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date: 21 September 2020

Literature and Time in the Eighteenth Century and the Romantic Period

Abstract and Keywords

This article explores how changing ideas about time and time-telling had a powerful and lasting impact upon the literature of the long eighteenth century (i.e., c. 1660–c. 1830). After a brief overview of the dominant technological, scientific, and philosophical preoccupations, the discussion concentrates on influential recent critical studies of topics such as the relationship between clock time and narrative structure in the novels of Samuel Richardson and Laurence Sterne, the appearance of poetical subgenres directly inspired by mechanical timepieces, and the characteristic skepticism of certain Romantic authors toward the alleged merits of temporal rationalization. Although most of these studies have focused on how the (quasi-)isochronicity of pocket watches and pendulum clocks directly influenced particular literary forms, structures, and themes, this article concludes by arguing that the relationship between literature and time was (in fact) partially reciprocal, and that the former therefore sometimes profoundly altered contemporaneous attitudes toward the practical business of time-telling.

Keywords: time, temporality, literature, eighteenth century, romanticism, pocket watch, clock, sandglass, sundial, curfew bell

Contexts and Controversies

Due to a bewildering array of practical and theoretical concerns, the definition, measurement, and deployment of time was an abiding preoccupation throughout the long eighteenth century (c. 1660–c. 1830). Several simple yet ingenious devices, such as sundials and sandglasses, had been used to quantify time for centuries prior to this period; mechanical clocks had begun to be installed in European churches and cathedrals from the fourteenth century onward, while the first watches had been constructed and worn during the Renaissance. However, the distinctive and pervasive fixation with time and time-telling that characterized the long eighteenth century was directly prompted by the horological revolution of the 1650s, when Christiaan Huygens introduced pendulum clocks and watches with balance springs, thereby reducing the daily inaccuracy of such timepieces from minutes to seconds. As a result, (quasi-)isochronicity became an attainable goal, and there followed a period of rapid technical “consolidation and expansion.”1 Better escapement mechanisms were developed to control the transference of stored energy (e.g., “anchor” c. 1670, “dead-beat” 1715, “detent” 1752), minute and second hands were added to display smaller temporal subdivisions (c. 1680 onward), and precision chronometers—such as John Harrison’s celebrated “H4” (1759), which enabled longitude to be calculated at sea—were created to serve a wide range of practical purposes. The speed of change was startling, and, due to the mastery of makers such as Thomas Tompion, Daniel Quare, George Graham, Thomas Mudge, John Arnold, and Thomas Earnshaw, Britain rapidly established itself as world leader in clock and watch manufacture. In the early years of this period, timepieces of this kind were still a source of considerable wonder and delight, as Samuel Pepys demonstrated in 1665:

But Lord, to see how much of my old folly and childishnesse hangs upon me still, that I cannot forbear carrying my watch in my hand in the coach all this afternoon, and seeing what a-clock it is 100 times. And am apt to think with myself: how could I be so long without one—though I remember since, I had one and found it a trouble, and resolved to carry one no more about me while I lived.2

Pepys’s astonishment is tempered by his recollection of past “trouble,” and this ambivalence is strongly characteristic of the period. In the 1660s, pocket watches and domestic clocks were exotic (often inaccurate) playthings for the social elite; rural and urban communities were regulated mainly by natural diurnal cycles and church bells, and Britain was divided into many different local time zones. By the 1830s, however, reliable timepieces were owned by the middle and lower classes, time-telling had been largely secularized, and a national “mean” time, which guaranteed synchronicity in trade and travel, was being devised. This relentless process of “temporal rationalization” influenced the practices of powerful emerging sociopolitical infrastructures—like those associated with the industrial revolution—that relied on strict time-based regulation.3

While clock- and watchmakers sought to improve the accuracy of their wares, philosophers (whether of the “natural” variety or not) debated different definitions and contrasting theoretical models of time. In developing his radical theory of mechanics, for instance, Isaac Newton argued that “[a]bsolute, true, and mathematical time” was distinct from “relative, apparent and common time,” the latter being merely a measure of the duration of motion.4 This bold ontological distinction made it possible for him to develop a universal system, but many of his contemporaries remained unconvinced. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz famously favored a more ideational, relational, and relativistic analysis of time, while the very idea that time “flows uniformly” caused George Berkeley to become “lost and embrangled in inextricable Difficulties.”5 John Locke and fellow empiricists contended that it was “the fleeting and perpetually perishing parts of Succession” that enabled us to acquire “distinct Ideas, as Hours, Days, Years, &c., Time and Eternity,” yet none of them managed to develop a sufficiently robust account of the role that memory plays in this mysterious process.6 Aware of these complexities, David Hume reconsidered the relationship between temporality and causation, and his work greatly influenced Immanuel Kant’s theorizing. In particular, in the Kritik der reinen Vernunft (Critique of Pure Reason; 1781), Kant proposed that time and space are both a priori forms of sensibility, at once empirically real and transcendentally ideal.7 Inevitably, a wide range of post-Kantian perspectives emerged during the early nineteenth century, some of which influenced philosophers and scientists such as Henri-Louis Bergson, Albert Einstein, and Henri Poincaré.8

Clocks and Watches

Even given this brief and necessarily selective summary, it should be apparent why so many writers of the period became fascinated by the definition, quantification, and social functions of time. Literature provided opportunities for exploring different chronological schemes, whether earnestly or whimsically, and countless novels, poems, plays, and essays of the period both scrutinized and exemplified the temporal practices and sensibilities of the age. In some cases, this can be discerned in the changing conventions of literary production itself. The advent of periodical publications, such Joseph Addison’s and Richard Steele’s The Spectator (1711–14), popularized new patterns of cyclic literary consumption (whether daily, weekly, or monthly), which, in turn, imposed strict regularities upon the activities of writing and reading. In other cases, it is the themes and methodologies of the works of literature themselves that reveal the underlying preoccupations of their authors. Aino Mökikalli has recently shown that, for Daniel Defoe, “the problem of time [was] seminally intertwined with the Christian concept of eternity and that of secular time,” while Samuel Richardson declared that his own epistolary novels offered “a new Manner of Writing—to the Moment,” a technique that brought narrative time and narrated time into unprecedentedly close proximity.9 The increasingly frequent references to very specific times of the day in novels such as Richardson’s are due to clocks and watches enabling hours, minutes, and seconds to be monitored with unprecedented precision, even in domestic environments—and the consequences of this were not only apparent in novels. Indeed, the emergence of a distinct subgenre of poems addressed directly to watches offered a range of new analogies. In a 1760 poem, the Baptist hymnodist Anne Steele wished to be “useful and progressive” in order to “regulate” her heart, and the manual task of winding her watch each evening provided an exemplum:

