By Malcolm Kelsall (auth.)
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Additional resources for Literary Representations of the Irish Country House: Civilisation and Savagery under the Union
Her concern was with a philosophy of history – as illustrated by the symbolic use of place – not with the turmoil and the mire of war, party politics and the agitation of the masses. A direct comparison between two country houses in Ennui serves to flesh out these hypotheses. One, Sherwood Park, is in England, the other, Glenthorn Castle, in Ireland. A fundamental and traditional country house motif establishes the symbolic signification of Sherwood Park. ’ remarks ‘one among the party of strangers’ visiting the pleasure grounds of Sherwood Park, or as Pope put it, ‘Happy the man whose wish and care’ is bound by his paternal acres.
That would be an absurd parochialism. The unionist context of the school of Edgeworth, however, cannot be so readily marginalised. On the contrary, the résumé of Spenser and Davies has emphasised how much the imposition of the country house order upon Ireland was intrinsic to the anglicisation/Europeanisation of the island. Indeed that process was bound up in the emergence of what Young designated as civilisation. In 1800, the Edgeworths themselves were unionist by conviction (although opposed to the manner in which it was instituted).
III, 276–7) If one compares this exordium to that of Young approaching Mitchelstown, there is a striking difference between Young’s emphasis on civilisation as emergent from barbarianism and the progression of Hall’s text from Ireland to the whole ‘civilised world’. Ireland and civilisation are now unified, and the engine of that unification is this country house, ‘the residence of high intellect, industry, well-directed genius and virtue’. The claim is carried to extremes, for apart from the slight check of a ‘perhaps’, this house is claimed to possess a ‘larger moral interest than any other in the kingdom’.
Literary Representations of the Irish Country House: Civilisation and Savagery under the Union by Malcolm Kelsall (auth.)