The Restoration and Eighteenth Century section of Norton Topics Online presents an era of unprecedented expansion, when the city of London was growing rapidly, new worlds were opened up by the technologies of the telescope and the microscope, and Britain was building its first empire, an enterprise fueled by the slave trade.

Suggested uses of Norton Topics Online: The Restoration and the Eighteenth Century with The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Eighth Edition (anthology page references for the new Eighth Edition are included below):

A Day in Eighteenth-Century London

Samuel Pepys, The Diary NAEL8.1.2134
Jonathan Swift, A Description of a City Shower NAEL8.1.2303
John Dryden, Annus Mirabilis NAEL8.1.2085
Alexander Pope, The Rape of the Lock NAEL8.1.2513
  [See also NAEL8.1.A5, Poems in Progress, for a look at revisions made to The Rape of the Lock.]  
Joseph Addison and Sir Richard Steele, The Tatler and The Spectator NAEL8.1.2470
William Congreve, The Way of the World NAEL8.1.2226
John Gay, The Beggar's Opera NAEL8.1.2611
William Hogarth, Marriage A-la-Mode NAEL8.1.2656

A Day in Eighteenth-Century London examines representations of the vibrant city that symbolized both business and pleasure for eighteenth-century Britons. The texts collected here give insight into the coffeehouse culture that provides the context and content of Addison and Steele's (and later, Johnson's) periodicals. Here, too, one finds descriptions of the street life observed and mocked by Swift and Gay, and sketches of the pleasure grounds and entertainments of the type so deftly satirized by Congreve and Hogarth.

The eighteenth-century descriptions of the city archived online and in the companion readings listed above are perhaps best understood when read in tandem with works depicting the country; selections from Oliver Goldsmith (NAEL8.1.2877), George Crabbe (NAEL8.1.2886), Thomas Gray (NAEL8.1.2867), James Thomson (NAEL8.1.2860) and William Cowper (NAEL8.1.2891) provide striking and useful contrasts. Contemporary definitions of gender roles may be explored at length using the Norton Anthology section entitled “Debating Women: Arguments in Verse” (NAEL8.1.2589).

Slavery and the Slave Trade in Britain

John Locke, Two Treatises of Government: Of Slavery NAEL8.1.2830
Samuel Johnson, A Brief to Free a Slave NAEL8.1.2849
Olaudah Equiano, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African, Written by Himself NAEL8.1.2850
James Thomson, Rule, Britannia NAEL8.1.2840
Aphra Behn, Oroonoko, or The Royal Slave NAEL8.1.2183
John Ruskin, The Slave Ship NAEL8.2.1321
Anna Letitia Barbauld, Epistle to William Wilberforce, Esq., on the Rejection of the Bill for Abolishing the Slave Trade NAEL8.2.32

Slavery and the Slave Trade in Britain offers students texts designed to complement those in the section entitled “Liberty” in the Norton Anthology. The readings presented here juxtapose Britons' sense of personal and national liberty (as expressed in Thomson's poem and in Johnson's prose) with Britain's economic reliance upon the slave trade and slave labor. Documents such as Liverpool's anti-abolitionist petition to the House of Commons and the slave-trader Nicholas Owen's journal furnish a counterpoint to the sympathetically drawn slave narratives of Behn and Equiano, and the abolitionist discourses of More and Cowper.

The Plurality of Worlds

John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding NAEL8.1.2152
Margaret Cavendish, The Description of a New World, Called The Blazing World NAEL8.1.1780
Sir Isaac Newton, A Letter of Mr. Isaac Newton


Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man NAEL8.1.2540
Christopher Smart, A Song to David NAEL8.1.2875
James Thomson, The Seasons NAEL8.1.2860
Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy


John Donne, An Anatomy of the World NAEL8.1.1289
Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels NAEL8.1.2323

The Plurality of Worlds considers those scientific methods, philosophies and technologies of the Restoration and the eighteenth century which exerted the most pervasive influence upon people's views of the world and their place in it. Newton's theories of light and Galileo's telescopic observations of the universe are among the readings which provide a background crucial to understanding Pope's idea of man's place in God's vast universe, and Smart's joyous adoration of creation's variety. Cavendish's claim, "I have made a world of my own: for which no body, I hope, will blame me, since it is in every one's power to do the like" (NAEL8.1.1781), reveals the imaginative possibilities of this new sense of a universe that stretched from the microscopic worlds espied by Hooke and van Leeuwenhoek, to the distant galaxies postulated by Wright.

Travel, Trade, and the Expansion of Empire

Samuel Johnson, A Dictionary of the English Language NAEL8.1.2749
James Boswell, Boswell on the Grand Tour NAEL8.1.2779
Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels NAEL8.1.2323
Samuel Johnson, The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia NAEL8.1.2680

Travel, Trade, and the Expansion of Empire examines the popularity of travel writing during the eighteenth century. From voyages of exploration to narratives of captivity, from journeys undertaken for reasons of education or personal health to piratical cruises, these texts of travels both real and imagined provide a vital background to understanding Swift, Boswell, and Johnson's representations of the foreign and the exotic.

In addition to the eighteenth-century pairings suggested above, Travel, Trade, and the Expansion of Empire may be used as a part of a course-length chronological examination of travel narratives, colonization, and literary explorations of the "other." Beginning with the Norton Anthology's Sixteenth Century section entitled The Wider World (NAEL8.1.927-943) and the Norton Topics Online units Renaissance Exploration, Travel, and the World Outside Europe, and Island Nations: Forging and Contesting Identities in the British Isles, one might then proceed to a reading of Emigrants and Settlers: Seventeenth-Century Colonial Writing and the Expansion of Englishness (Norton Topics Online) to Travel, Trade and the Expansion of Empire. Readings from Romantic Orientalism (Norton Topics Online), followed by Victorian Imperialism (Norton Topics Online) and finally, Imperialism to Postcolonialism: Perspectives on the British Empire (Norton Topics Online) would complete the tour.

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