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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: 14 May 2021

‘A gang of disaffected Englishmen’

‘A gang of disaffected Englishmen’

Spy Nozy and the Somerset Gang

(p.228) (p.229) 12 ‘A gang of disaffected Englishmen’
Unusual Suspects

Kenneth R. Johnston

Oxford University Press

James Gillray’s ‘New Morality’ cartoon of August, 1798, illustrating George Canning’s poem of the same name in The Anti-Jacobin, is in effect a police line-up of many of the suspects, both ‘usual’ and ‘unusual,’ of the 1790s pro-parliamentary reform movement. It represents writers and intellectuals as leading a procession of British politicians in transports of enthusiasm for ‘French principles.’ The Home Office sent an agent to Nether Stowey in Somerset to investigate reports that Coleridge and Wordsworth, joined by the radical orator John Thelwall, were prospecting landing sites for a French invasion, supported by Thomas Poole, benefactor of a local Poor Man’s Benefit Club. Coleridge wrote a comic send-up of the incident for his Biographia Literaria (1817), by which he hoped to re-start his literary career after the defeat of Napoleon. He called the agent ‘Spy Nozy,’ claiming that he had misconstrued Coleridge and Wordsworth’s conversations on Spinoza.

Keywords:   Unusual suspects, Lost generation, 1790s, Alfoxden House, John Thelwall, Thomas Poole, ‘Spy Nozy’ (Spinoza), Coleridge

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