The modern discipline of political economy developed, during the period 1750–1830, out of a sustained enquiry into a range of issues surrounding value, commerce, credit and the sublime spectacle of Britain’;s ever-increasing national debt. It was not until the 1820s that political economy could be said to have become a discipline in its own right, distinct from other fields of enquiry. Hence the extracts included in this section come from the most diverse range of textual genres, including political pamphlets, newspaper articles, parliamentary debates, autobiographical memoirs, and even a self-help manual on investing in stock. This miscellaneous set of documents charts the progress of thinking about money, finance and commerce as responses to phenomena such as the increasing complexity of commercial and monetary systems, the alarming growth of government borrowing, and the material achievements brought about by economic growth. Since these phenomena were often construed by contemporary observers as sublime, the following extracts, taken as a whole, would suggest that the formulation of the modern discipline of political economy involved, at least in part, what can best be described as a discourse on the sublime.
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