british literature romantic period

A

N

N A L E T I T I A B A R B A U L D I 3 9

And aye when she turn’d her round about

,

Aye taller he seem’d for to be

;

Until that the tops o’that gallant ship
Nae taller were than he

>.

The clouds grew dark, and the wind grew loud

f

And the levino fill’d her e’e;

And waesome wail’d the snaw-white sprites
Upon the gurlieo sea.

He struck the tap-mast wi’ his hand,
The fore-mast wi’ his knee;

And he brake that gallant ship in twain,
And sank her in the sea.

lightning

ANNA LETITIA BARBAUL

D

1743-182

5

.,!, nna Barbauld, born Anna Letitia Aikin, received an unusual educafion from
t-\ her father, who was a minister and a teacher at the Warrington Academy i

n

Lancashire, the great educational center for the Nonconformist cJmmunity, whos

e

religion barred them from admission to the universities of Oxford and Cambridge.
During the eighteenth century Dissenting academies such as Warrington ha

d

developed a modern curriculum in the natural sciences, as well as in modern lan

guages and English literature. This progressive educational program deviated sig-
nificantly from the curriculum, scarcely altered since the sixteenth century, tha

t

rras supplied by the old universities. The benefits Barbauld received from her expo-
sure to an educational system that the Dissenters had designed with their sons in
mind are suggested by the astounding versatility of her literary career.

She made her literary debut in 1773 with Poems and Miscellaneous Pieces in Prose,
the latter cowritten with her brotherJohn. The books immediately established her as

a

leading author. Her marriage the next year to Rochemont Barbauld, a Dissenting min-
kter like her father, and their decision to set up a boys’ school together therefore
*ruck the critic Samuel Johnson as squandering this woman’s own unusual educa-
tbn: “Miss [Aikin] was an instance of early cultivation, but in what did it terminate?”
Thereafter, until Rochemont Barbauld’s increasing mental instability necessitated the
closing of their school, Barbauld divided her time between writing and teaching the
rlrunger boys. Because of the popularity of Barbauld’s Lessons for Children (1778-:79)
end llym.ns in Prose for Children (1781), William Hazlitt was recording a common
cxperience when he recalled that he read her books “before those of any othe

r

ilthor . . . , when I was learning to spell words of one syllable.” This writing for child
rnliences registered Barbauld’s Enlightenment faith in human potential.

Her fame continued to grow in the 1790s, and in 1797 the up-and-coming poet
Samuel Taylor Coleridge walked forty miles to meet her. During this decade Ba

r-

beuld contributed poetry to her brother John’s Monthly Magazine, published her’fpistle to William Wilberforce” attacking British involvement in the slave trade,
end wrote pamphlets that opposed the war with France and campaigned for the
rcpeal of the Test Acts that had barred participation in the public life of the nation

4 O I A N N A L E T I T I A B A R B A U L D

to Nonconformists (those men who would not subscribe, as “tests” of their loyalty,

to the thirty-nine Articles of the Established Church). She accompanied this writ-

ing with
“iiting,

producing editions of William Collins’s poems {1797) and the

nJ'”li.t S”-rr”l Ri”h”.dsonls letters (1804).’Her fifty-volume compilationThe Brit-

ish Nouelists (1810) was the first ittrempt to estabJish a national canon in fiction apd

thereby do for the novel what Samrr.f Johnson’i Works of the English Poets (1779-

8l) had done for poetry, Its introduciorjr essay, “on the Origin and Progiess. of

Novel-Writing,” mikes a pioneering argument for the educational and artistic value

of the still disreputable genre,
Barbauld’s lasi malor workwas Eighteen Hundred and Eleyen (1812), a long poem

that despairs over the war with France (then in its seventeenttt y””9 and the cor-

ruption of English consumer society. (An excerpt fr om Eighteen Hund’red and’ Eleten

trr”y b” fo,r.rJin “Romantic Literature and Wartime,” in the supplementaf ebook.)

Criiics were unnerved, even disgusted, by the poem’s apocalyptic vision of a future

in which England, its pride humbled, would lie in ruins-the more so because of i

ts

author’s g”rrl”r. The Tory critic John Wilson Croker thus warned Barbauld “t

o

desist from satire”: it was not up to a “lady-author” to sally forth from her knitting

and say how ,’the empire mighi. . . be saved.” After this lambasting, Barbauld fel

l

publiciy silent and p”ltirn”a no more. She did not stop writing, however: the col-

iection of her aunt’s Works that her niece Lucy Aikin brought out in 1825 after her

aunt’s death contained several previously unpublished pieces

The Mouse’s Petitionl

Found in the trap where he kad been confined all nighi-by Dr. Priestley,

for the saki of making q(periments witlx dffirent kinds of air

“Parcere subjectis, et debellare ttnjln;’

Oh hear a Pensive Prisoner’s Prayer’
For libertY that sighs;
And never let thine heart be shut
Against the wretch’s cries’

s For here forlorn and sad I sit,
Within the wirY gate;
And tremble at th’ aPProaching morn,
Which brings imPending fate.

If e’er thy breast with freedom glow’d,
lo And spurn’d a tYrant’s chain,

Let not thy strong oPpressive force
A free-born mouse detain.

what we now call oxygen’ Tradition has it that
when Barbauld showed him the lines, Priestle-

v

set the mouse free. According to Barbauld’s mod-
ern editors, the poem was many times reprinted

and was a favorite to assign students for memo-
rizins. The Latin epigraph is trom The Aeneil
6.85J, “To spare the”hum-bled, and to tame in war

the proud.”

l. Addressed to the clergyman, polit ical theorist,
and scientist Joseph Priestley (1733-1804)’ who

at this time was thL most distinguished teacher at

the Nonconformist Protestant Warrington Acad-
emu where Barbauld’s father was also a member
of ihe faculty. The imagined speaker (the pet

!

t ioning mouse) is destined to participate in just

the soit of exDeriment that led Priestley’ a few
years lat6r, to the discovery of “phlogiston”-

Oh do not st
ThY hosPitah

rr Nor triumPh
A Prize so lit

The scatter’r
MY frugal rn
But if thine

20 That slendel

The cheer

ft

Are blessinl
Let nature

‘t

The comm

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25 The well-ta
To all coml
Casts roun
And feels f

If mind, as
30 A never d

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Still shifts
In everY fc

Beware’ Ie
A brothe

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35 And treml
Dislodge r

Or, if this
Be all’ of

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Let PitY

P

40 That littl

So maY tl
With hea
And ever
Beneath

45 So, wher
Which n
MaY son
And brer

ca .1771

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S O N G ‘ F O R A ‘ T H A T

Lay the proud UsurPers low!

TViants lall in everY foe!
Liberty’s in everY blow!

Let us Do-or Die!!!

, , t

A N D A ‘ T H A T I I 8 I

dth all my strengiL

A Red, Red Rose’

O mv Luve’s like a red, red rose,

That’s newlY sPrung in June;
O my Luve’s like the melodie

That’s sweetlY PlaYed in tune’

As fair art thou, mY bonie lass,

So deep in luve am l;

And I wifl love thee still, mY Dear,

Till a’ the seas gang drY’

Till a’ the seas gang drY, mY Dear’

And the rocki melt wi’ the sun:

O I will love thee still, mY Dear,

While the sands o’ life shall run’

And fare thee weel, mY onlY Luve!

And fare thee weel, a whilel

And I will come again, mY Luve,

Tho’ it were ten thousand mile!

t794,1815.

t796

Lady Macintosh’s Reel, that Burns had drawn on

for previous songs. ̂
2. A.o”..” cloth of undYed wool’

tht.
had

Song: For a’ that and a’ thatl

Is there, for honest PovertY
That hangs his head, and a’ that;

The coward-sl-ave, we Pass him bY,

We dare be Poor for a’ that!

For a’ that, and a’that,
Our toils obscure, and a’that,

The rank is but the guinea’s stampro inscription on
a coin

– -ftt”
tvt””‘t the goi’d” for a’ that’

gold

What though on hamelY fare we.dine,

Wear f,odden greY,2 and a’ th-at’

Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine’

A Man’s a Man for a’that’

For a’that, and a’that,

l- Like many of Burns’s lyrics, this one incorpo-

-,* iL-“.1t from several current ballads’
i.-ihit .o.g -“. set to a dance tune, known as

,dfrr!.

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T H E R O M A N T I C P E R I O D

t h i s p a t t e r n , s t r o n g l y a s s o c i a t e d a s i t i s w i t h a s i g n a l p o l i t i c a l e v e n t , t h e f i r s t
major reform of the British Parliament. A diverse range of dates have been
i d e n t i f i e d a s m a r k i n g o f f t h e b e g i n n i n g o f t h e R o m a n t i c p e r i o d , b u r , a l m o s t
alwavs, each of these, too, is associated with an event ofiremendous politi-
cal and social impacf. As some schiilars tell it, the nerv era begail in 1776,
t h e y e a r A m e r i c a n s d e c l a r e d t h e i r i n d e p e n d e n c e ; o t h e r s s i r f g l e o u t 1 7 g 3 ,
when shattering military defeat at the hands of those Ame.ica.rs dealt a
blow to the credibilitv of Britain’s ruling elites; and many settle on 17g9, the
year that launched democratic revolution in France, ushered in decades of
fierce political unrest in Britain in its turn, and laid the ground for a war
b e t w e e n t h e B r i t i s h a n d F r e n c h E m p i r e s a n d t h e i r a l l i e s t h a t w o u l d e n v e l o p
an entire generation and take almost the whole of the globe as its theater.

