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Cabinet 07: Economy

[Daniel Defoe], A Tour Thro' the Whole Island of Great Britain . 5th ed. Vol. III. London: Printed for S. Birt, and 11 others, 1753. DeB Eb 1753 D

Defoe, double page Defoe, title page In 1700, about half the total population (some 2.25 million people) in England and Wales were involved in agriculture, by far the largest occupational sector. However, urbanization increased gradually, so that by 1800, 24% of the population lived in towns of 10,000 plus. While touring England, Daniel Defoe (1660?-1731) emphasised England's active industry and manufacturing base. He also commented on urban tradesmen who sought to live within their means, something that Defoe himself should have taken to heart. His Tour (1724-27) 'has been lauded by the most eminent historians as a prime source of understanding for Britain', both in the eighteenth century and in 'the birth of the modern on a global scale' (Pat Rogers).

[Anon.], A New and Compleat Survey of London. Vol. I. London: Printed for S. Lyne,… and J. Ilive, 1742. DeB Eb 1742 N

Survey of London Map of London, 1740 'A culture of sociability - hedonism even - was emerging, increasingly secular in form and content, contributing to what has been called the commercialization of leisure.' So Roy Porter wrote on Georgian London. The city was the powerhouse, with theatres, reading rooms, clubs and societies, inns, coffee houses, pleasure gardens, mansions, and people – the glamorous and the lurid, the foreign and the farmer. It certainly justified Dr Johnson's oft quoted: 'He that is tired of London is tired of life, for there is in London all that life can afford.' This unsigned engraving of London shows the extent of the city about 1740.

[Arthur Young], A Six Months Tour Through the North of England. Vol. I. London: Printed for W. Strahan, and 3 others, 1770. DeB Eb 1770 Y

Young, page 22 Young, title page The aristocracy and the great land-owning families forged an elite culture in eighteenth century England. Arthur Young (1741-1820) travelled to the north of England in 1768 to examine agricultural practices. In between his reports on agricultural reforms and experimentation, he interspersed descriptions of the seats of nobility and gentry. Here are his notes on Woburn Abbey, the residence of the Duke of Bedford. His work was published anonymously.