  • When I wind thee up at night,
  • Mark each fault and set thee right,
  • Let me search my bosom too,
  • And my daily thoughts review;
  • Mark the movements of my mind,
  • Nor be easy till I find
  • Latent errors brought to view,
  • Till all be regular and true.10

Here mechanical engineering provides a template for spiritual reflection, but the human-machine parallels drawn in other “To My Watch” poems were not always so meditatively therapeutic. In 1831 Walter Savage Landor noted an acute asynchronicity when he addressed his timepiece: “[h]ow ill agree thy motion and my heart’s.”11 Far from providing a steady and reliable model for his own behavior, the relentless ticking frustrated him: “[g]o, sole companion of a joyless bed, / Nor drive the slumbers from this frantic head.”12 This poignant couplet reveals something of the intimacy that could characterize the curious relationships between writers and their watches, and further insights can be gleaned by considering those works of literature that were written to be displayed in, or on, specific time-telling devices. Pair-case watches were introduced in the 1670s, and they had an outer protective case that offered a small concave space into which circular “watch-paper” could be inserted. Such papers often exhibited advertisements or simple decorative patterns, but they also frequently contained bespoke poems. These so-called watch-paper poems were intimate and amorous, or didactic and moralizing, and analogies between humans and machines were common. Isabella Lickbarrow included these lines in her “Verses Intended for a Watch Paper” (1814):

  • The mind of man, like this machine,
  • Has various moving springs unseen;
  • Strong feelings which affect him still,
  • And prompt him both to good and ill.13

There is an awareness here, perhaps, of the controversial debates that had been given impetus in the 1630s when, fascinated by Salomon de Caus’s celebrated mechanical fountain in the gardens of St. Germain-en-Laye, René Descartes had philosophized about the differences between humans, animals, and machines.14 An extreme view had been propounded by Julien Offray de la Mettrie in his notorious L’homme machine (1747), and arguments about such matters raged throughout the long eighteenth century.15 By contrast, some of the texts written to be displayed on clocks and watches were more concerned with morality than mechanism. This practice arose from the ancient tradition of affixing mottos (often rather hectoring ones, such as carpe diem or tempus fugit) to sundials.16 However, as the eighteenth century progressed, the texts became more elaborate and were written in English, though they were still tightly constrained by the confines of the available physical space. In October 1809, Coleridge was asked to produce a few lines for a market-place clock, and (so the story goes) he uttered the following “literally, without a moment’s premeditation”:

  • What now, O Man! Thou dost, or mean’st to do
  • Will help to give thee Peace or make thee rue,
  • When hovering o’er the Dot this hand shall tell
  • The moment, that secures thee HEAVEN or HELL!17

This quatrain is didactic in tone (honoring the tradition), yet the present and eternity are related quasi-paradoxically. The prominent temporal adverb “now” reinforces the immanence of “[t]he moment,” showing that the actions and intentions of a single instant can have eternal consequences, while the past is deemed to be entirely irrelevant for the purposes of salvation. Coleridge appears to have had a taste for such miniatures. Twenty years later, he produced an “Inscription on a Timepiece,” once again combining adverbs and tenses with subtle dexterity:

  • Now! It is gone.—Our Moments travel post,
  • Each with it’s [sic] deed or thought, it’s what? and how?
  • But, know! each parting Hour gives up a Ghost,
  • May live within thee, an Eternal NOW.18

The sudden transition from the initial “[n]ow!” to “[i]t is gone” is disorientating, as is the rapid shift from the singular “[i]t” to the plural “[o]ur moments,” and the oxymoronic notion of an everlasting instant mystically destabilizes any conventional chronological framework. Despite their status as “occasional” pieces, when these mottos were eventually published posthumously in 1836, they were rightly considered to be “pretty little pieces in verse.”19

As these examples demonstrate, many literary works explored different aspects of time and time-telling during the long eighteenth century, yet Laurence Sterne’s masterpiece The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (1759–67) remains a central focal point for critical studies of the relationship between time and literature—and deservedly so, since its playful appraisal of the artificialities and limitations of linear temporal progression readily invites multiple responses.20 The notorious opening, in which Walter Shandy is asked by his wife (during coitus) whether he has wound the long-case clock, brings inner psychological temporalities and natural reproductive biorhythms into direct conflict with the recently established rituals of (quasi-)isochronic time-keeping. Similar disruptions continue unabated in many subsequent chapters, when they are complicated further by Sterne’s teasing contrasts between the quantifiable chronological development of an individual life and the multiple parallel temporal schemes that necessarily result from the writing and reading of literature:

I am this month one whole year older than I was this time twelve-month; and having got, as you perceive, almost into the middle of the fourth volume—and no farther than to my first day’s day—’tis demonstrative that I have three hundred and sixty-four more days to write just now, than when I first set out; so that instead of advancing, as a common writer, in my work with what I have been doing at it—on the contrary, I am just thrown so many volumes back—was every day of my life to be as busy as this—And why not?—and the transactions and opinions of it to take up as much description—And for what reason should they be cut short? at this rate I should just live 364 times faster than I should write—It must follow, an’ please your worships, that the more I write, the more I shall have to write—and consequently, the more your worships read, the more your worships will have to read.21