Although politics has often provided a frame*ork for the Romantic
p e r i o d , a s s u c h a r r a n g e m e n t s f o r p e r i o d i z a t i o n s u g g e s t , t h e f a s c i n a t i o n a n d
p r o v o c a t i o n t h a t t h i s m o m e n t o f c u l t u r a l w a t e r s h e d p r e s e n t s f o r s t u d e n t s o f
I i t e r a r y h i s t o r y h a v e e q u a l l y t o d o w i t h a n o t h e r p e c u l i a r i t y i n i t s c o n s t r u c –
tion: the Romantic is also the sole period that is named afier a literary form,
t h e _ r o m a n c e . A g r e a t s c h o l a r l y a c h i e v e m e n t o f t h e l a t e r e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r y
had been the recovcry from obscurity of the medicval ,o*-rn””., pre’iously
i g n o r e d b y l i t e r a r y h i s t o r i a n s m o r e c o n c c r n c d w i t h c l a s s i c a l i n f l u e n c e s , a n d
t h e R o m a n t i c p e r i o d w i t n e s s e d a r c – e v a l u a t i o n o f t h o s e w i l c l v e r s e – t a l e s o f
aclventure, chivalry, and love. Exactly the traits-their barbarous cleviations
f r o m p r o b a b i l i t y a n d r a t i o n a l i t y , t h e i r u n a b a s h e d f i c t i o n a l i t y , t h e f a n t a s i e s
t h e y i n d u c e d i n t h e i r r g 2 d c v 5 – 1 h 2 t o n c c j u s t i f i e d m e d i e v a i r o m : r n c e s ‘ f a l l
into oblivion were seen anew, as commentators movecl from lauding the
room fbr idealization :rnd visionary imagination that romance hacl afforclecl
prem

About a hundred years ago, the cambridge rlistory of Englisk Literature
segmented the era that this volume of the l,Jorton Anthology covers into two
p a r t s , t i d i l y d i v v y i n g o f f t h e ” P e r i o d o f t h e F r e n c h R e v o l u t i o n ” ( 1 7 g 9 – l g l 5 )
f r o m a s u b s e q u e n t p e r i o d o f ” R ‘ m a n c e R e v i v a l ” t h a t f i l l e d i n t h e v e a r s
b e t w e e n t h e d e f e a t o f N a p o l e o n i c F r a n c e a n d t h e a s c e n t o f e u e e n V i c i o r i a .
T h e m e s s i e r o p t i o n o f t r e a t i n g t h e e r a a s a s i n g l e e n t i t y e q u i p s u s b e t t e r t o
c l o j u s t i c e t o i t s c o m p l e r m u l t i p l i c i t v . I n r e f r a i n i n g f r o m t h e a t t e m p t t o d i s –
e n t a n g l e r o m a n c e f r o m h i s t o r ‘ a n d l i t e r a r y f r o m p o l i t i c a l c h a n g e , w e c a n
b , e t t e r s e e h o n t h i s p e r i o d , i n c o n f r o n t i n g t h e i r e n t a n g l e m e n t , – o r i g i n a t e d
t h e q u e s t i o n s a b o u t t h e r e l a t i o n s o f a r t a n d a c t i v i s m , a e s t h e t i c s a n d p o l i –
t i c s , t h a t t r o u b l e u s : r i l l , \ \ – e c a n b e t t e r s e e , t o o , h o w t h e n o t i o n s o f p o e t i c

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5 T H E R O M A N T I C P E R I O D

f o r E n g l a n d a d e m o c r a t i c r e p u b l i c t h a t ‘ r ‘ a s t o b e a c h i e v e d , i f l e s s e r p r e s –
s u r e s f a i l e d , b y p o p u l a r r e v o l u t i o n . M o r e i m p o r t a n t a s a n i n f l u e n c e o n
\Vordsrvorth and Percy Shelley was Godwin’s Enquiry Concermimg Political
Ju’stice (1793), which foretold dn ine’itable but peaceful evolution of societv
t o a f i n a l s t a g e i n w h i c h p r o p e r t y r v o u l d b e e q u a l l y d i s t r i b u t e d a n d g o . u e r n –
ment ll’ould wither away. But English sympathizers dropped off as the
R e v o l u t i o n f o l l o w e d i t s i n c r e a s i n g l y g r i m c o u r s e : t h e a c c e s s i o n t o p o w e r b y
J a c o b i n e x t r e m i s t s , i n t e n t o n p u r i f v i n g t h e i r n e r v r e p u b l i c b y p u r g i n g i t o f
i t s e n e m i e s ; t h e ” S e p t e m b e r M a s s a c r e s ” o f t h e i m p r i s o n e d n o b i l i t y i n 1 7 9 2 ,
f o l l o w e d b 1 , t h e e x e c u t i o n o f t h e k i n g a n d q u e e n ; t h e n e w F r e n c h R e p u b l i c , s
i n v a s i o n o f t h e R h i n e l a n d a n d t h e N e t h e r l a n d s , w h i c h b r o u g h t E n s l a n d
i n t o t h e r , r a r a g a i n s t F r a n c e : t h e g u i l l o t i n i n g o F t h o u s a n d s i n i h e R e i g n o f
T e r r o r u n d e r R o b e s p i e r r e ; a n d , a f t e r t h e e x e c u t i o n i n t h e i r t u r n o f t h e m e n
v v h o h a d d i r e c t e d t h e T e r r o r , t h e e m e r g e n c e o f N a p o l e o n , f i r s t a s d i c t a t o r
then as emperor of France. As Wordsworth wrote in The Prelucle,

b e c o m e C ) p p r e s s o r s i n t h e i r t u r n ,
F r e n c h m e n h a d c h a n g e d a w a r o f s e l f ‘ – d e f e n c e
F o r o n c o f C o n q u e s t , l o s i n g s i g h t o f a l l
W h i c h t h e y h a d s t r u g g l e c l f o r . . . . ( 1 1 . 2 0 6 – 0 9 )

N a p o l e o n , t h e b r i l l i a n t t a c t i c i a n w h o s e r i s e t h r o u g h t h e r a n k s o f t h e a r m v
h a d s e e m e d t o e p i t . m i z e t h e e g a l i t a r i a n p r i n c i P l e s o f t h e R e r o l u t i o n , h a i
become an arch-aggressor, a despot, and would-be for-rnder of a new imperial
d y n a s t y . B y 1 8 0 0 l i b e r a l s f b u n c l t h e y h a d n o s i d e t h e v c o u l d w h o l e h ” o i t ” d l y
e s p o u s e . N : r p o l e o n ‘ s d e r f e a t a t W a t e r l o o i n l 8 1 5 p r o v e c l t o b e t h e t r i u m p h ,
n o t o f p r o g r e s s a n d r e f o r m , b u t o f r e z r c t i r – r n a r y d e s p o t i s m s t h r o u g h o u t c o n t i –
n e n t a l E u r o p e . I n t h i s y e a r , a c c o r d i n g l y , t h e d e b a r t e s a b o u t t h e l e g i t i m a c y o f
t h c r u l i n g c l a s s a n d a b o u t p a t r i c i a n c l e g e n e r a c y t h a t I ‘ r g u r e s s u c h , i , G o c l w i n ,
P a i n e , a n d W o l l s t o n e c r a r f t h a d l a u n c h e d i n t h c e a r l y 1 7 9 0 s r e t u r n e d w i t h
a v e n g e a n c e .

F r o m s t a r t t o f i n i s h , t l – r i s v y a s a p e r i o c l o f h a r s h , r e p r e s s i v e m e a s u r e s . p u b –
I i c m e c t i r – r g s ‘ r , e r e p r o h i b i t e d i n 1 7 9 5 , t h e r i g h t o f h a b e a s c o r p u s ( t h e l e g a l
p r i r – r c i p l e p r o t e c t i n g i n c l i v i d u a l s f r o r . n a r b i t r a r y i m p r i s o n m c n t ) w a s s u s p e n d e d
f b r t h e f i r s t t i m c i n . v e r a h u n d r e d y c a r s , a n d a c l v ‘ c a t e s o f e v e n m o d c r a t e
p o l i t i c a l c h a n g e w e r e c h a r g e d w i t h t r e a s o n . E f f o r t s d u r i ‘ g t h c s e u , a r y e a r s
t o r e p e a l t h e l a r v s t h a t b a r r e d P r o t e s t a n t s r a , ‘ h o d i c l n o t c o n f o r m t o t h c A n g l i –
c a n C h u r c h f r o m t h e u n i v c r s i t i e s a n d g o v e r n m e n t c a m e t o n o t h i n g : i n t h e
n e l v c l i m a t e o f c o u n t e r r e v o l u t i o n a r y a l a r m , i t w a s e a s y t o p o r t r a y e v e n a
s l i g h t a b r i d g e m e n t o f t h e p r i v i l e g e s o f t h e e s t a b l i s h e d c h u r c h a s a m e a s u r e
t h : r t , v a l i d a t i n g t h e J a c o b i n s ‘ c a r l p a i g n s t o d e – C h r i s t i a n i z e F r a n c e , u , o u l d
a i d t h e e n e m v c a u s e . A n o t h e r e a r l v c a s u : r l t y o f t h i s c o u n t e r r e v o l u t i o n u , a s
t h e m o v e m e n t t o a b o l i s h t h e s l a v e t r a d e , a c a u s e s u p p o r t e d i n i t i a l l y b y a
w i d e c r o s s – s e c t i o n o f E n g l i s h s o c i c t y . I n t h e 1 7 8 0 s a n d 1 7 9 0 s n u m e r o u s
w r i t e r s , b o t h w h i t e ( A n n a L e t i t i a B a r b a u l d , C o l e r i d g e , a n d F l a n n a h M o r e )
a n d b l a c k ( O t t o b a h C u g o a n o a n d O l a u d a h E q u i a n o ) , a t t a c k e d t h e g r e e d o f
t h e o w n e r s o f t h e w e s t l n d i a n s u g a r p l a n t a t i o n s a n d d e t a i l e d t h e h o r r o r s o f
t h e t r a f f i c i n A f r i c a n f l e s h t h a t p r o v i d e d t h e m w i t h t h e i r l a b o r p o w e r . B u t
t h e b l o o d s h e d t h a t a c c o m p a n i e d p o l i t i c a l c h a n g e i n F r a n c e s t r e n g t h e n e d
the hand of apologists for slaverl’, by making anv manner of reform seem the
p r e l u d e t o v i o l e n t i n s u r r e c r i o n . P a r l i a m e n t r e j e c t e d a b i l l a b o l i s h i n g t h e t r a d e
i n 1 7 9 1 , a n d s i \ t e e n \ e a r s – m a r k e d b y s l a v e r e b e l l i o n s a n d b y t h e p l a n t e r s ‘
b r u t a l r e p r i s a l s – t l a p s e d b e f o r e i t p a s s e d a n e w v e r s i o n o f t h e b i l l .

I h e f r u s t r a t i o n o f t h e
.rger story ofhou’a reac{
. mobilized the nation’s
– , n o m i c a n d s o c i a l c h a r
‘ s c h a n g e s i n p o l i t i c a l
r g l a n d – m a n u f a c t u r i n t
: m a n d a v o i c e i n g o v e r n

31.6111isn”-1he shift in
, r i e r – d r i v e n m a c h i n e r \

lhteenth centurY r”‘itl.r

:rd u,as given immenst

: : q r n e i n 1 7 6 5 . I n t h e s u
‘ . p r i m a r y s o u r c e o f p l

r r g t h a t d y n a m i c o f e r t

. i l d e v e l o p m e n t t h a t r i e

. u l a b o r i n g p o p u l a t i o r r

: r o s e p o p u l a t i o n i n c r c . .

