The essay surveys British political culture, principally from a domestic perspective, focussing on perceptions of internal and external threat and responses to those conditions. The continuing context of war (1793–1815) is emphasised. The suppression of free speech, a condition particularly relevant to writing, is traced. The role of the major competing political ideological positions is also described, including Burke, Paine, Malthus and Spence. Changes in the post-war culture of theatre-going is discussed, indicating how playhouses reflected changing popular sentiment.