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Not only have historians critiqued Stone’s lack of gender analysis, but they have also
pointed out the class bias of his research on the family. Steve Hindle’s essay provides a nice,
succinct review of the historiography on the family life of the poor. Hindle adds to it by
examining a new source: petitions to the county JPs to force parish officials to fulfill their
relief obligations. The narrative nature of these petitions reveals much incidental detail about
family life among the poor, particularly the material and moral support they received from
kin. Through a case study of one particularly well-documented family, Hindle posits that
kin support was critical for the survival of the poor.
Helen Berry and Elizabeth Foyster, the volume’s editors, also contribute an interesting
essay on the understudied topic of childless, married men. When childlessness has been
studied at all, it has been in relationship to women or failed mothers. Instead, Berry and
Foyster examine reproduction’s importance to and for men and how much fatherhood “was
a constituent element of masculinity” and a man’s position as patriarch. Essays such as this
one show the new directions of family history, interrogating the varied forms of families,
the familial context of masculinity, and men’s fraught relationship to patriarchy. The authors’
suggestion that contemporaries may have placed equal blame on husbands for a barren
marriage requires further study. And in looking at reasons why men might not have children,
the authors also leave out the possibility of homosexuality. But this essay does exactly what
a good volume should do; like Lawrence Stone’s work, it will hopefully provoke further
research.

Amy M. Froide, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

BERNADETTE BENSAUDE-VINCENT and CHRISTINE BLONDEL, eds. Science and Spectacle in


the European Enlightenment. Science, Technology and Culture, 1700–1945. Aldershot:
Ashgate Publishing, 2008. Pp. 164. $99.95 (cloth).

The year following the publication of his Lettres philosophiques (1734), Voltaire wrote that
poetry was no longer à la mode in Paris. Instead, everyone was turning into a geometer or
physicist: “On se mêle de raisonner.” He was not irritated as much as fearful this new fashion
would become “a tyrant that would exclude all the rest [opera, comédie, etc.]” (Oeuvres
complètes de Voltaire, Voltaire Foundation ed., 142 vols. [Oxford, 1968–], 87:D863; my
trans.). Less than three years later, after a sojourn in Holland, where he met with the brothers
Petrus and Jan van Musschenbroek and Willem Jacob ’s Gravesande, Voltaire himself started
putting together a large physics cabinet at the Château de Cirey, where he lived with the
Marquise du Châtelet. “Abbé Nollet is ruining me,” he quickly wrote in 1738 (the cabinet’s
expenditure reached approximately ten thousand livres), reporting it was easier to find money
than a philosophe like Nollet (ibid., 89:D1640; my trans.). Although both Voltaire and du
Châtelet rarely used the Cirey cabinet, this famous example shows the astonishing increase
in popularity of philosophical instruments, which went hand in hand with the “spectacular”
visual elements found in private and public lecture demonstrations during the European
Enlightenment. This collected work gives numerous accounts and describes several fasci-
nating facets of this epochal trend.
The editors are right in saying that their work is “full of sparks and smells” (2). Electricity
and chemistry provide the bulk of the historical examples selected by the group of well-
known contributors. The book’s chief focus is not on the wide selection of instruments
designed for the practice of these experimental disciplines—though they form an integral
part of the narratives. The focus is set, rather, on two features novel to the Enlightenment:
(1) the expanding range of locations and settings where experimental demonstrations took
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place; (2) the experimental practices themselves, the skilled (and theatrical) lecture-dem-
onstration performances that became linked to an emerging epistemology of the spectacle.
Experimental practices, we learn from Larry Stewart, were no longer restricted to the
closed walls of academies, societies, and schools. In Britain, private laboratories, instrument-
maker workshops, and industrial manufacture spaces became intertwined to such an extent
that “those who understood the workshop transformed the experimenter’s bench” (23).
Michael Lynn describes that in Paris, the geography of experimental lecture courses extended
along three main axes, depending on the targeted audience: the Left Bank, where one would
find the educated and bourgeois Parisians; the Boulevard du Temple, which served as a
center for popular entertainment; and the Palais Royal area, where the social and economic
elite attended courses and bought instruments. Also in Paris, explains Christine Lehmann,
one could attend private, fee-paying chemistry courses in apothecary laboratories as well as
free public lectures at the Jardin des Apothicaires and the Jardin du Roy, whether it was
for formal training or cultural entertainment. In Italy, as well as in France and elsewhere,
electrical experiments stormed the salon society, creating “the conditions for the domesti-
cation of electrical experimental philosophy” (80), according to Paola Bertucci. Other dem-
onstrators moved all the time, writes Oliver Hochadel, from town to town, showing their
prowess, teaching the basic concepts of natural philosophy, and earning some money. An
itinerant electrician such as Martin Berschitz spent the better part of three decades going
to roughly forty different European cities, where he would usually perform in the back
rooms of inns, rented theaters, and even simple booths at fairs.
Whether one was an aristocrat conversing in a salon, a commoner standing at a street
corner, or a bourgeois visiting an instrument-maker workshop, all witnessed sensational
experiments, skilled performances exhibiting nauseating smells and deafening booms. Lec-
ture demonstrations were pleasurable and carefully staged shows. Guillaume François
Rouelle, a chemist teaching at the Jardin du Roy, understood this well. There was a genuine
theatricality to Rouelle’s performances, reminiscent of popular theater and entertainment
set on the Boulevard du Temple. His success as a lecturer was not based on his eloquence,
argues Lissa Roberts, but on a gestural language that best conveyed “the sensibilities of his
audience to the qualities of the sensible world” (135). In England, Jan Golinski shows that
Joseph Priestley sought to enlist his audience’s sensibility to the wonders of chemistry by
developing an aesthetic and a social strategy of communication founded on the notion of
the sublime. Jonathan Simon demonstrates how Honoré Fragonard’s anatomical prepara-
tions, made from cadavers, encouraged the study of the human anatomy owing to their
unparalleled artistic composition and mise-en-scène.
Delightful and amusing physics, with its myriad of haute-voltige tricks, performances, and
especially its power of replication, provided a sense that natural phenomena could be revealed.
It moreover contributed to the transformation of the public sphere pertaining to the realm
of politics and consumerism (Habermas’s familiar concept is never far from the authors’
collective mind). When academicians appointed by the royal court refuted the practice of
Mesmerism and attributed it to effects of the imagination, argues Jessica Riskin, they con-
fronted and went against “a public conviction [created by the rise of amusing physics] that
knowledge of natural phenomena was founded in dramatic, sensible manifestations of other-
wise hidden principle” (62). This new culture of curiosity and sensibility blended the bound-
ary between the mechanical arts and polite society, each influencing the other. Instruments,
toys, automata, and other machines found a market that began to value an “aesthetics of
utility understood as fitness, based on the praise of design, project and purpose” (35).
Amusing physics created a new type of informed and technology-literate consumer, con-
cludes Liliane Pérez.
This book is coherent, well done (despite several misprints—“s’Gravesande” should be
spelled “’s Gravesande”), and will greatly enlighten those who are unfamiliar with the theme.
Scholars in the field, however, will find nothing new here, most chapters having been drawn
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from previously published work by the contributors. (Lynn’s chapter is the most extreme
case, taken almost verbatim from his book Popular Science and Public Opinion in Eighteenth-
Century France [Manchester, 2006], 55–65.) Were it not for its price, I would recommend
it as a very useful undergraduate textbook.

