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'31 UIII 


French Revolution 

and the 

English Novel x 


Allene Gregory. Ph.D. 

G. P. Putnam 's Sons 
New York and London 

Cbe Iknicherbochcr pres 




Ube fmfcfeerbocher press, flew Jgorft 



r ~PHIS study in the tendenz novel was begun 
* with the idea of paralleling Dr. Hancock's 
book, The French Revolution and the English Poets, I 
in furnishing detailed consideration of a literary 
form which Professor Dowden's general treatment 
of the period necessarily presents in outline merely. 2 

It is evident, however, that the Revolutionary 
poets and the Revolutionary novelists must rest 
their claims to our interest on different grounds. 
A discussion of Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, 
and Shelley needs no justification. But it must 
be confessed that the novelists we are about to 
consider can not escape the condemnation of 
mediocrity. There is scarcely one of them whose 
work has lived through the intervening century. 
What, then, shall be our apology for invading 
their well-merited obscurity? 

There are two distinct uses of the historical 
methods in the study of literature. The first, 
admirably exemplified in Dr. Hancock's book, 
resorts to a study of the age and its antecedents 

1 Albert Elmer Hancock, The French Revolution and the English 
Poets, Henry Holt and Company, New York, 1899. 

1 Edward Dowden, The French Revolution and English Litera- 
ture, New York, 1897. 


vi Preface 

for the purpose of gaining a truer appreciation of 
the work of authors whose greatness unquestion- 
ably warrants such effort. But there is a second 
use of the historical method with a somewhat 
different end in view. Some special phase of 
literature may be studied as a means of gaining 
insight into the intellectual and (in a broad sense) 
spiritual life of a historical period. 

Considered with the second purpose in mind, 
there was perhaps no literary form in Revolu- 
tionary England so significant as these same ob- 
scure novels. The poets of the time were for the 
most part only temporarily in sympathy with the 
Revolution. They were carried away by the tide 
of popular enthusiasm, rather than expressing 
their own mature convictions. The drama, in 
some respects the most social of literary forms, 
was perhaps the least adapted to express so com- 
plex and reflective a philosophy. Moreover, 
censorship, official and popular, during the reac- 
tion served to eliminate from the drama the later 
developments of Revolutionism. 

All this might seem to indicate that the proper 
field for a study of political philosophy is in the 
distinctively doctrinary and propaganda writings 
of the time rather than in any form of imaginative 
literature. But Revolutionism was more than 
an academic philosophy. It was a social religion, 
in the sense that it was to many men their "serious 
reaction to life as a whole." 

Perhaps every faith by which men have lived 

Preface vii 

is better than it seems from a mere analytical 
statement of its doctrines. Such formulations 
have often much the same relation to reality that 
an architect's plans and specifications have to 
the house they represent. The plans afford a 
general view and valuable information as to the 
soundness of construction; one would certainly 
wish to see them before making the house one's 
own. But the architect's plans do not tell the 
whole story. Those who have lived in the house 
may know that certain rooms that appear dark 
and ill ventilated are really little used; that tor- 
tuous passages have been made easy by custom; 
and that the main rooms afford scope for a life of 
dignity and service. 

The real value of the novels we are about to 
consider lies not in their intrinsic merit, but in 
the illustrations they offer of the practise of Re- 
volutionary ethics, as conceived by its sympathiz- 
ers and its opponents. They are a frank give- 
and-take criticism disguised as fiction; and in the 
course of them many values are made plain which 
the metaphysical treatises somewhat obscured. 
After reading Political Justice one wonders how 
any man whose sense of fact was not entirely 
atrophied could have taken Revolutionism seri- 
ously. In the novels one sees how sensible and 
kindly men like Holcroft and Bage made of it an 
eminently livable philosophy.. 

I wish to express here my gratitude to Professor 
Chester N. Greenough of Harvard University, 

viii Preface 

under whose scholarly guidance it was my good 
fortune to pursue this subject in post graduate 
study, and who at every stage of the work has 
given me most generous assistance. My thanks 
are due also to Professor William Allan Neilson 
and Professor Irving Babbitt, to whose kindness 
I am indebted for much valuable suggestion and 

A. G. 

September, 1914. 





BACKGROUNDS . . . . . .15 

Section i. Background of Events . . 15 
Section 2. The Background of Ideas . 30 


Thomas Holcroft ..... 49 


Section i . William Godwin ... 86 
Section 2. The Young Shelley . .120 


PHILOSOPHERS . . . . . .134 

x Contents 



DEGREES ....... 161 

Section i. The Novels of Robert Bage . 161 

Section 2. Novels Representing Miscel- 
laneous Novelists . . . .180 



Section i. Mrs. Elizabeth Inchbald . 191 

Section 2. Mrs. Amelia Alderson Opie . 203 

Section 3. Mrs. Charlotte Smith . . 213 

Section 4. Some Other Lady Novelists . 222 


WOMAN ....... 231 

Section i. Introduction and Background 231 
Section 2. Mary Wollstonecraft . . 239 

Section 3 . Some other ' ' Rights of Women ' ' 
Novels ...... 259 



Section i . The Poets . . . .270 
Section 2. The Drama . . . .283 

Contents xi 


CONCLUSIONS ...... 293 


Lists of Plays Showing Tendencies Influ- 
enced by the French Revolution . . 309 

BIBLIOGRAPHY . . . . . .321 

INDEX 333 

The French Revolution and 
the English Novel 



PREFACED to Dr. Hancock's discussion of The 
1 French Revolution and the English Poets there 
is a very suggestive "Note" by Professor Gates 
urging the extension of the historical method in 
criticism. Under this term he includes not merely 
an observation of the continuous development of 
literary forms from age to age, but also a study of 
the historical events in any given period as an 
aid to the appreciation of its literature. This 
conception of the relation of historical fact to 
literary form and content is so sound that it will 
bear a fuller development. 

Our own time has seen a remarkable change of 
emphasis in the writing and teaching of history. 
The lists of battles, treaties, coronations, and 
other epoch marking events which formerly con- 

2 The French Revolution 

stituted the historian's stock in trade are now rele- 
gated to the background as secondary causes. 
The modern basis for the study of a historical 
period is its economic and social conditions. 

According to this depersonalized method even 
the Great Man theory of progress, beloved of 
literary historians for its dramatic value, has been 
consigned to oblivion as unscientific. Carlyle 
has been vanquished by Dry-as-dust. 

When we have fairly made up our minds, how- 
ever, to accept the Dismal Science in lieu of Hero 
Worship, our sacrifice to intellectual honesty is 
more than rewarded. The Dismal Science is 
not unlike that Loathly Ladie whom Gawain 
submitted to wed and found a princess in disguise. 
The sociological and economic method proves a 
revealer of new values and unguessed relation- 
ships whereby both the complexity and the signi- 
ficance of human events are enormously enhanced. 

If history has been so incalculably the gainer 
through the adoption of this method, the question 
naturally occurs whether literature may not share 
in the results of this new accession of fact? One 
would fancy this suggestion a matter of course, 
requiring no comment or justification, but for the 
fact that it is so seldom acted upon except in the 
most superficial manner. 

It may be objected that all this is included in 
the accepted historical interpretation of literature. 
That is not altogether true. Economic changes 
and the resulting social conditions do undoubtedly 

And the English Novel 3 

affect literature through the medium of the general 
events which they cause. But they also affect 
literature in a more direct way, without the inter- 
vention of those political occurrences which deter- 
mine the chronology of historical epochs. 

Indeed, this chronological vagueness forms one 
of the chief difficulties in the economic interpre- 
tation of literature. Industrial developments and 
the shifting of the balance of power from one eco- 
nomic class to another take place so gradually as 
a rule that the fixing of dates becomes a matter, 
not of "when" but of "how much." This pre- 
vents the obvious coincidences of dates that are 
so satisfying and convincing to an order-loving 
mind, and makes the whole matter of determining 
the limits of periods distressingly uncertain. All 
this is very salutary, however. The student of 
literature can never be too fully aware that he is 
dealing with infinitely complex reality. Chrono- 
logical generalizations made in a pigeon-holing 
spirit are valueless. They are merely matters of 
convenience, like the imaginary figures one traces 
among the stars to aid in distinguishing constella- 
tions. If they are made a fetish and allowed to 
destroy the sense of continuity they may become 
positively harmful. 

If one accepts the economic factor as a basis for 
generalization tempered by discretion, however, 
certain periodic coincidences become apparent. 
An examination of almost any one of the generally 
recognized movements in literature will show that 

4 The French Revolution 

it was immediately preceded by some economic 
or industrial change of a significant nature, involv- 
ing a change in the relative power of the economic 
groups in the state. 

For example, in the fourteenth century the 
general aristocratic and ecclesiastical tone of 
literature was broken by a curious little strain of 
pure democracy. This finds expression in the 
writings of Langland (especially the Vision of 
Piers Plowman, 1376-1393), and in the records of 
Wycliffe and his "pore prestes," whose chief 
contributions to the time were a Bible translation 
and some very well-organized trades-unions. The 
historical interpretation of literature contents 
itself with pointing to the Great Plague (1348), 
the consequent wage legislation, the preaching of 
John Ball (1360-1380), and the rebellion under 
Wat Tyler (1381) as the culminating event. The 
economic interpreter insists on going back to the 
common cause behind both events and ideas. 
During the early part of the fourteenth century 
there had been a steady rise of the yeoman class, 
as the villeins were emancipated into a free ten- 
antry. The lords of the manor, frequently in 
want of cash, were gradually accepting a rent 
paid in money for their ancient claims to service. 
It was primarily an ill-advised attempt on the 
part of the landlords to revive a rent paid in 
labour that brought about the Peasants' Revolt. 
The attempt to extort labour rents was the result 
of the Great Plague and the consequent shortage 

And the English Novel 5 

of labour. But it is to be observed that the event 
alone would have had little effect but for the 
gradual class development that preceded it. 

Here we have a situation not unlike that in 
England at the time of the French Revolution: 
a class is gradually gaining in power and import- 
ance when some event occurs (the Plague in one 
case, and the invention of the power loom in the 
other), which precipitates a sharp clash of inter- 
ests. There is a corresponding conflict of ideas, 
and a sudden prominence given to revolutionary 
concepts in literature. But in both cases it was 
a minority report; a side current in literature, 
and a political movement of revolt that proved 

Again, the history of a social form of literature 
like the drama offers excellent material for eco- 
nomic discussion. The growth of the market 
towns and the rise and fall of the Guilds have a 
very direct bearing upon the development of the 
miracle and morality plays. As the drama was 
taken up by a wealthier class, and became the 
concern of men of leisure and learning, it assumed 
a different form altogether. The closing of the 
theatres was brought about by a social crisis 
directly traceable to economic changes. Restora- 
tion Comedy and the heroic plays were class 
drama; so were Sentimental Comedy and Domestic 
Tragedy. The transition between them coincides 
with a decided increase in the power of the mer- 
chant and manufacturing classes at the expense of 

6 The French Revolution 

the land-owning aristocracy. This was funda- 
mentally an economic change, although it found 
expression in a political Revolution 

All these observations are superficial and com- 
monplace. But the method which they are in- 
tended to suggest is not one of facile generalization, 
but of careful study of the economic conditions 
and the intellectual temper of a given period with 
a view to ascertaining causal relationships. 

It would be easy to reduce this method to ab- 
surdity by pushing it too far. But no method of 
literary interpretation is proof against a student 
without discretion. It is easy to recognize in the 
literature of any given period certain prevailing 
ideas and ideals, in spite of individual variations. 
It is also easy to perceive periodic changes in 
economic conditions, resulting in changes in the 
social structure. In order to establish a causal 
relation it is not necessary to assume that 
economic situation actually created the idea. 
We may say that various ideas being present in 
the national mind, the economic condition is a 
prime factor in determining which ones shall be 
emphasized. An age, like an individual, takes up 
the problems it is ready for ; understands what it is 
capable of understanding; and believes, in general, 
what it finds to its own advantage to believe. 
The interests of different economic classes are 
not the same, however. Consequently there fre- 
quently occur sharp conflicts of ideas, reflecting 
the conflicting interests. It is the ethical and 

And the English Novel 7 

aesthetic standards of the dominant class that 
prevail, as a rule. 

Perhaps at this point it may be well to cite the 
popular theory known as economic determinism. 
This is our "economic interpretation" carried to 
an extreme. We may quote an early and authori- 
tative statement of this conception, by a political 
and economic thinker the stimulating value of 
whose writings is in no wise affected by their fre- 
quent misinterpretation at the hands of over- 
enthusiastic followers. 

At a certain stage of their development, the material 
forces of production in society come in conflict with 
the existing relations in production, or what is but a 
legal expression of the same thing with the property 
relations within which they had been at work before. 
From forms of development of the forces of produc- 
tion these relations turn into their fetters. Then 
comes the period of social revolution. With the 
change of the economic foundation the entire immense 
superstructure is more or less rapidly transformed. 
In considering such transformations the distinction 
should always be made between the material trans- 
formation of the economic conditions of production 
and distribution which can be determined with the 
precision of a natural science, and the legal, political, 
religious, aesthetic, and philosophic in short, the 
ideological forms in which men become conscious of 
the conflict and fight it out. Just as our opinion of an 
individual is not based on what he thinks of himself, 
so we cannot judge of such a period of transformation 

8 The French Revolution 

by its own consciousness; on the contrary, this con- 
sciousness must rather be explained from the con- 
tradictions of material life, from the existing forces 
of production and the relations of production. No 
social order ever disappears before all the productive 
forces for which there are room in it have been de- 
veloped ; and new higher relations of production never 
appear before the material conditions of their exist- 
ence have matured in the womb of the old society. 
Therefore mankind always takes up only such prob- 
lems as it can solve; since, looking at the matter more 
closely, we find that the problem itself arises only 
when the material conditions for its solution exist or 
are at least in the process of formation. * 

Protests against the economic interpretation of 
literature are likely to come from two distinct 
points of view. The Romantic critic will say 
that all this is too materialistic; that it destroys 
the aesthetic and imaginative and spiritual values 
of literature. The humanist may object that it 
tends to substitute an over-pragmatistic concep- 
tion of the development of ideas for the abiding 
human values ; that it makes for a sense of relativ- 
ity so strong as to destroy certain fine intellectual 

The latter, as the more serious objection, we 
may consider first. If it can indeed be shown that 
an economic interpretation tends to diminish the 

1 Karl Marx, A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, 
translated from the German by I N. Stone, pp. 12-13. Date of 
publication of the original, 1859. 

And the English Novel 9 

humane dignity of literature, and place "Law for 
thing" above "Law for man," 1 that objection 
must be conclusive. Certainly that would be 
true of any extreme or undiscriminating use of 
the method. In the hands of the humanist him- 
self, however, a full recognition of the economic 
factor in the Zeitgeist may make for a clearer 
perception of the values that are permanent. 
After all, it requires an Aristotelian soundness of 
judgment to profit by a pragmatistic sense of fact. 
The Romantic protest may receive a less quali- 
fied answer. Nothing that makes for a truer sense 
of the complexity of life and at the same time has 
a synthetic value can result otherwise than in an 
enrichment of the imagination. The imaginative 
and the spiritual values can be trusted to take 
care of themselves, to a far greater extent than 
their defenders are aware. Keats's dictum that 
"Beauty is truth, truth beauty," is neither "all 
we know on earth," nor "all we need to know." 
But if the Romantic critic is convinced of that 
(and from his fondness for the quotation one 
might naturally suppose that he endorses it) , there 
is no conceivable reason why he should so care- 
fully guard his cherished conception of "beauty" 
from the rude contact of facts and ideas. It is 
really a rather suspicious circumstance when 
beauty shrinks from honest analysis. This type 
of protest tends to produce in the critic who is 

1 Cf. the discussion of humanism in chapter i. of Literature and 
the American College, by Professor Irving Babbitt. 

io The French Revolution 

interested in ideas rather than emotions a not 
unnatural distrust of Romanticism. It is not 
fair, however, to misjudge the Romantic ideal 
because it is defended by Sentimentalists. 

Often, however, the Romantic critic meets the 
economic interpreter half-way. Like the humour- 
ist who was so deeply interested in the Civil War 
that he was willing to sacrifice all his wife's rela- 
tives to preserve the Union, our defender of a 
sacrosanct and incomprehensible beauty cheer- 
fully admits that "tendenz" literature may be 
interpreted in the light of economic conditions: 
but hands off from true poetry! Now this is a 
concession which we can in no wise accept. We 
must have all or nothing; for if we cannot exercise 
judgment and discrimination in applying the 
criticism of fact in really important matters, we 
had better let it alone altogether. 

Moreover, this concession involves a fundamen- 
tally false distinction. In the reaction from di- 
dacticism and from reform propaganda disguised 
as literature the very phrase "literature with a 
purpose" has come to have a damnatory signifi- 
cance. This has its foundation in a very right 
feeling that the commonplaces of social and per- 
sonal ethics and the questions of the day are not 
problems worthy the consideration of universal 
and abiding art. But in our time this half-truth 
has been somewhat over-emphasized. When we 
turn back to the literary criticism of ages artisti- 
cally greater than our own, we find no such 

And the English Novel n 

undiscriminating horror of "purpose." Aristotle 
was not afraid in his great doctrine of Catharsis 
to assign to the highest of art forms a purpose 
to purify the soul. Milton, Dryden, and Pope 
were frankly didactic. Even Shakespeare, al- 
though the profoundness of his moral perception 
did not admit of expression in convenient aphor- 
isms, was by no means so purposeless as the advo- 
cates of "art for art's sake " would have us believe. 

The reconciliation of this apparent contradiction 
lies, of course, in the distinction between a higher 
and a lower "purpose," between a public spirited 
interest in such matters as housing reforms and 
workingmen's insurance laws, and the insight 
which pierces below the surface maladjustments of 
the age to the deeper issues involved which are 
to some extent true for all ages. 

It follows from this perception that the Roman- 
ticist's condescending permission to interpret 
"tendenz" literature in the light of economic 
conditions lays open his very citadel to our attack. 
Shelley, par excellence the poet beloved of Roman- 
ticists, is among the writers whom we are about 
to discuss in his connection with the Industrial 
Revolution as well as the French Revolution. 

In his preface to Francis Thompson's impres- 
sionistic Essay on Shelley, Mr. Wyndham expresses 
the idea that this is the sort of appreciation that 
Shelley himself would have enjoyed. Such a 
generalization cannot be refuted. But the writer 
has a private conviction that Francis Thompson's 

12 The French Revolution 

very beautiful little essay is precisely the sort of 
appreciation that Shelley would have felt as 
almost insulting. The Shelley that we know, 
not merely in the poems, but in his prefaces and 
prose works and in the records of his friends, was 
rather intensely in earnest about ideas as well as 
about beauty of form. He submitted quietly to 
hatred and abuse during his life rather than court 
success by writing poetry which did not express his 
unpopular social ideals. One fancies how he 
would have "enjoyed" being discussed as a per- 
petual child, no matter how aesthetically the con- 
ception was expressed! "Bold foot along the 
ledges of precipitous dream" is a fine phrase for 
Shelley; but his own phrase is finer, as well as 
more complete, 

A nerve o'er which do creep 

The else unfelt oppressions of this earth 

Shelley was beyond all doubt a writer with a 
purpose. In the preface to Prometheus Unbound, 
which he himself considered the greatest of his 
works, he has left us a frank confession of his 
"passion for reforming the world," together with a 
masterly analysis of the very point which we have 
been discussing' the higher and lower "purpose" 
in literature. 

We have endeavoured to indicate some ways 
in which the study of the history of literature 
might be enriched through a closer alliance with 

And the English Novel 13 

the study of economic and industrial conditions, 
not merely in so far as they are included in the 
general history of events, but considered as direct 
influences. We have cited for purposes of com- 
parison an authoritative expression of the doctrine 
known as economic determinism, which is the 
extreme form of our suggestion. We have frankly 
admitted the need of sound judgment in the use 
of this method if it is to be made a valuable ser- 
vant subject to the discipline of that true human- 
ism to which the student of literature should 
unceasingly aspire. Finally, we have considered 
the Romantic objection that although it may do 
well enough in the case of an inferior form like 
"tendenz" literature, the economic interpretation 
is a profanation when applied to the higher imagi- 
native forms, such as poetry. We have pointed 
out that the distinction between so-called "ten- 
denz" and didactic literature and the literature of 
great ideals is not a distinction in kind, but in 
depth of insight and artistic skill in expression ; and 
that even the most spiritual of Romantic poets 
submits to our so-called economic interpretation 
by virtue of his concern with the deeper social 
maladjustments of his age. 

In the following discussion of the "tendenz" 
novels of Revolutionary England we shall endeav- 
our to illustrate to some extent the practical 
application of the method here suggested. To a 
consideration of the English history of French 
Revolutionary philosophy, and of the stimulus 

14 The English Novel 

given to English radicalism by the example of 
France, we shall add some observation of the 
social maladjustments arising from the Industrial 
Revolution and their influence on the thought of 
the time. 

For this our treatment must extend somewhat 
beyond the period of actual Revolutionary events. 
We may begin our discussion as early as 1780 
(the date of Holcroft's first novel) and continue 
it at least to include the year 1820, the date of the 
great dramatic poem in which the influences of 
the French Revolution and the Industrial Revolu- 
tion converge, Shelley's Prometheus Unbound. 



ONE of the most striking characteristics of the 
literature reflecting the French Revolution 
in England is its apparent inconsistency. In 
1789, poets, novelists, and statesmen are touched 
with a fine glow of enthusiasm for liberty and the 
sovereignty of the people. A few years pass, and 
these same ardent friends of the Revolution, all 
save a few stubborn or courageous souls, have 
recanted, and are busily engaged in exposing and 
denouncing the dangerous tendencies of their 
former doctrines. 

It is not sufficient explanation to charge a whole 
nation with having been over ready to praise 
something which sober second thought could not 
approve. A closer analysis shows us that the 
term "French Revolution" is a misleading one. 
It should be, "French Revolutions"; for there 
was a series of them, as different as possible in 
character. Not merely the course of events but 
the principles themselves were changed. A man 


1 6 The French Revolution 

might well approve one without approving all. 
Perhaps then, it may be well to review briefly the 
chronology of this extremely complex movement. 
France during the reigns of Louis XIV. and 
Louis XV. was apparently in a flourishing and 
orderly condition. It was the most brilliant of 
despotisms. English writers, forced to admit the 
critical supremacy of their ancient enemy, con- 
soled themselves with complacent references to 
British liberty and the glories of a constitutional 
government. But they really accepted the feudal- 
ism and oppressions of France as one of the unal- 
terable features of the universe ; ordained, perhaps, 
to furnish Whig orators with perpetual material 
for eloquent antitheses. The Bourbon regime, 
however, was on an increasingly unsound basis. 
In the extreme centralization of the government 
the nobles had been deprived of their administra- 
tive functions, but not of their feudal privileges. 
These in no wise strengthened their power, and 
were a source of intense irritation to the non- 
privileged classes of the bourgeoisie and the pro- 
letariat. Moreover, what was more important, 
the brilliant court of Versailles was financially 
unsound. In spite of the complex and oppressive 
machinery of taxation, extravagance and mis- 
management had brought the French government 
to the verge of bankruptcy. Finally, the brilliant 
writers of the Enlightenment were furnishing 
eloquent interpretations of the doctrines of popular 
sovereignty and political rationalism borrowed 

And the English Novel 17 

largely from England, and calculated most effect- 
ively to undermine authority not based on reason. 

A corrupt and frivolous court; a government 
needing money; an angry people; and a Revolu- 
tionary philosophy ready to hand: this was the 
situation that confronted the well-intentioned 
mediocrity of the young Louis XVI. on his acces- 
sion to the throne in 1774. The first fifteen years 
of his reign were a series of blunders in the choice 
of ministers. After the dismissal of Turgot, 
sporadic attempts at reform under the sententious 
Necker alternated with periods of incredible 
mismanagement under the queen's favourites. 
By 1783 the parlements were growing refractory 
and demanding the summoning of the almost 
forgotten States General. The king was forced 
to submit; and in 1789, after considerable archaeo- 
logical research as to methods of election, the 
States General met for the first time since 1614. 

Serious disagreements as to methods of voting 
caused the Representatives of the Third Estate 
to withdraw and declare themselves the Con- 
stituent Assembly. By this time the turbulent 
mobs of Paris were aroused. The Bastile, for 
centuries the symbol of oppression, was captured 
by a mob; and the Revolution began to assume a 
somewhat less academic aspect. 

In the midst of increasing popular risings 
the Constituent Assembly continued serenely to 
quibble over political metaphysics, and in the 
course of time produced a Declaration of Rights 

1 8 The French Revolution 

and a Constitution. These documents, together 
with the Cahier presented by local assemblies at 
the opening of the States General, represent the 
constructive work of the Revolution up to 1791. 
These Cahier s offered interesting evidence as to 
the temper of the three Estates. The clergy were 
the most conservative. They are willing to make 
some gifts in return for their exemptions, but then 
expected a grateful nation to reimburse them 
at once. The nobility, somewhat more liberal, 
seemed genuinely ready to sacrifice their privi- 
leges and co-operate in reforms. The Third 
Estate (represented, as Burke observed, chiefly 
by lawyers and small property owners, and thor- 
oughly bourgeoisie in character) sent in Cahiers 
full of the doctrines of the Social Contract, but 
also distinctly more specific than those of the 
other two orders in their demands for social and 
legislative changes. 

As might be expected from such an Assembly, 
the Declaration of Rights is full of echoes of Rous- 
seau and Locke. "Ignorance and forgetfulness 
or contempt of the Rights of Man," says the pre- 
amble, "are the sole causes of public miseries and 
of corruptions of government." But the Consti- 
tution itself is curiously conservative. The king 
is given full executive power and a suspensive 
veto, property rights are carefully secured, and a 
property qualification for the suffrage is insisted 
upon. On the whole, the machinery of govern- 
ment was awkwardly planned, although in the 

And the English Novel 19 

general conception there was much of permanent 
value. In September, 1791, the Constitution was 
accepted by the king. In the following month 
the National "Legislative Assembly was elected, 
according to constitutional provisions. 

This marked the first stage of the Revolution. 
So far, in spite of occasional outbreaks of mob rule, 
there had been little of which England could not 
approve. With the exception of a few thinkers 
of the type of Burke, popular opinion was strongly 
in favour of the Revolution. Englishmen con- 
doned its faults, seeing in it a triumph of orthodox 
Whig principles. Even the abolition of titles of 
nobility (June 19, 1790) was viewed without 
serious alarm. 

The Constituent Assembly had been almost 
entirely bourgeois. But with the year 1792 the 
forces which had hitherto been subordinate began 
to take the lead. The plotting of Louis and the 
court party, together with the menaces of foreign 
interference were rapidly making a constitutional 
monarchy impossible. The Jacobin clubs con- 
trolled the elections. The Girondins, who were 
the most extreme of the philosophic radicals, domi- 
nated the Assembly, subject only to the mob in 
the galleries. The proletariat was taking the 
Revolution out of the hands of the bourgeoisie. 

In June, 1792, the First Coalition was formed 
against France. The repeated treachery of the 
king and queen lost them the last remnant of 
popular favour, and in August they were brought 

2O The French Revolution 

to Paris and imprisoned in the Temple. A de- 
mand for a new and more radical constitution 
brought about the election of a National Conven- 
tion, which immediately declared France a Repub- 
lic (September 21, 1792), and promised aid to 
all nations desiring to overthrow their kings. 1 
The loss of trade monopolies through the opening 
of the Scheldt to unrestricted commerce had 
already aroused a spirit of hostility in England. 
This action of the Assembly put an end to all 
former sympathy with the Revolution. In Janu- 
ary, 1793, when the king was tried and executed, 
Parliament was on the point of declaring war 
against France. The Assembly forestalled them. 
From this time until the battle of Waterloo, war 
between England and France was almost contin- 
uous. The treaties were little more than truces. 

Events moved rapidly in France for the next 
three years. The foreign wars, the rebellion in 
the Vendee, continual fear of a counter revolution, 
and the even greater danger of mob law made the 
situation of the party in power a most difficult 
one. In March, 1793, the Revolutionary Tribu- 
nal and the Committee of Public Safety were 
established, The Terror was resorted to, not as 
a manifestation of lawlessness, but as a govern- 

1 In the earlier stages of the Revolution the idea of spreading 
the doctrines of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity by example 
and precept took a firm hold of the French imagination. But 
when the foreign wars began, the propaganda of a general insur- 
rection against kings became a threat, and an officially recognized 
part of the policy of the Republic. 

And the English Novel 21 

ment measure necessary to secure authority over 
a lawless nation. But the guillotine became a 
general resource of the party in power ; and parties 
changed with alarming rapidity. The Jacobins 
ousted the Girondins, and they in turn were suc- 
ceeded by the Hebertists, the Dantonists, and 
Robespierre. After the execution of Robespierre 
(July 28, 1794), tne Revolutionary Tribunal was 
reorganized, an amnesty offered the rebellious 
Vendee, and the Girondins readmitted to the 
Convention. The Terror was at an end. In the 
following year the Catholic religion (which had 
been replaced by the Worship of Reason in 1793, 
and by the Worship of the Supreme Being in 
1794) was reinstated. By October, 1795, France 
was again under a Constitution. The period of the 
Revolution, as it is usually considered, was closed. 
So far we have observed three distinct stages 
in the attitude of England towards the French 
Revolution: (i) 1789 to 1791, general approval of 
the fall of a despotism. A confident expecta- 
tion that France would establish a constitutional 
monarchy on Whig principles. (2) 1792. Rapidly 
waning confidence in the Revolutionists, as the 
bourgeoisie lost control and the movement threat- 
ened to become genuinely democratic. England 
further antagonized by her economic interests. 
(3) *793 and 1794. The reaction at its height. 
War was declared. National hatred and class 
hatred together reached fever heat. These were 
evil days for the Revolutionists in England. 

22 The French Revolution 

During the ten years preceding the battle of 
Waterloo hatred of France and detestation of 
anything remotely suggesting Revolution or even 
reform continued unabated. As the power of 
Bonaparte increased an element of terror was 
added. England was fighting literally for national 
life as well as for the world market her increasing 
manufactures demanded. Never had the feeling 
of nationality run so high. 

The war period from 1795 to 1815 may be said 
to constitute a fourth period in the history of 
English Revolutionism. The last stage, from the 
battle of Waterloo to 1820, was the worst of the 
reaction, when the stimuli of anger, fear, and 
patriotism had ceased and a heavy pall of dis- 
illusionment and conservatism without ideals 
seemed to have settled over the whole country. 

Such were the five stages of the influence of the 
French Revolution on popular feeling in England. 
But a consideration of France alone cannot furnish 
a sufficient background of events for our discus- 
sion of so complex a movement as Revolutionism. 
Another and greater Revolution was nearing com- 
pletion in England itself, and it is to this that we 
must look for the explanation of many elements 
in the thought of the time. 

The eighteenth century found English manu- 
factures under the domestic system; it left them 
under the factory system. Just what that signi- 
fies we can perhaps understand better by com- 
paring any factory town of our own time with 

And the English Novel 23 

Defoe's description of his trip through Yorkshire 
in 1724. 

The land [he says] was divided into small enclosures 
of from two acres to six or seven each, seldom more, 
every three or four pieces of land having a house 
belonging to them; hardly a house standing out of 
speaking distance with another. At every consider- 
able house there was a manufactory. Every clothier 
keeps one horse at least to carry his manufactures to 
the market; and every one generally keeps a cow or 
two, or more, for his family. By this means the small 
pieces of enclosed land about each house are occupied, 
for they scarce sow corn enough to feed their poultry. 
The houses are full of lusty fellows, some at dye-vats, 
some at looms, others dressing the cloths, the women 
and children carding and spinning ; all being-employed, 
from the youngest to the oldest. 1 

The change in the industrial system came about 
slowly and inevitably through a succession of 
great inventions. In 1770 James Hargreave 
patented the spinning-jenny. In 1771 Ark- 
wright employed a spinning-machine worked by 
water-power. In 1779 Crompton combined the 
two. In 1785 Cartwright added the power-loom. 
Most important of all, in 1769 James Watt took 
out a patent for his steam-engine, which was used 
in mining, and later introduced into factories. To 
these were added a host of minor inventions and 

1 Daniel Defoe, A Tour Through the Whole Island of Great 
Britain. 4 vols. London, 1724-27. 

24 The French Revolution 

improvements; and by 1790 the great change was 
fairly complete. 

Closely connected with the Industrial Revolu- 
tion was a similar and practically contemporary 
change in the agricultural system. As the own- 
ership of land was concentrated in the hands of 
a decreasing body of proprietors, many men were 
reduced to the status of wage-earning agricultural 
labourers and many were driven to seek other 
employment. Common lands were enclosed, to 
the great detriment of the cottager class. All this 
was caused partly by the fact that the small land- 
owning manufacturers, whom Defoe describes, 
were driven into factories on wages that did 
not permit of their owning their homes, and 
partly by the tendency of the growing capitalist 
class to acquire land for profitable farming on a 
large scale. Also, in England the ownership of 
land carried with it a certain social distinction 
which made it particularly attractive to the social 
aspirations of the new aristocracy of wealth. 

The significance of these profound changes in 
the economic and social structure of society is 
hard to estimate. The most obvious result was 
the enormous increase in wealth that sustained 
England through the Napoleonic wars (which 
were themselves brought about partly by the 
struggle for a world market). The growth of the 
great fortunes fired the popular imagination, en- 
couraging an increasingly extravagant standard 
of living. All classes seemed more determined 

And the English Novel 25 

than usual to live just a little beyond their incomes. 
As a result, the debtors' prisons were full, and the 
literature of the time was pervaded with denun- 
ciations of senseless luxury. 

Besides all this, there was real suffering among 
the dispossessed working-classes. These formed 
a discontented, unstable class, given to riots, and 
an easy prey to Revolutionary demagogues. If 
there was ever any real danger of the doctrines 
of the French Revolution gaining a following in 
England, it was through this class and not through 
the little group of writers and philosophers whose 
works we are to consider. 

Theories of political economy of course adapted 
themselves to the dominant interests of the time. 
The laissez-faire system was in high favour in this 
age of individualism. Adam Smith's interpreta- 
tion of this accommodating doctrine (in The Wealth 
of Nations, 1776) was religiously observed by the 
parties in power; the right of the individual child 
of four to sell his labour in open market according 
to the laws of supply and demand was in no wise 
interfered with. Consequently the accounts of 
factory conditions in the Blue Books of the period 
make somewhat ghastly reading. The prevalence 
of epidemics among factory populations finally 
convinced the dominant classes that in self -pro- 
tection something must be done to remedy con- 
ditions. In 1802 the Tories overcame their 
terror of Revolutionism sufficiently to pass the 
First Factory Act. But many years passed 

26 The French Revolution 

before Parliament dared venture on anything else 
in the nature of social reform. 

The most fundamental social change growing 
out of the Industrial Revolution is perhaps less ob- 
vious. A shifting of power that had been going on 
for over a century was suddenly completed ; the cap- 
italist, or the mercantile and manufacturing class 
had superseded the older land-owning aristocracy 
as the dominant class in the national life. And in 
every historical period it is the ideas and the ideals 
of the dominant class in that period that prevail. 

Such changes are too subtle and complex to be 
indicated offhand. We talk glibly enough about 
the epoch-making changes wrought by the French 
Revolution in its eight or ten years crowded with 
the conflicts of parties and ideas. Its dramatic 
values appeal to the imagination. But who shall 
estimate the dramatic values of the great silent 
Revolution whose shadow is over us still? 

The remaining topic in our discussion of the 
background of events brings us once more to the 
safer ground of definite political occurrences. 
The eve of the French Revolution found England 
apparently on the point of securing certain mea- 
sures of much-needed parliamentary reform. The 
American war had just closed with the loss of the 
colonies. It was evident that there had been 
flagrant mismanagement from beginning to end. 
In 1783 the Shelburne Ministry was overthrown 
by an alliance between the Whigs under Fox and 
the Tory followers of Lord North. 

And the English Novel 27 

Never [says Green], had the need of a representative 
reform been more clearly shown than by a coalition 
which proved how powerless was the force of public 
opinion to check even the most shameless faction in 
Parliament, how completely the lessening of the royal 
influence by the measures of Burke and Rockingham 
had tended to the profit, not of the people, but of the 
borough mongers who usurped its representation. 1 

In the same year Pitt proposed a reform in re- 
presentation. But as the Whig majority had no 
notion of permitting any reforms to their own 
disadvantage the bill was thrown out. In 1788 
Wilberforce brought in a bill for the abolition of 
the slave trade. This was promptly defeated by 
the Liverpool slave merchants. It was evident 
that there was a strong popular demand for re- 
forms. It was also evident that Parliament was 
in the hands of those to whose interest it was to 
prevent reforms. But England had always be- 
fore been able to bring refractory Parliaments 
to reason in the long run. 

At this juncture, however, the Revolution began 
in France. Pitt, always liberal, regarded it with 
decided favour. Burke alone among the promi- 
nent Whigs opposed it. But Burke had lost his 
hold over the House and his eloquent warnings 
had no effect. His own party went over entirely 
to Fox, whose sympathies were with the Revolu- 
tion. This led to the dramatic scene in the House 

1 Green, Short History of the English People, p. 421. 

28 The French Revolution 

which ended the long personal friendship between 
the two Whig leaders. Events soon brought 
public opinion to Burke's side again, as we have 
seen; his Reflections on the Revolution in France 
became one of the most popular books of the time. 

The reaction against Revolutionism was so 
violent that all chance of parliamentary reform 
was lost for several decades to come. In 1809 
Sir Francis Burdett ventured to touch upon the 
forbidden question. Only fifteen members sup- 
ported his bill. When a little later he published 
it in pamphlet form he was promptly committed 
to the Tower. This ended the discussion of 
representative reform by Parliament until the 
period of reaction was past. 

Meanwhile, the nation as a whole was by no 
means so indifferent to the question of Represen- 
tation as their representatives seemed to be. On 
the eve of the Revolution there had been started 
a Society for Constitutional Information, I which 
distributed pamphlets and drew up a program 
"which included such advanced demands as uni- 
versal suffrage, equal electoral districts, abolition 
of property qualifications for members of the 
Commons, payment of members, and vote by 
ballot at parliamentary elections." 2 During the 
Revolutionary enthusiasm of 1790 innumerable 

1 To which, incidentally, most of our Revolutionary novelists 
belonged. This was the society against whom the Reflections of 
Burke was particularly directed. 

3 Ogg, Social Progress in Contemporary Europe, p. 126. 

And the English Novel 29 

Jacobin clubs sprang up all over the country, 
which distributed literature, discussed the most 
radical reforms, and incidentally did all they could 
to prepare the country for a Revolution after the 
model of France. But in 1794 the government 
had a nervous attack resulting in a fit of persecu- 
tion. All these noisy little clubs, together with 
some that were more worthy, were suppressed 
with a high hand. After this miniature conser- 
vative Reign of Terror we hear no more of the 
English Jacobins. J 

During the Napoleonic wars the public mind 
was sufficiently occupied with the national danger ; 
and agitation for parliamentary reform virtually 
ceased. After 1815, however, the popular demand 
for reforms broke out again in full force, and again 
the government began its campaign of suppression. 
"The habeas corpus act," says Dr. Ogg, "was 
suspended until it became almost a nullity." 
The climax was reached in the "Peterloo Mas- 
sacre" of 1819, when a peaceable gathering as- 
sembled in St. Peter's Field, Manchester, to discuss 
questions of parliamentary reform, was attacked 
by a troop of cavalry and several persons were 
killed. This was followed in the same year by 
the infamous Six Acts, "Whereby public meet- 
ings for the considerations of grievances was pro- 

This marked the turning point of the Reaction. 
After 1820 reform legislation began to be forced 

1 Cf. account of the trial of Holcroft, in Chapter III. 

30 The French Revolution 

by public opinion. The nation took up the ques- 
tion of adapting its laws and government to 
changing conditions where it had been dropped in 
1792. The influence of the French Revolution 
both as a stimulus and as a check to progress may 
be said to have come to an end. 


To give anything like an adequate account of 
even one of the currents of thought that were 
stirring the public mind in England previous to the 
outbreak of the French Revolution would require 
a volume in itself. To cover the whole field even 
superficially is of course impossible. What is 
attempted here is in the nature of an enumeration 
of headings, indicating the basis for a few gen- 

There is a tendency in most brief accounts of 
the literature of this period to speak of the group 
of ideas which we may include under the title 
Revolutionism, as having come into England with 
the writings of Rousseau and the Encyclopaedists, 
and gained a brief vogue through the popularity 
of the French Revolution in its early stages. This 
is not an altogether adequate statement of the 
case. To supplement it, however, we must go 
back some distance, to the political philosophies 
of the preceding century in England. It is 
Chesterton, I think, who observes that all accounts 

And the English Novel 31 

should begin: "In the beginning God created 
Heaven and Earth." That is particularly true 
of all accounts of the historical development of 
ideas. But we shall be making in all conscience a 
sufficient deviation from the usual chronology if 
we take for our genesis the Puritan Revolution 
instead of Rousseau. 

Previous to the Reformation in England the 
world of political philosophy was a very simple 
and orderly one. State and Church alike were 
established upon a principle of unquestioned 
authority. From serf to emperor, from friar to 
pope, every one had his foreordained place in the 
scheme of things, and his recognized superior to 
whom he owed deference and from whom he 
received guidance and protection. The keystone 
of the whole social and ecclesiastical structure 
was a revealed religion which included the divine 
right of kings. The recognition of the subordina- 
tion of the individual to an authority external to 
himself penetrated every branch of human thought 
and activity. 

The Reformation did not change this concep- 
tion fundamentally. It was at first merely an 
attempt to clear away certain deviations from the 
original revelation. This was especially true of 
the Anglican Church. So that we may consider 
the age of absolute authority in England as 
continuing to the time of the Stuarts. 

The old order had made for discipline and 

3 2 The French Revolution 

civilization in the ages of violence, but it was 
inelastic. As the middle classes, the merchants 
and producers, increased in power they began to 
find their subordinate place in the established 
system somewhat irksome. In the early part of 
the seventeenth century we find such writers 
as Buchanan, Althusius, and Mariana advancing 
antimonarchic theories. It was at this time that 
three significant doctrines appeared in English 
political controversies: a pre-political state of 
nature, the contractual origin of society, and the 
sovereignty of the people. These, it will be ob- 
served, involve a fundamentally different basis 
of thought; government derives its authority 
from man, instead of from God. Changes, then, 
even the most radical, may be inexpedient, but 
cannot be sacrilegious. 

This changed concept gained wide acceptance, 
often where its full import was not perceived. 
Grotius was affected by it; his contribution to 
political thought was a formulation of the rights 
between nations no longer held together by the 
great bond of unity under the Church. His 
great work, De Jure Belli et Pads, appeared in 
1625, the year Charles I. came to the English 
throne; which brings us to the eve of the Puritan 

Under the Commonwealth there were two parties 
opposing the old doctrine of the divine right, 
representing two entirely distinct interpretations 
of the new doctrine of the sovereignty of the people. 

And the English Novel 33 

(i) The prevailing conception, represented in 
Parliament chiefly by the Presbyterians, and 
later by Cromwell, recognized the people in their 
collective capacity as competent to choose the 
rulers to whom they will submit. (2) The extreme 
individualistic conception, represented by the 
Independents and Levellers, demanded universal 
suffrage, absolute freedom of speech and opinion, 
and a government perpetually subject to popular 
control. It is in this early democratic individu- 
alism that we have' the true genesis of Revolu- 
tionism in England. A contemporary writes of 
this party in terms that suggest! Burke on the 
French Revolution: 

Though the lawes and customes of the kingdom be 
never so plain and cleer against their wayes, yet they 
will not submit but cry out for naturall rights derived 
from Adam and right reason. 1 

The doctrines of the Levellers were embodied 
in the "Agreement of the People," framed by the 
council of the army in 1647. This provided for 
ratification by the signatures of every individual 
Englishman, and granted to the government only 
a delegated authority, subject always to popular 
recall. Parliament, however, fell into the hands 
of Cromwell, who had small regard for the Level- 
lers and their doctrines. The Revolution was 
carried through by the Rump, under furious 

1 thinning, Political Theories, p. 236. 

34 The French Revolution 

protests from Lilburne and other Independent 
writers. Democratic individualism disappeared 
from among the doctrines of English practical 
politics for more than a century. 

Among the political writers of the latter seven- 
teenth century the issue is between authority by 
divine right and authority derived from the people, 
not, be it observed, between the principles of 
authority and individualism. "Milton never 
favoured universal suffrage and the rule of the 
numerical majority," says Dunning, " 'Liberty 
for all and authority for such as were capable' 
was his creed." 1 Harrington was even less radi- 
cal; he would rest the supreme authority with 
those who own most of the property of the com- 
munity. Algernon Sydney was essentially an 
aristocrat, modified by the republicanism of 
classical antiquity. He held that authority must 
rest upon consent, but his dislike for democracy 
was manifest. 

The leading philosophical opponents to these 
so-called republicans were Filmer and Hobbes. 
Filmer's Patriarchia 2 takes the extreme stand for 
divine right, regarding the state as essentially a 
family, with the king in undisputed paternal 
supremacy over all subjects. Hobbes, on the 

1 Dunning, Political Theories, p. 247. 

* The Patriarchia was not published until 1680. The exact 
date of writing is difficult to determine; but Filmer died in 1653 
and this was probably written some years before the time of his 
death, so that it is safe to say that the Patriarchia antedates 
Hobbes's Leviathan. 

And the English Novel 35 

other hand, is in the curious position of attempting 
to justify the old conception with arguments 
derived from the new. His rationalism was 
extreme. He begins with a state of nature, helium 
omnium contra omnes, in which man is antisocial, 
governed entirely by passions and instincts, with 
no distinction of right and wrong. Natural right 
is the right of every man to do that which is ne- 
cessary for the preservation of his existence. 
Natural laws are the rules determined by reason 
as being necessary to self-preservation. These 
are three: (i) to seek peace and preserve it, (2) to 
abandon natural liberty in order to secure peace, 
and (3) to keep covenants made. Hobbes thus 
arrives at the conclusion that in order to escape 
from the anarchic wars of the state of nature, men 
are forced to resign their liberty to a sovereign 
power. This is not a contract, for the sovereign 
promises nothing, the only agreement being among 
the subjects, who have surrendered their liberty 
by common consent. Starting with the individual 
bound only by self-interest, Hobbes leaves him 
with no rights whatever against the state which 
his self-interest has forced him to constitute. * 

In the long run, however, Hobbes's philosophy 
worked against rather than for the absolute 
monarchy which he intended it to support. He 
had made too many dangerous admissions. Sub- 
sequent thinkers might accept his premises, but 
they drew their own conclusions. 

1 Hobbes, Leviathan, 1651. 

36 The French Revolution 

In the Restoration the doctrine of divine right 
in its most extreme form enjoyed a brief triumph ; 
one of the significant features of which was the 
firm alliance between Church and king. Every 
effort of the Whigs to liberalize existing institu- 
tions was met by the obstinate resistance of the 
churchmen. Even Hobbes's rationalization of 
the obscurantist doctrine was condemned. Dur- 
ing this period the dissenting bodies among whom 
the doctrines of individualism had flourished were 
thoroughly subdued. Henceforth their only polit- 
ical endeavours lay along the lines of securing 
for themselves religious toleration. 

In the Revolution of 1688 it was the doctrine 
of modified authority that triumphed. The op- 
position to the last two Stuart kings was led by 
men of rank and property, having no affinity 
whatever with the Levellers and Republicans of 
the earlier Rebellion. The Whig Revolution 
found its complete philosophical expression in the 
writings of John Locke (1632-1704). Locke 
began as Hobbes did, with a hypothetical state 
of nature. But he rejected Hobbes's conception 
of the state of universal war. His state of nature 
is social, though not political; equality, governed 
by reason and natural law. Even property 
rights were respected in such a state, as being 
based upon each man's right to his own labour, 
and consequently to those things to which he has 
added his labour. The state of nature is termi- 
nated by a social contract, by which men give up 

And the English Novel 37 

their right of executing laws and punishing of- 
fences in exchange for protection for life and 
property. But the power of the sovereign is 
limited still by the natural rights retained by the 

All this adds nothing to the discussion which 
was not involved in the conceptions of previous 
philosophers; it is merely a clear formulation of 
the position adopted by the leaders in the Whig 
Revolution. The Lockian ideas found popular 
expression in the writings of Bolingbroke and 

The next philospher to make any real contri- 
bution to political theory was David Hume (1711- 
1776). Although a Whig himself, Hume did 
more perhaps than any other writer to undermine 
the comfortably complete philosophy of modified 
authority which Locke had made appear so 
reasonable and the Whigs had accepted so com- 
placently for nearly half a century. Hume adopted 
Hobbes's view of human nature, and a consistently 
utilitarian system of ethics. He rejected abso- 
lutely the contract theory as a justification for 

If the reason be asked [says Hume], of that obedi- 
ence which we are bound to pay to government, I 
readily answer, " Because society could not otherwise 
subsist : ' ' And this answer is clear and intelligible to all 
mankind. Your answer is, "Because we should keep 
our word. " But besides, that nobody, till trained in a 
philosophical system, can either comprehend or relish 

38 The French Revolution 

this answer: Besides this, I say, you find yourself 
embarrassed, when it is asked, why we are bound to 
keep our word? Nor can you give any answer, but 
what would, immediately, without any circuit, have 
accounted for our obligation to allegiance. T 

This brings our discussion of political theory- 
down to the middle of the eighteenth century, 
to the beginning of the French influence. To sum 
up the situation so far: the old conception of an 
absolute authority of divine origin has given 
place to the conception of a modified authority 
derived from the people in their collective capacity, 
and rendered morally binding by a social contract. 
The doctrine of democratic individualism has 
appeared and been for a time supported by a 
considerable party among the dissenters; but 
since its defeat in 1647 it has ceased to be a factor 
in the dominant political philosophies of the 
eighteenth century. Finally, the accepted Whig 
basis of authority has already been attacked by 
the utilitarian scepticism of Hume. 

Before we take up the French philosophers 
influencing Revolutionism, however, there re- 
mains another aspect of English thought which 
must be considered: the religious philosophies. 
We have observed how close was the connection 
between the doctrine of divine right in government 
and the Church of absolute authority. The 

1 Hume, Essays, Moral, Political, and Literary (1741-42). 
(Ed. London, 1882. Vol. i., p. 455-56.) 

And the English Novel 39 

Established Church and the Whig government 
maintain a like similarity. The principle of 
authority remained, but it was a rationalized 
authority. Revelation was justified by reason. 1 
But this common-sense faith did not succeed in 
dominating the religious thought of the time quite 
so completely as the common-sense government 
did the political thought. An increasing group 
of churchmen were dissatisfied with a faith in 
revelation made perfectly rational. What need, 
they began to ask, of any revelation at all? Natu- 
ral religion and Deism, influenced by the empiri- 
cism of Locke, made rapid headway. In the 
hands of writers like Shaftesbury, Bolingbroke, 
Toland, Tindal, and a host of others the Deist 
controversy became a thing to be reckoned with 
by orthodox theologians. 

Meanwhile, the Establishment, not rational 
enough to satisfy the Deists, had grown too ra- 
tional, it seemed, for a very large group of people 
who demanded of religion something more than 
a system of ethics. The Wesley an movement, 
begun as a reform within the Church, resulted in 
the establishment of a new sect of dissenters. 
Methodism was primarily a reaction against a 
narrow rationalism that was limiting and over- 
defining the religious life. But the ultimate 
philosophy of the movement involved a complete 
break with the principle of authority in the name 
of religious Individualism. Dr. M'Giffert says 

1 Cf., for example, the sermons of Tillotson and Barrow. 

4 The French Revolution 

of Methodism: "It meant a transfer of emphasis 
from the Church as an institution to the personal 
religious experience of the individual Christian." 1 
That is, the cardinal fact in religion was taken to 
be, not a generally authoritative revelation em- 
bodied in an institution, but an emotional crisis 
in the life of each individual which he took to be 
a direct and personal revelation. This was an 
assertion of the rights of individual feeling, as 
Deism may be said to be an assertion of the right 
of individual judgment. Such were the main 
currents of thought during the first half of the 
eighteenth century. This brings us up to the 
beginning of the French influence, which is usually 
identified with the English philosophy of Revolu- 
tionism. But be it observed, not one element of 
importance came into English radical thought 
through Rousseau and the Encyclopaedists which 
was not there already. The main doctrines of the 
Revolution had been familiar to English philo- 
sophers since the time of Cromwell at least. But 
the issue between Authority and Individualism 
had become somewhat obscured. Authority, in 
Church and State, was rationalized, and Indi- 
vidualism, forced out of practical politics, was 
manifesting itself chiefly in the religious world, 
and in sceptical philosophies. 2 

1 M'Giffert, Protestant Thought Before Kant, p. 163. 

* The French philosophers whose writings gained the greatest 
vogue in England were Voltaire and the Encyclopaedists, Rous- 
seau, Holbach, and Helvetius. As these are discussed in some 
detail by Dr. Hancock, we need do no more than mention them 

And the English Novel 41 

All this is in no way intended to minimize the 
part the French philosophers had in stimulating 
English Revolutionism. If they introduced no 
new concepts into English thought, they restated 
the old ones with genius. Rousseau especially 
exerted an influence in England which it would 
be hard to overestimate. Never had the doctrines 
of Sentimental Individualism been so alluringly 
presented. The state of nature previous to the 
social contract, which was to Hobbes a state of 
war and misery, and to Locke a state of mere 
negative excellence, became in Rousseau's hands 
the earthly paradise. Deism, which not even the 
enthusiasm of Shaftesbury could make more than 
a somewhat chilly hypothesis, became a real faith 
as interpreted by the Savoyard Vicar. The belief 
that feeling in itself constitutes virtue was carried 
to its logical conclusion by this arch Sentimental- 
ist. Julie, St. Preux, Emile, Sophie, and the 
Rousseau of the Confessions became living ideals 
in the minds of Englishmen who would never 
have thought of reading a metaphysical discussion 
of the philosophy of feeling. 