, n ‘ r m u n i t i e s t h e d e s t r u

– c e l e r a t i o n o f t h e p r o c .
‘ . f a c t , ” c o m m o n s ” t h a t
‘ rr-rmr-rnities) and incor;

r e l o s u r c w a s b v a n d l – ‘

– – r l t u r e r e q u i r e d t o f e e c t
‘ . . I a n d l h a t t h e r ‘ r c a l t t ‘

r e v i n l a c t i n c o r P o r a t e d

. s t r u c t i v e , b r e a k i r – r g , –
‘ – j q r a t e d t o t h e i n d u s t r .

: . r r v a t i o n w a g e s a n c l t : – r

, : . r d s c a p e o f F , n g l a n d b t

r , e n r u r a l a r e a s s u b d i r i

. : r d s t o n e w a l l s , u ‘ i t l . r t l – .

. 1 \ t a r e a s o f c h e a P h ‘ b u .

, r i o n w a s i n c r e a s i n g l r : r

l ‘ t o N a t i o n s ” – 1 h g 1 l i

\ o a t t e m P t l l ‘ a s I n a d .

. t h e n e w , s i n c e e t ‘ e n l –

. r : s c z – f a i r e . T h i s t l – r e ‘ o l
j \ c f i o r z s i n 1 7 7 6 , h o l d ,

‘ ‘ : e o p e r a t i o n o f e c o n o i –
. : r i c t n o n i n t e r f e r e n c e . ,

: ‘ . r e r e s t s . O n t h e o n e ] –
. – . \ l ‘ a y f o r t h e l o n g – P o ,
‘ . e s t I n d i e s ; b Y 1 8 3 – 3 . r
– – i t t h e i r u n f r e e l a b o r

– , r i e s e v i d e n t l y h a d b e

. r o r i n g c l a s s a t h o m e .
– – , c t i t s e c u r e d r v e r e i n

: : c i p l i n e a n d i n s o r d l c l

i-.r’re male and f’emaic
– : > s e d t o h e a v Y c o a l – s l

, d k n e e s , r e a d l i k e s c e
. l l . t h e n a t i o n ‘ s w o r k

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8 T H E R O M A N T I C P E R I O D

moment when demand for manufactured goods. until now augmented bv

the needs of the military, fell dramatically. The result u’as an unemployment

crisis that Dersisted throush the 1820s. Since the

were preve;ted by law from unionizing, their only recourses were Petitions

proteit meetings, and riots, to which the ruling class responded with even

rno.” ,”p.”rrive measures. The introduction of neu’ machinery into the rnjlls

resulted in further loss ofjobs, provoking sporadic attempts by the displaced

workers to destroy the machines. After one such outbreak of “Luddite”

machine-breaking, the House of Lords-despite Byron’s eloquent Protest-
passed a bill (f 8l j) making death the penalty for destroying the_frames used

ior *.a.,ing in the stocking industry. In 1819 hundreds of thousands of

workers organized meetings to demand parliamentary reform. In August of

that year, u h.tg” but orderly assembly at St. Peter’s Fields, Manchester, was

charged by sater-wielding troops, who killed nine and injured hundreds

more; this was the notorious “Peterloo Massacre,” so named with sardonic

reference to the Battle of Waterloo.
Suffering was largely confined to the poor, hou,ever, while the landed

classes ani industriulittr pr.rrp”red. So did many merchants, who pro{ited

from thc new markets opened up as the British Empire expanded aggres-

sively, compensating with victories against the French for the traumatic

loss of America in iZS:. England’s merchants profited, too, thanks to the

marketing successes that, over time, converted once-exotic imports from

these colonies into everyday fare for the English. ln the eighteenth century

tea and sugar had becn transformed in this way, and in the nineteenth cen-

tury other commodities followed suit: thc Indian muslin, fbr instance, that

*u, th” fabric of choice for gentlemen’s cravats and fashionable ladies’

gowns, and the laudanum (Indian opium clissolved in alcohol) that so many

ailing writers of the period appear to have found irresistible. The West Encl

of London and new ieaside resorts like Brighton became in the early nine-

teenth century consumers’ paradises, sites where West Indian planters ancl

nabobs (a Hindi word that enterecl English as a name for thosc who owecl

their fortunes to lndian gain) could be glimpsed displaying their purchas-

ing power in a manner that made them moralists’ f’avorite examples of nou-

,re-a., riche vulgarity. The word shop\ting czrme into English us:rge in this

era. Luxurv villas sprang up in London, and thc prince regent, rvho in 1820

became G”o.g” IV, buill himself palaces and pleasurc domes, retrezrts from

his not very onerous public responsibilities.
But even, or especially, in private life at home, the prosperous could not

escape being touched by the great events of this period. French revolution-

ary irinciples were feared by English conservatives almost as
much lor their

chalenge-to the
,,proper” ordering of the relations between men and women

as for th”ir
“hull”ng”

tu traditional political arrangements. Yet the

account of what it meant to be English that developed in reaction to this

challenge-an account emphasizing the special virtues of the English

,”r-r.” o? home and familr’-u’as in its way equally revolutionary’ In an

unprecedented u,a-v, the nar that the English waged almost without inter-

miision between I793 and 1815 had a “home front.” The menaced sanctuary

of the domestic fireside became the symbol of what the nation’s military

might was safeguarding. \\rhat popularity the monarchy held on to during

thii turbulent period riis thus a function not of the two King Georges’ tra-

ditional exercise of a monarch’s sovereign powers but instead of the public-

. t a i l o r e d t o s u i t t h i s r r
‘ r c s t i t ‘ b l i s s w i t h i n a

: . r e d a s u , e l l u n d e r t h e r :

: r o f t h e h o m e , t h i s P l t ,
r o f o u r c o u n t r v u ‘ i t h , I

\ n c l t h a t a l t c r a t i o n b o t l –
, o p p o r t u n i t i e s . A s i r r
‘ i o c i r l e r e p r o v i c l c d o l r l ‘ ,
. t – r u a l b e h a v i o r , a n c l i , ‘ ‘

‘ : h i s p e r i o d u ‘ o m c n b t ‘ . –

. r a z i n e a r t i c l c s t h a t i r ”
‘ ( n c e s b e t w e e n t h e s t ‘ .
‘ ‘ L l ‘ e n c c s . I h e 1 s l r , r t r l t l

. r s c k c ‘ e p i n g , a n d n o t h : r

, t e l ” s o f f e m a l e c l o n r e ‘ t
‘ , t i n c l u s t r i a l i s t s i r n p o . r .

. , ‘ p i r r a t l o r i t ‘ r r l b r 1 ‘ r ‘ ‘ ‘ .

r , , r i t l b r g c d h c t r t c t t t t
i t l e r r t i t 1 o l ‘ t h c I ) , r l r . .

– t i n t : t t t . t o c l l r i r r l . \ \

; l i s h r r r r t i o n i t l i ( l ( n l i 1 .
‘ , , ‘ . I l r c r l r t r t l l , t l t , –

– l r t r r t ‘ l l l l e t r t ; r n t f t * t ‘

L r \ i r n ( l s o f r , r o t l l t ‘ t t i t t
‘ , l c t ‘ l i n g s r , l p i t r t l r , i

r , o t t l < l I r t ' t t t r n t ' t l t , '

! l t . ‘ n t ‘ r r i t l t ‘ : r t h ; r t . ‘ ‘

: . r ‘ \ \ : r s r r o t s i l t l P l r i l l .
, , r s t e \ t ( ‘ l l l l l l l c t l r ‘
t r r l r l i t r r l i o t t – I t r , r r ‘

r , ‘ s l t r t k i n l l s ” – t ‘ , i t t ,
. ‘ . r e h i l t ‘ t ‘ s c e n .

‘ f
h i s l l . , –

. l t u , , n t t ‘ n r r r i t t ‘ r t


– . 1 l i t c r a r . v r e l l t t t t t t i o r l ‘
‘ , . t o r t v o i t l s t t g l l t ‘ s t i r ‘ –

i , , r r ‘ s ” r r l ‘ [ i ‘ t t i ( ) n i r l ( ‘ \ \
‘ I l r o s t ‘ t l i n t o ” s t t t t l i ‘ ‘

– . . \ \ r r l l s t o n e c r a f t , r i h , ,

. – , r c a l p r o p o s i l l a b o t r t q . :
‘ : c c l L t c a t i o n u / o m e l l I l r

. ( t ‘ \ \ 0 l l l e n \ A r i t e r s t ( l l ‘ :

‘ , : n s c h ‘ e s a g a i n s t i t .
, ) r ‘ r h i n t h c V i c t o r i i r r r

r r I

_ r t \ f i l l l v e n ( ) t l g n s t l l r l l

e c s s n ‘ o u l c l n o t b e t r ,
‘ r r ‘ t e c n t h c c n t u r v t h c I l

r . . r : d i s t i n t t I r o t t t r r ‘
‘ \ \ ‘ i l l i a m P i t t ( r v h o r i o

