In the short term, response to the revolutions of 1848 accentuated cultural, ideological and class tensions within British radicalism, but continued interest in international affairs — the Italian Risorgirnento, Polish freedom and the American Civil War — provided the space for subsequent compromise, conciliation and cooperation. Other factors contributed to the proverbial ‘reformist’ tenor of mid-Victorian Britain. Economic expansion, still an uneven process, reached its highest levels in the ‘Great Victorian Boom’ between the 1840s and the 1870s. Although substantial and lasting advances in real wages were not apparent for many workers until the late 1860s, the greater stability in employment — and the obvious resilience of industrial capitalism — belied the old Chartist rhetoric of underconsumption, irreversible slump and worsening crisis. Radical fundamentalism was duly replaced by a new pragmatism. Encouraged by the repeal of the Corn Laws and the final attainment of the Ten Hours Bill, energies were concentrated on specific achievable measures of ameliorative reform.
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