But the true reason for connecting the movement 
in England, which we are discussing, with the 
French Revolution does not lie in the stimulus 
which it undoubtedly received from French 
writers. It was the events of the year 1789 that 

here. But it may be added, if these influenced English thought, 
they had themselves been previously influenced by English 

42 The French Revolution 

removed Revolutionism from the realm of purely 
speculative philosophy to that of active political 
propaganda, for the first time since the Common- 

In England there was, as we have seen, a grow- 
ing social unrest due primarily to economic causes. 
Philosophies of change and revolution were al- 
ready familiar to the English mind. The fall of 
the Bastille was symbolic. It was a tocsin call 
at whose sound the older democratic individu- 
alism, which had not appeared in practical poli- 
tics since its defeat in 1647, awoke and became 
a force to be reckoned with by conservative 

The situation in England was, as we have 
observed, extremely complex. Issues were not 
so clear as those in France. A century of ration- 
alizing and sentimentalizing on both sides had 
obscured the ancient conflict between Authority 
and Individualism. But, as in the days of Inde- 
pendents and Levellers, it was among the dissent- 
ing sects that individualism as a political principle 
found its readiest acceptance. The intellectual 
affinity between dissent and Revolutionism was 
perhaps emphasized by the discontent arising 
from the legal disabilities still attached to non- 

The Revolutionists in England were at no 
time a large or powerful group, although the ex- 
ample afforded them by France and the preva- 
lence of social unrest gave the government some 

And the English Novel 43 

cause to fear that their doctrines might spread 
and ultimately result in the overthrow of the 

The most important among the Revolutionists, 
fortunately for our discussion, used the novel as a 
vehicle for their propaganda. There are a few, 
however, who wrote no novels, but whom we must 
mention for the sake of completeness. Dr. Price, 
a dissenting preacher, and Joseph Priestley, a 
philosophical writer of the school of Locke, were 
among the earliest if not the most radical of the 
Revolutionists. ' ' In their writings, ' ' says Sir Leslie 
Stephen, "we catch for the first time the true 
Revolutionary tone." 1 They are, however, im- 
portant chiefly as they influenced more prominent 

Thomas Paine possessed the merit of populariz- 
ing the doctrines of more intellectual men than 
himself. It was Paine, not Godwin, nor even 
Rousseau, whose works were printed in cheap 
form and read by Jacobin clubs of discontented 
workingmen. The Rights of Man had hundreds 
of readers where Political Justice had one. In the 
type of audiences which Paine found, ideas linger. 
Curiously enough, Paine's crude but vigorous 
denunciations of priesthood and tyranny still 
find readers in certain circles. 

Among the opponents of Revolutionism two 
deserve especial mention. Burke's writings are 

1 Leslie Stephen, English Thought 'in the Eighteenth Century, 
vol. ii., p. 252. 

44 The French Revolution 

too well known to require discussion here. But 
perhaps the answer to Revolutionism which most 
influenced thought in the following century was 
not Burke's Reflections, but the theory of popu- 
lation advanced by Malthus. He perceived the 
absurdity of the theories on which Godwin's 
belief in the perfectibility of man and the speedy 
coming of an age of peace were founded. The 
objections which he raised, that in such an event 
the population would outgrow the food supply 
and civilization be overthrown by the mere strug- 
gle for existence, continued to trouble social 
idealists as late, certainly, as the date of Tenny- 
son's second Locksley Hall, in spite of the floods 
of "answers" to Malthus which were written 
from almost every conceivable standpoint. Per- 
haps it was too sound Darwinism to be answered 
except by facts. 

Perhaps before we turn to the novels, it may 
be well to quote in extenso a concise and admirably 
critical statement of the Revolutionary philosophy 
by a younger contemporary of the novelists whom 
we are considering. William Hazlitt was not 
only acquainted with that point of view as it 
appeared in books, but had the advantage of 
knowing the authors personally, and hearing their 
informal discussions of the questions involved. 
His own attitude is not unsympathetic, although 
he is writing during the last decade of the Reaction. 
This summary of the leading doctrines of Revolu- 

And the English Novel 45 

tionism may furnish a good point of departure 
for our discussion of its variations at the hands 
of individual writers. 

The opinion of the power of truth to crush error 
had been gaining ground in this country ever since 
the Reformation; the immense improvements in 
natural and mechanical knowledge within the last 
century had made it appear nearly impossible to 
limit the discoveries of art and science; as great a 
revolution (and it was generally supposed as great 
improvements) had taken place in the theory of the 
human mind in consequence of Mr. Locke's Essay; 
and men's attention having been lately forcibly called 
to many of the evils and abuses existing in society, it 
seemed as if the present was the era of moral and polit- 
ical improvement, and that as bold discoveries and as 
large advances towards perfection would shortly be 
made in these, as had been made in other subjects. 
That this inference was profound or just, I do not 
affirm, but it was natural, and strengthened not only 
by the hopes of the good, but by the sentiments of the 
most thinking men. 

As far as any practical experiment had been tried, 
the result was not discouraging. Of two revolutions 
that had taken place, one, that of America, had suc- 
ceeded, and a more free and equal government had 
been established, without tumult, civil discord, ani- 
mosity, or bloodshed, except what had arisen from the 
interference of the mother country. The other Revo- 
lution, that of France, was but begun: but it had at 
that time displayed none of those alarming features 
which it afterwards discovered. . . . The pillars of 

46 The French Revolution 

oppression and tyranny seemed to have been over- 
thrown : man was about to shake off the fetters which 
had bound him in wretchedness and ignorance; and 
the blessings that were yet in store for him were unseen 
and incalculable. Hope smiled upon him, and pointed 
to futurity. 

With these feelings and with these encouragements, 
from the state of the public mind, reasoning men 
began to inquire what would be the ruling principles 
of action in a state of society as perfect as we can 
suppose, or the general diffusion of which would 
soonest lead to such a state of improvement. 

In such a state of things (men) believed that wars, 
bloodshed and national animosities would cease; that 
peace and good-will would reign among men; and 
that the feeling of patriotism, necessary as it now is to 
preserve the independence of states, would die away 
of itself with national jealousies and antipathies, with 
ambition, war and foreign conquest. Family attach- 
ments would also be weakened or lost in the general 
principle of benevolence, when every man would be a 
brother. Exclusive friendships could no longer be 
formed, because they would interfere with the true 
claims of justice and humanity, and because it would 
be no longer necessary to keep alive the stream of the 
affections by confining them to a particular channel, 
when they would be continually refreshed, invigorated, 
and would overflow with the diffusive soul of mutual 
philanthropy and generous, undivided sympathy with 
all men. Gratitude to benefactors would be forgotten ; 
but not from a hateful, selfish spirit, or hardened 

And the English Novel 47 

insensibility to kind offices ; but because all men would 
in fact be equally ready to promote one another's 
welfare, that is, equally benefactors and friends to 
each other without motives, either of gratitude or of 
self-interest. Promises, in like manner would be no 
longer binding or necessary. False honour, false shame, 
vanity, emulation, and so forth, would upon the same 
principle give way to other and better motives. It is 
evident that laws and punishments would cease with 
the cause that produces them, the commission of crimes. 
Neither would the distinctions of property subsist in a 
society where the interests and feelings of all would be 
more intimately blended than they are at present among 
members of the same family, or among the dearest 
friends. Neither the allurements of ease or wealth, nor 
the dread of punishment would be required to incite to 
industry, or to prevent fraud or violence, in a state 
where all would cheerfully labour for the good of all ; 
and where the most refined reason and inflexible jus- 
tice actuated the whole community. The labour, 
therefore, requisite to produce the necessaries of life, 
would be equally divided among the members of 
such a community, and the remainder of their time 
would be spent in the pursuit of science, in the culti- 
vation of the noblest arts, and in the most refined and 
intellectual enjoyments. 

However wild and visionary this scheme may ap- 
pear, it is certain that its greatest fault is in expecting 
higher things of human nature than it seems at 
present capable of, and in exacting such a divine or 
angelic degree of virtue and wisdom, before it can be 
put in practice, as without a miracle in its favour 
must for ever prevent its becoming anything more 

48 The English Novel 

than a harmless dream, a sport of the imagination, or 
an exercise of the schools. x 

1 Hazlitt, Memoirs of Holcroft (1816), vol. ii., pp. 123-33. 

NOTE. We shall have occasion to use the term Sentimentalism 
rather frequently in the course of our discussion. As this is one of 
the critical terms which each writer uses, apparently, with a slightly 
different shade of meaning, it may be well to define the sense in 
which we shall use it here. Sentimentalism is that view of life, 
and incidentally, that view of art, which regards feeling as an end 
in itself. Sentimentalism is not a matter of degree of emotion, 
or even of quality of emotion; it depends entirely upon one's 
attitude towards one's own emotional experiences. One may 
value feeling very highly as a stimulus to fine action, or for the 
powers of insight and imagination which intense emotion some- 
times releases, without being in the least a Sentimentalist. The 
Sentimentalist is interested in his emotional reactions quite apart 
from their cause or their result. Feeling for him has ceased to be 
a means or a by-product, and becomes the central fact of his 
existence. When he feels virtuously, that for him constitutes 



THE fact that we are considering Revolution- 
ism through the medium of the novel gives 
us one distinct advantage over more general 
treatments. We are entitled to give the first 
place in our discussion to the unfortunately little 
known Thomas Holcrof t rather than to the usually 
somewhat overemphasized work of Godwin. This 
arrangement is the more satisfactory one, for 
several reasons. It is historically correct. Hoi- 
croft was the older man, and decidedly the more 
original and independent thinker of the two. 
Godwin himself admits this and acknowledged 
his indebtedness. Anna St. Ives was one of the 
earliest and fullest popular expressions of the 
Revolutionary philosophy in any form. Certainly 
it is the earliest and fullest in fiction. 

But more important than chronological correct- 
ness, Holcroft is a truer representative of Revo- 
lutionary idealism. The new philosophy as it 
appears in his novels is saner, kindlier, and more 

4 49 

50 The French Revolution 

comprehensible than are the doctrines of the 
ex-Calvinist Godwin. One can better understand 
the sudden fervour of devotion with which so many 
young poets greeted what seemed a new evangel. 
Since we are to listen in another chapter to the 
case against Revolutionism, it is well that we may 
see it first through the medium of a personality 
so winning as that of Thomas Holcroft. 

One of the things which Holcroft always in- 
tended and always delayed was the writing of his 
autobiography. In the last year of his life he 
actually began the task, and in spite of intense 
physical suffering managed to dictate the first 
few chapters. The work was completed after 
his death, with the aid of his diary and letters, 
by the friendly hand of William Hazlitt. This 
is a book which tempts to quotation; it is one of 
the most vital of biographies. But it is enough 
for our purpose here to indicate in outline as 
brief as may be something of the life of this "ac- 
quitted felon" (as his opponents called him), this 
Revolutionary dreamer who was forced into exile 
for the faith a generation earlier than Shelley. 

Holcroft came naturally by his lifelong finan- 
cial incapacity; his father before him was one of 
the chronically unsuccessful. During Thomas 
Holcroft's childhood, he was successively a shoe- 
maker, groom's helper, horse trader, and finally, 
wandering pedlar. But he was an affectionate 
father, and gave his son the best education in his 
power. Thomas was taught to read early; at 

And the English Novel 51 

the age of four his task was "eleven chapters a 
day in the Old Testament," which he supplemented 
on his own account with chapmen's books of 
adventure, borrowed from a friendly 'prentice 
lad. This was the extent of his father's ability 
in the way of "book learning." But he added 
other lessons which the boy never forgot : to endure 
hardship without complaining, to despise self- 
indulgence in all forms, to speak the truth, and 
to fear nothing but cowardice. Thomas had need 
of such lessons, for his childhood was not an easy 
one. As the family fortunes declined and both 
father and mother took to peddling, the little boy 
trudged after them through town and country, 
often faint with weariness and hunger. Before 
he was nine, he tells us, he was "trusted with 
business more like an adult than a child," 1 and 
severely beaten for loitering on errands. The 
picture is not all dark, however. There were 
pleasant memories of sunny summer highways, 
and country fairs and market days where the 
future comedian listened in rapture to the rude 
jests of the merry-andrew. Nor was the passion 
for books quite lost. A stray ballad or so was a 
very treasure trove. But, he remarks, in naive 
apology for his deficiencies: "I had little leisure 
or opportunity to acquire any knowledge by 
reading. I was too much pressed by fatigue, 
hunger, cold, and nakedness." He adds: "There 
was a single instance in which I travelled a-foot 

1 Hazlitt, Memoirs of Holer oft, vol. i., p. 46. 

52 The French Revolution 

thirty miles in one day. I think this happened 
before I was ten years of age." 1 But there is no 
trace of self-pity in the telling. Holcroft never 
sentimentalizes over his forlorn childhood. He 
records it all in a matter-of-fact way, with evident 
pride in his childish powers of endurance, and 
loving respect for his ne'er-do-well father. 

Soon after this, thanks to his indomitable cour- 
age and his stunted growth, young Holcroft at- 
tained to the summit of his ambitions, the position 
of stable-boy in a racing stable. Here he was 
entirely happy. He was not starved, not much 
overworked, and (after he had thrashed all his 
young companions) not molested in his eager 
pursuit of whatever chances of education might 
fall in his way. Stray copies of Addison and 
Swift opened new worlds to him. To these were 
added Bunyan, and Baxter's Saints' Rest. Even 
as a child Holcroft seems to have had a strong 
religious sense; but he was always singularly free 
from superstition or sentimentalism. Of this 
early fondness for devotional books he writes 
very sensibly: "I was truly well intentioned, but 
my zeal was too ardent and liable to become dan- 
gerous." 2 Holcroft also found time to learn some- 
thing of music, and finally arranged to get a 
little desultory schooling in off hours. 

At the age of sixteen he left the stables and went 
to London as an apprentice to his father, who had 
again taken to shoemaking. His apprenticeship 

1 Memoirs, vol. i. f p. 50. * Ibid., vol. i., p. 140. 

And the English Novel 53 

was not successful, because "his time was idled 
away in reading, ' ' and at ' ' spouting clubs. ' ' At the 
age of twenty, with no prospects whatever, he mar- 
ried very happily. Holcroft's domestic life seems 
always to have been ideal. After trying several 
occupations he was on the point of enlisting for the 
wars in despair, when a friend persuaded him to 
join a company of strolling actors. This was in the 
year 1770. Holcroft remained on the stage for 
many years thereafter, acting chiefly comedy parts, 
with moderate success. He began to eke out his 
uncertain income with hack writing, as his family 
responsibilities increased . Ultimately he withdrew 
from the stage, and began to earn his living en- 
tirely by his pen, writing novels and plays, and 
translating from the French and German. 

Meanwhile his passion for reading continued 
unabated. Hazlitt's account x>f his literary tastes 
is interesting. Here, as in everything else, Hol- 
croft was untainted by Sentimentalism. 

Pope always held the highest place in his esteem 
after Milton, Shakespeare, and Dry den. He used 
often, in particular to repeat the character of Atticus, 
which he considered as the finest piece of satire in the 
language. Moral description, good sense, keen ob- 
servation, and strong passion, are the qualities which 
he seems chiefly to have sought in poetry. He had 
therefore little relish even for the best of our descrip- 
tive poets, and often spoke with indifference approach- 
ing to contempt of Thomson, Akenside, and others. 1 

1 Memoirs, vol. i. f p. 253. 

54 The French Revolution 

In 1789 Holcroft stiff ered the greatest grief of 
his life, the suicide of his only son, to whom he was 
devotedly attached. Hazlitt says: 

The shock Mr. Holcroft received was almost mortal. 
For three days he could not see his own family, and 
nothing but the love he bore that family could possibly 
have prevented him from sinking under his affliction. 
He seldom went out of his house for a whole year 
afterwards, and the impression was never completely 
effaced from his mind. 1 

Possibly the best-known incident in Holcroft's 
life was his trial for treason, in 1794. The exact 
nature of his political opinions we shall consider 
in connection with the novels. For the present 
it is sufficient to say, that Holcroft was too earnest 
and independent a thinker to have remained en- 
tirely orthodox in his convictions. In the literary 
circles of London he came in contact with all 
the newer currents of thought. He became a 
member of the Society for Constitutional infor- 
mation, and frequently attended their meetings; 
but not altogether approving of their proceed- 
ings, he took little part in the debates. The 
views expressed in his published works differ 
somewhat from those held by the majority of the 
members; in any case, they form rather a system 
of social ethics than a political manifesto. But 
when the tide of popular feeling turned against 
France and the Government became alarmed for 

1 Memoirs, vol. ii. f p. 102. 

And the English Novel 55 

its own safety, there was no limit to the spirit of 
persecution. x 

The Constitutional Society had no idea that 
their obscure, semi-metaphysical discussions could 
possibly attract official attention. But rumours 
began to be afloat that the Government intended 
to take action against them. Holcroft was utterly 
amazed. "Surely," he said, "there have been 
practises of which I am totally ignorant, or men 
are running mad." 2 And after the lapse of a 
century, we cannot but feel that his latter suppo- 
sition was entirely correct. Official insanity 
reached its crisis when a warrant was issued naming 
twelve members of the society 3 on the absurd 
charge of High Treason. A rumour of this war- 
rant got abroad, was contradicted, began again, 
and was again contradicted. Holcroft, who was 
on the point of leaving town, changed his plans 
at the first report and remained in London, lest 
he might seem to avoid inquiry. He wrote to 
his daughter with characteristic firmness: 

The charge is so false and absurd it has not once 
made my heart beat. For my own part, I feel no 
enmity against those who endeavour thus to injure me ; 
being persuaded that in this, as in all other instances, 
it is the guilt of ignorance. They think they are doing 

x We have already quoted (in Chapter I.) Hazlitt's vivid 
account of this reign of unreason. 

' Memoirs, vol. ii., p. 153. 

Holcroft, Home Tooke, and Thomas Hardy were the best 
known of these. 

56 The French Revolution 

their duty: I will continue to do mine, to the very 
utmost of my power; and on that will cheerfully rest 
my safety. 1 

Without waiting for an arrest, Holcroft surren- 
dered himself to the Lord Chief Justice, demand- 
ing to know the charge against him; a display 
of dignity and fortitude which considerably em- 
barrassed the authorities, and exposed him to the 
sneers of the venial press. The paragraph in the 
St. James Chronicle was typical : 

Mr. Holcroft, the playwright and performer, pretty 
well known for the democratical sentiments which he 
has industriously scattered through the lighter works 
of literature, such as plays, novels, songs, etc., sur- 
rendered himself on Tuesday at Clerkwell Sessions 
House, requesting to know if he was the person 
against whom the Grand Jury had found a bill for 
High Treason. . . . We do not understand that 
he is in any imminent danger, and suppose from his 
behaviour he has the idea of obtaining the reputation 
of a martyr to liberty at an easy rate. 

On which Hazlitt comments sarcastically : 

What a pleasant kind of government that must be, 
which is so fond of playing at this mock tragedy of 
indictments for High Treason, that the danger arising 
from their prosecution is made a subject of jest and 
buffoonery even by their own creatures. 2 

1 Memoirs, vol. ii., p. 157. ' Ibid., vol. ii., pp. 174, 175. 

And the English Novel 57 

The story of the trials is too well known to 
need repetition. After the acquittal of Thomas 
Hardy and Home Tooke, the rest were dismissed 
without trial; which Holcroft regarded as a grave 
injustice, since, having been publicly accused, he 
wished to be publicly heard in his own defence. 
But after examining the report of the evidence 
against him, one does not wonder that the Govern- 
ment was not anxious to expose its own imbe- 
cility by a public trial. Here is a sample of the 
evidence on which he was indicted : 

Mr. Holcroft talked a great deal about Peace, of his 
being against any violent or coercive means, that were 
usually resorted to against our fellow creatures ; urged 
the more powerful operation of Philosophy and Reason, 
to convince man of his errors; that he would disarm 
his greatest enemy by those means, and oppose his 
fury. Spoke also about Truth being powerful; and 
gave advice to the above effect to the delegates present 
who all seemed to agree, as no person opposed his 
arguments. This conversation lasted better than an 
hour, and we departed. 1 [The witness adds:] Mr. 
Holcroft was a sort of natural Quaker; but did not 
believe in the secret impulses of the Spirit, like the 
Quakers. 1 

Holcroft published the testimony and his de- 
fence immediately upon his acquittal. But if he 
made the Government ridiculous, the Government 
was amply avenged. Hereafter he was branded 

1 Memoirs, vol. ii., pp. 186, 187. 

58 The French Revolution 

everywhere as an "acquitted felon." He was 
an object of suspicion to the authorities at home 
and abroad, so that passports were actually refused 
him, on the charge of being a spy. Most seri- 
ous of all to a professional dramatist, the whole 
force of popular prejudices was turned against his 
plays; so that finally he was forced to publish 
under a friend's name in order to gain a hearing. 
For years he was forced to live abroad because of 
the general feeling against him in England. It 
was only at the close of his life that he returned 
to his own country, where he died, in 1809, sur- 
rounded by his children and the friends of his 
younger days. 

It is pleasant to know of such a life. In all the 
years of struggle against poverty, ill health, and 
misfortune one finds no records that one would 
like to forget. When critics declare that his 
"Frank Henley" and "Hugh Trevor" represent 
an impossible nobility of character, we hesitate, 
remembering the stainless gentleman who drew 
them. All the responsibility of a numerous family 
with the added care of his aged parents, never 
forced him to the mean and petty expediencies so 
common among the literary men who were his 
friends. Coleridge and Godwin thought the world 
owed them a living; and they were not backward 
in asking for it. Holcroft's only remedies for the 
ills of poverty were self-denial and hard work. 
He never begged or borrowed. Looking at the 
long list of his writings, one is amazed at the 

And the English Novel 59 

industry of the man. Malice and persecution 
brought from him a dignified protest, but no 
aftermath of complaining. As he formulated his 
political idealism before the flood-tide of Revolu- 
tionary popularity, so he held it unchanged through 
the long years of the Reaction. When Words- 
worth, Coleridge, Southey, and even Blake had 
recanted, Godwin and Paine had fallen silent, 
and all the world seemed to have forgotten its 
vision of Democracy, Thomas Holcroft kept the 
faith, true knight without fear and without 
reproach. In his diary for 1798 there is a record 
of a friend who asked him "whether the universal 
defection had not made him turn aristocrat?" 

I answered [writes Holcroft], that I supposed my 
principles to be founded in truth, that is, in experience 
and fact : that I continued to believe in the perfectibil- 
ity of man, which the blunders and passions of ignor- 
ance might apparently delay, but could not prevent; 
and that the only change of opinion I had undergone 
was, that political revolutions are not so well cal- 
culated to better man's condition as during a certain 
period I with almost all thinking men in Europe had 
been led to suppose. r 

Holcroft was the author of four novels. Two 
of these, the first and the last, we may pass over 
lightly. The other two 2 contain the full expression 
of Holcroft's Revolutionism. 

1 Memoirs, vol. iii., p. 65. 

*/. e. t Anna St. Ives and Hugh Trevor, which we shall consider 
in their proper chronological order. 

60 The French Revolution 

Alwyn, or The Gentleman Comedian (1780) was 
received with only moderate success, and distinctly 
unfavourable reviews. The plot as a whole is of 
little interest to us. 1 The political theories are 
the same as in the later novels, only not so com- 
pletely worked out. The characters are worth 
comment, however. Holcroft himself appears 
as the friend of the hero, under the name of 
Hilkirk, a young man who betakes himself to 
the stage on being discharged from his position 
as a clerk "for his frequenting spouting clubs and 
billiard rooms": a portrait without vanity, cer- 
tainly. The other interesting character is Hand- 
ford, a sentimental gentleman whose ruling passion 
is the prevention of cruelty to animals. He 
establishes a humane asylum for cats, and finds 
himself frightfully imposed on. He says in 
despair : 

I believe all the cats in Christendom are assembled 
in Oxfordshire. The village where I live has become a 
constant fair. A fellow has set up the Sign of the 
Three Blind Kittens, and has the impudence to tell the 
neighbours that if my whims and my money only 
hold out for one twelve-month, he will not care a fig 
for the king. 8 

This not unkindly satire, Hazlitt conjectures, was 
directed by the author against his friend Ritson's 

1 This novel is summarized by Hazlitt, Memoirs, vol. ii., pp, 2 
to 13. 

* Ibid., vol. ii., p. 10. 

And the English Novel 61 

arguments "on the inhumanity of eating animal 

Holcroft's second novel, Anna St. Ives (1792), 
is the story of two young persons who do some 
quixotic things and say a great many foolish ones, 
bringing down upon themselves a great deal of well- 
deserved ridicule. But somehow they keep their 
idealism while they learn wisdom, and in the end 
win the respect of their keenest opponent. 

The action centres in three figures; Anna St. 
Ives, the daughter of a baronet, a thoughtful girl 
with a capacity for fine enthusiasms; Coke Clifton, 
whom her family intend her to marry; and Frank 
Henley, the son of her father's overseer. As this 
is a novel in letter form, there are several minor 
characters with whom they correspond, but the 
action is simple and there is no sub-plot. 

Frank Henley is a young man with a vigorous 
intellect and a habit of thinking for himself. He 
has reached certain conclusions as to the relative 
values in life, with the result that he takes for the 
vital principle to which all his thought and action 
is referred, not self-interest, but service. Just 
what there was in this to bring down such a storm 
of protest from Holcroft's opponents one is at a 
loss to discover. It is a point of view about life 
which found expression many centuries earlier, 
on a much higher authority than that of Thomas 
Holcroft. But from the tone of contemporary 
criticism one would supose that in Frank Henley 
the author was promulgating a highly original 

62 The French Revolution 

and dangerous doctrine, instead of merely illus- 
trating the practice of a principle that was safely 
embalmed in the creeds of the orthodox. 

Frank Henley's father, a shrewd business man, 
represents what was apparently the more usual 
point of view. Frank says of him: "He despises 
my sense of philanthropy, honour, and that severe 
probity to which no laws extend. He spurns at 
the possibility of preferring the good of society 
to the good of self." 1 

To this basic ideal of a life consecrated to the 
service of society Henley adds certain conclusions 
which he has reached as to the way of greatest 
usefulness. He writes to a friend, with wistful 
whimsicality : 

I half suspect, indeed, that the world is not quite 
what it ought to be. [Then, more seriously], In order 
to perform my duty in the world, I ought to under- 
stand its manners, its inhabitants, and principally its 
laws, with the effects which the different legislation 
of different countries has produced. I believe this to be 
the most useful kind of knowledge. 2 

Ignorance and prejudice are at the bottom of 
all the ills of the world, he believes. " How incon- 
stant are the demands and complaints of ignorance ! 
It wishes to tyrannize, yet complains against 

1 Anna St. Ives, vol. i., p. 27. 

2 Ibid., vol. i., p. 185. Holcroft had, of course, no conception of 
social evolution, and the historical method as we understand it. 
But to break with the past was no part of his intention. 

And the English Novel 63 

tyranny. . . . There is no tyranny but that of 
prejudice." 1 Therefore his strongest efforts must 
always be directed towards the spread of education, 
and of right ways of thinking. But he recognizes 
that forms of government have much to do with 
the progress and happiness of nations. He 

Among the many who have a vague kind of suspi- 
cion that things might be better are mingled a few 
who seem desirous that they should remain as they 
are. These are the rich; who having plundered the 
defenseless, say to the hungry who have no food, 
"Labour for me, and I will return you the tenth of 
your gain. Shed your blood in my behalf, and while 
you are young and robust I will allow you just so 
much as will keep life and soul together. When you 
are old, and worn out, you may rob, hang, rot, or 
starve," yet let us not complain. Men begin to 
reason and think aloud; and these things cannot al- 
ways endure. Let men look around and deny if they 
can that the present wretched system of each provid- 
ing for himself instead of the whole for the whole, 
does not inspire suspicion, fear, and hatred. Well, 
well! another century, and then 

Henley loves Anna St. Ives, and feels that they 
two might find the perfect friendship ; as Holcroft 
says finely, "the friendship of marriage. Surely if 

1 Anna St. Ives, vol. ii., p. 46. 

a Ibid., vol. iv., p. 42. Holcroft's having fixed upon our cen- 
tury as the date for the millennium seems like one of life's little 

64 The French Revolution 

marriage be not friendship according to the best 
and highest sense in which that word is used, mar- 
riage cannot but be something faulty and vicious." T 
Anna is aware of his love; but she hesitates, be- 
cause her world would not consider him her equal. 
Her reasoning here is worth noting as an illus- 
tration of Holcroft's attitude on questions of 
propriety and expediency. He has an excellent 
sense of proportion; he gives these things their 
full value, although he declines to make them the 
centre of his ethical code. Anna reflects : 

My family ana the world are prejudiced and unjust. 
I know it. But where is the remedy? Can we work 
miracles? Will the prejudices vanish at our bidding? 
. . . Though I earnestly desire to reform, I almost as 
earnestly wish not unnecessarily to offend the pre- 
judices of mankind. . . . No arguments, I believe, can 
show me that I have a right to sport with the feelings 
of my father and friends, even when those feelings 
are founded in prejudice. 2 

At this juncture Coke Clifton makes his appear- 
ance. He is a young man of the world, clever, 
fascinating, keen of intellect, and with a strong 
aversion to all forms of cant. He falls in love 
with Anna's beauty and genuine goodness, but 
he has no patience with her solemn priggishness. 
Henley he finds quite intolerable. The letters 
in which Clifton describes these two young dream- 
ers are brilliant bits of satire. We who criticize 

1 Anna St. Ives, vol. i., p. 107. Ibid., vol. ii., p. 156. 

And the English Novel 65 

Holcroft's heroes for their tendency to preach 
need not plume ourselves upon any special dis- 
cernment; Holcroft was perfectly capable of 
criticizing himself with greater discernment than 
his opponents have ever shown. Godwin, having 
neither imagination nor a sense of humour, cari- 
catures his own theories unconsciously. Holcroft 
had both, and some knowledge of the world to 
boot. His faith in the ultimate triumph of social 
idealism was so deep and serene that he could 
afford to laugh at the well-meaning tiresomeness 
of himself and his fellow idealists. Here is a 
sample of Clifton's account of Frank Henley: 

J. cannot deny that the pedagogue sometimes sur- 
prises me with the novelty of his opinions; but they 
are extravagant. The rude pot-companion loquacity 
of the fellow is highly offensive. He is one of your 
levellers. Marry! His superior! Who is he? On 
what proud eminence can he be found? On some 
Welsh mountain, or the peak of Teneriff e ? Certainly 
not in any of the nether regions. Dispute his preroga- 
tive who dare! He derives from Adam; what time 
the world was hail fellow well met ! The savage, the 
wild man of the woods is his true liberty boy; and the 
ourang-outang his first cousin. A lord is a merry 
andrew, a duke a jack-pudding, and a king a tomfool: 
his name is Man ! 

Then, as to property, 'tis a tragic farce; 'tis his 
sovereign pleasure to eat nectarines, grow them who 
will. Another Alexander he ; the world is all his own ! 
Aye, and he will govern it as he best knows how. 


66 The French Revolution 

He will legislate, dictate, dogmatize, for who so in- 

As for arguments, it is but ask, and have: a peck at 
a bidding, and a good double handful over. I own I 
thought I knew something; but no, I must to my 
horn-book. Then for a simile, it is a sacrilege; and 
must be kicked out of the high court of logic! Sar- 
casm too is an ignoramus, and cannot solve a problem 
with a pert puppy who can only flash and bounce. The 
heavy walls of wisdom are not to be battered down 
with such pop-guns and pellets. He will waste you 
wind enough to set up twenty millers, in proving an 
apple is not an egg shell; and that homo is greek for a 
goose. Duns Scotus was a schoolboy to him. x 

Suspecting Anna's partiality for Henley, Clifton 
takes occasion to quarrel with him, challenges him 
to a duel, and when Henley refuses, calls him a 
coward and strikes him. Henley answers quietly : 
"No man can be degraded by another. It must 
be his own act." 2 Soon after, Henley vindicates 
his courage by saving Clifton's life at the risk of 
his own. 

Fortified by the knowledge of former conquests, 
Clifton thinks he need only ask and Anna will be 
his. To his utter surprise, she answers serenely 
that he must wait for her decision until they are 
better acquainted. Clifton, falling into the usual 
rant on such occasions, offers to "do and dare 
anything for her sake." This^ brings a spirited 
reply : 

1 Anna St. Ives, vol. i., p. 116 f. ' Ibid. vol. iii., p. 42. 

And the English Novel 67 

Dare you receive a blow, or suffer yourself falsely to 
be called liar or coward, without seeking revenge, or 
what honour calls satisfaction? Dare you think the 
servant that cleans your shoes is your equal, unless 
not so wise and good a man, and your superior, if 
wiser or better? Dare you suppose mind has no sex, 
and that woman is not by nature the inferior of man ? 
Dare you make it the business of your whole life to 
overturn these prejudices, and to promote among 
mankind the spirit of universal benevolence which 
shall render them all equals, all brothers ? [Seeing his 
amazement she adds somewhat sadly], Your opinions 
and principles are those which the world most highly 
approves and applauds; mine are what it daily calls 
impracticable and absurd. x 

This is perhaps the strangest love scene in all 
eighteenth century fiction. But there is stranger 
yet to follow. Appreciating Clifton's real powers 
of intellect, Anna decides that she will marry him, 
if by so doing she can influence him to a truer 
way of thinking. Whereupon she goes to Henley, 
admits she loves him, then tells him the whole 
situation, asking him to put aside his own love 
for her and help her win his rival to the truth they 
serve ! Henley, after a struggle with his own dis- 
appointment, promises to help her; telling her, 
however, that he thinks her sacrifice a useless and 
mistaken one. 

Henley and Anna do their best to win Clifton 
by argument. He, naturally enough, does not 

1 Anna St. Ives, vol. iii., p. 156 f. 

68 The French Revolution 

enjoy this perpetual sermonizing, and soon be- 
comes disgusted with the idea of marrying Anna. 
But he determines to be revenged upon her for 
his humiliation. For purposes of his own, he 
feigns conversion, and proceeds to carry their 
argument further than they intend. He thinks : 

She starts at no proposition, however extravagant, 
if it do but appear to result from any one of her 
favourite systems, of which she has a good round 
number. Is it not possible to prove marriage a mere 
prejudice? All individual property is evil marriage 
makes woman individual property therefore mar- 
riage is evil Could there be better logic? 1 

Intending to persuade Anna that it is her duty to 
"be a heroine and defy present necessity," Clifton 
entraps her with this argument. He puzzles, 
but cannot convince her. As she writes afterward, 
she "knew there was an answer, a just and irre- 
fragable one, though she could not immediately 
find it." Hearing of this brilliant piece of wisdom 
on Clifton's part, Henley supplies the answer of 
common sense, dismissing the whole matter as 
simple absurdity. 2 

Baffled in this, Clifton resorts to force. He has 
Anna kidnapped and concealed in a country 
house of his from which Henley rescues her. 
Clifton is dangerously wounded, and is almost 

1 Anna St. Ives, vol. v., p. 20 f. William Godwin takes up this 
very argument in all seriousness, two years later. 

* Thereby proving his penetration superior to that of William 
Godwin, who did not know a reductio ad absurdum when he saw it. 

And the English Novel 69 

insane with remorse for the crimes he has at- 
tempted. Anna and Frank visit him, assuring 
him, not of their forgiveness, but that they have 
nothing to forgive. 

Of what have you been guilty ? Why, of ignorance, 
mistakes of the understanding, false views which you 
wanted knowledge enough, truth enough to correct. 
"Exemplary punishment is necessary " so they say 
But no, 'tis exemplary reformation. * 

Anna and Henley are married, of course. The 
book ends, not with a sudden conversion -of Clif- 
ton to the principles of altruism Holcroft is 
far too wise for that but with his acknowledg- 
ment of an unwilling respect for these two extra- 
ordinary young philosophers. He adds, however, 
with a touch of his old spirit : 

These wise people should leave us fools to wrangle, 
be wretched, and cut each others throats as we list, 
without intermeddling; 'tis dangerous. But Truth is 
a zealot; Wisdom will be crying in the streets; and 
Folly meeting her seldom fails to deal her a blow. 

Hazlitt's criticism of this novel is worth noting: 

Of the difficulty of exhibiting the passions under the 
control of virtue, religion, or any other abstract 
principle, let those judge who have studied the 
romances of Richardson. 2 To have made Clarissa 
a natural character with all her studied attention to 

1 Anna St. Ives, vol. vii., p. 250. Ibid. vol. vii., p. 120. 

70 The French Revolution 

prudence, propriety, etc., is the greatest proof of his 
genius. Yet even she is not free from affectation. 
In Sir Charles Grandison, he has completely failed. x 

This is a comparison which we cannot altogether 
admit. Anna's social idealism is heaven-high 
above the prudence of Clarissa as a controlling 
virtue. Moreover, Anna and Frank are much 
less enhaloed by the author than their prototypes 
in Richardson. One feels that this is the criticism 
of the age of Reaction, which worshipped prudence 
and propriety, but was inclined to think that 
after all there was something rather commendable 
in having perfectly undisciplined emotions. 2 

Holcroft's next novel, Hugh Trevor, is much 
less open to the charge of exhibiting virtuous 
abstractions. 3 In fact, Hazlitt's criticism here is 
just the reverse. He has to defend Holcroft from 
the charge of too great realism and satire. 

As a political work [he says] it may be considered 
as a sequel to Anna St. Ives; for as that is intended 
to develop certain general principles by exhibiting 
imaginary characters, so the latter has a tendency to 
enforce the same conclusions by depicting the vices 

1 Hazlitt carries this comparison a step further; Clifton and 
Lovelace are the same being, and are often placed in situations so 
similar that the resemblance must strike the most cursory reader. 
Memoirs of Holcroft, vol. ii., p. 107. 

a An age, for instance, that was shocked by the opinions of 
Shelley, while it revelled in the heroes of Byron. 

J Published 1794 to 1797. 

And the English Novel 71 

and distresses which are generated by the existing 
institutions of society. 1 

The hero is not introduced to us here with prin- 
ciples already formed. We are allowed to watch 
an ambitious, hot-headed youth, with more aspi- 
rations than judgment, while he learns prudence 
through weary years of disillusionment. But 
this novel is in no sense a recantation. The 
social idealism that remains to Hugh Trevor in 
the end is the same as that of Frank Henley. 

Hugh Trevor's childhood is drawn from Hoi- 
croft's own. a But Trevor is adopted by his wealthy 
grandfather and sent to Oxford. He takes the 
university life with exaggerated seriousness ; finally 
falls under the influence of Methodism; is seen 
at a meeting of that sect by the university author- 
ities, and rusticated for a year in consequence. 
The account of Methodism as Holcroft saw it is 
worth quoting. 

The want of zeal in prayer and every part of reli- 
gious duty, the tedious and dull sermons heard in the 
churches, and what Methodists call preaching them- 
selves and not their Saviour, were the frequent topics 
of our animadversion. 

This was a doctrine most aptly calculated to in- 
flame an imagination like mine, which was ardent and 
enthusiastic. Besides, it relieved me from a multitude 

1 Memoirs of Holcroft, vol. ii., p. 134. 

3 Perhaps there is more of autobiography in this novel than 
these early incidents. Hugh Trevor's life is not Holcroft's, but 
the progress of his mental development seems not dissimilar. 

72 The French Revolution 

of labours. For as I proceeded, Thomas Aquinas and 
his subtilizing competitors were thrown by in con- 
tempt. I had learned divinity by inspiration, and 
soon believed myself fit for a reformer. The philoso- 
pher Aristotle with his dialects and sophisms was ex- 
changed for the philosopher Saint Paul, from whom I 
learned that he who had saving faith had everything, 
and he who wanted it was naked of all excellence as a 
new born babe. To these mysteries which all the 
initiated allow are suddenly unfolded, descending like 
lightning by inspiration of the Spirit and illuminating 
the darkened soul, to these mysteries no man was 
ever a more combustible kind of convert than myself. 
I beamed with gospel light. It shone through me. I 
was the beacon of this latter age; a comet sent to 
warn the world. I mean, I was all this in my own 
imagination, which swelled and mounted to the very 
acme of fanaticism. 

But although Trevor refused to recant under 
pressure, he admits afterwards: 

My dereliction of intellect was of short duration, 
my attachment to Methodism daily declining and at 
last changing into something like aversion and horror. * 

During his year of rustication, Trevor goes to 
London as secretary to the Earl of Idford, a young 
lord of the minority party, who says he is "a 
friend to the philosophy of the times, and would 
have every man measured by the standard of 
individual merit." 

1 Hugh Trevor, vol. i., p. 154-! 

And the English Novel 73 

These liberal sentiments [says Holcroft] were de- 
livered on the first visit he received from the leader 
>f the minority. I Anger, self-interest and the desire of 
revenge had induced him to adopt the same political 
principles; anger, self-interest, and. the desire of re- 
venge had induced him to endeavour after the same 
elevation of mind. Esop is dead, but his frog and his 
ox are still to be found. 2 

Holcroft was perfectly aware of the motives 
affecting many of the followers of the new philo- 
sophy. He would have been the first to admit 
that Lucas's satire was not without foundation 
in fact. 3 The Earl of Idford and Lord Marauder 
are close akin. 

Trevor also gets an introduction to a bishop, 
and in a furious fit of orthodoxy, writes a " Defence 
of the Thirty Nine Articles." The bishop invites 
him to a dinner (of which Holcroft gives a highly 
satirical account), 4 and proposes to print this 
polemic under his own name. Trevor replies 
by denouncing the amazed bishop, and rushes 
away, shocked at the discovery that all Church- 
men are not worthy of reverence. s 

1 Probably Fox. * Hugh Trevor. 

3 Cf. discussion of The Infernal Quixote, in Chapter V. of this 

* Holcroft often satirizes the intemperance of his time in the 
matter of eating and drinking. Simple to the point of austerity 
in his own tastes, he had a fastidious disgust for all forms of self- 

* As we have quoted Holcroft's account of Methodism, we 
may also examine his views on orthodoxy, in the person of the 

74 The French Revolution 

Trevor has written in the Earl's name a series 
of political letters, opposing the ministry. At 
about this time the Earl comes to terms with the 
ministry, deserts the minority party, and wishes 
Trevor to change the tone of his letters accordingly. 
Trevor replies indignantly that "when he wrote 
against the minister it was not against the man," 
and that he " cannot hold the pen of prostitution." 
So end all his prospects, and his faith that church- 
men and statesmen are ex officio superior to 
common mortals. 

There is something so winning in the very 
blunders of this hot-headed young idealist that 
one is willing to excuse his melodramatic rant on 
the ground of his extreme youth. But Holcroft 
does not spare him. He comments : 

And yet, when the Earl, had asked me to write 
letters that were supposed by the public the produc- 
tion of his own pen, I had then no such qualms of 
conscience. When deceit was not to favour but to 
counteract my plans, its odious immorality rushed 
upon me. T 

bishop. "He was so sternly orthodox as to hold the slightest 
deviation from Church authority in abhorrence. What he meant 
by Church authority, or what any rational man can mean, it 
might be difficult to define; except that Church authority and 
orthodox opinions are, with each individual, those precise points 
which that individual makes part of his creed. But as, unfor- 
tunately for Church authority, no two individuals ever had or 
ever can have the same creed, Church authority is like a body in 
motion. No man can tell where it rests. " (Hugh Trevor, vol. i., 
P- 285.) 

1 Hugh Trevor, vol. ii., p. 24. 

And the English Novel 75 

There is in London an old schoolmate of Trevor's 
named Turl, who was expelled from the Univer- 
sity for heresy, and is earning a contented liveli- 
hood as an engraver. Trevor rushes to him in 
an agony of rage and disillusionment, and tells 
him his plans for exposing Bishop and Earl in a 
scathing pamphlet. Turl calmly replies, Trevor 
was a fool to expect a lord to be more honourable 
or a bishop more righteous than other men. As 
for exposing them he adds, even if it could be 
done successfully: 

"You will be to blame you may be better em- 
ployed. " 

"What! than in exposing vice?" 

"The employment is petty; and what is worse, it is 
inefficient. Such attacks are apt to deprave both the 
assailant and the assailed. They begin in anger, con- 
tinue in falsehood, and end in fury. I repeat, you 
may be better employed, Mr. Trevor." 1 

Trevor returns to Oxford, but the Earl of Idford 
manages to have him expelled without a degree. 
He learns that the bishop has actually published 
the polemic as his own, without the writer's con- 
sent. Trevor alienates the sympathy he might 
have had in the University at large by his vio- 
lent and incoherent attack on both Bishop and 

Almost penniless, Trevor returns to London and 
devotes himself to writing a pamphlet denouncing 

1 Hugh Trevor, vol. ii., p. 65. 

76 The French Revolution 

Earl, Bishop, and University. Turl again tells 
him he is in the wrong ; that his troubles are more 
than half due to his own ungoverned temper; 
and finally that it is absurd to blame the whole 
structure of society because his own individual 
happiness and ambition have been thwarted. 

There are, indeed, wrongs and injustices in the 
world which men must not pass by in silence. Speak, 
but speak to the world at large, not to insignificant 
individuals: Speak in the tone of a benevolent and 
disinterested heart, not of an inflamed and revengeful 
imagination. Otherwise you endanger yourself and 
injure society. r 

Another friend of Trevor's, Wilmot, after 
wretched years of hack writing at starvation pay 2 
attempts suicide. Turl rescues him from the 
river, and tries to bring him to a truer sense of 
the value of life. This passage is so characteristic 
of Holcroft's philosophy that it is worth quoting 

You demand that I should communicate to you a 
desire of life. Can you have a perception of the 
essential duties you are fitted to perform, and dare 
you think of dying? 

You have been brooding over your own wrongs, 
which your distorted fancy has painted as perhaps the 
most insufferable in the whole circle of existence! 

1 Hugh Trevor, vol. ii., p. 172. 

2 Holcroft describes this very vividly. He knew it from ex- 

And the English Novel 77 

How can you be so blind? Look at the mass of evil 
by which you are surrounded! What is its origin? 
Ignorance. Ignorance is the source of all evil: and 
there is one species of ignorance to which you and 
men like you have been egregiously subject; ignorance 
of the true mode of exercising your rare faculties; 
ignorance of their unbounded power of enjoyment. 

You have been persuaded that this power was 
destroyed by the ridiculous distinction of rich and 
poor. Oh mad mad world! Monstrous absurdity! 
Incomprehensible blindness! Look at the rich! In 
what are they happy? In what do they excel the 
poor? Not in their greater store of wealth; which is 
but a source of vice, disease and death ; but in a little 
superiority of knowledge, a trifling advance towards 
truth. How may this advantage be made general? 
Not by the indulgence of the desires you have fostered 
but by retrenching those false wants that you panted 
to gratify; and thus giving leisure to the poor, or 
rather, to all mankind, to make the acquirement of 
knowledge the grand business of life. 

Holcroft is quite aware of his opponents' answer 
to such an ideal, and supplies it: "The self-denial 
you require is not in the nature of man." To 
which Turl gives his answer: "The nature of man 
is senseless jargon. Man is that which he is made 
by the occurrences to which he is subjected." 1 

Trevor becomes acquainted with an eccentric 
philanthropist, Mr. Evelyn, who, struck by a 
certain honesty of intention under all Trevor's 

1 Hugh Trevor, voL ii., 280 . 

78 The French Revolution 

mistakes, offers to help him to enter some pro- 
fession where he can be of real service to society. 
The passage in which Mr. Evelyn explains his 
views of the times is more than any other passage, 
perhaps, an answer to the charge that Holcroft 
countenanced the violent factions of his time. 

It is the moral system of the time [he says], that 
wants reforming. This cannot be suddenly produced, 
nor by the effort of any individual; but it may be 
progressive, and every individual may contribute: 
though some more powerfully than others. The rich, 
in proportion as they shall understand their power and 
their duties, may become peculiarly instrumental; for 
poverty, by being subjected to continual labour, is 
necessarily ignorant ; and it is well known how danger- 
ous it is for ignorance to turn reformer. 

Let the rich therefore awake. They are not, as 
they have long been taught to suppose themselves, 
placed beyond the censure of the multitude. It is 
found that the multitude can think, and have dis- 
covered that the use that the wealthy often make of 
what they call their own is unjust, tyrannous, and 
destructive. The spirit of inquiry is abroad. But 
when they expect to promote peace and order by irri- 
tating each other against this or that class of men, 
however mistaken those men may be, and by dis- 
seminating a mutual spirit of acrimony between 
themselves and their opponents, they act like mad- 
men; and if they do not grow calm, forgiving, and 
kind, the increasing fury of the mad many will over- 
take them. * 

1 Hugh Trevor, vol. iv., p. 93 f. 

And the English Novel 79 

Holcroft knew, as few literary men did, what 
forces were stirring below the surface of the social 
order. He calls upon the so-called upper classes 
to set their own house in order, lest a worse thing 
befall them. His faith in the saving power of 
social idealism was not in spite of his knowledge 
of the world, but because of it. 

Hugh Trevor, having reluctantly consented to 
accept financial aid from Mr. Evelyn for a time, 
the question of a profession for him is discussed. 
The law is decided upon, as giving rare opportu- 
nities for serving society by uprightness. Trevor 
accordingly goes to London to read law. Gradu- 
ally he becomes convinced that, however noble 
and necessary law may be in theory, in practice 
it is a mass of chicanery. Very regretfully he 
tells Mr. Evelyn that for him the way of service 
does not lie in the practice of law. 

Mr. Evelyn has a relative, Sir Barnard, who 
has the disposal of two seats in Parliament. One 
of these he occupies himself, and the other he gives 
to some young man who will vote as he does, i. e., 
in opposition to the ministry. Trevor is, of course, 
of the minority party from conviction; so he 
accepts Sir Barnard's offer of a seat and is duly 
elected. During the pre-election canvassing he 
finds himself forced into many practices of which 
he cannot approve. There are no money bribes; 
but he is expected to make valuable presents to the 
voters. He develops a considerable gift of oratory, 
however, and Sir Barnard is delighted with him. 

8o The French Revolution 

In London, the young M.P. attends a banquet 
where he meets his old enemies, the Earl of Idford 
and the Bishop. Idford is worn with dissipation, 
and the Bishop is aged by his life of self-indulgence 
and petty intrigues for power. As Trevor looks 
at them all traces of his old hatred vanish and 
give place to a deep sadness that these men 
should have so missed the durable satisfactions 
in life. 

Trevor's career in Parliament comes to an ab- 
rupt end. Sir Barnard had opposed the ministry 
only from pique at being refused a baronetcy. 
This being granted him he suddenly changes sides, 
and on Trevor's indignant refusal to follow him, 
a violent quarrel ensues. Unfortunately, Trevor's 
patron, Mr. Evelyn, is dead; Sir Barnard has in- 
herited his estate. Trevor had insisted on giving 
a note for all the money he received. This note 
comes into the hands of Sir Barnard, who uses 
it to have Trevor imprisoned for debt. Trevor 
might plead exemption from arrest, as an M.P., 
but he feels bound in honour to resign as soon as 
he can no longer vote as Sir Barnard wishes. 

Trevor accepts imprisonment quietly. But 
help comes from unexpected quarters. A man 
who has cheated him out of a large sum of money, 
compelled to an unwilling respect for his principles, 
makes restitution. Soon after, a legacy makes 
Trevor comparatively wealthy, and he marries 
Olivia, one of the most charming of Revolutionary 
heroines, whose lifelong love for him has woven 

And the English Novel 81 

a thread of romance through this somewhat over- 
serious novel. 

By way of criticism we can perhaps do no better 
than to give Holcroft's own comment on a French 
review of the book. x 

Read a criticism in La Decade Philosophigue on a 
French translation of Hugh Trevor, containing great 
praise and some pointed blame. The chief articles of 
the latter are, that the plan proposed is incomplete, 
(true), that some of the conversations are too long 
(true), that my satire on professions is unfounded 
(false), that I have not put my morality sufficiently 
into action (false again, the law part excepted), that 
probability is not quite enough regarded (perhaps not) , 
and that, to make Trevor so suddenly a wealthy man 
is entirely in the novel style (true; blamable). The 
following are the concluding remarks: "Malgre ces 
defauts qu'on peut reprocher, comme nous 1'avons vu, 
beaucoup de romans, celui-ci merite assurement 
d'etre distingue" par la justesse des observations, la 
verite des tableaux et des caract&res, le naturel du 
dialogue, la peinture exacte des mceurs et des ridicules. 
En un mot, c'est 1'ouvrage d'un homme de talent, 
d'un observateur habile et exercice, d'un ami des 
mceurs et de la vertu; disons encore d'un e'criyain 
patriote, hardi de"fenseur des droits sacre"s du peuple, 
et de telles productions sont toujours faites pour 6tre 
bien accueillies. " 

Holcroft had to go outside of his own country 
for a just estimate of his work. The praise of 

1 Memoirs, vol. iii., pp. 134 f. 

82 The French Revolution 

this French critic is well deserved. We are con- 
cerned here with novels as an expression of ideas 
rather than from the standpoint of literary excel- 
lence; but it may not be amiss to observe that of 
all the novels here considered those of Holcroft 
are the only ones whose obscurity is in any way to 
be regretted. 

For the last of his novels, The Memoirs of Brian 
Perdue (1805), Holcroft has chosen the favourite 
theme of humanitarian radicals: the evils of the 
English penal system. In this he shows himself 
truly a representative Revolutionist, for no other 
form of social injustice so appealed to imaginations 
quickened by the new ideas. From Caleb Williams 
to The Prisoner of Chilian there was a continuous 
stream of literature inspired by the wrongs of 
the criminal and the convict. It might almost 
be said that the injustice and cruelty of social 
punishment is a corollary of the Virtuous Outlaw, 
dear to Sentimentalists. We shall encounter both 
themes frequently in the fiction under discussion. 

