By Peter Mandler

Victorian Britain is usually regarded as the excessive aspect of "laissez-faire," where and the time whilst humans have been so much "free" to make their very own lives with no the help or interference of the kingdom. This booklet, by way of prime historians of nineteenth-century kingdom and society, asks to what volume that was once actual and, to the level that it was once, the way it labored.

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Extra resources for Liberty and Authority in Victorian Britain

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If State control and dictation was shunned, that does not mean that the ‘liberal subject’ was meant to or wanted to stand alone. Other means of collective provision were traditionally available or could be newly developed. , Women, Privilege and Power: British Politics, 1750 to the Present (Stanford, 2001). ⁴⁸ Phil Handler, ‘Forgery and the End of the “Bloody Code” in Early NineteenthCentury England’, Historical Journal, 48 (2005), 683–702; Shoemaker, ‘Public Insult’, 131; Wiener, Men of Blood, 29.

That State’s most infamous effort at moral control beyond prison walls was enshrined in the Contagious Diseases Acts of the 1860s, which aimed to curb venereal disease among soldiers and naval ratings by forcing vaginal examinations upon suspected prostitutes. The authorities had the power to confine those who were found to have syphilis or gonorrhea in ‘lock hospitals’ for up to nine months at a stretch. g. David Taylor, The New Police in Nineteenth-Century England: Crime, Conflict and Control (Manchester, 1997), 106–7.

F. , Currents of Radicalism: Popular Radicalism, Organised Labour, and Party Politics in Britain, 1850–1914 (Cambridge, 1991), 134–62; Daunton, Trusting Leviathan, 385. ²³ Foucault has been frequently and justly criticized for exaggerating the ability of the nineteenth-century state to punish social ‘deviance’. The Victorian State was in no position to undertake a thorough policing of public morals because it lacked the bureaucratic resources to do so and because freedom from State harassment remained a cherished ‘right’ of the freeborn Englishman.

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