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Writing against Revolution
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  • Page extent: 334 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.67 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 820.9/358
  • Dewey version: 22
  • LC Classification: DA530 .G55 2007
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Conservatism and literature--Great Britain--History--19th century
    • Counterrevolutions--Great Britain--History--19th century
    • Press and politics--Great Britain--History--19th century
    • Great Britain--History--George III, 1760-1820
    • Great Britain--History--George IV, 1820-1830

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521861137)

Writing Against Revolution Cambridge University Press
978-0-521-86113-7 - WRITING AGAINST REVOLUTION - by Kevin Gilmartin


Conservative culture in the romantic period should not be understood merely as an effort to preserve the old regime in Britain against the threat of revolution. Instead, conservative thinkers and writers aimed to transform British culture and society to achieve a stable future in contrast to the destructive upheavals taking place in France. Kevin Gilmartin explores the literary forms of counterrevolutionary expression in Britain, showing that while conservative movements were often inclined to treat print culture as a dangerously unstable and even subversive field, a whole range of print forms – ballads, tales, dialogues, novels, critical reviews – became central tools in the counterrevolutionary campaign. Beginning with the pamphlet campaigns of the loyalist Association movement and the Cheap Repository in the 1790s, Gilmartin analyses the role of periodical reviews and anti-Jacobin fiction in the campaign against revolution, and closes with a new account of the conservative careers of Robert Southey and Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

KEVIN GILMARTIN is Associate Professor of English Literature at the California Institute of Technology. He is the author of Print Politics: The Press and Radical Opposition in Early Nineteenth-Century England (Cambridge, 1996) and the editor, with James Chandler, of Romantic Metropolis: The Urban Scene of British Culture, 1780–1840 (Cambridge, 2005).


General Editors
Professor Marilyn Butler, University of Oxford
Professor James Chandler, University of Chicago

Editorial Board
John Barrell, University of York
Paul Hamilton, University of London
Mary Jacobus, University of Cambridge
Claudia Johnson, Princeton University
Alan Liu, University of California, Santa Barbara
Susan Manning, University of Edinburgh
Jerome McGann, University of Virginia
David Simpson, University of California, Davis

This series aims to foster the best new work in one of the most challenging fields within English literary studies. From the early 1780s to the early 1830s a formidable array of talented men and women took to literary composition, not just in poetry, which some of them famously transformed, but in many modes of writing. The expansion of publishing created new opportunities for writers, and the political stakes of what they wrote were raised again by what Wordsworth called those “great national events” that were “almost daily taking place”: the French Revolution, the Napoleonic and American wars, urbanization, industrialization, religious revival, an expanded empire abroad and the reform movement at home. This was an enormous ambition, even when it pretended otherwise. The relations’between science, philosophy, religion, and literature were reworked in texts such as Frankenstein and Biographia Literaria; gender relations in A Vindication of the Rights of Woman and Don Juan; journalism by Cobbett and Hazlitt; poetic form, content, and style by the Lake School and the Cockney School. Outside Shakespeare studies, probably no body of writing has produced such a wealth of response or done so much to shape the responses of modern criticism. This indeed is the period that saw the emergence of those notions of “literature” and of literary history, especially national literary history, on which modern scholarship in English has been founded.

The categories produced by Romanticism have also been challenged by recent historicist arguments. The task of the series is to engage both with a challenging corpus of Romantic writings and with the changing field of criticism they have helped to shape. As with other literary series published by Cambridge, this one will represent the work of both younger and more established scholars, on either side of the Atlantic and elsewhere.

For a complete list of titles published see end of book.


Literary Conservatism in Britain, 1790–1832


California Institute of Technology

Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town, Singapore, São Paulo

Cambridge University Press
The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge CB2 2RU, UK

Published in the United States of America by Cambridge University Press, New York
Information on this title:

© Kevin Gilmartin 2007

This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception
and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements,
no reproduction of any part may take place without
the written permission of Cambridge University Press.

First published 2007

Printed in the United Kingdom at the University Press, Cambridge

A catalogue record for this publication is available from the British Library

ISBN-13 978-0-521-86113-7 hardback

ISBN-10 0-521-86113-6-hardback

Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this publication, and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.

