2013년 5월 21일 화요일

[발췌: Richard Brown's] Society and Economy in Modern Britain 1700-1850

자료: Richard Brown, Society and Economy in Modern Britain 1700-1850 (Routledge 1991)

※ 발췌(excerpts): p. 158-9

The peerage and public office

The peerage were also able to profit from the perquisites of high office. Peers monopolized the offices of state, their patronage and revenues. By 1720 a quarter of the peerage held government or Court offices. Many were sinecures—as Cannon notes ‘Free parking has always been a great privilege.’18—or pensions. Horace Walpole, the Prime Minister’s son, held three sinecures: Usher of the Exchequer, Comptroller of the Pipe and Clerk of the Estreat which brought in some £3,000 per annum. At the end of the eighteenth century George Rose had sinecures worth £11,602 a year. Many offices allowed the incumbent to take commission from contractors, gifts and use the public money as if it were their own. Through control of office peers could satisfy family, friends, neighbours and the strangers who clamoured for preferment, patronage and charity. It is possible to exaggerate the importance of office-holding as a source of income and few peers were able to base their economic position on their monopoly of office alone. Only the office of Paymaster-General seems to have consistently allowed holders to amass
fortunes, as in the case of Marlborough, Walpole, Chandos, Henry Fox, Holland, James Brydges and others.


Life-style and power

In general terms the English peerage was extremely wealthy. This allowed them to dictate taste and fashion. Their country houses were designed or modernized by the leading architects, decorated by contemporary artists or with ‘old masters’ and peopled with the leading poets, playwrights and wits. The Great House was the symbol of economic power and political authority. Peers introduced tropical plants and new techniques in farming. They were conspicuous in their spending and consumption. Profit-seeking was a means rather than an end. As Perkin remarks,
The pursuit of wealth was the pursuit of status, not merely for oneself but for one’s family. In the last resort the ultimate motivation…was a dynastic one: to found a family, to endow them splendidly enough to last for ever, and to enjoy a vicarious eternal life in the seed of one’s loin.[19]
The peer’s life-style was neither exclusively urban, nor purely rural. The estate and the country house, with its liveried servants, were at the heart of this life-style—they were tangible proof of the authority and status of hierarchy. The urban features of the life-style of the peerage centred on London ‘society’ and the associated ‘season’ of balls, dinners and race meetings where potential marriages could be discussed and arranged and when lawyers and bankers could be seen about estate affairs. The town house was an important arena for conspicuous spending. Unlike many continental monarchies the Court, though an important part of ‘society’, was not the sole arbiter of manners and acceptability.

During the eighteenth century the House of Lords was increasingly eclipsed by the Commons, as the focus of political power and influence and yet paradoxically the aristocracy continued to dominate politics. Mandeville wrote that ‘dominion follows property’. Land gave the aristocracy control over many parliamentary seats and this was reinforced by their use of patronage to reward the loyalty of friends, family and clients and to buy off the disaffected. High positions at Court and in the Church, in the bureaucracy, diplomatic service and in the armed forces were used, openly and without moral scruple, to maintain their political dominance. Perkin writes that
Patronage, however, was more than a device for filling jobs, fostering talent, and providing pensions for the deserving and undeserving. In the mesh of continuing loyalties of which appointments were the outward sign, patronage brings us very close to the inner structure of the old society…. ‘Vertical friendship’, a durable two-way relationship between patrons and clients permeating the whole of society, was a social nexus peculiar to the old society, less formal and inescapable than feudal homage, more personal and comprehensive than the contractual, employment relationships of capitalist ‘Cash Payments’.[20]
This dominance was reflected in the ways that peers used the law to protect the economic basis of that domination. Unlike their continental counterparts, peers did not have widespread legal privileges and were not exempt from taxation. However, the instruments of mortgage, strict settlement and entail maintained the physical integrity of the estate, and parliamentary enclosure consolidated this position. The exclusiveness of their economic status was reinforced by the Game Laws which from 1671 to 1831 restricted the right to take game, even on one’s own land, to owners of estates worth more than £100 per year. The early nineteenth century saw an increased viciousness in the laws against poaching—springguns were not prohibited until 1827, night poaching was punishable by transportation and attacks on gamekeepers could lead to hanging. Though the Game Laws may have protected estates their limited economic value was outweighed by the political capital which radicals made of their use. Control of the administration of localities and of the magistracy meant that property was fully protected. Arthur Young observed that ‘Banishment alone will force the French to execute what the English do for pleasure—reside upon and adorn their estates.’ [21]

From the 1780s there was a dramatic increase in the number of peers though promotions consistently exceeded creations. ( ... ... )

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