Rural Rides is the book for which the English journalist, agriculturist and political reformer William Cobbett is best known.
At the time of writing in the early 1820s, Cobbett was a radical anti-Corn Law campaigner, newly returned to England from a spell of self-imposed political exile in the United States.
Cobbett disapproved of proposals for remedies for agricultural distress suggested in Parliament in 1821. He made up his mind to see rural conditions for himself, and to "enforce by actual observation of rural conditions", the statements he had made in answer to the arguments of the landlords before the Parliamentary Agricultural Committee.
He embarked on a series of journeys by horseback through the countryside of Southeast England and the English Midlands. He wrote down what he saw from the points of view both of a farmer and a social reformer. The result documents the early nineteenth century countryside and its people as well as giving free vent to Cobbett's opinions.
He first published his observations in serial form in the Political Register, running from 1822 to 1826. They were first published in book form in two volumes in 1830.
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