[Sir] Samuel Ferguson: Quotations

‘Oh, brave young men, my love, my pride, my promise, / ’Tis on you my hopes are set, / In manliness, in kindliness, in justice, / To make Erin a nation yet. / Self-relying, self-respecting, self-advancing, / In union or in severance, free and strong.’ (Quoted in F. J. Bigger, address on Ferguson, in The Irish Book Lover, Vol. I, No. 10 May, 1910, p.125.)
‘Dig the grave both wide and deep, / Sick I am and fain would sleep! / Dig the grave and make it ready, / Lay on me my true Love’s body.’ (“Deirdre’s Lament for the Sons of Usnach”; quoted in Eve Patten, Samuel Ferguson, and the Culture of Nineteenth-century Ireland, Four Courts 2004; reviewed in Books Ireland, April 2005, pp.93-94; p.94.)

Extracts from the Works
“The Burial of King Cormac”
“The Fair Hills of Ireland”
Congal: Poem in Five Books (1872)
“Hymn to the River Liffey
Lament for the Death of Thomas Davis
The Lark in the Clear Air
The Coolin” (trans of poem by Muiris Ó Dugain)

[ “The Fairy Thorn” is given in W. B. Yeats, ed., Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry (1888) - as attached. ]

“Head & Heart of an Irish Protestant”
Hardiman’s Irish Minstrelsy (1834)
Dublin Penny Journal (1840)
The Annals of the Four Masters (1848)
“The Attractions of Ireland” (1836)

Remarks & Observations

Among my schoolfellows
Irish Protestants
National characteristics

Protestants of Ireland
Irish verse translation
Literature of Ireland

Ferguson’s review of James Hardiman, Irish Minstrelsy, or Bardic Remains (1831), published in The Dublin University Magazine (April-Nov. 1834), and frequently cited in Irish literary criticism, is held in the RICORSO Library > “Irish Classics” [infra]


The Fair Hills of Ireland” (From the Irish): ‘A plenteous place is Ireland for hospitable cheer, / Uileacan dubh O! / Where the wholesome fruit is bursting from the yellow barley ear; / Uileacan dubh O! / There is honey in the trees where her misty vales expand, / And her forest paths in summer are by falling waters fanned; / There is dew at high noontide there, and springs i’ the yellow sand, / On the fair hills of holy Ireland. // Curled is he and ringleted, and plaited to the knee, / Uileacan dubh O! / Each captain who comes sailing across the Irish Sea; / Uileacan dubh O! / And I will make my journey, if life and health but stand, / Unto that pleasant country, that fresh and fragrant strand, / And leave your boasted braveries, your wealth and high command, / For the fair hills of holy Ireland. // Large and profitable are the stacks upon the ground; / Uileacan dubh O! / The butter and the cream do wondrously abound, / Uileacan dubh O! / The cresses on the water and the sorrels are at hand, / And the cuckoo’s calling daily his note of music bland, / And the bold thrush sings so bravely his song i’ the forest grand, / On the fair hills of holy Ireland.’

Note - John Mitchel quotes the following stanza on reaching Bermuda in his prison ship in 1848:

A plenteous place is Ireland for hospitable cheer,
                              Ullagone dhu, oh!
Where the wholesome fruit is bursting from the yellow barley ear,
                               Ullagone dhu, oh!
There is honey in the trees, where her misty vales expand.
And the forest-paths in summer are by falling waters fanned,
There is a dew at high noontide there, and springs in the yellow sand,
                             On the fair hills of holy Ireland.

—See Jail Journal, ed. Arthur Griffith (Dublin: M. H. Gill 1913), p.33.