Holcroft's novel directed against frequent and 
indiscriminate capital punishment shows his char- 
acteristic moderation. The subject is one on 
which he as an "acquitted felon" was peculiarly 
entitled to a hearing. The true source of Brian 
Perdue is not the Sentimentalists' Virtuous Outlaw, 
but Holcroft's own experience when he was on 
trial for his life eleven years before. 

The purpose and method in Brian Perdue are 
best stated in the author's own words: 

And the English Novel 83 

Whenever I have undertaken to write a novel I have 
proposed to myself a specific moral purpose. This 
purpose, in the present work [is], to induce all 
humane and thinking men, such as legislators ought to 
be and often are, to consider the general and adventi- 
tious value of human life, and the moral tendency of 
penal laws. 

To exemplify this doctrine it was necessary that 
the hero of the fable should offend those laws, that 
his life should be in jeopardy, and that he should 
possess not only a strong leaven of virtue, but high 
powers of mind, such as to induce the heart to shrink 
at the recollection that such a man might have been 
legally put to death. 1 

There is little in the development of this theme 
that merits especial attention. There are signi- 
ficant attacks upon the ruthless and unscrupulous 
methods of the rising capitalist class; there are 
some characteristic pleas for tolerance, for for- 
bearance in dealing with those whose opinions 
seem to us mistaken ; for the rest, Holcroft reverts 
in style to his eighteenth-century models. He 
digresses in passages of Addisonian reflection, 
interlarded sometimes with Sterne-like whimsi- 
calities. Now and again he indulges in conscious 
neo-classical "beauties," or attempts somewhat 
laboured satire after the manner of Pope. 

The reason is not far to seek. Holcroft is 
writing as an old man, with a meditative detach- 
ment impossible in the stirring days that inspired 

1 Holcroft, Brian Perdue, Preface, p. i. 

84 The French Revolution 

his earlier novels. Freed from youthful urgency 
in defence of a losing cause, he becomes more of 
a conscious artist in his attitude. Unfortunately 
for Brian Perdue, it is not Holcroft's mannered 
and mediocre artistry that appeals to us now, but 
the sincere and gentle personality of the author 

We have called Holcroft a representative 
Revolutionist. But it will be observed how sel- 
dom in his works we find specific mention of the 
Revolutionary philosophies. Once, in Anna St. 
Ives, the hero is seen reading the Nouvelle Helo'ise; 
he half apologizes for it, adding, "I think I know 
what were the author's mistakes." 1 Again, we 
have Holcroft's own comment on Political Justice, 
that : "The book was written with good intentions, 
but to be sure nothing could be so foolish." 2 
These are the only direct evidences we have of 
his Revolutionary reading. 

This does not mean of course, that Holcroft 
was not influenced by the new philosophies. His 
intimate association with the Revolutionists in 
London literary circles and his connection with 
the Society for Constitutional Information would 
insure his being acquainted with all the radical 
ideas afloat, at second hand, if not from his own 

What it may indicate is, that Holcroft's social 
idealism was less associated in his mind with 

1 Anna St. Ives, vol. iv., p. 154. 

Paul, William Godwin, vol. i., p. 116. 

And the English Novel 85 

metaphysical conceptions of Reason and Justice 
or with the political crisis in a neighbouring coun- 
try than with his intimate knowledge of the social 
conditions in his own. For Holcroft knew the 
life of his time at first hand, whatever may have 
been the case with its philosophies. The profes- 
sion of actor-dramatist has shown itself a good 
school of observation since the days of the Mer- 
maid Tavern. And probably no other writer 
among the Revolutionists knew from personal 
experience so many layers of society; from the 
life of a stable boy to the choicest literary circles 
of London, with a trial for High Treason thrown 

Holcroft's Revolutionism, then, may be taken 
as representative, not alone of a small group of 
closet-philosophers, but of the more vitalizing 
currents of social idealism which had their source 
in the social unrests of the time. 



AMONG our philosophical novelists the second 
in order of time (and, to my mind, also in 
order of importance), is William Godwin. As we 
have already observed, there has been a decided 
tendency, especially among critics somewhat 
hostile to political idealism, to regard him as the 
central figure of the entire movement; an inter- 
pretation which greatly simplifies the task of dis- 
missing the Revolutionists as a group of amiable 
fanatics. If, therefore, the present discussion 
seem to minimize his originality and underestimate 
his influence, there will be found no lack of com- 
mentators who do him justice. 

William Godwin 1 was the son of a dissenting 
minister, of Cambridgeshire. The account God- 
win gives of his father is, as Paul says, "amusing 
and characteristic." 2 "Aiming at the most scru- 
pulous fairness he succeeds only in giving a very 
distinct impression that he had but little love for 

1 William Godwin, born 1756, died 1836. 
a Paul, William Godwin, vol. i., p. 7. 

The English Novel 87 

his father and no very high opinion of his mental 
powers." I Godwin's early reading consisted prin- 
cipally of books of sermons, the Pilgrim's Progress, 
and the Pious Deaths of many Godly Children. 
In this "hotbed of forced piety" he grew up a 
precocious, self-conscious child, whose most char- 
acteristic features were, as he says himself, "reli- 
gion and the love of distinction." 2 

Godwin's schooling was regular, and the in- 
struction probably somewhat above the average; 
but not of a sort to counteract his unwholesome 
childhood. His principal teacher, by whom he 
was greatly influenced, was, as he tells us, "a dis- 
ciple of the supra-Calvinistic opinions of Robert 
Sandeman." 3 In consequence, we hear later of 
the boy Godwin being rejected from Homerton 
Academy on the suspicion of Sandemanian heresy. 
In 1773 he entered Hoxton College. We have his 
own account of his interests during the five years 
he spent there : 

During my academical life, and from this time 
forward, I was indefatigable in my search after truth. 
I read all the authors of greatest repute for and against 
the Trinity, original sin, and the most disputed doc- 
trines; but I was not yet of an understanding sufficient- 
ly ripe for impartial discussion, and all my inquiries 

1 Paul adds a significant passage from Godwin's account of his 
mother: "After her husband's death her character became con- 
siderably changed; she surrendered herself to the visionary hopes 
and tormenting fears of the methodistical sect. " 

1 Paul, Godwin, vol. i., p. 9. 3 Ibid., vol. i., p. 13. 

88 The French Revolution 

terminated in Calvinism. I was famous in our college 
for calm and impassionate discussion. For one whole 
summer I rose at five and went to bed at midnight, 
that I might have sufficient time for theology and 
metaphysics. I formed during this period from 
reading on all sides a creed upon materialism and 
immaterialism, liberty and necessity, in which no 
subsequent improvement of my understanding has 
been able to produce any variation. 1 

Soon after this began Godwin's friendship with 
Joseph Fawcett, another young dissenting minister, 
"one of whose favourite topics was a declamation 
against the domestic affections, a principle which 
admirably coincided with the dogmas of Jonathan 
Edwards, whose works I had read a short time 
before." 2 It will be remembered that Godwin 
ranks Joseph Fawcett first among the four oral 
instructors to whom he acknowledges particular 
indebtedness; the others being Holcroft, George 
Dyson, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. 

After a few not altogether successful years as 
a dissenting minister and tutor, Godwin went to 
London and became a political writer for the 
liberal side, contributing regularly to the official 
organs of Fox and Sheridan. Of the progress 
of his opinions during these years he has, as 
usual, left us a careful record. He was always 
deeply interested in the processes of his own 

1 Paul, Godwin, vol. i., p. 15. ' Ibid. vol. i., p. 17. 

And the English Novel 89 

In 1782 I believed in the doctrine of Calvin The 
Systeme de la Nature, read about the beginning of that 
year, changed my opinions and made me a Deist. I 
afterwards veered to Socinianism, in which I was 
confirmed by Priestley's Institutes, in the beginning of 
1783. I remember having entertained doubts in 1 785 , 
when I corresponded with Priestley. But I was not a 
complete unbeliever until I787. 1 

Godwin's life thenceforward was that of the 
typical London literary man of the period. He 
attended the Constitutional and Revolutionary 
societies, was intimate with Holcroft, Coleridge, 
and Lamb, and acquainted with the rest of the 
Revolutionary circle. There is hardly a name of 
literary, philosophical, or theatrical interest that 
does not appear in his diary. 

The publication of Political Justice (1793) 
raised Godwin at once to a position of recognized 
eminence among the radical thinkers of the time. 
We shall see (in the next chapter) that the literary 
opponents of Revolutionism seized upon Political 
Justice as embodying the very essence of the radical 
heresies, the accepted creed of democratic opinion. 
But it will be observed that practical statesmen 
saw more danger in Paine's popular discussions, 
and Holcroft's gentle appeals to an awakening 

1 Paul, Godwin, vol. i., p. 26. "Unbeliever" is not to be taken 
in an extreme sense here. Godwin later states that he "finds the 
idea of God so easy, obvious, and irresistible as instantly to 
convert mystery into reason and contradictions into certainty." 
As a systematic metaphysician, Godwin never could tolerate any 
loose ends in his universe. 

9 The French Revolution 

social sense, than in all the metaphysical subtleties 
of Godwin. It was not pure chance that Holcroft 
was brought to trial while Godwin escaped arrest. T 
As a matter of fact, it is a mistake to suppose that 
Political Justice was at any time accepted by the 
Revolutionists themselves as the true and orthodox 
presentation of their philosophy. Ample proof 
of this is afforded by the opinions Godwin quotes 
in his journal (for March 23, 1793) : 

Dr. Priestley says my book contains a vast extent 
of ability Monarchy and Aristocracy, to be sure, 
were never so painted before he admits all my 
principles, but cannot follow them into all my con- 
clusions Home Tooke tells me my book is a bad 
book, and will do a great deal of harm Holcroft had 
previously informed me, that he said the book was 
written with good intentions, but to be sure nothing 
could be so foolish. 2 

The latter part of Godwin's life need not detain 
us. In 1797 he married Mary Wollstonecraft. 3 
Within the year she died, leaving two children 
.under his care. By this time Godwin's views on 
jthe political injustice of marriage were completely 

1 Paul, Godwin, vol. i., p. 80. Political Justice escaped prose- 
cution because of the expensive form in which it was published. 
Pitt is said to have observed, when the question was debated in 
the Privy Council, that "a three guinea book could never do 
much harm among those who had not three shillings to spare. " 
The wily Pitt was perfectly aware of the distinction between 
the philosophy of the study and the propaganda of social unrest. 

1 Paul, Godwin, vol. i., p. 116. 

J Cf. Chapter VII., Section 2, of this book. 

And the English Novel 91 

forgotten; he seems to have proposed to half the 
literary women of his acquaintance before he was 
finally married by a scheming widow with two 
children of her own. A son, William Godwin, 
junior, was soon added to his responsibilities. 
From this time on, the diary and letters form an 
ungracious record of financial and domestic diffi- 
culties, shabby expediencies, querulous complaints, 
squabbles with his friends, fading ideals, and in- 
creasing literary obscurity. Not Godwin but the 
young Shelley was to be the Light-bearer of political 
idealism during the dreary decades of the Reaction. 
Such, so far as it need concern us, was the life 
of William Godwin. A greater contrast to that 
of his friend Holcroft could hardly be imagined. 
All his occupations, as student, preacher, tutor, 
tended to restrict his experience of life and foster 
his natural tendency to introspection. Sur- 
rounded from childhood by an atmosphere of 
somewhat fussy piety, schooled in metaphysical 
and theological hairsplitting, there is small wonder 
that such natural common sense and judgment 
as he may have had were reduced to a minimum. 
The traits which he recognized in himself as a 
child "religion and a desire for distinction," 
remained the dominant characteristics of the man. 
His "religion" (by which he probably meant his 
theological bent; his writings show little trace of 
any genuine religious sense), appears in the meta- 
physics of Political Justice. The "desire for 
distinction" true mark of the egoist became an 

9 2 The French Revolution 

introspective self-consciousness that intensified 
his extreme individualistic philosophy. It is 
this latter quality that appears most strongly in 
his novels. 

The novels of William Godwin which we shall 
consider are six in number. T The first in time, in 
merit, and in importance is Caleb Williams. This 
was published in the year following Political 
Justice, when the author, as he himself tells us, 
was still fully in the spirit of that work. The 
preface announces it as a novel with a purpose : 

It was proposed in the invention of the following 
work, to comprehend, as far as the progressive nature 
of a single story would allow, a general review of the 
modes of domestic and unrecorded despotism by 
which man becomes the destroyer of man. If the 
author shall have taught a valuable lesson, without 
subtracting from the interest and passion by which a 
performance of this sort ought to be characterized, 
he will have reason to congratulate himself on the 
vehicle he has chosen. 2 

1 Caleb Williams, or Things as They Are (1794); St. Leon 
(1799); Fleet-wood, or The New Man of Feeling (1805); Mande- 
ville (1817); Cloudesley (1830); and Deloraine (1833). Godwin 
was also the author of a few earlier romances, but they were little 
known even in his own time. Paul, his biographer, dismisses 
them with a word, and Meyer omits them altogether from the 
very comprehensive bibliography appended to his thesis. The 
plots of two of them are outlined in Fargeau's Revue des Romans, 
vol. i., pp. 284, 285. But they have little significance for our 

' Caleb Williams (Frederick Warne ed., not dated), p. I. 

And the English Novel 93 

The first line strikes a keynote: "My life has 
for several years been a theatre of calamity. I 
have been a mark for ... etc." Before we 
leave Godwin's novels we shall be very familiar 
with that mode of introduction. This particular 
Jeremiad might serve to begin any one of the others 
equally well. Caleb Williams is of humble birth 
(a rather unusual circumstance, for our republican 
friend Godwin likes to write chiefly about people 
of wealth and title) , and has a Rousseauistic educa- 
tion, "free from the usual sources of depravity." 
He becomes secretary to a Mr. Falkland. Here 
ensues a characteristic description of a recluse. 
Williams's curiosity being aroused concerning his 
employer, a friend obliges him with a hundred 
pages or so of information. Falkland was, it 
seems, a young man of great talents and liberal 
culture (no "child of nature" when we come to 
the real hero, observe). He outshines a boorish 
neighbour, Tyrrel, thereby arousing in him implac- 
able hatred. Falkland is warned against Tyrrel 
by a dying friend, Clare, supposedly a portrait 
of Godwin's friend Fawcett, but he is unable to 
avoid continual entanglements with him, culmin- 
ating in a public insult. Almost immediately 
afterwards Tyrrel is assassinated. Two of his 
tenants are accused and hanged. Falkland is 
completely cleared but lives a recluse ever after, 
nursing his wounded honour. Here ends Collins's 
account. Caleb Williams promptly suspects that 
Falkland's trouble is a guilty conscience. His 

94 The French Revolution 

amateur detective activities culminate when Falk- 
land catches him trying to investigate a mysteri- 
ous chest. What the chest contained the author 
takes no trouble to explain, although it seemed 
important enough to Mr. Colman to furnish the 
title to the play he based on this story. 1 Like 
the writers of Gothic romance, Godwin seems to 
think it enough to concoct a riddle; he owes no 
answer to his readers. But at all events, Falk- 
land suddenly changes his policy, confesses to 
Williams, and warns him of the consequences of 
his curiosity. Falkland's master passion is a 
desire for the world's approbation. He will go 
to any lengths to preserve his good name, and he 
proposes to keep Williams in his power hence- 
forth. After a time, Williams grows nervous and 
tries to quit Falkland's service. Then we come to 
the point of the story. Williams discovers that 
the laws are completely at the service of the power- 
ful, and that the very machinery of justice can 
be wrested to Falkland's purposes. Falkland 
accuses him of theft. Williams 's protestations 
of innocence are worthless against a man of 
Falkland's position. He is imprisoned pending 

This gives Godwin an opportunity for describ- 
ing the English penal system, and he makes the 
most of it. Here, to my mind, is one of the rare 
instances in which Godwin's eloquence rings true. 

1 George Colman the Younger, The Iron Chest, cf. Chapter IX., 
Section 2, of this book. 

And the English Novel 95 

Usually, as we shall see hereafter, he is interested 
in emotion for its own sake. He taxes himself 
to invent situations that may give occasion for 
it. Consequently his elaborate tirades seem to 
us utterly insincere and wearisome. Here he is 
talking of actual conditions. He writes as a 
humane and intelligent observer. And here, 
without apparent effort, he attains to real power. 
The philosopher and the novelist are forgotten for 
the time; the man Godwin writes simply and 
understandingly of the lives of men in prison. 
He shows us the squalid room, the "prison dirt 
that speaks sadness to the heart," the prisoners, 
innocent and guilty, condemned and untried, 
herded together, the young prisoners learning 
their trade from old offenders, the noisy appear- 
ance of mirth with ever-present fear beneath, the 
horror of the slow, monotonous days in lonely 
cells, and the bitterness that enters into the soul 
of a man and makes him indeed an enemy of the 
society that has so fearfully wronged him. Behind 
the clear and forceful words the moral earnestness 
of the writer shows plainly. The facts he writes 
of, of which he has not told the half, have been 
improved since his day. But when he speaks out 
against the system he carries us with him not by 
force of logic but by the great spirit of humani- 
tarianism which belongs to all times. 

" Thank God," exclaims the Englishman, "we have 
no Bastile! Thank God, with us no man can be pun- 

9 6 The French Revolution 

ished without a crime ! ' ' Unthinking wretch ! Is that a 
country of liberty, where thousands languish in dun- 
geons and fetters? Go, go, ignorant fool! and visit 
the scenes of our prisons ! witness their unwholesome- 
ness, their filth, the tyranny of their governors, the 
misery of their inmates! After that, show me the 
man shameless enough to triumph, and say, England 
has no B as tile ! . . . I have felt the iron of slavery grat- 
ing upon my soul. I looked round upon my walls and 
forward upon the premature death I had too much 
reason to expect; and I said, "This is society. This is 
the object, the distribution of justice, which is the 
end of human reason. For this sages have toiled, and 
midnight oil has been wasted. This!" 1 

Williams escapes from prison, and after various 
adventures in eluding a relentless pursuit, falls 
in with a band of thieves led by a philosophic and 
loquacious person named Raymond. The phil- 
anthropic brigand, a familiar figure in literature 
ever since the days of Robin Hood, was an 
especial favourite with the Romanticists. It is 
worth remarking that Schiller's Die Rauber had 
been translated into English in 1792, just two 
years before the publication of Caleb Williams. 
It may also be remembered that notes for a treat- 
ment of Eugene Aram in that character were 
found among Godwin's papers. 3 Raymond pro- 
tects Williams, recognizing in him a victim of 
tyranny. But Godwin's treatment of the brigand 
is only half sympathetic. He had no notion of 

1 Caleb Williams, p. 80. 3 Paul, Godwin, vol. ii., p. 305. 

And the English Novel 97 

changing society by isolated individual rebellions, 
and he believes in an appeal to reason rather than 

In one of the brigands Williams makes an 
enemy who adds an element of personal animosity 
to the powers of the law in tracking him down. 
After a prolonged chase, Williams suddenly turns 
the tables. He boldly accuses Falkland of mur- 
der, and they are brought face to face before a 
court. There the unexpected happens. Wil- 
liams's purpose fails on seeing how broken Falk- 
land is, and he declares himself a miserable wretch. 
Whereupon Falkland confesses his crime, clears 
Williams, and dismisses him, not to live happily 
ever after, but to be a prey to remorse. 

Such is the story of Caleb Williams, and such, 
too, is the measure of Godwin as a novelist. He 
never equalled his first attempt. Most of his 
later novels are here in germ; situations, ideas, and 
characters repeat themselves again and again. 
He searches laboriously for original plots and 
explains conscientiously in his prefaces. For his 
was not a facile vein. 

Caleb Williams had an immediate success, 
arousing a storm of conflicting criticism. It was 
recognized as one of the significant novels of the 
time. It appeared almost immediately in French 
and German translations. But there were some 
dissenting voices. Godwin's friend James Mar- 
shall declares "the incidents ill chosen, the 
characters unnatural, distorted, everything on 

98 The French Revolution 

stilts, the whole uninteresting." 1 Mrs. Inchbald, 
another intimate friend, herself a novelist, finds 
it sublimely horrible, captivatingly frightful." 2 
Hazlitt (On English Novelists) is more discrimi- 

There is little knowledge of the world [he says], 
little variety, neither an eye for the picturesque nor a 
talent for the humorous in Caleb Williams; but you 
cannot doubt for a moment of the originality of the 
work and the force of the conception. The impression 
made upon the reader is the exact measure of the 
author's genius. 3 

Later commentators are apt to be still more 
cautious. De Quincey, reviewing Gilfillan's pane- 
gyrics on the book, says: "Other men of talent 
have raised Caleb Williams to a station among the 
first rank of novels, while others, amongst whom 
I am compelled to class myself, see in it no merit 
of any kind." 4 

Finally, Sir Leslie Stephen voices the criticism 
of our own time: 

Caleb Williams can still be read without the pressure 
of a sense of duty. It has lived tho' in comparative 
obscurity for over a century and must have had 
some of the seeds of life. Mysterious crimes are always 

1 Paul, Godwin, vol. ii., p. 90. 2 Ibid., vol. i., p. 139. 

3 Hazlitt, Collected Works (1902), vol. viii., p. 130. 
* De Quincey, Biographical Essays (Fireside ed.), vol. vi., p. 

And the English Novel 99 

interesting. But given the situation, and shutting 
our eyes to impossibilities Godwin shows the kind of 
power manifested by Political Justice. * 

Pressure of public interest aroused by Caleb 
Williams, to some extent forced Godwin to continue 
his career as a novelist. There is a certain note 
of hesitancy in the preface to St. Leon, however, 
that suggests that he dimly felt his own limitations. 

I was solicited to try my hand again in a work of 
fiction. I hesitated long. I despaired of finding a 
topic again so rich of interest and passion. At length, 
after having passed some years in diffidence and irreso- 
lution, I ventured on the task. It struck me that if I 
could "mix human feelings and passions with in- 
credible situations," I might thus attain a sort of 
novelty that would conciliate the patience, at least, of 
some of the severest judges. 2 

The "incredible situation" he has hit upon is 
nothing less than the possession of the Philoso- 
pher's Stone and the Elixir of Life. It is only fair to 
observe, however, that the subject was in God- 
win's time neither so remote from public interest 
nor so hackneyed as it would be to-day. In the 
second half of the eighteenth century the "Brother- 
hood of the Rosy Cross" had been revived, and 
professed to have the Stone and Elixir in its pos- 
session. The exploits of Count Cagliostro who 
gave himself out as their agent were common talk 

1 Leslie Stephen, Studies of a Biographer, vol. iii., p. 121. 
1 St. Leon, vol. i., p. 2. 

ioo The French Revolution 

within the memory of Godwin. Further, Godwin 
was the first of his contemporaries to treat the 
subject, which had enough life in it to furnish 
material later for Shelley's St. Irvine and Bulwer's 
Zanoni, Strange Story, and a host of others. 

Godwin's treatment is, briefly, as follows: 
Count St. Leon is a youth of great promise. He 
conducts himself with gallantry in battle, takes 
a picturesque part at the Field of Cloth of Gold, 
and proves himself, in short, quite the proper 
hero for a novel. After a brief whirl of dissipa- 
tion also quite the proper thing for a hero he 
reforms and marries Marguerite de Damville, 
supposedly intended for a portrait of Mary 
Wollstonecraft. Really she is somewhat more 
lifelike than most of the "exemplary females" 
who serve as the pegs upon which Godwin hangs 
his love scenes. The ensuing period of domestic 
bliss is broken up when St. Leon goes to Paris to 
put his son in a school (shades of Emile! what 
heresy! Could he not afford a tutor?) and inci- 
dentally loses all his fortune at cards. Marguerite 
arrives at the critical moment to wind up her 
husband's affairs for him while he indulges in a 
fit of insanity. The couple moralize exhaustively 
on the compensations of poverty (Godwin had 
tried it too often himself to have any delusions 
as to its advantages), and betake themselves 
to Switzerland, beloved of Romanticists for its 
scenery and of Republicans for its government. 
Here they settle down quite resignedly until their 

And the English Novel 101 

property is destroyed by a storm. Thereupon 
they are forcibly driven away by the inhabitants. 
Just why is not clear; but mark the tyranny of 
even a republican government. They find an- 
other home where they enjoy seven years of do- 
mestic happiness. Godwin really does these little 
Swiss Family Robinson scenes very well. His 
own happy married life had awakened his latent 
domesticity. He was genuinely fond of child- 
ren; no man who was not could have written 
the preface to Baldwin's Fables. 

To this model family comes a mysterious stranger 
who imparts to St. Leon the secret of eternal 
youth and unlimited wealth. He insists that St. 
Leon must not reveal the process even to his 
wife. St. Leon perceives that this will mean the 
end of mutual confidence. Again, the reason is 
not clear; but the circumstance furnishes oppor- 
tunity for extended introspective moralizing. 

Calamity after calamity follows, because St. 
Leon seems utterly unable to find a plausible 
excuse for having money. One becomes exasper- 
ated at his inability to construct a good lie. His 
son leaves him, his wife dies of grief, he is pursued 
from place to place by the fury of mobs. Finally 
he settles his daughters on his old estate and starts 
out alone, a Byronic hero without the fascination 
of Byron. 

He falls into the hands of the Inquisition, es- 
capes, rejuvenates himself, and sets methodically 
about his favourite project of benefiting mankind. 

102 The French Revolution 

He decides to finance a famine-stricken Hungarian 
province. Here follow some very sound economic 
reflections on gold actual versus wealth; did ever 
alchemist invoke such laws before! It really 
begins to look as though St. Leon were going to 
do something interesting at last. But like all 
Godwin's heroes he is obsessed by the need of 
a confidential friend. The man he hits upon, 
Bethlem Gabor, is one whose wrongs have made 
him an enemy of mankind. Gabor finds St. Leon 
rather tiresomely priggish (we cannot blame him) 
and imprisons him. After another long interlude of 
moralizing St. Leon is freed by his son. This son he 
really does manage to benefit by giving a dowry to 
his sweetheart, Pandora, another "beauteous fe- 
male." Here the book ends ; for no particular rea- 
son. But we are too much relieved to care for that. 
This novel also was a success, although not so 
decidedly as the first. Godwin's friend Holcroft 
writes to him : 

You have repeated to me times innumerable the 
necessity of keeping characters in action and never 
suffering them to sermonize, yet of this fault St. Leon is 
particularly found guilty by all whom I have heard 
speak of the work . . . yet men must have arrived at 
an uncommon degree of wisdom when St. Leon shall 
be no longer read. 1 

I think we are inclined to agree with the first part 
of Holcroft's criticism at least, although modesty 
1 Paul, Godwin, vol. ii., p. 25. 

And the English Novel 103 

may forbid us to claim for our own age "an un- 
common degree of wisdom." For certainly St. 
Leon is no longer read. Hazlitt writes: "St. 
Leon is not equal in plot and groundwork to 
Caleb Williams, tho perhaps superior to it in 
execution." 1 It "ventures into the preternatural 
world, and comes nearer the world of common 
sense." Later, Shelley, on Godwin's saying that 
writing another novel would kill him, replied in a 
burst of enthusiasm: "What matter, if we have 
another St. Leon! 1 ' 2 But Sir Leslie Stephen calls 
it "a semi-historical novel, with all manner of 
improbable adventures and coincidences, which 
yet contrives to miss the moral." 3 And we are 
rather inclined to let it go at that. 

In Fleetwood Godwin tries yet a third type of 
interest. He says in his preface : 

Caleb Williams was a story of very surprising and 
uncommon events, but which were supposed to be 
entirely within the laws and established course of 
nature as she operates in the planet we inhabit. The 
story of St. Leon is in the miraculous class, and its 
design to "mix human feelings and passions with 
incredible situations" 4 and thus render them in- 
credible and interesting. The following story consists 
of such adventures as for the most part have occurred 
to at least half of the Englishmen now existing who 
are of the same rank of life as my hero. 

1 Hazlitt, Collected Works (1902), vol. viii., p. 131. 
J Hazlitt, The English Novel. 

s Leslie Stephen, Studies of a Biographer, vol. iii., p. 151, 
< Fleetwoodflvol. i., p. v. 

104 The French Revolution 

Fleetwood is educated among the wild scenery 
of Wales in a manner that Wordsworth would 
quite approve. He goes to Oxford a perfect young 
Rousseauist, naturally benevolent and good, and 
full of "sensibility." He gets some of the bloom 
knocked off his benevolence in the student life 
there. His education finished, he goes to Paris 
for the usual period of dissipation, like St. Leon. 
Then he looks up an old friend of his father's, 
M. Ruffigny,' in Switzerland, of course. This 
M. Ruffigny turns out to be a Republican of the 
old school, living in a cottage, all virtue and sim- 
plicity. He had known Rousseau personally' 
the only direct mention of him in these novels. 
This sage gives Fleetwood news of the death of 
his father. Grief restores him to his original 
sensibility. M. Ruffigny tells his own story, per- 
haps as human and enjoyable a bit of narrative 
as Godwin ever wrote. He was left an orphan 
in the care of the traditional wicked uncle, who 
appropriates his property and puts the child into 
the silk mills in Brussels. The description of the 
silk mills is to my mind one of the few really fine 
passages in these novels. Here again, as in the 
prison passage in Caleb Williams Godwin is 
really interested in a situation for its own sake, 
not as an excuse for an emotion ; he is looking out, 
not in. Godwin was a man who really loved 
children, in spite of his dry philosophy. At the 
very time he was writing this, there were chil- 
dren growing up about him his own little Mary 

And the English Novel 105 

Wollstonecraft, and the stepchildren of his adop- 
tion. He writes of the children in the mills with 
a high sincerity and perfect naturalness, for once, 
too much in earnest to sentimentalize. 

Several of the children appeared to me, judging 
from their size, to be under four years of age. I never 
saw such children. . . . Some were not tall enough with 
their little arms to reach the swift; these had stools 
which they carried in their hands, and mounted when 
occasion offered. They were all sallow; their muscles 
flaccid, and their form emaciated. 

The child from the moment of his birth is an ex- 
perimental philosopher: and it is equally necessary 
for the development of his frame that his thoughts and 
his body should be free from fetters. But then he 
cannot earn twelve sous a week. These children were 
uncouth and ill-grown in every limb, and were stiff 
and decrepit in their carriage, so as to seem like old 
men. At four years of age they could earn salt to 
their bread; but at forty, if it were possible that they 
should live so long, they could not earn bread to 
their salt. 

But be it so! I know that the earth is the great 
Bridewell of the universe, where spirits descended from 
heaven are committed to drudgery and hard labour. 
Yet I should be glad that our children, up to a certain 
age were exempt; sufficient is the hardship and sub- 
jection of their whole future life; methinks, even 
Egyptian taskmasters would consent that they should 

io6 The French Revolution 

grow up in peace until they had acquired the strength 
necessary for substantial service. 1 

More than a hundred years have passed since 
Godwin wrote that passage. Much that seemed 
to his contemporaries worthy of admiration serve 
only to amuse or bore us now. But this is modern. 
To our shame be it said, it might be incorporated 
as it stands in the next report of the National 
Committee on Child Labour. 

From this mill the child Ruffigny makes his 
escape, and wanders to Versailles in search of the 
king a pathetic little figure that Dickens would 
have loved. He finds that the king is not as he 
had fancied, the father of his people. But he 
attracts the notice of Ambrose Fleet wood, grand- 
father of our hero, who takes him to England and 
brings him up as the companion and equal of 
his own son. Ruffigny makes a fortune, saves 
his foster-brother from bankruptcy, and retires 
to his native country to live, as we found him, 
"a Republican of the old model." 

At the news of his father's death, Fleetwood 
shows his "sensibility," like the typical hero of 
the period, by an utter absence of restraint and a 
long tirade against the heartless stoicism of any 
self-control. Ruffigny accompanies his protege on 
his return to England, but, finding him again 
drifting into dissipation, leaves him. This effect- 
ively sobers Fleetwood. He retires to Wales and 

1 Fleetwood, vol. i., pp. 164-68. 

And the English Novel 107 

"the pleasures of memory and imagination." 
But he is lonely: he desires a friend after the 
Romantic pattern. For, like most egoists, God- 
win's heroes bore themselves fearfully when left 
alone. He goes to London and mingles with li- 
terary men. At the age of forty, he meets a 
delightful family named MacNeil, and falls in 
love with the youngest daughter, Mary. The 
others go on a voyage and are lost at sea. 
Fleetwood marries Mary, whose attractions are 
enhanced by her grief and "sensibility." He 
resolves to devote himself to consoling her. But 
he finds it hard to adjust his old-bachelor ways 
to even a well-loved young wife. (Query: is this 
autobiography?) He invites two young kins- 
men to visit him. One, Kenrick, is virtuous and 
lovable; the other, Gifford, is a perfectly conven- 
tional stage villain after the model of lago. The 
obvious misunderstanding ensues. Gifford con- 
trives to make Fleetwood jealous. He banishes 
his wife, disinherits his child, and starts divorce 
proceedings. Mary protests her innocence and 
vows she will never see Fleetwood again. But 
matters are cleared up. She forgives him in 
spite of her vow, he is properly remorseful, "and 
they all lived happily ever after." 

Not a very powerful novel, certainly. Godwin 
never had the gift of writing of the real doings of 
real people so as to make them live and hold our 
interest. Nevertheless, to my mind this is one of 
the pleasantest of his novels. There is less strain- 

io8 The French Revolution 

ing after effect, and there are some really likable 
people in it; Ruffigny, for instance, and the girl- 
wife Mary. 

In the preface to his next novel, Mandeville 
(1817), Godwin gives as his sources Joanna Baillie's 
De Montfort and Wieland by C. B. Brown of 
Pennsylvania. z There is a historical background 
of the time of Cromwell, but it is handled rather 
perfunctorily. The story begins with a massacre 
in Ireland in which Mandeville's parents are 
killed when he is a child of three. He is saved by 
his nurse and brought up in the desolate seacoast 
manor of a misanthropic invalid uncle. Mande- 
ville's tutor is a bigoted Presbyterian clergyman 
who trains him in the fear of the Lord and im- 
placable hatred of the Catholic Church. Godwin 
writes of the horrors of theology from experience. 
The dark childhood of the little Mandeville, "who 
never was a boy," is drawn with a masterly stroke. 
Godwin is a thorough believer in environment as 
an influence in the formation of character. He 
misses no detail contributing to the gloomy con- 
sistency at which he aims. This novel is really 
a study in abnormal psychology. 

The Reverend Hilkiah's nagging severity 
crushes the natural self-confidence of his pupil, 
producing in its place a rankling self-conscious 
pride. The one bright spot in Mandeville's life 
is a visit from his sister who is growing up in a 
happier environment. After a time young Man- 

1 Preface to Mandeville, p.ix;De Montfort, pub. 1798. 

And the English Novel 109 

deville is sent to school. Here the results of his 
abnormal childhood and unfortunate disposition 
appear. His egoism is intense. Behind a mo- 
rose and repellent manner festers a morbid self- 
consciousness. He is obsessed with a desire for 
admiration. A schoolmate, Clifford, wins easily 
the popularity Mandeville longs for, and he hates 
him with a jealous intensity. He sees the un- 
reasonableness of this with painful clearness; but 
his hatred becomes a mania. Accidents in- 
crease it. Mandeville is falsely accused of having 
an anti-royalist book in his possession. Clifford 
presides at his trial. Later, at the university 
Mandeville is promised a secretaryship to a 
royalist leader only to find that the place had 
previously been assigned to Clifford. 

Mandeville retires from the Cause. To his 
diseased imagination it seems that he is perma- 
nently disgraced. A fit of madness ensues. He is 
nursed to health by his sister who tries to reconcile 
him to Clifford. Clifford does all in his power 
to humble himself and appease Mandeville. But 
circumstances continually throw them together 
and Mandeville cannot endure seeing the admira- 
tion his rival wins. It soon appears that Clifford 
is betrothed to Mandeville's sister. The rest of 
the book is a melancholy record of mania. The 
climax is reached when with the acuteness of 
a deranged mind Mandeville discovers that his 
own bride is related to Clifford. His violent re- 
proaches cause her death; he goes in search of 

no The French Revolution 

Clifford and finds him at her grave. They fight, 
and both are killed. 

So ends a sombre, powerful, tedious novel. 
The character of Mandeville is developed with 
painfully minute consistency. But we feel that 
the author has no right to trouble us with the 
psychology of such a person on any terms. The 
method is introspection carried beyond the verge 
of sanity. It needs the light touch of a Meredith 
to anatomize an egoist; even then it is not a 
pleasant picture. 

Strange to say, this novel found a warm admirer 
in no less a person than Shelley. He writes : 

It is of that irresistible and overwhelming kind that 
the mind in its influence is like a cloud borne by an 
impetuous wind. In style and strength of expression 
Mandeville is wonderfully great, and the energy and 
sweetness of its sentiments can scarcely be equalled. 1 

Though Godwin's last two novels are passed 
over by most commentators as mere pot-boilers, 
I must confess that I see in them no falling off. 
But as the others have been discussed in consider- 
able detail, perhaps these two may be somewhat 
more briefly treated. 

The preface to Cloudsley gives a rather fanciful 
statement of its origin : 

When I wrote Caleb Williams I considered it as in 
some measure a paraphrase on the story of Bluebeard 

1 Leslie Stephen, Studies of a Biographer, vol. iii., pp. 138-39. 

And the English Novel in 

by Charles Perrault. The present publication may 
in the same sense be denominated a paraphrase on the 
old ballad of the Children in the Wood. I 

At first sight it suggests rather a paraphrase on 
the Arabian Nights' Entertainment, or on a 
Chinese "nest of boxes"; a story within a story 
within a story, and all in the first person until one 
forgets which "I" is supposed to be speaking. 

Briefly, the plot is as follows: Meadows, son 
of poor parents, becomes a sailor, is abandoned 
in Russia, incurs the enmity of the powers there 
by falling in love in the wrong place, is banished, 
and comes home looking for employment. Lord 
Richard Danvers engages his services for a dan- 
gerous mission, with the following confession: 
Richard was a younger son ; his elder brother was 
killed in a duel, leaving his wife in Richard's care. 
She dies at the birth of her son. Richard appro- 
priates the estate, giving the child, Julian, to an 
accomplice named Cloudsley to be brought up 
in obscurity. Richard marries and has four 
children. But the children die one after another 
of a mysterious curse. Richard is troubled by 
his guilty conscience. Meanwhile Cloudsley has 
taken Julian to Italy and brought him up as 
his own son. But Cloudsley too is troubled with 
remorse. He goes to England to remonstrate 
with Richard. Julian in his father's absence 
quite innocently falls in with a company of ban- 

1 Cloudsley, vol. i., p. iv. 

ii2 The French Revolution 

ditti. (Once more our old friend the philosophic 
brigand appears.) These accidentally kill Cloud- 
sley on his return. 

The mission Lord Danvers assigns to Meadows 
is to go in search of Julian and bring him to Eng- 
land to restore him to his estate. Meadows 
arrives in Italy just in time to save Julian from 
being executed with the brigands and brings him 
back in triumph. Lord Danvers abdicates in 
his favour. Meadows is retained as confidential 

The last of Godwin's novels, Deloraine is allied 
in its general scheme to the first. It is the story 
of a murder and a long and fantastic flight from 
the law. Deloraine is a brilliant young nobleman. 
After some years of ideal married life his wife 
dies and his only daughter, Catherine, goes to live 
with friends on the continent. Deloraine falls 
in love a second time, with a young woman I 
beg her pardon, a "female of exquisite sensibility" 
who has been crossed in love. Her accepted 
lover William was lost at sea. Deloraine falls in 
love with her melancholy, and she marries him 
to please her parents. He becomes very unhappy 
because his wife does not return his love. 

William, the lost lover, was not dead after all. 
He appears most inopportunely in search of Mar- 
garet. Finding them together, Deloraine in a 
fit of insane jealousy shoots William. Margaret 
dies of shock (or more properly, of the author's 
desire to get her out of the story), and Deloraine 

And the English Novel 113 

accompanied by his devoted daughter begins a 
long flight from justice. Here too the arm of the 
law is reinforced by personal vindictiveness. A 
friend of William's dedicates himself to aveng- 
ing the murder. The chase leads them all over 
Europe, into an abandoned castle on the Rhine 
in true Gothic romance style, ending only when 
Deloraine in despair returns to England to give 
himself up. This Catherine prevents by going to 
their pursuer and appealing to his reason and mag- 
nanimity. This device is as successful as it was in 
Caleb Williams. Deloraine is permitted to retire 
with his daughter to live in contented obscurity. 

Whatever was the secret of the success of these 
novels whose road to oblivion was beset by so 
many contradictory estimates, it certainly was 
not Godwin's ability to tell a story. His plots 
are poorly constructed and worse managed. God- 
win is in his literary ideas a Sentimentalist; he is 
interested in feeling for its own sake. He seems 
laboriously to invent a situation merely as a peg 
on which to hang an emotional paroxysm. We 
are perfectly ready to be interested in a novel of 
psychology rather than of incident, if the author 
chooses; but even on those terms we feel that the 
motivation is inadequate, the emotion insincere, 
and the psychology unsound. Godwin's style, 
however, we can praise with a clear conscience. 
It is clear, direct, easy to read; simple, yet with a 
sustained dignity of manner ; the style of a logician 
rather than of an artist. 

ii4 The French Revolution 

In recalling these six novels, one is struck by a 
certain similarity of impression. The theme, in 
spite of Godwin's conscious efforts not to repeat 
himself, does not vary greatly. It has been de- 
fined by some of his commentators as "Man, the 
enemy of man," or, "The Victim of Society." 
I prefer to call it "The Sentimental Individualist," 
or, "The Egoist." The type-hero is usually a 
man of considerable talents, all the advantages of 
birth and breeding, and a disposition of Rousseau- 
istic benevolence. Like all egoists, he is totally 
dependent on the approbation of his world. This 
takes two forms ; a craving for general admiration, 
and the need of a very exclusive and exacting type 
of friendship. This latter he speaks of always from 
the standpoint of the one receiving, not of the 
one giving. Usually he passes through a period 
of ideal married life. Caleb Williams is the excep- 
tion, of course, being written under the influence 
of the ideas in Political Justice. But the next 
novel is frankly a recantation of Godwin's earlier 
attitude towards domestic life. Before St. Leon 
was written, he had married Mary Wollstonecraft 
and learned a great many things. Godwin's 
characters are all more or less lay figures, with the 
possible exception of the type-hero; but women 
compare very favourably with the men in point 
of reality. They are all tiresomely good and 
monotonously beautiful, but occasionally they 
show considerable force of character. St. Leon's 
Marguerite and Deloraine's Catherine, for in- 

And the English Novel 115 

stance, take charge of very trying situations and 
manage their respective husband and father quite 
efficiently. Godwin always succeeds better in 
treating domestic affection than in passionate 
love episodes. Some of his pictures of married 
friendship are rather fine. Surely when Dick- 
ens and Scott make most of their heroines prigs, 
we may pardon Godwin. 

The type-hero puts an end to his own possibility 
of happiness by some crime or act of folly, con- 
cerning which he moralizes morbidly, but into 
which he is forced, apparently by his own nature 
when circumstances present the occasion. x The re- 
mainder of his life is involved in the consequences, 
external and internal. The nature of this domi- 
nant characteristic and the resultant act varies. 
It is Falkland's obsession of "honour" and his 
murder of Tyrrel; Williams's curiosity and his 
prying into the chest; St. Leon's desire for wealth 
and his acceptance of the stone and elixir; Fleet- 
wood's desire to monopolize the entire attention 
of his young wife and his yielding to jealousy; 
Mandeville's craving for admiration and his 
hatred of Clifford; Richard's wish to be Lord 
Danvers, and his wrong to his brother's child; 
Deloraine's longing for Margaret's love, and his 
shooting of William. 

In all these cases, be it observed, the type- 
hero is not the victim of society primarily, but 
of his own character. Godwin's view of society 

1 Godwin is a necessarian, with a Calvinist training. 

n6 The French Revolution 

enters into his novels (excepting of course the 
first), only incidentally. Even in Caleb Williams 
we should hardly recognize social theory as the 
main purpose if it were not for the preface and 
the sub-title. But we catch occasional glimpses 
of the author of Political Justice. The point 
oftenest emphasized is the fallacy of regarding 
our judicial system as impartial or just to the 
individual. We have already considered the treat- 
ment of this subject in Caleb Williams; the same 
ideas are glanced at in all the others. 

Economic theories are discussed specifically in 
one place only: St. Leon's attempt at improving 
the condition in Hungary by using his gold as a 
lever to start the production of real wealth. But 
the Swiss Rufrigny exemplifies in his conduct God- 
win's theory of justice in the matter of property 
rights. In Political Justice Godwin declares that 
the individual's rights over property are of three 
sorts: (i) each man has a right to the means of 
subsistence, and to that portion of the general 
goods which will yield its maximum of pleasure 
by being appropriated to his use; (2) he has a 
right of stewardship over that property which he 
produces; (3) his ownership of property such as 
lands, and capital in general is recognized for the 
present, because any system is preferable to the 
chaos that would ensue if every man appropriated 
what he thought he had a right to. Rufrigny, 
it will be remembered, makes a fortune by his 
own ability and industry, and proposes to retire on 

And the English Novel 117 

a reasonable income regarding himself as merely 
a steward of the rest to be used for others. But 
he is satisfied to make over his surplus to a single 
individual, his friend, instead, in order that that 
friend may continue in the position of a capitalist 
to which he is accustomed. 

A further point upon which numerous passages 
may be found in the novels of Godwin is education. 
Here more than ever one catches echoes of a 
greater individualist, Rousseau. The child is to 
be interested, drawn out; on no account is his 
spontaneity to be repressed. But Godwin had 
been a fairly successful tutor and had also brought 
up children of his own, which Rousseau never did ; 
so there are hints of discipline here and there which 
would have shocked the author of Entile. 

But it is in his general attitude toward culture 
that we find the greatest divergence between 
Godwin and the pure Rousseauists. Godwin 
does not regard civilization as the sole source of 
corruption; he cherishes no delusion of the noble 
savage in an ideal state of nature. Perhaps his 
early Calvinism had eaten into his soul too deeply. 
At all events, he is out of harmony with the school 
of inspired ignorance, as the following passage 
shows; Marguerite tells St. Leon she is reconciled 
to poverty: 

But she could never bring herself to believe that 
ignorance was a benefit. She wished her children 
to attain intellectual refinements, possess fully the 

n8 The French Revolution 

attributes of a rational nature, and be as far removed 
as possible from the attributes of stocks and stones, 
by accumulating a magazine of thoughts and a rich 
and cultivated sensibility. 1 

So far, our treatment of Godwin as a novelist 
seems to have been devoted entirely to the ungra- 
cious task of pointing out his failings. But if it 
is true, as Hazlitt says, that: "The impression 
made upon the readers is the exact measure of 
the author's genius," then we must allow these 
novels some tinge of greatness. They have un- 
doubtedly in parts a sombre power. They pro- 
duce in the reader a sense of oppressive, morose 
intensity; a force of individualism verging toward 
that evil borderland of reason whereon mania 
casts its first faint shadow of unwholesomeness. 
The very dullness of the minute introspective 
analyses adds to the effect. For there is no depth 
of soul-weariness like a Cosmos filled with Ego. 

It will doubtless be objected that this very 
unsympathetic treatment of William Godwin's 
personality leaves unexplained the strong influ- 
ence which he undoubtedly exerted over some of 
the finest minds of his time. By no means. 
William Godwin was a powerful reasoner, with 
a gift for clear and forcible argument. Certain 
revolutionary principles he found ready to his 
hand in the works of earlier French and English 

1 St. Leon, vol. i., p. 180. 

And the English Novel 119 

philosophers. To these he added certain ideas 
gathered from theologians like Jonathan Edwards, 
and carried the resultant theories to their extreme 
conclusions with a grim, irresistible logic. His 
only original contribution to Revolutionism was 
an unconscious reductio ad absurdum. Never- 
theless, Political Justice is an eminently reasonable 
book; much more reasonable than life ever is. 
Moreover, it is written in a style that carries 
conviction. It is only when one deserts the 
methods of logic for those of common sense that 
its absurdity appears. 

This very forcible work might, however, have 
remained unknown outside the circle of logic- 
chopping metaphysicians but for one important 
fact. It came at a time when the age was ready 
for it. It was, as we have seen, one of a large 
group of books expressing similar philosophies, 
all of which found their audience awaiting them. 
Of this group Political Justice was the most ex- 
treme, though not the most representative. Hence 
its pre-eminence. 

Political Justice stands alone among William 
Godwin's works; a book dominated by rather 
than dominating the spirit of the time. It is safe 
to say he could not have written it in any other 
year. During the period of the Reaction he 
employed himself in writing novels which are, 
as we have seen, the creatures of literary senti- 
mentalism, touched only with an afterglow of 
Revolutionary ideals. 

120 The French Revolution 


One does not usually think of Shelley as a 
novelist. In fact one is apt not to think of him as 
anything but a poet. That is indeed all-inclusive 
if one's conception of poetry is high enough. Too 
often however poet and thinker are used as sepa- 
rate terms, with an implication that to the poet's 
imaginative and emotional appeal a sound intel- 
lectual basis is unessential. From criticism of 
this type no poet, perhaps, has suffered more than 
Shelley. In his own time his poetry was con- 
demned because of the underlying doctrine, but 
at least it was taken seriously. Now criticism 
has gone to the other extreme. The poetry is 
accepted, the doctrine patronized or apologized 
for. We are all so obsessed with Matthew Ar- 
nold's fine phrase for Shelley "Beautiful and 
ineffectual angel, beating in the void with his 
luminous wings in vain" that we quite forget 
to listen fairly to what Shelley may have to say 
for himself. Perhaps, then, by way of restoring 
the balance, it may not be amiss to turn for a little 
from Shelley the poet to that younger and almost 
unknown Shelley before the publication of Alastor, * 
whose work consisted chiefly of radical pamphlets 
and prose romances. 

1 Alastor, 1816. Shelley's first poetical work with the excep- 
tion of the lost juvenilia and Queen Mob, which he afterwards 
wished to repudiate. The poet Shelley belongs to a period rather 
later than the one under discussion. But Shelley the novelist and 
pamphleteer was still living under the shadow of the Revolution. 

And the English Novel 121 

Only two of the novels of Shelley were com- 
pleted: Zastrozzi (1810) and St. Irvyne (1811). 
These are of interest chiefly as they may serve 
to mark the progress of the poet's mind. They 
are extraordinary only as the work of a school- 
boy of eighteen. We may perhaps pause for a 
moment to summarize them. 

The action in Zastrozzi centres in three persons : 
Verezzi, a young nobleman ; Matilda, a lady who is 
infatuated with him and to whom he is indifferent ; 
and Zastrozzi, a mysterious stranger who pursues 
Verezzi with relentless hatred. Zastrozzi aids 
Matilda to win Verezzi's love by a deception, 
using her as the (unconscious) means of reducing 
him to despair and suicide. Zastrozzi is seized 
by the Inquisition and accepts torture with calm 
defiance, saying that his life was dedicated to the 
task of avenging on Verezzi a wrong done to his 
mother. x 

St. Irvyne, or the Rosicrucian has two plots, very 
superficially connected. I. A young lady is cap- 
tured by bandits. One of them, Wolf stein, kills 
the captain and rescues her. They escape by the 
aid of a mysterious stranger, Ginotti, who there- 
after possesses a powerful influence over Wolf stein. 
It appears that Ginotti possesses the gift of eternal 

1 Dr. Hancock (French Revolution and the English Poets, p. 52) 
says: " Zastrozzi is his (Shelley's) ideal of a virtuous man. " This 
is hardly a fair interpretation. Zastrozzi is merely the conven- 
tional villain of the time. He is described as: "A soul deadened 
by crime" (Zastrozzi, p. 73), which was hardly Shelley's ideal of 

122 The French Revolution 

life and can only end his wretched existence by 
inducing another to accept it. He imparts the 
secret to Wolf stein, but Wolf stein refuses to com- 
plete the transaction by "denying his Creator." 
Thereupon fiends kill Wolfstein and carry Ginotti 
living to eternal torment. 2. The other plot is 
merely the story of a girl who has fallen under the 
fascination of one Nempere, who, it is explained 
at the end, was Ginotti under another name. 

Shelley says of these novels in a letter to Godwin 
in i8i2 r : 

I was haunted with a passion for the wildest and 
most extravagant romances. . . . From a reader, I 
became a writer of romances ; before the age of seven- 
teen I had published two, St. Irvyne and Zastrozzi, 
each of which, though quite uncharacteristic of me as 
I now am yet serves to mark the state of my mind 
at the period of their composition. 

Describing the change effected in him by the 
reading of Political Justice, he adds : 

I was no longer the votary of romance: till then I 
had existed in an ideal world now I found that in this 
universe of ours was enough to excite the interest of 
the heart, enough to employ the discussion of reason. 
. . . You will perceive that Zastrozzi and St. Irvyne 
were written prior to my acquaintance with your 
writings. I had indeed read St. Leon before I wrote 
St. Irvyne, but the reasonings had then made little 

1 Dowden, Life of Shelley, vol. i., pp. 220-25. 

And the English Novel 123 

From this it is clear that we need look for no 
conscious social theorizing in these early romances. 
Both have heroes of a type very common in the 
age immediately following the Revolution; the 
mysterious defiant outcast from society. This 
is the type of titanism which later became some- 
what identified in England with the poetry of 
Byron. Its source, however, is to be found among 
the German Romanticists. Shelley's treatment 
of Zastrozzi and Ginotti is in no way character- 
istic. At most, they merely indicate the appeal 
of this type to a young individualist in a state of 
schoolboy revolt against authority. 

In this connection a suggestion in Buxton 
Forman's preface 1 becomes significant. On the 
ground of certain references in letters and certain 
internal evidence of phraseology, he believes that 
these are not original compositions, but adapta- 
tions and translations from the German. 

