Such laments resonated among Romantic writers, who lived through this first age of public surveillance. In lectures delivered in February 1795, the twenty-two-year-old Coleridge used similar rhetoric, accusing Pitt’s “system of spies and informers” of destroying social confidence. He also observed that, worryingly, the population had internalized Pitt's logic of suspicion:
We have breathed so long the atmosphere of Imposture and Panic, that many honest minds have caught an aguish disorder; in their cold fits they shiver at Freedom, in their hot fits they turn savage against its advocates. Conciones ad Populum; or, Addresses to the People (1795), p. 49.
“Now wherefore thus …
does this poor woman go.
O wherefore? wherefore? tell me why”
“I cannot tell; I wish I could;
For the true reason no one knows ...”
“But that she goes to this old Thorn …
which I described to you,
I will be sworn is true ...”
“But what’s the Thorn? and what the pond?
And what the hill of moss to her?”
“More know I not, I wish I did,
And it should all be told to you …”