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The Burial of King Cormac”: ‘“Crom cruach and his sub-gods twelve”, / Sad Cormac, “are but carven treene; / The axe that made them, haft or helve, / Had worthier of our worship been. / But he who made the tree to grow, / and hid in earth the iron-stone, / and made the man with mind to konw / The axe’s use, is god alone.” […] Spread not the beds of Brugh for me / When restless death-bed’s use is done; / But bury me at Rosnaree, / And face me to the rising sun // For all the Kings who lie in Brugh / Put trust in gods of wood and stone; / And ’twas at Ross that I first knew / One, Unseen, who is God alone. // His glory lightens to the east; / His message soon shall reach our shore; / An idol god, and cursing priest / Shall plauge us from Moy Slaught no more.” […] While, as youth with practised spear / Through justling crowds bears off the ring, / Boyne from their shoulders caught the bier / And proudly bore away the king. // At morning, on the grassy marge / Of Rosnaree, the corpse was found; / And shepherds at their early charge / Entombed it in the peaceful ground. / A tranquil spot: a hopeful sound / comes from the ever youthful stream, / and still on daisied mead and mound / The dawn delays with tenderer beam. // Round Cormac Spring renews her buds: / In march perletual by his side, / Down come the earth-fresh April floods, / And up the sea-fresh salmon glide; // And life and time rejoicing run / From age to age their wonted way; / But still he waits the risen Sun, / For still ’tis only dawning Day.’ (Quoted [in part] in P. J. Kavanagh, Voices in Ireland, 1994, p.51; at greater length in Oliver St. John Gogarty, I Follow St. Patrick, Rich & Cowan, 1938, p.195ff.; rep. in The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing, 1991, Vol. 2, pp.43-45.). See also ‘Lament for Thomas Davis’ quoted under Davis, infra. [See also “Lament for Thomas Davis”, under Davis, infra.

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Congal: A Poem in Five Books [1872] (Dublin: Sealy Bryers & Walker; London: G. Bell & Son 1907), Ded.: ‘three much prized friends, Margaret Stokes, Whitley Stokes, and F. W. Burton. [Opening; p.2:] ‘Dark, too, at times his own brow showed that all his lover’s air / But mantled with a passing light the gloom of inward care.’ (p.3.) Ulster eulogised for preserving poetic culture, ‘they sheltering, song-preserving hills, Ultonia!’; ‘the poet-peopled desert teems with inspiration yet!’ (p.17.) ‘Burst, blackening cloud that hangs aloof o’er perjured Domnal’s halls! / Dash down, with all your flaming bolts, the fraud-cemented walls, / till through your thunder-rieven palls heaven’s light anew be pour’d / In law and Justice, Wealth and Song, on Congal’s throne restored!’(p.23.) [Dun Dealga] ‘where Cuchullin in the days of old caroused his banished bards’; ‘[Sweeny] no longer at the lance expert, nor on the whirling car, / With bent bow able as of old to ride the ridge of war’ (p.36.) ‘broad stone Aileach’ [with its] ‘sunny sward’; ‘to live or die in manly arms alone’; ‘The merry maidens when they spied the warlike king in view / Beneath their robes in modest haste their gleaming feet withdrew’ (p.46.) ‘Wherewith and with his British, and allied Alban power, / For Erin, from Loch Linnhe side, he sailed in evil hour.’ (p.55.) ‘But laden deep with death and woe, of all my race the first / To bring the hireling stranger in, I come in hour accurst’ (p.57.) [Cont.]


Congal: A Poem in Five Books (1907 Edn.) - cont. [Congal:] ‘Nor grieve I much; nor would I grieve if Heaven had so been pleased / that either I had not been born, or had already ceased / Being born, to breathe; but while I breathe so let my life be spent / As in renown of noble deeds to find a monument. (p.66.) [Conan Rodd:] ‘Wherefore, no penitential cell for me! But rather raise, / here, where old honour stands revived, the Stone of other days. / Grey, vast, majestic, such as when degenerate men behold, / They say, “some noble thing was done here in the days of old.” / Such as when poets view, they’ll say, when ages hence are flown / Great hears and might hands were theirs who raised the Standing Stone. (p.82.) ‘’Where runs the roebuck on the hill, where floats the pinnace free: / Where still the ancient gods receive, in forest and in cave, / with rites of sacrifice unfeigned, the worship of the brave’ (p.83.)

