Goodbye GeorgIan Frivolity 

Andrew Rowan (2013)

 

By the closing decades of the eighteenth century the immoral behaviour of Britain's titled rulers had started to come under the spotlight. There were a number of reasons for this; the growing popularity of the coffee shop and its gossip culture, the morality lectures of the Evangelicals, the new concept of newspapers and the radical pamphlet campaign of the 1790s. It was the excess, greed, frivolous behaviour and extremes that was the beginning of the end for the titled rulers. Their poor behaviour actually triggered their own demise. Beautiful celebrity aristocrats from the mid eighteenth century such as Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, had brought huge attention upon the aristocracy; they became celebrities. The Duchess was the Princess of Wales of her day; everyone wanted to know what she was wearing, where she was going and who she was talking to. The patrons of every coffee shop were talking about the celebrity nobles and what they were doing. However, some of that gossip turned into negative and challenging conversation. The radical newspapers of the day started to challenge the excessive and wasteful life styles of those who had been 'entrusted by God' to rule the nation. Once you add in the vitriol from Thomas Paine and the poisonous anti-establishment pamphlets, a new potentially hateful and disrespectful middle class was born. The newspapers were exploring every scandal and questioning every shocking or depraved act within the upper echelons of society, from rape and violence to paedophilia and drunkenness to excessive cruelty, greed and unkindness. This all came at a time when poverty was rife and people had started to demand a say in how things were done. The aristocracy were not cautious enough of the potential for bloodshed, even in the aftermath of their French cousins' bloody ending.