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 evaluation has supplied the major students within the box with the chance to reconsider the pervasive value of an important literary overview of the Romantic interval. those essays examine the arguable function performed by way of the Edinburgh overview 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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12 Similar discontent was expressed by Brougham, who despite having been called to the Scottish bar in 1800, saw no future in Edinburgh in the current climate: ‘I am either tossed about and harassed by a thousand perplexities, or sink into a deceitful and dangerous calm. ’13 The situation for young barristers committed to liberal views at the turn of the century was bleak. 14 Living on ‘oatmeal’ was thus a matter of principle, rather than any sign of inadequacy or social inferiority. Far from indicating a general anti-Scots prejudice, Smith’s Virgilian tag encompasses a high-minded austerity and commitment to the truth, the light-hearted and self-mocking tone, as so often, acting as a mask for more serious concerns.

Have no other foundation but an arbitrary structure and fabric in the constitution of the human mind: So that, by a change in our structure, what is immoral might become moral. . 25 For Reid, James Oswald, James Beattie and Dugald Stewart, Scottish theories from Hutcheson through Smith seemed milestones on a road to moral scepticism – the replacement of Right Reason by moral ‘Taste’, the denial of moral liberty in the name of determinism, the abandonment of stern duty in pursuit of the pleasures of benevolence, sympathy or recognized utility.

11, 16, 57. 25. Thomas Reid, Essays on the Active Powers of Man (Edinburgh, 1788), pp. 491–2. 26. , pp. 22–41, 52–95; Oswald as quoted in Ardley’s Common Sense Philosophy of James Oswald, pp. 31, 87; James Beattie, Elements of Moral Science (1790–3), i 373–403; Stewart, Philosophy of the Active and Moral Powers of Man, 209–22, 268–324. 27. Edinburgh Review 10 (April 1807) 197. See Sydney Smith’s letter to Jeffrey, April or May 1804, in which he mimics Jeffrey’s Humean analysis of the moral sentiments; Nowell Smith i 95–6.

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