Romanticism

The old cliché about Romanticism being hostile to science is wrong. Recent scholarship has shown that science was a vital part of Romantic culture: Coleridge, Wordsworth, Keats, the Shelleys, Charlotte Smith — all had dealings with scientists and were often active in scientific pursuits themselves (see Hawley 2003—4). True, Blake did indeed state that "Art is the Tree of Life . . . Science is the Tree of Death," and Keats — medically trained himself — did protest about Newton's dissection of the rainbow. Some Romantic poets had objections to some types of science: the botanical and life sciences were far more hospitable than other strands to the organicism prevalent in German Romanticism and later in Britain. Yet even Blake, the notorious foe of a mechanistic and dehumanizing science that supposedly forced people into factories, shared an old ambiguity about the status of science. He agreed with the physico-theologians that God's glory is revealed in the close examination of nature; his nature, though, was not the mathematical reduction of a Newton but the marvelous detail of the observant natural historian. It is ironic, given his reputation, that Blake's motto to "Auguries of Innocence" encapsulates with lyric simplicity the core theme of eighteenth-century scientific poetry:

To see a world in a grain of sand, And a heaven in a wild flower, Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, And eternity in an hour.

See also chs. 2, "Poetry, Politics, and Empire"; 9, "Poetry, Sentiment, and Sensibility"; 14, "James Thomson, The Seasons"; 17, "Mark Akenside, The Pleasures of Imagination"; 32, "Whig And Tory Poetics."

References and Further Reading

Aikin, John (1777). An Essay on the Application Barker-Benfield, G. J. (1992). The Culture of Sensibility: of Natural History to Poetry. Warrington and Sex and Society in Eighteenth-Century Britain. Chicago London: J. Johnson. and London: University of Chicago Press.

Bush, Douglas (1950). Science and English Poetry: A Historical Sketch, 1590-1950. New York: Oxford University Press.

Fairer, David, and Gerrard, Christine, eds. (1999). Eighteenth-Century Poetry: An Annotated Anthology. Oxford: Blackwell.

Fox, Christopher, ed. (1987). Psychology and Literature in the Eighteenth Century. New York: AMS.

Garth, Samuel (1699). The Dispensary: A Poem, in Six Cantos, 2nd edn. London: John Nutt.

Gerrard, Christine (1994). The Patriot Opposition to Walpole: Politics, Poetry, and National Myth, 1725-1742. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Grant, Charlotte, ed. (2003). Flora. Vol. 4 of Literature and Science, 1660-1834, 8 vols., gen. ed. Judith Hawley. London: Pickering & Chatto.

Hamblyn, Richard, ed. (2003). Earthly Powers. Vol. 3 of Literature and Science, 1660-1834, 8 vols., gen. ed. Judith Hawley. London: Pickering & Chatto.

Hawley, Judith, gen. ed. (2003—4). Literature and Science, 1660-1834, 8 vols. London: Pickering & Chatto. The second quartet of the eight volumes were published in February 2004: Fauna, ed. David Clifford (vol. 5); Astronomy, ed. Robert Iliffe (vol. 6); Natural Philosophy, ed. Robert Iliffe (vol. 7); Technology, ed. Brian Dolan (vol. 8).

Johnson, Samuel (1975). Lives of the English Poets, 2 vols., ed. John Wain. London: Dent; New York: Dutton.

Jones, William Powell (1966). The Rhetoric of Science: A Study of Scientific Ideas and Imagery in Eighteenth-Century English Poetry. London: Rout-ledge & Kegan Paul.

Jordanova, Ludmilla, ed. (1986). Languages of Nature: Critical Essays on Science and Literature. London: Free Association Books.

Kramer, Cheryce; Martyn, Trea; and Newton, Michael, eds. (2003). Science as Polite Culture. Vol. 1 of Literature and Science, 1660-1834, 8 vols., gen. ed. Judith Hawley. London: Pickering & Chatto.

Lawlor, Clark, and Suzuki, Akihito, eds. (2003). Sciences of Body and Mind. Vol. 2 of Literature and Science, 1660-1834, 8 vols., gen. ed. Judith Hawley. London: Pickering & Chatto.

Martin, Benjamin (1743). A Course of Lectures in Natural and Experimental Philosophy, Geography and Astronomy. Reading: J. Newbery & C. Micklewright.

Mulvey-Roberts, Marie, and Porter, Roy, eds. (1993). Literature and Medicine during the Eighteenth Century. London: Routledge.

Nicolson, Marjorie Hope (1948). Newton Demands the Muse: Newton's Opticks and the Eighteenth-Century Poets. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Nicolson, Marjorie Hope (1956). Science and Imagination. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Nicolson, Marjorie Hope (1959). Mountain Gloom and Mountain Glory: The Development of the Aesthetics of the Infinite. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Nicolson, Marjorie Hope, and Rousseau, G. S. (1968). "This Long Disease, My Life": Alexander Pope and the Human Sciences. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Porter, Roy, ed. (2003). Eighteenth-Century Science. Vol. 4 of The Cambridge History of Science. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Rogers, Katherine M. (1989). "Finch's 'Candid Account' vs. Eighteenth-Century Theories of the Spleen." Mosaic 22: 1, 17—27.

Rousseau, G. S. (1976). "Nerves, Spirits, and Fibres: Towards Defining the Origins of Sensibility." In R. F. Brissenden and J. C. Eade (eds.), Studies in the Eighteenth Century, 137—57. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Rousseau, G. S. (1982). 'Science Books and Their Readers in the Eighteenth Century." In Isabel Rivers (ed.), Books and their Readers in Eighteenth-Century England, 197—25. Leicester: Leicester University Press.

Sena, John F. (1979). "Belinda's Hysteria: The Medical Context of The Rape of the Lock." Eighteenth-Century Life 5, 29—42.

Sherman, Stuart (1996). Telling Time: Clocks, Diaries, and English Diurnal Form, 1660—1785. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Williams, Abigail (2005). Poetry and the Creation of Whig Literary Culture, 1681—1714. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Young, Edward (1774). The Works of the Reverend Dr Edward Young, 6 vols. Edinburgh: C. Elliot.

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