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Commemorating PeterlooViolence, Resilience, and Claim-making during the Romantic Era$
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Michael Demson and Regina Hewitt

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474428569

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474428569.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 04 July 2022

Political Suicide: Castlereagh, Rebellion and Self-Directed Violence

Political Suicide: Castlereagh, Rebellion and Self-Directed Violence

(p.160) Chapter 7 Political Suicide: Castlereagh, Rebellion and Self-Directed Violence
Commemorating Peterloo

Michelle Faubert

Edinburgh University Press

Attention to the violence of the Peterloo Massacre of 1819 usually focuses on that of the soldiers who attacked the peaceful protesters gathered to demand equal representation and workers' rights. However, this chapter demonstrates that the event and its aftermath brought into sharp focus the intense concern with, and conflicting attitudes towards, self-directed violence and its ultimate expression, suicide, in Romantic-era Britain. Self-directed violence met with a variety of legal and cultural responses in the long eighteenth-century, but it was often presented sympathetically as a courageous political act that asserted individual autonomy in the face of implacable tyranny in Romantic literature. This theme was threatened, however, when Viscount Castlereagh - Conservative defender in the House of Commons of the government's attack at Peterloo, and the very figure of despotism in the period - slit his own throat with a pen knife in 1822.

Keywords:   suicide, Castlereagh, Viscount (Robert Stewart), Peterloo, Byron, Lord (George Gordon), Don Juan, epigrams, violence, Shelley, Percy Bysshe, Mask of Anarchy, England in 1819

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