Mercenaries in British and American Literature, 1790–1830
The presence in Romantic-era literature of the mercenary is historically important, but often neglected. This book proposes the mercenary as a focal point for transatlantic analysis in both American and European contexts. The mercenary of popular imagination disregards patriotic feeling in contracting to serve whatever commander will pay well. Like the slave, the mercenary ends up obeying a master with no claim of national, religious, or familial affiliation. The mercenary's choice to serve an alien master (often by crossing the Atlantic) thus stands at once for the overindulgence of freedom and the failure to appreciate its value. Substantial primary research underpins an argument with suggestive metaphorical and symbolic implications traced through a range of writing by Charles Brockden Brown, James Fenimore Cooper, Walter Scott, Jane Austen, Byron and Charlotte Smith.