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Sir John Hill and Friendship

Sir John Hill and Friendship

Jones, Emrys (2017) Sir John Hill and Friendship. In: Brant, Clare and Rousseau, George, (eds.) Fame and Fortune: Sir John Hill and London Life in the 1750s. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-1137580535 (doi:

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In an age when the language of friendship was close to ubiquitous and when careful manipulation of this language was central to one’s place in public life, Sir John Hill challenged expectations and flouted social convention. In certain situations, he seemed to misunderstand the function of friendship in professional life; at other times, he cultivated abrasiveness and sociable intransigence as marks of personal distinction. Hill presents a valuable case study: a figure well-acquainted with the language and ideology of friendship which dominated eighteenth-century society, but one who repeatedly failed—or refused—to harness these effectively. His very eccentricity in this regard might be viewed in tandem with new models of curiosity and celebrity which George Rousseau has described Hill as epitomising. This chapter explores the paradoxes of Hill’s attitude towards friendship as they appeared both in his personal correspondence and, more publicly, in his Inspector columns. I enquire to what extent his various crises and disappointments resulted from his deliberate flouting of friendly convention. I also trace Hill’s use and abuse of tropes of friendship prominent at the time: for instance, the figure of the friendly enemy, and the ideal of the friend who points out our moral failings. In his handling of such devices, Hill at times complied with classical teachings on friendship and with the discursive norms of his age. But he was just as capable of moulding for himself an idiosyncratic, unfriendly model of friendship in keeping with his self-cultivated notoriety.

Item Type: Book Section
Uncontrolled Keywords: Friendship, Sir John Hill, Eighteenth-century
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences > School of Humanities & Social Sciences (HSS)
Last Modified: 10 Jun 2019 15:20

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