There is mention of several other novels which 
were planned and even begun, at about this time. 
Among them was "a fragment of wild romance 
about a witch," begun in conjunction with Medwin 
about the beginning of 1809 and "a novel which 
was to be the deathblow to intolerance, projected 
at the end of i8io." 2 

But the only fragment of unfinished novel which 
remains to us is The Assassins, written in Switzer- 
land in 1814. 

1 Works of Shelley, Forman ed., vol. v., pp. xii . 
* Ibid., p. xxvii. 

124 The French Revolution 

The Assassins are described as an ancient tribe 
of Christians driven into exile at the fall of Jeru- 
salem. They take refuge in the beautiful valley of 
Bethzatanai, where they live for generations in the 
loving communism of the Golden Age. Gradually 
their religious beliefs are modified, "corresponding 
with the exalted condition of their being." They 
"esteem understanding to be the paramount rule 
of conduct." 1 Shelley comments on the extent 
to which the sincere directness of such a people 
would be at variance with the time-serving poli- 
cies of civilized society. "No Assassin would 
submissively temporize with vice and in cold 
charity become a pandar to falsehood and desola- 
tion." 2 

Albedir, a member of this gentle tribe, wander- 
ing in the forest finds a man impaled among the 
branches of a cedar, and watched by a serpent and 
a vulture. He overhears a part of a titanic 
soliloquy : 

The great tyrant is baffled even in success! Joy! 
Joy ! to his tortured foe ! Triumph to the worm whom 
he tramples under his feet ! . . . Thousands tremble 
before thy throne who at my voice shall dare to pluck 
the golden crown from thine unholy head ! 3 

The Stranger calls to Albedir in a voice "as the 
voice of a beloved friend." " In the name of God, 

1 Works of Shelley, vol. vi., p. 229. * Ibid., p. 232. 

3 Ibid., p. 235 

And the English Novel 125 

approach. He that suffered me to fall watches 
thee; the gentle and merciful spirits of sweet 
human love delight not in agony and horror." 1 
Albedir bears the stranger to his home and cares 
for him tenderly. The fragment ends with a 
picture of the two children of Albedir playing by 
the lake with a tame serpent. "The girl sang to 
it and it leaped into her bosom and she crossed her 
fair hands over it as if to cherish it there." 2 

In this fragment there are foreshadowings of 
Prometheus and of Cythna. Forman says of it : 

Intellectual brilliancy, earnestness, great ease in the 
use of rhetoric, and an egregious practical energy are 
already among the qualities to be credited to Shelley. 
But in the A ssassins there is a touch of a new quality, 
trace of an infinite yearning over the miseries of 
suffering humanity, the divine tenderness which is 
eventually and forever the distinguishing charac- 
teristic of Shelley. ... In every composition 
dating after the middle of the year 1814 a new tone 
prevails. 3 

These novels may be considered as marking the 
beginnings and the end of Shelley's early prose 
period. Zastrozzi is the work of a precocious boy, 
disliking restraint, whose imagination has been 
captured by a certain type of titanism in the ro- 
mantic literature of the time. With St. Irvyne 
the influence of Godwin through St. Leon, if not 

1 Works of Shelley, vol. vi., p. 235. * Ibid., p. 242. 

s Ibid., vol. v., preface, p. xxii. 

126 The French Revolution 

through Political Justice, has begun. In The 
Assassins, Shelley 'sRevolutionary political theory 
is already passing over into a social idealism 
whose imaginative and emotional intensity forces 
poetic expression. 

The most significant part of Shelley's early 
work however is not the romances but the political 
pamphlets. These give explicitly and in its true 
proportions the political belief underlying the 
later poetry. 

In the light of these prose tracts it becomes 
apparent that Shelley's political writings fall 
into three distinct groups, only one of which is 
adequately represented in the poems. I. In the 
first group are those writings which form a serious 
and coherent expression of Shelley's theory of the 
nature and function of government. 2. In addi- 
tion to these there are a number of articles and 
pamphlets directed against some specific abuse or 
in favour of specific reforms. 3. The third class, 
consisting chiefly of poems, we may call the expres- 
sion of Shelley's social religion. Shelley believed 
devoutly in the ultimate perfectibility of humanity 
through the principle of universal love, and looked 
forward to a time when mankind fulfilling its 
highest possibilities might live without restraint. 
But be it observed, perfect liberty was to be the 
result of moral and spiritual perfection, not 
perfection the result of immediate liberty. * 

1 This gives the doctrine of Godwin a somewhat different em- 
phasis. The nature of Shelley's indebtedness to Godwin, Rous- 

And the English Novel 127 

In considering any social or political doctrine 
of Shelley's it should be made quite clear in which 
of these classes it belongs. Shelley is not incon- 
sistent. But if his recommendations as to the 
most effective method of dealing with the specific 
abuses in his own time are to be confused with 
his statements of underlying governmental prin- 
ciples, or if his impassioned yearning for the 
kingdom of heaven on earth is to be perverted 
into propaganda for immediate political anarchy, 
obviously it will make a considerable difference 
in our estimate of the soundness of his judgment. 

In this connection it may be well to recall the 
character of Shelley given by his friend Jefferson 
Hogg (who despised poetry) and endorsed by 
another intimate friend, Trelawney, as "the only 
written likeness he ever knew of him. ' ' Hogg says : 

It was his rare talents as a scholar that drew me to 
him. The greatest men are those who compose our 
laws, and judges to minister them, and if Shelley had 
put all his mind into the study of law, instead of 
writing nonsensical rhapsodies, he would have been a 
great benefactor to the world, for he had the most 
acute intellect of any man I ever knew. x 

With this estimate by way of counterbalancing 
ancient prejudice against poets in practical affairs 

seau, Holbach, Helvetius, and the Encyclopaedists is treated in 
some detail by Dr. Hancock in his French Revolution and the 
English Poets, chap. v. For this reason all question of sources is 
omitted from the present discussion. 
1 Trelawney, Records, preface, p. x. 

128 The French Revolution 

we may consider briefly the three divisions of 
Shelley's political theory. Perhaps it may be 
well to select one document to represent each 
class and let Shelley speak for himself as far as 

The fullest expression of Shelley's principles of 
government is to be found in the Declaration of 
Rights, a broadside printed in Ireland in i8i2. T 
Much of this wise and liberal manifesto seems 
commonplace now. But many of its passages 
are strikingly modern in their application. One 
might undertake to find parallels for all of them 
in the leading sociological publications of the past 

We may quote the most characteristic sections : 

Government has no rights. It is a delegation from 
several individuals for the purpose of securing their 
own. It is therefore just only so far as it exists by their 
consent, useful only so far as it operates to their well 


The rights of man in the present state of society can 
only be secured by some degree of coercion to be 

1 "In an article in the Fortnightly Review for January, 1871. 
Mr. Rossetti points out the resemblance between this declaration 
and two such documents of the French Revolution, the one 
adopted by the Constituent Assembly in August, 1789, and the 
other proposed in April, 1793, by Robespierre." Works of 
Shelley, vol. v., p. 392. 

And the English Novel 129 

exercised on their violator. The sufferer has a right 
that the degree of coercion employed be as slight as 


No man has a right to disturb the public peace by 
personally resisting the execution of a law however bad. 


No man has a right to do an evil thing that good 
may come. 


Expediency is inadmissible in morals. Politics are 
only sound when conducted on principles of morality. 
They are in fact the morals of nations. 


Man has no right to kill his brother. It is no excuse 
that he does so in uniform. 


No man has a right to monopolize more than he can 


Every man has a right to a certain degree of leisure 
and liberty, because it is his duty to attain a certain 
degree of knowledge. He may before he ought. x 

These are the main points insisted upon in the 
Declaration of Rights. Twelve of the thirty-one 
sections are devoted to the right of perfect freedom 
of belief and discussion. 

1 Works of Shelley, vol. v., pp. 393-98. 


130 The French Revolution 

In the same classification may be included the 
fragments On A System of Government by Juries 
and On Reforms, together with numerous passages 
in works belonging primarily to the other groups. 

Of the second group, Shelley's propaganda for 
specific reforms in his own time, the two Marlow 
Pamphlets may be taken as representative. ' The 
first of these is A Proposal for Putting Reform to a 
Vote Throughout the Kingdom. The closing para- 
graph may be quoted as a fair sample of Shelley's 
practical wisdom: 

With respect to Universal Suffrage, I confess I con- 
sider its adoption, in the present unprepared state of 
knowledge and feeling, a measure fraught with peril. 
. . . The consequences of the immediate extension 
of the franchise to every male adult would be to place 
power in the hands of men who have been rendered 
brutal and torpid and ferocious by ages of slavery. 
. . . Mr. Paine's arguments are unanswerable ; a pure 
republic may be shown by influences the most obvious 
and irresistible to be that system of social order the 
fittest to produce the happiness and promote the 
genuine eminence of man. Yet, nothing can less 
consist with reason or afford smaller hopes of any 
beneficial issue, than the plan which would abolish the 
regal and aristocratic branches of our constitution 
before the public mind, through many gradations of 
improvement, shall have arrived at the maturity 
which can disregard these symbols of its childhood. 

'Published in 1817, under the signature "The Hermit of 

And the English Novel 131 

The second of these pamphlets, An Address to 
the People on the Death of the Princess Charlotte, 
is a noble example of almost lyric eloquence in 
dealing with questions of the hour. Shelley 
merges the lament for the death of a beloved 
princess in the deeper and more solemn lament 
for the death of three ignorant workmen executed 
on a trumped-up charge of conspiracy through the 
machinations of government spies: 

Mourn then people of England. Clothe yourselves 
in solemn black. Let the bells be tolled. Think of 
mortality and change. Shroud yourselves in solitude 
and in the gloom of sacred sorrow. Spare no symbol 
of universal grief. Weep mourn lament. A beau- 
tiful princess is dead, she who should have been the 
queen of her beloved nation and whose posterity 
should have ruled it forever. Liberty is dead. Slave ! I 
charge thee disturb not the depth and solemnity of 
our grief by any meaner sorrow. . . . Let us follow the 
corpse of British Liberty slowly and reverentially to 
its tomb ; and if some glorious phantom should appear 
and make its throne of broken swords and sceptres and 
royal crowns trampled in the dust, let us say that the 
Spirit of Liberty has arisen from its grave and left all 
that was gross and mortal there, and kneel down and 
worship it as our queen. r 

In this group of occasional propaganda belong 
An Address to the Irish People (1812), Proposals 
for an Association (1812), and A Letter to Lord 
Ellenborough Occasioned by the Sentence which he 

1 Works of Shettey, vol. vi., p. 113. 

132 The French Revolution 

Passed on Mr. D. I. Eaton as Publisher of the 
Third Part of Paine 1 s "Age of Reason" (1812). 

The final phase of Shelley's Revolutionism, his 
social faith, finds its complete expression only in 
the poems. Shelley was perfectly aware that the 
choice of prose or verse as a medium is not a 
matter of the writer's caprice but is inherent in the 
nature of the idea. He abhorred didactic poetry. x 
It is the soul of his Revolutionism that is to be 
found in his poems. On our own heads be it if 
we forget to look for the body of his practical 
teachings where it may be found, in his prose 

Chronology assumes here a certain relevancy. 
If we take the period of the Revolution (including 
the opposition to it in England) as it is frequently 
taken, to extend from the summoning of the States 
General to the Battle of Waterloo, it may be said 
that during this period Shelley belongs among 
the Revolutionary prose writers. When the last 
sparks of radicalism had been so completely 
crushed by the Holy Alliance that even Con- 
servatism lost its defensive vigour, Shelley's 
Revolutionism, instead of fading to a mood of 
half-sceptical revolt like that of Byron, reaches 
the tragic intensity of faith in the social ideal 
that gives to Prometheus Unbound its unearthly 

The poetry of Shelley does not properly fall 
within the limits of our discussion, either in point 

1 Cf. Shelley's preface to Prometheus Unbound. 

And the English Novel 133 

of time or of form. 1 We may say in closing 
that Shelley the poet lived in an age of conser- 
vatism but he was not of it. His poetry is the 
fine flower of the age of Revolution. His own 
time felt this and repudiated him. He himself 
was conscious of it, and has left a perfect analysis 
of his own relation to the age in the lines from 

Midst others of less note came one frail form, 
A phantom among men; companionless 

As the last cloud of an expiring storm 
Whose thunder is its knell. 2 

1 Revolution in the poetry of Shelley has, moreover, been fully 
treated by Dr. Hancock. A list of the poems which contain 
Revolutionary doctrines is added to the bibliography of this 

'Adonais, verse xxxi. 



HOLCROFT, Godwin, and Shelley; these three 
are the true and orthodox exponents of the 
Revolutionary doctrines. Of all the phases of 
that complex philosophy, nothing essential re- 
mains entirely unrepresented in their writings. 
In succeeding chapters 1 we shall see what varia- 
tions the main tenets received at the hands of 
novelists who did not accept them in their entirety. 
These, however, add little that is original. They 
are like ripples spreading in circles that grow ever 
broader and less distinct, until one is finally 
puzzled to trace their relation to the central force 
that troubled the surface of the age. 

Before we pass on to these secondary radical- 
isms, there remain a number of novels which deal 
with the original philosophies directly but from 
an opposite point of view. These add very con- 
siderably to our understanding of the period. 
Unfriendly criticism is often not the least acute. 
The absurdities of the Revolutionary philosophies 

1 Especially in Chapters V. and VI. 

The English Novel 135 

were numerous ; he who runs may read them. But 
besides satirizing the obvious fallacies of their 
opponents, some of these novels offer, as we shall 
see, valuable analyses of the systems which they 
are attacking. They also give explicit lists of the 
authors identified with the Revolution, and throw 
some light on the extent to which their doctrines 
had spread in the nation at large. Finally, and 
not least important, they indicate the extent to 
which the age was aware of the economic basis of 
its own unrests. Veiled under a zeal for law, 
order, monarchy, religion, or what not, one catches 
ever and anon strange echoes of the primitive, 
snarling hatred, born of fear, with which the 
Classes who Have regard all that threatens to 
arouse that sleeping beast, the Masses who Have 
Not. Political and religous bigotry are but 
feeble motives compared with the bitter unreason 
awakened by any discussion in which Property 
is involved. 

Two of these anti-Revolutionary novels are of 
sufficient interest to warrant a somewhat detailed 
discussion. These will be treated first at some 
length before passing on to the less important 
novels of the same group. 

The Vagabond, or, Whatever is Just is Equal, 
but Equality not always Just 1 was, as the preface 
announces : 

written with a desire of placing in a practical light 
some of the prominent absurdities of the many self- 
1 By George Walker, published in 1799. 

136 The French Revolution 

important reformers of mankind who, having heated 
their political imaginations, sit down to write political 
romances, and turn loose their disciples upon the 
world to root up and overthrow everything that has 
received the sanction of ages. On this subject it is 
impossible to exaggerate, so inimical are the doctrines 
of Godwin, Hume, Rousseau, etc., to all civilized 
society. Can we wonder at the vices and crimes of a 
neighboring people? Or can we wonder that the 
generality of shallow-thinking men embrace and 
support them with ardour? 1 

This was apparently a "best seller" in its time. 
In the preface to the third edition the author 
comments upon the fact that, in spite of his refusal 
to print a cheap edition like The Rights of Man, 
two editions have been sold within six months. 
"It gives me considerable hopes that the destruct- 
ive torpor of the rich is evaporating, and that 
they have begun to take an active interest in the 
present crisis." 3 Evidently the worthy Walker 
perceived quite clearly the economic nature of 
"the present crisis," and to whose interest it was 
to avoid changes. 

In the first chapter the philosophic Dr. Alogos, 
while walking near his estate reflecting upon 
the unreasonableness of private property, is at- 
tacked by a youth who eloquently defends his 
right to take whatever he needs. The good 
Doctor, perceiving that he has met with a kindred 
spirit, takes the youth home with him, and listens 

1 The Vagabond, vol. i., p. xix. Ibid., p. xxii. 

And the English Novel 137 

to his story. Fenton (the youth's name) had, it 
appears, a natural desire for learning. He "did 
not then know that profound ignorance is the real 
and only state in which man can enjoy felicity." 
At the university he had a tutor, Stupeo by name, 
who instructed him in modern philosophy as 
represented by Tom Paine, Godwin, Hume, 
Voltaire, and Rousseau. He learned, among other 
things, that: "To doubt is the first step to be a 
great philosopher. . . . Those who believe any- 
thing certainly are fools. (Hume, On Human 
Nature, vol. i., p. I68.)" 1 Also, that as he had 
never consented to the government under which 
he lived, to him it was an absolute despotism. 
He objected at first that the government could 
not possibly consult every individual as he came 
of age, but was soon convinced that: "Surely 
Voltaire, Rousseau, and Tom Paine knew what 
was for the best." 2 He "deserted Aristotle, 
Grotius, Puffendorf, and even Locke, and ceased 
to study Latin and Greek." 3 He adds: 

My imagination was wanned by the glorious and 
brilliant spectacle of superstition tumbling down and 
crushing tyranny in its ruins. . . . The time shall come 
when knowledge is disseminated in all ranks, when the 
plowman shall sit on his plow reading the rights of 
man. Then aristocracy and property shall tumble 
together. 4 

1 Vagabond, vol. i., p. 16-21. 3 Ibid., p. 30. 

* Ibid., p. 25. < Ibid., pp. 45-47. 

138 The French Revolution 

He was expelled from college, to the great grief 
of his affectionate father, who said: "Stupeo could 
never sophisticate the common sense dictates of 
a mind willing to do right." 1 A fire broke out 
near his home; he kept the firemen away from 
the ladders while he meditated which of the in- 
mates was best worth saving, according to the 
teachings of Godwin. Attacked by his indignant 
neighbours, his answer was to doubt whether there 
ever was any fire at all, according to the method 
of Hume. 

Fenton then left his home and became a vaga- 
bond, consoling himself with the thought: "Were 
I fit to live in society, I should be no real philo- 
sopher." In his wanderings, he came upon a 
gathering in a barn where a political ranter was 
lecturing on the rights of man and the evils of 
the time. (A note declares this address to be 
quoted from a real political lecturer.) He winds 
up with a denunciation of government spies. 
The crowd applauds vigorously, and departs with 
a firm conviction that: "England be gone to the 
dogs as we heard Citizen Ego say, and it will 
never be as it ought to be until we have another 
Alderman Cromwell, and no tithes." 2 Afterwards 
Fenton heard "Citizen Ego" planning to forge 
letters from imaginary corresponding clubs in 
other cities. The author adds a note denouncing 
all political clubs. 

Fenton harangued against the luxury and ex- 

1 Vagabond, vol. i., p. 64. 3 Ibid., p. 84. 

And the English Novel 139 

travagance of the rich, and was answered by a 
noble lord (the author's mouthpiece), in the 
following manner: 

Luxury fosters arts and sciences, and employs the 
mechanic, the shop-keeper, the merchant. Without 
luxury, none of these could meet employ. ... In the 
present condition of society, it is in the power of every 
man possessing real abilities to rise to a station equal 
to those abilities; and therefore we reverence the 
exteriors of wealth, tacitly bestowing it upon all 
possessors. z 

Next, Fenton fell in with a "No Popery" mob, 
which forced him into a boxing contest. To the 
account of this the author adds a note : 

See the elegant reasons for boxing, in Anna St. Ives 
and Hugh Trevor, two novels which the democratic 
Reviews hold up as examples of virtue and morality. 
'Tis true, if blasphemy be virtue and morality, these 
offspring of the new school have ample claim. a 

Finding that the "No Popery" mob was being 
roused by the new philosophers, Fenton joined in 
it. There he encountered his old friend Stupeo, 
who urged him on to the destruction of property. 
"As long as one single cartload of property re- 
mains in any country, there can be no true 
equality." 3 

1 Vagabond, vol. i., p. 114. The unconscious irony of all this 
must have appealed very forcibly to thinkers of the type of 
Holcroft and Mary Wollstonecraft. 

3 Ibid., p. 129. s Ibid., p. 144. 

140 The French Revolution 

Fenton next associated himself with a woman 
who harangues him on the rights of women. 
He says of her: "She reasoned little, but adopted 
one principle and rejected another by a sort of 
tact." A note points out that this is quoted from 
Godwin's Life of Mary Wollstonecraft, and adds: 
"Those who reason much will readily believe 
this." 1 Fenton's Mary soon left him, however. 

On one occasion, while inciting a mob of farmers 
to protest against the enclosure of public lands, 
he was arrested. The magistrate at his trial re- 
peats the argument of the noble lord, with 
additions : 

What can be more easy than to lead people to desire 
to live without labour, to plunder the rich, and to live 
without regard to those laws which were made pur- 
posely to restrain their passions ? . . . The accumula- 
tion of individual property is the natural and certain 
consequence of society. The rich, by their luxuries, 
give employment to the poor. The rich would do 
much better without the poor than the poor without 
them. ... In fact it is the middle class of people 
who bear the great burden of the state. The poor were 
exactly the same a hundred years ago, and will be 
always the same under any form of government. 
Moreover, no Englishman can die of absolute want if 
he will appeal to the charitable institutions. 2 

To which astonishing piece of complacent econo- 
mic nonsense Fenton replies, that, "There is no 

1 Vagabond, vol. i., p. 181. 'Ibid., p. 213. 

And the English Novel 141 

wealth but the labour of man." But the people 
have been convinced by the magistrate, and eagerly 
consent to have their public lands fenced in. I 

Soon after this, Fenton turned highwayman, 
since robbery is "merely asserting the Rights of 
Man by force," and so met Dr. Alogos. 

Dr. Alogos and Fenton determine to enlighten 
their community. They establish a Temple of Rea- 
son in a barn, where they read moral lectures with 
such effectiveness that the curate soon finds him- 
self obliged to sue for his tithes and the neigh- 
bouring public houses each have a Revolutionary 
Club where the labourers meet and drink, until: 
"They now clearly perceived that the times were 
the worst that ever old England had witnessed; 
for they every day found themselves less able to 
maintain their families." 2 

Dr. Alogos has a very sensible niece who is 
much opposed to the new philosophies, and espe- 
cially to Mary Wollstonecraft's doctrines. Her 
argument is, that women cannot be equal to men 
in anything because their lives must be confined 
exclusively to the bearing and rearing of children, 
"a humbling difference." It will be observed 
that it was left for the opponents of the new f emin- 

1 Fenton was not so altogether in the wrong here as the author 
would have us believe. Gibbins says, in his Industrial History of 
England (p. 199): "The enclosure of the common fields was 
effected at a great loss to the smaller tenant, and when his com- 
mon of pasture was enclosed as well, he was greatly injured, while 
the agricultural labourer was permanently disabled." 

* Vagabond, vol. ii., p. 19. 

142 The French Revolution 

ism to discover anything "humbling" in this. 
Mary Wollstonecraft herself would have consid- 
ered potential motherhood a strange proof of 

Dr. Alogos, Fenton, and Stupeo resolve to 
emigrate to America in search of a virtuous and 
primitive society. They meet a storm at sea, 
and terror convinces Dr. Alogos that: "There is 
more in religion and in commonplace maxims of 
good and evil than the great Stupeo would allow." J 

They find Philadelphia very uncomfortable. 
"Property is much regarded, and the maxim is 
' work or starve. ' There is political equality here, 
but not equality of property." 2 They immedi- 
ately set out for the wilds of Kentucky. There they 
have some experience of real savages. Stupeo is 
killed. The Doctor declares: "Rousseau was a 
fool. I begin to think the savage state of nature 
was not conducted on philosophical principles." 
To this the author adds a note : 

It is the practice of the new school to extoll every- 
thing savage. Why is this but to loosen men from the 
bonds of society, and sap the foundations of govern- 
ments? . . . The emancipation of the negroes, and 
the inhumanity of Christians is an excellent stalking- 
horse for those who pretend to finer feelings than the 
rest of mankind. 3 

Fenton and Dr. Alogos finally discover a fan- 
tastic land of philosophers, conducted on the 

1 Vagabond, vol. ii. f p. 105. ' Ibid., p. 132. 

Ibid., pp. 158-73- 

And the English Novel 143 

principles of Political Justice; and a most wretched 
community it is. Lack of incentive has checked 
the development of talents; no one will work; and 
no one will study. All property in common has 
resulted in no property at all. To this account 
there is a note appended : 

I know that many of the new school will say that I 
misrepresent the meaning of equality; that they do 
not mean equality of property, but equality of rights. 
The truth is, they mean both, though the fairest pre- 
tence is held out. 1 

In this community, Alogos and Fenton see men 
starving while they are trying to decide by pure 
reason where the daily half-hour of work, which 
according to Godwin is all they need do, can best 
be applied for the general good. Thieves and 
criminals destroy everything; for there is no 
"politically just" mode of punishment. The 
women are forced to share in the roughest work, 
until they petition for a return to the "ancient 
slavery." Poverty, hunger, and disease are rapidly 
destroying the entire population. 

This [says the author], is a philosophic republic. 
The ancient republics were fighting republics; the 
Americans and Hollanders are trading republics. 
But men seem neither better satisfied, nor better 
governed, nor better fed in any of them; nor in 
fact do they enjoy so many benefits as in a limited 
monarchy. x 

1 Vagabond, vol. ii., p. 209. 

144 The French Revolution 

Fenton and Dr. Alogos, quite convinced of .their 
folly, return to warn England of the dangers of the 
principles which they formerly advocated. 

The Infernal Quixote: A Tale of the Day has for 
its motto: "Better to reign in Hell than serve in 
Heaven." 1 Walker at least did Godwin and his 
followers the honour of believing them sincerely 
mad; Lucas will not allow them even the merit 
of self-deception. He considers them demagogues 
one and all, willing to overturn society if thereby 
they may come into power. 2 

There is a Miltonic prologue 3 ; an address of 
Satan to the peers of hell. 

The reign of Antichrist is begun, thanks to the 
daring, restless sons of France inspired by me and 
mine! Yet there is still a spot resists my utmost 
efforts, too well ye know the place. In vain that 
Imp Voltaire and yonder miserable group on earth, 
conceited prating, proud philosophers gifted with all 
our learning, tried; in vain Robespierre. . . . Our 
Hell-born virtues nor art nor force can graft upon 
their tree of civil and religious liberty. 

1 By Charles Lucas, A.M. London, 1801. 

2 While we are on this question of disinterestedness, we might 
observe Lucas's own disgustingly fulsome dedication to royalty. 
Is it possible that our worthy Master of Arts was judging other 
men by himself? 

s Milton was having an especial vogue when this was written. 
Cf. the following passage from the Memoirs of an Old Wig: "It 
was much the rage, not only to write the life of Milton, but to 
hunt out busts, paintings, prints, nay, to trace him through all his 
different places of residence. " 

And the English Novel 145 

But there remains one scheme untried; of which 
this novel is an account, as foretold by Satan. * 

Lord Marauder and Wilson Wilson, the son of 
a virtuous farmer, are born on the same day (for 
purposes of antithesis). Marauder is from his 
youth devoted to evil. 

He seemed to have imbibed an inveterate dislike 
to religion [but on the other hand, although], he was 
not ignorant of the wonderful arguments of William 
Godwin, and though, if it suited his purpose, he would 
make use of the conceit and folly of another, he had 
too much sense to be led by them himself. a 

Marauder corrupts Emily, the girl Wilson loves, 
by keeping her supplied with all the new books. 
"Among the first of these was Mary Wollstone- 
craft's Rights of Women. 3 To this he adds Vol- 
taire's Tales, and Diderot's novels. He reads to 
her extracts from "that first of writers, that most 
rational, philosophic, learned, modest, and inge- 
nious of all human naturals, William Godwin; 
taken from his scientific work, The History of the 
Intrigues of his Own Wife." 4 Emily is induced to 
elope with Marauder to London, where her educa- 
tion in vice is completed by the noble Emigres 
with whom Marauder associates. She becomes 
an adept in the Voltairean philosophy, with a 

1 Infernal Quixote, vol. i., p. 4. 2 Ibid., p. 152. 

3 Ibid., p. 153. 

Ibid., p. 170. Memoirs of the Author of a Vindication of the 
Rights of Women, of course. 

146 The French Revolution 

charming marchioness to explain it to her. The 
author comments on the fact that : 

The ci-devant nobility were perfectly acquainted 
with the works of Spinoza, Hobbes, Shaftesbury, 
Hume, Voltaire, Diderot, D'Alembert, and the whole 
gang of modern sceptics in the English, French, and 
German languages, and . . . frequently dispute with 
great civility on the use of titles. From the conversa- 
tion of many of them a stranger would suppose that 
they were of the democratic party. Many of the 
first abilities actually joined the popular cause; for . . . 
the present infamous factions (in France) must not 
be confused with the first noble emancipators of their 
country. * 

The duke, whose heir Marauder believed him- 
self to be, dies, a long-lost son appears, and Marau- 
der finds his hopes of rank and title vanished. 
His aristocratic ambitions thwarted, he changes 
sides immediately, resolving to make the hell 
of democracy his heaven. In this he is compared 
to Cromwell, "except that Cromwell's enthusiasm 
rather got the better of his hypocrisy," while 
Marauder's only principle is, that "all principle 
is folly." 2 He becomes a leader in all seditious 
and treasonable plots, finally joins in the Irish 
uprisings, and is there defeated and killed by 

1 Infernal Quixote, vol. i., pp. 125-37. The last sentence is 
significant as an indication that English observers were fully 
aware of the fundamental change in the nature of the Revolu- 
tion, the passing from bourgeoise to proletarian control. 

' Ibid., p. 295. 

And the English Novel 147 

Such is the main plan of the novel. All this 
is of interest, aside from the author's main thesis 
(the ambitious motives of the Revolutionary 
leaders), for the lists of Revolutionary writers it 
gives, and for the light it throws on the attitude 
of the French ci-devant nobility. /There are 
also various passages satirizing the mummeries 
of "Those Secret Societies, who by some general 
name and open profession of constitutional pur- 
pose conceal their attempt to overthrow Church 
and State." 1 

But there are certain other digressions which are 
of more interest to us than all the rest of the 
novel. Lucas was evidently of a keenly analyti- 
cal turn of mind; not content with merely dis- 
liking all the newer tendencies of his time, he 
seeks to discover the common basis of his dislikes. 
In so doing he gives us a very illuminating dis- 
cussion of the underlying affinities between the 
apparently opposite principles of Sentimentalism 
and Pure Reason. 

The question is one which suggests itself inevit- 
ably. Sentimentalism (which we have defined 
as an interest in feeling for its own sake, tending 
to make feeling the test of opinion), and the Pure 
Reason philosophies, with their negation of feel- 
ing, would seem to be opposite poles of thought. 
Yet there are certain curious parallelisms. It is 
at about the same time (the close of the seven- 
teenth century), that both Sentimentalism and 

1 Infernal Quixote, vol. ii., p. 212. 

148 The French Revolution 

Scepticism begin to make their influence felt in 
English literature. Furthermore, it is in the writers 
directly influencing the Revolutionists that both 
come to their fullest expression. Hume, the com- 
plete Sceptic, and Rousseau, the complete Senti- 
mentalist, were born within a couple of years of 
each other. x We have already commented on the 
fact that Godwin, apostle of Pure Reason in his 
theory, is a thorough Sentimentalist in his literary 
practice. Certain books like the Social Contract 
are puzzling to classify. 

There is another puzzling element in the thought 
of the eighteenth century. The growth of Method- 
ism and similar forms of dissent, whose followers 
were grouped under the general heading of reli- 
gious enthusiasts, were seriously threatening the 
dry bones of Establishment. And, again a coin- 
cidence in dates: the first Methodist preaching 
place was opened in Bristol in 1739, the year of 
the publication of Hume's first work, A Treatise 
on Human Nature. 

We must not be misled by an instinctive desire 
for synthesis; yet it is difficult to believe that 
these curious interactions and chronological paral- 
lelisms are altogether without significance. Hence 
their discussion and analysis by a contemporary 
critic is of especial interest. 

'Hume, b. 1711; Rousseau, b. 1712. These coincidences in 
dates are, of course, noted merely to illustrate the fact that Sen- 
timentalism, Scepticism, and Methodism were exactly contem- 

And the English Novel 149 

Infidelity and enthusiasm, Lucas admits, are 
opposite extremes; but they often reach the same 
conclusions. Godwin, he points out, began as a 
dissenting preacher, and there are many similari- 
ties between his doctrines and those of Methodism. 

The author of the Spiritual Quixote, speaking of 
religious enthusiasm ere the irreligious was yet ma- 
tured, said "Enthusiasm is deaf to all the calls of 
nature, " etc. Did not the wretches in France boast 
the murder of fathers, brothers, and sons? Does not 
Godwin renounce those ties? 1 

In further illustration of this similarity Lucas 
gives a mock sermon, based he declares on one he 
has actually heard, which with a few changes in 
names is adapted either to a democratic ranter or 
to a Methodist preacher. He defies the reader 
to tell which was the original form. 

Faith, Grace, Hope, and Charity make it the one; 
Liberty, Equality, and Justice make it the other. 
Call Saints Democrats; Sinners, Aristocrats ; for Satan, 
read Tyrants; and for more sacred names, take Nature, 
and so forth. 


j Satan and his imps of darkness ) are on the 

( Tyrants and their ministers of tyranny ) watch, 

( beloved Brethren ) ^ 

my 1 . _. . > to fasten you in the eternal 

7 ( fellow Citizens ) 

chains of \ , [Be therefore ever vigilant. 

( Slavery ) 

1 Infernal Quixote, vol. ii., p. 176. 

150 The French Revolution 

T, . ( Gospel Armor ) 

Put on the j ,. ., ~ > and defy the powers of 

etc., etc., ad libitum.' 1 

Lucas then passes on to a classification of the 
new philosophies of infidelity and enthusiasm, 
which he groups under the comprehensive heading 
of "Diabolism." This he defines as, "A species 
of wisdom which man discovers by the aid of 
his own individual powers, corporal and mental, 
without owning the aid of any superior being, 
directly or indirectly." 2 

Diabolism he divides into nine sects, as follows : 


Epicureans. . . . , 

-r, . ,. of ancient origin, but modernized. 




Naturals. f ,. 

T. Moderns. 3 



The first three "ancients" he dismisses as being 
sufficiently well understood, and proceeds to de- 
fine the others, with satirical comment. The 
"Virtuosos" are the lovers of Wonder; their 

1 Infernal Quixote, vol. ii., p. 177-78. 
1 Ibid., p. 222. 
J Ibid., p. 225. 

And the English Novel 151 

delight is to rake in the past for things forgotten, 
which they hail as novelties. 1 " Libertinians," 
as might be supposed, are the political theorists, 
anarchistic or republican, who are insane on the 
subject of liberty. "Illuminati" include not 
merely the society of that name, but all religious 
sects which claim an especial enlightenment, 
including Quakers and Methodists. 3 

The "Naturals" are the philosophers of the 
Return to Nature, and the worshippers of "natu- 
ral" feeling. 3 This sect, Lucas thinks, are more 
sincere and less dangerous (because more obvi- 
ously mad) than the others. "Like the Quakers, 
they are more admired by the rest than imitated." 4 
He adds, the name "Natural" is rendered espe- 
cially appropriate by the bedlam appearance 
presented by the followers of this sect in their 
"Return to Nature" costumes. 

Lucas comments on the strange alliance between 

z Cf. frequent definitions of Romanticism as "The Rennais- 
sance of Wonder" and as "A Return to the Middle Ages. " 

3 Society of the Illuminati; "Founded in 1776, by Adam Weis- 
haupt with the ostensible object of perfecting human nature, of 
binding in one brotherhood men of all countries, ranks and relig- 
ions, and of surrounding the persons of princes with trustworthy 
advisers. The mysteries related to religion, which was transform- 
ed into naturalism and free thought, and to politics, which in- 
clined to socialism and republicanism." (Article on Illuminati, 
in the American Encyclopedia.) Cf. also my note on St. Simon, 
in Chapter VI. 

* Infernal Quixote, vol. ii., p. 263. 

/. e., Sentimentalists, and Rousseauists of the Thomas Day 

152 The French Revolution 

the "Naturals" and the "Reasoners" (i. e., the 
Sentimentalists and Sceptics) of his time. "The 
Reasoners deceive the Naturals by making them 
think the Reasoners' whims and fancies are the 
genuine offspring of nature." x Like the Naturals, 
the Reasoners exalt an ideal primitive man; espe- 
cially when attacking religion. "The most com- 
mon method of the Reasoner is to write a dialogue 
on the subject between himself and the savage. 
He, very kindly, for Christianity; the savage for 
himself. Oh, how the savage cuts him up!" 2 

Hume is a perfect specimen of the Reasoner. 
"Rousseau is so strange a compound between a 
Natural and a Reasoner (which rarely happens) 
that his brethren never knew what to make of 
him." 3 

Most detestable of all Diabolists are the Nothin- 
gers. These are the people whose pride it is to 
have no principles whatever; who are swayed 
entirely by self-interest. In this group Lucas 
classified Godwin. "Every Jacobin is of this sect, 
and they generally also embrace most of the others, 
except the Naturals, and that they endeavour to 
make 'Le Souverain Peuple.' " 4 

Having demonstrated the real unity in Diabol- 
ism, however various its forms, Lucas proceeds 
to indicate his own philosophy. He favours a 
definite and centralized authority in matters of 

1 Infernal Quixote, vol. ii., p. 263. * Ibid., vol. ii., p. 279. 

J Ibid., vol. ii., p. 283. Ibid., vol. ii., p. 291. 

And the English Novel 153 

government and of belief; Constitutional Mon- 
archy and the Established Church. 

Establishment [he says], is a requisite form of 
religious worship. What in the abstract cannot be 
defended may in the whole be of the highest benefit. * 
In Church, in State, I fear schisms and oppositions 
as the harbingers of confusion, and from them I dread 
the introduction of every species of evil. 2 

In all matters of belief, he recognizes the prin- 
ciple of authority. 

If everyone were free to make the articles of his own 
faith, little would remain of the original institutions of 
Christ. . . . The majority of the world are composed of 
the ignorant, the designing, the indolent, and the open 
reprobate; how dark and gloomy is the prospect of 
the human mind left to itself ! It is absolutely neces- 
sary that our minds as well as persons should have 
some law. 3 

Such is Lucas's analysis of the thought of his 
time. On the one side authority, tradition, a 
fixed standard, in belief as in conduct. On the 
other side, individualism, revolt, disorganization. 
The Sentimentalist and Pure Reason philosophies 

1 But Lucas is not quite so sound a Pragmatist as one might 
infer from his method of defending Establishment. He defines 
Christianity as "That purity of principle which will not, by any 
mental persuasion, commit that which is wrong, even if it is to 
produce the greatest benefit. " Infernal Quixote, vol. iii., p. 68. 

'Ibid., vol. ii., pp. 183-86. 

J Ibid., vol. ii., 

154 The French Revolution 

in all their forms have this in common: they are 
a revolt from the principle of authority. Their 
ethical systems are formed by each man for him- 
self, subject to no discipline by recognized superi- 
ors. Having cast aside the principle of authority, 
one group is guided by pure feeling, the other by 
pure reason; but that is merely a subdivision of 
the main classification on the basis of their com- 
mon revolt. 

A number of other novels written in opposition 
to the Revolutionary philosophies may be men- 
tioned, but none of them merit any detailed con- 
sideration. They are merely significant of the 
prevalence of the opinions which they represent. 1 

It will be remembered that Lucas classified the 
Methodists among the Sentimentalists, as having 
revolted from the principle of authority in favour 
of purely subjective standards. This classifica- 
tion is curiously corroborated by an earlier novel, 
The Fair Methodist, or, Such Things Are (anon., 
1794). This is announced as "a serious novel, 
founded on truth." A passage in the dedication 
(to Sir Rowland Hill) is worth quoting : 

1 Edmund Oliver, by Charles Lloyd (the friend of Charles 
Lamb, to whom the book is dedicated), should be mentioned here. 
Dowden says of it: "The reproduction in fiction of some of S. T. 
Coleridge's early adventures has given the book an interest which 
its literary merits fail to justify. The heroine, Lady Gertrude 
Sinclair, is a disciple of Political Justice" (English Literature and 
the French Revolution, p. 89). 

And the English Novel 155 

The word Gospel in divinity, like Liberty in politics, 
is intoxicating in its sound to those who know little 
of its genuine signification. . . . That ignorance is the 
mother of devotion is manifested in the very temper of 
methodistical enthusiasm, which denies human learn- 
ing as useless and gives a preference to the Spirit as 
alone sufficient. 1 

The novel itself deals with a young woman who 
behaves very treacherously to all her friends, and 
then becomes a Methodist and assumes airs of 
great sanctity. There are numerous passages 
directed against all forms of belief in which faith 
and an emotional experience are considered as an 
equivalent for works. The author is not opposed 
to all the newer tendencies, however. He speaks 
with great respect of Hume and Priestley. 

Before we leave the subject of Methodism, 
there is an interesting passage in The Memoirs of 
an Old Wig (Richard Fenton, 1815), indicating 
that the charge of Sentimentalism was a common 
one. The Old Wig says of one of its owners: 
"His religion was made up of Rousseau and 

H h M e [Hannah More?], the worst sort 

of Methodism, that is, Methodism with a dis- 
proportionate mixture of the philosophy of 

There are several novels written at about this 
time in rather truculent defence of orthodoxy. 
Among the best of these is Memoirs of a Female 

1 The Fair Methodist, p. ii. 

156 The French Revolution 

Philosopher, by a Modern Male Philosopher (anon., 
1818). This is an imitation of Hume's Dialog 
of Four Philosophers. It is in the form of an 
argument between four ladies representing the 
Stoic, Epicurean, Platonist, and Christian philo- 
sophies. The Christian has the best of it, of 
course. The semblance of narrative form is kept 
by having each of the ladies tell the story of her 
life by way of illustration. 

A similar novel of argument is Edward and 
Sophia anon. (188-,), in which a deist is reconciled 
to the Established Church. 

In Walter Kennedy, an American Tale (1805), 
John Davis gives some realistic pictures of Indian 
life in opposition to the belief in a Rousseauistic 
state of nature and the noble savage. 

Two novels with prefaces bewailing the use of 
fiction to corrupt the age with Revolutionary 
doctrines, but confining themselves to common- 
place morality, are Cypher, or The World as it Goes 
(anon., 1791), and Romulus: A Tale of Ancient 
Times, an adaptation from the German, by Rev. 
P. Mill (not dated). 

The Last Man, or, Omegarus and Syderia: A 
Romance of Futurity contains certain passages on 
the Revolutionary philosophies as they are sup- 
posed to be regarded by a remote posterity. "Ex- 
perience is the only reason of man. Maxims 
more pernicious than the plague were supposed 
beneficent by ages which deemed themselves 
enlightened. The evils which these maxims create 

And the English Novel 157 

cannot be described." 1 The only other points 
worth noting in this novel of prophecy are the 
forecasts of the development of machinery, and 
the art of flying, and a Malthusian terror of over- 
population. 2 

/'// Consider of It (anon., 1812), a novel written 
in obvious imitation of Sterne, has for its unifying 
principle the exaltation of aristocratic birth, and 
the evils of mesalliances. A typical speech of the 
hero is: "Such are the maxims of those who are 
fond of innovations, that 'virtue alone is true 
nobility,' and all such commonplace ideas. I 
am for different orders and degrees of men." 3 

Turning from the noisy warfare over ideas, 
religious and political, to the underlying realities 
of the economic conflict, we come upon one novel 
at least that merits attention. The Magic of 
Wealth, an Antibank Novel 4 is a protest, from the 
standpoint of the landed classes against the grow- 
ing supremacy of capital. It may serve to indi- 
cate the extent to which the age was aware of the 
real nature of the changes taking place. 

There are three principle figures in the novel: 
Oldways, Flimflam the banker, and Lyttleton, 
the mysterious stranger. Mr. Oldways is an Old 

1 The Last Man, anon., 1806. 

2 This particular bogy continued to cast a dark shadow over 
the future for sociologists as late, certainly, as Tennyson's second 
Locksley Hall. In the twentieth century we seem to prefer the 
race suicide bogy. 

J I'll Consider of It, vol. ii., p. 179. 

By E. T. Sun, author of A Winter in London, etc., 1815. 

158 The French Revolution 

Whig, of the school of Burke, who has "the sin- 
cerest admiration of the principles of the British 
Constitution as recognized at the era of the Revo- 
lution," and points triumphantly to "the morti- 
fying lesson to the bigoted worshippers of any 
human theory or system afforded by the horrors 
of the French Revolution." 1 Oldways was 

born and bred the true old English gentleman; he 
possessed no part of the trafficking spirit of the times. 
It never occurred to him that the revenues of his 
estates were to be considered only so much capital. . . . 
He never contemplated the necessity of engaging in 
such projects, to save himself from being overwhelmed 
by the effects of that power, which paper circulation 
imparted to every dealer in every article of general 
consumption. 2 

Oldways finds, however, that as the cost of 
living rises his expenses are enormously increased 
through no fault of his own. Also, his tenantry 
are becoming steadily poorer and less able to pay 
even his moderate rents. He refuses to follow 
the general practice of raising rents. He likewise 
refuses to speculate. Consequently, he is fairly 
driven out of the country, "until principles of 
sound policy shall induce the government to adopt 
such reforms as shall restore to its natural and 
wholesome influence among the other orders of 

1 Magic of Wealth, vol. i., p. 174. 
* Ibid., vol. i. f p. 179. 

And the English Novel 159 

the state, the ranks of independent country gentle- 
men." 1 

Oldways's estate, his influence, and his seat in 
Parliament fall into the hands of the upstart 
banker Flimflam. 

Dangerous crisis when a skilful manoeuvrer by 
speculative art can wrest from the descendants of the 
ancient nobility the means of supporting with neces- 
sary dignity that rank and influence in the state which 
the wisdom and experience of their ancestors con- 
sidered and confirmed as a most salutary balance 
between the monarch's power and the people's will. 2 

The deus ex machina who interferes at this crisis 
to save the nation from the consequences of wild 
speculation and a loss of the balance of power 
is the mysterious stranger, Lyttleton. 3 He has 
gained possession of the hidden treasure of the 
Jesuits. Returning after years of absence, he 
reflects: "With wealth that gives me over millions 
of my fellow creatures the powers of the genii of 
romance I am here in England where poverty and 
wealth are terms almost synonymous with vice 
and virtue." 4 He decides that the best way in 
which he can serve mankind is to "apply the magic 

1 Magic of Wealth, vol. ii., p. 134. 

2 Ibid., vol. ii., p. 124. 

s Of course he turns out to be Oldways's long-lost nephew. In 
novels of this period one may always rest assured that any per- 
son not otherwise accounted for will turn out to be someone's 
long-lost something-or-other, before the end of the book. 

Ibid., vol. i., p. 27. 

160 The English Novel 

of real wealth in order to counteract the evils 
which have originated from the tricks and delu- 
sions of selfish impostors." He straightens out 
the banking system and the currency, assists 
Oldways and his friends, and exposes Flimflam. 
The novel ends with a moral : 

Happy will it be for Old England, for the British 
Empire, for the civilized world, when the manoeuvres 
of such mischievous speculators as Flimflam shall no 
longer be successful; and when the character and 
conduct of such men as Mr. Oldways shall be rightly 
understood, duly honored, and generally imitated. 1 

1 Magic of Wealth, vol. ii., p. 240. 




IN considering the novels of Godwin we observed 
a certain divergence between the personalities 
shown in his life, in his novels, and in his philo- 
sophical writings. In the case of Robert Bage, the 
man, the literary artist, and the thinker are so 
identified that it is hard to separate them even for 
convenience in discussion. His six novels are the 
spontaneous expression of the observations and 
ideas collected in a long and useful life. One no 
more wishes to consider them apart from the 
biography of the author than one would read 
The Old Benchers of the Inner Temple without wish- 
ing first to make the personal acquaintance of Elia. 
Fortunately there are few among our little group 
of novelists whom we may know more intimately 
than Bage. The accounts of his friends Godwin 
and Hutton, letters, and the memoir which Miss 
Hutton supplied for Scott's preface to his edition 
of Bage's novels help us to give form to the 
personality that so pervades his work. 1 Robert 

1 Paid, William Godwin, vol. i., p. 263. 
ii 161 

1 62 The French Revolution 

Bage himself comes clearly before us, a success- 
ful manufacturer and the son of a manufacturer, 
belonging with Shakespeare and Chaucer in that 
honourable minority of imaginative writers who 
have had the practical qualities necessary to make 
their way in the world of business. After a good 
common school education, where he early dis- 
tinguished himself by his proficiency in Latin, he 
entered his father's paper-mills. When he had 
gained the necessary experience, he set up for 
himself as a paper manufacturer at Elford. He 
married early and very happily. His efficient 
management left him time for wide reading and 
study; at the age of fifty-three, as he told Godwin, 
the failure of a business venture "filled him with 
melancholy thoughts, and to dissipate them he 
formed the idea of a novel which he endeavoured 
to fill with gay and cheerful ideas. At first he had 
no idea of publishing what he wrote. He believes 
he should not have written novels but for the want 
of books to assist him in any other literary under- 
taking. " x The six novels which he published at 
fairly regular intervals during the next fifteen 
years were all decidedly and immediately success- 

To this meagre outline of a well-rounded life we 
may add some sketches of the man as he appeared 
to those who knew him. In 1797, Godwin, making 
a pilgrimage to visit the sage, writes of him in a 
letter to Mary Wollstonecraf t : 

1 Paul, William Godwin, vol. i., p. 263. 

And the English Novel 163 

I found him uncommonly cheerful and placid, 
simple in his manners, and youthful in his carriage. 
His house at the mill was floored every room below 
stairs with brick, like that of a common farmer in all 
respects. . . . He has thought much, and like most of 
those persons I have met with who have conquered 
many prejudices and read little metaphysics, is a 
materialist. His favourite book on this point is the 
Systeme de la Nature. 1 

A fuller account is given by Miss Hutton, the 
daughter of Bage's old friend. 

In his person, Robert Bage was rather under the 
middle size, and rather slender, but well propor- 
tioned. His complexion was fair and ruddy, his hair 
light and curling; his countenance intelligent, yet 
mild and placid. His manners were courteous, and 
his mind was firm. His integrity, his honour, his 
devotion to truth, were undeviating and incorrup- 
tible: his humanity, benevolence and generosity were 
not less conspicuous in private life than they were in 
the principal characters in his works. He supplied 
persons he never saw with money because he heard 
they were in want. He kept his servants and his 
horses to old age, and both men and quadrupeds were 
attached to him. He behaved to his sons with the 
unremitting affection of a father; but, as they grew 
up, he treated them as men and equals, and allowed 
them that independence of mind and conduct which 
he claimed for himself. . . . He never had a strong 
passion for wealth, and he never rose to opulence. 8 

1 Paul, William Godwin, vol. i., p. 262. 

* Ballantyne's Novelists Library, vol. ix., preface, p. xxiv. 

164 The French Revolution 

The novels of Robert Bage are precisely what 
we should expect of such a man. His personality 
pervades them all; kindly, humorous, even 
whimsical; keenly observant of life, and genuinely 
enjoying his fellow-men. He belongs rather to the 
tradition of Goldsmith than with the Gothic 
Romancers. There is enough plot to keep the 
action in his novels from stagnating, but little 
more. The author is principally interested in the 
personalities his imagination has created. It 
speaks volumes for his ability that neither the 
meagreness of plot nor the frank didacticism are 
at any time felt as a defect. The form chosen 
(four out of the six novels are series of letters), 
is admirably adapted to the genial and sympathe- 
tic characterization in which Bage excells. It is 
not a crowded canvas that he presents us; rather, 
a group of a dozen or so pleasant people, with a 
background of events and a few unsympathetic 
types lightly sketched in. We look over their 
shoulders at the clever letters they write about 
each other. We are interested in the various 
strands of their lives, and not less interested in their 
shrewd observations on the world of contemporary 
thought. The zest with which the author created 
these people is contagious. 

The general framework of the plots of each novel 
may be given in a few words. Mount Henneth 
(published 1781), derives its title from an old 
castle in Wales bought by a wealthy and intelligent 
merchant who proposes to retire there with his 

And the English Novel 165 

daughter and such congenial people as he can 
gather about him. After two volumes of accidents 
and incidents in which they become acquainted, 
the book closes with a quadruple wedding, and 
some twelve or thirteen people settle at Mount 
Kenneth in a sort of pre-Coleridgean Pantisocracy, 
where the gentlemen work for a short time each 
day, and in the afternoon join their wives in 
studies and amusement. Bage is so fond of these 
multiple weddings, that often, as the last chapter 
of a novel approaches, the reader feels with Touch- 
stone that: "There is, sure, another flood towards, 
and these couples are coming to the ark! " 

Barham Downs (1784), is a similar earthly 
paradise, only with a more prominent villain, who 
complicates matters by carrying off one of the 
heroines to force her into a mariage de convenance. 
All the main strands of plot in this novel find their 
counterpart somewhere in the first. Most of them 
are the usual stock in trade of the novelists of 
Bage's time. 

James Wallace* (1788) has a somewhat more 
unified plot, centring in an individual rather than 
a place. The hero, setting out to make his own 
way in the world, fails as a lawyer on account of 
his over generous and trusting disposition. After 
sundry adventures he becomes the servant of a 

1 The Fair Syrian (1787), is the next in chronological order. 
But as all efforts to secure a copy of this novel have hitherto been 
unsuccessful, it must be omitted from our discussion for the 

1 66 The French Revolution 

young lady of rare charm and intelligence. Find- 
ing that he loves her, and that her kindness to him 
is causing gossip, he leaves her. After various 
wanderings, he turns out to be the long-lost nephew 
of a certain Irish gentleman who has befriended 
him, wins great honour in a sea fight, and returns 
to marry his Judith. This happy love story is 
interwoven with a sad one. A boy and girl attach- 
ment between a certain young gentleman and the 
daughter of his tutor is broken off by his being sent 
abroad to travel. He returns no longer capable of 
finding happiness in right living, and his attempt at 
kidnapping his former sweetheart being foiled by 
the intervention of James Wallace, the young man 
goes back to Paris and a life of dissipation. Several 
very interesting personalities appear in the course 
of the book Judith's benevolent, gruff old uncle ; 
a sea captain, his friend; and Paracelsus Holman, 
an apothecary of great scientific attainments, a rare 
mixture of kindliness and shrewd good sense. 

