[From The Coleridge Bulletin 11 (Spring 1998)]
The Lyrical Ballads in Wicklow
Jim Mays, University College Dublin
If I raise my eyes from the table on which I am writing, I see through the window a scene which is not unlike the view of Aisholt Common across from Durborough Farm—a scene I also have beside me on a postcard bought at Cannington a year ago. There are sheep in the foreground, fields drop down to a wooded bottom and rise again through more trees to high hills on which deer roam. I am in shadow, looking at a landscape bathed in watery sun. There are more trees in the hedgerows in my real-life view, I know the soil is not red and is more acid, the breed of the sheep differs and the hedgerows are less tidy. The facing hill is more rugged and is crowned with rocky outcrops. The valley is too deep to make use of television or cellular phones, and there are as few neighbours.
Coleridge wanted to live at Aisholt when he returned from Germany, though his wife wouldn't stand for it, (1) and now I live in a similar place. The present situation may be congenial because it resembles the valley where I spent my first seventeen years. I was born in Combe Martin and went to school near South Molton, where Coleridge's father took charge of his first school and where he was ordained into the Anglican church; also where, at Molland, he discovered Ann Bowden, who became Sam's mother. I like to think in sentimental moments that I find Coleridge specially congenial because we were born in the same county, made out of the same mud. Lyrical Ballads has a special place in my liking because it is filled with Coleridge's sense of rediscovering home. The county border does not mean much as far as I am concerned. Foreigners begin somewhere before Bristol to the north and beyond Salisbury to the east.
However, there are differences between what I am looking at and such a country of the mind. Here is not there and the history of County Wicklow is not English. The landscape outside the window looks and feels almost like home, but 1798 will be celebrated here for different reasons than in Somerset. Reading Lyrical Ballads in Ballycullen does not make such a dramatic difference as reading Wordsworth in the tropics, (2) but it certainly puts a different spin on the enterprise and suggests different reasons for valuing the poems. I think the implications of the Wicklow bicentennial celebrations help define Wordsworth's and Coleridge's experiment.
What was happening in these surrounding hills and woods in 1798 was open rebellion. Counties Wexford and Carlow had pitched battles but Wicklow had the largest membership of United Irishmen, calculated during that spring at 14,000. (3) Because of such alarming numbers and also because the county justiciary was reckoned too liberal to be depended on, (4) the Dublin authorities instigated a proactive policy of savage counter-insurgency under military control and thereby dictated the pattern of events in the county. Following a declaration of "free quarters" on 30 March, troops and yeoman militia ransacked the countryside for arms. In the weeks while Coleridge and the Wordsworths were walking in Holford Glen and drinking tea, having their portraits painted and writing poems like "Lewti" and "We Are Seven", Captain Joseph Hardy was in hot pursuit of Wicklow rebels, punishing those he caught with half-hanging and pitch-capping. (5) The day Wordsworth is reckoned to have written "Expostulation and Reply" (23 May) is the day the general rising was planned to take place and on which the rebels massacred the garrison at Prosperous in nearby Kildare. The day afterwards (24 May) thirty-five rebel prisoners at Dunlavin, in Wicklow, were lined up on the green and shot; and so events proceeded. On the day Cottle took the manuscript of Lyrical Ballads back to Bristol (30 May), the rebels attacked the main encampment of troops at Newtown Mount Kennedy, along the road from where I am sitting. The day after that, "vast numbers" of rebels were cleared from the valley behind me (the Devil's Glen) and the forest which afforded them shelter was burned out in the process. (6)
Following set-piece and bloody battles further south, and a rising in Antrim during June, the end of country-wide rebellion came in the month Lyrical Ballads was published. The battle of Killala was fought in Mayo on 23 September while Coleridge and Wordsworth were sight-seeing in Hamburg. It is important that the violence and disruption took place in a country which was then closer to England, paradoxically, than after the 1801 Union, which put Ireland in a limbo for the next hundred years. Irish people at the time mixed on more equal terms than later; mixed so naturally that it does not matter that Coleridge's friend, John Morgan, or Hazlitt's father were Irish. What happened in 1798 was therefore not to be dismissed as someone else's business—or, as Wellington might have put it, as happening in someone else's stable. And in Wicklow the last rebels did not surrender until 1803, by which time a series of military roads had been built across the hills. It was not a single summer of madness.
It is also important that the rebellion was not a sectarian event and is distinct from later, nationalist risings. Orangeism was born in 1793 as part of an attempt to divide and weaken the radical movement. The radicals or United Irishmen contained protestants as well as catholics, especially among their leaders, and as many if not more protestants from Ulster than elsewhere. Nationalism became associated with catholicism, and protestantism with loyalism, only from about the time of the '98 rising, and rapidly when the movement for Emancipation developed under O'Connell. (7) Similarly, the kind of Irish nationalism which makes the headlines today developed later in the nineteenth century, especially after the Young Ireland movement of the 1840s. The radical movements of the 1790s were for the most part non-sectarian and non-cultural. That is, in R.B.McDowell's words, "though Irish radicals bitterly criticised Englishmen in general, and their conduct towards Ireland in particular, they did not employ cultural arguments for separation." (8) The United Irishmen looked for support to English radicals on common terms, not to a separate Gaelic past.
The year 1798 has since become a rallying-cry in Ireland—"Who fears to speak of 98?" is the first line of a New Ireland poem, The Year of the French is the title of an American-Irish novel (9)—but sorting out the attitudes involved is as difficult as digging out Romantic values from beneath the Victorian, sentimental overlay. The United Irishman demand for equal rights has to be extricated from under the movement for national self-determination, patriotism distinguished from nationalism. The attitudes are intrinsically difficult to understand because they appear mixed and even contradictory. A retrospective caricature often prevails because it is easier to grasp.
As an example, take attitudes towards the picturesque, since County Wicklow quickly established itself as the locale of sites which were conveniently to hand and contained the standard ingredients. The short tour went as follows. Southwards from the city of Dublin, past a succession of demesnes laid out on Brownian principles (Thomas Leggatt's Stillorgan Park being the most spectacular), (10) the traveller went from Bray up the Dargle valley (rocky river, wooded, ferney) to Enniskerry and Powerscourt (dramatic waterfall in a deer park landscaped by Edmund Murphy), then to Bellevue (landscaped by Peter Shanley in the Brownian style, with a 264-foot glasshouse and sea and hills beyond) and perhaps back round through Kilruddery to inspect the seventeenth-century gardens.
The longer version of the tour continued across more difficult terrain to Roundwood (Luggala, "a cottage mansion in the pointed style", at remote Lough Tay), Glendalough (round tower and celtic antiquities in dim valley with lakes), the Vale of Avoca (wooded valley, rushing water), Glenmalure (savage grandeur). The other Irish tours —to Killarney in the west (impressive juxtaposition of lakes amid mountains) and to Antrim in the north (Giant's Causeway phenomenon)—required considerably more preparation and outlay for individual effects but less variety.
