The disinterested intelligence: 1850–70
Commentators on the nineteenth century have always regarded the 1850s and 1860s as a peculiarly favoured period; an interlude of prosperity, achievement and social harmony that is a vindication of responsibly applied Utilitarian theory. Despite the Indian Mutiny and the Crimean War that warned of the coming troubles and distractions of Empire, these decades were a time of happy relaxation after the doctrinaire 1830s and 1840s with their famine, epidemics and threat of revolution. Progress seemed assured, the more brutal aspects of a laissez-faire capitalism had been tamed, self-help was tactfully rewarded, and the citizens of Britain (for the first time largely urban) were growing accustomed to a degree of administrative control that would have seemed unthinkable two decades earlier.
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