A year before Wordsworth’s ‘Tintern Abbey’, Wollstonecraft defines the Romantic Poet. Beginning like a periodical piece, laughing at how city people go to the country but don’t actually bother to go outdoors, it then tackles the curse of the inauthentic response in a ‘more advanced state of civilisation’.
She takes issue with Johnson’s definition of ‘genius’, suggests more originality is needed to read nature than a poem, and concludes that the intellect must now return us to feeling. A surprise ending adds that the men who appreciate nature are probably also those who mistakenly prefer sensual romance to ‘affectionate friendship’.
Related recommendation: Johnson’s ‘Rambler No.135 [On the folly of annual retreats to the country]’ (July 1751)
Themes: Nature or Architecture/ Material Environment, Manners and Conversation
Genres: Critical, Periodical