Rousseau, Robespierre and English Romanticism (Cambridge Studies in Romanticism)

Isaac D'Israeli and the invention of the literary character
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If each was allowed to pursue the line of his or her own reasoning, all would eventually agree. It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do, as well as to determine what we shall do. The principle of utility recognises this subjection, the object of which is to rear the fabric of felicity by the hands of reason and law. Systems which attempt to question it, deal in sounds instead of sense, in caprice instead of reason, in darkness instead of light. Clark even goes so far as to suggest that Political Justice became more consistently utilitarian with each revision that Godwin made.

He stretched it out of recognition, and transformed it into something entirely new.

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A leading tenet of utility theory was that the division and delegation of work contributed to the greatest happiness of the greatest number by maximising the production of goods and services. According to this view of things, co-operation compromised and degraded the workings of individual reason by undermining the principle of intellectual independence.

Through this manoeuvre, bourgeois political economy was subjected to criticism by the very discourse of utility that it had helped to produce. The utility of such a saving of labour, where labour is so little, will scarcely balance against the evils of so extensive a cooperation. But he then goes on to argue that Godwin came to question many aspects of Continental thought during the course of composition, and that increasingly he found himself returning to his roots in rational dissent. He has been subjected to continual ridicule for the extravagance of the proposition with which he began his literary career; that the savage state was the genuine and proper condition of man.

It was however by a very slight mistake that he missed the opposite opinion which it is the business of the present inquiry to establish. He only substituted, as the topic of his eulogium, the period that preceded government and laws, instead of the period that may possibly follow upon their abolition This is not, however, an accurate assessment of his work. Despite this, however, the image of Godwin as an arch-rationalist continues to pervade discussions of his work. He does not want Falkland to be punished, but for his deed to be known and understood, and for his blameworthy but explicable action to be judged on its own terms, and not according to the general and unthinking precedents of law.

His concern would be to allow the unique nature of the case to be considered sympathetically by each member of the jury. In this sense, all the signs are that Caleb is a good Godwinian by instinct. Unwilling to accuse his accuser, Caleb can only persist in protesting that his master knows him to be blameless, to which the presiding justice of the peace, Mr Forester responds by requesting that he defend himself without appealing to Falkland.

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Forester sees the issue simply in terms of the relation of the individual to the law, a relationship which is to be ascertained by the sifting of empirical evidence. What he fails to understand, however, is that this legalistic approach, besides operating in fatal collusion with an unjust social order, fails to comprehend the circumstances of the case.

As the trial proceeds, it is assumed by the jury that Caleb is guilty. The law binds both the accuser and the accused, as it becomes clear to Falkland he must prosecute Caleb in order to uphold his reputation. I will never lend my assistance to the reforming mankind by axes and gibbets; I am sure things will never go well, till honour and not law be the dictator of mankind, till vice is taught to shrink before the resistless might of inborn dignity, and not before the cold formality of statutes.

If my calumniator were worthy of my resentment I would chastise him with my own sword, and not that of the magistrate; but in the present case I smile at his malice, as the generous lord of the forest spares the insect that would disturb his repose. Or is it a spirited defence of the principle of chivalry and a thinly veiled confession of murder?

Is it the product of consummate hypocrisy or passionate sincerity? The suggestion is, perhaps, that it is both of these things, and that this duplicity has been forced upon Falkland by the legal context in which he speaks. I shall therefore simply insist as a magistrate, having taken the evidence in this felony, upon my right and duty of following the course of justice, and committing the accused to the county jail. Falkland feels that true justice would understand how he came to murder Barnabas Tyrrel, sympathising with his fundamental benevolence.

In a legal context, however, truth is rendered barren, for it becomes nothing more than the accumulation of evidence, drained of all ethical content, attending only to the external consequences of a crime and not to the inner intentions of its perpetrator. He sees that its notion of justice is skewed by a violent class bias and that its aspiration to virtue is undermined by an excessive concern for honour and reputation.