For Susan and Raymond


Illustrationspage VIII
List of abbreviationsXI
Introduction: Reconsidering counterrevolutionary expression1
1In the theater of counterrevolution: loyalist association and vernacular address19
2“Study to be quiet”: Hannah More and counterrevolutionary moral reform55
3Reviewing subversion: the function of criticism at the present crisis96
4Subverting fictions: the counterrevolutionary form of the novel150
5Southey, Coleridge, and the end of anti-Jacobinism in Britain207


Figure 1The Apprentice’s Monitor; or, Indentures in Verse (1795)81
Figure 2The Shepherd of Salisbury-Plain (1795)84
Figure 3On Carrying Religion into the Common Business of Life (1796)88


The study of counterrevolutionary expression has consistently led me into unfamiliar literary and historical terrain, and I am immensely grateful to the many friends, colleagues, and institutions who have supported and assisted my work on this book.

Above all Jim Chandler has remained an extraordinarily generous scholar and friend, reading and responding to many portions of this book as it was written, and sensitively guiding me through a number of challenges along the way. Working on conservatism has made me all the more aware of the remarkable community of historians and literary scholars who share my interest in romantic-period radical culture, and I want to acknowledge the support of Saree Makdisi, Jon Mee, Iain McCalman, James Epstein, John Barrell, and David Worrall. Particularly in the early stages of the research, Marilyn Butler was a generous host in Cambridge, and I am indebted to her as well for expert guidance through the byways of romantic literature and culture.

Southern California possesses a generous community of scholars with an interest in British romantic literature, and in their regular gatherings at Anne Mellor’s UCLA Romantic Studies Group, they have heard and responded to some of the earliest versions of this project; I am particularly indebted to Anne Mellor, Julie Carlson, Margaret Russett, Alan Liu, Bob Essick, Reg Foakes, and Bob Maniquis. Other colleagues near and far have responded generously to my work and my enquiries through the years, including Orrin Wang, Michael Gamer, Jon Klancher, Neil Fraistat, Andy Franta, Jerome Christenson, Peter Manning, Alan Bewell, Theresa Kelley, Jeffrey Cox, Anne Janowitz, Greg Dart, Ian Haywood, and Paul Keen. Closer to home, I have benefited from the support of colleagues at the California Institute of Technology, particularly Cindy Weinstein, Cathy Jurca, Mac Pigman, John Sutherland, and John Brewer.

A key phase of the research and writing of this book took place during a summer in which I co-directed with Saree Makdisi a Mellon Foundation seminar at the Huntington Library, on the topic “British literature and culture in the 1790s.” I am grateful to the Mellon Foundation for funding this program, and to the seminar participants who made it a memorable summer: Tone Brekke, Sibylle Erle, Frank Mabee, Kelli MacCartey, Matthew Mauger, Suzie Park, Willis Scilacci, and Joanne Tong. The establishment of the seminar program was the work of Bill Deverell, now a former Caltech colleague but thankfully still a near neighbor and friend.

Research for this book has been supported at every stage by the Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences at the California Institute of Technology, and I am grateful to its staff and administration, particularly John Ledyard, Jean Ensminger, and Susan Davis. Barbara Estrada provided expert support throughout the research and writing of this book. Judy Nollar, the humanities research librarian at Caltech, has assisted with a range of electronic and print resources, and I have relied as well on the Interlibrary Loan staff at Caltech’s Millikan Library. The Huntington Library in San Marino, California, has been a second institutional home, and I am particularly grateful to the director of research, Roy Ritchie, to the curator of rare books, Alan Jutzi, and to the curator of historical prints, Cathy Cherbosque. Other libraries whose staff and collections have assisted my research include the British Library and its newspaper library at Colindale, the Bodleian Library, the Cambridge University Library, and the Sutro Library in San Francisco.

Versions of the first two chapters appeared in ELH and in The Journal of British Studies, and I am grateful to the publishers for permitting me to reprint that material here.

© Cambridge University Press
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