John Foster (1740-1828)

The Politics of Improvement and Prosperity

By A.P.W. Malcomson

John Foster (1785-1800) was the last speaker of the Irish House of Commons and the most important opponent of the Act of Union, which extinguished both his office and the separate Irish parliament. He also served three times as chancellor of the Irish Exchequer, passing on the first of these occasions the famous Corn Law of 1784, which has always borne his name. Although Foster remained doggedly and exclusively Irish in his mentalite, he achieved at Westminster in 1804 a political come-back, which was quite remarkable, particularly for a man of 65, and he remained politically active into his 80s. Dr. A.P.W. Malcomson's first book on John Foster was published in 1978. Professor S.J. Connolly described the book as "potentially one of the most important books on 18th century Ireland to appear in the past 50 years." The present book incorporates new insights drawn from recently discovered archives, other new ideas generated by the commemorations of the 1798 Rebellion and the Union, and some second thoughts and shifts of emphasis which the author considers important. Foster's paternalist approach to politics, and his determined pursuit of improvement and prosperity as the cure for political ills, are the principal themes of this book and are shown to be the motive forces of Foster's career. In many ways, they are an anticipation of the late 19th-century Conservative policy of killing Home Rule with kindness. *** "Opinions about Foster's character will continue to diverge, but, yet again, Malcomson shows his unrivaled skill in recreating the constructive thinking of a vigorous conservative. Furthermore, in the course of retrieving and rehabilitating Foster, he adds much to knowledge and understanding of government, administration and the finances of Ireland and Great Britain between the 1780s and 1828. - Irish Literary Supplement, Spring 2013

480 pages

Publication Date: 11/23/2011
Format: Cloth
ISBN: 9781846822308