r a b i l l { i r r p t r r l i a n r e r r

: r r i n g i n t o s t r a t e g i c i l l

. R r i t i s h e l e c t o r a l s v s t t

orkers had no vote and

were preve;ted by law from unionizing, their only recourses were Petitions’
proteit meetings, and riots, to which the ruling class responded with even
rno.” ,”p.”rrive measures. The introduction of neu’ machinery into the rnjlls
resulted in further loss ofjobs, provoking sporadic attempts by the displaced
workers to destroy the machines. After one such outbreak of “Luddite”
machine-breaking, the House of Lords-despite Byron’s eloquent Protest-
passed a bill (f 8l j) making death the penalty for destroying the_frames used
ior *.a.,ing in the stocking industry. In 1819 hundreds of thousands of
workers organized meetings to demand parliamentary reform. In August of
that year, u h.tg” but orderly assembly at St. Peter’s Fields, Manchester, was
charged by sater-wielding troops, who killed nine and injured hundreds
more; this was the notorious “Peterloo Massacre,” so named with sardonic
reference to the Battle of Waterloo.
Suffering was largely confined to the poor, hou,ever, while the landed
classes ani industriulittr pr.rrp”red. So did many merchants, who pro{ited
from thc new markets opened up as the British Empire expanded aggres-
sively, compensating with victories against the French for the traumatic
loss of America in iZS:. England’s merchants profited, too, thanks to the
marketing successes that, over time, converted once-exotic imports from
these colonies into everyday fare for the English. ln the eighteenth century
tea and sugar had becn transformed in this way, and in the nineteenth cen-
tury other commodities followed suit: thc Indian muslin, fbr instance, that
*u, th” fabric of choice for gentlemen’s cravats and fashionable ladies’
gowns, and the laudanum (Indian opium clissolved in alcohol) that so many
ailing writers of the period appear to have found irresistible. The West Encl
of London and new ieaside resorts like Brighton became in the early nine-
teenth century consumers’ paradises, sites where West Indian planters ancl
nabobs (a Hindi word that enterecl English as a name for thosc who owecl
their fortunes to lndian gain) could be glimpsed displaying their purchas-
ing power in a manner that made them moralists’ f’avorite examples of nou-
,re-a., riche vulgarity. The word shop\ting czrme into English us:rge in this
era. Luxurv villas sprang up in London, and thc prince regent, rvho in 1820
became G”o.g” IV, buill himself palaces and pleasurc domes, retrezrts from
his not very onerous public responsibilities.
But even, or especially, in private life at home, the prosperous could not
escape being touched by the great events of this period. French revolution-
ary irinciples were feared by English conservatives almost as
much lor their
chalenge-to the
,,proper” ordering of the relations between men and women
as for th”ir
“hull”ng”
tu traditional political arrangements. Yet the
account of what it meant to be English that developed in reaction to this
challenge-an account emphasizing the special virtues of the English
,”r-r.” o? home and familr’-u’as in its way equally revolutionary’ In an
unprecedented u,a-v, the nar that the English waged almost without inter-
miision between I793 and 1815 had a “home front.” The menaced sanctuary
of the domestic fireside became the symbol of what the nation’s military
might was safeguarding. \\rhat popularity the monarchy held on to during
thii turbulent period riis thus a function not of the two King Georges’ tra-
ditional exercise of a monarch’s sovereign powers but instead of the public-
. t a i l o r e d t o s u i t t h i s r r
‘ r c s t i t ‘ b l i s s w i t h i n a
: . r e d a s u , e l l u n d e r t h e r :
: r o f t h e h o m e , t h i s P l t ,
r o f o u r c o u n t r v u ‘ i t h , I
\ n c l t h a t a l t c r a t i o n b o t l –
, o p p o r t u n i t i e s . A s i r r
‘ i o c i r l e r e p r o v i c l c d o l r l ‘ ,
. t – r u a l b e h a v i o r , a n c l i , ‘ ‘
‘ : h i s p e r i o d u ‘ o m c n b t ‘ . –
. r a z i n e a r t i c l c s t h a t i r ”
‘ ( n c e s b e t w e e n t h e s t ‘ .
‘ ‘ L l ‘ e n c c s . I h e 1 s l r , r t r l t l
. r s c k c ‘ e p i n g , a n d n o t h : r
, t e l ” s o f f e m a l e c l o n r e ‘ t
‘ , t i n c l u s t r i a l i s t s i r n p o . r .
. , ‘ p i r r a t l o r i t ‘ r r l b r 1 ‘ r ‘ ‘ ‘ .
r , , r i t l b r g c d h c t r t c t t t t
i t l e r r t i t 1 o l ‘ t h c I ) , r l r . .
– t i n t : t t t . t o c l l r i r r l . \ \
; l i s h r r r r t i o n i t l i ( l ( n l i 1 .
‘ , , ‘ . I l r c r l r t r t l l , t l t , –
– l r t r r t ‘ l l l l e t r t ; r n t f t * t ‘
L r \ i r n ( l s o f r , r o t l l t ‘ t t i t t
‘ , l c t ‘ l i n g s r , l p i t r t l r , i
r , o t t l < l I r t ' t t t r n t ' t l t , ' ! l t . ' n t ' r r i t l t ' : r t h ; r t . ' ' : . r ' \ \ : r s r r o t s i l t l P l r i l l . , , r s t e \ t ( ' l l l l l l l c t l r ' t r r l r l i t r r l i o t t - I t r , r r ' r , ' s l t r t k i n l l s " - t ' , i t t , . ' . r e h i l t ' t ' s c e n . ' f h i s l l . , - . l t u , , n t t ' n r r r i t t ' r t ' - - . 1 l i t c r a r . v r e l l t t t t t t i o r l ' ' , . t o r t v o i t l s t t g l l t ' s t i r ' - ' i , , r r ' s " r r l ' [ i ' t t i ( ) n i r l ( ' \ \ ' I l r o s t ' t l i n t o " s t t t t l i ' ' - . . \ \ r r l l s t o n e c r a f t , r i h , , . - , r c a l p r o p o s i l l a b o t r t q . : ' : c c l L t c a t i o n u / o m e l l I l r . ( t ' \ \ 0 l l l e n \ A r i t e r s t ( l l ' : ' , : n s c h ' e s a g a i n s t i t . , ) r ' r h i n t h c V i c t o r i i r r r r r I _ r t \ f i l l l v e n ( ) t l g n s t l l r l l e c s s n ' o u l c l n o t b e t r , ' r r ' t e c n t h c c n t u r v t h c I l r . . r : d i s t i n t t I r o t t t r r ' ' \ \ ' i l l i a m P i t t ( r v h o r i o r a b i l l { i r r p t r r l i a n r e r r : r r i n g i n t o s t r a t e g i c i l l . R r i t i s h e l e c t o r a l s v s t t

alnJe Jo alxll e 1€ {.lleurc
‘asneJ uoururoJ Jleql tuals^s lerol’rr’:

3o Suri.,lc.ttlsar ar{l
aperu ‘sacuellle Po^rl

lJorls pue c13a1er1: : ‘

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‘turoJar ”(reluauerFed : . –

ur pasodord (sacuer8alle 1ecrl11od slq UIqs uoos PIno'{\ oq’\\r tl d
– r ‘r 4I

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3o sfq8rr aql uo pesnJoJ
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,{g””-“qr u1 ‘,{rnluac qtdllua^q eql Illun palaldruoc aq loll:
– : 1″rruui

leql pue,urBaq ot urroJar 1e8a1 lerluelsqns roJ lroddns qBn’r
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s(ueurom Jo esneJ s{Uercauolsllo1A
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:’- i rhirlllrfilFauUep Jo aldruexa Jar{ aJouEI laqlla ol ^lsnollneJ PaPuaf slrlt|r’. –
:’- i rhilllllfilF

‘leuorldacxa paureual
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e pelSerS uotuolwto sttplg a\tto uoxlvrlpu_?A eql_ul ot{‘t\’lJEj:— i ‘\ Iqrl

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q’ LLrlllllrJllllllilrl

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eql paqsr,r\.{aql (paleurulnJ rrllrr al€tu euo se) ]€ql bullsa;i-*’ :’
‘ drillrnn

aq of ‘d11qar€J peerl of Peq sroqlne al:LueJ aseqT,_’suollPln.’– –
…. rrrrL rlrlrrffil

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u r d r o l s r q . { r e r a 1 r l u t e l a l s r g a q l
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olur,{rlua s,ueuro/,v\ p .\c- – – liiilillilri f,l

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* – : i r ‘ r n ‘

ro ,(3r1snf osle plnor uorl€u eql uI osle lnq auoq aql ul \lo”L ‘ – irrrm

s ( u € r u o ^ \ e ‘ 1 r 1 n d s e q . { a 1 1 o 3 e P u l – I u l T r r o l s r q a q l s E
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( ) l

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ulqll,’\\ ‘tu ‘ –

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leql seAr aJII rllsauoP Pue alels aql Jo bulrq-lle’,{\ aql
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– . :

I O T H E R O M A N T I C P E R I O D

economic distress, the first Reform Bill u’as passecl in 1832. It did away with
the rotten boroughs (depopulated areas r,hose seats in the House of Com-
mons were at the disposal of a fen’ noblemen), redistributed parliamentary
representation to include the industrial cities, and ertended the franchise.
Although about half the middle class, almost all the vrorking class, and all’
\vomen remained without a vote, the principle of the peacefr-rJ adjustment of
conflicting interests by parliamentarv majoritv had been firmly established.
Reform \4/as to go on, by stages, until Britain acquired universal adult suf-
fraee in 1928.

T H E N E W P O E T R I E S . T H E O R Y A N D P R A C T I C E

W r i t e r s u , o r k i n g i n t h i s p c r i o d 1 7 8 5 – l u – 1 2 d i d n o t t h i n k o f t h e m s e l v e s a s
c o n s t i t u t i n g a g r o u p o l t ” R o m a n t i c ” a u t h o r s . I t w : r s V i c t o r i a t n c r i t i c s l r , h o f i r s t
wrotc of- the prcvious generartion as the Romantics and promote cl the term as
a r d e s c r i p t i o n f o r a p e r i o d o f r e c e n t , m o c l e r n r a t h e r t h a n p r e m o c l c r n , h i s t o r y .
C o n t c m p o r a r i e s , b y c o n t r a s t , t r e a t c c l t h e s e u ‘ r i t e r s a s i n d e p e n c l e n t i n d i –
v i d u a l s o r e l s e g r o u p e d t h e m ( u s u a l l v m a l i c i o u s l y , b u t u ‘ i t h s o r n e b a s i s i n
f a c t ) i n t o a n u m b c r o f s e p : r r a t e ” s c l – r o o l s ” o r ” s e c t s ” : t h e ” L a k e S c h o o l ” o f
W o r d s w o r t h , C l o l e r i c l g e , a n d R o b c r t S o r – r t h e v ( a ” s c c t o f P o e t s , ” t l r e c r i t i c F r a n –
cis Jeffrev sr-ripecl, cleterrrrinccl to bc “li.s.scrzrcr.s |rom the cstablished systerns
i n p o e t r y : r r – r c l c r i t i c i s m ” a n c l ‘ a l u i n g t l r c m s c l v c s h i g h l y ” f o r h a v i n g b r o k e n
l o o s e f r o m t h e b o n d a g c o f a n c i e n t a r r t h o r i t v ” ) ; t l r e ” C } r c k r r c v S c h o o l , ” a d e r o g –
a t o r y [ e r m f o r v u l g a r L o n c [ o n e r s L e i g h H u n t , W i l l i a m F l a z l i t t , a r n c l a s s o c i a t e c l
u ‘ r i t e r s u 4 r o h z r c l p r e t e n s i o n s b e y o r . r c l t h c i r s t : r t i o n , i r r c l – r d i n q l ( e a t s ; : r n c l t h e
i r n p i o u s ” S a t a n i c S c h o o l ” o f L c i g l r H r – r n t ( a g a i r . r ) , P e r c y S h c l l e y , a n c l B v r o n . A t
t h c s t a r t o f t h e p e r i o c l , t h c s a t i r i s t R i c h a r c l P o l r , r ‘ h c l c a l s o p r a c t i c e c l t h i s n a m e –
c a l l i n g a s h c c a t a l o g u e c l t h c s p h c r c o l t ” f c r l a l e l i t c r a t r – r r e ” : t l r c a i m o f h i s 1 7 9 7
‘rhe

unsex’cJ Fcmules u’as. bv nzrming ancl sharning, to firrnly clistinguish the
v i r t u o u s l a d y r ‘ r ‘ r i t e r s o f h i s n r o m c n t f r o m t h e

‘ A n r a z o n i a n
b a n c l ” f < r r m c c l b v

Wollstonccraft and her firllovvcrs, a group u,ho, so Polu,hclc cornplainccl, hacl
s a c r i f i c c d t h e i r f c m i n i n e c h i t r m s f o r l e a c l r o l c s i n r e v o l u t i o n a r y ; r o l c n r i c i z i n g .