Jean-François Gauvin, Harvard University

W. M. JACOB. The Clerical Profession in the Long Eighteenth Century, 1680–1840. Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 2007. Pp. viii⫹357. $85.00 (cloth).

Bill Jacob, a professor of pastoral theology at Lampeter who has previously given us a fine
study of the laity in eighteenth-century England, now turns his attention to the clergy. He
is himself responsible, as archdeacon of Charing Cross, for the welfare of a body of Anglican
clergy, and so it is perhaps appropriate that his study treats their predecessors in the eighteenth
century generously. By contrast with Peter Virgin’s The Church in an Age of Negligence
(Cambridge, 1989), Jacob’s book concentrates not on clerical failings but on the virtues of
the profession. He considers his subject as an occupational group, suggesting that the clergy
constituted the only profession under regular supervision and discipline (although officers
in the army probably would have disagreed). The reforms of the nineteenth century, he
contends, had been anticipated in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, oc-
casionally by such parliamentary measures as the requirement in 1714 of minimum stipends
for curates, although usually without the interposition of parliament. Methods of mission
claimed as innovations in the nineteenth century such as the provision of schools and the
involvement of the laity had been widely implemented beforehand. Following Jeremy Greg-
ory, Jacob argues that there were no sharply defined ecclesiastical parties. Even those who
can legitimately be labeled “latitudinarians” were in general resolutely opposed to hetero-
doxy. The Church of England was not fractured but a well-ordered unity.
The overall case is supported by an analysis that helpfully takes topics in turn, one per
chapter. Beginning with the recruitment and training of his subjects, Jacob shows that there
was no shortage of candidates for the ministry. There may have been an increase in the
proportion of recruits from the gentry, although the author also hints that this apparent
development may have been a consequence of changing nomenclature. Oxford and Cam-
bridge were still the nurseries of the profession, over three-quarters of their graduates in
the early eighteenth century being ordained and as many as a half the Cambridge graduates
still taking that route in 1830. There was, Jacob concedes, some negligence at the univer-
sities, but the education was often good. When the newly ordained became curates, they
did not form a despised underclass, as Norman Sykes alleged, but were reasonably paid for
their services, which in small parishes were often light. Patronage, the avenue to preferment,
operated efficiently because its dispensers behaved responsibly—and, in any case, patronage
was universal in eighteenth-century society. Pluralism, the holding of more than one clerical
appointment simultaneously, was essential for the alleviation of potential poverty, and non-
residence, the related phenomenon considered scandalous in a later age, was much less
common than the figures suggest because any incumbent not occupying the parsonage was
considered nonresident even if he lived within or close to the parish. Incomes were normally
sufficient and dependence on tithe, a proportion of the agricultural produce of the parish,
had the salutary effect of bringing the interests of ministry and laity into harmony. As a
result of the improved markets and methods for agriculture, clerical incomes commonly
increased by something like 200 percent over the period. Hence, the clergy fitted naturally
into the society of the urban elites and the lesser county gentry.
There were few complaints about the conduct of worship, and low attendances at com-