This book examines the "long eighteenth-century" by focusing on four vices attributed to the members of the upper, of "fashionable" class: dueling, suicide, adultery and gaming. These vices, many contemporaries thought, were not punished as severely by the law when the miscreants were among the elite, as when they were merely of the hoi polloi. Many duelists, even those who killed their opponents during the duel, were not found guilty of murder; upper-class suicides were never found guilty of murder or felo de se; cuckolded husbands of the aristocracy were able to receive full divorce and remarry; and upper-class gaming was neither regulated nor penalized as the laws demanded. Through the lens of the two most popular and widespread forms of communication of the day -- the press and the theater -- this book charts the growing number of accounts of these vices, their repeated and vituperative condemnations, and the eventual changes that occurred in opinion as a result of such publicity. By launching a series of moral critiques of the upper classes, their critics, by presenting themselves as good Christians and good citizens, could thus evade the charge that they were trying to change political or economic realities, claiming instead that they were concerned with the strength and well-being of the nation. This broad cultural analysis enters into conversation with histories of the specific practices deemed vices, and examinations of the political, fiscal and economic transformations of this pivotal time.
Born in Romania, raised in New York, received my post-graduate education in London, England and Toronto, I came to the University of Guelph’s History Department in 1984. During that period I published three books: Philanthropy and Police, London Debating Societies 1776-99 and The Perreaus and Mrs. Rudd. Since retirement I’ve finished my long-time work in progress, and have begun another project examining newspaper advertising in London’s long eighteenth century.