By Richard Cronin
1798 is an important date in literary heritage: in that yr the Lyrical Ballads have been released anonymously by means of Joseph Cottle, the Bristol bookseller. yet it is a quantity now not in regards to the Lyrical Ballads , yet approximately their yr. it's an try to re-create and view the literary tradition of 1798, the tradition on which Wordsworth and Coleridge made up our minds to make their 'experiment'. it's a ebook during which Wordsworth and Coleridge vie for consciousness, 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 booklet interact to outline a unmarried ancient second that marked the start of romanticism in England.
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Additional info for 1798: The Year of the Lyrical Ballads
117-56. Fischer's description of Romanticism emphasizes a sense of pessimism that I am linking to Godwin after Malthus and to our own ongoing sense of the System: 'It tended to look backward to the past rather than forward to the future. It had little faith in reason or hope for human progress. In Europe it often expressed a mood of melancholy, drifting even to despair' (154). The Advertisement is unpaginated in the Garland edition. With the collapse of liberalism, the critique of subjectivity and the historicizing of Romanticism on the one hand, and the new technology-driven proliferation of system on the other, this is an auspicious bicentenary of the 'System' as I describe it.
Mathias specifies as 'unsexed' those 'female writers' who bewilder Sexing the Critic 39 themselves in the 'labyrinth of politicks' (note the implicitly reactionary orthography in the retention of the '-ck' form). The spectacle of Wollstonecraft produces a number of interesting ruses. David Rivers copes with the Vindication by turning it into a silly novel by a female novelist: 'Her volume ... quickly became a staple commodity at the circulating libraries ... 218). Elizabeth Inchbald, one of Godwin's infatuations, uses a partial and equivocal identification with Wollstonecraft to overcome some of the difficulties she herself faces in her position as a woman writer.
The more men try to make women into the things they want, the more women become the things they are: something that can only be described 'by negatives' and certainly 'not what men would have them to be' (68). Her essayistic attempt to extend the authority of systematic analysis into other things thus meets the same unsure fate of Malthus's and Wordsworth's efforts. Tentatively venturing into 'what women ought to be', Hays toys with revising the whole structure of her work: Though I have not certainly, the vanity to believe myself equal to the talk of fulfilling the title of this chapter, to the entire satisfaction of my readers; nor what is perhaps in the first instance still more discouraging, even to that of my own; yet having once adopted I shall retain it, as it expresses exactly what I wish to accomplish, however I may fail in the execution.
1798: The Year of the Lyrical Ballads by Richard Cronin