First published in 1799, George Walker’s The Vagabond was an immediate popular success. Offering a vitriolic critique of post-Bastille Jacobinism and sansculotte-style mob rule, its true-to-life satirical portraits of many of the radical men and women who fought in the forefront of the “British Revolution” are nonetheless full of playful banter and farce. With swipes at Hume, Rousseau, Godwin, Wollstonecraft, and Paine; the French Revolution; and the ideas of the noble savage, natural virtue, liberty, equality, and romantic primitivism, The Vagabond offers a unique cross-section of 1790s radicalism.
This Broadview edition contains a critical introduction and a wide selection of primary source materials that situate the novel in the context of the revolutionary debate of the 1790s. Appendices include contemporary reviews of the novel and excerpts from the writings of a variety of radicals and reactionaries engaged in the debate, such as Hume, Rousseau, Paine, Thelwall, Wollstonecraft, Godwin, Burke, Playfair, Malthus, and Cobbett, among many others.
“The Vagabond is a vibrant counterrevolutionary polemic that illuminates a wide range of political controversy in the 1790s—the French Revolution crisis, domestic reform, transatlantic emigration, and the era's heated debates on human nature and its troubling propensity for violence. This accessible edition brings to life for modern readers the novel's turbulent political and philosophical contexts through its wide-ranging introduction and well-researched set of contemporary materials. Expertly edited and vividly presented through these contemporary contexts, The Vagabond is a must-read for those interested in the popular phenomenon of the conservative Romantic-period novel.” — Adriana Craciun, Birkbeck College, University of London
“W.M. Verhoeven’s edition of George Walker’s The Vagabond is an essential text for scholars and readers of eighteenth-century and Romantic literature. Verhoeven’s erudite introduction and notes contextualize the anti-Jacobin novel, covering British history and culture from the Glorious Revolution through the Gordon Riots into the revolutionary and post-revolutionary nineties, and his appendices provide valuable material for an understanding of just what was at stake in the period.” — Carol Houlihan Flynn, Tufts University