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Trevelyan: English Social History: Language

Trevelyan’s use of language gives away his views very clearly. He has rather snobbish contempt for the towns: people are ‘dumped’ in ‘neglected heaps’ that ‘fermented’ into radical ideas or ‘highly combustible material’: he does not stop to consider that there might be a connection between these incendiary ideas and the dispiriting living conditions he describes later in the extract. The countryside, by contrast, with its ‘beauty of field and wood and hedge’, has a conservative ‘moral atmosphere’ (the implication is that the moral atmosphere in the towns is decidedly more suspect), customs that are ‘age-long’ and ‘immemorial’ (i.e. very old but with a sense of being validated by virtue of their age), is ‘humane’ and, unlike the towns, evokes affection in the people who live there.

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