But he remains committed to the ideal of moral freedom and independence that Falkland had once embodied. Conversely, mere appearance is not enough for Falkland either. One way of understanding this narrative is to see it as an allegory of civil society. This interpretation would tend to see Tyrrel as an embodiment of the primitive barbarism that was deemed to have prevailed before the rise of chivalry, a period during which might was supposed the only right.

When Falkland enters the locality, he brings civilised values to the community, principles of honour and duty that go beyond mere physical force.

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In this sense he can be seen as an emblem of chivalry as a historical phenomenon. In this way Godwin suggests that, even if, in certain respects, chivalry could be seen to represent an anticipation of true reason and benevolence, it is nevertheless riven with hypocrisy and injustice. Chivalry was necessary because it softened military ferocity through its respect for women and its religious spirit; but chivalry as an order, as a sect, as a means of separating men instead of uniting them, had to be considered as a dreadful evil, as soon as it ceased to be an indispensable remedy.

Would it usher in a democratisation of the principles of chivalry?

Or would it represent an entirely new way of organising the forces within society, one entirely uncommitted to the principle of personal virtue, and completely drained of all ethical content? In the groves of their academy, at the end of every visto, you see nothing but the gallows. For him a respect for the aristocracy remained of central importance to the stability of society, as the independent nobility was the fullest embodiment of positive liberty.

In deferring to this class of men, in acknowledging the moral superiority of land over and above credit, the middling and lower ranks would preserve a respect for the abstract principle of moral independence and the possibility of realising their full humanity.

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Not only civilised in itself, the aristocracy was thus the cause of civilisation in other men. By the end of the eighteenth century, the nobility had declined into a comparatively functionless and yet still rather exclusive caste. This was why Robespierre had been forced to locate political virtue not in property but in the secret passions of the human heart.

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He wanted his readers to consider the possibility that they should not judge a respect for appearances merely on appearances. In the eyes of many contemporaries, however, his constant recourse to oxymoron only served to dramatise the complicity between revolutionary Jacobinism and the feudal tyrannies of the past. Most of the time, his account of events does not add up.

As Mr Forester points out to him: Is this the way to obtain the favour of a man of consequence and respectability?

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It is made clear that if at any point in the novel Caleb were to tell the truth, nobody would believe him. Nevertheless, Godwin does also make us aware of the extent to which Caleb is guilty of mauraise foi. He appeals to the conscience of his auditors but he is unwilling to unburden his own.

His prejudice in favour of his master is stronger than his commitment to the truth. Allegorically this can be seen to expose the complicity of revolutionary Jacobinism with feudal despotism. We say that government has usurped too much, and we organise a government tenfold more encroaching in its principles and terrible in its proceedings. Is slavery the best project that can be devised for making men free? Is a display of terror the readiest mode for rendering [men] fearless, independent and enterprising?

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Conceived as a sublime internal principle, revolutionary justice became radically unjust as soon as it fell into the hands of individual judges. The necessary proofs consisted of every description of document, whether material, verbal or written, which carries in itself self-evidence, and when there were material or moral proofs, no witnesses were to be heard. The rule of the sentence was the conscience of the jurors. Curiously, the latter was not averse to the notion of a purgation of society, he simply considered that it could not be brought about by human agency.

Death itself was not an evil, he suggested, unless it was the product of a deliberate action.

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Hiermee kunnen wij en derde partijen advertenties aanpassen aan jouw interesses. Cash on Delivery Pay for your order in cash at the moment the shipment is delivered to your doorstep. WorldCat is the world's largest library catalog, helping you find library materials online. The Tribune. Penguin, Genius and originality are indeed in strict ratio to this freedom. For the best type of Greek [23] humanist, a Sophocles let us say, decorum was a vital and immediate thing.

In the years after the Terror, Godwin continued to reformulate and rearticulate his anarchist principles, but he abandoned the systematic mode of presentation that characterised Political Justice. As we shall see, he preferred the essay form as a medium which advertised the resolutely private nature of his essays in private judgment.

It was almost as if he felt there had been too much of the legislative spirit in his systematic attack on legislation. I came hither to curse, but I remain to bless. I came to accuse, but am compelled to applaud.