Congal: A Poem in Five Books (1907 Edn.) - cont. ‘Firvolg and Gael in one accord; all Erin in a band / Against the robbers of the sea and traitors of the land.’ (p.104.) [Domnal to Clan Connal:] ‘“Kinsmen”, he said, “to their tribes I’ve offered, on my way, / Words of incitement to renown, as fitting for the day … but from these hortative harangues-since vain were the attempt / to add to valour infinite-Clan-Conail stands exempt’ (p.114.) ‘through all the rout of high-raised hands and wrathful glaring eyes, / Erc’s look of wrath and lifted hands before him seemed to rise’ (p.118.) ‘[…] Sweeny o’er the distant plain his lonely flight pursued, / Noiseless, as flits, at daylight-gone, the level-coasting crane’ (p.120.) ‘But Domnal’s brothers in one grace on Irish Moyra lie; / and to this day the place for them is called Cairn Albany. / The hardy Saxon little reeks what bones beneath decay, / But sees the cross-signed pillar stone, and turns his plough away.’ (124.) ‘and well might wearied combatant his own dead work forbear / to view the warlike practice of the sword-accomplished pair; / so, timing, with instinctive sway, consenting eye and hand, / They wove the dazzling woof of death ’twixt gleaming brand and hand.’ (p.137.)

Congal: A Poem in Five Books (1907 Edn.) - cont. [of Cuanna:] ‘Wherefore she sought to urge him forth with words of taunt and scorn, / Naked to war, that so perchance the youth might not return’; [Congal:] ‘a Might hosting, by my head, a terrible array / this potent King of Erin makes against me here today, / who brings his valiant sages and grammarians from their schools / And also, in amazing arms, his lunatics and fools.’(p.147.) [Congal:] ‘And well I knew my death to-day at Moyra stood decreed // But thought to find my destiny in other hands indeed’ (p.148.) [Kellach:] ‘and never asked from clerk or witch, by sacrifice or charm / to buy a demon’s venal help to aid my own right arm: / But in my house, good poets, men expert in song and lay, / I’ve kept, in bounteous sort, to teach my sons the prosperous way / Of open truth and manliness … ‘ (p.163.) [Ardan:] ‘here fate has fixed that you and I shall draw our last of breath; / for I am worn with weight of years and feebly now inhale / The vital air, and newer life from mountain and from vale / Rises and pushes me. A voice that seems to cry, / Make way; make straight the way’, is filling earth and sky’ (p.166.)

Congal: A Poem in Five Books (1907 Edn.) - cont.: ‘A thought came into Congal’s mind-how sent let faith divine, / He said, “No man had ever shame or grief compared with mine.”’ (p.167.) ‘so o’er his long distempered soul came tranquil light at last’ (p.167.) ‘there came across the daiseyed lawn a veiled religious maid’ [Lafinda] (p.167.) [Sweeny:] ‘My day, indeed, is distant yet, and many a wandering race / Must I with wind and shower maintain; and many a rainbow chase / Across the wet-bright meads, ere I, like him, obtain release / From furious fancy’s urgent stings, and lay my limbs in peace.’ (p.169.) ‘my sins, said Congal, and my deeds of strike and bloodshed seem / No longer mine, but as the shapes and shadows of a dream / And I myself, as one oppressed with life’s deceptive shows, / Awaking only now to life, when life is at its close.’’ (p.172.) [Lafinda sees him as] ‘awaking … to light and life beyond the grave’ (p.173.) Note: Congal is mortally wounded, with billhook blow to the head in Book. V: ‘As westward, o’er the Land of Light, they swept the flowery lea; / Each shining hoof of every steed upcasting high behind / The gay green turf in thymy tufts that scented all the wind / While, courser’s head with intersecting bound, As swift as skimming swallows played the joyous barking hounds.’

