The French Revolution Debate in English Literature and Culture

By Lisa Plummer Crafton | Go to book overview

carries on the exploration of the ideal of benevolence. Wordsworth's poetic stances do represent some retreat from his earlier radical positions, as he knew; but they also retain important connections to--and build on or renew--both the prorevolutionary arguments of the 1790s and a liberal philosophical tradition.


Acknowledgment

I wish to thank the National Endowment for the Humanities for supporting much of the research for this essay.


NOTES
1.
All quotations from The Prelude refer to the 1805 text, as given in The Prelude: 1799, 1805, 1850, ed. Jonathan Wordsworth, M. H. Abrams, and Stephen Gill ( N.Y.: Norton, 1979).
2.
The Complete Works of William Hazlitt, ed. P. P. Howe, 21 vols. ( London: J. M. Dent, 1930-34), 11:20.
3.
An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, 2 vols. ( 1793; rpt. Oxford: Woodstock, 1992). In what follows, I refer to 1:82-83 (bk. 2, ch. 2).
4.
The continuing interest of Godwin's illustration is suggested in a recent book by George P. Fletcher, Loyalty: An Essay on the Morality of Relationships ( Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993), which uses the Fénelon case as a startingpoint for a defense of the value of particular loyalties against the claims of impartiality (see 12-14). For another example, see Terrance McConnell, Gratitude ( Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1993), esp. 130-31.
5.
See St. Leon, ed. Gina Luria ( N.Y.: Garland, 1974), viii-xi. Godwin then quotes from a similar statement he had made in the second edition of his 1798 Memoirs of Mary Wollstonecraft.
6.
Thoughts Occasioned by the Perusal of Dr. Parr's Spital Sermon ( London: 1801), 37, 42, rpt. in Uncollected Writings by William Godwin (1785- 1822), ed. Jack W. Marken and Burton R. Pollin ( Gainesville, Fla.: Scholars' Facsimiles and Reprints, 1968), 326, 331. Coleridge's view, in his marginalia to this text, was that the furor over the Fénelon passage was "a striking Instance of the Danger" philosophers run in choosing "contemporary Examples, as Illustrations" (reproduced in Godwin, Uncollected Writings, 332, and also in The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, vol. 12: Marginalia, pt. 2: Camden to Hutton, ed. George Whalley [ Princeton: Princeton UP, 1984], 848). The example of Brutus, incidentally, was often invoked in reference to the Revolution.
7.
See Hazlitt Life of Thomas Holcroft ( 1816), in Works, 3:135 (bk. 4, ch. 1).
8.
For a good discussion of Godwin's thought, especially in relation to previous moral philosophers, see D. H. Monro, Godwin's Moral Philosophy: AnInterpretation of William Godwin

-76-

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The French Revolution Debate in English Literature and Culture
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contributions to the Study of World Literature ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Introduction ix
  • Notes xv
  • Chronology xvii
  • Burke's Perception of Richard Price 1
  • Notes 21
  • Religion and Politics in the Revolution Debate: Burke, Wollstonecraft, Paine 27
  • Notes 38
  • The "Ancient Voices" of Blake's The French Revolution 41
  • Notes 53
  • Arguing Benevolence: Wordsworth, Godwin, and the 1790s 59
  • Notes 76
  • "Great Burke," Thomas Carlyle, and the French Revolution 83
  • Notes 103
  • Politics of the Episteme: The Collapse of the Discourse of General Nature and the Reaction to the French Revolution 107
  • Notes 118
  • Representations of Revolutionary Women in Political Caricature 123
  • Notes 131
  • Postscript: The French Revolution and Romanticism 137
  • Select Bibliography 145
  • Index 149
  • About the Contributors 155
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