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Unusual SuspectsPitt's Reign of Alarm and the Lost Generation of the 1790s$
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Kenneth R. Johnston

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199657803

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199657803.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 23 April 2021

Usual and Unusual in 1790s Britain

Usual and Unusual in 1790s Britain

(p.2) (p.3) 1 Usual and Unusual in 1790s Britain
Unusual Suspects

Kenneth R. Johnston

Oxford University Press

The French Revolution and English Romanticism are frequent but strange bedfellows. The rise of Romanticism in the 1790s parallels the decline and defeat of the movement for parliamentary reform. The reform movement of the 1790s rose and fell in four stages between 1790 and 1800. The reform movement was largely ignored as a subject for objective historical studies until the 20th century, overshadowed by the more dramatic events of the revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, reinforced by the horror with which they were regarded in 19th-century England. William Veitch, E. P. Thompson, Albert Goodwin, and H. T. Dickinson are its leading 20th-century students. The ‘usual’ suspects of the decade were political activists; ‘unusual’ suspects were sympathetic liberal fellow-travelers, imaginative writers or academic intellectuals. The former were tried and convicted in courts of law; the latter subjected to informal, vigilante, ‘hegemonic’ discipline: jobs lost, engagements broken, leases and contracts abrogated, etc. Gillray’s Smelling out a Rat cartoon (1790) is a good visual representation of hegemonic disciplining; Amelia Alderson Opie’s literary career is a representative example of its biographical effects.

Keywords:   revolution, Romanticism, Parliamentary reform. 1790s, Reform movement, Sedition, Treason, Hegemonic discipline, Career damage

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