Congal: A Poem in Five Books (1872): ‘We gave thee not / Licence to take the life, the soul itself /Of our whole nation, as you now would do, /For, slay our reverend sages of the law, /Slay him who put the law they teach in act; /Slay our sweet poets, and our sacred bards, /Who keep the continuity of time /By fame perpetual of renowned deeds; /Slay our experienced captains who prepare /The youth for martial manhood, and the charge /Of public freedom, as befits a state /Self-governed, self-sufficing, self-contained; /Slay all those who minister our loftier life, /Now by this evil chance assembled here, /You leave us but the carcass of a state, /A rabble ripe to rot, and yield the land /To foreign masters and perpetual shame.’ (Poems of Sir Samuel Ferguson, ed. A. P. Graves, Dublin & London 1918, p.208; quoted in Robert Welch, ‘Language and Tradition in the Nineteenth Century’, in Changing States: Transformations in Modern Irish Writing, London: Routledge 1993, p.12.)

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Hymn to the River Liffey” (being the last third of Mesgedra): ‘For others [these] I, from the twilight waste / Where pale Tradition sits by Memory’s grave, / Gather this wreath, and ere the nightfall, haste, / To fling my votive garland on thy wave. / Wave, waft it softly! and when lovers stray / At summer eve by stream and dimpling pool, / Gather thy murmurs into voice and say, / With liquid utterance passionate and full, / “Scorn not sweet maiden, scorn not, vigorous youth, / The lay, though breathing of an Irish home, / That tells of woman-love and warrior-ruth / And old expectancy of Christ to come.”’ (Quoted in Peter Costello, James Joyce: The Years of Growth, 1992, p.83.) Further: ‘For though, for them, alas, nor History past / Nor even Tradition; and the man aspires / To link his present with his country’s past / And live anew in knowledge of his sires / no rootless colonist of alien earth / Proud but of patient lungs and pliant limb / A Stranger in the land that gave him birth / The land a stranger to itself and him.’ Also, ‘The Murmuring Liffey and the banks of Clane’ (Quoted in Costello, idem.).

See also his translation of O&&146;Gnive’s “Downfall of the Gael” - under Fear Flatha Ó Gnímh - infra.

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Lament for the Death of Thomas Davis”: ‘I walked through Ballinderry in the springtime, / When the bud was on the tree, / And I said, in every fresh-ploughed field beholding / The sowers striding free, / Scattering broadcast for the corn in golden plenty, / On the quick, seed-clasping soil, / Even such this day among the fresh-stirred hearts of Erin / Thomas Davis, is thy toil! I sat by Ballyshannon in the summer, / And saw the salmon leap, / And I said, as I beheld the gallant creatures / Spring glittering from the deep, / Through the spray and through the prone heaps striving onward / To the calm, clear streams above, / So seekest thou thy native founts of freedom, Thomas Davis, / In thy brightness of strength and love! I stood on Derrybawn in the autumn, / I heard the eagle call, / With a clangorous cry of wrath and lamentation / That filled the wide mountain hall, / O’er the bare, deserted place of his plundered eyrie, / And I said, as he screamed and soared, / So callest thou, thou wrathful-soaring Thomas Davis, / For a nation’s rights restored. / Young husbandman of Erin’s fruitful seed-time, / In the fresh track of danger’s plough! / Who will walk the heavy, toilsome, perilous furrow, / Girt with freedom’s seed-sheets now? / Who will banish with the wholesome crop of knowledge / The flaunting weed and the bitter thorn, / Now that thou thyself art but a seed for hopeful planting / Against the resurrection morn? / Young salmon of the flood-time of freedom / That swells round Erin’s shore, / Thou wilt leap against their loud, oppressive torrents / Of bigotry and hate no more! / Drawn downward by their prone material instinct, / Let them thunder on their rocks, and foam; / Thou hast leaped, aspiring soul, to founts beyond their raging, / Where troubled waters never come. But I grieve not, eagle of the empty eyrie, / That thy wrathful cry is still, / And that the songs alone of peaceful mourners / Are heard today on Erin’s hill. / Better far if brothers’ wars are destined for us - / God avert that horrid day, I pray ! - / That ere our hands be stained with slaughter fratricidal, / Thy warm heart should be cold in clay. But my trust is strong in God who made us brothers, / That He will not suffer these right hands, / Which thou hast joined in holier rites than wedlock, / To draw opposing brands. / 0 many a tuneful tongue that thou madest vocal, / Would lie cold and silent then, / And songless long once more should often-widowed Erin / Mourn the loss of her brave young men. O brave young men, my move, my pride, my promise, / ’’Tis on you my hopes are set, / In manliness, in kindliness, in justice, / To make Erin a nation yet; / Self-respecting, self-relying, self-advancing, / In union or in severance, free and strong, / And if God grant this, then, under God, to Thomas Davis / Let the greater praise belong! (written 1845; published in Dublin University Magazine, Feb. 1847.)

