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By Richard Cronin

1798 is an important date in literary historical past: in that yr the Lyrical Ballads have been released anonymously by means of Joseph Cottle, the Bristol bookseller. yet it is a quantity no longer concerning the Lyrical Ballads , yet approximately their yr. it truly is an try to re-create and think about the literary tradition of 1798, the tradition on which Wordsworth and Coleridge made up our minds to make their 'experiment'. it's a publication during which Wordsworth and Coleridge vie for awareness, as they did in 1798, with many different writers, together with Schleiermacher, John Thelwall, Mary Hays, the Abbe Barruel, Walter Savage Landor, Mary Wollstonecraft, Thomas Malthus, Joanna Baillie, George Canning, Robert Sothey and the Reverend T.J. Mathias. The chapters of this ebook interact to outline a unmarried old second that marked the start of romanticism in England.

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The moral, ideological and generic outrages of jacobinism all cohere in the image of a cross-dressing, transgressing, trans-sexing female. 21 Like other sources of inspiration, jacobinism is personified as a female muse. Like the character in Vanbrugh's Provok'd Wife, she is a brute in woman's clothing: his manners give him away; she is unable to disguise an underlying and unfeminine form. 22 In her case, though, the drag is mostly in the other direction. The doggerel Spenserians of 'The Vision of Liberty' picture Godwin and Wollstonecraft as William and Mary' (a parody of the legitimate monarchical succession upheld by Burke), 'mounted on a braying ass': Her husband, sans-culottes, was melancholy, For Mary verily would wear the breeches God help poor silly men from such usurping b - s.

The turn from that form of Newtonian optimism did not mean, however, that systems were no longer ambitious; rather, their ambition was redirected from the sameness of self-similarity and the singularity of a final Cause to the differences of specialization and the multiplicity of 'things'. Condillac's definition of system clarifies and historicizes these alternatives. 'A system is nothing other', he argued than the arrangement of different parts of an art or science in an order in which they all lend each other support and in which the last ones are explained by the first ones.

More surprising is the unsexing that is forced on the anti-jacobin woman by the perceived contradiction between her sex and her craft. Her trespass upon the scene of politics or philosophy, even where it takes fictional form, produces some especially odd evasions of gender. The fact of female authorship has to be disguised; and what is condemned as 'unsexed' in her jacobin opponents becomes invisible or illegible in herself. Take Memoirs of Modern Philosophers, for instance, published anonymously in 1800 by Elizabeth Hamilton, a popular Edinburgh novelist: 26 an elaborate prefatory letter establishes that she is posing as a man - indeed, as the mere editor of another man's work, which (just to be doubly sure) has been approved by yet another 'gentleman', and so authorized for publication.

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