British Romanticism and the Edinburgh Review: Bicentenary by Duncan Wu, Demata Massimiliano

By Duncan Wu, Demata Massimiliano

The bicentenary of the root of the Edinburgh overview has supplied the most important students within the box with the chance to re-evaluate the pervasive value of crucial literary assessment of the Romantic interval. those essays examine the debatable function performed via the Edinburgh evaluation within the improvement of Romantic literature and discover its experience of "Scottishness" within the context of early nineteenth century British tradition.

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22 Philip Flynn Although he thought that teleological explanations of our moral sentiments are ‘presumptuous and inconclusive’, 31 Jeffrey used the experiential moral consensus as his standard in evaluating the programmes of reformers in his radical age. Reviewing Bentham’s Traités de legislation (1802) he warned that even a brilliant reformer might overlook or undervalue important aspects of human happiness: It is in aid of this oversight, of this omission, of this partiality, that we refer to the general rules of morality; rules, which have been suggested by a larger observation, and a longer experience, than any individual can dream of pretending to, and which have been accommodated by the joint action of our sympathies with delinquents and sufferers to the actual condition of human fortitude and infirmity .

51 The tragedy was the French Revolution; the moral was that ‘all political power, even the most despotic, rests at last, as was profoundly observed by Hume, upon Opinion’. 52 Hume’s observation is contained in his mid-eighteenth-century essay, ‘Of the First Principles of Government’, and Jeffrey attempted to apply that observation to Britain in the early nineteenth century. 53 Reviewing Gould Francis Leckie’s Essay on the Practice of the British Government (1812) Jeffrey argued that the power of a sovereign is only the power that a certain faction of his subjects lends him to put his wishes into practice, and the effective check to the power of the sovereign is the refusal of that faction to act as instruments of their sovereign’s will.

Henry Lord Brougham, The Life and Times of Lord Brougham (3 vols, Edinburgh, 1871), i 252. Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, The Glasgow Edition of the Works and Correspondence of Adam Smith, ed. R. H. Campbell and A. S. Skinner (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1976), ii 796. ‘Pneumatology’ – the traditional scholastic term – was used throughout the eighteenth century, although ‘science of mind’ or ‘philosophy of mind’ was preferred by those writers who wished to disassociate themselves from the scholastic tradition.

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