However, at the same time that tourists emerged from Dublin with Claude glasses in their reticules, the notorious Ancient British light fencible cavalry (Ancient Britons), stationed at Bray and Newtown, were engaged in clearing-up operations in the very same districts. Roundwood, on the way to Glendalough, was the home of the rebel leader, Joseph Holt, and where the rebels were most concentrated. Glenmalure, where the Critchley mansion at Ballyboy was burned out along with a model woollen factory at Greenane, (11) is where another leader, Michael Dwyer, held out for a further five years. The situation is decidedly odd in a way which made the experience of Wicklow picturesque different from that of the Wye Valley, North Wales or the Lake District. And the oddity is reflected in the way it is recorded, as if aesthetic pleasure and political upheaval could exist side by side in separate worlds.
Charles Wolfe (1791-1823) wrote poems which celebrated harps and the rebels on the hills ("Farewell to Lough Bray") even while he was writing the patriotic "Burial of Sir John Moore". The latter, which English readers value as a poem about a soldier's death far from home in the manner of Sir Henry Newbolt, about modesty and duty, is as much an Irish poem of protest and appeal. Moore had commanded government forces in Wexford and the Wicklow mountains, but enjoyed an unusual reputation among both sides for his moderation and fair-dealing. The elegy which appeared in Carrick's Morning Post in 1815 and the Newry Telegraph in 1817 was therefore, in such contexts, a different kind of lament. It contained an appeal to older values of common humanity and element of protest against growing illiberalism and sectarianism.
Wolfe wrote a poem about a slave under Roman tyranny ("Jugurtha"), on the one hand, and in praise of George III, on the other. (12) The commitments which the poems bring into alignment appear contradictory in present-day terms, but notions of freedom associated with the mountains and dreams of forbidden liberty had a specific resonance in Wicklow following 1798, even for those who were not rebels. In the following sonnet, the "eagle on the hills" is not to be construed as one of Bonaparte's legions, but Wolfe's celebration of sentimental compensation is inflected with the sense of particular political loss none the less:
My spirit's on the mountains, where the birds
In wild and sportive freedom wing the air,
Amidst the heath flowers and the browsing herds,
Where nature's altar is, my spirit's there.
It is my joy to tread the pathless hills,
Though but in fancy—for my mind is free
And walks by sedgy ways and trickling rills,
While I'm forbid the use of liberty.
This is delusion —but it is so sweet
That I could live deluded. Let me be
Persuaded that my springing soul may meet
The eagle on the hills—and I am free.
Who'd not be flatter'd by a fate like this?
To fancy is to feel our happiness.
Mary Tighe (1772-1810) lived down the road from where I am sitting and wrote poems sympathetically describing the picturesque attractions of the local river (the Vartry) which flows through her demesne (still called Rossanna):
And though no lively pleasures here are found,
Yet shall no sudden storms my calm retreat affright.
At the same time, disconcertingly, she celebrated a rebel family whose estates her husband acquired from a sale under chancery decree. (13) Thomas Moore soon afterwards celebrated "The Lass of Aughrim" and "The Meeting of the Waters", which are a few miles south of here. When one realises the importance of the Aughrim-Avonbeg-Avonmore locale in the rebellion, what might appear simple love-songs appear more complicated. It is like having "O my luve's like a red, red rose" situated at Culloden. Maria Edgeworth made fun of Bellevue as Tusculum in The Absentee (1812), (14) even while the La Touche family who owned it played an unseemly role in the politics which engineered the suppression of the rebellion. A leading rebel (Holt) approached the real-life proprietress of Tusculum (born Tottenham, that is a member of an adjoining landowning family), looking for protection and redress. (15)
The situation is muddled as it always must be in civil disturbances, but it clearly differs from the situation in which Wordsworth and Coleridge found themselves in the Quantocks. J. M. W. Turner made a tour along the Somerset-Devon coastline in 1811, leaving the Cooke brothers to follow with a sequence of marketable engravings: Watchet, Lynton, The Valley of the Rocks, Combe Martin, Ilfracombe register a tourist trail which our poets (Shelley only just) kept a whisker ahead of. Sketches and engravings in an identical style were being made at the same time here— of Powerscourt Waterfall, Sugarloaf Mountain and the like. The difference is that more was involved in Wicklow picturesque than the mild discomfort of reaching distant viewing stations. Travellers who traversed the Wicklow Hills in 1797-98, in the way Wordsworth and Coleridge walked across Exmoor, crossed a war-zone.
One has to imagine something like the events of Lorna Doone actually happening while Coleridge was out in the Enmore woods writing "The Nightingale". An Englishman walking in those woods does not believe they could contain civil war. Coleridge could retire to the country as token that he had snapped his squeaking trumpet of sedition. "Citizen John, this is a fine place to talk treason in!" he teased Thelwall. (16) But civil war was indeed happening across hills which look similar outside my window, and, as a result, whatever side one might have been on, that scene means something different. At the least, the parallels and differences make evident that Wordsworth's and Coleridge's experiment was conducted under conditions which did not pertain everywhere in these islands. Poetry written in the Irish landscape occupied a different frame; and, when such a different frame is adopted, the pictures it contains have a different meaning.
What will be celebrated here during the next several months is a series of gatherings, attacks, burnings, battles and reprisals. Courthouses against which rebels were shot have been refurbished and turned into tourist centres. Trails through the Wicklow Hills along which rebels escaped have been turned into walkers' paths. A flurry of publications is on sale in book shops. Statues have been doused with carbolic. The bicentenary gets more local publicity than the millennium. My feeling is that the Lyrical Ballads appear differently in such an Irish mist. Some things are obscured, others magnified. If you think a book is important, it should make sense beyond its immediate context. Lyrical Ballads should hold up against the Wicklow celebrations and they should, in turn, throw light on it.
Frank Kinahan once gave a lecture on Coleridge's contact with an invented '98 rebel and interpreted the "Ancient Mariner" as a related political document: the ice is, of course, "As green as emerald" and the colours of the water snakes are the colours proposed for the United Irishmen's flag, "Blue for our undivided sky, green for our divided fields, black for our living dead". (17) Additional, similar "evidence" could be adduced (for example, Hamburg to which Wordsworth and Coleridge travelled was a meeting-point between the United Irishmen and the revolutionary government in France), (18) but I will pursue another route. I want simply to write about the spin put on a reading of Lyrical Ballads by the ordinary language of the men of this part of Britain as it then was; about their different sense of community and justice and how this found expression in a different kind of ballad; about gothic in particular, since this is such a striking feature of the 1798 version of the "Ancient Mariner". Such reflections in a Wicklovian mirror make the familiar seem strange:
— O my God,
It is indeed a melancholy thing,
And weighs upon the heart, that he must think
What uproar and what strife may now be stirring
This way or that o'er these silent hills—(19)
* * *
The argument about language is quickly described and easily understood. Counter-revisionist arguments to the contrary, the United Irishmen were not much interested in separate cultural identity. Despite a passing interest in translation and the revival of the Irish language, their appeal was more to ideas of universal freedom and liberty grounded on reason than to history and precedent. Nonetheless, the radical appeal of "the language of conversation in the middle and lower classes of society" (20) makes no sense in an Irish context since the ordinary part of the population spoke a different language from the other part. The issue is also, whatever attitudes may have been at the time, inevitably and at once political. Irish is not like Cornish, long gone, and it was far less gone in 1798 than it is today. It formed the ordinary language of the majority and the other language, English, had, at the least, class-dimensions tinged with political opportunities of a kind which made the use of English in Ireland different from in England. The issue is not Irish versus English as much as Wordsworth's appeal to a common majority which here, in a proto-colonial situation, employed a different language altogether for ordinary purposes. Reading Wordsworth in the place where I am sitting problematizes his claim to universality in a particular way.
