By Mary Jean Corbett
Corbett explores fictional and nonfictional representations of Ireland's courting 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 via Edgeworth, Gaskell, and Trollope, and writings through Burke, Engels, and Mill, in the various old contexts that form them. She revises the serious orthodoxies surrounding colonial discourse that at the moment be triumphant in Irish and English reports, and provides a clean point of view on very important 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
We wished at the period of Allegories of Union in Irish and English writing the  Revolution, and do now wish, to derive all we possess as an inheritance from our forefathers. 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.
Not surprisingly, then, Burke ﬁgures the worst excesses of the revolutionaries as a threat of uncontained female sexuality that could destroy Burke, Edgeworth, and Ireland in the s all traditional ties. This threat can only be rebuﬀed by the renewal of those ‘‘two principles’’ that have inspired ‘‘all the good things which are connected with manners and with civilization’’: ‘‘the spirit of a gentleman and the spirit of religion’’ (). Burke connects the laxity of French morals with the overthrow of paternal right: All other people have laid the foundations of civil freedom in severer manners and a system of a more austere and masculine morality.
The very circumstances that Burke construes as producing Irish disaﬀection and diﬀerence – sometimes conveniently forgotten, sometimes strategically remembered by his nineteenth-century heirs – would be represented in many subsequent texts as attributable only to the racial, national, gendered character of the Irish themselves. When Burke looked at Ireland from his imperial vantage point, he saw Irish vulnerability to France and to sectarian conﬂict stemming from disaﬀection below, exploitation above, and especially from the absence of a stabilizing middle.
Allegories of Union in Irish and English Writing, 1790-1870: Politics, History, and the Family from Edgeworth to Arnold by Mary Jean Corbett