1 ‘ h c p r o l i f ‘ e r a t i o n o f ‘ ” s c h o o l s ” a n d ” s c c t s ” s L t f l f { e s t s t h e f n L r l t I i n c s r u n n i n g
t h r o u g h t h i s f r a c t i o u s l i t c r a r v r n , o r l c l . W h c r e : r g r e c m c n t c o u l c l b e f o u n c l w a s
a r o u n d t h c p r o p o s i t i o n t h a t 1 l – r i s r ‘ r , a s a u , a t e r s h c c l m o r n e n t i n l i t e r a r y l r i s t o r v .
” L i t e r i r l u r t ‘ . r r e l l o r i l l c r r n t l u c t t ‘ t l . ” r h t ‘ s i r t i r i s l I h o m r r s – l r r r n e s \ l i r t i r i , r s p r , , –
c l a i m c c l i n t h e b o o l i t h a t i n s p i r : e c l P o h v h c l e ‘ s , ” i s t h e g r e a t c n g i n e b v l v h i c l r . . .
a l l c i v i l i z c d s t a t c s m u s t r , r l t i m a t e l y b c s r . r 1 ; p o r t e c l o r o v c r t l r r o u , r – r . ” R : r c l i c a l s
c o t – r c u r r e c l w i t h c o n s c r v a t i v e s I i k e N ‘ l a t h i a s i r r t h i s c o n v i c t i o n t h a t l i t c r z r t u r e
was u’here the actior-r rv:rs-thatt literature in cl]f’ect 1ys.5 11g1i61-cvcn ets they
c l i s a g r c e c l o n t h c m e a n i n g t o b e a s c r i b e c l [ o t h u t v € ] r v t e r m ( : r t c r m l b r m e r l y
s v n o n v f n o u s w i t h l e a r r – r i n g i n g c n c r a l , o n l v i n t h i s p c r i o c l d i c l l i t e r a l u r e l : t c g i n
t o s e t t l e d o r ‘ v n i n t o t h a t m o c l c r n m c n n i n g t h : r t c o n f i n e s i t e x c l u s i v e l v t o a r t i s –
t i c e x p r e s s i o n , l , r , o r k s o l t l – r e i m a g i n a t i o n p a r t i c u l a r l v ) . l n t r o c l u c i n g t h e N e l r ,
Cambridge Histort of the Ettglish Rontamtic Period, James Chancller has
r e c e n t l y h i g h l i g h t e d . a s a c l c { i n i r r g c h a r a c t e r i s t i c o f t h e r R o m a n t i c a g e , h o u ,
o f t e n t h i s e r a ‘ s m o s t t a l c n t c c l m e r n g r a r v i t a t e c { t o p o e t r y i n p a r t i c u l n r . T h e , v
c o n f i r m e d p o c t r v s e l e l i r t e c l c u l t u r e r l s t a t u s b v a b a n d o n i n g o t h e r c a r e e r s , t h e
m i n i s t r v i n C o l e ‘ r i d g e ‘ s c a s c , t h e l a l r ‘ i n S i r W n l t e r S c o t t ‘ s , m e d i c i n e i n K e a t s ‘ s .
E v e n G e o r g e C a r – r r . r i r . r g . T o r v l e a c l e r o f B r i t t r i n ‘ s F l o u s e o f C o m m o n s , p u b –
l i s h e d i n 1 8 2 – i a C r , l l e c t e t l P o e t n s . I n h i s ‘ 1 8 0 2 P r e f ‘ a c e t c t [ : v r i c a l B a l l a t l s

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i n ‘ e s t i g a t i o n a n d p o e t i c i m i t a t i o n o f t h e b a l l a d s b e i n g s u n g o r c h a n t e d b y
c o m m o n p e o p l e i n t h e s t r e q t s : r n d f i e l d s s u g g e s t s s o m e t h i n g i i m i l a r . I t r e g i s –
t e r s t h e f a s c i n a t i o n t h a t t h e p a r t i c i p a n t s , i n l i t e r a t e c u l t u r e r v h o l i s t e n e J i n
o n t h e s e p e r f o r m a n c e s \ v e r e i n c l i n e d t o a s c r i b e t o a c u l t u r a l f o r r h w h o s e
o r i g i n s p r e d a t e d t h e i n v e n t i o n o f t h e p r i n t i n f l p r e s s a n d t h e a d v e n t o f a p r i n t
merrket. Thc ballacl rvas transmitted by vyord of mouth and not bv commer-
c i i r l c r t ‘ h r r n g c .

T h e d o u b l c i r n a g e o f t h e p o e t – p r o d u c t o f a n e r a t h a t b o t h i c l e a l i z e d p o e t r v
a n d f r e t t e d o v e r i t s s t a n c l i n g i n m o d e r n , c o m m e r c i a l s o c i e t v – i s a n i m p o r t a n t
c o n t e x t f i r r t h e c l u e s t i o n s c e n t e r i n g W o r d s w o r t h ‘ s l g 0 2 p r e f ‘ a c e , h i s i e t r o a c –
t i v e s t a t e m e r . r t o f t h e p r i n c i p l e s g u i d i n g h i m i n t h e p o e m s h e c o n t r i b u t e d t o
b’rical Ballads. “what is meant by the u’ord Poet? what is a poet?” The eues-
t i o n s u ‘ e r e t h c r n o r e u r g e n t b e c a r u s e i n a f r a c t i o u s p e r i o d , t h e r e r , r , a s i n c r e a s e d
P r c s s l l r e o r – r t h e a e s t h e t i c s p h e r e t o a c t i i s z r s i t e i n w h i c l r h u m a n b e i n g s c o u l d
r e c l i s c o v e r t l r e c o r n m o n a l i t i e s [ i n k i n g t h e m a s h u m e r n s , a s W o r d s w o r i l , s d e f i –
n i t i . r ‘ r o f t h e p o e t a s a f i g u r e o f u n i f i c a t i o n , ” b i n d [ i n g ] t o g e t h e r . . . t h e v a s t
e m p i r c o f h r r m a r n s o c i e t y , ” s u g g e s t s . o n e w a v t o a p p i o a c h t h e p e r i o d ‘ s n e w
P o c t r i c s n n c l i s o l n t e s o m e o f t h c c l i s t i n c t i v e t r e n d s t h a t r v e r e p r e c i p i t a t e d o u t
o l a n ‘ c l t c r o f r c f i r r r n s a n c l r a c l i c a l i n n o v a t i o n s i s t o s t a r t b v t i a c i n g t h e s h i f t –
i r . r g c o n c c P t i . n s o l ‘ p o e t a n c l l ) o e t r y t h a t e m e r g e d t h e n . I f b y t a k i n g t h i s
a P P r o a c l r u , c t a l i c o l r r c l r e f r o m w o r c l s r , r , o r t h ‘ s p r e f a c e , w e ‘ s h o u l j a l s o
i t c l i n o u ‘ l c d g c t h a t h i s r n a n i l ‘ e s t o { b r a n e u , p o e t i c s c a n b e d e e m e d r e p r e s e n t a –
t i v c . r . r l v t o a l i m i t e c l c x t e n t . w o r c l s n . r t h w o u l c l h a v e w i s h c d i t o t h e n v i s e . b r – r t

c o n t r a s t i n g ‘ i e x s o f t h c R . r n a n r i c P o e t . o n t h e l e f t , H c . n r y F u s e l i , ” T h e p o e t , s v i s i o n , ‘ ,
u r u s c c l c l c s i g n f o r l r , r r t i r I i t t t , r ( ) \ \ i l l i a m ( l o r v p e r ‘ s p o a r z s ( 1 g 0 7 ) . o n t h c r i g h t , H e n r y
H t ‘ a t h , ” F i n c A r t s . l ) t . l : [ ) , r r r r . p u b l i s h e d A u g u s t 8 , 1 8 2 6 .

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€ 1 I N O t r l n c o d r N l

1 1 T H E R O M A N T I C P E R I O D

T h i s r e i n v e n t i o n o f t h e l y r i c c o m p l i c a t e d e s t a b l i s h e d u n d e r s t a n d i n g s o f
t h e g e n d e r o f a u t h o r s h i p . I t m a y n o t b e a n a c c i d e n t , s o m e c r i t i c s s u g g e s t ,
that \\rbrdsvr,orth in his Preface defines poetr\ as “the real language of men”
and the Poet as a “man speaking to men”: \\iordsu’orth, who began to pub-
l i s h w h e n \ l r o m e n s u c h a s R o b i n s o n a n d C h a r l o t t e S m i t h o c c u o i e d t h e v a n –
g u a r d o f t h e n e v l , p e r s o n a l p o e t r . v , m i g h t h a v e d e c i d e d t h a t t o e s t a b l i s h t h e
d i s t i n c t i v e n e s s o f h i s p r o j e c t h e n e e d e d t o c o u n t e r b a l a n c e h i s e m p h a s i s o n
h i s f e e l i n g s r , r ‘ i t h a n e m p h a s i s o n t h o s e f e e l i n g s ” ‘ m a n l y ” d i g n i t y . f ‘ l – r i s i s n o t
t o s a v t h a t v v o m e n u ‘ r i t e r s ‘ r e l a t i o n s h i p t o t h e n e r v i d c a s a b o u t p o e t r y w a s
straightforrvard either. In one of her prel’aces Smith says that she anticipates
b e i n g c r i t i c i z e d f o r ” b r i n g i n g f o r u ‘ a r c l ‘ w i t h q u e r u l o u s e g o t i s m , ‘ t h e m e n t i o n
o f m y s e l f . ” F – o r r n a n y f e m a l e p o e t s t h e o t h e r c h a l l e n g e t h o s e i d c a s a b o u t
p o e t r v p o s e d m i g h t h a v e c o n s i s t e d i n t h e i r p o t e n t i a l t o r e i n f o r c c t h e o l c l ,
p r c . j u c l i c i a l i d e a t h a t t h e i r s e x – t r a d i t i o n a l l y s e e n 2 r s c r e a t u r e s o f I ‘ c c l i n g
r a t h e r t h a n i n t e l l e c t – w r o t e a b o u t t h e i r o r v n e x p e r i e n c e s b e c a u s e t h e v r , v e r e
c a p a b l e o f n o t h i n g c l s e . F o r m a l e p o e t s t h c r i s k s o f p o e t i c s e l f – r c v e l a t i o n
vycre clifferent-zrnd in somc measllre they were actively seized by those
n ‘ h o , l i k e C o l e r i d g e : r n d P e r c y S h e l l e v , i n t i r n a t e d d a r k l y t h a t t h e i n t r o s p e c –
t i v c t e n c l e n c y : r n d e m o t i o r – r a l s e n s i t i v i t y t h a t m a d e s o m e o n e : r p o e t i c g c n i u s
c o u l c l a l s o l e a c l h i r n t o m e l a n c h o l y a n c l m a d n c s s .