The last two of Bage's novels were written 
during the Revolution in France, at a time when 
the reaction against liberal ideas had already begun 
in England. As the titles indicate, these two 
novels are more distinctly and consciously doc- 
trinary than the earlier ones. Yet so skilful a 
literary workman is Bage, and so genuine and 
vigorous his creative ability, that instead of 
degenerating into mere arguments these show a 
steady gain in literary merit. Miss Hutton com- 
ments with some surprise on the fact that "of 

And the English Novel 167 

six different works comprising a period of fifteen 
years, the last is unquestionably the best." 

Man As He Is (1792) is frankly announced by 
its preface as a novel with a purpose. In plot and 
treatment it is the simplest of the six. Bage has 
deserted the letter form with its opportunities for 
detailed characterization and its many threads of 
interest, in favour of direct narrative. A fashion- 
able youth of good average character falls in love 
with a young woman of rare intellect and refine- 
ment. She refuses to receive his addresses until 
he can win her respect. He goes to France and 
there falls into the usual dissipations, all of which 
report brings to the knowledge of his lady-love. 
After several futile attempts at reform, he returns 
to England and actually falls ill from despair of 
ever winning her. Naturally (in a novel), the 
lady forgives him, waives her impossible demands, 
marries him, and he reforms, more or less. There 
is a good deal of social satire in the book, and many 
long discussions of contemporary ideas and events. 
Two of the minor characters are worthy of note: 
Mr. Lindsay, a man of high principles and culture 
whom the hero rescues from a debtors' prison and 
chooses for his tutor; and Miss Carlil, a spirited 
young Quakeress who accompanies the heroine. 

The last of Bage's novels was published in 1796, 
a black year for English sympathizers with the 
French Revolution. France had disappointed 
political idealists, and the reaction in England 
against their principles was at its height. The'note 

i68 The French Revolution 

of wistfulness in Bage's novel of the ideal man, 
Hermsprong, Or Man As He Is Not, accords well 
with the time. The sharp conflicts of ideas arising 
from the political crisis have at last crystallized 
Bage's very liberal sentiments into a genuine 
radicalism. The book not only shows abundant 
evidences of the influence of the most extreme 
political thinkers of his time, but contains numer- 
ous direct references to such writers as Rousseau, 
Thomas Paine, and Mary Wollstonecraft. Here 
gentle satire of social follies and shams takes on a 
note of bitterness, and there are passages of vigor- 
ous denunciation directed against specific evils in 
the body politic. Here only in the six novels does 
the plot itself seem chosen primarily as a vehicle 
for the expression of the author's politico-philo- 
sophical doctrines. 

Hermsprong, the protagonist of Bage's social 
philosophy, is a mysterious young man who has 
passed the first twenty years of his life among the 
American Indians. After some four years of travel 
through Europe, chiefly on foot, and a brief resi- 
dence in France, he arrives somewhat abruptly 
upon the scene of the story, just in time to rescue 
the heroine from a runaway horse. When his 
independence of manner incurs the enmity of her 
father, Lord Grondale, a wealthy and dissipated 
old nobleman, our stage setting is complete. The 
rest of the novel consists principally of Herm- 
sprong's comments upon the evils of the time in 
politics and manners, his conflicts with prejudiced 

And the English Novel 169 

persons, and his philanthropic activities. In 
the end, of course, he turns out to be the miss- 
ing heir of Lord Grondale's estate, and marries 
his daughter. So much for the plot. Our in- 
terest here is with the character of Hermsprong, 
admittedly the exponent of Bage's most extreme 

The conception of introducing a man of uncon- 
ventional or uncivilized education as a critic of 
society was no new one in literature. A host of 
familiar figures occur to one's mind Crusoe's 
Friday, The Plain Dealer, the Fool of Quality, 
Oronooko. Voltaire's L'ingenu (1767) offers a 
parallel so striking that it is difficult to believe 
Bage was not influenced by this version. In- 
numerable likenesses in plot and sentiment might 
be pointed out. With Rousseau's preaching of 
the virtues of primitive man the satirically naive 
comment from the standpoint of a noble savage 
received a new popularity. Professor Cross writes 
of this type-figure: 

He was an evolution under the influence of the new 
philosophy, of Fielding's Mr. Square, who conducted 
himself according to the "unalterable rule of right 
and the eternal fitness of things." How far removed 
the ethics of the revolutionist was from Fielding is 
seen by their attitude towards essentially the same 
gentleman. In Tom Jones he was a villain; in Bage's 
Hermsprong he was the hero. ] 

1 Cross, Development of the English Novel, p. 92. 

170 The French Revolution 

Even in treating such a subject as the perfect 
man in an imperfect state of society, the genial 
good sense of Bage saves him from the flights of 
unbridled idealism which were the curse of so 
many thinkers of his time. Granting the early 
environment Bage presupposes, Hermsprong is not 
implausible. Whenever he tends to become too 
much the superman, the author provides some 
other character to voice with sly good humour the 
criticism of common sense and common kindness. 
From his savage training Hermsprong has acquired 
a contempt for weakness. He is fond of long walks, 
"makes a pipe and ale his luxuries, not habits," 
and despises self-indulgence in all forms. He is 
frankly bored by long dinners and the elaborate 
ceremonies of polite society; by no means an un- 
heard of characteristic in actual life. But Herm- 
sprong does not condemn civilization wholesale in 
favour of savage life. In real happiness, he thinks, 
the gain of civilized society is but small. But he 
would not give up the pleasures of the mind for any 
of the compensations of primitive life. The polit- 
ical and philosophic views of Hermsprong are 
much like those expressed in Bage's other novels, 
except that he is an avowed Republican, as might be 
expected. Of the French Revolution he says, 1 "it 
is strange and new as to the causes which animate 
the French; for as to the means the destruction 
of the human species it has been a favourite 
mode with power of every denomination ever since 

1 Man As He Is Not, vol. i., p. 85. 

And the English Novel 171 

power was, " but he "leaves it to the loyal English- 
man to approve by the lump. All the malignant as 
well as all the better passions are afloat in France ; 
and malignant actions are the consequence. Many 
of the acts of the Assembly are acts of necessity, 
and some, no doubt, of folly." 1 America ap- 
proaches nearer to his ideal state of society: "Yet 
still at an immense distance from the ultimatum, 
to attain which manners must change much, and 
governments more. The first is possible, for 
manners are addicted to change. The latter is 
hopeless. Governments do not change, at least 
for the better." 2 Of England he says sadly: 
"Your debts and other consequences of having 
the best possible of all governments impose upon 
you the necessity of being the first workshop in the 
world. You labour incessantly for happiness. If 
you find it, all is well. " 

Curiously, Hermsprong's manner towards 
women is one of affected gallantry: he acknow- 
ledges that this is an exception to his principle of 
universal sincerity. But when reluctantly en- 
trapped into a serious discussion of the question, 
he takes a thoroughly progressive stand for the 
education and human dignity of women, ending: 

Women have minds untrained, which instead of 
ranging the worlds of metaphysics and logic are con- 
fined to these ideas of routs and Ranelaghs. ... If 

1 Man As He Is Not, vol. ii., p. 164. 

2 Ibid., p. 162. 

172 The French Revolution 

"a firm mind and a firm body" be the best prayer of 
men to the gods, why not of women? ... But while 
they think as much of their charms as you suppose them 
to do, Mrs. Wollstonecraft must write in vain. . . . 
Be not angry with me. Be women what they may, I 
am destined to be their adorer. Be angry with Mrs- 
Wollstonecraft, who has lately abused the dear sex 
through two octavo volumes. 1 

In other words, Robert Bage was not very 
vitally interested in that part of the revolution in 
thought which pertained to the position of women. 
It is safe to say that he had done a good deal of 
thinking about woman. In his earlier novels he 
theorizes extensively on the attitude of society 
towards certain phases of the woman question. 
But in this last novel his interest is centred on 
other issues. He evades feminism as far as possible 
or treats the whole matter with a whimsical 

After considering Bage's novels separately, it 
may prove illuminating to summarize those radical 
principles which seemed to his contemporaries so 
dangerous. They may be grouped under two 
general headings: (i) religious and ethical; and 
(2) political and economic. 

a (i) Doctrinal disputes seem to Robert Bage 

1 Man As He Is Not, vol. ii., pp. 167, 168. 

2 Sir Walter Scott offers a suggestion of considerable import- 
ance at this point. "Bage appears, from his peculiar style to 
have been educated a Quaker, and he always painted the indi- 
viduals of that primitive sect of Christians in amiable colours, 

And the English Novel 173 

futile and absurd. His books give abundant 
testimony to his dislike for all forms of bigotry. 
He follows the radical opinion of his time in re- 
garding priests and kings as fellow-conspirators to 
enslave the human mind. References to the 
ignorance and corruption existing among the 
clergy of the Established Church are numerous, but 
not unfair. Hermsprong is the only one of his 
novels in which satire on the clergy seems part of a 
deliberate purpose, and even here there is a cheer- 
ful admission that the type of "Dr. Blick" is by 
no means universal. Nor is his opposition confined 
to the abuses of the Established Church : dissenters 

when they are introduced as personages in his novels. If this 
was the case, however, he appears to have wandered from their 
tenets into the wastes of scepticism. " 

Later authorities (Chalmers's General Biographical Dictionary, 
etc.) state positively that Bage was a member of the Society of 
Friends. But the accounts of Bage by his contemporaries, Hutton 
and Godwin, which form the basis of the encyclopaedia articles, say 
nothing of this. It seems probable that this suggestion of Scott's, 
which is after all only a suggestion, may have proved misleading. 
If Bage presents us with some very attractive Quakers it is also 
true that at times he writes rather scathing criticisms of that sect. 
The novels themselves can hardly be said, therefore, to offer 
conclusive evidence on this point. Neither can such characteris- 
tics of Bage's as his dislike of war, of duelling, and of extravagances 
in dress be taken as evidence. There were many opinions which 
the Revolutionary sympathizers held in common with the 
Quakers. Mrs. Opie passes quite naturally from Godwin's 
particular clique into the Society of Friends. 

It is interesting to observe that in his History of Derby Hutton 
gives a list of the dissenting denominations represented in the 
neighbourhood in which Bage lived; and the Society of Friends is 
not among them. 

174 The French Revolution 

of all sorts, even Quakers, come in for their share 
of shrewd criticism. Perhaps the real attitude of 
Bage in matters of religion is most fully expressed 
by James Foston, a character whom Bage might 
well have drawn from the mirror. 

The mere ceremonial forms of religion I had learned 
among you English to think of very little account. 
The perpetual view of these absurdities engrafted in 
my mind a strong contempt. Thus I came at length 
to bound my own religion within the narrow, (though 
to me comprehensive) , bounds of the silent meditation 
of a contrite heart lifting up its humble aspiration to 
the Author and Preserver of all being, by what name 
soever called throughout the universe. All the rest 
appears to me invention or convention, sometimes 
useful, sometimes detrimental to mankind. I speak 
not of moral duties ; they are of another class. 1 

But whatever his own belief, the one point which 
he emphasizes again and again is the necessity 
of tolerance and courteous open-mindedness in 
discussing all matters of opinion, religious and 

Bage is very careful to distinguish between 
matters of opinion, for which a man is not re- 
sponsible, and matters of conduct. He is not so 
clear as to the distinction between feeling and 
conduct. Occasionally the "bosom heaving with a 
story of distress" is taken as an incontrovertible 
proof of moral integrity. But on the whole, in 

1 Mount Henneth, Ballantyne's Novelists Library, vol. ix., p. 165. 

And the English Novel 175 

ethical theory as well as in literary practice, Bage 
is fairly free of Sentimentalism. 

Contrary to Holbach and Helvetius, Bage asserts 
firmly that: "There do exist motives in human 
action that cannot be traced to love of self. " But 
the basis of his ethical system is that: "Virtue 
alone can secure true happiness." Virtue he 
defines as: "Action directed for the benefit of 
mankind." 1 The only standards of honour or of 
courtesy he recognizes are those founded on 
sincerity, benevolence, and good sense. Hence he 
consistently opposes duelling, and all the ostenta- 
tion and formality of the polite society of his 

In 1824, twenty-three years after the death of 
the author, Sir Walter Scott included three of 
B age's novels in a collection which he was editing. 2 
The preface written on this occasion is for our 
purpose a very significant one. Scott evidently 
finds himself in the awkward position of enjoying 
the work of a man whose whole point of view he 
considers in the highest degree dangerous to 
society. He is praising under protest; and it 
speaks well for the critical fairness of the politically 
conservative Sir Walter that the estimate he gives 
us of Bage as a man and as a novelist is both just 
and generous. "But if not vicious himself," says 
Scott, "Bage's leading principles are such as if 
acted upon would bring vice into society; such 

1 Mount Henneth, Ballantyne's Novelists Library, vol. ix., p. 117. 
* Ballantyne's Novelists Library. 

176 The French Revolution 

being the case it was the editor's duty to point out 
the sophistry upon which they were founded." 

The charges against Bage are various. He has 
"wandered into the wastes of scepticism. His 
religious opinions are those of a sectary who has 
reasoned himself into an infidel . . . and could be 
a friend neither to the Church of England nor to the 
doctrine she teaches." His code of ethics is un- 
sound, based upon "the self-sufficient morality of 
modern philosophy. " z Scott had no great opinion 
of the novel as a vehicle for influencing public 
thought, or it is questionable whether any amount 
of literary merit would have induced him to include 
Bage in his collection. 

(2) The extreme nature of the religious and eth- 
ical principles we have considered is somewhat less 
apparent after the lapse of a century. But for the 
warning preface, we should hardly be in a position 
to realize how dangerous Robert Bage appeared to 
his conservative contemporaries. The charge of 
prejudice which Scott brings against Bage's politi- 
cal point of view must be taken more seriously. 

His opinions of state affairs [he shrewdly suggests], 
were perhaps a little biased by frequent visits of the 
excisemen who levied taxes on his commodities for 
the purpose of maintaining a war which he disapproved 
of. It is most natural that a person who considered 
tax-gatherers extortioners, and soldiers who were 
paid by the taxes, as licensed murderers, should 
conceive the whole existing state of human affairs to 

1 Ballantyne's Novelists Library, vol. ix., preface p. xxvi. 

And the English Novel 177 

be wrong; and if he was conscious of talent and the 
power of composition, he might at the same time 
fancy that he was called upon to put it to rights. l 

This suggestion resolves itself into two separate 
charges : the first, that Bage conceives the whole 
existing system to be wrong ; secondly, that he bases 
this opinion upon a wrongness in that portion of the 
social system that affects him as an individual. If 
we turn to the novels themselves for evidence, we 
shall find that while both these statements are to 
some extent true, neither is true without com- 
ment and explanation. 

There is a very real distinction, and one which 
cannot be too constantly borne in mind in our 
discussion, between the man who denounces the 
corruptions and abuses into which society has 
fallen, and the man who believes these abuses to 
be inherent in the very structure of society, the 
direct and inevitable result of the existing system. 
It is the distinction between the Reformer and the 
Revolutionist. Holcroft, Godwin, and Shelley are 
Revolutionists by nature, Radicals in the true 
sense of the word; their axe is laid to the root of 
society, and no judicious prunings and purifications 
will satisfy them. Bage, on the contrary, in his 
first four novels nowhere implies that "the whole 
existing state of affairs is wrong, " and he certainly 
has no intention of putting it right by propaganda 

1 Ballantyne's Novelists Library, vol. ix., preface, p. xxvi. 

178 The French Revolution 

The following is fairly typical of the nature of 
his criticisms of society. In Barham Downs, Sir 
Ambrose Archer writes to a friend : 

I also, Mr. Councillor Brevity, am a man of im- 
portance, a public man sir, of the patriotic gender. 
I am returned from a meeting called an association, 
the object of which is to call upon Parliament with a 
loud voice for the redress of our grievances. And 
what are your grievances says a well pensioned gentle- 
man, Mr. T'otherside. The Crown hath acquired too 
much influence in the worst of all possible ways, 
corruption. That our representatives injure their 
health by too Jong sitting. That as we never saw 
the least possible benefit from engaging in the Ameri- 
can war, we see as little from its continuance. Fin- 
ally, that the ministers carry their contempt for 
money (public money, we mean) to an extreme. l 

Bage considers the Administration corrupt, 
negligent, and inefficient. He believes that popu- 
lar elections are reduced to a farce. His final 
warnings and denunciations, however, are directed 
not against tyranny and oppression but against the 
growing extravagance and love of display. The 
luxury and ostentation of those who have accu- 
mulated large fortunes have corrupted all classes 
of society. He looks back wistfully to the begin- 
ning of the century (before the Industrial Revolu- 
tion), "when nabobs were not." 

It is the last two novels, written after the out- 

1 Battantyne's Novelists Library, vol. ix., p. 294. 

And the English Novel 179 

break of the French Revolution (not included in 
Scott's collection) , which give Scott a certain basis 
for the first half of his statement. The storm of 
radical philosophies which accompanied the politi- 
cal phenomena on the continent, and their English 
interpretations in the works of such men as God- 
win and Paine, served to generalize Bage's spe- 
cific dissatisfactions with the Government. The 
reaction that came with the outbreak of war in 
1793, and the harsh repressive measures adopted 
toward Revolutionists crystallized his theories into 
a demand for genuinely radical changes. Man As 
He Is and Man As He Is Not are, as we have seen, 
conscious expressions of a political point of view. 
Bage at this time endorses the Rights of Man, 
considers the government of the United States 
on the whole the most perfect in existence, and has 
good hopes that in the end France will return to 
liberty and peace. But be it observed that even 
in the height of his Revolutionary fervour Bage 
desires no anarchistic Utopia. He merely ex- 
presses a growing conviction that the maladjust- 
ments of his time lie too deep to be reached by 
reform. In no single paragraph does he declare it 
essential that England should become a republic; 
but that is implied as an alternative to changes 
in the existing form almost as sweeping. 

We may, I think, admit the truth of Scott's 
second charge, that Bage's political theories are 
largely the outgrowth of his practical experience, 
without reflecting at all upon the disinterestedness 

i8o The French Revolution 

of our genial paper manufacturer. As a successful 
business man and a humane and intelligent 
employer, he was in a position to realize all the 
maladjustments arising from the Industrial Revolu- 
tion. Hence there is a definiteness and practicality 
in his ideals of government that is lacking in the 
work of professional literary men like Godwin and 
Holcroft. Moreover, if Bage's opinions were 
coloured by his life, it is also true that his life 
conformed to his opinions. It is from the little 
brick-floored cottage beside his own prosperous 
factory that he directs his shafts of satire against 
the money-snobs, great and small. 


In considering the work of those novelists most 
completely imbued with the Revolutionary philo- 
sophies and the novels written in opposition to 
them, it is apparent that we have by no means 
covered our field. As in every strongly marked 
intellectual movement, the opinions of the full 
adherents of Revolutionism were reflected in vary- 
ing degrees by a large number of sympathizers. 
These range from an almost complete acceptance 
of the doctrines of Paine and Godwin to the merest 
Whig liberalism, or to a Sentimentalism that 
vaguely acknowledges a kinship with that of 

Robert Bage, the only novelist of this class whose 

And the English Novel 181 

life and works merit detailed consideration, may 
be taken as typical. He represents the intelligent 
and disinterested Radical ; unaffected by the ab- 
surdities of Pure Reason, yet perceiving a funda- 
mental justice in many of the charges brought 
against existing conditions. Our discussion of Bage 
may be supplemented by a brief review of a num- 
ber of novels illustrating other types of Revolu- 
tionary sympathies. 

Perhaps the earliest example of tendenz fiction 
we need examine is a curious old novel entitled 
The Man in the Moon: or, Travels Into the Lunar 
Regions by the Man of the People (1783, anon.). 
This is a satire on Charles James Fox, probably 
by a fellow Whig of a somewhat more conservative 
temper. Already, it appears, there were fore- 
shadowings of these doctrines which later seemed 
so dangerous to men of the type of Burke. 

The plan of the satire is rather fantastic. The 
Man of the Moon determines to enlighten and 
reform C s F x, called The Man of the People, 
a statesman of ability who has been led into 
demagoguery by his love of power. His edu- 
cation is conducted by a trip to the moon, which 
a student (the author), is assigned to the duty of 
reporting. In the moon, Fox meets and converses 
with great orators and statesmen of the past, 
and sees the punishments necessary to purify 
them from the faults of ambition, self-interest, 
and treachery. 

It is significant, however, that throughout the 

1 82 The French Revolution 

book there are continual praises of "ancient 
republican virtues," the "foolish titles which at 
present prevail in Europe" 1 are denounced, and 
the forerunners of the Pure Reason philosophers 
are quoted with approval. Hume is made a sort 
of tutelary spirit in the moon. "Price, Clarke, 
Wollaston and others who maintain that moral 
distinctions are perceived by the active energy 
of the intellect are right in their speculations." 2 
Fox is much impressed by his trip to the moon, and 
promises "not to have any hand in destroying the 
constitution of England," or at least that: "It 
will proceed from a dread of being excluded from 
office if I shall ever be reduced to so direful a 
necessity." 3 

In 1789, the date of the actual beginning of the 
French Revolution, there appeared two novels 
containing no very startling doctrines but signifi- 
cant of the trend of popular interest. The Bastile, 
or The Adventures of Charles Townley (anon.) is 
merely a pleasant satire on fashionable France. 
The author states in the first chapter his nearest 
approach to a "doctrine": 

A vanity of illustrious ancestry is a prevailing and 
universal passion, though the most cursory observer 
must perceive that there is much real honour to be 
met with among men whose arms are not blazoned 
in the herald's office. 4 

The Amicable Quixote, or, The Enthusiasm of 

1 The Man in the Moon, vol. ii., p. 39. a Ibid., vol. i., p. 139. 
Ibid., vol. ii., p. 35. The Bastile, vol. i., p. i. 

And the English Novel 183 

Friendship (1789, anon.) is a novel of the "ruling 
passion" variety. Here, too, there is considerable 
satire directed against pride of birth. The hero 
wins his lady through serving her in the disguise 
of a butler. 1 The lady herself is not without 
interest. She might almost be considered a proto- 
type of "Lady Susan." 3 She had "most noble 
sentiments and very high ideas of propriety; but 
this sense of decorum would sometimes evaporate 
in the vindication of her own liberty." 3 Evi- 
dently this type of heroine was not unknown before 
the Vindication of the Rights of Women. 

In 1794 appeared an adaptation from the Ger- 
man of Professor Kramer's Hermon of Unna: A 
Series of Adventures of the Fifteenth Century, with a 
preface pointing out that "the horrors of the Star 
Chamber, the Inquisition, and the Bastile" are 
among the "consequences that follow when men 
yield up their understandings to the dictate of 
authority. Let us remember this, and con- 
gratulate ourselves that we are born in an age of 
illumination, and at a time when the artifices of 
superstition and tyranny are fated to vanish 
before the touch of truth." 4 

The rebellion of the Vendee furnished material 
for at least one novel, partly historical and partly 
tendenz in treatment, which has Charlotte Cor day 

1 Cf. Bage's James Wallace, pub. the preceding year. 
3 Cf. Robert and Adela, discussed in Chapter VII., Sec. 3. 
3 Amicable Quixote, vol. i. f p. 30. 
Hermon of Unna, preface, p. i. 

1 84 The French Revolution 

for a heroine and Marat for villain. 1 The ficti- 
tious part of the story centres in the "Countess 
de Narbonne, " an "Aristocrat" who has been 
forced by the Commune under Marat to marry a 
coarse and brutal hanger-on of the Convention. 
Distrusted alike by her own party and by her 
husband's Republican associates, the unhappy 
Countess lives in proud seclusion on her estate in 
the Vendee. Charlotte Cordet, 2 whose father owns 
a neighbouring estate, becomes her devoted friend. 
The Countess gives refuge to a mysterious Princess 
Victorine, a daughter of Emperor Joseph by a 
morganatic marriage, whom the Royalists wish to 
raise to the throne of France. After many vicissi- 
tudes the Countess escapes to England, with 
Victorine and her lover. Marat has persecuted 
them relentlessly, and finally causes the death of 
Charlotte's father and lover. The novel closes with 
his assassination by Charlotte and her execution. 

Although the author is evidently more interested 
in the dramatic than in the philosophical values of 
the French Revolution, she makes numerous signi- 
ficant comments. Her own attitude towards the 
Revolution is a Whiggism, conservative when com- 
pared with even so mild a radical as Bage, very 
liberal in contrast to that of the country at large. 

1 Adelaide de Narbonne, with Memoirs of Charlotte de Cordet, 
1800. " By the author of Henry of Northumberland" (evidently, 
a woman; speaks of herself as "she"). 

2 This curious spelling of the heroine's name occurs without 
apparent significance. No effort is made to conceal her identity 
under a fictitious personality. 

And the English Novel 185 

The errors committed in its different stages are by 
no means approved of by me [she writes], but I exe- 
crate rather the necessity of the times from which 
they proceed, than the unfortunate individuals who 
are forced to have recourse to them. * 

She quotes Hume with approval ; but she nowhere 
falls into the popular error of dividing her charac- 
ters into sheep and goats on the basis of their 
political convictions. Charlotte is described as 
"a Republican, but a rational one. She wished for 
reforms in a government which even the most 
sanguine advocates for monarchy cannot deny 
wanted them." 2 Her lover, on the other hand, 
was an aristocrat; "but his principles, like her 
own, were rational, and of course tended equally to 
the same end, though the means used for attempt- 
ing it might vary a little. " 3 

Another novel appealing by its title to popular 
interest in the Revolution is Arthur Mervin, or, 
Memoirs of the Year 1793, by Charles Brockden 
Brown, 1803. The action takes place chiefly in 
Philadelphia. The author is obviously somewhat 
influenced by Godwin; but his interests are 
humanitarian rather than political. 4 

Less Revolutionary and more distinctively hu- 
manitarian in its purpose is Asmodeus, or, The 

1 Adelaide de Narbonne, vol. i., p. 185. 

2 Ibid., vol. i., p. 31. 

3 Ibid., vol. i., p. 154. 

Cf. section on Godwin, for connexion between ideas of 
Revolution and humanitarianism. 

1 86 The French Revolution 

Devil in London (1808, anon.). The preface 
describes this as a novel of anecdote, with machin- 
ery borrowed from Le Sage. Few aspects of Lon- 
don life escape the shrewd, satiric comment of 
Asmodeus, but his severest strictures are directed 
against the prison system, private mad-houses 
conducted without supervision, and ostentatious 
and inefficient charities. Among other subjects 
discussed are freedom of the press, duelling, 
fashionable extravagance, the French police, and 
the evil influences of Methodists, Illuminati, and 
other types of enthusiast. There is an interesting 
passage in the discussion of suicide : 

Here rest the bones of a woman of uncommon 
talents and singular opinions. Her writings will be 
long remembered, although their dangerous tendency 
will be regretted; for whatever error attached either 
to her life or opinions was the effect of principle but 
of principle founded on the chimeras of a visionary. 1 

Naturally, the anti-slavery movement was one 
of great significance for both humanitarian and 
Revolutionary sympathizers. Since the time of 
Oronooko, the noble-minded negro had been a 
familiar figure in sentimental fiction. To the 
Rousseauist he acquired a peculiar interest as 
exemplifying primitive man in an ideal state of 
nature. To the Godwinian philosopher, chattel 
slavery was an especially flagrant violation of 

1 It will be remembered that Mary Wollstonecraft twice 
attempted suicide. 

And the English Novel 187 

political justice. To the practical reformer, the 
slave trade was one of the burning issues of the 
time. As early as 1780 Burke had prepared a 
code for the gradual abolition of the slave traffic. 
In 1788 he "spoke strongly to the effect that the 
trade was one which ought to be totally abolished, 
but if this was not now possible it ought to be regu- 
lated at once. " x 

In 1792 appeared the best known of the anti- 
slavery novels, Mackenzie's Slavery, or, The Times. 
The plot is characteristic: Zimza, king of Tonou- 
wah, an eighteenth century Oronooko, sends his 
son to England to be educated, under the care of 
his friend Hamilton, with the instruction, "Re- 
mind him of his dignity as a man, but let him 
claim no consequence from his birth." 2 The 
negro prince, "full of the grandeur of untaught 
soul," makes the usual naive comments on civili- 
zation, cannot be taught the distinction between 
courtesy and lies, etc., etc. Meanwhile Zimza is 
captured and sold as a slave. The prince and 
Hamilton rescue him, and, after sundry adventures 
in England and France, they return together to 
the virtuous (and uncivilized) realm of Tonouwah. 

1 Lecky, England in the Eighteenth Century, vol. vi., p. 219. 
The slave trade was not abolished, however, until 1807. It seems 
a curious bit of irony that it was the panic created by the French 
Revolution that delayed this reform. Danton testified that one 
of the motives of the abolition of slavery in the French colonies 
was the hope of inciting the negroes in the colonies of England 
to revolt; hardly a step to conciliate English opponents of eman- 
cipation. 2 Slavery, or, the Times, vol. i., p. 4. 

1 88 The French Revolution 

Mackenzie's comments on the French Revolution 
are somewhat adverse; he is a pure Rousseauist, 
not a Republican. His Frenchmen tell Hamil- 
ton: "The liberty we contend for blossoms sweetly 
in your nation. Had our mode of government 
been mild as yours, the rights of royalty would 
have been equally secure." 1 Even an American 
is made to say: "When I fought in America, it was 
to protect my property. Even then my heart spoke 
in favour of monarchy ; and though I detest all arbi- 
trary power, I am much against unprincipled 
liberty." 2 

At about the same time there were published 
in England adaptations of a somewhat similar 
novel from the French. At least two versions 
appeared, under different titles: Itanoko, or The 
Noble Minded Negro, and The Negro Equalled by 
Few Europeans. This is an appeal to the prin- 
ciples of pure reason rather than to Rousseauistic 
benevolence. The plot is of course a variation of 
the usual theme: the noble savage kidnapped into 

An indirect method of attacking or defending 
the institution of monarchy was the publication of 
semi-fictitious memoirs. In 1794 there appeared 
an English adaptation of a French work, Interest- 
ing Memoirs of Marie Antoinette, Ci-devant Queen 
of France. One would infer from this highly 
scandalous narrative that her execution was 
amply justified. 

1 Slavery, vol. ii., p. 237. ' Ibid., vol. ii., p. 215, 

And the English Novel 189 

Another fictitious memoir, published soon after, 
presented royalty in a more favourable light. 
Henrietta, Princess Royal of England, Daughter of 
King Charles I. (1796) professes to be a narrative 
by the Comtesse de Lafayette (grandmother of 
the Revolutionary Marquis), which was brought to 
light by the sacking of the Louvre, and immedi- 
ately suppressed in France by the Revolutionary 

The censure of royalty by no means confined 
itself to that of other nations. In 1812 appeared 
The Spirit of the Book, or, Memoirs of Caroline, 
Princess of Hapsbourg: A Political and Amatory 
Romance, by Captain T. Ashe. This makes its 
appeal rather to a love of scandal than to any 
political sentiments, and but for occasional spiteful 
attacks on the morale of courts and kings in general 
would not call for mention here. x 

The novels of Thomas Love Peacock have some 
claim to be included in our discussion. There is 
scarcely one of them which does not express Re- 
volutionary sentiments. Maid Marian (1818) 
especially contains many passages of political the- 
orizing that might have been written by Shelley 
or Godwin himself. A detailed consideration of 
Peacock's novels would, however, add little to our 
discussion. Peacock's Revolutionism is at best 
sympathetic and derivative. His intimate asso- 
ciation with the Shelley group, together with a 

1 It should perhaps be made clear that the Charlotte of Haps- 
bourg here mentioned was Princess of Wales. 

The English Novel 

certain irritable dislike of the established regime in 
Church and State, gave a Revolutionary bent to his 
satire. But the vital impetus of Revolutionism 
had spent itself before it reached Peacock. He is 
the echo of an echo. In spirit, if not altogether in 
actual chronology, his novels belong a generation 
later than the period we are considering. 

This part of our discussion might be expanded 
almost indefinitely. So extensive is the material 
available and so varied the shades of opinion 
represented that our selection must necessarily 
be somewhat arbitrary. Little is to be gained by 
multiplying illustration. It is already clear that 
novels dealing with the ideas and tendencies 
associated with the French Revolution represent 
almost as many different points of view as there 
were novelists. We are dealing with very complex 
reactions to a very complex movement ; it is im- 
possible to do more than indicate certain general 
types of opinion. 




ONE of the literary features of the later 
eighteenth century in England was the 
large crop of Lady Novelists. A Lady Novelist, 
be it observed, is altogether a different thing from 
a woman who writes novels. The latter may some- 
times allow us to forget her sex ; the former, never. 
There is a soft rustle of skirts in every page, from 
the little bobs and curtsies of her preface to the 
gentle severity of the sermonette with which she 
concludes. Her style is redolent of delicate 
femininity. She is the most charming of Senti- 
mentalists, and withal the most implacable of 
moralists. Her didacticism lifts hands of demure 
horror at any suspected laxness of opinion. 

She worships the proprieties. Whoso offends 
against decorum comes straightway to an evil end. 
Even heroines languishing under a false accusation 
get small sympathy from the author. They should 


192 The French Revolution 

have been more cautious in avoiding the very 
appearance of indiscretion. And yet the Lady 
Novelist has a Christian charity for handsome, 
rakish heroes if they promise reform in the last 

Her favourite virtues are the domestic ones: 
filial and parental affection, wifely submission and 
fidelity, patience, good nature, economy, charity 
to the poor, devoutness in religious observance. 
These she thoroughly understands, and never 
tires of illustrating. 

If we must smile over the works of the Lady 
Novelist, let it be with respect, for these are the 
virtues of delight without which no fine heroisms 
can make life tolerable. There was a surprising 
amount of good sense under her gentility. Her 
world had no real heights or depths; but at least 
it was a sane and comfortable one. Moreover, 
not infrequently her Sentimentalism yields to an 
exquisite sense of humour, and a rare gift for 
satirizing the smaller vices and foibles of mankind. 
All honour to Lady Novelists; for the greatest 
among them was no less a person than the in- 
imitable Jane. 

There was little natural affinity between the 
Lady Novelists and the Revolution. That move- 
ment of revolt was more concerned to demand 
the rights of women than to exalt the beneficent 
influence of "the fair sex." But there were some 
few gentle feminine souls who through their 
humanitarian sympathies, the influence of Rous- 

And the English Novel 193 

seau, or a personal association with the leaders 
of English Revolutionism, were swept into the 
heterodox currents of the time. 

Among the most prominent of these was the 
pretty actress and dramatist, Elizabeth Inchbald. 
Her life was in no way noteworthy. Elizabeth 
was the youngest daughter of John Simpson, a 
Suffolk farmer. As a child, her chief characteristics 
were her beauty and the love of admiration that 
was always her ruling passion. She seems to have 
chosen her profession early, and made heroic 
efforts to overcome the impediment in her speech 
that threatened to unfit her for it. As a stage- 
struck little girl of sixteen she began secret negotia- 
tions with a local theatrical manager. Apparently 
he gave her some encouragement, for "Richard 
Griffiths" appears in her diary in ecstatic childish 
capitals, with the inscription: "Each dear letter 
of thy name is harmony." Two years later she 
ran away to try her fortune in London, where she 
wandered about for several days before her brother- 
in-law found her, frightened and penniless, and 
took her home with him. While visiting her sister 
she made the acquaintance of a middle-aged actor 
named Joseph Inchbald, whom she married soon 
afterwards, apparently in despair of being able to 
make her way in London alone. Through his 
assistance she obtained the coveted entree to the 
stage. But one fancies she soon perceived the un- 
wisdom of taking a husband when what she really 
wanted was a chaperon. After seven years of not 


194 The French Revolution 

altogether happy married life and many vicissi- 
tudes as an actress, Mrs. Inchbald was left a widow 
at the age of twenty-six and never ventured into 
matrimony again. Like Holcroft, she made but 
an indifferent success on the stage, took to writing 
plays and novels as a means of increasing her 
income, and finally gave up acting altogether. By 
1783 we find her settled in London, a prominent 
figure in literary society. 

Elizabeth Inchbald had three merits which no 
one denied : beauty, cleverness, and an unblemished 
reputation. Of the value of these she was fully 
conscious. There are rumours of her throwing a 
kettle of hot water over one not sufficiently respect- 
ful admirer, and pulling the hair of another. In 
telling the story afterwards she concluded: "Oh, if 
he had wo-wo-worn a wig, I had been ru-ruined!" 
She received many offers of marriage, but none 
sufficiently advantageous to tempt her. There 
was a cool, calculating shrewdness under all her 
coquetry and caprice. 

Perhaps her finest characteristic was her perfect 
freedom from snobbishness, and her loyalty to the 
humble ways of her own home. Her style of living 
was economical in the extreme; she escapes the 
charge of penuriousness only because of the gener- 
ous uses she made of her savings. She wore gowns, 
Mrs. Shelley tells us, "not worth a shilling," and 
there was one occasion when a carriage bearing a 
crest waited while she finished scrubbing her attic 
room, and then drove her to visit her sister who 

And the English Novel 195 

was a barmaid near London. Godwin describes 
her as "a piquante mixture between a lady and a 
milkmaid." 1 

The one absorbing passion of Elizabeth Inch- 
bald's life seems to have been her love of admira- 
tion; especially masculine admiration, for she was 
never a woman's woman. She was jealous of 
rivalry. Once when she found herself beside Mrs. 
Siddons in the Green Room, "suddenly looking at 
her magnificent neighbor, she said 'No, I won't 
s-s-sit by you ; you're t-t-too handsome ! " ' 2 But it 
was not often that she met with serious rivalry. 
It was said that : "When Mrs. Inchbald came into a 
room and sat down in a chair in the middle of it as 
was her wont, every man gathered around it, and 
it was vain for any other woman to attempt to 
gain attention." 3 

The account of Mrs. Inchbald's relations with 
the other novelists of our group is somewhat 
amusing. Report said that : ' ' Mrs. Inchbald was in 
love with Godwin, Godwin with Miss Alderson, 
Miss Alderson with Holcroft, and Holcroft with 
Mrs. Inchbald. " 4 Reading between the lines, with 
the aid of the diaries and letters of the parties 
concerned, one suspects that the truth of the 
matter was something like this. Both Godwin and 
Holcroft were Mrs. Inchbald's intimate friends; 

1 Paul, William Godwin, vol. i., p. 74. 

2 Taylor, Records of My Life, vol. i., pp. 347-409. 
* Paul, William Godwin, vol. i., p. 74. 
.Brightwell, Memorials of Amelia Opie, p. 60. 

196 The French Revolution 

there is ample indication that, at one time, had 
she chosen to marry an impecunious literary 
man, she might have had either of them. But 
when Amelia Alderson came to London, in 1794, 
she made quite an impression on these too-sus- 
ceptible disciples of pure reason. Elizabeth Inch- 
bald was not the woman to give up an admirer 
willingly. She resorted to crude, tale-bearing 
methods, which aroused Amelia's resentment and 
inspired her with a natural and laudable feminine 
desire to spoil Elizabeth's monopoly. 1 Fortified 
with this noble motive and a becoming new bonnet 2 
Amelia Alderson entered the lists against the vete- 
ran coquette, with such success that before she left 
London, Holcroft had been refused outright and 
the austere Godwin was cherishing her discarded 
slipper as a tender relic. 3 

Before we leave this digression into the gossip of 
a century ago, there is a more serious charge of 
jealousy that must be brought against Elizabeth 
Inchbald. It is said that she wept at the news of 
Godwin's marriage. Whatever her real feelings 
were, she, bohemian of bohemians, suddenly 
developing scruples for the proprieties, took oc- 

1 She writes: " Mrs. I. appears to me jealous of G.'s attention to 
me, so she makes him believe I prefer H. to him. ... Is not this 
very womanish?" Brightwell, Memorials of Amelia Opie, p. 60. 

2 Mrs. Brightwell describes the bonnet, in her Memorials. It 
was light blue, with blue plumes. 

3 Thackerary, Book of Sibyls, pp. 161 f. : "Will you give me no- 
thing to keep for your sake? " says Godwin, parting from Amelia, 
"not even your slipper?" 

And the English Novel 197 

casion to insult Mary Wollstonecraft publicly, and 
injure her by private report. 

One source of Mrs. Inchbald's Revolutionism is 
obvious : the influence of her friendship with God- 
win and Holcroft. There is another, not quite so 
obvious. We have noted the curious affinity 
between Revolutionism and the various dissenting 
bodies. Mrs. Inchbald was a devout Roman 
Catholic. At first glance it seems rather contra- 
dictory that the creed which adheres most rigidly 
to the principle of authority should have tended 
to produce a sympathy with the political doctrines 
of revolt. But Catholics and dissenters suffered 
alike under legal discrimination. Fellowship in 
oppression produces strange alliances. 1 

Whatever the source, Mrs. Inchbald's Revolu- 
tionism was of the mildest. One of her plays, Every 
One Has His Fault (1793), was absurdly accused of 
having a seditious tendency, by a periodical called 
The True Briton. 2 On the other hand, in 1792, 
another play of hers, The Massacre, dealing severely 
with the atrocities of the Terror, was seriously 
objected to by Holcroft and Godwin. It was 
written without any doctrinary intention, however, 
for Mrs. Inchbald writes to Godwin: " It was your 

1 Lest this seem a fanciful connexion, we may quote a passage 
from Elwood's Memoirs of Literary Ladies (vol. i., p. 20): "Be- 
longing as she did to the Roman Catholic community Mrs. I. 
necessarily advocated liberal opinions. " 

'Tobler, Elizabeth Inchbald, p. 39. The humanitarian ten- 
dencies of her other plays we will discuss in Chapter IX., Section 
2, of this thesis. 

198 The French Revolution 

hinting to me that it might do harm which gave 
me the first idea that it might do good by prevent- 
ing future massacres." 1 

There is a record of a Satire on the Times (now 
lost), of which she writes: 

I said to myself, how pleased Mr. Godwin will be 
at my making the King so avaricious, and how 
pleased the King will be at my making him so good at 
the conclusion. He will . . . generously pardon me all 
that I have said about equality in the book, merely for 
giving him a good character. 2 

Mrs. Inchbald was the author of two novels, both 
of which are generally credited with Revolutionary 
tendencies. The first, A Simple Story, was begun 
in 1777, but was not published until 1791. This is 
really two novels thrown together. In the first 
part, Miss Milner, an orphan, is left as a ward to a 
young priest named Dorriforth. The frivolous, 
pleasure-loving girl leads her guardian an anxious 
life of it, and ends by secretly falling in love with 
him. Dorriforth unexpectedly falls heir to an 
earldom. The Pope dispenses him from his vows 
in order to keep the succession in a Catholic 
family. He marries Miss Milner. An interval of 
seventeen years elapses before the second part of 
the novel begins. Meanwhile, Miss Milner has 

1 Paul, William Godwin, vol. i., p. 74. The publisher liked the 
subject no better than Godwin did, and the play was suppressed, 
though printed, before publication. 

2 Ibid., vol. i., p. 141. 

And the English Novel 199 

proved unfaithful to her husband, and he has cast 
her off, together with his infant daughter. On the 
death of her mother the Earl consents to let Lady 
Matilda live in a secluded part of his castle, but 
only on condition that he is never to see her. The 
Earl's nephew, Rushbrook, whom he has made his 
heir in Matilda's place, falls in love with her. Of 
course the novel ends with a reconciliation and a 
wedding. The moral is, "the pernicious effects of 
an improper education, in the destiny which 
attended the unthinking Miss Milner. On the 
opposite side, what may be hoped from that school 
of prudence through adversity, in which Matilda 
was bred." 1 On the ground of this moral, of 
which we hear nothing until the last page, A 
Simple Story has been commonly classified among 
the tendenz novels written to illustrate the educa- 
tional theories of Rousseau. As there is absolutely 
no emphasis on education anywhere else in the 
novel, it seems more probable that the moral was 
merely tacked on in an attempt to give unity to 
what is obviously two separate stories. 

A more genuine interest lies in the fact that Miss 
Milner is supposed to represent the author herself, 
and Dorriforth, John Kemble (the actor), who 
left a Catholic seminary to go on the stage, and for 
whom Mrs. Inchbald is credited with a decided 

The second of Mrs. Inchbald's novels, Nature 
and Art (1796), shows more clearly defined Re- 

1 A Simple Story, p. 372. 

2oo The French Revolution 

volutionary doctrines. The story is built on the 
favourite device of two brothers with contrasting 
dispositions. Henry, the younger, helps William 
to an education and a start in the Church. As 
William obtains ecclesiastical preferment and 
makes a wealthy marriage, he neglects his humbler 
brother, who is only a fiddler by profession. Henry 
goes to Africa, taking with him an infant son. 
After several years of Robinson Crusoe adventures 
among more or less noble savages, he sends young 
Henry, then a boy of twelve, to England to be 
under his uncle's care. William also has a son of 
about the same age. Here begins the contrast 
between the fashionable and the Rousseauistic 
education. Young William has been trained, 
parrot-like, by tutors who have never taught him 
to think. Young Henry, on the contrary, sees the 
world through unsophisticated eyes and formu- 
lates his own opinions. 

He would call compliments, lies reserve he would 
call pride stateliness, affectation and for the words 
war and battle, he constantly substituted the word 
massacre. 1 

He cannot seem to grasp the conception that the 
poor are born to serve the rich. Nor can he per- 
ceive how really comfortable the poor would be 
but for their laziness and thriftlessness. A lord 
speaks of his charitable gifts: 

1 Nature and Art, p. 412. 

And the English Novel 201 

"How benevolent!" exclaimed the Dean. 

"How prudent!" exclaimed Henry. 

"What do you mean by prudent?" asked Lord 

" Why, then my Lord, " answered Henry, "I thought 
it was prudent in you to give a little, lest the poor, 
driven to despair, should take all." 1 

The two boys grow to manhood. Both fall 
in love with village girls. William deserts his 
sweetheart, Agnes, whom he never intended to 
marry. She attempts to kill her child. Henry 
saves it, and gives it to his fiancee Rebecca to care 
for. Agnes is driven out of the village by the rigid 
virtue of the lady of the manor. She wanders to 
London, and there, unable to find employment, 
drifts from bad to worse. William meanwhile has 
become a successful lawyer, and finally risen to the 
bench. Agnes is brought before him for trial on a 
charge of counterfeiting. He does not recognize 

But when William placed the fatal velvet on his 
head and rose to pronounce her sentence, she started 
with a kind of convulsive motion, retreated a step or 
two back, and lifting up her hands, with a scream, 

"Oh, not from YOU!" 

Serene and dignified as if no such exclamation had 
been uttered, William delivered the fatal speech, end- 
ing with " Dead, dead, dead. " 

She fainted as he closed the period, and was carried 

1 Nature and Art, p. 433. 

2O2 The French Revolution 

back to prison in a swoon; while he adjourned court 
to go to dinner. x 

Agnes leaves a letter which makes William's 
subsequent life a prey to remorse. Henry, less 
successful but more Chappy, rescues his father from 
Africa, marries his faithful Rebecca, and settles 
down as a contented farmer. 

Professor Cross classes this novel with Caleb 
Williams as "the best examples of the distinctively 
' victim-of-society ' story. ' ' 2 The presence of other 
characteristic features of Revolutionary fiction is 
obvious. Young Henry is the unsophisticated 
critic of civilization of the type of Hermsprong. 3 
The satire on lawyers and clergy recalls Hugh 
Trevor. The efforts of Agnes to find employment 
resemble those of Jemima, in Maria or the Wrongs 
of Women. 4 

On the whole, however, we must conclude that 
Mrs. Inchbald is a Revolutionist only in her 
humanitarian sympathies and her dislike of certain 
specific oppressions and intolerances. She has 
more in common with Robert Bage than with men 
of the type of Godwin and Holcroft who are 
Revolutionists from theory and conviction as well 
as from sympathy. 

1 Nature and Art, p. 527. Mrs. Inchbald's sense of the drama- 
tic value of this situation has recently been justified by the 
success of a play built on the same idea. (Madam X.) 

3 Cross, The English Novel, p. 91. 

s Cf. note on Hermsprong, in Chapter VI., Section I, of this 

Cf. Chapter VIII., Section 2, of this discussion. 

And the English Novel 203 


Perhaps the pleasantest of our Lady Novelists, 
in personality and in literary style, is Mrs. Opie 
(1769-1853). Throughout her long life she was 
always in sympathy with the progressive move- 
ments of the time. The most interesting people 
of two generations figure in the pages of her 

Amelia Alderson was the only child of a Norwich 
physician, a Unitarian, of radical political prin- 
ciples. Her parents were deeply interested in 
various humanitarian movements. It is to these 
early influences that Mrs. Opie ascribed her life- 
long zeal for the cause of negro emancipation. 

In 1794 she went to London for a visit, and 
there became acquainted with all the literary 
Radicals of the Joseph Johnson circle. It was on 
this visit that she aroused the jealousy of Mrs. 
Inchbald by her flirtations with the Pure Reason 
philosophers, of which the letters of the two ladies 
have left us an amusing account. Miss Alderson 
attended the trials for High Treason of Hardy, 
Tooke, and Holcroft. She wrote home indignant 
accounts of ministerial oppression: "What a pass 
are things come to when even dissenters lick the 
hand that oppressed them! Hang these politics! 
How they haunt me! Would it not be better, 
think you, to hang the framers of them? " I Later, 
she writes to a friend : 

1 Brightwell, Amelia Opie, vol. i., p. 47. 

204 The French Revolution 

I had reason to believe that if the "felons" about 
to be tried were not "acquitted felons" certain friends 
of mine would have emigrated to America, and my 
beloved father would have been induced to accom- 
pany them. 1 

On a second visit to London, Miss Alderson met the 
portrait painter John Opie, to whom she was 
married in 1798. 

In 1805 she visited France, where she went with 
Ann Plumptre to visit Helen Maria Williams. 2 
She also met Fox and Kosciuszko, the Polish pa- 
triot, and saw Buonaparte, then First Consul. In 
1807 the death of Mr. Opie ended her entirely 
happy married life, and the young widow returned 
to her father's home in Norwich. The rest of her 
life was uneventful. She made the acquaintance 
of Wordsworth, Southey, Sidney Smith, Sir Walter 
Scott, Mme. de Stael, and Mme. de Genlis, all of 
whom thought well of her literary work. But her 
closest friends were the Gurneys, especially Eliza- 
beth Gurney Fry, Howard's successor in prison 
reform. It was undoubtedly through the influence 
of Elizabeth Fry that Mrs. Opie was led in 1825 
to become a member of the Society of Friends. 

We may say a word here on the subject of Mrs. 
Opie's previous sectarian affiliations. In 1814 she 
left the Unitarians with whom her earliest connex- 

1 Brightwell, Amelia Opie, vol. i., pp. 48 f. 

2 Two literary ladies of well-known Revolutionary sentiments. 
For Ann Plumptre, cf. following Section. 

And the English Novel 205 

ions had naturally been formed. Her biographer 

Many of her relations on her mother's side had been 
united for generations past to the Wesleyan Method- 
ists, which consideration naturally disposed her to 
a union with that sect of worshippers. l 

Her final decision in favour of the Society of 
Friends was a very natural one for a Revolutionist. 
Since the time of William Penn that sect had been 
noted for their sympathy with the most liberal 
political opinions. It will be remembered that 
Algernon Sydney helped draft the constitution of 
Pennsylvania. Many of the finest doctrines of the 
Revolutionists were identical with those of the 
Friends. Bage has been generally credited with 
being a member of that Society, and Holcroft was 
referred to as "a sort of natural Quaker." 2 

Mrs. Opie must have made a somewhat amus- 
ing Friend, one fancies. The fondness for pretty 
clothes that was one of her most endearingly 
human characteristics was not laid aside when she 
put on the "plain" dress. She wore the gown of 
grey, but it was of pale grey satin, with a modish 
little train, and we hear of "the crisp fichu crossed 
over the breast, which set off to advantage the 
charming little plump figure with its rounded 

1 Brightwell, Amelia Opie, p. 193. 

1 Cf. Chapter II., Chapter IV., and Chapter V., Section i, note 
p. 172, for previous discussion of Friends in this thesis. 

206 The French Revolution 

lines. ' ' T Her calling cards bore her name ' ' Amelia 
Opie, " in the "plain" style, scrupulously without 
prefix: but there was an embossed wreath of pink 
roses about the name! But if the vanities did 
rather cling to her after she had renounced the 
world, there was one sacrifice which she made in all 
seriousness. She gave up writing fiction, and 
even recalled a novel which was in the hands of 
her publisher, at no small loss and inconvenience 
to herself. A book of anecdotes, under the title 
Illustrations of Lying, was her nearest approach 
to fiction after she joined the Friends. 

