By Mary Jean Corbett
Corbett explores fictional and nonfictional representations of Ireland's courting with England in the course of the 19th century. She considers the makes use of of familial and family metaphors in structuring narratives that enact the ''union'' of britain and eire. Corbett situates her readings of novels by means of Edgeworth, Gaskell, and Trollope, and writings by way of Burke, Engels, and Mill, in the various old contexts that form them. She revises the severe orthodoxies surrounding colonial discourse that at the moment be successful in Irish and English reports, and provides a clean standpoint on very important facets of Victorian tradition.
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Extra info for Allegories of Union in Irish and English Writing, 1790-1870: Politics, History, and the Family from Edgeworth to Arnold
My reading of Edgeworth’s position suggests, rather, that we need to historicize her work within the context provided by the Burkean reading of eighteenth-century Ireland. In that frame, we may assess it as an eﬀort to construct a mediating stance that would bridge the gap between what had been and what she thought could be: a colonial project, to be sure, but one that is deﬁned against both those that preceded it and some of those contemporary with it. The contours of Edgeworth’s project are shaped in good part by her family’s anomalous position as liberal Anglo-Irish landlords in late eighteenth-century Ireland.
On the sanctity of this private entity rests public, national, and imperial security. The prophylactic rhetoric of the Reﬂections therefore depends on representing the best means of English resistance to the French disease as the patriarchal, property-bearing family, construed as the natural and proper school for attaching individuals ﬁrst to their own ‘‘little platoon’’ (), and second to the broader family of the state. ’’¹⁹ What France threatens to become in its breaking of the patriarchal compact, Burke is determined England shall never be: but closer to home, the sister kingdom presents an even more striking model for how the subversion of order that Burke associates in the Reﬂections with English radicalism and French Jacobinism has already produced chronic disaﬀection in Ireland.
Ireland, locally, civilly, and commercially independent, ought politically to look up to Great Britain in all matters of peace and of War’’ (Writings and Speeches ). A vital factor in the empire, Anglo-Ireland was said to control its own sphere of aﬀairs, yet had of necessity to bow to the dominating patriarch who sanctioned and circumscribed that control in its own imperial interests. But Burke’s comments to Bingham also register the signiﬁcant barriers to Irish recognition of English supremacy, for from the point of view of more than one dissenting Irish interest in the s and s, English sovereignty over Ireland was read precisely as a matter of ‘‘force, or tyranny’’; nor could ‘‘long usage,’’ by which he refers to the doctrine of prescription, really be said to apply to a country in which conquest had to be perennially renewed, a point that Burke himself would make at critical moments in the s.
Allegories of Union in Irish and English Writing, 1790-1870: Politics, History, and the Family from Edgeworth to Arnold by Mary Jean Corbett