This forbidding calculation humorously highlights a perplexing temporal paradox that afflicts all uncommon writers. As this example demonstrates, Tristram Shandy is (to use Christoph Henke’s apposite description) a novel that is fundamentally “about the passing and bypassing of time; about time jumps and delays; about anachronisms and synchronisms; about subjective mind-time and objective clock-time; about writing-time and life-time; ultimately, as metafiction, about story-time and text-time.”22 However, even this lengthy catalogue is far from comprehensive. Clark Lawlor remarked, wearily, that “[o]ne would think that the subject of time in Sterne, especially in Tristram Shandy, had been entirely exhausted,” but this did not stop him arguing that the narrative is also influenced by the “idiosyncratic rhythms” of disease.23 Sterne’s anxieties about time and time-telling were playfully serious, and some of them acquired a more strident resonance as the Enlightenment segued into the romantic period. William Blake’s infernal proverb is well known—”the hours of folly are measur’d by the clock, but of wisdom, no clock can measure”—and so is William Wordsworth’s interest in the subjective psychological temporalities associated with those strange “spots of time / Which with distinct pre-eminence retain / A vivifying Virtue.”24 In their different ways, therefore, Blake and Wordsworth are expressing dissatisfaction with the relentlessly periodic divisions displayed on the faces of ticking clocks and watches—but the second generation of Romantics was sometimes even more belligerently dismissive. In Percy Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound, (past) Time himself dies and is carried by a chorus of deceased hours “to his tomb in eternity.”25 This vibrant attempt to unshackle temporality from periodic quantification embodies a distinctly romantic hankering for what Stuart Curran has described as “everlasting day” (also manifest in Coleridge’s aforementioned “Eternal NOW!”), and such longings sometimes seem to constitute “attempts to escape from time.”26 These inclinations intertwine closely, of course, with contemporaneous ideological reevaluations of diachronic progression over longer durations, which produced an “emergent sense of historical discontinuity” in which the present often seemed to be separated from the past.27

Practicalities and Nostalgia

Predictably, since the 1980s, literary critics have responded in diverse ways to these complex and densely interconnected topics. The new perspectives offered by postmodernist philosophy in the 1960s, inspired some to explore how time-related phenomena could reveal conceptual instabilities in the literature of the long eighteenth century. Paul de Man’s 1969 examination of the relationships that exist between allegorical signs powerfully revealed the discovery by the romantics of “a truly temporal predicament,” while Paul Ricoeur’s three-volume Temps et Récit (Time and Narrative; 1983, 1984, 1985) remains a prominent landmark in relation to which all critics interested in such topics are obliged to orientate themselves.28 Ricoeur eschews sharp distinctions between literary criticism and philosophy, and his attempts to demonstrate that cosmological and phenomenological time are profoundly integrated have inescapable consequences for the analysis of narrative structure.29 By contrast, other critics have favored more stolidly historical (if not militantly [New] Historicist) explorations. Most influentially, in his monograph Telling Time (1996), Stuart Sherman showed how “the new chronometry” of the horological revolution was absorbed into “narrative form” during the period 1660 to 1785, charting this development from private diaries to periodical essays to travel writing.30 A similar attentiveness to historical progression has encouraged some to divide the long eighteenth century into distinct subperiods defined by discernible shifts in temporal perspectives and practices. In The Mirror and the Lamp (1953), M. H. Abrams contrasted the philosophies of mechanism and organicism, observing that, since each seeks to offer a complete worldview, “neither can stop until it has swallowed up the archetype of the other”—and numerous critics have subsequently probed these (and related) ideas in relation to chronology and horology.31 In 1970 Ian Donaldson argued that the romantic preference for images drawn “direct from nature” (e.g., “nightingales, sensitive plants, erupting volcanoes”) succeeded the eighteenth-century penchant for products of “human craftsmanship” (e.g., “clocks, machines, garden mazes, theatres”), and he discussed three ways in which Henry Fielding and Laurence Sterne purposefully used and abused clock-based temporalities in their novels. In the 1980s Samuel L. Macey surveyed at length how different writers responded to clock-based time-telling, contending that authors such as Percy Shelley and Edgar Allan Poe espoused “clockwork diabolism”—that is, the belief that man-made mechanical devices are inherently infernal.32 This stance differs markedly from the wry skepticism that Pope had expressed a hundred years earlier in his celebrated couplet “’Tis with our Judgments as our Watches, none / Go just alike, yet each believes his own.”33 Pope’s apposite comparison was probably derived from lines that appear in the epilogue to John Suckling’s Algaura (1638):

  • But as when an authentic watch is shown
  • Each man winds up, and rectifies his own,
  • So in our very judgements [ … ]34

The respective disenchantments that Macey associates with the Augustans and the romantics differ significantly: a satirical awareness of arbitrary inaccuracy does not necessarily entail an overt presupposition of devilment, and part of the difficulty of delineating the relationship between time and literature throughout the long eighteenth century arises directly from these shifts and fluctuations.

However, some caution is required here. Macey’s work has certainly helped to bolster the widespread conviction that the romantics knowingly spurned mechanical timepieces, favoring horological archaism over precise temporal quantification. In particular, he has stated that William Hazlitt, William Blake, and Charles Lamb “reacted so strongly against clocks that they even looked back with nostalgia to the sandglass or sundial.”35 It is too simplistic, though, to allege that the latter invariably denoted a wistful longing for a preindustrial age. Sandglasses possessed distinctive characteristic properties—the need for iterative turning, granular flow—and, by the start of the eighteenth century, they had accrued a complex cluster of symbolical associations ranging from religious denominations to freemasonry to piracy.36 Crucially, as time-keepers, they were still used for certain practical tasks well into the nineteenth century, most notably when, in conjunction with the chip log, they enabled the speed of a ship to be estimated in knots.37 Consequently, literary references to sandglasses during this period often focus on pragmatic practicalities rather than antiquated undertones, though these things could (and often did) intermingle. In John Keats’s Fall of Hyperion (1819), the narrator almost dies while ascending some marble stairs, and a voice speaks to him from out of a cloud of incense:

  • The sands of thy short life are spent this hour,
  • And no hand in the universe can turn
  • Thy hourglass, if these gummed leaves be burnt
  • Ere thou canst mount up these immortal steps.38