I t r v a s n o t o n l y t h c l v r i c t h a t r c g i s t e r e d t h e s e n e w a c c o u n t s o f t h e p o e t .
B v r o n c o n f i r u n c l e d h i s c o n t e r n p o r a r i c s ‘ e x p e c t : r t i o n s a b o u t r v h i c h p o e t i c

l l e n r c \ ‘ f i l s b e s t s u i t e c l t o s e l f – r e v e l e r t i o n b y i n v i t i n g l r i s a u d i e n c e t o e q l l a t c
thc Irer

Spontaneity ancl the Imyulses o.f Feeling

I n t r a d i t i o r . r a l p o c t i c s , p o c t r y h a d b e e n r e g a r d e d a s s u p r e m e l y a n a r t – a n a r t
t h n t i n n r o c l e r n t i m e s r , r ‘ i t s p r a c t i c c d b v p o e t s w h o h a c l a r s s i r n i l a t e c l c l a s s i c a l
prcccclents, w,ere :lw:lre of the “rr-r[es” governing tlre kincl of poem thcy are
w r i t i n g , a r . r d ( e x c e p t f o r t h c h a p p 1 , t o u c h e s t h e r t , i t s A l e x a n d e r P o p c s a i c l , a r e
“lqyoncl tl.re reach of art”) deliberately enpkryccl testecl nreans to achicvc pre –

nrcclitatecl eff’ects on an auclicnce. Br-rt in her 1797 Monthb,Magazine esst*’.
\ A b l l s t o n e c r t r f t f b r e t o l d a s h i | t i n a e s t h e t i c d o c t r i n e w h e n s h e w r o t e r t h a t ” [ t ] h e
s i l k e n u ‘ i n g s o f f a n c v a r c s h r i v e l l e d b y r r – r l e s , ” : r n d t h a t ” a d e s i r e o | a t t a i n i n g
c l e g a n c e o f c l i c t i o r r o c c a s i o r – r s a n a t t e n t i o n t o w o r d s , i n c o m p a t i b l e v v i t h s u b –
lime, impitssioned thor-rgl-rts.” In Worclsrvorth’s account in the Pref’acc.
a l t h o u g h t h c c o m p o s i t i o r – r o f a p o e m o r i g i n a t e s f r o m ” e m o t i o n r e c o l l e c t e d i n
tranquillity” and r.nav be prccecled ancl followecl by re{1ection, the immediate
act of composition must be spontaneous-in-rpulsive, artless, ancl free fron-r
r u l e s . K c a t s l i s t e c l a s a n

‘ ‘ a r i o r n ”
a s i m i l a r p r o p o s i t i o n – t h a t ” i f p o e t r y c o m e s

n o t a s n a t u r a l l v a s t h e l e a r e – . t o a t r e e i t h a d b e t t e r n o t c o r x e a t a l l . ”
O n o c c a s i o n i r – r t h i s p c l i o d ‘ s c l i s c r – r s s i o n s o f p o e t i c s , t h i s i n t e r e s t i n a

p o e t r , v t h a t c a r n ‘ r e r r a t u r . r l i r c o r , r l c l a c t i n c o n c e r t w i t h t h a t n o s t a l g i a , a l r e a d r
d i s c u s s e c l . n l r i c h . r b . r n t l , , r ‘ 1 , : . 1 t h e p r o s a i c h e r e – a n d – n o v v f o r t h e * – o . ” . , r * , , l r –

p o s s i b i l i t i e s h o u s

– t s o f t h e p e r i o d .

: b i b l i c a l p r o p h e t

– h t e e n t h – c e n t u r , v i

1 . \ \ , a s a c h a r i s m a

n e i n l o n g – a g o t i r

, n e l a n g u a g e o f m

i r o d e r n d e c o r u n – r

. e o r m e a s u r e . ( ‘ f L
‘: rural working ,

. r e c t e d , b y v i r t u c r

= r.rt of civilizecl cl i s

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– i c r l a r , r v r i t e r s l i l

– i n g l h e s e b a r d i c i

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, i o r m a n c c s o f p o t

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I 6 I T H E R O M A N T I C P E R I O D

one u’riter who praised and emurated that rhapsodic spontaneity, percyShelley, thought it “ur,
“..o.

to assert tnut tt-r”, finest passages of poetry areproduced by labour and study.” He suggested insteacl that these were theproducts of an unconscious cre,ativitv’ “-[].”ut statue or picture grows underthe power of the artist As a child in ine m?tner,s vvomb.,,
The emphasis in this period .rr-, .,.rlubor”d n.t o’,J n,-, the ipontaneousactivity. of the imagination.producing ir, and the p.”;i”;-;#ed on theimmediacv of- the rerati,,nship betwein aurhor

“;i
p;;;’;l”t,rr”a ,o ubelief in the essential role of passi,rr-r. A””ordr.rg ,. lrir’rii”.-

1

-hi.h

“or.,-nects the literary productions ,lf th” Ro*untic period to tt-,”-po”try ancl fic_tion of sensibiritv u’ritten earlier in the eighteenth .e.,turyi ,h*” ,,.rr,ri,ir,”feelings of “rhe heart’ rrad ,o .”ppt”-“”i ,i”;”ag-“”;; ,f ,ri;’;erv rogicarfacultv, “the head.” “De.ep thinkirg,;;-“i”.iage wrote, ,,is ,ttainabre only bya man of deep feering”; hence, “a mltaphysicar soruri.n ,t
“i

i.”rl-‘,r, telr yousomething in the heart is grievously t,, b” ,.,.p”.r”a u, opu”rfft ri.,,
()Lorification of the Orclinary

In the lecture he gave “On the Living poets” in lglg l{azlitt cleclared the’oerrv of the Larier scho.l, rn,itrr worisro,.rrh_at ir, h”J, ;rl;” ii” tit”.u.yeqtri’alenr of the Frencr.r Revolrrri.n, a rra^slari.” .r,f.riii.”iiange int.p’ctic,l experinrent’ “l(ings o,-t.l q.,”.:,-r. were clethr.r-recl f-ro’r tl-reir rzr’k a’clstatirn in legiti’ratc,trzrgldy or epic’.etry, as they’n”.” a”””iriiatecl else-where’ ‘ . . Tlre paradox 1th”,.,., p.,itr]
‘r”a,,J,,

rvirh was that a[ i’t irrra, nr., lrynature, erqually fit su,rrjects f.r poetry; or th:rt if there is any ‘reference [ogivc, th.se th:rt are t[.,c n.,eon”ri [i.”.,’,’.,rrt n.,,”fri”j,rrJ’;;irt;;r.,rmising
:rrc the best.” Furthc’rmore’,.irs Fr:rzritt poir.rtccr out, the Lake Scrroor h:rclcl.nc more tha’terrie_tr-rc subjccts,rf ,”ri,’r.,. lr,rems I’r.nr trrer livcs.r.hrrmbrccountrv frlk; it.vertrvcricited:r gcntecr u.,.ri.,,.,.”,,.,y,”o,,ir.,l”r’i’r. the cris_g r a t ‘ t ‘ < l ' ( ) r r ( ; r s l . r r n r r r r t ' r i r r < 1 r r t ' n r l " . . , , r r r i r . r s , l i , r r r r r < , \ i r g r i r r r r s , g y l ) s r e s . . .icli.t boys:rnd r'r:rcr n.r'thers,'i in Hazrittls risr. r.r r.,-., extenr lJazriit,s anarn_g i z i n g , b e t w e . n p o e t i c . n c r p o l i t i c a r e x P e r i m e n t s s u g g e s t s m o r e a r r . u t h i n rthan tl.re li'ir-rg pocts he.triscr,rsses, an avicr youthfur reacrer of-Jer'.-Jac<1uesRousseau' hc souncls as th',gh he trorr to (cart the Swiss-Fr",-,"t ptrit,rru- Pher's aclvocacy of a simpriciiy ,rrr -o,-r,-r"..,r'against arist.cr.tic corrupti.n.Still, l{azlitt w.r-rrcr rravc.i.'ncr supP.rt fbr his crraracterization .f thc LakcScfrool from worclsr,r,,rth's statcrnent in the-prcfa.^e that r-,i., ,i,, i" LyricaLBalla.ls w:rs "to ch..sc i'cicre'ts :rncr situarti.ns from common rire.,, ForWorclsworth's p.le'ricerI plrrposes, it ruu. in ],hun-rble and r'stic life,,that.natural language-"a,lar-rg,,age, reaily spokcn by mcn"

“”J
;i””,r.p”.”r”.r

with the bcautiful ,..trd p”rr,-rri,-r”nt fo’ns’.rf n,-,1.-,.”,,-r,1,:rs to bc rbund, ancrthe specch.f rustics u,as in the prefirce f.,–,ut”a ils zl cure f.r tlre airmentsof the ove.rcivilized.
Ilazlitt wo,ld have linou,n as r^,elr that rater-eigl,rteenth-ce.tury rvritershad .lreacly experimentecr x ith tr-,” tr-‘t”-treatment of sin-rple subjects.Burns had rvith great succcss representeci “the rural scenes urr.l .u.or pr”u_s u r e s o f I h i s l n a t a l S o i l , ” a n d i n , I u r , g u o g ” , r i – i , r g t o b e t r u e t u t h ” . t , y t h – .of thc. Scots Iangu;rge..\\bn-rer-r pn”?r, ?.r,r_Barbauld, Robinson, J.annaBaillie-assimilatc’cr to their p,r”1,’., th”_r.,bi”.t matter of- everyday Iife. NIanvlater-cighteenth-centLrr’rvriters had taken their cue from the ,rua. ,i-pti._ity of the popular ballair: the bailad’s opp”ol io, an

_’p-market, metropolita’readership, capitaiizecl on b1, eightee,-,ri-,]””,-rr.,.y collections like percv,s Bel_

– ; ‘ o J A n c i e n t E t t
‘ . e e n p r i m i t i v e p

– r h e t a m e , e i a b o r
, ) n c e i t h a d a r r i r r

‘ t e s u c h p o e t i c p i
– r r o f p o e t i c g e n r ,
, . n s t v l e , w h i c h i n

– :
f € n r € a t t h e b o t :

. – : a n d m e d i u m t ‘ r r
: : i c p r o g r a m a n d :

. . t o h e l p h i m p r , :

” P e c l d l c r . .

