Places the work of Joseph Banks in the context of the Enlightenment. Banks's relation to major scientific and cultural currents in late C18 and early C19 British society is explored through a number of thematic chapters dealing with the ideal of the `virtuoso' and the pursuit of natural history and anthropology, the practice of `improvement' and the forces which contributed to the waning of the Enlightenment in England.
Acknowledgements; Introduction; 1. Joseph Banks - a biographical sketch; 2. The limits of enlightenment; 3. From virtuoso to botanist; 4. Antiquarian to anthropologist; 5. The principles and practice of improvement; 6. The waning of the English Enlightenment; Abbreviations; Bibliography; Index.
As a whole, the book illustrates very well how enlightened ideas of rational and empirical investigation, oriented to human improvement, could be accommodated within the eighteenth-century social and political order. Of course, this is not the entire story of science in its social and political relations in this period; but, within its limits, it is a fine demonstration of what 'polite science' meant...it would be an excellent aid in teaching not just the history of science but courses on the Enlightenment and eighteenth-century history and culture generally. Journal of Modern History "...this insightful study of the Banksian world represents another powerful step toward understanding the shape, both intellectual and institutional, of the still-forgotten English Enlightenment, and especially the changing part played in it by late Baconian science." American Historical Review "Gascoigne has organized a great deal of fascinating material about Banks and his period in support of this argument. One can undoubtedly learn a lot about Banks and his setting from this attractive volume." Albion "Although a growing Banks industry has explored his involvement as a major player in the game of science and empire...this book will serve as an excellent introduction." Joy Harvey, Times Literary Supplement "Gascoigne has organized a great deal of fascinating material about Banks and his period in support of this argument. He draws upon manuscript collections in Europe, North America, and Australia, and his coverage of the relevant secondary sources is also very full...One can undoubtedly learn a lot about Banks and his setting from this attractive volume." Jan Golinski, Albion