Coleridge found it easy to remark that Wordsworth's common men talk very much like himself when they talk convincingly. If they talked like common men, they would talk only too ordinarily; that is, in a limited way, repetitiously or boringly. The directness of Coleridge's critique in Biographia Literaria is refreshing. He makes no bones about his commitment to spreading the word, increasing vocabulary and syntactical control through education, and he does not pretend this is not a means to self-control and an agency of power. The objection that Wordsworth's claim only makes sense in a monolingual society is more severe. I can imagine someone saying such an objection is totally unfair, but it is not—for the following reason.
The objection that the ordinary language of real men in this part of the jurisdiction was Irish or Irish-English can be translated back into English terms via the instance of John Clare. Clare protested against the imposition of linguistic norms for the same reason he protested against enclosure and we protest today against motorways and multi-national organisations. The arguments on their behalf are for large-scale saving, easier movement, more efficient transaction. The arguments against them are on behalf of the loss of individual identity, of particular enjoyments, of slower pleasures. Luckily, the veiled argument for linguistic standardisation did not prevail in the case of Robert Burns (the O'Byrnes were, incidentally, one of the original Wicklow septs) or Burns's Dorset namesake, William Barnes. In short, thinking what happens to the Wordsworthian argument when it is extended to a multilingual society clarifies Coleridge's objection to it. The argument pretends to be on behalf of equality but is in fact an argument for control. It has a political dimension which Coleridge did not think to bring out but which we might take more notice of today.
Clare raises the question of who owns the land. It did not matter to Wordsworth and Coleridge who owned the fields and woods they walked through, since they took for granted it was someone like themselves or someone they knew or might come to know. Wordsworth enjoyed a more distant relation than Coleridge with the ordinary people of Somerset, (21) but it was nonetheless a voluntary not necessary distance. It makes a difference to write about the country if your relation with it is as easy as that, and such a relation did not exist in this place. Without becoming involved in a disquisition on different laws of ownership, settlement and religious tests, the ordinary people of Wicklow stood in a fundamentally different relation to the land they worked than Somerset farmers or Cumberland "statesmen". It was not always as pitiful as it became and was later portrayed, but it left tenants in a looser relation to what they worked and cared for.
Poems like "Simon Lee" and "Goody Blake and Harry Gill" are therefore crossed by different landlord-tenant relationships when they are read here. The psychological and moral meanings they contain are crowded out by considerations to do with what led to the '98 rising. Poems like "The Female Vagrant", "The Old Man Travelling" and "The Last of the Flock" are, read with Irish eyes, about a specific pattern of eviction and dispossession. The speaker of "The Dungeon" founds his appeal on a premise—"And this place our forefathers made for man!"—which prisoners in Wicklow could not share, since Wicklow Goal was built by an occupying power. One obvious impulse from an Irish wood in spring '98 would have been, for a wood-kern, to thank God the wood had not been chopped down and to mark it as a place of refuge. The mystical-pantheistic strain of English Romanticism did not catch on in Romantic Ireland, even among the Anglo-Irish. Instead, Nature was approached as a version of picturesque which included truly alarming dimensions.
A rider to the language dimension is supplied by another component of Lyrical Ballads, namely, mad-songs and nonsense verse. This component affects the form of the ballad stanza and also connects with themes of madness and obsession; for instance, in "The Thorn", "The Complaint of the Forsaken Indian Woman" and "The Idiot Boy". The last of these, in turn, contains thematic, verbal and generic echoes of the "Ancient Mariner" and one can even make a case for extending the category of mad-song to "Kubla Khan". (22) In Lyrical Ballads, the estrangement which madness brings is celebrated in an aesthetic way. Johnny Fay is cherished for what he can teach by his being simply "touched". He is incomprehensible, private, a witness from outside the world of getting and spending.
When one considers the Irish counterpart to this theme, the theme appears in a different light. Madness in Irish writing is counterfeited as a stalking horse to catch innocence or as a protective cloak. In "Lilliburlero"—the tune Sterne's Uncle Toby whistles whenever he is confronted by situations which extend beyond his comprehension or control—the Williamites described Jacobite political claims in terms which are as nonsensical as the Irish language sounded (to them):
There was an old prophecy found in a bog,
Lilli bulero bullen a la;
That Ireland should be rul'd by an ass and a dog:
Lilli bulero bullen a la.
Lero, lero, lero, lero, Lilli burlero bullen a la.
Lero, lero, lero, lero, Lilli burlero bullen a la. (23)
The Irish, in turn, absorbed such ridicule to a degree where it turned back onto the accusers of nonsense. Richard Alfred Millikin (1767-1815) provides a good example in "The Groves of Blarney":
The groves of Blarney they are so charming,
All by the purling of sweet silent streams;
Being banked with posies that spontaneous grow there,
Being planted in order by the sweet rock close.
Despite a complicated explication by W. J. McCormack, (24) the real point of Millikin's poem is that it touches on political matters but leaves obscure what it wants to do with them. Its effect is analogous to the nonsense of Irish bulls, which emerged during the previous century and in which interest peaked during the early 1800s. (25) Coleridge understood bulls to answer deep mental and psychological processes but he assumed humanity should be educated out of them and missed the subversive point. (26) The point in the colonised situation is to employ the trope self-consciously at the expense of those who have formed and continue to patronise it. Absurdity works as an alibi; or as Haines the Englishman is made to say in Ulysses, "—I don't know, I'm sure." (27) The promulgation of nonsense appears as self-damaging to the literal mind, as a hunger-strike or dirty-protest does, but the victory such actions aspire to is the only victory possible in the face of literal defeat and occupies the higher moral ground.
Irish nonsense appears particularly in refrains, where its function is analogous to scatting in black jazz, and such refrains can be deflating or can accumulate like an undefined threat. "Paddy's just talking Irish but he may be talking about me." When you labour to understand, to sweeten the insult, you find he's been saying nothing at all. Seamus Heaney's title "Whatever you say say nothing" thus describes why nigger-talk is produced under not dissimilar conditions. (28) The historical connections and analogies between Blacks and Irish are a fashionable topic nowadays ("The Irish are the niggers of Europe," says Roddy Doyle's character, Rabbitte) (29) but this shared disruption of white English articulacy, and the control it pretends to, is a more instructive coincidence than most. It registers preoccupations of a different kind from Johnny Foy's meditatively-gleeful burring over the burthen of the mystery.
The comparison adds once again a political dimension to a moral theme. I say this not to insist on politics-politics all the time but to suggest the Lyrical Ballads argument operates at a level of generality which is persuasive in part because it ignores practical needs and necessary arrangements. It is a dreamers' book, and when the dreams are worked out in real fields and woods, where people have either to earn a living or claim their rights, they take on different meanings. I agree with M. H. Abrams' complaint against politicised readers who whinge that Wordsworth does not deliver the ideology they would like to see themselves reflected in. (30) The point at issue here is different. It involves the way different kinds of political meaning find literary embodiment and what that literary difference entails.