The analogy here focuses on functionality rather than reminiscence: unlike mechanical clocks and watches, hourglasses cease to function after only a relatively short period of time (e.g., 15 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour), assuming there is no external source of intervention—and sundials were similarly associated with pragmatic agency rather than wistful longing for the past. Once again, the historical record indicates unambiguously (if counterintuitively) that sales of these devices increased throughout the long eighteenth century. This occurred because even the most expensive mechanical timepieces required regular resetting and readjusting.39 Although church bells could be used as a convenient temporal anchor for this task, it was widely acknowledged that “the greater number of these Clocks must be wrong.”40 Consequently, scientific instrument-makers continued to manufacture countless portable universal equatorial rings and tablet sundials well into the nineteenth century. Also, like sandglasses, sundials had accumulated a powerful symbolical resonance over the centuries, and they were particularly associated with constancy and fidelity:

  • For loyalty is still the same,
  • Whether it win or lose the game;
  • True as the dial to the sun,
  • Altho’ it be not shin’d upon.41

In these lines from Samuel Butler’s Hudibras (1663–78), honest allegiance never succumbs to the vacillations of chance and fortune—a pertinent message for a nation refashioning itself after the Civil War and the Restoration. Unlike clocks and watches, therefore, sundials neither coerce nor supersede nature. As Paul Glennie and Nigel Thrift have emphasized, during the early modern period “[c]locks shifted from being purely proxies or intermediaries for what a sundial would show, were it not cloudy, to being themselves the source of times to which causal powers could be ascribed.”42 Like the Aeolian harp (another popular source of analogies in romantic literature), sundials enabled the patterns of the natural world to be perceptibly revealed. This passive responsiveness to nature was cherished and celebrated since (to use Hazlitt’s remark) it meant that a sundial “does not obtrude its observations.”43 Given the intricacy of these preoccupations, it is insufficient to categorize all references to sandglasses and sundials in the literature of this period as being merely instances of reactionary nostalgia.

Although (as the foregoing discussion demonstrates) many critics have explored different aspects of the relationship between time and literature from a vast array of theoretical perspectives, they have often been curiously willing to accept a core set of beliefs about the practical time-telling conventions of the long eighteenth century. Ever since the 1960s, the dominant teleological metanarrative about the technological advancement of horology in Britain has delineated a clear progression from approximation and diversity to precision and uniformity—and such accounts center on the emergence of clock time. For instance, prompted in part by the alleged rejection of clock time, Christopher Miller has examined how the indistinct notion of “evening” became “an aesthetic occasion” during the second half of the eighteenth century.44 In a similar manner, in his authoritative assessment of Wordsworth’s various timed-related preoccupations, Jeffrey Baker has claimed that clock time is the “lowest” form of temporal quantification, being “mechanical in the narrowest sense, inflexible and uncreative.”45 Such views have become orthodox in critical studies, and they have their roots in the influential work of E. P. Thompson, who argued powerfully in 1967 that time discipline was a fundamental driving force behind the industrial revolution. In Alexis McCrossen’s recent description, “ “Time Discipline” is shorthand for how time—ideas about it, ways of measuring it, instruments for meting it out—controls actions, thoughts, dreams, desires”. 46 Although hedged round with the wary caution of a professional historian, Thompson essentially maintained that clock time provided a uniform temporal framework that facilitated the synchronization of industrial activities—and this view has subsequently provided a foundation for many important studies such as Gerhard Dohrn-Van Rossum’s History of the Hour (1996) and David S. Landes’s authoritative A Revolution in Time (2000). These texts have deservedly become standard references for those intrigued by horological history, but more recent accounts have offered provocative revisionist perspectives that destabilize many of the old assumed verities. Glennie and Thrift, in particular, have robustly maintained that clock time remained a heterogeneous and relativistic notion well into the nineteenth century, demonstrating convincingly that many different clock times were elaborated by different communities of practice: “[ … ] there is no such thing as clock time. Rather clock time comprises a number of concepts, devices, and practices which have meant different things at different times and places, and even in any one place have not had a unitary meaning.”47 They substantiate this controversial claim by examining probate inventories and diaries, and they reconstruct the way clocks and watches were actually used by ordinary people. Nonetheless, although they consider many different kinds of historical sources, they do not discuss literary texts specifically, despite acknowledging that crucial insights could be gleaned from such materials: “[w]e have taken little note here of work in literature, but [ … ] literature is both a source and a model for work on time.”48 This observation suggests that a reconsideration of literature and time in the long eighteenth century is, as it were, timely.

Thus, literature can illuminate historical time-telling practices, but, as we have seen, a deeper historical understanding of such practices can in turn revitalize our appreciation of the time-based analogies, metaphors, descriptions, allusions, and narrative structures encountered in literature. The relationship between the two domains is conspicuously reciprocal. Richard Leigh described insects as “Living Watches”; an “hour-glass, winged” adorns Clarissa Harlowe’s coffin; Wordsworth wrote of the sundial’s “moral round”—and pertinent examples such as these certainly tell us things about both the culture of time-telling and the literature in which they are embedded.49 Given these minutiae, it is perhaps inevitable that regrettable misunderstandings sometimes arise. Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “Christabel” (written 1797–1800; published 1816) establishes a time and a place—“[t]is the middle of night by the castle clock”—before continuing:

  • Sir Leoline, the Baron rich,
  • Hath a toothless mastiff bitch;
  • From her kennel beneath the rock
  • She maketh answer to the clock,
  • Four for the quarters, and twelve for the hour;
  • Ever and aye, by shine and shower,
  • Sixteen short howls, not over loud;
  • Some say, she sees my lady’s shroud.

Critics have examined convincingly the poem’s metrical construction, its unfinished state, its homoerotic overtones, and its eerie medievalism; but the significance of the clock has occasionally caused befuddlement.50 Too eager to discover temporal and semantic instabilities, Claire May doubted whether the “[s]ixteen short howls” of the mastiff can be “reconciled with the twelve called for by ‘the middle of night.’” Puzzled by this, she asked “is there some other temporality in question here, one to which the bitch may be attuned, but different from the time measured by the clock?”51 Alas, it is far more straightforward than that. The castle clearly has a striking clock, that is, one that chimes the quarters as well as the hours, and the howls and bells are in complete accord, at least numerically. A bell is struck once at 11:15 p.m., twice at 11:30 p.m., thrice at 11:45 p.m., and four times at midnight before the hour is sounded (i.e., 4 + 12 = 16 separate strokes). Therefore, the mastiff and the clock inhabit the very same “temporality.” The poem is certainly rife with temporal uncertainties, but these are manifest in rapid shifts from the present connotations of the perfect tense (“have awakened”) to the resolutely past preterite (“crew”), transitions that (as Susan Eilenberg has remarked) render the relationship between the present and the past in the poem “uninterpretable.”52 This cautionary example highlights the perils of such interpretative undertakings.

