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Title: The life and works of Gilbert Stuart, 1743-86 : a social and literary study
Author: Zachs, William J.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1989
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This thesis comprises a study of the life and works of Gilbert Stuart (1743-86). In nine chapters it chronologically charts his varied career as an historian, literary reviewer, editor, pamphleteer, and political commentator. In doing so, it ventures to discern the meaning of his political and religious views, the significance of his historical and critical approach, and the nature of his character. Stuart is known, if at all, for challenging some of the leading literary and political figures in Scotland: among them David Hume, Lord Monboddo, William Robertson, and Henry Dundas. He is regarded as a disappointed and dissipated hack writer who was motivated by personal animosity and financial gain. As a consequence, his writings have been rather hastily dismissed. No attempt is made to vindicate Stuart's character. It is intended, however, to look beyond dismissive remarks in order to discover the significance of his life and works. An assessment of his output, placed in an appropriate context (intellectual, social, literary, and/or political), reveals a more detailed picture of the Scottish Enlightenment and of eighteenth-century culture generally. In a twenty-year career, Stuart wrote six historical works, over three hundred literary reviews, and a number of pamphlets and political articles. Some have been briefly noted for their perceptive remarks on subjects. More often they are cited for the severity of their attack on William Robertson, the Principal of the University and leader of the powerful Moderate Party of the Church of Scotland. From an account of his early years, Stuart might have been regarded as a promising candidate for Robertson's inner circle of Scottish literati. He was the son of an Edinburgh University Professor, educated as a lawyer, and by his early twenties had written a well-received 'conjectural' work on English constitutional history. What Stuart wanted above all was the security and prestige of a professorship at the University. In the first part of his career as an independent writer, he worked towards this goal by supporting Robertson and his Moderate policies. In 1778 Stuart was denied the Professorship of Public Law. He attributed this failure to Robertson and consequently commenced an attack on him. On the one hand, this vituperativeness caused Stuart to undermine the scholarship and impartiality of his views. On the other, it resulted in stylistic and methodological innovations which entitle his writings to credit.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available