* * *
The second element in the Wicklovian mirror—the ballad-element—follows from what I said about mad-songs. Irish ballads continue the same popular, oral features which characterise the English border-ballads. They were likewise meant to be sung—the music is as important as the words (31)— and their effects are not literary and private. Indeed, when one considers the English ballad-revival in a broader context which includes German Lieder and Hungarian folk-song, the style and the effects it achieves are the odd ones out. Apart from this, Irish ballads differ from English border-ballads in two respects. Though they are also anonymous, the listeners are invariably invited either to participate from the outset (many begin with a "Come all ye") or to join in the refrains. Either way contributes a different sense of group morality. A refrain which at first appears meretricious gathers force by repetition, and, what the auditors as a group repeatedly intervene to add, becomes a threat.
This connects with the second difference. Irish ballads are frequently about loss in a different way from the border ballads. The loss can be particular, as in ballads about Billy Byrne or the massacre at Prosperous, or general, as in the jacobite poem "Blackbird". (32) They lament defeat as a way of reviving future hope, not as a sad reflection on fate or justice or to celebrate fortitude.
Come all you loyal heroes, pay attention to my song,
It's of a mournful circumstance—it will not keep you long;
Concerning Billy Byrne, of fame and high renown,
Who was tried and hanged in Wicklow Jail as a traitor to the crown.
Loss is nourished by song as if this had no purpose but to feed the same process. The logic is different from contemporary English war poems about defeat in battle because these are written from the point of view of the side which eventually won the war. The only Irish war took several centuries to win and unsuccess was perpetuated to keep the war alive.
This is the point we might apply to Coleridge's and Wordsworth's ballads. Irish marching songs and campaign songs are lyrical in a direct, obvious way. Subtle, one might say excruciating attempts have been made to squeeze political meanings out of the "Ancient Mariner" via allusions to the slave trade, but one wonders what politics are about when they are buried so deep. Politics are about influencing numbers of people and gaining and retaining power. If a professor needs to write a difficult book two hundred years after an event to make evident something so obvious, the politics were unsuccessful. Wordsworth sent a copy of the 1800 Lyrical Ballads to Charles James Fox, with an eloquent letter of explanation, and received a well-meant but uncomprehending reply. (33)
A less blunt, more promising way to explore the same theme is to consider how these ballads work on a reader. Lyrical Ballads wind into our minds like corkscrews.
He holds him with his glittering eye—
The wedding guest stood still
And listens like a three year's child;
The Marinere hath his will.
Repetition in the "Ancient Mariner" is incorporated as a fifth and sixth extra line within the body of such stanzas to accelerate and intensify the pace. By contrast, repetition in Irish ballads functions as a refrain to integrate the listeners as a group. The reader is not buttonholed up close; he is invited to sing alongside. Instead of leaving a reader at the end "like one that hath been stunn'd", in contemplative stasis, the Irish ballad is more likely to close with a sense of "The dead all arise" (34) and of revived collaborative activity.
Similarly, Wordsworth's poems, though in hymn-like stanzas, don't make much sense until we wake up to what they are about, by which time we are captive to their argument. I take this to be what Wordsworth meant when he said "that the feeling ... developed [in poems] gives importance to the action and the situation and not the action and situation to the feeling." (35) It is also what he meant when he said, following Coleridge, that "every author, as far as he is great and at the same time original, has had the task of creating the taste by which he is to be enjoyed." (36) The relation Wordsworth's readers enjoy with his poems is not open; it has to be on terms he dictates. His cottage-girl and five-year boy, like his decrepit Leech Gatherer, simply repeat the same words three times over and then simply are. As he admonished Sara Hutchinson when she continued disbelieving: "Such a figure, in such a place, ... telling such a tale!" (37) The relation is, when it convinces, appropriate for Arnoldian schoolmasters and such elder statesmen as Gladstone but it is not quick to rally the minds and move the bodies of the troops.
The Wicklovian alternative also makes evident, by its invitation to participate, the moral bullying of the Wordsworthian point of view. I do not accuse Coleridge of bullying to such an extent; indeed, some think he shilly-shallies and has no morals at all. But even Coleridge thought the "Ancient Mariner" might have too much moral and a reader might also wonder about a poem like "Frost at Midnight". Though not a Lyrical Ballad, it has the three-part dialectic of so many Greater Romantic Lyrics. It traces a pattern of growth which, while incorporative, is also devouring. It brings everything it touches into relation, digests opposites to produce a higher synthesis. And, while it celebrates growth, it has an organisation from which nothing escapes, every detail becomes determined. It finishes with a rondo in which the snake symbolically "[lies] coiled with it's tail round it's head." (38)
The same may be said of all these poems which are well-made according to organicist prescriptions. It applies for instance to the framing, nuanced points of view in poems otherwise as different as "We are Seven" and "Simon Lee". One narrative is set within another, the frames are angled so what each contains is bevelled with irony, and such a process duplicates the effect of the thesis-antithesis-synthesis movement. Wordsworth, Coleridge and their younger contemporaries (Shelley in "Ode to the West Wind", Keats in the Odes) share such a feature of poetic structure with Romantic logicians (e.g. Hegel) and composers (e.g. of sonata form). The counterpoint is not a genuinely open alternative: it contrives to draw you into the poem at the same time it builds the poem round you. This "Romantic" feature is absent from Irish counterparts whose approach to form is perhaps more old-fashioned and clumsy, but, it can be said here, more hospitable and flexible.
The justification of a poem like William Drennan's (1754-1820) "The Wake of William Orr" (39) is exactly this:
Here our murdered brother lies—
Wake him not with women's cries;
Mourn the way that manhood ought;
Sit in silent trance of thought.
Alongside Lyrical Ballads, which contains many versions of epitaphs, it looks crude. It cannot stand up to the kind of intense scrutiny which poems in the English tradition sustain and reward. At the same time, it is not meant to be a private poem. It is a poem to be learned by rote and recited on public occasions, by which I mean it takes into account and rewards shared understanding:
Write his merits on your mind—
Morals pure and manners kind;
In his head, as on a hill,
Virtue placed her citadel
It actually welcomes and exploits such interaction in a sophisticated way and requires a dramatistic rather than lyric poetics to do justice to how it works. The rhymes require a degree of obviousness to be welcomed as they are meant to be; the language requires some awkwardness to maintain feeling at a distance from the speaker:
Here we watch our brother's sleep;
Watch with us, but do not weep;
Watch with us thro' dead of night,
But expect the morning light.
Education appears to be forgetting that poems for recitation require a style which, in silent reading, looks clumsy, even crude. (40) Also, poems for recitation are frequently and overwhelmingly, significantly patriotic. It is a cultural dimension of reader-response criticism that recitation begins to look outmoded when patriotism becomes an embarrassment.
Another dimension of ballad connects with rhyme and the point to be made is similar to the one above concerning language and mad-songs. English verse in Ireland has had a characteristically different sound, a more even distribution of stress and a greater tolerance for what the English call feminine rhymes. This feature reflects the influence of the Irish language on speakers who may not even be conscious of such a background, and it has been striven for by others who would reproduce the effects of Irish in English—among modern poets, for instance, Austin Clarke. The English tradition did not take such a quality seriously from the beginning—Sir John Harington (1591) and Samuel Daniel (1603) earlier complained of the "deformity" of feminine rhymes (41)—and the antipathy appears to have compounded around 1800. The limerick was invented in the early 1820s (42) as a nonsensical form in such a metre and later given its Irish name.
