Gambling, Dueling, and Social Depravity in the Haut Ton

  • A. A. Markley


Perhaps the one objective that links reformist writers of the 1790s more than any other is their shared goal to draw attention to the corruption of the British upper class. Inspired by the early promise of the French Revolution, many of these authors worked to convince their readers that the behavior of Britain’s age-old aristocracy had become increasingly damaging to the common good. Such writers traced a host of contemporary social problems to the behavior of aristocrats who continued to live off of the labor of the poor despite the fact that many of them were rapidly beginning to run through their own fortunes. By the end of the eighteenth century, many upper-class families who had been entrenched in ancient estates for generations found themselves rich in land and in pride but increasingly poor in cash. Nevertheless, such families tended to hold tenaciously to their hereditary social status and their lives of high fashion in the “haut ton.”


Middle Class Lower Class French Revolution Late Eighteenth Century Excessive Gambling 
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© A. A. Markley 2009

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