Regency Trolls

In the August 1818 volume of La Belle Assemblee, the Listener, who never revealed his true identity, nevertheless admits:

“I have ever regarded the anonymous letter-writer in the same light as I do an assassin who stabs in the dark.”

Nevertheless, he addresses himself almost always to anonymous writers.

English walking dress featured in La Belle Assemblee, October 1818: "Garter purple poplin pelisse, ornamented with black velvet. Mary Scot bonnet and Waterloo half boots.

English walking dress featured in La Belle Assemblee, October 1818: “Garter purple poplin pelisse, ornamented with black velvet. Mary Scot bonnet and Waterloo half boots.

These supplicants, he explains, are very different. They cringe from identifying themselves because of the trouble they find themselves in. They:

“..are a far more different temperament from those miserable beings to whom I allude. They write to me for advice, they lash, in a good-humoured way…”

What of  those  critics who adopted obvious pseudonyms in Regency-era literary reviews? The Leopard and the Scorpion, for instance, who’ve been subjects of this blog in the past?

They were assassins, too, but they stabbed in broad daylight.

No, it is the anonymous writer who deliberately seeks out publicity with the sole  intent to wound that the Listener despises. This malcontent “vents his spleen” and “pours forth her venom” in order to make mischief and sow discord.

“Anonymous” in this regard criticizes an artist’s character (rather than his work) , wrecks marriages, breaks up romantic engagements and sets children against their parents.

The signature of this troll, whether it be Incognito or Ivan the Terrible, is a “dirty mantle.”

“Beware my sting, I inflict it unseen; for Cowardice and Malignancy are my parents; and Envy my instructress and nurse!”

 

 

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