At a time when manliness was increasingly held to be a virtue—meaning, as in Jane Austen's novels, something like resolution and independence—foreigners were often construed as the reverse. The French were at their typical worst effete and froggish while the Irish were good company but not serious. (43) To put this in literary terms, rhymes and rhythms in Lyrical Ballads are wholly different from comparable rhyming poems from Ireland. The vigour of Coleridge's trisyllabic substitution is almost excessive in comparison, that is, insistent and loud, and the pace of Wordsworth's metres, as they build through stanzas fashioned from simple rhyming forms into something more elaborate, is strikingly measured and controlled. Both writers can give the impression of being too serious to be taken seriously —Wordsworth, in particular, sometimes sounds plain boring—until one remembers to read them with English ears.
Another way to approach the technical differences is by way of blank verse. Milton broods over English Romanticism, entering Blake's foot and summoned by Wordsworth to be living at this hour. He stands for republican virtues and his blank-verse style is the measure of principled opposition to corruption and compromise. The very sound of it, echoed differently as it is by Coleridge, Keats and Shelley, is an index of values they uphold. The problem is that radical Puritanism is bad news in the larger part of Ireland. Although Spenser was not specially remembered as an agent of the Elizabethan Plantation, and was available to the Methodistical Mary Tighe, Milton, who was Cromwell's Latin Secretary or spokesperson, has never been popular. Oliver Cromwell is not a common name in Ireland for the reason Adolf Hitler does not appear in German phone-books.
Whatever the influence of political preferences on a particular metric, the extraordinarily flexible instrument which underwent a distinctive Romantic revival was not much exploited here. Miltonic blank verse is as rare as it is common across the water; poems of all kinds tend to be in rhyming forms. The phenomenon almost lends weight to Antony Easthope's argument, arrived at on mainly theoretical grounds, (44) that blank verse is a particularly English form associated with the idea of nationhood. The only Irish poet who has written blank verse successfully in the Wordsworthian vein is Seamus Heaney, (45) and it may be significant that he completed his education in the British system at Belfast.
* * *
The third point of comparison—Irish gothic—has a special bearing on the 1798 "Mariner". The founding-father of Irish gothic is Charles Maturin (1780-1824), a protestant clergyman, whose masterpiece, Melmoth the Wanderer, opens in Wicklow and makes frequent allusion to the events of '98. Melmoth is filled with a sense of the reality of what in English gothic are inert stage properties. The inquisition becomes the resurgent power of catholicism (the book was written in 1817-19, when such a mood was more plausible than twenty years before), and ordinary people (that is, catholics) become "crowds" in the new sense marked by sociologists who have written on the crowd in London and Paris. (46)
Like Mary Shelley reading the Romantic creation-myth against domestic reality in Frankenstein, Maturin read Romanticism against surrounding Irish reality, which he experienced as a threat. Coleridge's flaming torches become flaming torches of physical destruction, Coleridge's Wandering Jew figure is located in a series of specific historical contexts. The extended narrative of Melmoth's wanderings extends from the late 1500s to the fictional present, and fixes on two periods in particular, 1660-86 and 1798-1816/17. In short, it begins from the time of the modern plantation of Ireland and concentrates on two periods of particular turbulence, bigotry and uncertainty. (47)
The narrative is told by means of stories within stories within stories, but whereas in Lyrical Ballads such stories are folded over to create an illusion of depth, in Melmoth they are disjoined. The eye is not drawn in and thereby tempted to locate infinity within the picture: the episodes remain oddly angled and differently paced. Likewise the characterisation. Counter to an assumption which controls the emergent nineteenth-century novel, that experience adds up and a person becomes wiser as he becomes older, the protagonist of Melmoth remains discomfited and uncomprehending to the end. Maturin's message is that personality does not develop, characters continue to be surprised, we are not more in control at a later stage of our story than earlier. His book operates on a different principle from the traditional novel in which "inner space in your own mind and outer space in novels become somehow equivalent, images of each other." (48) We do not suspend our disbelief at Maturin's improbable episodes and characters. His book anticipates moderns like Baudelaire for whom eyes in crowds do not return our gaze and correspondences recede into the distance forever. Melmoth the Wanderer celebrates spleen rather than the Romantic promise of idéal. (49)
Coleridge took an opportunity to register his antipathy to Maturin's tragedy, Bertram, which is loosely related to the novel, in a series of letters printed in The Courier in 1816 which he reprinted in Biographia Literaria. (50) His dislike is only partly sour grapes at Maturin's theatrical success and is stated as a principled reaction to what he calls "Jacobinism". He writes during the year of the Spa Field Riots but his objection is nothing so simple as a protest against the sympathy offered to rebels or the portrayal of adulterous union. It rests on an argument about an ideology which requires "outward confirmation" of an insecure imaginative ideal. (51) The charge echoes a distinction he made elsewhere between absolute and commanding genius, in which the insecurity of commanding genius requires it to impose on others (or a landscape or whatever) in order to confirm its sense of power. (52) In short, the distinction is actually between two kinds of writing, here described as English and Irish. That is, Coleridge's objection is as much to Maturin's writing and how it is situated in the world as to the party line it propagates. The rephrasing sums up the differences I have previously enumerated.
It points up again that the Coleridge-Wordsworth project is in a special way private and self-centred. The "Ancient Mariner" has a moral and metaphysical dimension but this feeds forward to Victorian England, not (as Maturin does) to Poe and Baudelaire and Huysmans. Irish gothic is produced by alienation, the artist is an outsider not a sage or moral teacher. Lyrical Ballads is a book of radical protest from within the system; it aims to re-form attitudes fundamentally but not to challenge the existence of such attitudes. Maturin, although a protestant clergyman, represents a kind of anarchy to which English rules do not apply. His language is the same but his controlling assumptions are not. In 1798 in Wicklow, open rebellion was an attempt to affect material change, it was chaos come again. It necessitated a different kind of writing, which makes you think hard about what our absolute geniuses were up to in Somerset.
Finally, linking Irish gothic to Irish picturesque, it is relevant that the Irishman Edmund Burke was the first major theorist of the sublime. There is an Irish dimension of this category, too, and Burke's sense of uncontrol may be said to resemble Maturin's analogous fear of an uncontrolled populace. Political disturbance trembles at the edge of the Burkean sublime, and qualifies the opposite quality of picturesque, which is never secure in itself without the reassurance of the other category. I need only recall what I said about visitors to Powerscourt who had rebels to the front and the side of them while they admired the view. This had been a common experience of Irish travellers since the time the first tours were made to Killarney as early as the 1740s. (53)
The deliberate concentrated focus of Lyrical Ballads on small uneventful incidents can be read as a counter to the Burke-Maturin argument. It makes up an entirely successful demonstration of the life in small things and large things which Coleridge claimed for it in Biographia Ch.14 ("to transfer from our inward nature a human interest ...", to dispel "the film of familiarity and selfish solicitude"). (54) But the refusal of grand guignol was a contrived situation possible only in a Westcountry backwater; and Coleridge, unlike Wordsworth, was typically distracted into recognising the larger context. He published poems about public events for The Morning Post, namely, "Fire, Famine, and Slaughter", "France: An Ode" and "The Mad Ox".
