The Balancing Act

The London and Edinburgh: Sites of Enlightenment Program has been the greatest opportunity I’ve taken advantage of since I enrolled into Indiana University at South Bend. The sites of each city coincided with the course work perfectly to illustrate the Unions effect upon commerce, art, and the overall culture. The given course work along with the trip has allowed me to grasp a better understanding of the Union of England and Scotland, as well as the significance that the union had upon the economy. The Union of 1707 set the foundation for the Commercial Revolution which led to the creation of an upper middle class. I’ve also learned that the enlightenment period gave birth to new technologies which allowed the Commercial Revolution to reach its maximum potential.  Along with an increased understanding of the Union of 1707 we also gained practical knowledge from travelling. We learned our way through couple of the busiest airports in the United States, and how to navigate the underground tubes of London. We learned the streets of both London and Edinburgh gradually, as well as where were a few of the best places to eat in each city. While in London I learned how to navigate my way from English architect John Soane’s home to the tube station nearest the University Hall, then I somehow found my way home from Gladstone’s land on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. In both cities we went to these sites as a class and by doing so I was given the chance to truly imagine how these people lived during the 18th Century. There was a concise division between the philosophy of the middle class and the upper-middle class men like John Lamont and John Soane. It was simply the pursuit of happiness as oppose to the struggle to survive. Those living at the Gladstone house were the typical middle class as oppose to upper-middle class men with connections like John Soane. John Lamont was also a member of an elite circle known as the gentry and he sold land he owned in the country to maintain a luxurious home in Newtown, Edinburgh.

“Artifact Filled Room (Soane’s House)”

As trade became a big part of 18th century culture tradesmen could transcend classes, with the right amount of passion and the right connections. In London we had the opportunity to see the living conditions of Soane who was both a tradesmen and architect. He had a middle class income with upper class connections, in which he took on the same pursuit of happiness as those men. The overall process of apprehending this feeling was summed up as, “Human happiness, according to most of the received notions, seems to consist in three ingredients: action, pleasure, and indolence” (Hume 269). Hume explains that in order to be happy a person must first do what they love, and by doing what they love they’ll become what they do, which is what they love. Soane personally found pleasure in collecting different artifacts although other people like John Lamont were also focused on living luxuriously, fulfilling pleasures, being grand. The people living on the Gladstone land were living under filthy and crowded conditions in which the only had room for necessities. A class reading gives three concepts that summarize the life of the average middle class tradesmen. The reading states, “Three things are chiefly before us in the appointment of our time: 1. Necessaries of nature. 2. Duties of religion, or things related to a future life. 3. Duties of presence life, namely, business and calling “(45). He explains that the people of Gladstone’s place were primarily focused on survival, faith, and hope. The people of Gladstone’s land were struggling to survive while fighting off plague infested rats but at the same time Soane was pursuing his passion with a home full of expensive artifacts. Again creating the sense that one group lived their lives pursuing everything they could want and the others lived only to obtain what they needed. The lifestyle of the middle class on Gladstone’s Land was simply confined to business, food, and sleep because there was almost no room for anything else. They were living in somewhat of an apartment complex, each family had a floor therefore their space was limited.

“Middle Class Bedroom (Gladstone’s Land)”

The lifestyle of the middle class during the plague was such a hard reality to live in that many probably couldn’t see themselves surviving, let alone following a passion and upgrading their way of living. As a result they developed a survival mentality in which their only goal was to maintain. Although the more elite obtain luxuries many lacked the ability to maintain luxurious lifestyle for instance: John Lamont was a man of the gentry and he owned the Georgian house until his passion made him go bankrupt. Lamont was spending more money than he was making because he lacked the simple business, food, sleep mentality of the middles class struggling person. The Georgian House was big enough to host multiple servants and a butler unlike the family from Gladstone’s Land that only had space for work, a cook, and family. Lamont had a lavish home that seems as if it was built solely to amuse or entertain company. Rather he did it for the sake of business or his simply ego, living a luxurious lifestyle was one of the few passions John Lamont. There was in imbalance in the class philosophies because the middle class was based in patience, while the elite were grounded in their passions. Twentieth century African American poet Maya Angelou stated, “Seek patience and passion in equal amounts. Patience alone will not build the temple. Passion alone will destroy its walls” (Maya Angelou). She believes that it is necessary for people to maintain an equilibrium point where passion and patience are equal. Explaining that a hoping without any action will always leave you hoping and as a result nothing will get done. Although claiming that on the other hand if you over indulge in what you love it can be just as detrimental as being stagnant or even worst. It seems to be that the middle class lacked the passion to obtain the finer things in life but the elite didn’t have the patience to plan to prevent poor performance.

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“Upper Class Dining Room (Georgian House)”

Most of the middle class during 18th century lived in a traumatic environment that was govern by the fear of death in which the middle class felt they had nothing to be passionate about. All in all without a love for something or passion, the middle class couldn’t be what they loved, because they couldn’t do what they loved. They were compacted in small living areas with people that had diseases and poor hygiene while the upper-class servants were living a better life than most merchants. On another extreme the upper class were so invested into their own emotions that they’d allowed their passions to control them. The upper classes lack of control derives from their lack of patience and planning, which as John Lamont illustrates may lead to poor decisions making. This course has taught me a lot about life and the significance of balancing one’s passion with patience because in the long run practicing patience alone will never entice a person to progress although too much passion will result in bad decisions making. All in all it takes the upper-middle class passion to pursuit happiness in order to obtain luxury yet it takes the middle class mentality of patience in order to sustain that lifestyle.

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