My book about London in the Eighteenth Century:
Piotr Napierała, Światowa metropolia. Życie codzienne w osiemnastowiecznym Londynie, Novae Res, Gdynia 2010. ISBN 978-83-61194-43-9
This book is an attempt to show to the polish reader the richness and diversity of the eighteenth-century London live. First and foremost this book informs, why Lodnon was so unique as the largest city in eighteenth-century Europa, a prototype of the modern multicultural metropolis as we know today. The leading intellectuals of enlightenment esed to look upon London as an example of ‘free’ city ruled by public opinion expressed not only by mighty aristocrats but also humble subjects. In those days London had more to offer to an English or a foreign visitor, than any other city in the continent: parks opened to visitors, rich museum collections, fine shops, elegant partie organized by upper class (beau monde as it used to be called in that century), cosy inns, taverns with good food. Many Frenchmen, Italians and Spaniards used to go to London to see parliamentarism in working, modern manufactures, English and Italian art.
The mob, and even sometimes the political elite of the eighteenth-century London was Rather hostile to foreigners. The Spaniards had a reputation of cruel and canning people, the French were called chattering baboons, the Germans and Dutch were believed to be somewhat ‘primitive’. Very interesting was the evolution of the British-American relations, not only on the political level but also in everyday life. The example of Georg Friedrich Händel or George Frideric Handel naturalised as a British subject in 1727 is used in this book to exhibit how the process of adaptation of a foreigner to living among Britons could have looked like.
The third of the six chapters concernes the eighteenth-century London’s political life, that is; functioning of political clubs, topics of political discussions, the media (press, caricature). The problem of caricature – one of the arts in which the Britons of that era were particularily master ful is in this book strictly connected with life and output of an English great caricaturist William Hogarth. There are also some reference to the army and navy’s world.
From the next chapter the leader can learn what was the time of the breakfast the eighteenth-century londoners used to have and what was actually eaten at this breakfast. The same he or she can learn aobut dinners, favorite English disches including very fine recipes by Benjamin Franklin who was particularily fond of good cuisine. In this very chapter there are many informations about lodging, hotels, inns, education, prices, currency, salaries and wag es, clothes, fashion, morality, religion, enlightenment in London, the poor, the rich and the women of London in cluding the problems of marriage and the al most impossible in those days - divorce.
The last chapter is about the risks and dangers of everyday life in the eighteenth-century London. We are pursuing the Londonem of the era through every stages of his life – from the cradle to the tomb. Here we are refering to the problem of criminality, prostitution, police forces, crime and punishment, medical treatment, diseases, housing and social taboos.
I am fully aware of the fact, that it is not possibile to refer to every kind of human activity and so it is in the case of this book, but I hope still that this book can contribute to a better under standing of the British history and culture of the eighteenth century in Poland.
Piotr Napierała (17. X 2009)