Poems like these are comments from the outside and on past events. They are not rallying calls to action but they are no less an assertion of identity. The contemporaneous "Fears in Solitude" is a re-centring of imaginative energies outside the sphere of action, and, despite its ostensible advertisement of withdrawal, it celebrates quietist nationalism of a no less powerful kind. Linda Colley comments of a comparable series of examples: "We may need to ponder as well how marked cultural creativity is connected to ambition and aggression." (55)
* * *
I have made several observations along the way and three further observations will prepare for some conclusions. Firstly, I take it as axiomatic that Irish last Romantics, like Yeats and Joyce, have had more influence on our sense of ourselves in the twentieth-century than Wordsworth and Coleridge. Secondly, reading Lyrical Ballads in Wicklow is a reminder that the rest of the world has gone the way adumbrated by Maturin, despite his obvious crudities, and by the 1798 revolution, even though it miserably failed. And thirdly, the fact that Lyrical Ballads has to exclude or suppress features which have been ordinary in the world outside my window makes it read, by contrast, like a very English book.
I also remark that, in the excitement following the bicentenary of the French revolution a few years ago, academic writers on Wordsworth and Coleridge became so caught up in the festival of freedom that they exaggerated and distorted the radical case. The 1790s were indeed radical years, but Lyrical Ballads makes clear that its authors were concerned to change the world by writing, not by doing. The literary quality of their detachment in turn makes them different kinds of writers from Irish writers or even English radicals like Thelwall and Thomas Paine. Wordsworth's ambitions were always poetical, apart from a few heady months in France. Coleridge's, after also wavering, became poetical under Wordsworth's influence in his time at Stowey.
In a sense which English commentators often miss, as Linda Colley says, this has a dimension which is more patriotic than radical. I do not mean in Wordsworth's and Coleridge's remarks on Bonaparte or on the beauty of the English countryside but simply in their commitment to writing such poems as they did in a time of war. When Rupert Brooke wrote about the smell of freshly-ironed sheets and about Granchester, he was affected by, and in turn affected, the sense of national identity as strongly as in his sonnet anticipating death on active service. Edward Thomas's poems and writing about the countryside at peace celebrate what was worth defending in the trenches as effectively as his poems about warfare.
In a similar way, a socially challenging poem like "Goody Blake and Harry Gill" locates the sources of morality differently from propaganda but more deeply and more firmly. A poem which celebrates irresponsible glee, like "Lines Written in Early Spring", actually communicates confidence and strength in a re-aligned, more defensible reality. The transition from either poem to Wordsworth's patriotic sonnets of 1802 is short; and, to an equivalent extent, Lyrical Ballads contain aspects of cultural nationalism which did not find expression in Ireland until much later. This, measured against the overt political content of Irish ballads of '98, is at first surprising; but "The Shan Van Vocht" celebrates liberty and freedom, and "The Wearing of the Green" celebrates justice and equality, both in eighteenth-century terms and as if cultural differences were less important:
Shall Erin then be free? says the Shan Van Vocht;
Shall Erin then be free? says the Shan Van Vocht;
Yes, old Erin shall be free, and we'll plant the laurel tree,
And we'll call it Liberty, says the Shan Van Vocht.
"The Wake of William Orr", instead of wallowing in martyr's blood as the New Ireland revivalists would read the situation, articulates an ideal of order and justice which will eventually prevail. (56)
None the less, though Lyrical Ballads comes to appear more firmly rooted in one place and time, an English book in time of war, its claims to psychological subtlety and literary assurance are no weaker. I need not write about these qualities here and I have tried to do them justice on other occasions. I simply emphasise that such qualities derive from the same context which makes the book of its time and place. The transposition of complicated experience into entirely literary terms would not have been possible in a less settled, less conservative society; or again, perhaps, in a society which was not in the final stages of a long struggle with its neighbour, France, for the control of empire. English society was not more sophisticated or more complicated than the one which produced Burke and Moore, and these two figures remind us of the overlap between the two societies, but the two societies were on divergent tracks which the '98 rising registers.
I look out of my window. The sun set twenty minutes later than on Aisholt Common and I do not think I have exaggerated the differences between here and there. My conclusion is close to one reached by Gene Ruoff who compares Wordsworth and Maria Edgeworth and argues, in an age of post-colonial readers, Edgeworth is likely to seem more relevant. He writes about Wordsworth's "intense Englishness" which is not readily transplantable:
Even Wordsworth's great international poem, The Prelude, is, in the end, a thoroughgoing repudiation of alien influences. Its story of an ingenuous youth, who is willingly seduced by a foreign ideology but returns both to his native land and his senses, is a powerful one. But that story has not loomed so large in history as another which has been infinitely repeated— the story of a land oppressed by a foreign ideology, bereft of a meaningful sense of nationhood, looking toward a future as problematic as its past and present. For that story we must reluctantly leave the greatest English poet of his age and turn to his Anglo-Irish contemporary, whom literary history has treated less kindly. Rediscovery of Edgeworth diminishes Wordsworth not a jot, and it helps to reassert both the fertile diversity of the age of Romanticism and its importance for our own. (57)
As Ruoff is aware, Wordsworth and Coleridge are more exciting writers than Edgeworth for anyone who is inside the language (I mean the language of words as well as the social language). Conversely, Lyrical Ballads is filled with exciting poems, alongside which Irish ballads are crude and Maturin's gothic is pastiche, while, at the same time, the Irish model is in many ways more applicable in the world today. The problem is upsetting because it cannot be dismissed as a choice between aesthetic pleasure and political relevance. Two different aesthetics are involved, both have political implications: in fact the differences are all-consuming.
Ruoff makes his point by conjoining an Irish and English author. I think the conjunction is more than fortuitous, and it encourages me to think these are not the ramblings of a Devon boy who sought out a place like home and dreams about the differences. The questions I have asked did not arise in other places where I lived and worked—in a valley in California and by a river in Yorkshire. They in fact concern Anglo-American culture as a unified set of attitudes, to which in significant respects Irish culture stands at an angle, and they would not arise from an inside-position. The Wicklovian mirror provides a way to see the limits of Anglo-American attitudes —the speaking, writing, thinking world in English—, even if others might not choose to live in the tain of the mirror as I find myself doing.
In Coleridge's terms, this is to be reduced to a Hartleian spectre ("the mere quick-silver plating behind a looking-glass"), (58) but I emphasise the mirror can be turned the other way. If I was writing for a wholly Irish audience, I would suggest that Wordsworth's and Coleridge's poetic revolution throws a disconcerting light on the real revolution attempted by the United Irishmen. Were they dreamers, drawn like Yeats's men of Easter 1916 into wilful tragedy; and are there truths of poetry which are dangerous to apply to life, which moves forward by different compromises? Should Wolfe Tone and Robert Emmet have left the dreams which sustained them in books and songs, as William Blake left his in words and pictures, instead of trying to translate poetic truth into practice? In a way, in their own time, what the United Irishmen attempted was as bizarrely noble and destructive as the actions of St Just, as impossible to build as the architectural dreams of Claude-Nicholas Ledoux. The fact that the revolution of Lyrical Ballads takes place only in a book is, by comparison, its redemption. The literariness of the experiment is actually not a limitation: it is simply a condition of how the experience applies. By being a revolution in a book, no less and no more, it measures the attempt to translate words into action.