O f P o p e . ‘
‘ : . ‘ t

W o r d s u ‘ o r t h :
. – . a s h e e x p l a i n e c
– . . . a c e r t e r i n c r .
: r r r e s e n t e d t r i t h e r :
: h o u t n o t i c i n g t h .
– r t c r s h a d b e e n d . r
, . ” h u m b l e . ” \ \ o r r
. l o r e f r e s h o u r s r , r .

. r t h e e i g h t e e n r l :
. – – – : e O f

r r a n t i c s , t o a r o u : r
, : r e d r o b e f c l t b r :
. ” , r S h e l l e y \ \ ‘ r t t t r , .

: t t i o n o f p o e t r r . (

. – r v c r s e , C o l e r i c l :
– , d ‘ s s e n s e o f n o n . l
: l e r h a p s f o r t v r r – r

. . r l e g e o f g c n i u s . C
– – : B a r b a u l d \ 4 ‘ r o t r , :

– . n o r v a b l c p e r s p c r I
‘ : o t b e g u n – i r r [ ] . ‘

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I N O t r f n c o d r N l

I 8 T H E R O M A N T I C P E R I O D

and Gothic novels-supplied Coleridge in poems such as Rime of the Amciemt

Mariner, Christabel, and “Kubla Khan” u’ith tl-re nteans of impressing upon

readers a sense of occult po\lrers and unknou’n modes of being.

P o e m s l i k e t h e s e , a s ‘ C o l e r i d g e ‘ s e p i t h e t ” r o m a n t i c ” s u g g e s t s ‘ r v e r e o f t e n

g r o u p e d t o g e t h e r b y ‘ c o n t e m p o r a r l ‘ b s u n d e r t h e m e d i e v a l i z i n g r u b r i c

“romance.” On the one hand romances were rvritings that turfted, in their

q u e s t f o r s e t t i n g s c o n d u c i v e t o s u p e r n a t u r a l h a p p e n i n g s , t o d i s t a n t P a s t s

farau’ay, exotic places, or both-Keats’s “perilous seas’ in f’aery lands for-

l o r n ” o r t h e C h i n a o f ” K u b l a l ( h a n . ” O n t h e o t h e r h a n d r o m a n c e a l s o n a m e d

a homegrorvn, native tradition of literature, made unfamiliar and alien by

the passage of time. For many authors, starting u,ith Horace Walpole, whose

Castle of Otranto (1764) began the tradition of Gothic liction, u’riting under

t h e b a n n e r o f r o m a n c e m e a n t r e c l a i m i n g t h e i r n a t i o n a l b i r t h r i g h t : a l i t e r a –

t u r e o f i m a g i n a t i o n – a s s o c i a t e d , a b o v e a l l , w i t h S p c n s e r a n d t h e S h a k e –

speare of fairv magic and witchcraft-that hacl been f

t h e E n l i g h t e n m e n t ‘ s e m p h a s i s o n r e i , l s o n . B y r o n n e g o t i a t e d b e t u ‘ e e n

r o n r a n c e ‘ s t $ r o s e t s o f a s s o c i a t i o r : . s i n C h i k l e H a r o l t l , h a v i n g h i s h e r o t r a v c l i n

l a r – o t f A l b a n i a e r n c l b e c o m e e n t r a u c e c l b i t h e i n h a b i t a n t s ‘ s a v a g e s o n g s ,

b u t a l s o g i v i n g t h e p o e m t h e s u b t i t l e ” A R o m : t u n t ” ( a n a r c h a i c s p e l l i n g o f

r o m a n c c ) a n d w r i t i n g i t i n S p e n s e r i i t n s t a n z : t s . T h i s r v a s t h e s a m e s t a n z a i c

f’rrrm, neglectecl for mrrch of the cighteenth centurv, that l(cats drevv on fbr
‘l-he

Ete of St. Agnes, the pocrn in which hc provcd hirnself a mastcr of that

R o m e r n t i c m o d e t h a t e s t a b l i s h c s a n r c d i e v a t l s e t t i n g f o r e v e n t s v i o l a t i n g o u r

s e n s e o f r e a l i s t i c p r o b a b i l i t y . T h c R o m a n t i c p e r i o d ‘ s ” m e d i e r v t t l r e v i v a l ” w : r s

a l s o p r o m o t c c l b v w o m e n : R o b i n s o n , f r r r i n s t a n c e ( a u t l – r o r o f ” O l d E n g l i s h , ”

” M o n k i s h , ” a n c l ” G o t h i c ” T a l e s ) , i ‘ t s w e l l a s L c t i t i a L a n c l o n , F c l i c i a l l e m a n s ,

a n d o t h e r s . \ 4 / o r n c n u ‘ h o o f t e r – r m a t c h c d t h e a r c h – m e c l i e v a l i s t S i r W a l t e r S c o t t

i n t h e h i s t o r i c a l l c a r n i n g t h e y b r o r r g h t t o t h c i r c o m p o s i t i o t ‘ r s .

f ‘ h c ” a d d i t i o n o { ‘ s t r e t n g e n e s s t o b e a u t v ” t h a t W i l l t e r r P a t e r n e i t r t h e e n d o f

t h e n i n e t e e n t h c e n t u r y u ‘ o u l c l i d e n t i f y a s a k c v R o m a n t i c t e n c l e n c y i s s e e n n o t

o n l y i n t h i s c o n c e r n u ‘ i t h t h e e x o t i c a t n c l a r c h a i c l : r n c l s c a p e s o f t r o m a r n c e , b u t

a l s o i n a n i n t e r e s t i n t h c m y s t c r i e s o f m c n t a l l i f ‘ e a n c l c l c t e r m i n a t i o n t o i n v e s –

t i g a t c p s v c h o k r g i c a l c x t r c m e s . C i o l e r i c l g c a r r c l
‘ I ‘ h o r n a s

D e Q u i n c e y s h t r r c d a n

i n t e r e s t i n c l r c a m s a n c l n i g l – r t m a r e s a n d i n t h e a l t e r e c l c o n s c i o u s n e s s t h c y

e x p e r i e n c e c l u r r d e r t h e i r a c l c l i c t i o n t o o p i u m . l n h i s o d e s , a s i n t h e q u a s i –

m e c l i e v a l ” b z r l l a c l ” ” L a B e l l e D z r m e s a n s M e r c i , ” I ( c a t s r e c o r d e c l s t r a n g c

m i x t u r e s o f p l e a s u r e a n d p a i n r l , i t h e x t r z l o r c l i n a r y s e r n s i t i v i t v , p o n c l e r i n g t h c :

d e s t r u c t i v e a s p e c t s o f s e , x u a l i t y a n d t h c e r o t i c c l r r : r l i t y o f t h e l o n g i n g f o r

d e a t h . A n d B y r o n m a d e r e p e a t c d u s e o | t h e f i r s c i n a t i o n o f t h e f ‘ o r b i d c l e n a n c l

t h e a p p c a l o f t h e t e r r i f y i n g y e t s e d u c t i v e S a t a n i c h e r o .

T h e r e w e r e , o f c o u r s c , n r i t e r s w h o r e s i s t e d t h c s e p o e t i c e n g a g e m e n t s

w i t h f a n t a s i z e d l a n d s c a p e s a n d s t r a n g e p a t s s i o n s . S i g n i f i c a n t d i s s e n t c a m e

f r o m s o m e \ { r o m e n r v r i t e r s , u 4 r o , g i v e n : r c c o u n t s o f t h e i r s e r a s c s p e c i a l l v

s u s c e p t i b l e t o t h e d e l u s i o n s o r r o m a n t i c l o v e , h a d p a r t i c u l a r r e a s o n t o c o n –

t i n u c t h e E n l i g h t e n m e n t p r o g r a m a n d p r o m o t e t h e r a t i o n a l r e g u l a t i o n o f

emotion. Barbauld

p r o l o n g h i s s t a y i n t h e ” f a i r y b o w e r ” o f r o m a n c e b u t t o e n g a g e a c t i v e l y u ‘ i t h

t h e w o r l c l a s i t i s . O f t e n s a t i r i c a l u ‘ h e n s h e a s s e s s e s c h a r a c t e r s w h o i m a g i n e

t h e m s e l v e s t h e p i t i a b l e v i c t i m s o f t h e i r o w n p o r . r ‘ e r f ‘ u l f e e l i n g s , J a n e A u s t e n

had her heroirre in Persttasiom, while conversing r’vith a melancholy, Byron-

r e a d i n g y o u n g m a n . c a u t i o n h i m a g a i n s t o v e r i n d u l g e n c e i n B y r o n ‘ s ” i m p a s –

– – 1 d e s c r i p t i , : – ‘
‘ , , n c e o f p t ‘ , ‘ ‘ .

. – i , n ! o p r u c i . : r –
– L \ r r s a l o f : . ‘ . :

z a t t o t – l > u , . – .
– r . r b l e – t h : r .

. r t r f e a r t u r .
– r l l S L l l C \ r . r ‘

– \ i , t l 1 C C . l ) 1 r – l –

– . h . r b i t , , : . ‘ –

– . l – . \ n d , , ‘ ‘

. , n r i n t h . . –

, – . , i t r a t j , r t . .

. – – . i : r t h . : ‘ ‘ .

– : l ] f ] ] t i i t i : ‘

, ‘ : ‘ . t . t c t ] t . , .

– . l : . t s e l j – t : . , –

. , . 1 : , , 1 1 . l – . ‘

. – . – , , , h i c ] ‘ . – ‘
‘ l . r t l c c l l P ,

, – t i t ‘ i s t i c i , .

