Some choice excerpts from Chapter III - "The State of England in 1685", which includes a lot of explicit contrasts between the state of England of MacAulay's time and the year 1685 - usually to the detriment of the latter.
On Personnel Agencies in Bristol:
The passion for colonial traffic was so strong that there was scarcely a small shopkeeper in Bristol who had not a venture on board of some ship bound for Virginia or the Antilles. Some of these ventures indeed were not of the most honourable kind. There was, in the Transatlantic possessions of the crown, a great demand for labour; and this demand was partly supplied by a system of crimping and kidnapping at the principal English seaports. Nowhere was this system in such active and extensive operation as at Bristol...
On the Tourism and Hospitality Industry:
England, however, was not, in the seventeeenth century devoid of watering places. The gentry of Derbyshire and of the neighbouring counties repaired to Buxton, where they were lodged in low rooms under low rafters, and regaled with oatcake, and with a viand which the hosts called mutton, but which the guests suspected to be dog.
On Government Media Policy:
Any person might ... print, at his own risk, a history, a sermon, or a poem, without the previous approbation of any officer; but the Judges were unanimously of the opinion that this liberty did not extend to Gazettes, and that, by the common law of England, no man, not authorised by the crown, had a right to publish political news. While the Whig party was still formidable, the government thought it expedient occasionally to connive at the violation of this rule... After the defeat of the Whigs it was no longer necessary for the Knig to be sparing in the use of that which the Judges had pronounced to be his undoubted prerogative. At the close of his reign no newspaper was suffered to appear without his allowance: and his allowance was given exclusively to the London Gazette.
On Media Content and Bias in the Mainstream Media:
The contents [of the London Gazette] generally were a royal proclamation, two or three Tory addresses, notices of two or thre promotions, an account of a skirmish between the imperial troops and the Janissaries on the Danube, a description of a highwayman, an announcement of a grand cockfight between two persons of honour, and an advertisement offering a reward for a strayed dog... but neither the Gazette nor any supplementary broadside printed by authority ever contained any intelligence which it did not suit the purposes of the Court to publish. The most important parliamentary debates, the most important state trials, recorded in our history, were passed over in profound silence.
On the growth of the coffeesphere and coffee house syndication (CHS):
In the capital the coffee houses supplied in some measure the place of a journal. Thither the Londoners flocked, as the Atheninas of old flocked to the market place, to hear whethter there was any news... But people who lived at a distance from the great theatre of political contention could be kept regularly informed of what was passing there only by means of newsletters... The newswriter rambled from coffee room to coffee room, collecting reports, squeezed himself into the Sessions House at the Old Bailey if there was an interesting trial... That was a memorable day on which the first newsletter from London was laid on the table of the only coffee room in Cambridge... Within a week after it had arrived it had been thumbed by twenty families. It furnished the neighbouring squires with matterfor talk over their October, and the neighbouring rectors with topics for sharp sermons against Whiggery or Popery.
On a seventeenth century Right Wing Death Beast:
... Another journal, published under the patronage of the Court, consisted of comment without news. This paper, called The Observator, was edited by an old Tory pamphleteer named Roger Lestrange... ...his nature, at once ferocious and ignoble, showed itself in every line that he penned... In tha last month of the reign of Charles the Second, William Jenkyn, an aged dissenting pator of great note, who had been cruelly persecuted for no crime but that of worshipping God according to the fashion generally followed throughout Protestant Europe, died of hardships and privations in Newgate. The outbreak of popular sympathy could not be restrained. The corpse was followed to the grave by a train of a hundred and fifty coaches... Lestrange alone set up a howl of savage exultation, laughed at the weak compassion of the Trimmers, proclaimed that the blasphemous old impostor had met with a most righteous punishment, and vowed to wage war, not only to the death, but after death, with all the mock saints and martyrs.
Skipping forward several pages, there's some interesting stuff under the marginal heading "Delusion which leads men to overrate the happiness of preceding generations", but I'll leave that until I've got to it in proper order. It might warrant essaying at attempt at an essay.