In 1830 Mrs. Opie revisited Paris. She records 
her emotion in seeing again the scene of her youth- 
ful enthusiasms in some verses, very popular in her 
own time, beginning: "At sight of thee, O Tricolor, 
I seem to see youth's hour return." She met 
Lafayette, whom she calls, "The hero of my child- 
hood, the idol of my youth!" 2 

One incident of this visit to Paris is worth re- 
cording. Mrs. Opie writes to a friend: 

The Paris intellectual world runs mad just now 
after a new sect, (a new religion they call it), the Saint 
Simoniennes : the founder is a St. Simon, of the Due de 
St. Simon's family. His disciples preach up equality 
of property. The thing is, I suspect, more political 
than anything else in its object; but on a first day 
there is a religious preaching, and the room overflows ; 
so it does on a week day evening when there are only 

1 Thackeray, Book of Sibyls, p. 189. 
* Brightwell, Amelia Opie, p. 234. 

And the English Novel 207 

lectures. ... I have vainly tried to read their book 
of doctrine. I could not get on with it. But as they 
agree with the Friends in two points, I am sometimes 
tempted to go one evening. Nous verrons. x 

This comment of one of the last survivors of the 
older group of Revolutionists is not without a 
certain interest. St. Simon was one of the earliest 
of those Utopian socialists who were to some extent 
the forerunners of the present Marxian Socialism. 
It is curious that Mrs. Opie should be interested in 
the St. Simoniennes only as a Friend. Surely in 
the long years of the Reaction she must have 
very completely forgotten the spirit of Holcroft, 
of Godwin, and the rest of the London circle who 
were her friends in the early nineties, or she would 
have recognized the old social idealism under the 
new form. She seems to have had no premonition 
that this primarily economic, collectivistic Revolu- 
tionism might be in some sense the successor to 
the older, primarily political, individualistic Re- 
volutionism of her youth. 2 

Mrs. Opie was the author of ten works of fiction, 
five of which were novels, the rest collections of 
short stories. All contain some expression of her 
liberal political belief (one can hardly call anything 
so gentle Revolutionism). As it is obviously not 

1 Brightwell, Amelia Opie, p. 263. 

2 It will be remembered that Lucas classifies the Illuminati as 
one of the sects of Revolutionary philosophers. (Chapter IV.) 
St. Simon was, according to George Sand, high in the councils of 
t^ ^ohteenth-century secret society of that name. 

208 The French Revolution 

worth our while to discuss all of these in detail, 
we may confine ourselves to the two in which 
Revolutionism plays the most important role, and 
consider these as typical of the rest. 

Adelina Mowbray, or Mother and Daughter (1804) 
borrows its general idea from the life of Mary 
Wollstonecraft, I but the plot as a whole is entirely 
fictitious. Adelina Mowbray is the only daughter 
of a wealthy widow, who poses as being very in- 
tellectual. Mrs. Mowbray is especially fond of the 
new and radical philosophies. Adelina, however, 
accepts in all earnestness the theories which are 
merely pose with her mother. Mother and 
daughter make the acquaintance of the young 
philosopher, Glenmurray, whose book against 
marriage has greatly influenced Adelina. Glen- 
murray, in love with Adelina, wishes to renounce 
his theories and marry her; but she, enthusiastic 
and ready for martyrdom, insists that they shall 
scorn prejudice and dispense with the marriage 
ceremony. Her mother, horrified, disowns her, 

Little did I think you were so romantic, as to see no 
difference between amusing one's imagination with new 
theories and new systems, and acting upon them in 
defiance of common custom and the received usages of 
society. . . . The poetical philosophy which I have so 
much delighted to study, has served me to ornament 
my conversation, and make persons less enlightened 
than myself wonder at the superior boldness of my 

1 Cf. Chapter VIII., Section 2, of this thesis. 

And the English Novel 209 

fancy and the acuteness of my reasoning powers; but 
I should as soon have thought of making this little 
gold chain around my neck fasten the hall door, as act 
upon the precepts laid down in those delightful books. z 

Not a bad satire, this, on a certain type of lady 
Revolutionist. Mrs. Opie is quite capable of 
appreciating intellectual honesty. 

For a number of years Adelina is happy with 
Glenmurray, in spite of the occasional insults and 
inconveniences to which her position subjects her. 
But Glenmurray, always an invalid, goes into 
consumption. As he is dying he repents of his 
destructive philosophy. "As those opinions mili- 
tated against the experience and custom of ages, 
ought I not to have paused before I published, and 
kept them back until they received the sanction 
of my maturer judgment?" 2 He makes Adelina 
promise that after his death she will marry his 
cousin Berrendale, who will understand and pro- 
tect her and her child. But in a few years Berren- 
dale tires of her and deserts her. Left without 
resources, she appeals to her mother, but receives 
no answer. After a few years of struggle against 
illness and poverty, she returns to her old home. 
Her mother, she finds, had long ago forgiven her, 
but had been prevented from receiving her letters. 
Adelina dies, leaving her little daughter to her 
mother's care, with the pathetic injunction : 

1 Works of Mrs. Opie, -vol. i., p. 127. 
1 Ibid., vol. i., p. 177. 


210 The French Revolution 

Oh ! Teach my Editha to be humble, teach her to 
be slow to call the wisdom of ages contemptible pre- 
judices; teach her no opinions that can destroy her 
sympathies with general society, and make her an alien 
to the hearts of those among whom she lives. * 

As a bit of gentle good sense opposed to Pure 
Reason absurdities, Adelina Mowbray is certainly 
beyond criticism. As an interpretation of Mary 
Wollstonecraft, if such were intended, it is not 
unjust, but merely absurdly inadequate. Amelia 
Opie was one of those simple, kindly souls to whom 
the real power and originality of a mind like that of 
Mary Wollstonecraft must remain forever a closed 
book. Mrs. Opie did not misjudge her friend ; she 
merely did not see quite all that she amounted to. 
What was to Mary only one side of life, and that 
not the most important, seems to Mrs. Opie to 
blot out all the rest. If Godwin sat for Glen- 
murray, the portrait is a flattering one. 

Valentine's Eve (1816) is the only other one of 
Mrs. Opie's in which Revolutionism is more than 
incidental. General Shirley has disowned his son 
for marrying beneath him. When the son is 
killed in battle, the General relents and adopts 
his granddaughter, Catherine Shirley, who has 
grown to womanhood without his seeing her. 
Catherine is visited in her new home by her foster- 
sister, Lucy Merle. Mrs. Opie uses the girls to 
illustrate two somewhat different ideals. Cather- 

1 Mrs. Opie's Works, vol. i., p. 223. 

And the English Novel 211 

ine is a girl of enthusiastic religious principles. 
Lucy represents the Revolutionary philosophy. 
Her father was "one of the many republicans, or 
democrats, some twenty years ago, whom proflig- 
acy and poverty led to rally round that respect- 
able standard, which was originally erected from 
the purest love of civil and religious liberty." 1 
But Lucy herself represents a finer type; she had 
"imbibed the purest flame of liberty and the 
purest love of republicanism. " The conclusion at 
which the author is aiming is the superiority of 
the religious basis of morals and manners to the 
philosophical basis even at its best. A speech of 
Catherine's may be taken as stating the point of 
the whole novel : 

Her standards and mine are different; with her, 
everything is republican virtue, amongst which virtues 
she reckons freedom of speech, vehemence to defend 
opinions which she thinks right at all risks and before 
all persons. . . . But my standard is Christianity, 
which teaches forbearance on all occasions as one of the 
first of duties. . . . Miss Merle has real republican 
virtues. She is temperate, frugal, industrious, and self- 
denying. But then these are Christian virtues also ; and 
though I admire moral virtues as much as she can do, 
I think them durable and precious only as they are 
derived from religious belief and the consequence of it. 
Without that, all morals appear built upon a sandy 
foundation, and are liable to be swept away by the 
flood of strong temptation. Here Lucy and I differ ; 

1 Mrs. Opie's Works, vol. ii., p. 152. 

212 The French Revolution 

she thinks morality can stand alone, without the aid 
of religion; nay, she even fancies republican firmness 
sufficient to enable us to bear affliction. But if she is 
ever seriously afflicted, I am sure she will find her 
error. z 

From all of which it is clear that Mrs. Opie insists 
on judging a great movement of social idealism by 
somewhat limited and personal standards. One 
might even argue that her Christianity is as limited 
as her Revolutionism. 

The rest of the novel is perfectly commonplace. 
Catherine marries an Earl, and affords an edifying 
picture of an insistently religious woman in society, 
which might almost be regarded as a variation 
of the " Child of Nature" device for criticizing the 
morals and manners of the world in general. She 
quotes Scripture in season and out, revels in a 
martyrdom of singularity, and lives up to the 
standards of the Sunday School Library a con- 
genial atmosphere in which, I am told, the works 
of Mrs. Opie still survive. 

Such was Mrs. Opie's Revolutionism. Her early 
life was passed in an atmosphere of radicalism and 
dissent. Hence she was, in a gentle feminine 
fashion, a Republican. But she did not begin to 
write novels until the age of Reaction had set in. 
By that time whatever Revolutionary ardour she 
may have had has faded to an affectionate and 
respectful memory. Her real interest is in a purely 

1 Mrs. Opie's Works, vol. ii., pp. 186, 187. 

And the English Novel 213 

personal form of religion, and the domestic virtues, 
like the typical Lady Novelist she is. 


Another literary lady who has left in her novels 
some expression of her liberal political convictions 
is Mrs. Charlotte Turner Smith (1749-1806). As 
eldest daughter of a landed gentleman of Sussex, 
she received an elaborate and expensive education 
devoted entirely to accomplishments. At the 
Kensington Seminary where she was sent for a 
final polish, a schoolmate records : 

She was considered romantic by her young com- 
panions; she had read more than any one else in the 
school, was continually composing verse, and was 
thought too great a genius for study. 1 

At the age of fifteen she was persuaded by her 
family into a marriage which did not prove alto- 
gether happy. Her young husband seems to have 
been extravagant, deficient in good sense, and in 
continual financial difficulties. Under the pressure 
of necessity Charlotte developed decided business 
ability. Her stern old father-in-law declared "she 
could do more from his directions in one hour than 
any of his clerks in a day. " 

Besides being the business head of the house, 
home-maker, and mother of twelve children, Char- 
lotte added to the family income by writing. She 
finally obtained a legal separation from her worth- 

1 Brightwell, Literary Ladies, vol. i., p. 285. 

214 The French Revolution 

less husband and supported herself almost entirely 
by her pen. Her published works amounted to 
nearly fifty volumes. 

There are certain circumstances in her life which 
may have influenced her political opinions: a 
residence of some years in France, made necessary 
by her husband's financial difficulties, and the 
marriage of one of her daughters to a French 
emigre. Her connexion with the little circle of 
Radicals in London probably did not extend 
beyond a mere acquaintance with one or two of 

The first and fullest expression of Charlotte 
Smith's Revolutionary politics was her novel 
Desmond (1792). The preface gives interesting 
evidence as to the source of Mrs. Smith's Revolu- 

As to the political passages dispersed through the 
work, they are, for the most part, drawn from con- 
versations to which I have been a witness, in England 
and France, during the last twelve months. In carry- 
ing on my story in those countries, and at a period 
when their political situation (but particularly that of 
the latter) is the general topic of discourse in both; I 
have given to my imaginary characters the arguments 
I have heard on both sides; and if those in favor of 
one party have evidently the advantage, it is not 
owing to my partial representation, but to the pre- 
dominant power of truth and reason, which can 
neither be altered nor concealed. 1 

1 Desmond, vol. i., p. ii. 

And the English Novel 215 

The plot is simpler than is usual in novels in 
letter form. Desmond, a young man of virtue 
and sensibility, has a Werther-like platonic passion 
for an unhappily married lady, Mrs. Geraldine 
Verney. He goes to France to endeavour to forget 
her, attracted thither by his interest in the Revolu- 
tion. He visits a young French nobleman of repub- 
lican sympathies, Count Montfleuri, and his uncle, 
of intense aristocratic prejudices, Count d'Haute- 
ville. His observations on the actual conditions 
of the country, as contrasted with the lurid re- 
ports that reach England, are detailed in his letters 
to his friends. 

Meanwhile, Mrs. Verney's husband has ruined 
himself at cards and gone to France, leaving her 
unprotected with three children to care for. Des- 
mond, returning to England, manages to help her 
secretly. Her husband sends for her to meet him 
in France, and she dutifully obeys. She falls into 
the hands of one of the wild bands of royalist 
marauders. Desmond rescues her. She learns that 
her husband was among these bandits, but had 
been mortally wounded some time before. She and 
Desmond find him and care for him. He dies, 
leaving Desmond the guardian of his children. 
Desmond, of course, marries his Geraldine, and his 
friend Montfleuri marries her younger sister Fanny. 

The letters devoted to the actual narrative would 
scarcely fill more than one of the three volumes. 
The rest is devoted to conversations and arguments 
about the Revolution. One feels that the author 

216 The French Revolution 

is really giving a pretty fair representation of the 
political conversations afloat in English society at 
the time. It all has a very natural sound. The 
young enthusiast Desmond, sure that the Re- 
volution is really ushering in a new era, that all 
discouraging reports from France are merely mis- 
representations by parties interested in preserving 
despotism; his friend Bethel, older and less san- 
guine, republican in his sympathies but not so sure 
of the successful outcome of the present struggle; 
and the young French nobleman, Montfleuri, with 
his accurate knowledge of the old regime to 
balance the mistakes of the new: these represent 
the radical side. Opposing them, there are all 
shades of opinion: General Wallingford, irascible, 
vituperative, who regards the French as the 
natural enemies of England; Lord Newminster, a 
young fop, who "wishes the King and Lords may 
smash them all and be cursed to them"; a 
Bishop who defends order, the Establishment, and 
Church properties; a London merchant, who 
"wishes the whole race were extirpated, and we 
were in possession of their country, as in justice it is 
certain we ought to be," 1 and a host of others. 
There is a narrative of a (supposedly typical) 
French farmer whose life is made intolerable by 
the game laws and special privileges of his overlord. 
Montfleuri gives an interesting analysis of the 
historical causes leading up to the Revolution, and 
of its philosophies, concluding: 

1 Desmond, vol. i.,fp. 86. 

And the English Novel 217 

Montesquieu had done as much as a writer, under 
a despot, dared to do, towards developing the spirit of 
the laws, and the true principles of government; and, 
though the multitude heeded not, or understood not 
his abstract reasoning, he taught those to think, who 
gradually disseminated his opinions. Voltaire at- 
tacked despotism in all its holds, with the powers of 
resistless wit. . . . Rousseau with matchless elo- 
quence : . . . and, as these were authors who, to the 
force of reason, added the charms of fancy, they 
were universally read, and their sentiments were 
adopted by all classes of men. 

The political maxims and economical systems of 
Turgot, and the application of these principles by 
Mirabeau, excited a spirit of inquiry, the result of 
which could not fail of being favourable to the liber- 
ties of mankind; and such was the disposition of the 
people of France, when the ambitious policy of our 
ministry sent our soldiers into America to support the 
English colonists in their resistance to the parent 
state. r 

Desmond has long discussions with various 
opponents of Revolutionism, in which he answers 
the characteristic conservative arguments. The 
ultra aristocratic Count d'Hauteville advances an 
argument which (the author says in a footnote) 
"has been called unanswerable." "You consider 
your footman on an equality with yourself, Why 
then is he your footman?" Desmond answers 
very concisely that abolishing an aristocracy of 
birth does not necessarily mean introducing social 

Desmond, vol. i., pp. 150-51. 

218 The French Revolution 

or economic equality. This is a crucial point in 
Revolutionism. It is to be observed that Charlotte 
Smith's answer is the answer of early common- 
sense Revolutionism, not of later philosophic and 
religious Revolutionism. Bage might have an- 
swered so ; Holcroft and Shelley never. 

The general conclusions of the book are some- 
thing like the following: "A revolution in the 
government of France was absolutely necessary; 
and, that it has been accomplished at less expense 
of blood, than any other event. " x English opposi- 
tion to the French Revolution is due to three 
principal causes: (i) The ancient hatred to 
France, as England's natural enemy; (2) mis- 
understandings, party prejudice, and "the apathy 
of people who, at ease themselves, indolently 
acquiesce in evils that do not affect them"; and 
finally, (3) the vast numbers of people "whose 
interest, which is what wholly decides their opin- 
ions, is diametrically opposite to all reform, and of 
course, to the reception of those truths which may 
promote it." 2 Desmond and his friends agree in 
criticizing the English government. The counts 
against it are three: (i) Inequality of representa- 
tion and corrupt elections; (2) penal laws, with 
capital punishment for slight offences, and un- 
speakable prison conditions; (3) slow, uncertain 
and inefficient legal procedure, especially in the 

1 Desmond, vol. ii., p. 52. This illustrates the general opinion 
in 1792. 

3 Ibid., vol. ii., p. 54. 

And the English Novel 219 

Courts of Equity and Chancery. But the im- 
mediate establishment of a republic in England 
is considered neither necessary nor desirable. 
Conditions are radically different from those in 

Charlotte Smith's next novel, The Old Manor 
House (1793), contains no direct references to the 
French Revolution, and few distinctively doc- 
trinary passages. Nevertheless, it has a certain 
interest for us. The first part is a satire on pride 
of birth. Mrs. Rayland, an eccentric old lady of 
noble family and great wealth, disowns her humble 
cousin. She is induced, however, to allow his 
young son Orlando to visit her, and gradually 
becomes attached to the boy. The plot con- 
cerns itself chiefly with the manoeuvrings of Mrs. 
Rayland to keep Orlando in her power without 
definitely promising to make him her heir, and 
with Orlando's love for the housekeeper's gentle 
niece. Orlando obtains an ensign's commission, 
and is sent to the war in America. Here follow 
scathing satires on governmental bad policy, 
corrupt motives, and general mismanagement in 
the war with the colonies. Of course, on Orlando's 
return he finds that Mrs. Rayland has died and 
left a will in his favour after all. 

The last of Mrs. Smith's novels which has any 
significance for us is The Young Philosopher, 
Nature his Law and God his Guide (1798). At this 
stage of events Charlotte Smith's Revolutionism 
has lost some of its optimism and complacent 

220 The French Revolution 

belief in the efficacy of reforms. There is a new 
note of bitterness in her satire of existing condi- 
tions. At the same time, she is much more in- 
terested in the philosophic aspect of Revolutionism 
than she .was at the beginning. Evidently she 
feels the need of an intellectual justification for her 
liberal principles, now that practical justification 
in the form of a successful republican government 
in France has failed. 

The preface says with some bitterness that the 
author is well qualified to describe the "evils 
arising from oppression, fraud, and chicanery." 
She refutes a recent charge of plagiarism from 
The Wrongs of Woman, 1 a work "by an author 
whose talents I greatly honor and whose un- 
timely death I deeply regret." 2 In closing she 
disclaims any personal responsibility for the senti- 
ments of her characters and declares that her only 
moral is "to show the ill consequences of detrac- 
tion and the sad effects of parental resentment." 
The year 1798 was not so propitious as the year 
1792 had been for the frank avowal of radical 
political views. 

The plot centres in the misfortunes of a young 
man of Rousseauistic education and principles, 
in a state of society where he is regarded as being, 
at best, harmlessly insane. He wishes to settle 

1 Probably refers to certain similarities in plot between Des- 
mond and The Wrongs of Woman, by Mary Wollstonecraft. For 
a summary of the latter see Chapter VII., Section 2, of this thesis. 

* The Young Philosopher, vol. i., p. iii. 

And the English Novel 221 

down as a contented farmer but finds that the 
abuses of the world fairly force themselves upon 
him in his retreat, and demand that he do his best 
to spread the truths which are their only remedy. 
From the time he is a boy at Eton he is forced into 
a Shelley-like rebellion against cruelty and oppres- 

From detestation against individuals, such as 
justices and overseers, he began to reflect on the laws 
that put it thus in their power to drive the poor forth 
to nakedness and famine. . . . And he was led to in- 
quire if the complicated misery he every day saw could 
be the fruits of the very best laws that could be formed 
in a state of society said to be the most perfect among 
what are called the civilized nations of the world. 1 

He began to read the writings of the French 
philosophers, "who have been supposed to have 
contributed to the production of the great and 
awful changes that were approaching." 2 Finally, 
prejudice and persecution, together with his own 
too keen perception of the miseries under the sur- 
face of society, make England intolerable to the 
young philosopher; he departs for the wilds of 

These three novels represent distinct stages in 
English Revolutionism. Desmond was written 
when, in spite of decided opposition in high places, 
the tide of popular opinion had not yet fully 

1 The Young Philosopher, vol. i. f p. 54. 
1 Ibid., vol. i., p. 60. 

222 The French Revolution 

turned against France. Revolutionary sympa- 
thizers, of whom there were many, hoped that the 
worst was passed and that the progress of reform 
in England might suffer no check from the example 
of a neighbouring conflict. In 1793 the Reaction 
set in in full force, war was declared, and the situa- 
tion looked black for Radicals of all sorts. In her 
novel of this year, Charlotte Smith drops the ques- 
tion of the French Revolution altogether, and 
goes back to safe Whig ground. In 1798 she ven- 
tures again upon the subject, with renewed fervour. 
But the emphasis is changed. She has lost faith 
in reform, and is now a philosophic Revolutionist. 


Elizabeth Inchbald, Amelia Opie, and Char- 
lotte Smith were the most important Lady 
Novelists of Revolutionary sympathies. There 
remain, however, several names of less promi- 
nence to be discussed; ladies who wrote only one 
novel that is of interest to us, and some with a less 
direct claim upon our attention. 

Elinor, or The World As It Is, by Mary J. Hana- 
way (1798), has a typical Revolutionary sub-title. 
There are traces of the influence of Bage in the 
style and in occasional references. There is an 
eccentric old lady, a champion of the Rights of 
Women, who is mildly satirized, but is nevertheless 
quite a favourite with the author. Beyond this, 
there is little trace of Revolutionism in the novel. 

And the English Novel 223 

In 1802 appeared a novel by Mary Hays, The 
Memoirs of Emma Courtney, which was obviously 
written under the influence of Godwin. The 
author says in her preface that: 

The most interesting and the most useful fictions 
are such as delineate one strong indulged passion or 
prejudice, affording material by which the philosopher 
may calculate the power of the human mind. x 

Caleb Williams is frequently referred to, and there 
is a striking resemblance to Godwin's later novel, 
Mandeville (1817). The central figure is the same : 
a morbid individualist seized with a ruling passion 
amounting to mania, which no reasoning can over- 
come. Only, instead of a man obsessed with an 
insane hatred, we have here a woman obsessed with 
an insane love. 

Emma Courtney becomes infatuated with a man 
who cares nothing for her. In spite of her own 
reason and the warnings of her friends, she grad- 
ually loses all pride and dignity and writes him 
hysterical letters describing the extent of her de- 
votion, and her utter inability to control it. It 
would appear to a casual observer that all this was 
in the nature of an argument against the Pure 
Reason philosophies. But a Godwinian friend gives 
the author's intended moral in his admonitions to 
Emma. "You have nursed in yourself a passion 
which, taken in the degree in which you have 

1 Memoirs of Emma Courtney, vol. i., p. i. 

224 The French Revolution 

experienced it, is the unnatural and odious result 
of a distempered and unnatural civilization." 1 

Miss Hays's method is as Godwinian as her 
moral. She begins with an idea that : "The science 
of mind is not less demonstrable and far more 
important than the science of Newton. " J Where- 
upon she proceeds to a minute introspective 
analysis of a mind which, supposedly owing to the 
present faulty environment, is under the influence 
of passion instead of reason. The result is the 
usual one in psychological novels; instead of any 
real insight into the normal mind, she merely gives 
us an unpleasant study of the abnormal without 
apparently realizing the pathological nature of her 

Miss Hays leaves us in no doubt as to the sources 
of her philosophy. Godwin, Holcroft, Paine, Woll- 
stonecraft, Rousseau, and Holbach are quoted 
frequently. She is a necessitarian, a perfectibilian, 
a "Pure Reasoner, " and, above all, an indi- 

Individual happiness [she says], constitutes the 
general good. All systems of morals founded on any 
other principle involve themselves in contradictions 
and must be erroneous. 2 Man does right when pur- 
suing interest and pleasure; it argues no depravity 
this is the fable of superstition; he ought only to be 

1 Memoirs of Emma Courtney, vol. i., p. 2. 
, a It was the Godwinian fallacy to make the self -consistency of 
any system the test of its truth. 

And the English Novel 225 

careful that in seeking his own good he does not 
render it incompatible with the good of others. 1 

In the following year was published What Has 
Been (1803), by a Mrs. Mathews, who was evi- 
dently as much influenced by Holcroft as Miss 
Hays had been by Godwin ; and a great deal more 
wholesome influence it appears to have been. 
She quotes Holcroft frequently ; one of her charac- 
ters, a benevolent old lady, is actually named 
Mrs. Ann St. Ives. 2 Emily, the heroine, thrown 
upon her own resources, has at first too much 
pride to become a governess : " Her reason was not 
yet sufficiently matured to correct this error." 3 
But in the end she marries a young Revolu- 
tionist without income or prospects, learning 
contentment in poverty through a truer scale 
of values. The moral with which the novel con- 
cludes is that : " Civilization has introduced luxury, 
from which originate an innumerable throng of 
vices which spread their destructive influence to 
the lowest ranks of society. " 4 

One of the devoted friends of Mary Wollstone- 
craft, who was with her at the time of her death, 
was Mrs. Eliza Fenwick. Her best-known novel, 
Secrecy, s is not in its main outlines Revolutionary. 

1 Memoirs of Emma Courtney, vol. ii., p. 35. 
3 This is, however, not intended to be the same person as 
Holcroft's Anna St. Ives. (Cf. Chapter III., of this thesis.) 
s What Has Been, vol. i., p. 24. 
Ibid., vol. i., p. 304. 
s Not dated. Probably not earlier than 1792 or later than 1796. 

226 The French Revolution 

But it frequently attacks the evils of unquestion- 
ing obedience to any authority whose only sanc- 
tion is custom. 

The perpetual hue and cry after obedience has 
almost driven virtue out of the world [says Mrs. 
Fenwick] , for be it unlimited obedience to a sovereign , 
to a parent, or a husband the mind yielding itself so, 
loses its individual dignity. 1 

Another Lady Novelist who was an enthusiastic 
Revolutionist was Miss Ann Plumptre (1760- 
1818). One of her contemporaries says of her: 

She was well known as a democrat and an ex- 
travagant worshipper of Napoleon. In 1810 she de- 
clared she would welcome him if he invaded England, 
because he would do away with aristocracy and give 
the country a better government. 2 

But strange to say, her novels show almost no 
traces of her political opinions. Possibly this may 
be accounted for by the fact that Miss Plumptre 
did not begin to write until popular prejudice 
against Radicals was at its height, and she may 
not have cared to antagonize her public. 3 

One Lady Novelist of a slightly later period who 

1 Secrecy, vol. i., p. 237. This novel is dedicated to "A personal 
friend, Eliza B." Could this be Eliza Bishop, Mary Wollstone- 
craft's sister? 

2 Crabbe Robinson, Diary, vol. i., p. 156. 

J Her first novel, The Rector's Son, was published in 1798, her 
other three in 1801, 1812, and 1818. 

And the English Novel 227 

certainly deserves to be mentioned here from her 
connexions, if not for her own work, is Mary 
Shelley, daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft and 
Godwin, and wife of the poet Shelley. Mary 
Shelley was the author of several novels which 
show traces of the influences by which she was 
surrounded ; but their connexion with Revolution- 
ism is so indirect as scarcely to warrant us in 
discussing them. 

The latest, perhaps, of the Lady Novelists whose 
connexion with the Revolution is distinctly 
traceable was that spoiled child of the age of Re- 
action, Lady Caroline Ponsonby Lamb, Viscoun- 
tess of Melbourne (1785-1828). The records of 
her contemporaries show her to us as a woman of 
delicate and appealing beauty, and rare charm 
of manner. But it is also apparent that she was 
a bundle of nerves and absolutely undisciplined 
temper, with an insatiable craving for excitement 
of every sort. She was apparently happily married 
to a man who came as near to managing her 
successfully as any one could, when Lord Byron 
first appeared in London society and became the 
craze of the hour. Lady Caroline was fascinated 
by him. In 1 8 1 6, when their affair came to an end, 
she rushed into print with her account of it, thinly 
disguised as a novel. The title role in Glenarvon 
is a travesty of Lord Byron; the heroine is the 
writer herself, under the name Lady Calantha. 
Byron's friends were exasperated. Byron himself 
coolly remarked that if the lady had told the truth 

228 The French Revolution 

it would really have made a better story. A re- 
cent description of a certain type of modern novel 
fits Glenarvon admirably; it is "neurotic, erotic, 
and tommy-rotic. " A more incoherent mass of 
Rousseauism, Revolutionism, and sheer nonsense 
it would be hard to find. Lady Caroline's literary 
style is a part of all that she has met. Romantic 
titanism, Ossianic interludes with wild Irish 
priestesses, and a truly Godwinian treatment of 
the ruling passion idea are mingled in nightmarish 
confusion with society wit in the Restoration 
manner and incongruous bits of typical Lady- 
Novelist didacticism. The plot is hopelessly 
incoherent, but one gathers that Glenarvon was 
a desperately, alluringly wicked serpent, and the 
lady an innocent little bird whom he had fasci- 
nated. In the end, Calantha is deserted by Glenar- 
von, cast off by her husband, dies penitent, and 
returns to haunt Glenarvon in the most approved 
manner. In real life, one regrets to say, the lady 
did nothing so sensible as to take her useless self 
out of the world at an early age. Her husband did 
actually institute divorce proceedings against her 
at one time, but it was principally on account of 
her intolerable temper. 

It would be interesting to know how many other 
portraits appear in Glenarvon. One of the charac- 
ters, for instance, is a certain Irish seeress, Elinor 
St. Clare, who calls herself Saint Clara. In her 
brunette beauty one may, perhaps, trace a resem- 
blance to Jane Clairmont, who called herself Clare. 

And the English Novel 229 

Jane Clairmont was the stepdaughter of Godwin, 
and must have been well known to Lady Caroline. 
Her affair with Byron was not unlike that of Saint 
Clara with Glenarvon. 

With all its absurdities, one person at least 
seems to have taken Glenarvon seriously enough to 
consider it a menace to public morals. In the 
following year appeared Purity of Heart, or Woman 
As She Should Be. Addressed to the Author of 
Glenarvon by an Old Wife of Twenty Years. The 
preface inveighs against the "horrible tendency of 
the dangerous and perverting sophistry of this 
work." The novel is occupied mainly with the 
ravings of "Lady Calantha Limb" about her 
De Lyra of the "rattlesnake eyes," and her inten- 
tion to publish a book in which she will "sacrifice 
decency to revenge." 1 By way of contrast there 
is a virtuous matron of the Griselda type whose 
adventures give the novel its slight semblance of 
plot. One cannot help feeling that ' ' An Old Wife " 
was rather wasting her time in parodying a book 
which effectively parodies itself. 

Lady Caroline Lamb wrote two other novels. 
Graham Hamilton (1822) is in striking contrast to 
her earlier attempt. This is an entirely common- 
place moral tale. There are echoes of Rousseau 
and Godwin, and the humanitarian and "victim 
of society" motifs appear frequently; but there 
is little in the novel for which the most orthodox 
of Lady Novelists need apologize. Its purpose, 

1 Purity of Heart, vol. i., p. 125. 

230 The English Novel 

apparently, is to point out the suffering among 
tradespeople caused by society women who live 
beyond their incomes and refuse to pay their 

Her last novel, Ada Reis (1823), is, if not Revolu- 
tionary, at least distinctly Byronic in the type of 
imagination displayed. Ada Reis is an Oriental 
pirate who aspires to be a king. He enters into 
treaty with a Spirit of Evil who haunts him in the 
guise of a mysterious stranger. Ada Reis's daugh- 
ter, Fiormonda, is loved by a Spirit of Good, the 
brother of the Evil One. These represent rival 
forces in the universe, in a manner very suggestive 
of the Manichean theology of Cain. Fiormonda 
forgets her first love and turns to the Evil Spirit. 
After death, Fiormonda and Ada Reis reign, proud 
and unhappy, in a vague Kingdom of Darkness. 

Lady Caroline Lamb's relation to Revolution- 
ism and to the titanism of the age of Reaction is 
that of a child who repeats incoherently half- 
understood phrases. She was an admirer of God- 
win, and corresponded with him for some time. 1 
But it xj quite evident that her knowledge of 
Revolutionism was very superficial, and her use of 
its catchwords was little more than a fad. 

1 Several of her letters to Godwin are preserved in Paul's 
William Godwin, His Friends and Contemporaries. 




AMONG the novels which we are considering 
there are a number which concern them- 
selves with various aspects of what our grand- 
mothers called "the Rights of Woman." These 
deal with a special aspect of eighteenth-century 
radicalism. Their significance can hardly be 
made clear without some preliminary discussion 
of the earlier literature of the subject by way of 

There is a popular tendency to date the entire 
modern feminist movement from the period of the 
French Revolution. Mary Wollstonec aft has 
frequently been referred to as the "first champion 
of the Rights of Women." This is a half-truth, 
not to be accepted without explanation and 
comment. There was a steadily increasing litera- 
ture dealing with every aspect of the woman 
question for centuries before the time of Mary 

Dr. Alexander tells us that " Boccaccio was the 

232 The French Revolution 

first who started the idea of writing anything 
better than a song or a sonnet to woman. " r But 
it was in the sixteenth century in England that 
discussions of the equality of the sexes began in 
good earnest. This was precisely the kind of 
subject to appeal to that discussion-loving age; 
offering infinite scope for the display of intellec- 
tual adroitness with no danger of reaching any 
conclusion. It combined the gallantry of the 
mediaeval courts of love with the semi-theological 
hair-splitting of the schoolmen as to whether 
women were or were not to be considered human 
beings. However extreme the position on either 
side, these pleasant polemics were never intended 
to be taken seriously. They indicate no social 
maladjustment, hardly even individual discontent ; 
and with the possible exception of the grim 
diatribes of John Knox, aim at no practical 

English feminist literature of the sixteenth 
and seventeenth centuries falls into three general 
classifications: (i) panegyrics of woman in the 
abstract, and lives of distinguished women; (2) 
discussions of the relative merits of the sexes, 
and defences of women's logical right to enter 
various professions; and (3) rules of conduct for 

At the close of the seventeenth century comes a 
Serious Proposal to Ladies, by the gentle and 

1 Alexander, History of Women, quoted in Westminster Review, 
vol. clviii., p; 312. 

And the English Novel 233 

scholarly Mary Astell. J She feels a real inade- 
quacy in the educational opportunities open to 
women. Her "Proposal" is for the establishment 
of a studious retreat, something between a nun- 
nery and a seminary; a plan which was actually 
tried during the following century. 

The year 1739 is an important one in the history 
of feminist literature. It is marked by a number 
of articles appearing almost simultaneously in 
various periodicals. The first is a very significant 
article in the Craftsman's Magazine pointing out 
the waste involved in keeping single women of the 
middle class untrained and unemployed. The 
writer advocates " making women as useful and 
capable of maintaining themselves as men, and 
preventing them from becoming old maids. " 

This economic feminism in the Craftsman's 
Magazine finds its idealistic counterpart in the 
Gentleman's Magazine for July of the same year, 
in a little essay praising women of civic virtue, 
"who preferred public safety to private conquest. " 

An unidentified sentimentalist, writing in a 
periodical called Common Sense on "The Province 
of Women," denies them everything but "love." 2 
This called forth a spirited little volume entitled 
Woman Not Inferior to Man (etc.). The writer, 

1 The authorship of the Serious Proposal to Ladies has been 
called in question in a recent publication of the Modern Language 
Association. Until the point is settled, however, I think we may 
continue to assume that Mary Astell is the author. 

3 Westminster Review, vol. cl., p. 536. 

234 The French Revolution 

who signs herself "Sophia, a Gentlewoman," has 
been not inaptly called "the first of the militants." 
Her somewhat irritating assertiveness was not 
allowed to pass unchallenged. "A Gentleman" 
answers promptly, in a book with the equally 
uncompromising title: Man Superior to Woman: 
or A Vindication of Man's Natural Right of Au- 
thority Over the Woman. The nature of his reply 
makes his nom de plume seem a touch of irony ; he 
disdains even the obvious arguments, and resorts 
to ribald vituperation. "Sophia" retorts at once, 
in a treatise, Woman's Superior Excellence Over 
Man: A Reply to the Author of a Late Treatise 
In Which the Excessive Weakness of that Gentle- 
man's A nswer is Exposed. ' ' Sophia, ' ' one feels has 
rather lost her temper, but it must be admitted that 
she "exposes" her opponent with entire success. 

Several attempts have been made to identify 
the participants in this interesting little literary 
skirmish. A suggestion has even been hazarded, 
plausible but without foundation, that this is an 
anonymous continuation of hostilities between 
Pope and Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. 

In the same year, the Gentleman's Magazine 
contains a correspondence on the abstract right 
of women to be represented in any professedly 
representative government. It was at about this 
time also that an episode occurred which Lady 
Mary Wortley Montagu records in her Letters. An 
attempt was made to exclude ladies from hearing 
the debates in the House of Lords. Rather than 

And the English Novel 235 

lose this privilege, the ladies resorted to methods 
rather suggestive of the twentieth century. For 
seven hours, "they stood at the door without bite 
or sup, and carried their point." 

Within these two years (1739 and 1740), we 
find in embryo most of the elements of subsequent 
feminist literature: dreary wastes of fanaticism 
versus prejudice, absurd sentimentalism and 
equally absurd appeals to abstract rights, but 
withal, two elements of permanent value: a per- 
ception of the economic factor, and a sound ideal of 
the social duties and responsibilities of women. 

During the next fifty years the only significant 
additions to feminist literature were a number of 
sentimental theories on the education of girls, all 
more or less directly influenced by Rousseau's 
Emile. Mary Wollstonecraft discusses the most 
noteworthy of these; Dr. Gregory's Legacy to His 
Daughters, Fordyce's Sermons, and Hester Cha- 
pone's Letters. 

It should be observed that between the femin- 
ism of Rousseau and that of Mary Wollstonecraft 
there is no connexion whatever. They hold 
exactly opposite views of the chief end of woman. 
"Sophie" exists purely for "Emile." Rousseau 
cannot conceive of her as being of any value to 
herself or to society as a whole. Her one aim in 
life is to be attractive ; her one happiness is in being 
loved. She reflects, "that a thinking man may 
not yawn in her society." Instead of an education, x 

1 Rousseau, Emile, Book V. 

236 The French Revolution 

she has "accomplishments." Her very modesty 
exists only to give zest to the wooing of her. It is 
against this conception that Mary Wollstonecraft 
protests. The basis of all her writings is the 
assumption that women are before all else human 
beings, with all human dignity and responsibilities. 
Her ideal is one of self-respect and service to 
society, whether that service be the writing of 
books or the rearing of future citizens. To the 
objection that seems to Rousseau conclusive: 
"Educate women like men, and the more they 
resemble our sex the less power will they have over 
us," she replies finely: "This is the very point I 
aim at; I do not wish them to have power over 
men, but over themselves. " I 

Unquestionably the outbreak of the French 
Revolution marks a distinct epoch in the feminist 
movement. "Since when have women occupied 
themselves with politics?" Napoleon is said to 
have asked Madame de Stael. "Since they have 
been guillotined," was the reply. Perhaps the 
first serious demand ever made by women for 
political representation and equal suffrage was the 
Cahier presented to the king at the meeting of the 
States General in 1789. A similar petition was 
addressed to the National Assembly in the same 
year, and endorsed by the philosopher Condorcet. 
It was rejected, "with scorn and derision." But 
many of the leaders of the Revolution were in 
favour of it, among them Talleyrand-Perigord, 

M Vindication of the Rights of Woman, ed. Boston, 1792, p. 112. 

And the English Novel 237 

Bishop of Autun, to whom A Vindication of the 
Rights of Woman is dedicated. 

Miss Mcllquham says : "Three valuable pleas for 
justice to womanhood were undoubtedly the out- 
come of the French Revolution, viz., Condorcet's 
Sur V Admission des Femmes au Droit de Cite, Mary 
Wollstonecraft's Vindication of the Rights of 
Woman, and Count Segur's Women, Their Condi- 
tion and Influence in Society." 1 It is not quite 
accurate, however, to call A Vindication of the 
Rights of Woman an outcome of the French Revolu- 
tion, in spite of the stimulus it unquestionably 
received from that source. During the latter half 
of the eighteenth century there were other forces 
at work in England, forces dimly foreshadowed by 
that unknown writer in the Craftsman's Magazine. 
Not least of the social maladjustments arising from 
the Industrial Revolution were those affecting 
women. As factories developed, the home became 
less and less a centre of industry. The spinning 
and weaving of cloth, for example, lacemaking, 
and all manner of handicrafts were no longer 
carried on in each individual family for use or sale. 
The woman in the home found her range of occu- 
pation rapidly diminished. Below a certain social 
scale she followed her work into the factories. But 
the self-supporting middle-class woman found her- 
self facing an economic situation that was fast 
becoming intolerable. Without a "fortune" she 
could not marry advantageously; the superfluous 

1 Westminster Review, vol. clx., p. 541. 

238 The French Revolution 

daughter or sister in the home was no longer a val- 
uable asset ; and outside the home the wretchedly 
paid and almost menial occupations of governess, 
"companion," and seamstress were the only ones 
open to her. It is the consequent somewhat vague 
and uncomprehending social unrest that finds ex- 
pression in Mary Wollstonecraft, rather than a 
desire for political rights. She was undoubtedly 
much influenced, as we shall see, by Godwin and his 
circle. But leaving aside the extraneous matter 
borrowed from the Pure Reason philosophies, A 
Vindication of the Rights of Woman reduces itself 
to a clear-headed and surprisingly modern demand 
for a truer ideal, a sound education, and the right 
to work. 

Is not that government very defective [she writes], 
and very unmindful of the happiness of its members, 
that does not provide for honest independent women 
by encouraging them to fill respectable stations ? How 
many women waste life away, the prey of discontent, 
who might have practised as physicians, regulated a 
farm, managed a shop, and stood erect, supported by 
their own industry! 1 

Perhaps no other single book cut so deep into 
the mind of the time as this. Everywhere it was 
hailed as the beginning of a new movement and 
greeted with a storm of protest. On its publica- 
tion, criticism was divided. The Analytical Review 
endorsed it unhesitatingly. The Critical Review 
writes in a tone of patronizing disapproval : 

1 Wollstonecraft, Vindication of the Rights of Woman, chapter i. 

And the English Novel 239 

We are infinitely better pleased with the present 
system. In truth, dear young lady, endeavour to 
attain the elegancy of mind, and sweet docility of 
manners, the ornaments of your sex; we are certain 
you will be more pleasing, and we dare pronounce that 
you will be infinitely happier. 

Other commentators are less courteous : instead of 
discussing the book they resort to irrelevant and 
often scurrilous attacks upon the character of the 

For at least a quarter of a century after its publi- 
cation, all the ideas of the woman movement were 
practically identified with the Vindication. It 
was one of those inevitable books that crystallize 
a tendency in their time. Mary Wollstonecraft 
became the symbol of a certain form of unrest. 
The general trend of discussion we shall find fully 
illustrated in the novels which we are about to 

With this brief sketch of early feminist literature 
as a background we may turn to our subject proper, 
Mary Wollstonecraft as a novelist, and some 
other novels of the Revolutionary period dealing 
with the position of women. 


It can hardly have failed to occur to us how few 
of the novelists we have considered so far are 
living figures in the world of literature. A few 
volumes gathering dust on the shelves of libraries 

240 The French Revolution 

and special collections, occasional perfunctory 
notices in histories of the novel ; these are all that 
remain of the little group who echoed in the fiction 
of their time the splendid audacities that so in- 
spired the poets of the Revolution. 

But there is one figure in the group about whom 
controversy has never ceased to rage. Through- 
out the century that has elapsed since her death, 
Mary Wollstonecraft has been honoured and 
bitterly attacked, but never treated with in- 
difference ; loved and hated, but never forgotten. 
The spirit of controversy is as strong in her 
twentieth-century commentators as it was in her 

We are concerned here primarily with the novels, 
which formed a very insignificant part of her work. 
Two were early attempts; the most important, 
The Wrongs of Woman, was left unfinished at her 
death. As novels, her critics agree, none of the 
three are very valuable. If it be objected that 
these form but a very small excuse for a somewhat 
lengthy discussion of the author, we can only plead 
that in order to arrive at any just estimate of The 
Wrongs of Woman we must know something of the 
"Rights of Woman" movement, and, most of all, 
something of the rights and wrongs of the woman 
of whose life and personality these novels are so 
largely a record. It is to Mary Wollstonecraft 
herself that we must turn for the explanation of her 
works. She knew life at first hand, thought for 
herself with vigour and directness, and managed 

And the English Novel 241 

somehow to see so far below the surface of her time 
that the conclusions she reached have not yet 
become commonplaces. 

Biographical details are usually rather dull 
reading; but how, in every record that she touches, 
Mary Wollstonecraft lives! Our own contem- 
poraries are not more real to us than this woman of 
a hundred years ago. One has an odd feeling of 
having known and talked with her somewhere 
the girl of Opie's portraits, with her sweet, wistful 
face under the soft waves of dark auburn hair, 
the expressive brown eyes that Southey praised 
so, the sensitive, almost childlike mouth. 

The first eighteen years of her life were passed 
in an atmosphere of poverty and family squabbles 
in which she usually acted as buffer. Her father, 
a combination of brute and sentimentalist, aroused 
his daughter's fierce contempt. One gets strange 
glimpses of the child interfering to protect her 
mother and the four younger children from actual 
cruelty. This intolerable family life Mary left to 
become a paid companion to a widow of uncertain 
temper, but after a few months was called home by 
her mother's illness. After the death of her mother 
Mary left home definitely, and went to live with 
her friend Fanny Blood, a girl whose home was 
almost the duplicate of Mary's own. Mrs. Blood 
joined them, and for two years the three women 
eked out a precarious living by needlework. Mean- 
while Mary's younger sister Eliza had married a 
Mr. Bishop, fancying that matrimony offered a 


242 The French Revolution 

better means of escape from an intolerable home 
than Mary's plan of self-support. It did not. By 
1783 the Bishops had reached a domestic crisis, 
and the task of rescuing her sister fell upon Mary. 
She persuaded Fanny Blood to join her in starting 
a school at Islington, where her sister might find 
a refuge; in January, 1784, Eliza was smuggled 
away from her husband's house, half -insane, "bit- 
ing her wedding ring to pieces in the coach." 
Mary wrote to her sister Everina: "I hope B. will 
not discover us ; for I could sooner face a lion. . . . 
Bess is determined not to return. Can he force 
her?" He could, legally, as she very well knew; 
but fortunately he did not. Meanwhile Mary 
felt the full force of popular opinion, and writes 
bitterly : 

I knew I should be the shameful incendiary in the 
shocking affair of a woman's leaving her bedfellow. 
They thought the strong affection of a sister might 
apologize for my conduct, but that the scheme was 
by no means a good one. In short, quite contrary to 
all the rules of conduct that are published for new- 
married ladies, by whose advice Mrs. Brook was 
actuated when she with great grief of heart gave up 
my friendship. 1 

The school struggled along for several years on 
the verge of failure. Fanny Blood married, and 
died soon after. Eliza and Everina Wollstonecraft 
took positions as governesses. Mary continued to 

1 Taylor, Mary Wollstonecraft, p. 50. 

And the English Novel 243 

make a bare living with the pupils that remained, 
by doing all the work of the cottage herself. She 
decided to try her hand at writing. In 1785 her 
Thoughts on the Education of Daughters was pub- 
lished by Joseph Johnson. It is characterized by 
her usual good sense and independence of thought, 
and contains many of the very modern ideas which 
she afterward expressed more fully in the Vindica- 
tion of the Rights of Woman. Johnson paid her 
ten pounds for it, which she promptly handed over 
to the Bloods, who certainly did not need it any 
more than she did. 

In 1787, Mary gave up the hopeless task of trying 
to run a school with neither capital nor patronage, 
and took a position as governess to Lady Kings- 
borough. Here she had her first taste of aris- 
tocratic and fashionable life. Her reaction is 
vigorous and characteristic. "There is such a 
solemn kind of stupidity about this place as froze 
my very soul," she wrote to her sister. After a 
year as a governess she could endure it no longer, 
and came to London, boldly determined to sup- 
port herself by her pen. Her letters at this time 
show the courage of desperation. "I am, then, 
to be the first of a new genius. I tremble at the 
attempt. But I must be independent. " 

For the next four years Mary Wollstonecraft 
lived in London, a shabby, overworked young hack- 
writer. She was successful from the first, but she 
had an incurable habit of giving away almost all 
she earned. During this time she kept in school 

244 The French Revolution 

three of her brothers and sisters, sent Eliza to 
France to learn the language, and virtually sup- 
ported her father in addition. Mary's family were 
all stupid, disagreeable people, not in the least 
worth the trouble she took with them; her sisters 
afterward showed themselves thoroughly spiteful 
and ungrateful. But Mary never expected sym- 
pathy or appreciation from those she helped. 
She took care of them as a matter of course, be- 
cause it was plain that they would not take care 
of themselves. 

During these years however, there was another 
side to Mary Wollstonecraft's life. Through her 
friendship with Joseph Johnson, the publisher of 
most of the radical literature of the time, she came 
in touch with a group of men and women of in- 
tellect and originality who were thinking in terms 
of the French Revolutionary philosophies. John- 
son treated her like a daughter; Paine, Home 
Tooke, Fordyce, Godwin, Fuseli, Holcroft, and 
all their brilliant circle welcomed her as an equal. 
In that congenial fellowship her powers of intellect 
and personality reached their full development. 
She was a woman whom men of genius always 
admired. Dr. Price had long been her devoted 
friend, and as a young girl she had even succeeded 
in attracting the attention of the great Dr. John- 
son. It is obvious that her ideas were profoundly 
influenced by the extreme Revolutionary doctrines 
of the group in which she now found herself. 
Rather, it is needful to point out wherein she 

And the English Novel 245 

differed from them; and how it is that in some 
respects this obscure girl teacher saw her time with 
clearer eyes than any of its professional philo- 

In 1790, Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in 
France appeared, attacking Dr. Price's sermon 
before the Revolution Society. Mary Wollstone- 
craft was the first in the field with an answer. A 
Vindication of the Rights of Man, in a Letter to the 
Right Honourable Edmund Burke is as clever a bit of 
rough and ready argument as any in the language. 
Its defects in style and structure are numerous; 
it was written over night, almost, and Mary 
never could be induced to take any interest in 
questions of mere literary craftsmanship. But it 
has a more serious fault. It is not fair to the great 
statesman against whom it is directed. Humility 
was never Mary's strong point. The tone which 
she adopts towards her distinguished opponent is 
almost insolent in its audacity. Burke had un- 
deniably scored against the Revolutionists when he 
insisted that political systems are of slow growth, 
built on practical needs and expediencies, not on 
abstract reasonings. But Mary Wollstonecraft 
meeting Burke on his own ground of practical 
consideration of facts, convicts him in turn of 
building air castles, and saying "all is well" where 
all is far from well. She brushes aside all his 
rhapsodies on the sacredness of the past and the 
glories of England, and goes straight to the heart 
of his whole concern for the maintenance of the 

246 The French Revolution 

established order. "Security of property! Behold 
in a few words the definition of English liberty. 
But softly,' it is only the property of the rich that 
is secure. " She sees perfectly clearly the economic 
basis for the conservatism of the property holders ; 
but, belonging herself to the earning rather than to 
the owning classes, she does not feel quite so 
forcibly as Burke the extreme sanctity of capital. 
Furthermore, his eloquent tears over the sufferings 
of the Queen of France were a little too much for 
the patience of the woman who knew by experi- 
ence how much chivalry his world had for women 
on the wrong side of the economic situation. If 
there was one thing Mary hated it was sentimental 
cant. She meets Burke's condemnation of the 
French Revolution on the basis of its early acts by 
pointing out conditions existing under that British 
government Burke so admired; closing with a 
burst of indignation more forcible than courteous. 
"What were the outrages of a day to these con- 
tinual miseries? Such misery demands more than 
tears. I pause to recollect myself and smother the 
contempt I feel for your rhetorical flourishes and 
infantine sensibility." 1 

Two years later came the publication of Mary 
Wollstonecraft's best-known book, A Vindication 
of the Rights of Woman, the significance of which 
we have discussed elsewhere. This may to some 

1 Wollstonecraft, Rights of Man, ed., London, 1790, pp. 23 and 

And the English Novel 247 

extent be taken as the text of which her semi- 
autobiographical novels are the illustration. 

The last four years of Mary Wollstonecraft's 
life show another side of her very complex charac- 
ter. She was a woman who could not only think 
clearly and act resolutely, but feel greatly. There 
are many unprofitable ways of considering the 
love affairs of Mary Wollstonecraft ; her well- 
meaning commentators have done their best to 
furnish us with examples of all of them. It is a 
subject fatally easy to preach about or sentimen- 
talize over. One fancies how intensely annoyed 
Mary herself would be with either attitude. It 
may be well to point out that society settled its 
score with her something over a hundred years ago. 
There was little enough of happiness in her short 
life. One would think the most incurably ethical 
might be satisfied with the moral to be drawn from 
her conduct and its consequences to herself. 

Briefly, in 1792 or thereabouts, Mary Wollstone- 
craft, having forgotten her own very wise remarks 
on the dangers of platonic friendships, found herself 
too much interested in the painter Fuseli for either 
her own peace of mind or that of his wife. Where- 
upon she very sensibly ran away to France. There 
she witnessed some stirring scenes in the great 
drama of the time, and wrote her conclusions upon 
them in A Historical and Moral View of the French 
Revolution. It is to be observed that Mary's 
emotional crises never affected her remarkable 
insight into the economic causes underlying politi- 

248 The French Revolution 

cal phenomena. She was perhaps the only one of 
the English Radicals who was never misled as to the 
real significance of the French Revolution. 

I wish I could inform you [she wrote], that out of the 
chaos of vices and follies, prejudices and virtues, 
rudely jumbled together, I saw the fair form of liberty 
slowly rising and virtue expanding her wings to shelter 
all her children. . . . But if the aristocracy of birth 
is levelled to the ground only to make room for that of 
riches, I am afraid the moral of the people will not 
be much improved by the change. . . . Everything 
whispers to me that names, not principles, are changed. I 

While in Paris, Mary met Captain Gilbert Im- 
lay, an American, with whom she formed the 
connexion that has caused such acute embarrass- 
ment to her apologists. It has been pointed out 
that conditions in Paris were such as to make a 
formal marriage with its accompanying declara- 
tion of nationality extremely dangerous. Mary 
was certainly registered at the American Embassy 
as Imlay's wife, and acknowledged as such by him 
in documents which would be accepted in many 
countries as conclusive evidence of marriage. But 
later, when Imlay's fickle conduct forced Mary 
most unwillingly to give him up, society was 
shocked to discover that there was no legal con- 
straint to prevent their separation. 