The Curfew Bell

It is apparent, then, that horology had a profound impact on many aspects of the literature of the long eighteenth century, but it is less commonly acknowledged that literature sometimes had a potent effect upon contemporaneous time-telling practices and perceptions. This is evident in the pamphlet The Clockmakers Outcry against the Author of the Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy (1760). This wry text, purportedly written by an anonymous clockmaker (but possibly by Sterne himself), bewails the deleterious impact the association of sexual intercourse with clock maintenance had had on the trade:

[t]he directions I had for making several clocks for the country are countermanded; because no modest lady now dares to mention a word about winding-up a clock, without exposing herself to the sly leers and jokes of the family, to her frequent confusion.53

This may be pure satire, of course, but there are other less arch examples, and the discussion of Coleridge’s “Christabel” suggests one possible domain of inquiry, namely, the auditory aesthetics of temporality. Literary descriptions of the sounds produced by watches, clocks, and time-indicating bells reveal a great deal about the culture(s) that gave rise to them, and pioneering work in “sensory history” has recently shown the extent to which sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell have deep social dependencies.54 This research has accorded a new centrality to auditory phenomena particularly, a shift prompted, in part, by a growing interest in the use of public clocks and bells as temporal markers. As Mark Smith has noted, “[t]hroughout towns, sounds served to coordinate civic, political, economic, and social life” by functioning as “semiotic systems, helping people to locate themselves in space as well as time, with familiar sounds and their timing helping to establish the idea of community,” and Alain Corbin has brilliantly reconstructed the sensory impacts of the church bells rung in rural France during the nineteenth century.55 An additional layer of complexity is introduced, of course, when literary representations are scrutinized, and one surprisingly problematical sound merits careful attention, namely, the curfew bell.

When Thomas Percy included “The Ancient Ballad of Chevy-Chace” in his epochal Reliques of Ancient English Poetry (1765), he claimed that the lines “[ … ] when they rung the evening-bell, / The battle scarce was done” referred to “the Curfew bell, usually rung at 8 o’clock.”56 Joseph Ritson ridiculed this “egregious mistake,” and asserted that Percy had “confounded the vesper-bel with the curfew.”57 Such disagreements were unavoidable given the curfew bell’s long and convoluted history. From at least the twelfth century onward, it had sounded in villages, towns, and cities, at some point between 8:00 p.m. or 10:00 p.m. (the precise time varied from place to place and season to season). Originally, it signaled that domestic fires should be extinguished or raked over with ashes, hence, the etymology from the Norman French couvre feu.58 This inspired the long-held nationalistic conviction that the bell was “a badge of servitude.”59 James Thomson’s poem Liberty (1734) describes how “[t]he shivering Wretches, at the Curfew Sound / Dejected shrunk into their sordid Beds,” and Thomson condemns this “so dead so vile submission.”60 Similar themes emerged almost a century later in Hazlitt’s essay “On a Sun-dial” (1827): the curfew bell was “a great favourite” of Hazlitt’s because it recalled his childhood at Wem and brought to mind “the Norman warrior armed for the battle or in his festive hall, the conqueror’s iron rule and peasant’s lamp extinguished.”61 The sound caused his personal past to merge with a remote mythologized national past. However, the semantic import of the bell had changed drastically over the centuries. Rather than being oppressively cohortative, it came to denote merely one of “the boundaries of urban diurnal time,” and its role as a temporal marker is apparent in the literature of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.62 In King Lear, the pernoctations of “foul fiend Flibbertigibbet” are restricted temporally—“[h]e begins at curfew and walks till the first cock”—while, in Measure for Measure, Vicentio’s question “[w]ho call’d here of late?” elicits the response “[n]one, since the curfew rung.”63 Such references became richer and deeper from the mid-seventeenth century onward, and temporal demarcation ceases to be the sole connotation. Although (to use Mark Smith’s terminology) the “production” of the sound remained constant during this period, the “consumption” of it altered as it accumulated undertones of mournfulness, solemnity, and mortality.64 The assorted “elves” in The Tempest rejoice in “the solemn curfew” that indicates the approach of night (when their powers are most potent).65 And Milton may have had this phrase in mind when he wrote in Il Penseroso (1645):

  • Oft on a Plat of rising ground,
  • I hear the far-off Curfeu sound,
  • Over som wide-water’d shoar,
  • Swinging slow with sullen roar [ … ]66

Assuming the participle phrase in the last line modifies “sound” rather than “shoar,” then the curfew seemingly conveys solemnity.

These acquired connotations—of oppression, temporality, and solemnity—require us to listen again to Thomas Gray’s “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” (1751):

  • The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
  • The lowing herd wind slowly o’er the lea,
  • The ploughman homeward plods his weary way,
  • And leaves the world to darkness and to me.67

The sound is instantly transformed into a passing bell, which was rung “at the Departure of a dying Person,” for reasons of (superstitious) sanctity: evil spirits were deterred when tintinnabulations disturbed the air.68 Crucially, it did not signal an iterative periodic moment of time, so curfew bells and passing bells were semantically distinct, if acoustically similar—and this created the possibility for the analogical conflation.69 This mingling aroused the ire of Gray’s more campanologically savvy readers. By the 1780s he was already being criticized for his “slight mistake,” while John Mitford fulminated that “‘toll’ is not the appropriate verb; it was not a slow bell tolling for the dead,” and complained that “a knell is not tolled for the parting, but for the parted.”70 Despite such anxieties, Gray’s “Elegy” was widely anthologized from the 1750s onward, and its popularity ensured that other writers began to equate the acoustic and semantic qualities of the two bells. In The Minstrel; or the Progress of Genius (1771), James Beattie considered “the long-sounding curfew” to be “[l]oaded with loud lament,” and similar connections are found in an anonymous 1783 poem that describes a funeral when “[n]o passing knell the solemn curfew rung.”71 Shakespeare and Gray are fashionably blended here, and “curfew” and “knell” quickly became strong collocators. One of the couplets in Thomas Penrose’s “The Hermit’s Vision” (1787) runs as follows: “[n]o tinkling fold, no curfew’s parting knell / Struck the sequester’d Anchoret’s ear,” while the anonymous lament “Alnwick’s Condolence: A Pastoral Elegy” (1787) refers to “the Curfew’s knell.”72 By the 1790s, then, the associative convention was firmly established, and the dense network of acoustic and semantic interconnections peaked during the first half of the nineteenth century. While Wordsworth’s treatment of oppression in “The Norman Conquest” signals an awareness of Thomson’s Liberty, his phrase “the Curfew’s knell” undoubtedly nods toward Gray.73