Two ways of reading experience become evident. On the one side, a reader is engaged almost in reading himself, projecting himself onto the mind of single others, one-on-one. The process of self-discovery is inward and produces transcendental meaning, a product of absolute genius. On the other side is a model which exists in different ontological space. Meaning is performed and communally discovered, shared and therefore dependant upon/supported by compromise. Imaginative activity which appears by comparison with the other to be of a lower order interacts with the world beyond the page no less profoundly. The justification for reading Lyrical Ballads in Wicklow is that it requires one to evaluate two kinds of writing as different ways of being in the world.
There is no need to choose between such ways of reading and writing—"Do not let us introduce an act of Uniformity against Poets," Coleridge urged Thelwall (59)—, or, rather, the choice is made for us. However, the time is late and the moon is rising above Carrick. I could say no more if I was paid.
Jim Mays, Dublin University.
1. To Thomas Poole, January 1800; Collected Letters ed Earl Leslie Griggs (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 6 vols 1956-71) I 562. Compare M. E. Sandford Thomas Poole and his Friends (London: Macmillan, 2 vols, 1888) II 1-2.
2. I allude to Aldous Huxley's essay, "Wordsworth in the Tropics" Yale Review XVIII (1929) 672-83; reprinted in Do What You Will (London: Chatto and Windus, 1929) 113-29.
3. L. M. Cullen "Politics and Rebellion: Wicklow in the 1790s" in Wicklow: History and Society. Interdisciplinary Essays on the History of an Irish County ed Ken Hannigan and William Nolan (Dublin: Geography Publications, 1994) 411-501 (460 specifically).
4. Suggested by Cullen in Wicklow 420-26.
5. Cullen Wicklow 474-81; Ruan O'Donnell "The Rebellion of 1798 in County Wicklow" in Wicklow 341-78 (343 specifically). Contemporary illustrations of travelling gallows and of pitch-capping are reproduced from originals in the National Library of Ireland by Daniel J. Gahan Rebellion! Ireland in 1798 Dublin: The O'Brien Press, 1997) 38-39. . For the grotesque mode of hanging by Lt Edward Hepenstall, "The Walking Gallows", see the illustration from Cox's Irish Magazine January 1810 reproduced in Wicklow Historical Society Journal II: 1 (July 1995) 28.
6. O'Donnell in Wicklow 351-52. The Devil's Glen is on the estate which contains the family home of J. M. Synge and where Seamus Heaney now has a cottage. Heaney celebrates the area in "Glanmore Sonnets" in Field Work (London: Faber and Faber, 1979) 33-42.
7. Brendan Clifford argues that the catholicisation of Irish nationalism took place at the time of the Veto controversy (The Veto Controversy (Belfast: Athol Books, 1985); Selections from Walter Cox's "Irish Magazine" 1807-1815 (Belfast: Athol Books 1992); etc). The '98 rebellion was retrospectively interpreted by the victors in an anti-catholic way, as famously by Richard Musgrave's 1801 Memoirs of the Irish Rebellion. Modern commentators suggest Orangeism was actively encouraged in Wicklow as part of counter-insurgency policy: compare e.g. Cullen in Wicklow 469-72.
8. Irish Public Opinion 1750-1800 (London: Faber and Faber, 1944) 208. I take the challenge to McDowell's view by Mary Helen Thuente, The Harp Re-strung: The United Irishmen and the Rise of Irish Literary Nationalism (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1994), to be exaggerated.
9. By John Kells Ingram (1823-1907) and by Thomas Flanagan (1923- ), respectively.
10. Illustrated on the cover of Keith Lamb and Patrick Bowe A History of Gardening in Ireland (Glasnevin, Dublin: National Botanic Gardens, 1995). The same book contains illustrations of Bellevue on p.60 as well as discussion of the landscape artists involved. The other places still survive and are illustrated in most picture-books of Ireland, but see especially Edward Malins and The Knight of Glin Lost Demesnes: Irish Landscape Gardening 1660-1845 (London: Barrie and Jenkins, 1976) on the Wicklow tour.
11. William Nolan "Land and Landscape in County Wicklow" in Wicklow 649-91 (680 specifically).
12. Collected in The Burial of Sir John Moore and Other Poems ed C. Litton Falkiner (London: Sidgwick and Jackson, 1909). The untitled sonnet quoted below appears on p.26. Charles Wolfe's father had lent both his Christian names to the United Irishman leader, Theobald Wolfe Tone. Arthur Wolfe, Viscount Kilwarden, who was killed in Emmet's 1803 rising, was Charles Wolfe's cousin.
13. Her poem about the Byrnes of Glenmalure (Psyche with Other Poems (London: Longman, 1811) 281-96) bears a complicated but obvious relation to Billy Byrne of Ballymanus. Compare Conor O'Brien "The Byrnes of Ballymanus" in Wicklow 305-39 (328 specifically); also The Trial of Billy Byrne of Ballymanus (Arklow: Dee-Jay Publications, 1996), a new edition of the 1799 court-proceedings. As an English writer, Mrs Tighe is better known as the author of Psyche, which influenced Keats. The two quoted lines form the conclusion to her sonnet, "Rossana"[sic] in Psyche 231.
14. ed W. J. McCormack and Kim Walker (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988) 86 ff.
15. On Holt, see "'Masters of the Mountains': The Insurgent Careers of Joseph Holt and Michael Dwyer, County Wicklow, 1798-1803" in Wicklow 379-410.
16. Table Talk 24 July 1830; ed Carl Woodring (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2 vols 1990) I 180-81. Compare The Fenwick Notes of William Wordsworth ed Jared Curtis (Bristol: Bristol Classical Press/Gerald Duckworth, 1993) 4 for Wordsworth's memory of the same.
17. Derek Franklin [=Frank Kinahan] "Eiresponsibilities: Rhythm and Revolution in 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner'" Returning to Ourselves: Second Volume of Papers from the John Hewitt International Summer School ed Eve Patten (Belfast: Lagan Press, 1995) 209-216.
18. Paul Weber On the Road to Rebellion: The United Irishmen and Hamburg, 1796-1803 (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 1997).
19. "Fears in Solitude. Written , April 1798, during the Alarms of an Invasion" in Fears in Solitude, ... To which are added, France, An Ode; and Frost at Midnight (London: J. Johnson, 1798) 2-3.
20. "Advertisement" to Lyrical Ballads, with a Few Other Poems (Bristol: Biggs and Cottle, 1798) i. All Lyrical Ballads quotations are from the 1798 edition.
21. Illustrated by Berta Lawrence in Coleridge and Wordsworth in Somerset (Newton Abbot: David and Charles, 1970) 156,158.
22. As I have in a forthcoming article in The Wordsworth Circle, "New Light on Wordsworth's Coleridge." This supplies further references on the mad-song element in Lyrical Ballads.
23. Quoted from The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing ed Seamus Deane (Derry: Field Day Publications, 3 vols 1991) I 475-76, which provides useful annotation. For Sterne, see The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman ed Graham Petrie (London: Penguin Books, 1985 ed) 92-93 etc.
24. In The Field Day Anthology I 1102 fn. The poem is printed on 1101-02.
25. For late-seventeenth and eighteenth century examples, see Brian Earls "Bulls, Blunders and Bloothers" Béaloideas: The Journal of the Folklore of Ireland Society LVI (1988) 1-92 (24-28 especially). For Coleridge's contemporaries, see especially R.L. and Maria Edgeworth Essay on Irish Bulls (London: J.Johnson, 1802); Sydney Smith Edinburgh Review II:4 (July 1803) 398-402; etc.