Imlay was himself the author of a tendenz novel, 
The Emigrants, attacking "The sacrilege which 

1 Wollstonecraft, Posthumous Works, vol. iv., p. 43. 

And the English Novel 249 

the present practices of matrimonial engagement 
necessarily produce." J. Stirling Taylor says of 

It would be interesting to know which we do not 
whether these heterodox views came from Mary, or 
whether it was the other way round and Imlay the 
teacher. Since the book was almost certainly finished 
in Paris, either theory may be true ; the influences may 
have been mutual. J 

In the Pure Reason philosophies of Godwin and 
his circle, marriage was often referred to as a form 
of tyranny. But Mary was not of the type of 
mind that seeks martyrdom for metaphysical 
abstractions. She usually drew her own conclu- 
sions from actual observation. When one remem- 
bers the homes Mary had known best her own 
and the Bloods' and her experiences in rescuing 
her sister from the old English marriage law which 
regarded the wife as "property," it is not incom- 
prehensible that Mary developed a certain lack of 
appreciation of the desirability of having her own 
marriage legally binding. 

However that may be, she received drastic 
demonstration of the extreme unwisdom of her 
course. The Imlay letters, published after her 
death, are a pathetic record of her brief happiness, 
Imlay's unfaithfulness, her desperate efforts to 
regain his affection, growing estrangement, and the 
final parting : " I go to find peace. May you never 

1 Taylor, Mary Wollstonecraft, p. 137. 

250 The French Revolution 

know by experience what you have made me 

She returned to London. That haunting ten- 
dency to melancholia, the result of nerves shattered 
in her early struggles, overwhelmed her ; and for the 
second time in her life Mary Wollstonecraft at- 
tempted suicide. She was rescued from the 
Thames, however, and took up her work again, 
gradually regaining her lost peace of mind through 
the necessity of caring for herself and her child, 
Fanny Imlay. Mary cared little for social position 
or for wealth; the two things she could not live 
without were her own self-respect and her econo- 
mic independence. There is a flash of the old 
spirit when Imlay offers to support her and his 

I never wanted but your heart that gone, you have 
nothing more to give. Forgive me then if I say that I 
shall consider any direct or indirect attempt to supply 
my necessities as an insult which I have not merited, 
and as done rather out of tenderness for your own 
reputation than for me. 

But Mary Wollstonecraft was too fully de- 
veloped a human being to brood long over the 
sentimentalized memory of an emotional experi- 
ence, however intense it had been. Her friendship 
with William Godwin ripened gradually into love, 
and those two strangely contrasted temperaments 
found happiness together in a married life the 
eccentricity of which was equalled only by its 

And the English Novel 251 

beauty. Godwin says of Mary: "She was a 
worshipper of domestic life, and possessed in an 
unparalleled degree the art of communicating 
happiness." It seemed that she had at last 
"found peace." She was still a young woman 
thirty-seven, to be exact, and the best of her life 
was yet before her. But within the year she died 
in giving birth to the daughter who bore her name 
Shelley's Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin. 

So ends the life of which the novels we are about 
to consider are little more than faint, distorted 
reflections. She, who saw so clearly, has left us a 
summing up of herself in one sentence, the full 
force of which it has taken us a century to realize : 

All the world is a stage, thought I, and few there are 
in it who do not play the part they have learned by 
rote; and those who do not, seem marks set up to be 
pelted at by fortune; or rather sign posts, which point 
out the road to others, whilst forced to stand still 
themselves amidst the mud and dust. 

The fiction Mary Wollstonecraft wrote is not 
large in amount; two frankly tendenz novels, a 
fantastic tale called The Cave of Fancy, and a book 
of children's stories, moral lessons connected by 
a very slight thread of narrative, with which 
we need not concern ourselves in the present 

The first of her novels was written during her 
life as a governess, in 1782. Mary, A Fiction is not 
remarkable as a literary achievement, although 

252 The French Revolution 

there are fine passages in it, and some spirited 
satire. The preface is interesting as an expression 
of the author's ideals of novel writing. She prac- 
tically admits the strong personal, almost auto- 
biographical element in her work. 

Those compositions only [she writes], have power 
to delight and carry us willing captives where the 
soul of the author is exhibited. . . . These chosen few 
wish to speak for themselves and not be an echo 
even of the sweetest sounds. The paradise they 
ramble in must be of their own creating. 

She adds a demure footnote: "I here give the 
reviewers an opportunity of being very witty about 
the Paradise of Fools. " ' 

G. R. Stirling Taylor says of this novel: 

There is little doubt that Mary is autobiographical. 
That she should make the sick friend die in Lisbon 
is an obvious reference to the death of Fanny Blood. 
But these resemblances are of trivial importance. 
The chief interest lies in the fact that the " Mary" of 
the tale speaks the mind of Mary the author. This 
close link between the story and the author's individu- 
ality is marked by a mass of cumulative evidence; 
the life explains the story and the story the life. The 
author says of her heroine, "Her mind was strong and 
clear, when not clouded by her feelings, but she was too 
much the creature of impulse and the slave of pity. " 2 

The Cave of Fancy, A Tale, was planned at the 

1 Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary, preface, p. ii. 

2 Taylor, Mary Wollstonecraft, p. 88. 

And the English Novel 253 

same time as Mary, A Fiction, but it was never 
finished, appearing only among her posthumous 
works. It is far inferior to the two novels based 
upon Mary's own life, which in spite of all their 
faults in literary craftsmanship are not without 
power. The facts of her experience and the 
conclusions she drew from them she could express 
with vigour and directness. But when she relies 
upon her imagination for plot and incident her 
weakness becomes apparent. Short as The Cave 
of Fancy is, the action drags and the didacticism 
is wearisome. 

Even so, it is not without interest. Mary Woll- 
stonecraft never could keep her own personality 
out of anything she wrote; and she herself has been 
called everything from an "angel" to "a hyena in 
petticoats" (Horace Walpole's little tribute), but 
never a bore. 

The plan, never completed, was of the Arabian 
Nights type ; a narrative framework for a group of 
stories. In an enchanted cavern dwells a very 
implausible sage named Sagestus. A shipwreck at 
his doors devolves upon him the responsibility of 
caring for and educating a little girl, the sole survi- 
vor. The inference is that the child is very fortu- 
nate in the prospect of an education so directed, 
for her mother was of the type of woman Mary 
Wollstonecraft particularly disliked: "Not having 
courage to form an opinion of her own, she adhered 
with blind partiality to those she adopted." 1 

1 Mary Wollstonecraft, Posthumous Works, vol. iv., p. 123. 

254 The French Revolution 

Sagestus conducts the education of the child by 
the aid of spirits summoned to the cave, who tell 
her the stories of their past lives. Only one of these 
stories was written ; that of a woman in whose ex- 
periences one traces the inevitable resemblance 
to those of the author. 

The last and unquestionably the best of Mary 
Wollstonecraft's novels exists only in the rough 
draft left unfinished at her death. It is for our 
purpose the most interesting on account of its 
doctrinary character. 

It is hardly fair to criticize the technique of an 
unfinished work. Certainly in its present form the 
whole seems badly constructed. The story begins 
in the middle, in an insane asylum, leaves us for 
several chapters in utter bewilderment, and then 
resorts to the expedient of the heroine's diary to 
explain the events of what should have been the 
first two volumes. Horrors are piled on with 
Gothic lavishness, and there is a nightmarish in- 
coherence due to continual digressions. 

Nevertheless, it is safe to say that Mary Woll- 
stonecraft had grasped certain principles of ten- 
denz novel writing more fully than any of the other 
novelists we have considered so far. With most of 
them the "purpose" appears to be incidental. 
The method is to construct a plot at random, and 
then allow the characters to indulge in an occa- 
sional political or philosophical discussion. The 
story would go on just as well with the doctrinary 
passages omitted. Sometimes a preface announces 

And the English Novel 255 

the purpose ; and one feels that such guidance is not 
superfluous. In Caleb Williams, for instance, the 
subject announced is "Man the enemy of man." 
But]since there is considerable disagreement among 
commentators as to how the novel illustrates the 
moral, and even as to what the moral is, it is clear 
that Godwin has not made his point very forcibly. 

Mary Wollstonecraft, on the contrary, having 
decided to make society aware by means of a novel, 
of its injustice to women, goes about it with her 
characteristic directness. The wrongs she has in 
mind are no mere violations of abstract principles 
of political justice. She confines herself to such 
social maladjustments as have come under her 
personal observation. She takes Maria any 
woman places her in a perfectly possible situa- 
tion, and brings down upon her a series of calami- 
ties which are the natural consequences of the 
social, legal, and economic disabilities which 
society of that time placed upon women. There 
are passages that preach, of course ; there are whole 
chapters of special pleading introduced ; but always 
the plot is the main argument. 

Maria is the eldest daughter in a home similar 
to the Wollstonecrafts'. But she is the favourite 
of a wealthy uncle who intends to leave her a 
fortune. Seeing that her home life is intolerable, 
and thinking matrimony the only refuge for a 
woman, he persuades her to marry a young man 
who on short acquaintance has impressed her 
favourably. The young couple go to London, 

256 The French Revolution 

where George proceeds to use up Maria's dowry in 
a life of dissipation. In a few years his gambling 
has reduced them to poverty, and his character 
has so far degenerated that he alternately neg- 
lects and abuses the forlorn young wife, whom the 
death of her uncle has left without a friend to 
protect her. When her husband actually attempts 
to sell her to a lover in payment of a gambling 
debt, she leaves him. Whereupon she discovers 
that she and everything she owns are legally the 
property of her husband. He hunts her from one 
hiding-place to another, with the aid of the law. 
Finally he captures her, takes her child from her, 
and imprisons her in a private asylum. There she 
meets a man whom she learns to love. He helps 
her to escape, and persuades her that she is no 
longer morally bound to her husband, although 
she cannot obtain a divorce. With this man she is 
happy, until her husband discovers them, insti- 
tutes divorce proceedings against her, and secures 
the imprisonment and trial of her lover. Here the 
story breaks off, leaving only a few scattered notes 
to indicate the tragic ending intended by the 

There is a second plot, in the form of a long 
digression, to illustrate the wrongs of a woman of a 
lower social order. It is the story of the woman 
attendant at the asylum who helps Maria and her 
lover to escape. Jemima was a foundling. A 
wretchedly abused little servant maid, she was 
literally forced when scarcely more than a child to 

And the English Novel 257 

become a social outcast. Every attempt to gain 
an honest living being thwarted she becomes a 
hardened, determined criminal. 

How often have I heard [she says], that every person 
willing to work may find employment? It is the 
vague assertion, I believe, of insensible ignorance when 
it relates to men ; but with respect to women I am sure 
of its fallacy, unless they will submit to the most 
menial bodily labour ; and even to be employed at hard 
labour is out of the reach of many, whose reputation 
misfortune or folly has tainted. 1 

Such, in Mary Wollstonecraft's opinion, were 
the "wrongs of woman. " The book has behind it 
the force of conviction growing out of a knowledge 
of facts. Mary Wollstonecraft had no illusions 
left about the opportunities life offered to the 
average middle-class woman of her time. She had 
had intimate knowledge of several marriages where 
the good home bargained for was by no means 
secured. She had furthermore learned by drastic 
experience the impossible economic conditions 
confronting the self-supporting single woman. 
Seamstress, governess, "companion"; these prac- 
tically exhausted the list of gainful occupations 
open to a young woman without any special talent. 
Even Elizabeth Inchbald, for all her ability, found 
marriage a necessity. It required the indomitable 
courage of a Mary Wollstonecraft to gain even the 

1 Mary Wollstonecraft, Posthumous Works, vol. i., p. 112. 


258 The French Revolution 

most modest economic independence, a century 

There are two novels written by her friends in 
which under a thin disguise Mary figures as the 
heroine: Godwin's St. Leon and Mrs. Opie's 
Adelina Mowbray. Both we shall consider in 
detail elsewhere. There is little likeness to the 
Mary we know in St. Leon's Margaret except- 
ing a certain strength and dignity under misfor- 
tune. But Mrs. Opie has virtually written a 
biography of Mary Wollstonecraft during certain 
years of her life, with details changed. In Ade- 
lina she has caught some of the charm of Mary's 
personality, and does full justice to the essential 
purity and nobility of her character, while pointing 
out the fallacy of some of her opinions. Mary's 
deep and sincere religious belief is emphasized with 
great effectiveness. But Mrs. Opie's zeal for draw- 
ing a moral makes her Adelina a much more limited 
personality than the original. Mary was never 
crushed by the verdict of society, and her marriage 
with Godwin was hardly a recantation. She never 
attacked marriage in theory; only the intolerable 
marriage laws of her time. In any case, Mary 
Wollstonecraft 's views on marriage were a very 
unimportant part of her contention for the right 
of women to human dignity and economic inde- 
pendence, and the emphasis given to this phase of 
her life is justified only in a work of pure fiction 
like Adelina Mowbray. 

And the English Novel 259 


Perhaps the earliest novel in our period dealing 
with the woman question is a rather stupid narra- 
tive sermon by "Prudentia Homespun" (Mrs. 
West), entitled The Advantages of Education, or, 
The History of Maria Williams (1793). This is 
merely a plea for fewer "accomplishments" and 
more solid domestic virtues in young ladies of 
the day, and has little connection with the new 

In the closing years of the century appeared a 
curious bdok by James Lawrence, The Empire of 
the Nairs, or The Rights of Women. An Utopian 
Romance. This was suppressed in England, but 
immediately appeared in France. The plot is 
fully outlined in the Revue des Romans, and a num- 
ber of quotations from it are available. 1 It is 
difficult, of course, to determine without reading 
the book the nature of the author's purpose. It is 
incredible that this Utopia should be the expression 
of a serious opinion. Possibly it may be a satire 
on the theories of Godwin and Rousseau, after the 
manner of Swift. But the extreme indecorum of 
the method employed casts suspicion upon the 
sincerity of any "purpose" the author may have 
professed, other than that of gaining a certain 
notoriety. There is a curious note on the Nairs 

1 Gerauld de Saint-Fargeau, Revue des Romans (1839), vol. ii., 
p. 42. 

260 The French Revolution 

in Robert and Adela which seems to indicate that 
this was mistaken for a serious account of a real 
nation. z 

To counteract the dangerous vogue of A Vindica- 
tion of the Rights of Woman, there was published, in 
1795, Robert and Adela, or, The Rights of Women 
best Maintained by the Sentiments of Nature. Al- 
though it is anonymous, one is quite sure from the 
style that the writer was a woman. Like most 
novels in letter form it has a variety of sub-plots, 
but we need concern ourselves only with the main 
narrative. The principal characters are young 
Lord Landsford and his two sisters. Lady Sabina 
is happily married; her function in the novel is 
obviously to represent the ideal of feminine virtue 
and wifely docility. The younger sister, Lady 
Susan, is a young woman of great beauty and 
intelligence; but she has been educated by her 
grandmother, who was one of the regrettably in- 
creasing number of women corrupted by the new 
ideas of independence and equality with men. 
However, since this eccentric old lady has left 
Susan a considerable fortune as well as a stock of 
detrimental ideas, Lord Landsford is not without 
hopes of finding a good match for her. He has in 
mind a friend of his, Count Robert de Montfort, 
an emigre. Susan is pleased with the Count, but 
is in no hurry to marry and give up her cherished 
independence. From this point the novel is an 
account of Susan's outrageous opinions and con- 

1 Robert and Adela, vol. ii., p. 95. 

And the English Novel 261 

duct and the remonstrances of her brother and 
sister. Sometimes the effect is a little lost upon a 
modern reader; one forgets to be shocked when a 
young woman says, for instance, that she wishes 
she could play cricket. Susan's most serious es- 
capade, however, is not without interest. She 
visits the House of Commons (from which women 
were excluded), disguised as a young officer; a 
footnote explains that this was actually done by 
Lady Wallace and "some other spirited ladies who 
had a mind to gratify their curiosity. " 

Lady Susan has many admirers besides the 
Count, all of whom she teases unmercifully. But 
she obstinately refuses to marry. 

To sit down tamely and own a master Oh the 
horrid idea! [she writes, and adds, lest there be any 
doubt as to the source of her theories], That dear Mrs. 
What-do-ye-call-her, who has asserted the rights of 
our sex! How I adore her! Would she ever suffer 
herself to be sunk into a tame domestic animal ? No ! 
No ! She knows and will maintain the dignity of the 
sex, which she has raised to the level with that of man ! 
She hardly allows the men to take the lead in any- 
thing! 1 

Lord Landsford warns her : 

Believe me, masculine manners are not calculated to 
attract our sex, which I cannot but think, after all 
your declarations, is your intention. 'Tis singularity 
you aim at, and that affectation, of all others is most 

1 Robert and Adela, vol. i. f p. 118. 

262 The French Revolution 

pernicious and dangerous to women. Your rights are 
established when you properly perform the duties of a 
wife and mother. 1 

The letters of Lady Sabina are of especial in- 
terest as giving the author's own opinion on the 
whole question, in the person of the ideal woman. 

I know that you can easily foil me in argument on 
any subject. I have little more to urge than the senti- 
ments of a female heart against that lofty way of 
thinking, in which I suspect, from your frequent use 
of certain phrases and sentiments, you have been 
confirmed by Mrs. Woolstone Croft's Vindication of 
the Rights of Woman. You insist on an equality of 
rights and privileges I cannot understand, perfectly, 
what you mean ; for to be in all respects on a footing of 
equality with the men seems to me to be impossible. 
How can the infirmities and tender cares to which 
women are doomed, by the constitution of their nature, 
accord with the agitation of public assemblies ? . . . I 
am persuaded Mrs. Woolstone Croft would never have 
dreamed of writing such a book about the rights of 
women if she had been a happy wife and mother ; . . . 
the true glory as well as the true happiness of women 
consists in the exercise, not of the heroic, but of the 
amiable virtues. [Praise of meekness and patience.] 
Patience, as Rousseau observes, even under a hus- 
band's injustice. Such gentleness of manners is in fact 
the best armour in which the delicacy of the female 
frame can be clothed; for women are committed by 
Providence to the care of fathers, brothers, husbands, 

1 Robert and Adda, vol. ii., p. 182. 

And the English Novel 263 

and other relatives. Usually an amiable woman has 
her full share of sway, and in politics, too, it is well 
known that women have power without the formality 
of constitutional votes. . . . We should always com- 
ply with the prevailing system, to deviate may incur 
censure, which every female should studiously avoid. 1 

Lady Susan is quite unaffected by all this ad- 
monition. Her brother in despair pronounces her 
"unworthy the serious attention of any man of 
sense." The Count accordingly turns his atten- 
tion to her younger sister, who very opportunely 
emerges from a convent school because the exi- 
gencies of the plot require an unmarried Sabina. 
Susan, in a pique, marries the next man who offers 
himself, giving as her reason "that she may have 
something to torment." As she neglected to 
secure a settlement, her husband makes away with 
her property, and beats her. She finally leaves 
him, recants her errors, and devotes the remainder 
of her life to philanthropy, "on all occasions in- 
culcating the maxim that an amiable female 
gains everything by assuming nothing : and that the 
rights of women are best maintained by the senti- 
ments of nature. " 2 

So ends the career of Susan as an awful warning. 
The Rousseauistic moral is quite clear; although 
one is tempted to observe that Susan's troubles 
begin only when she gives up her principles by 

1 Robert and Adela, vol. i., pp. 179-85. 

2 Ibid., vol. ii., p. 310. 

264 The French Revolution 

marrying. There is an obvious effort at fairness. 
The heroine is made very attractive, and at times is 
allowed to express her theories with considerable 
eloquence. The author has caught Mary Woll- 
stonecraft's favourite phrases (even though she 
could not spell the name), and uses them in very 
clever satire. But one cannot feel that there is 
much real connexion between the type of ideas 
represented by this wealthy and aristocratic 
coquette, to whom social independence is a ca- 
price, and those of the struggling girl hack-writer, 
to whom economic independence was a grim 

There are some interesting discussions of politi- 
cal matters in the course of the novel. Writing 
from an orthodox Whig point of view the author 
contrasts France, "that land of anarchy," with 
"this happy island of regulated liberty; for so it is, 
whatever men may preach against it. From the 
abuses which, in the course of years, have crept 
into all states, Britain is not exempt. But I cannot 
conceive, because a few repairs are necessary, that 
the building should be razed to the ground." 1 
The landed gentry are regarded as the mainstay 
of the nation. Landsf ord says : 

To live at home as our ancestors used to, should be 
the aim of our nobility. It was crowding to the court 
and neglecting everything for the smile of a prince 
that brought France into that horrid anarchy and 
convulsion in which it now labours. 

1 Robert and Adela, vol. i., p. 9. 

And the English Novel 265 

He refuses to follow the general tendency to raise 
the rents of his tenantry. x 

On the other hand, the author is no blind de- 
fender of the principle of hereditary aristocracy. 
She writes with what was, for that time, consider- 
able boldness : 

The high pride of families I begin to think somewhat 
absurd, having witnessed so many virtues and such a 
fund of genius in the lower orders of society that more 
than make up for the mere adventitious circumstance 
of birth. Superior intellect surely is more than equal 
to any title that is dependent on the breath of kings. 2 

A later novel, distinctly Tory in its political 
point of view, offers a fair sample of what were 
considered really advanced ideas on the woman 
question during the period of conservative Reac- 
tion. Blue Stocking Hall (i827) 3 is written to 
defend the thesis that a young lady need not be 
entirely uneducated in order to be attractive. 
The author in his preface avows himself a recent 
convert to this radical doctrine. The plot is simple. 
Mrs. Douglas and her three daughters live quietly 
on their country estate in Ireland, devoted to 
philanthropy, religion, and studious pursuits under 
the guidance of a tutor of remarkable attainments. 

1 Cf . The Magic of Wealth. 

2 Robert and Adela, vol. i., p. 24. 

* Blue Stocking Hall is attributed to William Scargill, and also 
to Mrs. Jane Webb, in the Boston Public Library catalogue; 
but no author is given in the book itself. 

266 The French Revolution 

The girls study Latin, Greek, modern literature, 
mathematics, and a little botany. Young Frank 
Howard, Mrs. Douglas's nephew, visits them. He 
has heard that his cousins are "learned ladies" 
and intends to give his aunt a warning of the error 
of her course. 

Men of the present day dread a " blue " more than a 
scorpion; which argument I believe, never fails with a 
mama. To be sure, they cannot unlearn all that old 
dominie has crammed into their noddles, but if they 
are frightened into careful concealment there is not 
much harm done. x 

Of course he finds his cousins charming girls, not at 
all inclined to pose. His prejudices are shaken. 
The second and third volumes are devoted to the 
progress of his conversion, and the long arguments 
of Mrs. Douglas in favour of the education of 
young ladies. She hastens to admit that: "The 
great object to which a girl's prospects should tend 
from infancy to maturity is marriage," and that 
she "prizes one unselfish movement of the heart 
above all the intellect that ever adorned the 
greatest philosophers. " But the prejudice against 
learned ladies is, she thinks, without foundation. 
It is only a little learning that is dangerous 
to feminine docility. Real learning tends to 
humility. Social intercourse and marriage will 
gain equally when ladies are permitted to acquire 
more culture. Finally, she enters into an elaborate 
1 Blue Stocking Hall, vol. i., p. 30. 

And the English Novel 267 

argument to prove that the education of women is 
neither explicitly nor implicitly forbidden in the 
Scriptures. * 

Mrs. Douglas carefully disavows any sympathy 
with the Vindication of the Rights of Woman' 

A book [she says], which long ago found its resting 
place amidst dust and cobwebs. The French Revolu- 
tion set many heads distracted and loosened the whole 
framework of our morals, but we are sobered, and have 
consigned to oblivion the grosser absurdities of that 
disjointed period. 2 

There is a secondary discussion running through 
the book which is very significant. Education, the 
author insists, is only for the upper classes. "The 
accomplishment of reading, considered without 
reference to religious instruction, is about as neces- 
sary and suitable to a poor labouring man as a 
gold snuff box would be. " 3 Reading of the Bible 
might be allowed, but: "The ethics of Mr. Cobbett 
and the religion of Mr. Carlile are better kept from 
the poor. " 4 " The will of God has made inequality 
the very essence of every social system. No spread 

1 Blue Stocking Hall, vol. i., p. 218. Contrast Mary Wollstone- 
craft's vigorous treatment of this time-worn argument, in chapter 
v. of the Vindication of the Rights of Woman. "Were an angel 
from heaven to tell me that the account of the Fall of Man were 
literally true, I could not believe what my reason told me was 
derogatory to the character of the Supreme Being." 

'Blue Stocking Hall, vol. i., p. 222. 

*Ibid., vol. i., p. 138. 

Ibid., vol. i., p. 150. 

268 The French Revolution 

of knowledge can improve the lot of him who must 
till the soil by the sweat of his brow. " x 

It is interesting to note the author's antipathy 
to the poems of Byron. Mrs. Douglas will not 
allow a copy of Don Juan in her library; she de- 
clares "Byron, like Milton's Satan, stands pre- 
eminent at the head of all mischief makers of the 
present time. " 2 3 

Such were three typical novels of the "Rights of 
Women." The Wrongs of Woman expresses the 
spirit of the Industrial Revolution, in terms 
coloured by the philosophies of the French Revolu- 
tion. It speaks for the women the Sentimentalists 
ignored ; the women not provided with comfortable 
fortunes or affectionate male relatives eager to 
support them in idleness. These were the women 
who, finding that the old ideals had no cognizance 
of them or of the economic conditions that pro- 
duced them, were demanding a new and nobler 

The Rights of Woman Best Maintained by the 
Sentiments of Nature is a contemporary protest of 
the older Sentimentalists, re-enforced by Rousseau- 
ism, against these grimly iconoclastic women of the 
great Revolutions. Not unfair in its criticism, not 
unkindly in its satire, but not quite comprehend- 

1 Blue Stocking Hall, vol. i., p. 154. 

3 Ibid., p. 279. 

s Zeluca: or, Educated and Uneducated Women (1815) may be 
an earlier treatment of the same subject, but it is unfortunately 
not accessible. 

And the English Novel 269 

ing because aware only of the comfortably wealthy 
classes, this is the generous and dignified com- 
ment of the older ideal upon the newer. 

Last of all, in an age when the idealisms of the 
Revolution are dead, Blue Stocking Hall is the 
contribution of the Reaction at its worst. Mary 
Wollstonecraft's noble and eloquent demand for a 
higher ideal and the right to work has dwindled 
into a simpering plea that "young ladies," for- 
sooth, be no longer forbidden to dabble in Latin 
and Greek. Mary Astell had asked as much a 
hundred years before. But an age so complacent 
in accepting poverty and ignorance as the divinely 
ordained lot of the working-man, is not an age to 
err through over-enthusiastic advocacy of fantastic 
"Rights of Woman." 






The French Revolution and the English Poets. 

The influence of the French Revolution upon the 
poetry of the time has been fully discussed in at 
least three most admirable books devoted pri- 
marily to that subject. 1 It would be out of place 
here to attempt to do more than recall briefly some 
of the conclusions reached in these comprehensive 

The poets whose works reflect the ideals of the 
Revolution fall into three distinct groups, in order 
of time, i . There are the precursors of Revolu- 
tion : certain poets whose works, considered in the 
light of later developments, seem to foreshadow the 

1 Dr. A. E. Hancock, The French Revolution and the English 
Poets; Professor Edward Dowden, The French Revolution and 
English Literature; and Dr. Charles Cestre, La Revolution et les 
Poetes Anglais (1709-1809). To which may be added the first 
two chapters of Professor Dowden's Studies in Literature from 
1789 to 1877. 


The English Novel 271 

coming philosophies, although in truth they are lit- 
tle more than humanitarians and Sentimentalists, 
with the correct Whig principles in politics. Of 
these poets Cowper and Crabbe are representative. 
2. During the actual period of the Revolution, 
the currents of popular feeling were reflected in the 
minds of the so-called Lake Poets, Wordsworth, 
Coleridge, and Southey. To these may be added 
two independent writers, Burns and Blake. 3. 
Finally, after the close of the true Revolutionary 
period, during the later Napoleonic wars and the 
period of Reaction, come the poets of the after- 
glow; Byron and Shelley, and their lesser con- 
temporaries, Moore, Leigh Hunt, and Landor. x 

William Cowper was, according to Professor 
Dowden, " undesignedly and unawares, the chief 
representative of Revolutionary sentiment in the 
days before the Revolution." 2 Cowper was an 
orthodox Whig in politics and an ardent Evangeli- 
cal in his religion. 3 Although the denunciation of 

1 Professor Dowden discusses the work of all these poets, in the 
order given, adding various other works (many of which we have 
already considered in Chapter II). Dr. Cestre confines himself to 
the poets of the Revolution proper, considering the work of 
Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Southey in great detail, and adding 
an excellent chapter on Burns and Blake. Dr. Hancock selects 
four poets as representative; Shelley, Byron, Wordsworth, and 
Coleridge. These he discusses in the order named, with the 

addition of a chapter on Godwin and another on the French 

2 Dowden, French Revolution and English Literature, p. 30. 

J On this point Professor Dowden makes an observation signi- 
ficant in connection with the relation which we have traced 

272 The French Revolution 

luxury and certain other markedly Rousseauistic 
elements find place in his verse, "it was less by 
virtue of his ardour in behalf of political liberty, 
genuine as it was, than by his feeling for simplifica- 
tion and his humanitarian sentiment that Cowper 
belongs to the Revolution." 1 When the Bastile 
fell, Cowper was an old man ; his period of original 
writing was over; and the new hopes of the time 
found him apparently apathetic. 

Cowper's younger contemporary, Crabbe, 
touches the theories of the Revolution only on its 
humanitarian side. But of the facts that lay 
below the surface of the movement, the terrible by- 
products of the Industrial Revolution, he wrote 
with a grim realism unrelieved by any Utopian 
visionings for the future. 

The earliest of the true Revolutionists was Burns, 
the poet of Equality. Remote from the sphere of 
Pure Reason philosophies and of Sentimentalism, 
from the very life of the time his poetry "sounds 
the note for the revolt of the proletariat." 3 Pro- 
fessor Dowden adds: 

So long as the Revolution retained a philosophic 
and doctrinaire aspect, it left Burns almost untouched. 

between the Revolutionists and certain forms of dissent: "The 
gospel of Rousseau is translated by Cowper into the gospel 
according to St. Paul. The combination is a curious and interest- 
ing one for literary study, of the sentiment of the Revolution 
with the faith and fervor of the Evangelical revival" (p. 41). 

1 Dowden, French Revolution, etc., p. 30. 

2 Ibid., etc., p. 140. 

And the English Novel 273 

It is only when the Revolution became violent, tragic, 
and essentially a movement of the popular masses, 
when it ceased to be a declaration of abstract prin- 
ciples and passed into a conflict of the passions that 
Burns was deeply moved. 1 

His Revolutionism expressed itself in songs passion- 
ate and satiric, and in several escapades which 
sorely endangered his livelihood as an exciseman. 
For Burns was a true proletarian in this also, that 
he was often forced into submission for bread and 
butter reasons when below his surface docility the 
fires of revolt still burned. 

Another poet somewhat out of the main current 
of Revolutionary philosophy was William Blake. 
In 1791, Blake was employed by Joseph Johnson to 
illustrate Mary Wollstonecraft's Original Stories. 
This brought him in contact with the little group 
of radical writers that gathered at Johnson's 
weekly dinners: Paine, Home Tooke, Godwin, 
Holcroft, and the rest. Under this stimulus Blake 
published a poem on the Revolution, now lost. 
But it is not to be supposed that either the philo- 
sophies of the Johnson circle or the social unrests 
of the time ever really penetrated the conscious- 
ness of Blake. Reason and sense of fact were alike 
subordinated to his glorious but undisciplined 
imagination. It is the Revolution as a spiritual 
entity, an eternal, archetypal Revolution quite 
distinct from the actual political phenomena, that 

1 Dowden, French Revolution, etc., p. 146. 

274 The French Revolution 

lives in the Marriage of Heaven and Hell and the 
Song of Liberty, and whose failure cast a shadow 
over the Songs of Experience. Dr. Cestre says of 

Dans 1'isolement moral oft il se complalt, entour de 
belles fictions et de douces Emotions, la Revolution 
frangaise ne 1'atteint que sous une forme, pour ainsi 
dire, ge'ne'ralise'e. II ne connait ni ses doctrines 
philosophiques, ni ses revendications politiques. II 
comprend seulement qu'une souffle puissant d'es- 
peYance et de justice traverse la terre. II croit & une 
renovation prochaine et complete de cette societe", 
pour laquelle il a une repulsion instinctive. II voit, 
dans la Revolution, un eVenement voulu par Dieu 
pour ramener ici-bas la vertu et le bonheur. Le 
monde id6al des Songs of Innocence va se 

Wordsworth's Revolutionism resembles that of 
Blake in one respect at least; he had little or no 
grasp of the real social and economic forces at 
work, and his mind was ill at ease in an atmo- 
sphere of pure reason. An account of his relation 
to the Revolutionary movement must concern 
itself primarily with his subjective experiences. To 
summarize briefly Dr. Hancock's chapters: the 
French Revolution served to humanize Words- 
worth. In his early life the love of nature was his 
absorbing interest. His mind was extraordinarily 
sensitive and receptive; possessing, moreover, a 
"clairvoyant quality," a sense of "plastic power" 
informing the visible world. 

1 Cestre, La Revolution et les Pottes Anglais, p. 210. 

And the English Novel 275 

He acquired a faith in the existence of the things of 
the spirit, and in a Supreme Being who revealed by 
gleams the highest truths, and further, a faith in the 
mind itself as an active and creative thing, adding to 
experience contributions of its own. 1 

In 1790 and again in 1791, Wordsworth went to 
France, but felt only a perfunctory interest in the 
political drama that was acting there. His friend- 
ship with the enthusiastic young republican Beau- 
puis awakened in him a like Revolutionary ardour, 
based, however, upon sympathy rather than under- 
standing. On his return to England Wordsworth 
avowed himself a Revolutionist, remaining un- 
shaken by England's declaration of war in 1793, 
and even extenuating the violence of the Terror. a 

This emotional enthusiasm lasted until 1796, 
when it became apparent that France had entered 
upon a campaign of conquest. At this point, 
"bereft of the support of his feelings, he began 
to rationalize," under the influence of Godwin. 3 
The result was disastrous to his earlier 

Hume showed that if there was no more in experi- 
ence than Locke's view permitted it to contain, then 
the hope of any transcendent knowledge or faith for 
humanity was indeed gone. 4 

1 Hancock, The French Revolution and the English Poets, p. 129. 

'Ibid., p. 136. 

J In his Letter to the Bishop of Llandaff. 

* Professor Royce, quoted by Hancock, p. 139. 

276 The French Revolution 

To a mind like Wordsworth's the loss of a super- 
rational belief was agony. The Borderers marks the 
point at which he rebels against the tyranny of 
Pure Reason. 1 "It is a reductio ad absurdum of 
the doctrine that the individual intellect should be 
the sole guide of conduct." 2 Wordsworth re- 
turned to the lake country that he loved, and there 
found peace once more in communion with nature, 
building up for himself an almost mystical inter- 
pretation of life ; that "the sensitive, receptive, and 
creative mind obtains through nature's manifold 
forms the intimation of transcendent truths." 
Dr. Hancock concludes: 

The French Revolution as a reform humanized 
Wordsworth, but its philosophy threatened to in- 
validate his earlier experiences ; it served, through his 
reaction against it, to stimulate his constructive 
power, and it was the indirect cause of his latter con- 
servatism and faith. 3 

Like Wordsworth, Coleridge was temperament- 
ally antipathetic to the materialistic and atheistic 
elements in Revolutionism. His individualism 
was transcendental rather than sceptical. Never- 

1 The Borderers, written in 1797. 

2 Hancock, French Revolution, etc., p. 141. 

s Ibid., etc., p. 122. Professor Dowden, in his Studies in Liter- 
ature (chapter i.), gives a very illuminating discussion of Word- 
worth's relation to the nineteenth-century Transcendental 
movement. This, however, hardly falls within the scope of our 
subject, excepting as it illustrates the subsequent metamorphoses 
of Revolutionary Sentimental Individualism. 

And the English Novel 277 

theless, he too was attracted for a time by the 
finer significances of the Revolution. He greeted 
the fall of the Bastile with an ode. In 1793, he de- 
nounced the coalition against France and satirized 
the use of Christianity as a pretext for violence. 
In 1794, he contributed to the radical Morning 
Chronicle a series of sonnets in praise of the Revolu- 
tionary leaders. The Religious Musings, in the 
same year, show strong influences of Rousseau and 
Godwin. But Coleridge was always discriminating 
in his acceptance of Godwin. In 1794, he wrote of 

Godwin appeared to me to possess neither the 
strength of intellect that discovers truth nor the 
powers of imagination that decorate falsehood. He 
talked sophisms in jejune language. I like Holcroft 
a thousand times better, and consider him a man of 
much greater ability. 1 

By 1795 Coleridge was bitterly opposed to 
Godwin, attacking his philosophy in the Bristol 
Lectures and in the Watchman, and withdrawing all 
his former praises. In the Bristol Lectures 2 Cole- 
ridge distinguishes clearly between Revolution in 
the abstract and the concrete political phenomena 
in France. He divides the "opponents of things 
as they are" into four classes: 

1 Hancock, French Revolution, etc., p. 169. This estimate is of 
interest, in connection with the pre-eminence we have given to 
Holcroft in our discussion of the novel. 

1 Delivered in 1795. Afterward printed under the title Con- 
dones ad Populum. 

278 The French Revolution 

First, men unaccustomed to thorough investigation, 
whose minds are excited by flagrant evils, and who give 
an indolent vote in favour of reform. Second, men 
who hate priest and oppressor, who listen readily to 
the demagogues, and whose hearts are thereby in- 
flamed to revenge. Third, those who, without waver- 
ing sympathies or ferocity, desire reforms from motives 
of self-interest. They desire the abolition of privi- 
leged orders and the removal of restrictions only for 
their own benefit. 1 

The fourth class, in which Coleridge includes 
himself, are "the glorious band of disinterested 
patriots." Certainly at the time these lectures 
were written there was no foundation for the 
charge that Coleridge was a Jacobin. He shows 
a very undemocratic tendency to distrust the 
people as a whole and a distinctly hostile attitude 
towards the main body of the new doctrines. 

The Pantisocracy scheme, which Coleridge 
proposed to Southey in 1794, was Sentimental, 
Rousseauistic, but not essentially Revolutionary. 
There is the greatest possible difference between 
desiring to change the entire structure of society, 
and being content to escape from society to an 
artificially perfected environment. Such colonizing 
schemes are often resorted to by Revolutionists 
who have lost hope; but this by no means identifies 
them with Revolution. Coleridge himself says of 
Pantisocracy: "What I dared not expect from 

1 Hancock, French Revolution, etc., p. 172. Cf. other analyses 
of Revolutionism by its opponents, in Chapter V. 

And the English Novel 279 

constitutions of government and |whole nations, 
I hoped from religion and a few chosen in- 
dividuals." 1 

The course of events gradually concentrated 
Coleridge's love for humanity into the more 
conventional channels of patriotism; he became a 
decided Nationalist. In 1797 was published the 
Ode to France, also called Recantation, which 
appears, says Professor Dowden, "hazardously 
near to political despair." 3 This marks the final 
break between Coleridge and the Revolutionists. 
But in truth he had never been genuinely in accord 
with the movement as a whole, however much 
he may have sympathized with certain phases 
of it. 

Southey, like Wordsworth and Coleridge, was 
captivated in his youth by the fine idealism and 
optimism of the Revolution. Under the impulse of 
this early enthusiasm he wrote a tragedy, Wat 
Tyler, which, as Professor Dowden very justly 
observes: "May serve to warn any young poet of 
the dangers of making his art a direct vehicle for 
political doctrine." 3 Later, his Girondist sym- 
pathies led him into writing another political 
drama, The Fall of Robespierre, in which Coleridge 
collaborated. Southey's third Revolutionary effort 
was an epic, Joan of Arc, sound Revolutionism, but 
very indifferent literature. Coleridge, examining 

1 Hancock, French Revolution, etc., p. 180. 
1 Dowden, The French Revolution, etc., p. 210 
3 Ibid., etc., p. 162. 

280 The French Revolution 

it years afterward, "was astonished at the trans- 
mogrification of the fanatic virago into a modern 
novel-pawing proselyte of the Age of Reason, a 
Tom Paine in petticoats, but so lovely!" T 

In the volume of Minor Poems, published in 
1797, the humanitarian note predominates. 2 Hu- 
manitarian sentiment was, after all, the strongest 
element in Southey's Revolutionism, and this re- 
mained when, like the other Lake Poets, he lost 
faith in the power of the Revolution to bring about a 
happier state of society. It is not quite fair to call 
Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Southey lost leaders. 
Their defection was inevitable. In any case, 
leaders of Revolutionary thought they never 

The opponents of the Revolution were not with- 
out their representation in the verse of the time. 
In November, 1797, appeared the Anti- Jacobin, a 
Weekly Review, under the direction of Gifford and 
a brilliant group of young Tories. This periodical 
continued for nearly five years to bombard the 
new philosophies with shafts of pointed ridicule. 
Satires and parodies without number were directed 
against the solemn absurdities of Pure Reason and 
Sentimentalism. This was the criticism, not 
merely of political prejudice, but of wit and sound 
sense, an echo from the age of Pope. One cannot 
but feel that it was heartily deserved. 

1 Dowden, French Revolution, etc., p. 167. 

2 This contains a poem called The Triumph of Woman, dedi- 
cated to Mary Wollstonecraft. 

And the English Novel 281 

So ends, in a note of triumphant satire, the 
poetry of the Revolutionary period. The age of 
generous hopes and of lawless individual enthusi- 
asm is dead. The forces of conservatism and 
expediency reign undisturbed. There remain for 
idealism only a small group, the poets of the after- 
glow; these, and one bright spirit like an evening 
star. Of that one we have spoken already, in a 
more fitting place. Not Shelley, but Byron is 
the true representative of this latter age; a judg- 
ment which the popular verdict of the time 

The forces of conservatism had conquered, but 
they paid dear for their victory. Byron casts 
up the score, and finds that the bargain was not 
altogether a good one. The apotheosis of ex- 
pediency was but a poor substitute for social 
idealism. The curse of Sentimentalism was in no 
wise lifted by the repudiation of democracy. The 
real aristocracy of intellect, the fine deferences and 
disciplines of the Age of Authority, were not so 
easily restored. Southey as poet laureate might 
recant his Revolutionism, but there was found no 
Dryden to replace him. 

Of such an age is Byron at once the representa- 
tive and the critic. Hating his time, both for what 
it was and for what it had made of him, he lacked 
the power to rise above it. He is the poet of 
Revolt, not of Revolution. The intense senti- 
mental individualism of Rousseau, alternates in 
his verses^ with the mocking iconoclasm of the 

282 The French Revolution 

Anti- Jacobin. Only Byron's love of liberty re- 
mained unspoiled for him ; and this was in the end 
his salvation from a life of half -sincerities. 

Three lesser poets must be mentioned who spoke 
for liberty and social idealism under the Holy 
Alliance: Landor, natural aristocrat and follower 
of Milton; Leigh Hunt, with his "bright chivalry 
for whatever assumed to itself the cherished 
name and aspect of liberty" 1 ; and Moore, whose 
Fudge Family in Paris 2 and his Fables for 
the Holy Alliance 3 are second only to Don Juan 
in satiric cleverness. These escaped to some 
extent from the false conservatism of the age, 
but their songs and satires are altogether a less 
serious indictment of it than the mocking titan- 
ism of Byron. 

Such was the reflection of the Revolution in the 
poetry. Of the poets of its earlier periods we may 
say that a study of the Revolution adds more to the 
interpretation of their work than their work adds 
to an understanding of Revolutionism. They were 
merely caught for a time in the fierce eddy of 
popular feeling, returning afterwards, somewhat 
disillusioned, to the serene course of their own 
meditations. It was only as a lost cause that the 
Revolution found its full poetical expression, and 
the Reaction its satiric criticism. 

1 Dowden, French Revolution, etc., p. 249. 

2 Fudge Family in Paris, published in 1818. 

3 Fables for the Holy Alliance, published in 1823. 

And the English Novel 283 


The French Revolution and the English Drama. * 

The period of French Revolutionary influence in 
England was not one of the great ages in the history 
of the drama. It was a time of deep-seated changes 
and profound unrests. There was a continuous 
war taxing the country heavily in lives and in 
money. In such a time men go to the theatre to be 
amused, to get away from the problems of the 
time, not to gain a deeper insight into them. 
Nevertheless, the theatres reflected to some extent 
the principles of the Revolution and the reaction 
against them. 

Dates have an especial significance here. It will 
be remembered that in England those genuinely 
understanding the new theories were a compara- 
tively small group, composed largely of young 
writers and thinkers. When word came from 
France of the summoning of the States General and 
the fall of the Bastile, the country was on the whole 
pleased. It seemed at first merely an affirmation 
of generally accepted Whig principles. But later 
events in France cast discredit upon the principles 
of the Revolution. In 1793, Pitt saw a chance to 
profit by the disturbances in the English struggle 
for a world market for her increased manufactures, 
and accordingly he forced England into a war with 
France to defend the sacred principles of religion 

1 This section is intended to be little more than a brief explana- 
tion of the material gathered in the Appendix. 

284 The French Revolution 

and monarchy. These conditions operated to- 
gether to produce a complete revulsion in popular 
feeling. A war always deluges a country with a 
certain type of unthinking jingo patriotism. The 
small body of real Revolutionary thinkers came to 
be regarded as a menace to society. The country 
at large became hypersensitive to any taint of 
Revolutionary philosophy or propaganda. The 
government was almost hysterical in its zeal for 

All these changes in feeling were reflected in the 
acting drama of the time. From 1789 to 1793 a 
play was all the more favourably received for 
containing sympathetic allusions to the Revolu- 
tion in France. In 1793, France declares war and a 
censor stops a play of Cumberland's for a fancied 
political reference. From that date direct allusions 
to the French Revolution are barred. Instead, 
there is a continued deluge of plays abusing France 
and celebrating the war, Royalty, Britannia, and 
so forth, all written in a fine frenzy of patriotism 
and imbecility and finding favour with a public 
full of the same sentiments. Verily, St. Jingo was 
the patron of the time. 

Meanwhile the Revolutionist-baiting goes mer- 
rily on. The censor and a majority of the pub- 
lic are cordially agreed that the theatre is no 
place in which to illustrate new and possibly 
dangerous theories. But the doctrines of the so- 
called Revolutionists bear such a curious resem- 
blance to mere ethical generalizations and moral 

And the English Novel 285 

commonplaces that they are not always easy to 
identify. Hence the public becomes capricious 
and is apt to attach to almost any passage a politi- 
cal significance never dreamed of by the author. 
A few plays with real implications of Liberty, 
Equality, and Fraternity slipped by unobserved. 
But poor Holcroft had the misfortune to get him- 
self effectually identified in the public mind with 
the detested party, and audiences became very 
subtle in finding dangerous tendencies in his 

In the drama as well as in the novel, Holcroft 
may be taken as our representative Revolutionist. 
His position as a dramatist was a prominent one. 
Besides being the author of fifteen or more plays, 
and himself a fairly successful actor, he was for 
two years the editor of a periodical called the 
Theatrical Recorder. J 

Yet comparatively few of Holcroft's plays are 
sufficiently doctrinary to be of importance in 
this discussion. Even those few are of interest 
chiefly as they show how sensitive were the preju- 
dices that could take offence at them. Holcroft 
himself complains that "present and local appli- 
cations are so liable to be made where none are 

His only play with a frankly avowed doctrinary 
purpose is the School for A rrogance (1791). This is 
a satire on pride of rank and pride of wealth. A 
French count of illustrious ancestry falls in love 

1 1805, 1806. 

286 The French Revolution 

with the daughter of a London alderman and is 
soundly snubbed by her vulgar mama, who knows 
of no country but England and thinks herself the 
greatest lady in that. His lady-love points out to 
him that after all his own intense consciousness of 
rank has in it not much more true nobility of mind 
than the absurd pretences of her ignorant mother. 
Hazlitt says of this : 

The School for Arrogance is the first of the author's 
pieces in which there appeared a marked tendency to 
political or philosophical speculation. Sentiments of 
this kind, however, and at that time, would rather 
have intended to increase than diminish the popularity 
of the piece. A proof of this is that the very epilogue 
(which is seldom designed to give offence) glances that 

Such is the modern man of high-flown fashion? 
Such are the scions sprung from Runny-Mead! 
The richest soil bears oft the rankest weed! 
Potato-like, the sprouts are worthless found; 
And all that's good of them is underground. 1 

In 1793, Love's Frailties was acted at the Hay- 
market. A considerable disturbance was caused 
by the following speech: "I was bred to the most 
useless and often the most worthless of all pro- 
fessions that of a gentleman." Genest says: 
"Considering the political ferment of the time, 
the manager was imprudent in allowing this short 

1 Hazlitt, Memoirs of Hokroft, vol. ii. f p. 86. 

And the English Novel 287 

speech to be spoken. ' ' Holcrof t says in his preface : 
"The persons offended, though violent, were few. 
Their intention doubtless was good. The same 
cannot be said for their intellect." 

Holcroft's next play, The Deserted Daughter, 
was published under another name, because, as 
Genest says, "Holcroft in 1795 laboured under 
violent political prejudices." In 1798, Knave Or 
Not met with a cool reception for the same reason. 
Holcroft says in his preface that the acting version 
was cut, "particularly the passage where Morose 
inquires into his qualifications for being a lord. " 

Like Mrs. Inchbald, Holcroft did some of his 
best work in a play of humanitarian sentiment. 
He treats dramatically the life of De L'Epee, the 
famous French teacher of the deaf. The play is 
entitled Deaf and Dumb. 

A priori, one would expect the plays of William 
Godwin to hold a position of considerable im- 
portance in this discussion. Such is not the case 
however. Godwin is the author of two plays, 
Antonio* and Faulkner.* But we need not seek 
for political prejudice to explain their unpopu- 
larity. Like the novels of Godwin they exhibit a 
sombre, oppressive kind of power and a strong 
tendency toward the Gothic Romance type. But 
as plays they have little value and of Revolu- 
tionary doctrines they exhibit no trace. 

Another play in which we might reasonably 

1 Acted December 13, 1800, at Drury Lane. 
'Acted December 10, 1807, at the Haymarket. 

288 The French Revolution 

expect to find the influence of the author of Politi- 
cal Justice is the younger Colman's popular drama- 
tization of Godwin's frankly doctrinary novel, 
Caleb Williams. The Iron Chest was first acted 
at Drury Lane March 12, 1796. The novel on 
which it was based, Caleb Williams or Things As 
They Are, was intended, it will be remembered, to 
illustrate how completely the machinery of justice 
may be perverted by the rich and powerful to their 
own ends. The novel contains one chapter in which 
the author discusses with genuine feeling the evils 
of the English prison system; in the play all this is 
carefully omitted, only the story remaining. 

Godwin's arraignment of the prison system does 
however find a place in the drama, in the work of 
his friend Mrs. Inchbald. The title of her play, 
Such Things Are, immediately suggests the sub- 
title of Godwin's novel. The play was, the preface 
tells us, written in 1786, some time before the 
publication of Caleb Williams. But the connex- 
ion is none the less traceable. The authors were 
early identified with the same school of thought 
and an intimate personal friendship, if nothing 
more, existed between them. Both works are 
inspired by that spirit of hurnanitarianism which 
went hand in hand with the spirit of the French 
Revolution in England ; the pointing out of individ- 
ual abuses was only a corollary to a denunciation 
of the existing social order. 

Such Things Are is founded on the character of 
John Howard whose noble work of prison investi- 

And the English Novel 289 

gation earned him the thanks of the House of 
Commons in 1774. It is interesting to note here 
that Howard's book on lazarettos was published 
in the eventful year 1789. "Haswell, " his repre- 
sentative in the play, is drawn with rare dignity 
and sincerity of feeling. The main plot is as 
follows : Scene : an island in the East Indies. The 
leader of a rebellion loses his wife in the struggle. 
He becomes Sultan and, embittered by grief, 
adopts harsh measures against political prisoners. 
Haswell visits the prisons (good descriptive 
scene), and pleads in vain with the Sultan for 
reforms. Eventually, however, he gains the confi- 
dence of the Sultan and persuades him to visit the 
prisons for himself. In the worst of them the 
Sultan finds his lost wife. Haswell's speech to 
the Sultan at this point is striking: 

Your wife you will behold, whom you have kept in 
want, in wretchedness, in a damp dungeon for these 
fourteen years, because you would not listen to the 
voice of pity. Dread her look, her frown Not on her 
account alone, but for hundreds of her fellow sufferers ; 
for while your selfish fancy was searching with wild 
anxiety for her you loved unpitying, you forgot 
others might love like you. x 

Mrs. Inchbald rarely forgets the larger significance 
of the individual case. She is arraigning that 
stupidity of the imagination which, so long as the 

1 Mrs. Inchbald, Such Things Are, Act V., Sc. 3. 


290 The French Revolution 

evils of the system do not touch one's self, is con- 
tent with things as they are. 

In connexion with that defiance of creeds, 
miscalled " irreligion, " that characterized the 
Revolutionary thinkers, it is significant that " Has- 
well" says the full statement of his humanitarian 
principles is found in "a book called The Christian 
Doctrine." 1 

The sub-plot of this remarkable play is a clever 
satire on Lord Chesterfield's advice to his son, the 
cynical worldly wisdom of which was abhorrent 
to the Revolutionists. 

