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By R. White

Following the yankee struggle of Independence and the French Revolution, principles of the 'Natural Rights of guy' (later unusual into specific concerns like rights of organization, rights of ladies, slaves, youngsters and animals) have been publicly debated in England. Literary figures like Wollstonecraft, Godwin, Thelwall, Blake and Wordsworth mirrored those struggles of their poetry and fiction. With the seminal affects of John Locke and Rousseau, those and plenty of different writers laid for top Romantic Literature foundations that weren't a lot aesthetic as ethical and political. This new learn via R.S. White offers a reinterpretation of the Enlightenment because it is at the moment understood.

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Extra info for Natural Rights and the Birth of Romanticism in the 1790s

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Burke (if not all conservatives) equally revered 1689 as the year which had enshrined principles of government which encapsulated the best of tradition and should apply in perpetuity, but he turns this against the radicals. He argues that its existence proves the case for maintaining tradition and the ruling class status quo at any one period of history. Pope’s sublimely conservative ‘Whatever is, is right’ hovers behind Burke. He was committed to the view that the fundamental constitutional safeguard is not popular election but heredity.

Wilkes was a volatile and contradictory character, whose audacious and politically brilliant manoeuvres dominated English politics for a decade, as he single-handedly forged an alliance between merchants and common people, supported crucially by printers and publishers, united against the corrupt purchase of political representation. They even brought London to a state of insurrection. His colourful interventions sometimes had the qualities of tragicomedy and near-farce. In the short term, long-lasting change was not secured in this period, and in some ways the beneficiaries were the aristocracy who not only demanded greater ‘law and order’ provisions which were From Natural Law to Natural Rights 33 to stand the government in good stead for repressing dissent when the French revolution ignited, but also were enabled to use the situation further to weaken the position of the King.

By the time we get to this stage of the argument we have almost reached the positions of Rousseau and Paine, but there is one more link in the chain, the notion of consent between governed and governor which lies behind Rousseau’s ‘social contract’. Locke’s influence The link was supplied by one who ironically did not, at least early in his career, believe in innate feelings at all, John Locke. To literary scholars, Locke 28 Natural Rights and the Birth of Romanticism is best known, unfortunately, for his argument in Essay on Humane Understanding, that in infancy the human mind is a tabula rasa, having no pre-existing or innate knowledge, a position contrary to classical natural law and to the later romantics, pre-eminently Wordsworth.

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