First published in 1986. It is often suggested that the great first generation of Romantics, after the first flush of their revolutionary enthusiasm, ‘sold out’ to the forces of conservatism and reaction. This book starts from the thesis that the ideas of Wordsworth, Coleridge and Southey did always contain powerful radical and reformist implications that set the tone of liberal and left-wing discussion for several generations.
The message of the French Revolution and Wordsworth’s youthful enthusiasm continued to imbue the thought of Carlyle, and his disciples Ruskin and Kingsley, and its characteristic articulations are still visible in later socialists such as Keir Hardie and Blatchford.
This thoughtful book not only shows how surprising are the original roots of some great socialist thinkers, but also argues for a strong continuity in the English tradition of political thought from the 1780s to the early years of the twentieth century. Both students of politics and of literature and Victorian ideas will be stimulated by The Romantic Tradition in British Political Thought.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgements; Introduction; 1. The Political Message of Wordsworth’s Prelude 2. Robert Southey and the Communal Values of Politics 3. The History Shelley Never Wrote 4. Thomas Carlyle’s ‘Marriage of Heaven and Hell’ 5. Three Shades of Tory Radicalism 6. The Working Man as Hero: Hardie, Blatchford and the ILP 7. The Romantic Tradition in British Imperialist Ideology; Index