-Unitarianism is centred around personal experience. There is a high value
placed on human intellect, reason and intuition.
-Unitarianism has had a very difficult past, struggling against various
other religious groups in Britain.
THESIS: Evidence of Barbauld's Unitarian faith in her poem 'Corsica'.
1. Social and political pressure against Unitarians, caused Barbauld to be
constantly under attack and needing defend her belief system. Her strength
under such attacks probably strengthened her political opinions as well.
Barbauld was taught to exercise her freedom of mind through religious
persecution, and 'Corsica' is a poem chalk full of political opinions.
2. Barbauld could easily relate to the Corsican people, as she belonged to a
small group which struggled against a larger group - like Corsica against
3. In 'Corsica', Barbauld mentions individual people a few times (Paoli,
James Boswell and the poet, herself). This indicates the poet's awareness
of the role of the individual in politics. This awareness may arise from
the importance of the individual in Unitarianism.
4. Paoli is described as almost Christ-like in 'Corsica'. Barbauld's
portrait of Paoli, may have been strongly influenced by the great value
placed on the individual in Unitarianism, as well as the fact that
Unitarians think that Christ was a supreme human, not God.
5. In the 18th C. Anthology the editors write:
'Barbauld's Unitarian beliefs inform much of her writing. In rejecting the
doctrine of the trinity in favour of the unipersonality of God, Unitarianism
stressed the abiding goodness of human nature, and saw the figure of God the
Father as subsuming Jesus Christ's love and the Holy Spirit's universality,
so as to become a single all-embracing force ('GOD is seen in all and all in
GOD...Wrought in each flower, inscrib'd in evry tree' (Address to the Deity
- 1767, 56)
-Nature is very important in Barbauld's Corsica, exalted to an almost
ethereal level, as though Barbauld sees God in nature and in other small
details noted throughout the poem (like the hamlets in lines 44 & 45).
6.The importance of the individual in Unitarianism (including women as
individuals)--or Barbauld's position as a female poet--or the fact that
traditionally certain qualities are consistently feminized--may have all
contributed to Barbauld's feminizing both LIBERTY and VIRTUE.