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4. This is a long satire in the heroic couplet, attacking the French republic, its sympathisers in England, and all the doctrines that had been formulated by Godwin in his Political Justice. It attacks
"The New Philosophy of modern times
Sprung from that parent of ten thousand crimes ";
the "New Philanthrophy",
"beneath whose baneful sway
Each patriot passion sinks, and dies away",
"sweet Sensibility", "sweet child of sickly Fancy", nursed by Rousseau, "to lisp the story of his wrongs and weep", and with Sterne "o'er a dead Jackass " to "pour the pearly shower", and yet to "hear unmoved of crimes, that blot the age, the world with shame ", and "hope that all is for the best"; the new Freedom, the new Justice, "whose bloodstain'd book one sole decree, one statute fills, 'The People shall be free"", the new Candour; ("Thou drivelling virtue of this moral age", which finds "Black's not so black, nor white so very white ",);
“But of all plagues, good Heav'n, thy wrath can send,
Save, save, oh! save me from the Candid Friend".
The latter half of it is an ironical invocation to Lepaux, one of the directors of the republic, with a description, (occasionally coarse), of the prominent republicans, and a eulogy of Burke.
5. The writers parody a song to British liberty by the dellacruscan Member of Parliament, Andrews, a poem by William Roscoe on the anniversary of the publication of The Declaration of Rights, the old ballad style in laughing at the Dukes of Bedford and Northumberland, who had attempted to evade the new taxation, the heroic couplets of Payne Knight's Progress of Civil Society in the witty Progress of Man, Gray's Hymn to Adversity, Darwin's Loves of the Plants in the amusing Loves of the Triangles, Glover's Admiral Hosier's Ghost, Suckling's Ode to a Lover, an ode of Catullus, and several odes of Horace.
6. By far the best are the longest, The Progress of Man, The Loves of the Triangles, and The Rovers, a burlesque of the new German plays. For they go to the very heart of
the new revolutionism. They do not attack mere sympathy with the political movements in France, but all the social, emotional, and intellectual results of the revolutionary movements. We have seen that the Anti-Jacobin connected even the new metres, the free use of blank verse, the reintroduction of the ballad, and the new use of unrhymed Greek verse with the dangerous spirit that was threatening everything established. It finds the very strongholds of literary conservatism—the long didactic poem in heroic couplet, and the light comedy-to be harbouring the new enemies of prescription and authority. Erasmus Darwin with his Linnæan idea of sexualism as penetrating into all spheres of life, and Payne Knight with his Rousseauish. belief in the simplicity and happiness of natural society, and adoption of Godwin's belief in the perfectibility of human nature if conventions and laws and governments were stripped off it, appropriated the old heroic couplet and didactic purpose; whilst Benjamin Thomson, afterwards the famous scientist, Count Rumford, and Sheridan the famous theatrical manager, comedy-writer, and revolutionary orator, had translated The Stranger, a sentimental comedy from the German Kotzebue, choosing the prose form of Steele and Goldsmith intermixed with lyric. The whole of English literary power seemed drifting over to the side of revolution; and the new military genius Buonaparte seemed as if he were about to carry the new principles into every corner of Europe. Something had to be done to help Pitt and the reactionary government in their endeavour to stem this torrent of revolutionism. Canning was the man, who saw, how protean was the new movement, how its spirit penetrated all the new English literature, and in these three satires, and The New Morality, of which he was the chief author, he tried to ridicule it in all its phases; the other verses of the Anti-Jacobin never get beneath the surface; they laugh at its minor incidents and political results. What he failed to see was that the movement had begun more than half a century before in English literature, and that, though the reactionary government of which he was a member might by the military achievements of its armies postpone political reform a whole generation, revolutionism was to mould English thought and literature during the
whole succeeding period and make them great. His keenness of vision is most apparent in detecting the hated spirit in the sentimental and romantic movements, in the utilitarian ethics of Jeremy Bentham, in the new scientific view of man as a portion of the animal creation and linked to the vegetable creation by many habits and instincts, in the socialistic view of marriage as a bondage invented by priests and politicians, and in the influx of the new German literature. In The Progress of Man love is shown to penetrate all nature; it
"Cools the crimpt cod, fierce pangs to perch imparts,
Shrinks shrivelled shrimps, but opens oyster's hearts"; "The same with plants-potatoes 'tatoes breed, Uncostly cabbage springs from cabbage seed";
"Starts from his rank and mars creation's plan"; 66 Resigns his native rights for meaner things, For faith and fetters, laws and priests and kings ". He learns the taste for blood "and millions perish that a king may reign"; marriage in the South Seas is described as seen by Captain Cook; "no hireling Bonzes chant the mystic rite"; whereas in Britain,
"One man with one unceasing wife
Plays the long rubber of connubial life".
