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Young Georgians and Victorians had & # 39; anxiety & # 39; for the money and & # 39; virility & # 39;

According to a new study, dramatic manifestations of anxiety were common in young men born in rich families of the 18th and 19th centuries.

Historians say that the youngest children of the nobility, the wealthy landowner class, occupied an unstable position in society and used terms of seeking attention as a call for support.

British academics analyzed 734 letters written by minor children of the nobility between 1700 and 1900, during the Georgian and Victorian times.

They revealed that feelings of anxiety ‘surrounded the lives’ of minor children and focused largely on their ability to establish successful careers and appear "manly."

The lyrics were full of direct emotional terms like "dismay," "suffering," "dejected," "miserable," and "dishonored," and often compared the writer's life with what he saw as the easiest fate of an older brother. or look

Richard Lumsden as Robert Ferrars, the younger brother of Edward Ferrars of Hugh Grant in Sense and Sensibility of 1995. The younger brothers were likely to show their soul in letters to the family about the difficulties of making their way into the world.

Richard Lumsden as Robert Ferrars, the younger brother of Edward Ferrars of Hugh Grant in Sense and Sensibility of 1995. The younger brothers were likely to show their soul in letters to the family about the difficulties of making their way into the world.

"Younger children during this period were open about their feelings to deal with these emotions and establish themselves as men in the world," said Professor Henry French of the University of Exeter, who led the study.

"They felt they had no emotional autonomy and wanted to have more control of their feelings."

"We discovered that the flow of correspondence decreases as men had to deal with their own concerns when they started their own families, which shows that they often achieved the very masculine achievements that had caused them as much anxiety as young men."

For many of the correspondents, the objectives of virility, independence and reputation were always "slightly out of reach" and intensified the feeling that their identities as men were "constantly at risk or unstable."

However, it would be a mistake to assume that the letters reflect "real" feelings, the researchers said, adding that they treat the anxieties they have identified in the letters with caution.

Writing in The historical newspaper, the study authors say: "We should recognize that they were instruments to self-train and try to mold others."

They added that these insecure younger brothers bleached their insecurities while still enjoying the wealth of their families.

"We could expect young men, freed from the immediate supervision of their families, to claim virtue while enjoying the wasteful ways of rebellious children," the scholars write.

"The anxieties of the minor children of the nobility illustrate not only the timeless quality of late adolescent anguish, but a very obvious feat that failure to achieve these attributes could lead to the dissolution of their social, gender and personal identities in your whole. "

Heaven knows that I am miserable now: Victorian men (pictured) from the classes of wealthy landowners documented their struggles to be masculine and contribute to the honor, survival and flourishing of the family and their property.

Heaven knows that I am miserable now: Victorian men (pictured) from the classes of wealthy landowners documented their struggles to be masculine and contribute to the honor, survival and flourishing of the family and their property.

Heaven knows that I am miserable now: Victorian men (pictured) from the classes of wealthy landowners documented their struggles to be masculine and contribute to the honor, survival and flourishing of the family and their property.

"The unknown" regarding the future state and the extent to which they could depend on their parents and guardians to help them achieve respectability was the core of these anxieties.

Younger children also used emotions as tools to better deal with their feelings, achieve their goals and "establish themselves as men in the world."

These & # 39; emotive & # 39; They were destined to cause emotional responses in their parents and alleviate the anguish.

For their part, parents and guardians also used emotions in their letters to younger children to help them control their feelings.

On occasion, parents and guardians also generated anxiety on purpose as proof of their masculinity and as a "call to action."

Money was also a great source of anxiety for young men living in Britain 200 years ago.

In particular, academics cite a young gentleman, the appropriately titled Edward Money-Kyrle, in correspondence with the family about their money problems and the difficulties of getting promoted.

He stressed that his position "prays over my mind more than I can possibly tell you" and signed his letter "Your unhappy son."

In 1876, a second son named John Parker expressed similar concerns about his financial circumstances in a letter to his mother from Sandhurst.

"I stay up at night thinking and planning how to fix my affairs, but I see nothing before me but an irremediable void," he wrote.

"The little ambition I once had has almost disappeared, and my life is a dream I try to wake up but I can't."

The researchers, Henry French of the University of Exeter and Mark Rothery of the University of Northampton, write that "we must consider the importance of continuity in the history of emotions more carefully."

"We must recognize the constructed nature of emotions, subject to cultural variation and change over time," he wrote.

They were "navigating" between the two high priority objectives of establishing themselves as elite men and contributing to the honor, survival and flourishing of the family and their property, while trying to maintain personal masculinity values ​​such as honor and self-control.

"This implied emotional suffering."

CHILDREN SUFFERED FROM ANXIETY OF GENTRY AND HIS EMOTIONAL TURMOIL

Edward Radcliffe to his brother Ralph about his relatively easy life in 1714:

“ I cannot believe that you can conceive of it in a manner consistent with justice and reason, that the fortune, time and hopes of success of an unhappy younger brother should be sacrificed for the need of an old man who at the expiration of your life becomes completely easy in their circumstances, and the younger meaning of myself remains almost destitute of subsistence unless at this time I am put in a method to improve their generous favors.

Robert Parker to his father John, 1919:

& # 39; When you entered the army you were a second child, possibly without the possibility of succeeding in Browsholme. He knew he would get his assignment and probably wouldn't have to worry about any property. Therefore, he was absolutely free to enter the Army and did not need to think about anything other than his own future.

John Parker to his mother, 1876, regarding financial problems:

"I am very bad about that, and it is not because of my own imprudence that I lack money since I have been very economical … I stay up at night thinking and planning how to fix my affairs, but I see nothing in front of me" . But a hopeless target. The little ambition I once had has almost disappeared, and my life is a dream I try to wake up but I can't.

Edward Bankes to his brother on the subject of Mumbai, India:

& # 39; Young gentlemen will never be able to obtain fortunes that make the place so bad … I can't often avoid reflecting on how horrible it will be for me to live in this part of the world so long and so little purpose without pleasure of seeing my relationships, or my native Countrey.

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