The social structure of the pre-industrial world was a complex hierarchy, based on rank and order. Gregory King’s analysis, drawn up at the end of the seventeenth century, starts with ‘Dukes’ and works down through the ranks of the aristocracy to ‘great merchants’, members of the ‘liberal professions’, those who styled themselves ‘Gent.’ or ‘Esquire’ (meaningful titles then, not democratic courtesies) and finally to common ‘husbandmen’, ‘cottagers’ and paupers. Nowadays most of us think in terms of a social structure based on three broad ‘classes’, an image of society which was the product of industrialisation and which, according to Asa Briggs, emerged in the period between 1780 and 1830. Victorian railways reflected this tripartite division by offering first-, second-and third-class accommodation. Matthew Arnold regarded the society of which he was so critical as being divided into the Barbarians, the Philistines and the Populace. This three­ fold division is easy to comprehend and has been almost un­ consciously absorbed into conventional modes of thought. For this reason it will be used as the framework for this chapter, but the limitations of this concept and the important distinctions it conceals should also become apparent.