So, curfew bells began to evoke death and mourning, rather than a periodic moment of diurnal time, and this poetical convention had a lasting impact on auditory aesthetics. In 1783 Hugh Blair stated that “[t]he deep sound of a great bell, or the striking of a great clock, are at any time grand; but, when heard amid the silence and stillness of the night, they become doubly so”; and, in a subsequent lecture, he noted specifically that the sound of the curfew bell prompts ideas “of a melancholy kind.”74 Another Scottish Enlightenment philosopher, Archibald Alison, similarly stressed the importance of context and prior experience. He described how a picturesque landscape at sunset receives “an addition” from “the circumstance of the evening bell,” the potency of this sound coming from its “melancholy and sadness.”75 Familiarity, though, is essential:

They who are not accustomed to the Curfew, and who are ignorant of its being the evening bell, and, as such, associated with all those images of tranquillity and peace, which render that season of the day so charming, feel nothing more from its sound, than from the sound of a bell at any other hour of the day.76

The curfew becomes associated with the dusk, but a person unfamiliar with the convention finds the ringing unremarkable. Crucially, however, although the sound of a tolling bell is “uniformly the same,” Alison recognized that accumulated associations could cause it to have “very different expressions”, and of all tintinnabulations, “[t]he passing bell, and the funeral bell, alone are sublime.”77 This statement seems free from ambiguity—until it is juxtaposed with the following passage:

All sounds [ … ] are Sublime, which are associated with Ideas of Majesty or Solemnity, or deep Melancholy, or any other strong Emotion: the Sound of the Trumpet, and all other warlike Instruments,—the Note of the Organ,—the Sound of the Curfew,—the tolling of the passing Bell, &c.78

How can curfew bells be sublime if passing bells and funeral bells alone possess sublimity? The latter achieve sublimity via association with death, but curfew bells appropriate these qualities vicariously, due merely to homophony. Passing bells (to borrow Sherman’s description) had “nothing to do with chronometry,” yet the signals mingled easily.79 The acoustic similarities alone could not have prompted this, since the sounds themselves had remained unchanged for many centuries. Alison himself suggests that the shift was not due to auditory physiology or acoustics: “[t]o the peasant the curfew is only the mark of the hour of the evening.”80 Therefore the sound of that particular bell must have been subjectively/perceptually transformed by acquired cultural (and specifically literary) sensibilities.

In an age of sentiment and sentimentalism, the reading of literature inevitably engendered a more nuanced responsiveness to auditory stimuli (as well as those associated with other modalities). Widely read descriptions of time-telling sounds influenced the way readers heard and responded to them, whether perceived aurally or silently (re)imagined. An appreciation of the funereal solemnity and majesty of the curfew bell denoted refinement in the auditor, and therefore the sound gradually ascended the hierarchy of acoustical aesthetics, until it eventually acquired the elusive characteristic of sublimity. This is just one of many ways in which literature exerted a powerful influence upon particular time-telling practices and perceptions during the long eighteenth century. This important topic has been inexplicably neglected in critical studies to date, and therefore still awaits the scholarly attention it so richly deserves.


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(1) David Thompson, Watches (London: British Museum Press, 2008), 11.

(2) Entry for May 13, 1665; Robert Latham and William Matthews, eds., The Diary of Samuel Pepys, 1665, reissued (London: HarperCollins, 2000), 101.

(3) Samuel L. Macey, The Dynamics of Progress: Time, Method, and Measure (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1989), xi.

(4) Andrew Janiak, ed., Newton: Philosophical Writings, rev. ed. (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 84.

(5) Leibniz to Samuel Clarke 1717, in Die philosophischen Schriften, vol. 7, edited by C. J. Gerhardt (Hildeshim, Germany: G. Olms, 1960–61), 363. George Berkeley, A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge, edited by Jonathan Dancy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), 138. See also E. J. Furlong, “On Being ‘Embrangled’ by Time,” in Berkeley: Critical and Interpretive Essays, edited by Colin Murphy Turbayne, 148–158 (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1982).

(6) Adrian Bardon, A Brief History of the Philosophy of Time (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 30–31; John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, edited by Peter Nidditch (Oxford: Clarendon, 1975), II.xiv.1.

(7) See Gary Hatfield, “Kant on the Perception of Space (and Time),” in The Cambridge Companion to Kant and Modern Philosophy, edited by Paul Guyer, 61–93 (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2006). See also Yitzhak Y. Melamed, “What Is Time?” in The Routledge Handbook of Eighteenth-Century Philosophy, edited by Aaron Garrett, 232–244 (Abingdon, U.K.: Routledge, 2014).

(8) Suzanne Guerlac, Thinking in Time: An Introduction to Henri Bergson (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2006); Peter Galison, Einstein’s Clocks and Poincaré’s Maps: The Empires of Time (New York: Norton, 2004).

(9) Aino Mökikalli, From Eternity to Time: Conceptions in Time in Daniel Defoe’s Novels (Bern, Switzerland: Peter Lang, 2007), 16; Samuel Richardson to Lady Bradshaigh, October 9, 1756, in Selected Letters of Samuel Richardson edited by John Carroll, 329 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1964). Henry Fielding wittily mocked Richardson’s methods in Shamela (1740): “Odsbobs! I hear him just coming in at the Door. You see I write in the present Tense.” Douglas Brooks-Davies and Martin C. Battestin, eds. Joseph Andrews, Shamela (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), [Letter VI] 318.

