. Mimis and kangaroo ("x-ray style"). Oenpelli, Arnhem Land, Australia. Before 7000 BCE and after 1788.
Hawaii. Kukailimoku . ca. 1790-1810. Height: 77”.
John Webber, draftsman, and William Sharp, engraver. A Man of Oonalashka . From the atlas volume of James Cook’s A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean (London, 1784). ca. April 1778.
Johann Zoffany. Continuity & Change: Dido Elizabeth Belle Lindsay and Lady Elizabeth Murray . 1779-81. 35-1/2" X 28-1/4”.
The New London: Toward the EnlightenmentWho were Hobbes and Locke?• Absolutism versus Liberalism: Thomas Hobbes and JohnLocke — The new London was, in part, the result of the rationalempirical thinking that dominated the Royal Society. Hobbes wasconvinced that the reasoning upon which Euclid’s geometry was basedcould be extended to political and social systems. He argued thatpeople are driven by two things –the fear of death at someone else’shands and the desire for power—and that the government’s role is tocheck both of these instincts. Locke repudiated Hobbes, arguing thatpeople are perfectly capable of governing themselves. Experiences inour environment fill the “blank slate” of our minds. Thus, if we live in areasonable society, it should follow that we will grow into reasonablepeople.
• John Milton’s Paradise Lost — The debate between absolutismand liberalism also informs what is arguable the greatest poem of theEnglish seventeenth century, Paradise Lost by John Milton. Thesubject of the epic is the Judeo-Christian story of the loss of Paradiseby Adam and Eve and their descendents. It is a fair-minded essay onthe possibilities of liberty and justice.• Discussion Question: Compare and contrast the epic vision of Milton inParadise Lost, with his vast visions of Heaven and Hell, to the sociallyfocused satire of Swift.
The English EnlightenmentWhat is satire, and how did it shape the Enlightenment in England?• Satire: Enlightenment Wit — In the heart of London, a surgingpopulation of immigrants newly arrived from the countryside filledtenements. Beneath the surface of English society could be detected acauldron of social ferment and moral bankruptcy. Hogarth published aprint, Gin Lane, that illustrated life in the gin shops depicting the realityof London at its worst. He did so with a savage wit and broad humorthat marks the best of social satire. Jonathan Swift was the most bitingsatirist of the English Enlightenment. A Modest Proposal proposes thatIrish families who could not afford to feed their children breed them tobe butchered and served to the English.• Isaac Newton: The Laws of Physics — Newton demonstratedthat the universe was an intelligible system, well-ordered in itsoperations and guiding principles. Experiments demonstrating thelaws of physics became a popular form of entertainment. The Englishpainter Joseph Wright depicts a scientist conducting an experimentbefore the members of a middle-class household.
• The Industrial Revolution—Members of the Lunar Society included prominent manufacturers,inventors, and naturalists. The group discussed chemistry, medicine, electricity, gases, and anytopic that might prove fruitful for industry. These Society members inaugurated the IndustrialRevolution a term that describes the radical changes in production and consumption thattransformed the world. Josiah Wedgwood’s earthenware factory used molds and mechanicallyprinted decorative patterns on finished china. Advances in textile manufacture could be called thedriving force of the Industrial Revolution. The invention of the flying shuttle and the patenting of thewater frame increased textile production. The discovery of techniques for producing iron ofunprecedented quality in a cost-effective manner was another important development.• Handel and the English Oratorio—The sense of prosperity and promise created by the IndustrialRevolution in England found expression in the music of Handel. An oratorio is a lengthy choralwork, usually employing religious subject matter, performed by a narrator, soloists, choruses, andorchestra; this genre made Handel’s reputation. His greatest achievement is the oratorio Messiah.• Do the narrative elements of the English Oratorio and the English Novel seem more parallel orcomplementary?
Architectural Simulation: Cast-IronConstructionMyArtsLabChapter 24 – The Rise of the Enlightenment in England
Active Listening Guide: Handel: Messiah,"Hallelujah"MyArtsLabChapter 24 – The Rise of the Enlightenment in England
Literacy and the New Print CultureWhat gave rise to the novel?• The Tattler and The Spectator — The Tattler mixed news andpersonal reflections and soon became popular in coffeehouses andbreakfast tables throughout London. Addison and Steele invented anew literary form, the journalistic essay, a form perfectly suited to anage dedicated to the observation of daily life, and drawing from life’sexperiences. The Spectator left almost no aspect of their cultureunexamined. They instructed their readership in good manners,surveyed the opportunities that London offered the prudent shopper,and described the goings-on at the Royal Exchange, and reviewed thecities various entertainments.• The Rise of the English Novel — What the novel claimed to be,and what appealed to its ever-growing audience, was a realisticportrayal of contemporary life. The novel endorsed a set of ethics anda morality that were practical, not idealized. One of the first greatnovels written in English is Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe which hepresents as an autobiography. The theme of the power of the averageperson to survive and flourish is what assured the novel’s popularity.
• The Rise of the English Novel (continued)— The epistolarynovel is made up of a series of letters and was devised by SamuelRichardson. Henry Fielding wrote a parody of Richardson’s high moraltone and his greatest success was The History of Tom Jones, aFoundling. Jane Austen’s novels track, with uncanny precision,distinctions of class, rank, and social standing that mark her times. TheEnglish novel, and the state of the society reflected in it, was of specialconcern to Samuel Johnson. His most important contribution to Englishletters is his Dictionary of the English Language.• Discussion Question: Who read the first English novels? Why did theyinterest this audience?
Exploration in the EnlightenmentWhat was the purpose of Captain Cook’s voyage to the PacificOcean?• Cook’s Encounters in the South Pacific — New Zealand wasinhabited by the Maori. The Maori imported the practice of tattooingfrom the Polynesian islands to the north. Tattooing is an aspect ofcomplex sacred and ritual traditions found throughout the PacificIslands. Cook arrived on Easter Island where he found the remains ofan abandoned civilization, most particularly the monumental heads withtorsos known as moai. In Melanesia, Cook encountered an extremelyhostile and fearless native population. Cook claimed Australia for theBritish crown in 1770. Aboriginal rock art represents the longestcontinuously practiced artistic tradition anywhere in the world. Cookturned the natives of Hawaii against him who clubbed and stabbed himto death in 1779.• Cook in the North Pacific — Cook journeyed to the Aleutian Chainin an effort to find a “Northwest Passage” connecting the Atlantic andPacific Oceans.