The Madness of a Multitude’: Insanity, People and Prose

  • Allan Ingram
  • Michelle Faubert


‘Cowper came to me’, wrote William Blake in around 1819, nearly twenty years after the earlier poet’s death,

and said “O that I were insane always. I will never rest. Can you not make me truly insane? I will never rest till I am so. O that in the bosom of God I was hid. You retain health and yet are as mad as any of us all — over us all — mad as a refuge from unbelief — from Bacon, Newton and Locke.”1


Eighteenth Century Cultural Construction Young Gentleman Moral Insanity Domestic Hearth 
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  1. 1.
    William Blake, ‘Notes on Spurzheim’s “Observations on the Deranged Manifestations of the Mind, or Insanity”’, 1819, in Blake: Complete Writings, ed. Geoffrey Keynes, London: Oxford University Press, 1966, p. 772.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Joseph Warton, Adventurer 109 (1753), in The British Essayists, ed. Robert Lynam, vols XIV-XVI, London, J. F. Dove, 1827, XV, 182.Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    Joseph Warton, Essay on Pope (1756), p. v,Google Scholar
  4. cited in Irvin Ehrenpreis, Swift: The Man, His Works, and the Age, 3 vols, vol 2, Dr Swift, London: Methuen, 1967 (1983 edn), p. 25.Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    Cited in Max Byrd, Visits to Bedlam, Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1974, p. 63; see also my discussion of this passage in The Madhouse of Language: Writing and Reading Madness in the Eighteenth Century, London: Routledge, 1991, pp. 14–15.Google Scholar
  6. 9.
    Cited in Michael Davis, William Blake: A New Kind of Man, London: Paul Elek, 1977, p. 94.Google Scholar
  7. 10.
    James Boswell, Boswell’s Column, 1777–1783, ed. Margery Bailey, London: William Kimber, 1951, pp. 388, 25. For discussion of one significant occasion when Boswell’s writing breaks ranks see my Patterns of Madness in the Eighteenth Century, p. 123. The essay is reprinted pp. 126–8.Google Scholar
  8. 11.
    Richard Steele, The Lucubrations of Isaac Bickerstaff, Esq (The Tatler), London: H. Lintot et al, 1749 edn., 4 vols, 1.239–40.Google Scholar
  9. 16.
    Joseph Addison and Richard Steele, The Spectator, ed. C. Gregory Smith, London: Dent Dutton, 1945, 4 vols, 1.75–6.Google Scholar
  10. 24.
    Henry Fielding, The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling (1749),CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. ed. Martin C. Battestin and Fredson Bowers, The Wesley an Edition of the Works of Henry Fielding, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1974, 2 volumes, II, 637.Google Scholar

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© Allan Ingram 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Allan Ingram
  • Michelle Faubert

There are no affiliations available

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