26. For Coleridge on bulls, see Philosophical Lectures ed Kathleen Coburn (London: The Pilot Press, 1949) 199; Biographia Literaria ed James Engell and W. Jackson Bate (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2 vols 1983) I 72-73 fn; etc.
27. James Joyce Ulysses ed Hans Walter Gabler (London: The Bodley Head, corrected 1993) 1:493
28. Compare North (London Faber and Faber, 1975) 57-60. The socio-cultural dimensions of scatting are elaborated by Henry Louis Gates The Signifying Monkey: A Theory of Afro-American Literary Criticism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988) and William J. Harris The Poetry and Poetics of Amiri Baraka: The Jazz Aesthetic (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1985) 107-08.
29. The Commitments (New York: Vintage Books, 1989) 9; cited by George Bornstein "Afro-Celtic Connections: From Frederick Douglass to The Commitments in Literary Influence and Afro-American Writers: Collected Essays ed Tracy Mishkin (New York: Garland Publishing, 1996) 171-88 (171 specifically). Compare e.g. Richard Ned Lebow White Britain and Black Ireland: The Influence of Stereotypes on Colonial Policy (Philadelphia: Institute for the Study of Human Issues, 1976) and Noel Ignatiev How The Irish Became White (New York: Routledge, 1995).
30. "On Political Readings of Lyrical Ballads" in Romantic Revolutions: Criticism and Theory ed Kenneth R. Johnston, Gilbert Chaitin, Karen Hanson and Herbert Marks (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990) 320-49.
31. The music is provided in the edition by Georges-Denis Zimmermann, Songs of Irish Rebellion: Political Street Ballads and Rebel Songs 1780-1900 (Dublin: Allen Figgis, 1967). Liam Clancy et al provide orchestral arrangements in Who Fears to Speak: The Official 1798 Bicentary Commemorative Album (RTE/Enigma Productions (RTE CD209) ).
32. Zimmermann 149-50, 150-52, 119-121 respectively. The quotation forms the first stanza of "Billy Byrne of Ballymanus".
33. To C. J. Fox, 14 January 1801 (The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth: Volume I, The Early Years 1787-1805 ed Ernest De Selincourt, rev. Chester Shaver (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967) 312-15. Fox's reply, dated 25 May 1801, is quoted in The Prose Works of William Wordsworth ed Alexander B. Grosart (London: Edward Moxon, 3 vols 1876) II 205-06.
34. The closing words of "Rody MacCorly"; Zimmermann 159.
35. "Preface to Lyrical Ballads (1800)" in The Prose Works of William Wordsworth ed W. J. B. Owen and Jane Worthington Smyser (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 3 vols 1974) I 128.
36. "Essay, Supplementary to the Preface (1815)" in Prose Works III 80; compare William Wordsworth to Lady Beaumont, 21 May 1807, in The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth: Volume II, The Middle Years, Part 1, 1806-1811 ed Ernest De Selincourt, rev Mary Moorman (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969) 150.
37. 14 June 1802; Letters: Early Years 367.
38. Coleridge's comment in a copy of Fears in Solitude (1798) he gave to Sir Charles Beaumont, now at the Pierpont Morgan Library (W /18/D, p.23).
39. Orr, a young presbyterian farmer from County Antrim, was convicted of administering the United Irishmen's oath and executed in 1797. The lines quoted form the two opening stanzas and the penultimate stanza in the version printed in The Field Day Anthology I 487-88 (other versions differ).
40. In fairness, I should add that Kingsley Amis did not forget: see his admirable anthology, The Faber Popular Reciter (London: Faber and Faber, 1978).
41. See Elizabethan Critical Essays ed G. Gregory Smith (London: Oxford University Press, 2 vols 1904) II 221,383.
42. While anticipations date from late medieval times onwards, the first undisputed examples are contained in three collections: The Adventures of Fifteen Young Ladies (1820?), The History of Sixteen Wonderful Old Women (1821) and Anecdotes and Adventures of Fifteen Gentlemen (1822). According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term "limerick" was not applied to the form until the 1890s.
43. For studies of both stereotypes, compare Michèle Cohen Fashioning Masculinity: National Identity and Language in the Eighteenth Century (London: Routledge, 1996) and G. C. Duggan The Stage Irishman: A History of the Irish Play and Stage Characters from the Earliest Times (London: Longmans, Green, 1937).
44. In Poetry as Discourse (London: Methuen, 1983).
45. Compare e.g., with reference to Wordsworthian matters, "The Ministry of Fear" in North 63-65.
46. Classically by George Rudé, The Crowd in the French Revolution (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959) and Paris and London in the Eighteenth Century: Studies in Popular Protest (London: Collins, 1970); Gwynn A. Williams Artisans and Sans-Culottes: Popular Movements in France and Britain during the French Revolution (New York: Norton, 1969).
47. "Structure and Theme in Melmoth the Wanderer" are nicely mapped by Jack Null in article of the same title in Papers on Language and Literature 13:2 (Spring 1977) 136-47. Null, however, seems unaware of the significance the period 1660-86 in the establishment of Anglo-Irish hegemony.
48. A. S. Byatt and Ignês Sodré Imagining Characters: Six Conversations about Women Writers ed Rebecca Swift (London: Chatto and Windus, 1995) 37.
49. Compare the quotations and summary by Walter Benjamin "On Some Motifs in Baudelaire" in Illuminations ed Hannah Ahrendt, trans Harry Zohn (London: Collins/Fontana, 1973) 156-202 (165-78,189-90 specifically).
50. Biographia Literaria ch.23; II 208-33. The personal story is told by Alethea Hayter "Coleridge, Maturin's Bertram, and Drury Lane" in New Approaches to Coleridge: Biographical and Critical Essays (London: Vision Press, 1981) 17-37.
51. Biographia Literaria II 216-17.
52. Compare Biographia Literaria I 31-33.
53. A point made by Luke Gibbons "Topographies of Terror: Killarney and the Politics of the Sublime" The South Atlantic Quarterly XCV:1 (Winter 1996) 23-44. Gibbons is engaged on a study of The Colonial Sublime: Edmund Burke and the Aesthetics of Irish Romanticism.
54. Biographia Literaria II 7.
55. "Making a Big Show" [= review of John Brewer The Pleasures of the Imagination: English Culture in the Eighteenth Century (London: HarperCollins, 1997)] TLS 1 August 1997 pp.1-2 (2 specifically).
56. Norman Vance's words on Drennan's poem, largely. Compare Irish Literature: A Social History (Oxford: Blackwell, 1990) 86-100 (99 specifically). The two ballads are available in Zimmermann 133-37 and 167-70 respectively.
57. "1800 and the Future of the Novel: William Wordsworth, Maria Edgeworth, and the Vagaries of Literary History" in The Age of William Wordsworth: Critical Essays on the Romantic Tradition (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1987) 291-314 (314 specifically). Ruoff's argument has since been developed at length by Katie Trumpener Bardic Nationalism: The Romantic Novel and the British Empire (Princeton: Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997).
58. Biographia Literaria I 119.
59. 17 December 1796; Collected Letters I 279 (compare also 215).
Copyright © Contributor 1998-2002 - All rights reserved