. , : – . t o f h l , ‘ .
– ‘ r r : r l r L l c l h ,

.
– . . r ‘ i t p l r L i

: r – r i l t : . : . i . 1 ‘
‘ , – . . . b l i n r . ‘ : ‘ .

: , l ) ‘ – . ‘ / r i , i . : ‘

r l ‘ ( ‘ ( t t t ‘ . l

– : ! . l l t t ‘ l – i r l ‘ –

\ ) . t J ] ! ‘ l r 1 – l

‘ –
! \ l I ‘ i 1 ( ) l – r l ,

– j

‘ 1
j r l – r ‘ s e l l i l – –

– –
r r r ‘ t – i o t l t :

. . : – . . t b l t ‘ , t . –

– – u t r t . t l r l t ‘ t : ‘


‘ , h c c i t . .

t – r t I n i l I L ] l ‘ !

I ) i . t t , t : . i , r ‘ . .
– , – r – f r i c t l t , –

– – – l i t ‘ r c f
l r ‘ –


r l l t I ) ( J C l l ‘ .

, ‘ . i n s t e : i c l ,
I ‘ , r r i r . i t r i – ,

l . \ \ i l \ i t –

‘ – , . t r t o b u : .

: i t t ‘ r s i m [ . –

. : : p a s t . I 1 l

, : l c l S t O l l l \ l

: : q a n l z . i t l r

l
:

rote :i poem gently zrdvising the young Coleridge r-rot to

p r o l o n g h i s s t a y i n t h e ” f a i r y b o w e r ” o f r o m a n c e b u t t o e n g a g e a c t i v e l y u ‘ i t h
t h e w o r l c l a s i t i s . O f t e n s a t i r i c a l u ‘ h e n s h e a s s e s s e s c h a r a c t e r s w h o i m a g i n e
t h e m s e l v e s t h e p i t i a b l e v i c t i m s o f t h e i r o w n p o r . r ‘ e r f ‘ u l f e e l i n g s , J a n e A u s t e n
had her heroirre in Persttasiom, while conversing r’vith a melancholy, Byron-
r e a d i n g y o u n g m a n . c a u t i o n h i m a g a i n s t o v e r i n d u l g e n c e i n B y r o n ‘ s ” i m p a s –
– – 1 d e s c r i p t i , : – ‘
‘ , , n c e o f p t ‘ , ‘ ‘ .
. – i , n ! o p r u c i . : r –
– L \ r r s a l o f : . ‘ . :
z a t t o t – l > u , . – .
– r . r b l e – t h : r .
. r t r f e a r t u r .
– r l l S L l l C \ r . r ‘
– \ i , t l 1 C C . l ) 1 r – l –
– . h . r b i t , , : . ‘ –
– . l – . \ n d , , ‘ ‘
. , n r i n t h . . –
, – . , i t r a t j , r t . .
. – – . i : r t h . : ‘ ‘ .
– : l ] f ] ] t i i t i : ‘

, ‘ : ‘ . t . t c t ] t . , .
– . l : . t s e l j – t : . , –
. , . 1 : , , 1 1 . l – . ‘
. – . – , , , h i c ] ‘ . – ‘
‘ l . r t l c c l l P ,
, – t i t ‘ i s t i c i , .
. , : – . t o f h l , ‘ .
– ‘ r r : r l r L l c l h ,
.
– . . r ‘ i t p l r L i
: r – r i l t : . : . i . 1 ‘
‘ , – . . . b l i n r . ‘ : ‘ .
: , l ) ‘ – . ‘ / r i , i . : ‘
r l ‘ ( ‘ ( t t t ‘ . l
– : ! . l l t t ‘ l – i r l ‘ –
\ ) . t J ] ! ‘ l r 1 – l
‘ –
! \ l I ‘ i 1 ( ) l – r l ,
– j
‘ 1
j r l – r ‘ s e l l i l – –
– –
r r r ‘ t – i o t l t :
. . : – . . t b l t ‘ , t . –

– – u t r t . t l r l t ‘ t : ‘

‘ , h c c i t . .
t – r t I n i l I L ] l ‘ !
I ) i . t t , t : . i , r ‘ . .
– , – r – f r i c t l t , –

– – – l i t ‘ r c f
l r ‘ –

r l l t I ) ( J C l l ‘ .
, ‘ . i n s t e : i c l ,
I ‘ , r r i r . i t r i – ,
l . \ \ i l \ i t –
‘ – , . t r t o b u : .
: i t t ‘ r s i m [ . –
. : : p a s t . I 1 l
, : l c l S t O l l l \ l
: : q a n l z . i t l r
l
:

J r l a o d a q l , , ‘ s p e 1 1 e q 1 e c 1 l . { 1 , , , , ‘ s l e u u o s c e r 8 a 1 a , , : e 1 , ‘ { 1 s p u e u o l l e z l – : *
– r c u r r d q s e r J u o p a l J n r l s u o r s t u r o J P I r q , ( I { 3 o f l a r r e , t E u r q s t u o : . ‘
– o r d . i a q t ‘ p l o t u o r J s a r u a S , t t a u S u r l e e r c ‘ l e q 1 s e , r t l l n s o r a q l l r : :

peirraqur ,{aql arua8 .(rere1r1 ;o suolldaouoc eql qlLA{ 1ua11edut
.:,

apetu osle strurl pre.&\ot aPntltt€ luegaP snll
‘Pazllerr f11n3 ac –

ool s€r\ leql uorldaouoc leur8rro ue Jo aJeJl ,{reluaruEerJ e .’ ,
-repun srql ul ‘tuaod atil :luaserd se,&t leq,{t .'(q se-luasqe sE.\\ l; –

r” p”,rg”p se,.n,{r1aod o11aod lsotu aql l€ql suorterirrguor se Pr
-‘. ‘ –

-lleJ se lou (,(1snowe3 tsotu .(u€q) BIqn),,) porrad rql Jo slu)
‘paqsrugun aql puelsraPun o1 .{e,tr e perlddns ,,palce3rad JC -:
– u o r a q e q r a ^ a r o J p l n o q s , , , { r t a o d l e q t l e s o d o r d s , 1 a 8 a 1 q o 5 q r l i t r ‘ – – r .
-rqd uerureg aq; ‘dpegrurs padole,tap ue Jo ernleu aLIl Jo su,rr.’

, ( ; s r 1 e s l o u u € J , , ‘ p a c u n o u u e a 1 e 1 g , , t B u r q 1 , { r e , t a u e q l s s a – I , ,
‘ a l : : : –

,{ro13 aqt se panl€^ar eq ol aueJ-,.rels e roJ tllour aqJ Jo alri-r: : –

s,fe11aqg .,(ora4 ur-pagslles aq raleu uer ler{l sEul8uol
‘rorr: : : ‘

urs se sa8e snol,rardSo slsllerotu dq pe,ttatrl’luatuele IeIJnr:r
i: :

a r { i r o J 8 u t , t u 1 s s s e l e s e a r e a P € r u P u e u s r o r a q P a u S a P r j :

f r l a o d q c n u ‘ a n 1 l e 1 l r u l I e n P I ^ I P u r r o 3 a d o c s p e p u e d x a s l l l l ; r – : –
l

‘ s a l l l l e l l u a l o d u e u n q u o a t e r u l l s a q 3 1 q , r ‘ 1 r r e u . : : – –

a41e slaod pue s.raqdosopqd qorq.tt uI tusrlenplllPul Jo t.lr’ .r: –

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2 0 I T H E R O M A N T I C P E R I O D

autobiography of The Prelude, Percy Shelley’s “lyric drama” of cosmic reach,
Prornetheus Unbou.nd., and (in the field of prose) the “historical novels” of
Scott and the complex interweaving ofletters, reported oral confessions, and
interpolated tales that is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

In this context many writers’choice,to portray poetry as a product.of
solitude and poets as.loners’might be uriderstood as a.means of reiirforcing
the individuality of their vision. (The sociability of the extrovertednarrator
of DonJwan, who is forever buttonholing “the gentle reader,” is exceptionsl-
Byron’s way of harkening back to the satire of the eighteenth century.) And
the appeal that nature poetry had for many writers of the period can be
attributed to a determination to idealize the natural scene as a site where
the individual could find freedom from social laws, an idealization that was
easier to sustain when nature was, as often in the era, represented not as
cultivated fields but as uninhabitable wild wastes, unploughed uplands,
caves, and chasms. Rural commwnity, threatened by the enclosures that were
breaking up village life, was a tenuous presence in poetry as well.

Wordsworth’s imagination is typically released, for instance, by the sudden
apparition of a single figure, stark and solitary against a natural background;
the words “solitary,” “by one self,” “alone” sound through his poems. In the
poetry of Coleridge, Shelley, and Byron (before Don Juan launched Byron’s
own satire on Byronism), the desolate landscapes are often the haunts of
disillusioned visionaries and accursed outlaws, figures whose thwarted ambi-
tions and torments connect them, variously, to Cain, the Wandering Jew,
Satan, and even Napoleon. A variant of this figure is Prometheus, the hero of
classical mythology, who is Satanlike in setting himself,in opposition to God,
but who, unlike Satan, is the champion rather than the enemy of the human
race. Mary Shelley subjected this hero, central to her husband’s mythmak-
ing, to ironic rewriting in Frankensteiu Victor Frankenstein, a “Modern
Prometheus,” is far from championing humankind. For other women writ-
ers of the period, and for Shelley in her later novels, the equivalent to these
half-charismatic, half-condemnable figures of alienation is the woman of
“genius.” In a world in which-as Wollstonecraft complained in the Rights of
V,/e74en-t(a,ll women are to be levelled by meekness and docility, into one
character of . . . gentle compliance,” the woman who in “unfeminine” fashion
claimed a distinctive individuality did not gain authority but risked ostra-
cism. As for the woman of genius, in writings by Robinson, Hemans, and
Landon particularly, her story was often told as a modern variation on ancient
legends of the Greek Sappho, the ill-fated female poet who had triumphed in
poetry but died of love. Pressured by the emergent Victorianism of the 1820s
and playing it safe, Hemans especially was careful to associate genius with
self-inflicted sorrow and happiness with a woman’s embrace of her domestic
calling.

W R I T I N C I N T H E M A R K E T P L A C E A N D T H E L A W C O U R T S

Even Romantics who wished to associate literature with isolated poets
holding mute converse with their souls had to acknowledge that in real life
the writer did not dwell in solitude but confronted, and was accountable to,
a crowd. For many commentators the most revolutionary aspect of the age
was the spread of literacy and the dramatic expansion of the potential audi-

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