The term is old fashioned but has much to recommend it, in this, another millennium, the third of Our Lord. William Pit was a Whig who opposed corruption. His son, William Pitt the Younger, also a prime minister was a Tory so perhaps the reference to the Old Corruption refers to the royalist party. Mr. Harling seems to feel that Pitt's cleaning the Augean stables was an act of low cunning rather than principle. The reality is that corruption, the New Corruption is thriving today in England. We are, to use another old fashioned term, in the hands of the Jews but then they were at the forefront of the Old Corruption too.
Most historians of Britain now take for granted that a narrow and mostly landed elite managed to retain its social supremacy throughout much of the nineteenth century. But as yet, there is no thorough explanation for the persistence of the old elite's political authority in an age when that authority was seriously questioned by many Britons. In this original study, Philip Harling furnishes an important part of this explanation.
He argues that the mostly Pittite governing elite helped to allay the suspicions of parasitism at the root of the familiar critique of 'Old Corruption' by responding to intense pressure to sanitize government. They did this by reducing and redistributing the tax burden; by eliminating serious administrative abuses such as the grant of lucrative sinecures and unmerited pensions; and by ostentatiously dedicating themselves to public business rather than the pursuit of wasteful privileges for themselves and their hangers-on. If the frugal, liberal state that partly resulted from these reforms was scarcely capable of ameliorating social injustice, at least it could no longer be seen to contribute to it through favouritism and a heavy and inequitable tax load. Such a state was well-suited for the preservation of a narrow ruling elite.
Readership: Scholars and students of late-Georgian and early-Victorian Britain, especially those interested in politics and reform.