(10) Anne Steele, “To My Watch,” Miscellaneous Pieces in Verse and Prose by Theodosia (Bristol, U.K.: W. Pine, 1780), 106.

(11) Walter Savage Landor, “To My Watch” in Gebir, Count Julian, and Other Poems (London: E. Moxin, 1831), 300.

(13) Isabella Lickbarrow, Poetical Effusions (London: Kendal, 1814), 98. Other examples include Anon., “Lines Written on a Watch Paper Presented to a Lady,” The Aurora; or The Dawn of Genuine Truth (London, 1799), 91.

(14) René Descartes, The Philosophical Writings of Descartes. Vol.1, Treatise on Man, translated by John Cottingham, Robert Stoothoff, and Dugald Murdoch (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1985), 99–100.

(15) Samuel L. Macey, Clocks and the Cosmos: Time in Western Life and Thought. (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1980), 145–164.

(16) These Latin phrase mean “seize the day!” and “time flies,” respectively.

(17) Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “For a Clock in a Market-Place,” in The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Poetical Works I (Reading Text), edited by J. C. C. Mays, 862 (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2001). For his account, see the letter to Thomas Poole on October 9, 1809, in Collected Letters of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1807–1814, edited by Earl Leslie Griggs, 236 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1959). See also Timothy P. Enright, “Sing Mariner: Identity and Temporality in Coleridge’s ‘The Nightingale,”’ Studies in Romanticism 33(3) (1994): 481–501.

(19) Anon., Review of Coleridge’s Literary Remains, The Quarterly Review 59(117) (1836): 15.

(20) Theodore Baird, “The Time Scheme of Tristram Shandy and a Source,” Proceedings of the Modern Language Association 51 (1939): 803–820; Ian Watt, Introduction to the Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1965), vii–xlvii; Samuel L Macey, “The Linear and Circular Time Schemes in Sterne’s Tristram Shandy,” Notes and Queries 36(4) (1989): 477–479; Elizabeth Livingston Davidson, “Towards an Integrated Chronology of Tristram Shandy,” English Language Notes 29(4) (1992): 48–56; Jo Alyson Parker, “The Clockmakers Outcry: Tristram Shandy and the Complexification of Time,” in Disrupted Patterns: Chaos and Order in the Enlightenment, edited by Theodore E. D. Braun and John A. McCarthy, 147–160 (Amsterdam: Rodolpi, 2000).

(21) Laurence Sterne, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, vol. 1, edited by Melvyn New and Joan New (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1978), 4.13.341–342.

(22) Christoph Henke, “Self-Reflexivity and Common Sense in Tale of a Tub and Tristram Shandy,” in Self-Reflexivity in Literature, edited by Werner Huber, Martin Middeke, and Hubert Zapf, 31 (Würzburg, Germany: Königshausen & Naumann, 2005).

(23) Clark Lawlor, “Consuming Time: Narrative and Disease in Tristram Shandy,” in Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy: A Casebook, edited by Thomas Keymer, 147–149 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006).

(24) William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, edited by David V. Erdman, The Complete Poetry & Prose of William Blake (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981), 36; William Wordsworth, The Prelude: The 1805 Text, edited by Ernest de Selincourt, corrected by Stephen Gill (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1970), book XI, 258–260. See also Herbert Lindenberger, On Wordsworth’s “Prelude” (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1963).

(25) Percy Bysshe Shelley, Prometheus Unbound, in Shelley’s Poetry and Prose, edited by Donald H. Reiman and Neil Fraistat, 270 (New York: Norton, 2002).

(26) Stuart Curran, ed., The Cambridge Companion to British Romanticism (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 49; J. Robert Barth, Romanticism and Transcendence (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2003), 44.

(27) Nicholas Halmi, “Romanticism, the Temporalization of History, and the Historicization of Form,” Modern Language Quarterly 74(3) (2013): 369.

(28) Paul de Man, “The Rhetoric of Temporality,” reprinted in Blindness and Insight: Essays in the Rhetoric of Contemporary Criticism, 2d rev. ed. (London: Methuen, 1983), 222.

(29) See William C. Dowling, Ricoeur on Time and Narrative (Notre Dame, Ind.: Notre Dame Press, 2011).

(30) Stuart Sherman, Telling Time: Clocks, Diaries, and English Diurnal Form, 1660–1785 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996), 25.

(31) M. H. Abrams, The Mirror and the Lamp: Romantic Theory and the Critical Tradition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1953), 186.

(32) Samuel L. Macey, Patriarchs of Time: Dualism in Saturn-Chronus, Father Time, the Watchmaker God, and Father Christmas (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1987), 94; Macey, Clocks and the Cosmos, chap. 10; Macey, Dynamics of Progress, 54–57.

(33) Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism, edited by John Butt, The Poems of Alexander Pope (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1963), 144.

(34) John Suckling, The Works of Sir John Suckling, vol. 2 (London: Printed for T. Davies, 1770), 254. See also Marcus Tomalin, “The Intriguing Complications of Pocket Watches in the Literature of the Long Eighteenth Century,” Review of English Studies 66(274) (2014): 300–321.

(36) A. J. Turner, “‘The Accomplishment of Many Years’: Three Notes towards a History of the Sand-Glass,” Annals of Science 39(2) (1982): 161–172.

(37) Donald S. Johnson and Juha Nurminen, The History of Seafaring: Navigating the World’s Oceans (London: Anova, 2007), 159.

(38) H. W. Garrod, ed., Keats, Poetical Works, rpt. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989), 405–406.

(39) Marcus Tomalin “‘The most perfect instrument’: Reassessing Sundials in Romantic Literature,” Romanticism 21(1) (2015): 80–93.

(40) Benjamin Lewis Vulliamy, Some Considerations on the Subject of Public Clocks (London: B. McMillan, 1828), 2.

(41) Samuel Butler, Hudibras, edited by John Wilders (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1963), III.ii.173–176.

(42) Paul Glennie and Nigel Thrift, Shaping the Day: A History of Timekeeping in England and Wales, 1300–1800 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 26.

