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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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Radical in a Lamb’s Cloak

Radical in a Lamb’s Cloak

Charles Lamb (1775–1834)

Chapter:
(p.273) 16 Radical in a Lamb’s Cloak
Source:
Unusual Suspects
Author(s):

Kenneth R. Johnston

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199657803.003.0016

Charles Lamb was a novice poet when he visited Coleridge in Somerset in 1797; he regretted missing ‘the famous Thelwall.’ With Coleridge’s young charge Charles Lloyd, Lamb co-authored a volume titled Blank Verse, satirized by The Anti-Jacobin as being by ‘Frog and Toad.’ (Lamb hated The Anti-Jacobin’s George Canning.) Lamb had pledged his life as security for his sister Mary, who had stabbed their mother to death in 1796. He had to avoid suspicion because penalties might have fallen on her. He worked his entire life for the East India Company, but said he ‘wrote Treason for pay’ on The Albion newspaper, edited by John Fenwick. His ‘What Is Jacobinism?’ of 1801 points the way toward his later career as one of the three great Romantic essayists. Lamb’s caution makes his radicalism hard to discover, though he freely associated with ‘unusual suspects’ who De Quincey said were ‘tabooed’ for a time.

Keywords:   Charles Lloyd, Romantic essayists, Mary Lamb, The Albion, George Canning, Alarmism, Terrorism, Satire, Political honesty, Conspiracy

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