By Mary Jean Corbett
Corbett explores fictional and nonfictional representations of Ireland's dating with England through 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 through Edgeworth, Gaskell, and Trollope, and writings via Burke, Engels, and Mill, in the various historic contexts that form them. She revises the serious orthodoxies surrounding colonial discourse that at the moment succeed in Irish and English reports, and provides a clean viewpoint on vital features of Victorian tradition.
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Extra resources for Allegories of Union in Irish and English Writing, 1790-1870: Politics, History, and the Family from Edgeworth to Arnold
Also assigning a subversive agency to Thady’s acts and consciousness, other critics read his designs as challenging those they attribute to his creator, representing Edgeworth’s project, by contrast with Thady’s, as a deliberate eﬀort to clear away the crumbling ground of the eighteenth-century Irish order so as to introduce in its place a rational and enlightened alternative to misrule. ³⁶ 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.
Upon that body and stock of inheritance we have taken care not to inoculate any cyon alien to the nature of the original plant’’ (–). Against innovation, revolution, and the hybridity they breed, Burke proposes patrilineal inheritance as the only natural and just means of insuring economic and political continuity and reproducing it over time. As J. G. A. Pocock argues, in ‘‘[making] the state not only a family but a trust . . ⁵ Burke’s concern here is to furnish ‘‘a sure principle of conservation and a sure principle of transmission, without at all excluding a principle of improvement’’ (); while he does not rule out political change and economic expansion, the two watchwords of the rising bourgeoisie with which he is in some respects allied, Burke yet hopes to control the momentum of both by restraining them within the ﬁrmly established bounds of what he calls a ‘‘family settlement’’ ().
He draws most explicitly on the aﬀective relations of the familial realm for his model of how to contain the anarchic energies he associates with both the revolutionary French and the rising bourgeois English, ‘‘the men of ability’’: ‘‘we have given to our frame of polity the image of a relation in blood, binding up the constitution of our country with our dearest domestic ties, adopting our fundamental laws into the bosom of our family aﬀections, keeping inseparable and cherishing with the warmth of all their combined and mutually reﬂected charities our state, our hearths, our sepulchres, and our altars’’ ().
Allegories of Union in Irish and English Writing, 1790-1870: Politics, History, and the Family from Edgeworth to Arnold by Mary Jean Corbett