Studies in the Literary Backgrounds of English Radicalism: With Special Reference to the French Revolution

By M. Ray Adams | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
JOEL BARLOW, POLITICAL ROMANTICIST

UNTIL recently most writers on Joel Barlow have dwelt upon the early American part of his career and upon his abortive attempts to enshrine the glory of his native country in an epic poem, to the neglect of his long sojourn abroad as a citizen of the world and of his revolutionary writings. His biographer, Charles Burr Todd, devoted comparatively little attention to this portion of his life and work and chose to regard him primarily as "the pioneer of American poetry" and one of "the great leaders of Republicanism in America." Within the last few years his fame has been reassessed with more nearly a due proportion of emphasis upon the European aspects of his career.1 This study is an attempt to trace his connection

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1
The Joel Barlow Commemoration at Redding, Conn., June 22, 1935, touched all the facets of his many-sided life, but its feature was the address of the French ambassador. Victor Clyde Miller, in his monograph, Joel Barlow, Revolutionist, London, 1791-92 ( Hamburg, 1932), has told the story of Barlow's second visit to London. His special contributions to the subject are his assembling of information about Barlow in the Public Records Office and of manuscript material in the British Museum, his elaboration upon the influence of Paine on Advice to the Privileged Orders, his analysis of the Letter to the National Convention in the light of the Constitution of the United States and of the French constitutions of 1791 and 1793, and his careful survey of bibliographical data belonging to the period. Miller has not, however, dealt fully with Barlow's more purely personal contacts. Maria Dell' Isola has written of him as the herald of the League of Nations ( "Joel Barlow, Précurseur de la Société des Nations," Revue de Littérature Comparée, Paris, April-June, 1934). T. A. Zunder, who has competently canvassed his early life to the last

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