Great Bad Men

  • Stephen Bygrave
Part of the Studies in Romanticism book series

Abstract

In 1795 Coleridge praises Brissot, the French Girondin leader guillotined in October 1793, as ‘rather a sublime visionary’ than a quick-eyed politician. Perhaps the dichotomy suggested in Chapter 5 above will be recognised. Coleridge says that Brissot proved ‘unfit for the helm in the stormy hour of Revolution’, and contrasts him with Robespierre, for whom ends justified means:

What that end was, is not known: that it was a wicked one, has by no means been proved. I rather think, that the distant prospect to which he was travelling, appeared to him grand and beautiful; but that he fixed his eye on it with such intense eagerness as to neglect the foulness of the road. (Lectures 1795 [CC], i, 35)

Keywords

Burning Dust Amid Ghost Lost 

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Notes

  1. 1.
    ‘Sonnet: England in 1819’, Poetical Works of P. B. Shelley, ed. Thomas Hutchinson, Oxford Standard Authors, 2nd edn. rev. G. M. Matthews (Oxford, 1970) pp. 574–5.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Harold Bloom, The Anxiety of Influence (New York, 1975) p. 20.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    See J. M. Thompson, Robespierre, 2 vols (Oxford, 1935) i, 264–8.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    See Brissot’s Mémoires, quoted in Harold T. Parker, The Cult of Antiquity and the French Revolutionaries (Chicago, 1937) p. 175.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    See Carl R. Woodring, Politics in the Poetry of Coleridge (Madison, Wis., 1961) pp. 194–8.Google Scholar
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    Longinus, A Treatise on the Sublime, trs. Mr Welsted, 3rd edn, corrected (Dublin, 1727) p. 112.Google Scholar
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    James Beattie, Dissertations Moral and Critical (London, 1783), p. 612.Google Scholar
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    William Godwin, Enquiry Concerning Political Justice and its Influence on General Virtue and Happiness, 2 vols (London, 1793) i, 261–2.Google Scholar
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    Friedrich Schiller, The Robbers. A Tragedy, trs. (anonymously) Alexander F. Tytler, Lord Woodhouselee (London, 1792) p. 217.Google Scholar
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    Marilyn Butler, Romantics, Rebels and Reactionaries: English Literature and its Background 1760–1830 (Oxford, 1981) p. 73.Google Scholar
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    See Peter L. Thorslev, The Byronic Hero: Types and Prototypes (Minneapolis, 1962)Google Scholar
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    Friedrich Schiller, On the Aesthetic Education of Man: In a Series of Letters, ed. and trs. E. M. Wilkinson and L. A. Willoughby (Oxford, 1967) p. 17.Google Scholar
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    Walter Benjamin, The Origin of German Tragic Drama, trs. John Osborne (London, 1977) p. 69.Google Scholar
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    On this term see Maurice Mandelbaum, History, Man, and Reason: A Study in Nineteenth-Century Thought (Baltimore, 1981) pp. 428–9 (n. 3 to p. 164).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Stephen Bygrave 1986

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  • Stephen Bygrave

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