Mrs. Inchbald's other plays show traces of the 
same point of view, but none decidedly enough to 
entitle them to a place in the present discussion. 

There is one play of the opposing party which 
merits attention: Sheridan's Pizarro (May 24, 
1798). Sheridan was a figure of some importance 
in the political as well as in the literary world; a 
prominent M.P. attached to the party of Fox. 
This gives the play an almost official significance. 
Genest says of the speech of Rolla to the soldiers : 

Its primary object was to reprobate the principles 
of the French Revolution. Such was the popularity 
of this T. that the king could not resist his desire to 
see it. a 

It is of interest to note some extracts from this 
much-applauded semi-official discussion of the 
French Revolution: 

1 Mrs. Inchbald, Such Things Are, Act III., Sc. 2 . 
3 Genest, English Stage, note to May 27, 1798. 

And the English Novel 291 

They by strange frenzy driven fight for power, for 
plunder, and extended rule; we for our country, our 
altars, and our homes. They follow an adventurer 
whom they fear and obey a power which they hate; 
we serve a monarch whom we love a God whom we 
adore. . . . They call on us to barter all the goods we 
have inherited and proved for the desperate chance of 
something better which they promise. The throne 
we honour is the people's choice: the laws we reverence 
are our brave fathers' legacy. 1 

It seemed to young thinkers of the next few 
decades that all fine idealisms were shattered; 
barred forever from attempting a practical part in 
the progress of social development. But the spirit 
of the French Revolution was not destroyed, only 
forced to remain underground and to find expres- 
sion in less direct ways. In this latent period of Re- 
volutionism there appear with increasing frequency 
plays built about the type-figure of the Benevo- 
lent Outlaw, the man who feels a fundamental 
wrong in the social system against which he 
must forever rebel without having the power 
to change it, and who is forced outside the social 
order by all that is strong or noble in his own 
nature. This is the type which finds expres- 
sion in much of Byron's work. But the Benevo- 
lent Outlaw manifested a tendency of the time, 
as these plays indicate. It is a mistaken crit- 
icism that gives Byron credit for originating 

1 Sheridan, Pizaro, Act II., Sc. 2. 

292 The English Novel 

the type of which he was the most popular 
exponent. * 

1 The closet dramas of Wordsworth, Coleridge, Southey, Byron, 
and Shelley do not properly belong in a discussion of the popular 
acting drama. They have been mentioned already in the pre- 
ceding section, as poetry. 


F)ERHAPS it may be well to summarize the 
material which has been presented before we 
attempt to formulate our general conclusions. 

The true Revolutionists the writers who had 
the ability to distinguish the real conflict of ideas 
below the surface of events and form a consistent 
conviction more or less independent of the changes 
in popular feeling these were necessarily a very 
limited group. Only three of them were among our 
novelists. Of these the earliest and in every way 
the most truly representative was Thomas Hoi- 
croft. His Revolutionism was no lightly adopted 
surface philosophy, but was created from within 
by the intensity of his social idealism. The vital 
principle of his ethical and political system was the 
subordination of individual rights and ambitions 
to the service of the social whole. Holcroft had 
reached that high plane of ethical thought where 
the ideals of service and self-development are no 
longer in conflict. Furthermore, his idealism is 
modified by a considerable knowledge of the world, 
and a sense of humour that enabled him to laugh 
even at himself without bitterness. 


294 The French Revolution 

William Godwin was influenced by Holcroft^ 
but his Revolutionism was dominated by his meta- 
physical studies and by his intensely introspective 
temperament. Being quite devoid of any saving 
sense of fact, he formulated a political system that 
was a reductio ad absurdum of the rationalistic 
tendencies of his age. His novels are curiously 
illustrative of the morbid egoism which is the 
result of an over-individualistic philosophy. They 
are, however, redeemed by some rather fine pass- 
ages of humanitarian feeling. 

Shelley's three novels belong to his early and 
little known prose period. Although valueless in 
themselves, they serve to mark distinct stages in 
the development of the author. Shelley's other 
prose writings are more significant. These express 
certain phases of his Revolutionism which find no 
place in his poems, and without which it is im- 
possible to form a correct estimate of his political 

So far, we have observed two distinct elements 
in the Revolutionary philosophy: democratic 
individualism and social idealism. In Godwin 
individualism dominates. In Holcroft and Shelley 
it is completely subordinated to social idealism. 

The opponents of Revolutionism wrote a num- 
ber of novels, two of which at least show a re- 
markably clear insight into the weak points of 
democratic individualism. The argument most 
frequently advanced against it is its inadequacy 
as a system of social or even of personal ethics. 

And the English Novel 295 

Followed to its logical conclusion it would result 
in anarchy and insanity. The second objection is 
of a somewhat more theoretical nature. This 
involves a classification of the various heterodox 
tendencies of the time; arriving at the conclusion 
that these all have their basis in a revolt from the 
principle of authority, and a substitution of indi- 
vidual reason or individual feeling for all general 
standards, religious as well as political. Another 
conservative protest against the new tendencies is 
in the form of an attack on the financial methods 
of the new capitalist classes and a lament for the 
passing of the older land-owning gentry. x 

These attacks are, it will be observed, directed 
mainly against democratic individualism. Social 
idealism is dismissed with a rather superficial 
charge of inexpediency. The representatives of 
conservatism seem quite unaware of the rather 
fine idealisms implicit in the old order. Their 
criticism is purely destructive and quite fails to 
distinguish the elements of permanent value either 
in the old or in the new ideals. 

Revolutionism was not a ready-made hypothesis 
which one either accepted or rejected. It was a 
movement by which one was more or less in- 
fluenced. It is not sufficiently accurate to classify 
our novelists merely as "Revolutionists" and 
"opponents of Revolutionism." Between the 
conscious democratic individualist accepting the 

1 Cf. Chapter IV., especially novels of Lucas, Walker, and E. T. 

296 The French Revolution 

philosophy with a full understanding of its implica- 
tions and the equally intelligent defender of the 
principle of authority, there was a much larger 
number of writers whose opinions ranged through 
all possible degrees of sympathy and disapproval. 

The finest representative of these Revolution- 
ary sympathizers was Robert Bage. Bage was a 
man entirely capable of perceiving the full impli- 
cations of both philosophies, but he was also 
capable of a fine moderation in his enthusiasms. 
He was free from Sentimentalism, and his Re- 
volutionism was held in check by a large fund of 
common sense. It was apparent to him that the 
Conservatives and Reactionaries were a little more 
wrong than any one else at that time; hence he 
was a Revolutionist, with important reservations. 

Probably all the other semi-Revolutionists 
fancied themselves actuated by a fine discrimina- 
tion like that of Bage. But it is only too apparent 
that in nine cases out of ten their eclecticism was 
sheer muddle-headedness. They were well-in- 
tentioned people whose attention had been at- 
tracted by some crying evil of the time the prison 
system, the slave trade, rotten boroughs or the 
like or who had discovered that an aristocracy 
of birth was illogical; and who thereupon pro- 
ceeded to dabble in Revolutionary philosophy. 
They were for the most part entirely unaware of 
any fundamental principles involved in the move- 
ment which they regarded with such patronizing 

And the English Novel 297 

It is in this group that we must classify the 
lady novelists. Their Revolutionism was in every 
case traceable to the influence of some man of 
their acquaintance who was a Revolutionist, from 
whom they received their political opinions with 
exemplary feminine docility. But they in no wise 
allowed their philosophic radicalism to interfere 
with their religious orthodoxy ; to which they clung 
with gentle firmness, as a substitute for thinking. 

The new impetus which the feminist movement 
received at this time was connected with Revolu- 
tionism only indirectly. Its real source was to be 
found in the changes arising from the Industrial 
Revolution, rather than in the political philoso- 
phies of the day, however glibly some of its later 
exponents may have used phrases borrowed from 
the French Revolution. The principle involved 
was not individualism versus authority, but simply 
the question of whether a woman was to be re- 
garded as a human being with all that that implies 
of dignity and responsibility, or whether she was a 
sort of secondary creation, valuable only through 
her sex attributes. Mary Wollstonecraft's clear- 
headed perception of the point at issue and of 
the economic situation which had precipitated the 
whole discussion constituted the only real contri- 
bution of the Revolutionists to the feminist 

With this summary of the material presented, 
we may perhaps venture a few generalizations 
upon special aspects of Revolutionism. 

298 The French Revolution 

In our discussion of the background of ideas, x we 
observed certain parallelisms in the progress and 
development of political and theological concepts. 
The seventeenth-century movement of democratic 
individualism was closely identified with certain 
forms of Dissent. The novels which we have 
considered indicate that the same connexion 
existed between eighteenth-century Revolutionism 
and the later theologies of Dissent. 

It may be well to summarize our observations 
on this point. 

Holcroft, like most sensible men, was rather 
chary of defining his beliefs. His religion was a 
force rather than a formula. But from his critic- 
isms on churchmen, and on the absurdity of any 
attempt to secure uniformity of belief, we may 
conclude that he was pretty well out of sympathy 
with the Establishment. It is probable that in his 
youth he was attracted for a time by some of the 
finer spiritual values of the new Methodist move- 
ment. But he was soon repelled by the superficial 
enthusiasm to which it was rapidly tending. 

There is no difficulty in classifying the religious 
opinions of Godwin. The son of a dissenting 
minister, educated in a dissenting theological 
seminary on a mental diet of metaphysics and 
Calvinism, he represents theological individualism 
in its most extreme form. 

Shelley's atheism has always proved a trap to 
the unwary critic. The efforts that have been 

1 Cf. Chapter I., Section 2. 

And the English Novel 299 

made to prove that he was really only a deist, or 
that he was on the point of changing his opinions 
at the time of his death are distinctly amusing. 
Shelley himself, in answer to the question: "Why 
do you call yourself an atheist?" said: 

It is a word of abuse to stop discussion, a painted 
devil to frighten the foolish, a threat to intimidate 
the wise and good. I used it to express my abhorrence 
of superstition; I took up the word as a knight took 
up a gauntlet, in defiance of injustice. 1 

From which it is clear that Shelley was quite aware 
of the meaninglessness of the word. But so far as 
the term has an accepted meaning, Shelley was 
quite correct in calling himself an atheist. It is 
naturally rather confusing to persons of a literal 
mind to find the one profoundly religious per- 
sonality in an orthodox but unspiritual age mani- 
festing his fervour by a wholesale denunciation of 
the very foundations of the creeds. The orthodox 
have no cause to be alarmed over his influence, 
however, for it is only too apparent that the 
majority of people are quite incapable of under- 
standing the Shelleyan type of atheism. 

Whether Robert Bage was a Friend or not, we 
have Scott's opinion that he was "a sectary and 
could be a friend neither to the Church of England 
nor to the doctrines she teaches." Probably his 
theological opinions were much the same as those 
of Holcroft. Amelia Opie was brought up a Uni- 
tarian and later became a Friend. Mrs. Inchbald 

1 Trelawney, Records, p. 62. 

300 The French Revolution 

was a Roman Catholic with occasional fits of 
scepticism. Concerning the other novelists of our 
group no record remains on this point. So far as 
we know, not one of the Revolutionary novelists 
was a member of the Established Church. 

The opponents of Revolutionism were very 
decidedly aware of the connexion between Dissent 
and political radicalism. Lucas and Walker vir- 
tually identify the two as phases of the same spirit 
of individualistic revolt against authority. 

The intimate connexion between religious and 
political theory is no new observation. It is at 
least as old as Machiavelli's Prince, although it 
seems to have been pretty well overlooked in recent 
discussions of Revolutionism. The opposition of 
Dissenters to the government has been attributed 
to discontent arising from their legal disabilities. 
That was doubtless a contributory cause. But if 
we are interested in the more general principle 
involved, we shall have little difficulty in perceiv- 
ing an affinity between democratic and theological 
individualism that need not go for its explanation 
to accidental circumstances like test acts. 

Besides the philosophy of Revolutionism, there 
is an economic element which has been somewhat 
neglected in discussing the literature of the move- 
ment. 1 We have already observed in our dis- 

1 In fact, Dr. Cestre is the only critic, so far as I am aware, who 
treats this aspect of the time in relation to the literature of 
Revolutionism. He touches upon it in his Revolution et Les Poetes 
Anglais, and also in his Life of Thelwall. 

And the English Novel 301 

cussion of the background of events how seriously 
the entire social structure had recently been 
affected by the changes and maladjustments 
arising from the Industrial Revolution. The 
whole nation was pervaded by social unrests which 
influenced the thought of the time to a degree 
which it is hard to overestimate. 

Our little group of novelists were somewhat 
divided in their attitude toward the economic im- 
plications of their philosophy. Those whom we 
have called the true Revolutionists were willing 
to follow social idealism and democratic individual- 
ism wherever they might lead. They saw clearly 
that political equality was valueless as an ideal if 
its attainment was to be merely the prelude to 
increased economic inequality. 

Holcroft was himself of the "lower" class by 
birth and early environment. Consequently his 
attitude on industrial questions is quite free from 
Sentimentalism and also from indifference. He 
saw clearly that it was not for the good of the social 
whole that any considerable group should be pre- 
vented from maintaining a decent standard of 
living. He felt that the complaints of the wage- 
workers were not without foundation. But the 
spirit of class hatred seemed to him entirely stupid 
and harmful. Instead of preaching a doctrine of 
violent Revolutionism among the dispossessed 
classes, Holcroft addresses the property holders in 
a tone of stern and sorrowful admonition. Repent, 
and institute reforms of your own accord, lest a 

302 The French Revolution 

worse thing befall you, is his message. The 
possession of wealth he regards not as an absolute 
right, but as an obligation to service. This is the 
extent of Holcroft's communism. 

Godwin, as we might expect, has all manner of 
economic whimsies. Property, he says, belongs to 
him who needs it most. This is the only property 
right that is valid according to political justice. 
But Godwin's extreme communism is modified by 
some recognition of the inexpediency of its immedi- 
ate introduction. The result is, that between the 
boldness of his theory and the timidity of his 
immediate programme, Godwin contributes just 
nothing to the economic wisdom of his time. 

Shelley, like Holcroft, is interested primarily in 
the moral and intellectual improvement of man- 
kind. But being no Sentimentalist, he perceives 
that economic questions must be dealt with as a 
means to that end. As a true social idealist, he 
demands a more equable distribution of wealth, 
not on the ground of abstract right, but as a matter 
of a higher expediency, because the extremes of 
wealth and poverty are alike destructive to the 
finer values in life. "Every man has a right to a 
certain degree of leisure and liberty because it is 
his duty to attain a certain degree of knowledge. 
He may before he ought, " says Shelley. 

Robert Bage was himself a factory owner; but 
his opinions on economic questions are as free from 
any class bias as those of the proletarian Holcroft. 
If he has rather less to say about the anti-social 

And the English Novel 303 

effect of extreme poverty, his denunciations of 
wealth and luxury are none the less vigorous. 

But most of the general sympathizers with the 
Revolution were either unaware of any economic 
question at all, or took a firm stand for the sacred 
rights of property. Mrs. Inchbald is the only one 
of the lady novelists who has anything to say on 
the matter. She is aware of the intense social 
unrests which were threatening a violent outbreak 
of Revolutionism among the industrial workers, 
and she ironically admonishes the benevolent rich 
to "give a little, lest the poor, driven to despair, 
should take all. " 

The writer who saw most clearly the economic 
basis of the conflicts over political theory in France 
and in England, was Mary Wollstonecraft. Her 
charge, that the extreme solicitude of the dominant 
bourgeoisie for the preservation of law and order 
was in reality merely a concern for the security of 
their own property rights, is amply borne out by 
the testimony of her opponents as well as by various 
significant events. It is quite clear that Walker 
and Lucas, for instance, see in Revolutionism only 
a threatened insurrection of the ignorant and 
irresponsible masses against their natural superiors 
the capitalist classes; an effort on the part of the 
lazy and inefficient to overthrow society for their 
own gain. Ownership of capital is to them 
an absolute right, the protection of which con- 
stitutes the chief function of government. It 
carries with it no responsibility or obligation. 

304 The French Revolution 

The function of the poorer classes is to produce as 
much as possible. That of the rich is to consume, 
and thereby stimulate production. Walker actu- 
ally declares that "the rich would do better with- 
out the poor than the poor without them." 1 
These writers draw no moral inference from the 
economic maladjustments, as did Holcroft and 

It may be said that a writer's attitude on this 
question of property right is the crucial test of his 
Revolutionism. Bourgeois capitalism had much 
in common with democracy in its opposition to the 
hereditary aristocracy. But capitalism soon per- 
ceived that the democratic ideal was a dangerous 
ally. We have observed how quickly popular 
feeling in England was changed when the bourgeois 
Constituent Assembly with its property qualifica- 
tions for suffrage gave place to the violent democ- 
racy of the Paris mob. 

There were two antagonistic forces in England 
during the Revolution. The force in control of the 
government was the new aristocracy of wealth, 
inspired not so much perhaps by greed as by the 
desire for power, to whom the national prosperity 
consisted in the rapid accumulation of capital at all 
costs and the securing of commercial supremacy 
over other nations. Opposed to them were the 
industrial workers and the small property owners, 
dispossessed by the Industrial Revolution. These 
perceived only the hopeless wretchedness of their 

1 Cf. Chapter V. 

And the English Novel 305 

own condition, and regarded the dominant class 
with a bitter unreasoning resentment. 

The issue between these two forces was in no 
way a moral or intellectual one: it was a blind 
elemental struggle for existence and power. Class 
hatred was about equally strong on both sides. 
Of course each was quite willing to use moral 
argument as a weapon to turn public opinion 
against the other. The proletariat clearly per- 
ceived the sin of greed and luxury, and the bour- 
geoisie were fully aware of the evils of laziness and 
inefficiency and lawlessness. The rights of man 
on the one side, and the sanctity of law, order, and 
respect for superiors on the other, were catch 
phrases frequently heard in connexion with riots 
and harsh repressive measures. But excepting for 
a sentimental bourgeois humanitarianism and an 
equally sentimental proletarian regard for the 
"republican virtues," neither side was willing to 
apply moral judgment and discipline to its own 

Between these two opposing forces stood the 
little group of Revolutionists,' democratic in- 
dividualists in their philosophy, but pure social 
idealists in their ethical and economic programme. 
These writers insist boldly and uncompromisingly 
that the issue is in the last resort a moral one, and 
that both sides are in the wrong. They refuse to 
regard wealth and poverty, individual or national, 
as facts of supreme importance in themselves, 
excepting in so far as they help or hinder human 

306 The French Revolution 

development. The right of the individual to do as 
he will with his own property they regard as 
entirely subordinate to his duty and to the rights 
of the social whole. If the social idealists seemed 
unduly to favour the proletarian side, it was be- 
cause at the time of the Revolution that was 
distinctly the oppressed party. But nothing was 
farther from their desire than to substitute a reign 
of uneducated lawlessness and indolence for a 
reign of semi-educated selfishness and greed. 
Their doctrine furnished as severe a moral dis- 
cipline for the one as for the other. 

The principle of social idealism was the true and 
abiding contribution of the Revolutionary philo- 
sophy to political wisdom. The belief that a high 
and conscious purpose transcending petty ex- 
pediencies is not merely a factor in sound govern- 
ment but its guiding principle, has never been more 
courageously maintained. There was sore need of 
such a doctrine in the eighteenth century; the 
principle of authority was outgrown, and social 
idealism was the only thing that could supply its 
place as a political faith and discipline. 

Social idealism made many mistakes at first; 
partly, perhaps, because of its temporary alliance 
with democratic individualism. The points of 
Burke were well taken ; expediency, the wisdom of 
the past, and the organic nature of society had all 
been disregarded in an insistence on abstract 
principles. But in a right conception of govern- 
ment the function of a regard for expediency and 

And the English Novel 307 

tradition is critical and corrective, not initiative. 
When practical considerations succeed in obscuring 
the real purpose of government evil is sure to 
follow. For social idealism is, after all, only a 
higher form of expediency, a perception of what 
makes for the highest good of the social whole 
rather than for the temporary advantage of some 



The method of presenting the material here col- 
lected was chosen, after considerable deliberation, in 
the hope of thus giving a more complete view of the 
subject than is possible in a treatment, necessarily 
limited, of separate writers. This Appendix is in- 
tended to supplement Chapter IX, Section 2: the 
conclusions of the chapter are based upon both. 

The writer is endeavouring to present here the re- 
sults of an examination of Genest, covering the period 
from 1789 to 1812 inclusive, 1 with a view to throwing 
light upon such questions as these: To what extent 
was the stage of that period sensitive to current politi- 
cal tendencies? How far did the government censor- 
ship act as a check on the theatres in this respect? 
What was the prevailing political sentiment of the 
theatre-going public, and especially, what was their 

1 These dates are chosen rather arbitrarily. The first is the 
date of the summoning of the States General, the actual beginning 
of the French Revolution. The second is chosen as being late 
enough in the Napoleonic era to show fully the reaction against 
the principles of the French Revolution. 

The quotations are all from Genest. Page references are 
omitted, as the date is sufficient to locate the passage. 


3io The French Revolution 

attitude towards the French Revolution? Did the 
point of view of the "Revolutionary School" find a 
minority representation in the theatre? The answers 
might have a decided value in showing us the ten- 
dencies of the time in their true proportion. The 
adherents of the Revolutionary principles bulk so 
large in the literature of the time, that we are some- 
times prone to forget how insignificant and despicable 
a minority they must have seemed to their contem- 

The list, based upon Genest, the Theatrical Re- 
corder, and an examination of the plays themselves 
whenever available, includes as nearly as possible all 
plays appearing for the first time in the period con- 
sidered which seem to have a particular bearing 
upon the political tendencies of the time. They are 
arranged, in the hope of making apparent certain 
tendencies, as follows: i. Plays which, in general, 
express the reaction against the French Revolution; 
which are inspired by the violent patriotism of war 
times, and support the policy of those in power. 2. 
Plays which have a more direct bearing upon the 
principles of the French Revolution in England; 
especially, those which caused popular demonstrations 
or had difficulties with the censor and licenser. 

In such an examination as the present a number of 
subordinate tendencies stand out very clearly. One 
finds the dramatic representatives of the Gothic 
Romance, the Byronic Hero, the Noble Savage, etc. 
Most of these topics have but an indirect bearing 
upon the subject of this chapter. But there are two 
types which seem to me so closely allied to the spirit 
of the French Revolution in England that I have 
added them to the list, in separate groups. These are 

And the English Novel 311 

(i) the Benevolent Outlaw or Brigand, of the type of 
Schiller's Rauber, and (2) plays built around certain 
humanitarian movements, such as prison reform, care 
of defectives, abolition of chattel slavery, etc. I have 
further noted a few significant revivals of old plays. 


1789, May 19. Laoeudemonos; or, A People Made Happy. 

"A loyal effusion, on the King's recovery." 
1793, May 3. To Arms; or, The British Recruit 

1793, May II. The Rival Soldiers. 

X 793> Sept. 12. Caernarvon Castle; or, The Birth of the Prince of 

"An extravagant compliment to royalty." 

1794, Feb. 29. British Fortitude. 

1794, March 9. Siege of Meaux. (PYE.) 

Plot: Rescue of nobility from attacks of 
peasants after the siege of Poitiers. Exalta- 
tion of England. 

1794, March 24. Fall of Martinico, or, Britannia Triumphant. 
1794, July 1 8. Rule Britannia. (ROBERTS.) 
1794, July 2O - Britain's Glory, or, A Trip to Portsmouth. 
1794, May 6. Temple of Hymen. 

"A masque in honor of the nuptials of the 
Prince and Princess of Wales." 
1794, Sept. 23. The Rage. 

"Said to be full of allusions to the Duke of 


1794, Dec. 6. Town Before You. (Mrs. COWLEY.) 

(G.) "Ostentatious display of patriotic 

1795, Feb. 21. England Preserved. 

(G.) "The subject was doubtless chosen 
for the sake of introducing patriotic sentiments 
and invectives against the French. " 


The French Revolution 

!795 April 6. Windsor Castle. (PEARCE. 

"In honor of the marriage of the Prince and 
Princess of Wales." 
J 795 May 6. Death of Captain Faulkener; or, British 


"English and French frigates appear at 
back of stage in act of engagement. " 
J 795 June 3. Secret Tribunal. 

"In the last scene of the second act, a 
compliment to the ' Isle of Glory ' (England) is 
introduced with much propriety." 

1796, July ii. Siege of Quebec. 

1797, Feb. 20. Bantry Bay. 

"Founded on the attempt of the French to 
land in Bantry Bay. Has nothing to recom- 
mend it but its loyalty. " 
1797, May ii. Surrender of Trinidad. 

1797, Nov. 9. Trip to the Nore. 

"Temporary piece to celebrate Lord Dun- 
can's victory. Franklin says he wrote it in ess 
than a day." 

1798, May 21. Escape. 

"A Pantomime Interlude, founded on a 
recent fortunate event. " 

1797, Feb. 27. "Toward the voluntary contribution now 
open at the Bank for the defence of our Coun- 

1797, Sept. 20. England's Glory, or, The Defeat of the Dutch 

Fleet by the Gallant Admiral Duncan. 

1798, March 31. Raft; or, Both Sides of the Water. 

"A temporary trifle by Cross; it was written 
at the time when Bonaparte threatened to 
invade England with an army who were to 
cross the channel on rafts. " 
1798, July 21. Cambro-Britons. 

"It would seem from the preface that 
Boaden's chief object in writing this was to 
show his patriotism and loyalty." 
1798, Nov. 6. Rama Droog. 

In the last scene British troops take a fort. 

And the English Novel 313 

1799, Oct. 7. Naval Pillar. (T. DIBDIN.) 

1800, Sept. 2. Review; or, Wags at Windsor. 

"Review represented at the end by figures 
in perspective." 

1 80 1, Jan. 29. Veteran Tar. 

"At the conclusion, French and English 
vessels seen engaging.'' 
1803, March 5. John Bulls; or, An Englishman's Fireside. 


1803, May 20. King John, as altered by Dr. Valpy. 

"The allusions to the state of France in 1800 
which he has thrown in are contemptible. " 
1803, Oct. 24. Maid of Bristol. 

"The Epilog was written by the Younger 
Colman. It contains some most bitter sar- 
casms on Bonaparte, all expressed in very neat 
and pointed terms. " 
1803, Dec. 13. English Fleet in 1342. 

"Dibdin heaps compliment on the English, 
upon compliment, in a way that can hardly 
fail of being nauseous to any person of good 
1805, Sept. 12. Who's Afraid? Hat Hal Hat 

"A patriotic effusion, founded on the in- 
tended invasion." 

1805, Nov. II. "A Melo-Drama piece, by Cumberland, to 
commemorate the victory and death of Lord 
Viscount Nelson. " 

1808, Nov. 10. Siege of St. Quentin; or, Spanish Heroism. 

"By Hooke; merely written with a view to 
introducing some popular sentiments about 
the modern Spanish Patriots." 

1809, Feb. 1 6. Monody on the Death of Sir John Moore. 
I 8o9, July 4. Soldier's Daughter. 

1809, Oct. 25. Britain's Jubilee. 

"Written to celebrate the entrance of the 
king on the fiftieth year of his reign. " 
1 8 1 1, June 10. Royal Oak. 

" Based on the escape of Charles II. " King 
appears as a noble and generous character. 

314 The French Revolution 


1789, Nov. 7. National Prejudice. 

1789, Nov. 13. Island of St. Margaret. (Hon. JOHN ST. JOHN.) 
"Founded on Voltaire's account of the Man 
in the Iron Mask. Iron Mask is confined in a 
castle. The mob arise and restore him to his 
liberty. The great success with which this 
was acted was due to the references to what 
was passing in France, and in particular to the 
taking of the Bastile. At the conclusion of this 
Opera the Temple of Liberty arises from among 
the ruins of the castle. " 

1791, Dec. 3. A Day in Turkey. (Mrs. COWLEY.) 

"The political allusions would have been 
better omitted. Death is said to be an Aristo- 
crat. If Death be not a complete leveller the 
devil is in it. " 

1793. The Armorer. (CUMBERLAND.) 

"Cumberland wrote a Comic Opera on the 
story of Wat Tyler, which being objected to by 
the Licenser, he was obliged to remodel it, and 
produce it under the title of the Armorer. As 
the piece was not printed, it is impossible to 
say positively that there was nothing ob- 
jectionable in it. ... But certainly no one 
but a dog in office could suspect Cumberland of 
writing anything of a bad political tendency." 

1793, Jan. 20. "On this evening there was no play per- 
formed, from respect to Louis XVI., who was 
murdered in Paris on that day." 

1793, June 7. Fontainebleau. 

1793, Sept. 22. Box Holly Challenge. 

"Jack Crotchet says to Sir Toby, who has 
been reproaching him with being the son of a 

And the English Novel 315 

printer: 'We that cannot count up our genera- 
tions have oftentimes the sense to outwit you 
whose ancestors hang by the wall from King 
Arthur's time to the present day. . . . What 
are they but a catalogue of insignificants? One 
printer, one compositor, one poor corrector of 
the press, is worth them all and his country 
gains more credit by his labors.'" 

1794, Feb. 22. Travellers in Switzerland. (BATE DUDLEY.) 

Lady satirized for pride of ancestry. Has 
taken a dislike to hero merely because he was 
without a coat-of-arms. He disguises himself 
as a valet, and wins her nevertheless. 

1795, March 7. France As It Was. (Altered from Fontaine- 

1799, May 24. Pizarro. (SHERIDAN.) 

1799, Aug. 21. Red Cross Knights. (HoLMAN.) 

"Holman says in his preface he had adapted 
The Robbers to the English stage and that it 
was refused a licence he acknowledged that 
on dispassionate investigation he found much 
to justify the licenser's decision. " Appears in 
this form altered, and with omissions. "But 
unfortunately the spirit has in a great degree 

1800, May 12. School for Prejudice; or, Liberal Opinions. 

Farce, by T. DIBDIN. Satirizes pride of 
rank, and haughty manner to social inferiors. 

1802, Jan. 15. Alfonso, King of Castile. 

Plot deals with conspiracy against king, and 
counter conspiracy to save him. Hero stabs 
his friend to save the king. 

1803, Dec. Caravan Driver and his Dog. 

Scene, in Spain under a cruel king who forms 
the villain of the piece. 
1803, Dec. Wallace; or The Patriot. 

In Scotch theatre, first. 
1808, Jan. 12. Wanderer; or, Rites of Hospitality. 

Originally founded on the escape of the 
Pretender. " The licenser refused his sanction 

316 The French Revolution 

to the English play, and Kemble was obliged 
to change the scene from Scotland to Sweden." 

1808, Dec. i. Venoni;or, The Novice of St. Mark's. (LEWIS.) 

Strongly anti-clerical. 

1809, July I- Killing No Murder. 

Suppressed by a Methodist censor because 
of some references to the Methodists. Author 
inserts a passage ridiculing censor, "Which, as 
it touched not politics nor religion, he could 
not expunge. " Little bearing upon the Revo- 
lution, but illustrated folly and power of the 

1809, Sept. Prices raised in Covent Garden. Rioting, 

violent and long continued. "Cobbett ob- 
served that the demand for old prices was 
unreasonable, being a violation of the rights of 
property, and an attempt to compel people to 
sell entertainment at the price pointed out by 
the purchaser." 

By the final agreement, "The proportion 
which had always subsisted between the boxes 
and the pit was now done away, the boxes 
being for the first time double the price of the 
pit. " Very significant in the light of the social 
changes resulting from the Industrial Revolu- 

1811, Nov. 29. Gustavus Vasa. 

"The piece had been announced for repre- 
sentation under the title Gustavus of Sweden. 
. . . forbidden by Mr. Larpent (the censor). 
The only reason that could be conjectured for 
this absurd and arbitrary conduct of these 
petty tyrants was, that the Ex-king of Sweden 
being in England at this time, and the ministers 
being determined not to acknowledge him, 
they were afraid that people should imagine, 
that a play called Gustavus of Sweden had some 
reference to him. " 

1812, May 15. Day After the Wedding . 

"The original title of this piece (John Bull), 

And the English Novel 317 

is said to have been objected to by the Lord 
Chamberlain. It was however restored on the 

"To O'Keefe's works must be added Le 
Grenadier, meant for presentation at Covent 
Garden in 1789 but it was merely the foun- 
dation of a play which was never finished. 
O'Keefe meant to have exhibited the taking 
of the Bastile, and other recent events at 
Paris. See his Recollections, vol. ii., p. 143." 
(Genest, vol. vii., p. 403.) 


1789, Aug. 5. The Benevolent Planters. (BELLAMY.) 

Plot: Lovers reduced to slavery. The 
Planters restore them to liberty and to each 

1790, Aug. ii. The Basket Maker. (O'KEEFE.) 

Plot: A master and servant carried off by 
Indians. Servant can weave baskets, master 
can do nothing. So Indians force him to serve 
his servant. 

(This belongs properly in the preceding 

1793, Aug. 24. The Female Prisoner. 

1793, Aug. 25. Inkle and Yarico. (COLMAN.) 

Anti-slavery. " The only excuse for buying 
our fellow-creatures is to rescue them from the 
hands of those who are unfeeling enough to 
bring them to the market." Plot: Inkle, an 
Englishman, is tempted to sell a savage girl, 
who has saved his life, and thinks herself his 

1799 Negro Slaves. (On the Scotch stage first.) 

1800, Sept. 6. The Indian. 

318 The French Revolution 

1808, May 3. The Jew of Mogadore. 

Nabob in the habit of purchasing slaves and 
giving them their liberty. 


1 789, Aug. 1 1 . Battle of Hexam. 

J 793 Aug. 3. The Mountaineers. (CoLMAN.) 

Hero driven by his wrongs to flee from 

1794, Feb. 25. Fontainville Forest. 
1797, May 19. Honest Thieves. 

1797 The Borderers. (WORDSWORTH.) 

1799, Aug. 21. Red Cross Knights. 

Based on Schiller's Die Rauber. 
1 80 1, May 4. Adelmorn, the Outlaw. 
1805, Aug. 26. Venetian Outlaw. 

Holcroft says the plot is from the same 
source as that of Venice Preserved. 

1805, Oct. 18. Rugantino; or, The Bravo of Venice. 

Much the same plot as the preceding play. 

1806, April 10. White Plume; or, The Border Chieftain. (DiB- 


1807, Feb. 19. Curfew. 


Sir Francis Drake and Iron Arm. (CROSS.) 


1789, Oct. 31. Oronooko. (Not acted in five years.) 

1795, Oct. 21. Venice Preserved. 

"After the third night this play was obliged 
to be laid aside on account of some of the 
political passages. When Pierre said : 'Cursed 
be your Senate, cursed your Constitution!' 
he was rapturously applauded." 

It appears from Genest that this play was 
not performed again for a number of years. 
But after 1800 it appears as frequently as ever. 

And the English Novel 319 

1809, Feb. I. Cato. (Not acted in twenty years.) 

1809, March 18. Alexander the Great. (Not acted in twenty 

1809, Dec. 27. Tamerlaine. 



The following lists are in no way intended to present a com- 
plete bibliography of the subject, although they indicate the 
principal sources from which such a bibliography might be 
obtained. They are intended merely to indicate the principal 
works used in the preparation of this study, and to offer a 
classified bibliography of the works generally available on the 
subject under consideration. 



Descriptive Guide to the Best Fiction. (1903.) 

Comprehensive Index to Universal Prose Fiction. 

History of Prose Fiction. 

Revue des Romans. (Paris, 1839.) 

Prose Fiction. A Bibliography. 

Catalogues of the following libraries: 
Harvard University Library. 
Radcliffe Library. 
Boston Public Library. 
Boston Athenaeum. 

1 1 wish to acknowledge an especial indebtedness to a manu- 
script card list of prose fiction by Professor C. N. Greenough, 
which formed the basis for my working list of Revolutionary 

si 321 

322 Bibliography 

Columbia University Library. 

Hammond Collection of Old Novels in the New York Society 


Library of the University of Chicago. 
British Museum Catalogue. 
Yale University Library. 
Library of Congress, Washington, D. C. 


General References: 

John Thelwall, a Pioneer of Democracy. (1906.) 

Short History of the English People. 

England and the French Revolution, 1789-1797. 

(In Johns Hopkins University Pamphlets, 1909.) 

Social Progress in Contemporary Europe. (1912.) 
J. H. ROSE. 

The Revolutionary and Napoleonic Era. (1895.) 

European History from 1789 to 1815. (1893.) 

Social England. (1899.) 

On Industrial History: 

Outlines of English Industrial History. (1895.) 

Industrial History of England. (1908.) 

Landmarks in English Industrial History. (1899.) 
H. T. WOOD. 

Industrial England in the Middle of the Eighteenth Cen- 
tury. (1910.) 

Bibliography 323 

On the Revolution in France: 

The Constitutions and Other Documents of the French 

Revolution. (1904.) 

The Last Epoch of the French Revolution. Being a 
History of Gracchus Babeuf and the Conspiracy of the 
Equals. (1911.) 

Les Elections et les Cahiers de Paris en 1789. (In Trans- 
lations and Reprints.) 
Cahier of the Nobility, Baillage ofBlois. 
Cahier of the Clergy, Baillage of Blois. 
Cahier of the Third Estate, Baillage of Versailles. 

The Great French Revolution, 1789-1793. (Translation 

by F. F. Dryhurst, 1909.) 

The French Revolution. A Sketch. (1906.) 

History of the French Revolution. (1902.) 

The Spirit of Propaganda in the French Revolution, 1789- 
1793. (Abstract of a Ph.D. thesis presented at the 
University of Pennsylvania in 1906.) 


Background of Ideas: 

A Comparative Display of the Different Opinions of the 
Most Distinguished British Writers on the Subject of the 
French Revolution. ( 1 793.) 

Philosophy and Political Economy. (1903.) 

Complete Works. 

A History of Political Theories from Luther to Montes- 
quieu. (1905.) 

A History of the Philosophy of History. (1843.) 

324 Bibliography 


Memoirs of Thomas Holcroft. (1816.) 

Protestant Thought Before Kant. (1911.) 

Rousseau. (1891.) 

Burke. (In the English Men of Letters series.) 

The Evangelical Revival in the Eighteenth Century. 

Classical Moralists. (1909.) 

Modern Classical Philosophers. (1908.) 

Complete Works. 

A History of English Thought in the Eighteenth Century. 

Works of Holcroft. 1 


1780. Alwyn; or, The Gentleman Comedian. 

1792. Anna St. Ives. 

1794. (Latter part in 1797), Hugh Trevor. 
1805. Memoirs of Brian Perdue. 

Some other works, mentioned in this discussion : 

1795. A Narrative of Facts Relating to a Prosecution for High 
Treason: Including an Address to the Jury which the Court 
Refused to Hear. 

1795. A Letter to the Right Hon. William Wyndham on the 
Intemperance and Dangerous Tendency of his Public Con- 

1804. Travels from Hamburg, through Westphalia, Holland, 
and the Netherlands, to Paris. 

1 The list of Holcroft's writings is too long to give in complete 

Bibliography 325 

1805-1806. The Theatrical Recorder. 

1810. Memoirs of Thomas Holer oft written by himself and 
Continued to the Time of his Death by William Hazlitt. 

Works on Holcroft. 

"A friend of a Manufacturer. " 

A Letter, not in Answer to, but Induced by a Late Publica- 
tion of Thomas Holcroft, on the Subject of Political In- 
temperance, Endeavouring to Illustrate its Dangerous Effects 
on the Commercial Part of the Kingdom; and the Material 
Difference Between Theory and Practise. Addressed to 
Every Workman in England and Every Man who Keeps 
One. (1795.) 

William Godwin, His Friends and Contemporaries. 

(Ed. A. Aenger, 1888.) 

Recollections of a Literary Life. (1852.) 

Account of the English Stage. 

The Georgian Era. (1834.) 
Article on Holcroft in the Diet. Nat. Biog. 


Works considered in this discussion: 

1793. Political Justice. 

1794. Caleb Williams, or Things As They Are. 
1799. St. Leon. 

1805. Fleetwood, or, The New Man of Feeling. 

1817. Mandeville. 

1830. Cloudesley. 

1833. Deloraine. 

Works of Reference: 

William Godwin, His Friends and Contemporaries. C. 
KEGAN PAUL. (Pub. London, 1876.) 

326 Bibliography 

William Godwin's Romance. Inaugural Dissertation zur 

Erlangung der Doktorwurde, Leizig, 1906. JOHANNES 


On the English Novel. WILLIAM HAZLITT. 
William Godwin. (In Biographical and Historical Essays.) 

William Godwin's Novels. (In Studies of a Biographer.) 

On St. Leon and Mandeville. PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY. 


Complete Works of Shelley. Edited by BUXTON FORMAN, London, 

List of Shelley's works giving his political opinions. 

Poems (including prefaces) : 
Queen Mab. 
The Revolt of Islam. 
Prometheus Unbound. 
Masque of Anarchy. 
Swellfoot the Tyrant. 
Ode to the Assertors of Liberty, and other short poems. 

Prose Works: 

An Address to the Irish People. (1812.) 
Proposals for an Association. (1812.) 
Declaration of Rights. (1812.) 
A Letter to Lord Ellenborough. (1812.) 
An Address to the People on the Death of the Princess Char- 
lotte. (1817.) 

A Proposal for Putting Reform to the Vote. (1817.) 
A System of Government by Juries. 
Fragment on Reform. 

Works on Shelley: 


Records of Shelley, Byron, and the Author. (1887.) 

The Life of Percy Bysshe Shelley. ( 1 886. ) 

English Poets and the French Revolution. (1899.) 

Bibliography 327 


Dictionary of National Biography. 

Prof. WALTER RALEIGH, The English Novel. 

Prof. WILBUR L. CROSS, Development of the English Novel. 

CHARLES KEGAN PAUL, William Godwin, His Friends and Con- 
temporaries. (1876.) 

Sir WALTER SCOTT, Life of Bage, prefaced to Ballantyne's Novelists 

HUTTON. History of Derby. 

Robert Bage's Works: 

Mount Henneth. (1781.) 
Barham Downs. (1784.) 
The Fair Syrian. (1787.) 
James Wallace. (1788.) 
Man As He Is. (1792.) 
Man As He Is Not. (1796.) 


Mrs. Inchbald's novels: 

A Simple Story. 

Nature and Art. 

(Edited 1880, with prefatory memoir by WILLIAM BELL 


Memoirs of Mrs. Inchbald. (1833.) 

Memoirs of the Life of Amelia Opie. (1843.) 

Memoirs of the Literary Ladies of England. (1843.) 

Record of a Girlhood. (1878.) 

Account of the English Stage from 1660 to 1830. 

Mrs. Elizabeth Inchbald, eine Vergessene Englische Buhnen- 
dichterin und Romanschriftstellerin. Berlin, 1910. (Gives 
exhaustive bibliography.) 

328 Bibliography 

Accounts of Mrs. Inchbald in the Dictionary of National 
Biography, Chambers' s Encyclopedia, and Walter Raleigh, 
The English Novel. 


Novels by Amelia Opie: 

The Father and Daughter. (1801.) 
Simple Tales. (1806.) 
Temper. (1812.) 
Tales of Real Life. (1813.) 
Valentine's Eve. (1816.) 
New Tales. (1818.) 
Tales of the Heart. ( 1 820.) 
Madeline. (1822.) 
Illustrations of Lying. (1845.) 

Works of Reference: 


Memorials of the Life of Amelia Opie. (1854.) 

Book of Sibyls. (1883.) 


Account of Mrs. Opie, in The Cabinet. (1807.) 

Accounts of Mrs. Opie, in the Dictionary of National Biog- 
raphy, Chamber s's Encyclopedia, and Raleigh, The English 


Charlotte Smith's Novels: 

Emmeline, or, The Orphan of the Castle. (1788.) 

Celestine. (1792.) 

Desmond. (1792.) 

The Old Manor House. (1793.) 

Ethelinde, or, The Recluse of the Lake. (1789.) 

The Banished Man. (1794.) 

Montalbert. (1795.) 

Marchmont. (1795.) 

The Young Philosopher, Nature his Law and God His Guide. 

The Solitary Wanderer. (1799.) 

Bibliography 3 2 9 

Reference Works: 


Memoirs of the Literary Ladies of England. (1843.) 

Censuria Liter aria. (1815.) 

Biography of Charlotte Smith. (In his Miscellaneous 
Prose Works, vol. i.) 


Novels by Lady Caroline Lamb: 
Glenarvon. (1816.) 
Graham Hamilton. (1822.) 
Ada Reis. (1823.) 

Reference Works: 

Queens of Society. 

Biographical Sketch, in New Monthly Magazine, July, 


Accounts in Chambers' s Encyclopedia, and the Dictionary of 
National Biography. 



Memoirs of the Author of "A Vindication of the Rights of 

Woman." (1798.) 

A Defence of the Character and Conduct of the Late Mary 
Wottstonecraft Godwin, in a Series of Letters to a Lady. 

Life of Fuseli. 

Memoirs of the Literary Ladies in England from the Com- 
mencement of the Last Century. (1843.) 

33 Bibliography 


William Godwin, His Friends and Contemporaries. (1876.) 
Mary Wollstonecraft: A Prefatory Memoir. (1879.) 

Le Feminisms au X Vlllme Siecle. (Grand Revue. Paris, 


Mary Wollstonecraft and the Rights of Woman. 

Mary Wollstonecraft: A Study in Economics and Romance. 


Articles on Mary Wollstonecraft in the Dictionary of National 
Biography and in Chambers's Encyclopedia of English 

Works of Mary Wollstonecraft: 

Thoughts on the Education of Daughters. With Reflections on 
Female Conduct. Added, Fenelon, Archbishop of Cam- 
brat's "Instructions to Governesses and an Address to 
Mothers." (1787.) 

Original Stories from Real Life, with Considerations Calcu- 
lated to Regulate the Affections. (1788, 1791, and third 
edition illustrated by BLAKE, 1796.) 

Mary, A Fiction. (1790.) 

Translation of Salzmann's Elementarbuch, illustrated by 
BLAKE. (1790.) 

A Vindication of the Rights of Men, in a Letter to the Right 
Honourable Edmund Burke. (1790.) 

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. (1792.) 

A Historical and Moral View of the Origin and Progress of the 
French Revolution, and the Effect it has Produced in Europe. 


Letters Written in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. (1796.) 
Posthumous Works. (1798.) 


Maria, or, The Wrongs of Woman. 

First Book of a Series of Lessons for Children. 

Letters on the French Nation. 

Letters on the Management of Infants. 

Letters to Mr. Johnson. 

Bibliography 331 

The Cave of Fancy: A Tale. 

On Poetry and our Relish for the Beauties of Nature. 
Hints, chiefly Designed to have been Incorporated in the 
Second Part of "A Vindication of the Rights of Woman." 

Letters to Gilbert Imlay. (1879.) 



La Revolution Franchise et les Poetes Anglais, 1789-1809. 

(Paris, 1906.) 

Studies in Literature, 1789-1877. (Ninth ed., 1906.) 

The French Revolution and English Literature. (N. Y., 1897.) 

The French Revolution and the English Poets. (N. Y., 1899.) 



The English Stage from 1660 to 1830. (Volumes 6, 7, and 9.) 

Memoirs of the Late Thomas Holer oft. (1816.) 

The Theatrical Recorder. (1805-1806.) 



Adelaide de Narbonne 184 

Amicable Quixote 183 

Analytical Review 238 

Anti-Jacobin 280 

Asmodeus 185 

Astell, Mary: 

Serious Proposal 233 

Bage, Robert v, 161-180, 296, 299, 302 

Barham Downs 165 

Fair Syrian 165 n. 

Hermsprong, or Man As He Is Not 168-172, 202 

James Wallace 165 

Man As He Is 167 f. 

Baxter 52 

Blake 59, 271-274 

Blue Stocking Hall 265-269 

Brown, Charles Brocken 108, 185 

Arthur Mervin 185 


Strange Story 100 

Zanoni 100 

Bunyan 52, 87 

Burke 27, 43,44, 157, 187 

Reflections on the Revolution in France 28, 44, 245-246 

Burns 272 

Byron 123, 227-230, 268, 281, 291 

Chapone, Hester 235 

Clarke 182 

Coleridge 58, 88, 165, 276-280 


334 Index 


Colman, the Younger 94 

Iron Chest 94, 288 

Condorcet 236, 237 

Cowper 271-272 

Crabbe 271 

Craftsman's Magazine 233, 237 

Critical Review 238 

Cypher 156 

Declaration of Rights 17, 18 

Defoe 23 

Deism 40, 41, 89, 196 

De Quincey 98 

Diderot 145, 146 

Edward and Sophia 156 

Encyclopaedists 30, 40 

Fair Methodist 154 

Fawcett, Joseph 88, 93 

Fenwick, Eliza 225 

Secrecy 225 

Fordyce 235, 244 

Fox, Charles James 73 n., 88, 181, 204 

Fuseli 244, 247 

Gentleman's Magazine 233, 234 

Gifford 280 

Godwin, William, 43, 49, 50, 58, 59, 68, 86-119, I22 , I2 5 *37f 
140, 177, 180, 185-186, 195-198, 207, 210, 223, 227, 230, 244, 
273, 287, 294, 298, 302 

Antonio 287 

Caleb Williams, 82,92-99, 103, 104, ijo, \y$ t 116, 202, 223, 

Cloudesley no 

Deloraine 112-113, 122, 125, 133 

Faulkner 287 

Fleetwood 103 

Life of Mary Wollstonecraft 140, 145 

PoliticalJustice v, 43, 84, 89, 90, 91, 114, 116, 119 

St. Leon 99-103, 122, 125, 258 

Index 335 


Gregory, Dr. : 

Legacy to his Daughters 235 

Hanaway, Mary 222 

Elinor, or The World As It Is .. 222 

Hardy, Thomas 55. 57, 2O 3 

Hayes, Mary 223 

Memoirs of Emma Courtney 223 

Hazlitt 50, 60, 69, 98 

Memoirs of Holcroft 45 ff., 54, 71 

Helvetius 175 

Henrietta, Princess Royal of England 189 

Hobbes 34,35, 146 

Holbach 175, 224 

Holcroft, v, 29, 49-85, 88-91, 102, 177, 194, 195, 197, 224, 225, 
244, 273, 285-287, 293, 297, 301 

Alwyn 60 

Anna St. Ives 49, 59, 61-70, 84, 137, 225 

Dramas 285-287 

Hugh Trevor 58, 59, 70-81, 139, 202 

Memoirs of Brian Perdue 82-84 

Howard 204, 289 

Hume 37,38, 137, 146, 148, 155, 156, 185 

Hunt, Leigh 271, 282 

Hutton 161, 163, 166 

/'// Consider of It 157 

Illuminati 151, 186 

Imky 248 

Inchbald 98, 191-202, 257, 288, 299, 303 

A Simple Story 198-199 

Dramas 288 f . 

Nature and Art 199-202 

Interesting Memoirs of Marie Antoinette 188 

Itanoko 188 

Johnson, Joseph 203, 243, 244, 273 


Herman of Unna 183 

33 6 Index 


Lamb, Lady Caroline 227-230 

Ada Reis 230 

Glenarvon 227-228 

Landor 271 

Last Man 156 

Lawrence, James: 

Empire of the Nairs 259 

Levellers 33, 36, 42 

Locke 36, 41, 43, 45, 137 

Lucas 300, 303 

Infernal Quixote 73, 144-154 

Mackenzie : 

Slavery, or The Times 187 

Magic of Wealth 157 

Malthus 44 

Man in the Moon 181, 182 

Man Superior to Woman 234 

Marx 8 


What Has Been 225 

Memoirs of a Female Philosopher 155 

Memoirs of a Old Wig 155 

Methodism 39, 40, 71, 73, 87 n., 149, 149, 154, 155, 186, 205 

Negro Equalled by Few Europeans 188 

Opie, Mrs. Amelia Alderson, 195, 196, 203-213, 222, 299 

Adelina Mowbray 208-210, 285 

Valentine's Eve 210-212 

Oronooko 169, 186, 187 

Paine 43, 59, 89, 132, 136, 137, 180, 224, 244, 273 

Peacock 189 

Plumptre 204, 226 

Price 43, 182, 244 

Priestley 43, 90, 155 

Purity of Heart, or Woman As She Should Be 229 

Quakers 151, 167, 172 n., 204, 205, 206 

Index 337 


Robert and Adela 260-265 

Rousseau, 18, 30, 40, 41, 84, 104, 117, 137, 148, 180, 186, 217, 224, 
230, 236, 262, 281 

Scott, Sir Walter 161, 172, 175, 176, 179, 204 

Shaftesbury 146 

Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft 227, 251 

Shelley, Percy Bysshe , n, 12, 91, 120-133, 134, 177, 227, 294, 298, 

Assassins 124 

Declaration of Rights 128-129 

Marlow Pamphlets 130-131 

St.Irvyne 100, 121, 122, 125 

Zastrozzi 121, 125 

Sheridan 88, 290 

Smith, Charlotte Turner 213-222 

Society for Constitutional Information 28, 54, 55, 89, 147 

Sophia, a Gentlewoman 234 

Southey 59, 204, 279-280 

Spirit of the Book 189 

St. Simon 206 

Systemedela Nature 89, 163 

Took, Home 55, 57, 203 

Voltaire 137, 145, 146, 169, 217 

Walker, George 300, 303 

The Vagabond 135-144 


Advantages of Education 259 

Wollaston 182 

Wollstonecraft, Mary, 90, 100, 105, 114, 140, 141, 142, 145, 162, 
172, 186, 197, 208-210, 224-227, 231-258, 264, 273, 297, 303 
Vindication of the Rights of Women, 145, 183, 237-239, 
260, 262, 267, 268 

Maria, or the Wrongs of Women 202, 220, 240, 254-258 

Cave of Fancy 251-254 

Mary, A Fiction 251-253 

Wordsworth 59, 104, 204, 271, 274-276 




Gregory,: A. 

The French revolution and 
English novel