The quotation from the poem closes with praise of Kotzebue's play, as recently translated, calling it "The Reformed Housekeeper".
"On household cares intent with many a sigh
She turns the pancake and she moulds the pie ".
The Loves of the Triangles pursues the topic of the slavery of marriage and the universality of love ;—
"Nor you, ye legion friends of Church and Law,
The loves of the various mathematical figures are pursued through all their devious romance;
"Wanton Optics roll the melting eye";
"Alas that partial Science should approve
Nor does the course of Parabola's or Hyperbola's love run smooth. So, in "happy France "
"Reform greets Terror with fraternal kiss ;
The Republican Directorate
Isosceles wooes 66
"Where'er he moves, she sees his tall limbs trace
Again she doubts him, but produced at will
At last "blest Isosceles" leads "the enamoured maid" to "the Asses' Bridge ". This suggests London Bridge and the crowds that sail under it, "Lodi's blood-stained Bridge", with young Freedom gazing at it, and the floating frame with the guillotine intended for the invasion of England and the decapitation of Pitt.
8. In The Rovers Canning turns to the German stage, and especially Schiller's Robbers, which sent "the whole of a German university on the highway", his Cabal and Love, which attacked prime ministers and reigning dukes, Goethe's Stella, "which ends by placing a man bodkin between two wives," and Kotzebue's Stranger, where "to two swains one nymph her vows" gives. In the prose introduction, Mr. Higgins, the professed author, says, that, if the play “has a proper run, it will do much to unhinge the present notions of men with regard to the obligations of civil society", give them "a contemptuous disgust at all that is", and "set them about doing what they like, where they like, when they like, and how they like". "Destroy the frame of society, and see the elements fighting one against another— every man for himself, (stripped of prejudice, of bigotry, and of feeling for others), against the remainder of his species; and there is then some hope of a totally new order of things." "The German theatre appears to proceed on this judicious plan". Germany had imbibed revolutionism from France, and turned it into a form suited to the middle classes, "painted the beauties of forgery in glowing colours", and "showed that the presumption of virtue is in favour of rapine and occasional murder on the highway". The moral of The Rovers is that of German dramas, “the reciprocal duties of one or more husbands to one or more wives and to the children who may happen to arise out of
this complicated and endearing connection"; "I have omitted only the swearing to which English ears are not yet sufficiently accustomed". It was in short an attack on the German" Illuminati ", who had adopted the principles of French scepticism and revolutionism. The Prologue is in heroic couplets; but the play itself is in prose. In the first act Matilda Pottinger, who is in search of Casimere, the father of some of her children, and Cecilia Muckenfield on the same errand, meet at an inn in Weimar and embrace; Casimere also arrives; whilst Rogero, who had been immured for his love for Matilda, is shown soliloquising in his dungeon, "where patience beside the bottomless pool of despondency sits angling for impossibilities", he says, and singing his song which ends with Pitt's verse ;—
Sun, Moon, and thou vain World, adieu,
That king and priests are plotting in ;
Here doomed to starve on water gru-
In the second act young Pottinger, Matilda's brother, arrives at Weimar in search of her, and meets Puddingfield and Beefington, two English exiles, who have just heard of the signing of the Magna Charta. The third act is omitted and is only described as repeating the final double arrangement of Goethe's Stella. In the fourth or last Casimere and the two Englishmen join the waiter, who is a Knight Templar in disguise, and young Pottinger, in freeing Rogero. In one speech of Casimere there is a manifest reference to Goethe's Werther, and this famous novel is clearly meant to be ridiculed in the amorous tangle, the exaggerated despair, and the overdrawn expression of sentiment.
I. The Anti-Jacobin thus points out by its satire the chief influences that were to mould nineteenth century literature and the chief currents of thought and feeling that were to flow through its greatest productions. It was Canning who thus raised the satire above mere temporary interests. Yet it was probably Gifford who directed his attention to the new translations of German plays and their popularity, (three different English versions of The Stranger