Nature's Simple Plan: A Phase of Radical Thought in the Mid-Eighteenth Century

Nature's Simple Plan: A Phase of Radical Thought in the Mid-Eighteenth Century

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Nature's Simple Plan: A Phase of Radical Thought in the Mid-Eighteenth Century

Nature's Simple Plan: A Phase of Radical Thought in the Mid-Eighteenth Century

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Excerpt

In this study of the theory of simplicity--the way of Nature--in the England of 1770, I have begun with an essay intended to set forth the general conviction that civilisation had somehow or other failed of its goal--was at least on the decline-and that primitive man, in his savage or even animal state, was better off than the citizens of Europe. The dream of a finer nation, conceived in simplicity and liberty, in which the arts, and particularly poetry, might flourish as in their native soil, is the subject of the paper on Corsica which forms the second essay.

But simplicity is not of the future only. There must have been a time, far back in the childhood of the nation, when untutored genius sang forth its passion unrestrained by the doctrines of the schools and the narrowing influence of caste; perhaps even now such bards may be found in some remote island. The third essay is therefore entitled Ancient Bard and Gentle Savage. Perhaps, untrained by schools and free from the trammels of a conscious art, which is ever growing more artificial, native genius may even now be seeking expression in poetry rude but wildly . . .

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