Understanding Loveden And Vanderstegen

It is possible to see the craving for improving the Thames as linked in part to the identities of the men who administered the river. Modernity has demanded more control of the inner selves of its inhabitants, and in eighteenth-century Europe new types of masculinity developed that were more suited to the new demands being made on men (Connell 1993). The principal change was to a more rigid control of the self, a change represented by outraged contemporaries as a "triumph of the sexless" over the blunt physicality of traditional manliness (Brunstrom 2001:47).

This manliness manifested itself in individuals with a well-developed determination to control both self and alienated other. The ways in which this control was projected onto the river may be judged by examining the case of two men influenced by such pressures, Edward Loveden Loveden and William Vanderstegen, both Commissioners of the Thames and key protagonists in the "improvement" of the river. The relationship between the two is the subject of a brief examination by Hadfield (1969) and alluded to by Thacker (1968). For Hadfield (1969) they were the "two most influential" Commissioners, held "widely divergent views" (p. 24), and were engaged in active "rivalry" (p. 68) over the control of the river.

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