‘A Poet, and a Patron, and Ten Pound’: Politics, Cultural Politics, and the Scriblerians

Brean S. Hammond

in Professional Imaginative Writing in England, 1670–1740

Published in print March 1997 | ISBN: 9780198112990
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191670909 | DOI:
‘A Poet, and a Patron, and Ten Pound’: Politics, Cultural Politics, and the Scriblerians

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This chapter argues that the tendency in recent liberal-humanist constructions of Pope, Swift, and Gay has been to bring the writers together into group solidarity despite the many temperamental and personal differences that are allowed to exist between them; but that the breakdown of the liberal-humanist consensus in scholarship and criticism apparent in 18th-century studies in the 1980s resulted in a fierce reaction to such brother-bonding, especially from feminists. Currently, scholars are more aware of the distance separating the writers than of their proximity. A case is made for reconceiving the writing of Pope, Swift, and Gay as well as Henry Fielding as informed by a cultural politics that is its most important distinguishing feature. While giving full weight to the very different ways in which it is embodied, the chapter contends that a common cultural politics contours the writing of this group. It concludes with a brief account of Aaron Hill's career, a relatively neglected writer whose ubiquity and centrality is beyond doubt. His importance to this study is that he combines elements of the Whig-derived ideology of politeness and the aesthetic canons that derive from it with elements of the Scriblerian politics of decline.

Keywords: writing; Scriblerian politics; Pope; Swift; Gay; Henry fielding

Chapter.  21934 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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