Melton prior Institut


Linton- Life in the Collections

Michael Scrivener:

56) Seditious Allegories. John Thelwall & Jacobin Writing.

Pennsylvania 2001

There are numerous studies on the era of British Jacobinism and its religious dissenter background. The most influential being Iain McCalman’s Radical Underworld: Prophets, Revolutionaries, and Pornographers in London, 1795-1840 (1988), Jon Mee’s Dangerous Enthusiasm (1992) and David Worrall’s Radical Culture. Discourse, Resistance and Surveillance (1992). All these surveys are centred around the reclusive existence of William Blake and his outgoing counterpart, the Jacobin pamphleteer Thomas Spence and his followers from the London Corresponding Society. Michael Scrivener however portrays a less noted character from the Spencean precincts, the Jacobin orator, speech therapist and poet John Thelwall. In terms of literary scope and inventiveness, Thelwall was the figure in this early stage of British Radicalism who had been most similar to Linton. Comparable to him was also Thelwall’s role as an agent between the separated circles of political activists and the literary and artistic establishment. The fact that there are barely outspoken references of the Chartist generation to their Jacobin precursors, especially from the Spencean circles, is conspicuous and requires further investigations.