(43) A. R. Waller and Arnold Glover, eds., The Collected Works of William Hazlitt, Fugitive Writings (London: J. M. Dent, 1904), 52. See also Marcus Tomalin, “Ecological Horology,” in Romantic Ecocriticism: Origins and Legacies, edited by Dewey Hall (Plymouth, Mass.: Lexington, 2016).

(44) Christopher Miller, The Invention of Evening: Perception and Time in Romantic Poetry (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 15.

(45) Jeffrey Baker, Time and Mind in Wordsworth’s Poetry (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1980), 16.

(46) E. P. Thompson, “Time, Work-Discipline and Industrial Capitalism,” Past and Present 38 (1967): 56–97; Alexis McCrossen, Marking Modern Times: A History of Clocks, Watches, and Other Timekeepers in American Life (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013), 18.

(49) Richard Leigh, Poems (London: Andr. Clark, 1675), 23; Samuel Richardson, Clarissa, or the History of a Young Lady, vol. 7 (London: Printed for S. Richardson, 1748), 130; William Wordsworth, An Evening Walk: An Epistle; in Verse. Addressed to a Young Lady, from the Lakes of the North of England, in William Wordsworth: The Major Works, edited by Stephen Gill, 2 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000).

(50) See John Worthen, The Cambridge Introduction to Samuel Taylor Coleridge (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 26–27; Warren Stevenson, Romanticism and the Androgynous Sublime (London: Associated University Presses, 1996), 73–75; Derrick Attridge, Moving Words: Forms of English Poetry (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 161–162.

(51) Claire B. May, “‘Christabel’ and Abjection: Coleridge’s Narrative in Process / on Trial,” Studies in English Literature, 1500–1900 37(4) (Autumn 1997): 701.

(52) Susan Eilenberg, Strange Power of Speech: Wordsworth and Coleridge and Literary Possession (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), 102.

(53) Anonymous, The Clockmakers Outcry against the Author of the Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy (London: Printed for J. Burd, 1760), 42.

(54) Leigh Eric Schmidt, Hearing Things: Religion, Illusions, and the American Enlightenment (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2002); Alain Corbin, Village Bells: Sound and Meaning in the 19th-Century French Countryside, translated by Martin Thom (New York: Columbia University Press, 1998); Mark M. Smith, Listening to Nineteenth-Century America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001); Mark M. Smith, How Race Is Made: Slavery, Segregation, and the Senses (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006).

(55) Mark Smith, Sensory History (Oxford: Berg, 2007), 44. Corbin, Village Bells.

(56) Thomas Percy, Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, vol.1 (London: Nichol, 1765), 212.

(57) Joseph Ritson, A Select Collection of English Songs, vol.1 (London: Printed for J. Johnson, 1783), ccxxx; Joseph Ritson, Ancient English Metrical Romanceës (London: W. Bulmer, 1802), 262.

(58) The phrase “curfew bell” was occasionally used to refer to the morning bell (William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, iv.4, 4). It could also refer to the implement used to cover the fire; see William Hone, The Every-Day Book and Table Book, vol. 1 (London: Published for T. Tegg, 1830), 244.

(59) Anon., The Penny Cyclopaedia of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, vol. 8 (London, 1837), entry for “Curfew.”

(60) James Thomson, “Liberty,” in James Thomson: Liberty, The Castle of Indolence and Other Poems, edited by James Sambrook, 112 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1986).

(62) Victor Morgan, “A Ceremonious Society: An Aspect of Institutional Power in Early Modern Norwich,” in Institutional Culture in Early Modern Society, edited by Anne Goldgar and Robert I. Frost, 149 (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill Academic, 2004). See also Robert Burton, A New View, and Observations on the Ancient and Present State of London and Westminster (London, Printed for A. Bettesworth and C. Hitch, 1730), 189.

(63) William Shakespeare, King Lear ii.4, 1910–1911; Measure for Measure, iv.2, 72.

(64) Mark Smith, “Producing Sense, Consuming Sense, Making Sense: Perils and Prospects for Sensory History,” Journal of Social History 40(4) (Summer 2007): 841.

(65) William Shakespeare, The Tempest, v.i, 2061.

(66) Barbara Lewalski and Estelle Haan, eds., The Complete Works of John Milton, vol. 3, The Shorter Poems (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 34.

(67) Thomas Gray, “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard,” in The Complete Poems of Thomas Gray, edited by H. W. Starr and R. R. Hendrickson, 37 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1972).

(68) Nathan Bailey, An Universal Etymological English Dictionary, 5th ed. (1731), entry for “knell.”

(69) The analogy was partly inspired by Dante’s “squilla di lontano” that “paia il giorno pianger che si more” (“the distant bell” that “seems to mourn the day that dies”). Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri, vol. 2, Purgatorio, edited and translated by Robert M. Durling (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), 126 (canto 8, lines 5–6).

(70) John Mitford, ed., The Works of Thomas Gray (London, 1836), cxi. In practice, the conventions for the ringing of passing bells varied considerably from place to place, and sometimes they were indeed rung as the moment of death approached. See, Clare Gittings, Death, Burial, and the Individual (London: Routledge, 1984), 133.

(71) James Beattie, The Minstrel; or the Progress of Genius (London, 1771), 19. See also David Hill Radcliffe, “Completing James Beattie’s The Minstrel,” Studies in Philology 100(4) (2003): 534–563. Anon., “To the Memory of Mr. Cr—P—N,” The Gentleman’s Magazine 53 (February 1783): 158.

(72) Thomas Penrose, “The Hermit’s Vision,” The Town and Country Magazine 14 (1782): 327; Anon., “Alnwick’s Condolence: A Pastoral Elegy,” The Berwick Museum 3 (1787): 138. This text was written in memory of the Duke of Northumberland and in imitation of Henry Lucas’s The Tears of Alnwick: A Pastoral Elegy (London, 1776), which had memorialized the deceased Duchess of Northumberland.

(73) Geoffrey Jackson, ed., Sonnet Series and Itinerary Poems, 1820–1845 (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2004), 156.

(74) Hugh Blair, Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres, edited by Linda Ferreira-Buckley and S. Michael Halloran (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2005), 27, 460.

(75) Archibald Alison, On the Nature and Principles of Taste (Edinburgh: Constable, 1790), 30.