“The Lark in the Clear Air”

Dear thoughts are in my mind
And my soul soars enchanted,
As I hear the sweet lark sing
In the clear air of the day.
For a tender beaming smile
To my hope has been granted,
And tomorrow she shall hear
All my fond heart would say.

I shall tell her all my love,
All my soul’s adoration,
And I think she will hear
And will not say me nay.
It is this that gives my soul
All its joyous elation,
As I hear the sweet lark sing
In the clear air of the day.

Often called ‘traditional’, and set to music by Herbert Hughes and Vaughan Williams, the poem is actually by Sir Samuel Ferguson. Variations incl. ‘longs too say’ for ‘would say’. See and hear Cara Dillon on Youtube - online accessed 24.05.2012.

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Sir Samuel Ferguson’s translation of Fr. Muiris Ó Duagain’s text of The Coolin (orig. c.1641)

O have you seen the Coolun,
Walking down the cuckoo’s street,
With the dew of the meadow shining
On her milk-white twinkling feet!
My love she is, and my coleen oge,
And she dwells in Bal’nagar;
And she bears the palm of beauty bright,
From the fairest that in Erin are.

In Bal’nagar is the Coolun
Like the berry on the bough her cheek;
Bright beauty dwells for ever
On her fair neck and ringlets sleek;
Oh, sweeter is her mouth's soft music
Than the lark or thrush at dawn,
Or the blackbird in the greenwood singing
Farewell to the setting sun.

Rise up, my boy! make ready
My horse, for I forth would ride,
To follow the modest damsel,
Where she walks on the green hillside;
Where since our youth were we plighted,
In faith, troth, and wedlock true -
She is sweeter to me nine times over,
Than organ or cuckoo!

For, ever since my childhood
I loved the fair and darling child;
But our people came between us,
And with lucre our pure love defiled;
Ah, my woe it is, and my bitter pain,
And I weep it night and day,
That the coleen bawn of my early love,
Is torn from my heart away.

Sweetheart and faithful treasure,
Be constant still and true;
Nor for want of herds and houses
Leave one who would ne'er leave you,
I'll pledge you the blessed Bible,
Without and eke within,
That the faithful God will provide for us,
Without thanks to kith or kin.

Oh, love, do you remember
When we lay all night alone,
Beneath the ash in the winter storm
When the oak wood round did groan?
No shelter then from the blast had we,
The bitter blast or sleet,
But your gown to wrap about our heads,
And my coat around our feet.

The Book of Irish Ballads, ed. Denis Florence M'Carthy (Dublin: James Duffy 1846), p.188; given in Wikipedia entry on “The Coolin” - online.

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Dialogue Between the Head and Heart of an Irish Protestant” [Selection], Dublin University Magazine Vol. II (Nov. 1833), p.586-93: HEART: I am in a bad temper, and somewhat dangerous, but not unreasonable. Have I not good cause to be in a bad temper? here are we, the loyal Protestant gentry of Ireland, by whose attachment to the law, and the church, and the crown, this Island has for two hundred and fifty years (ever since its actual conquest) been preserved to the British Empire. We, by whom three dangerous rebellions have already been put down in this realm, and who would be ready to put down an other in the same cause, were it to burst out tomorrow. Here are we, I say, who are the controllers of popery; the safeguards of British connection; the guarantees of the empire’s integrity; the most respectable body of me for our members, in all Europe, whether we be considered with regard to wealth, industry, intellect, position, or absolute power; here are we, I say again, who in a word, are the arbitrers of Britain’s fate, deceived, insulted, spoiled, and set at defiance. HEAD: Softly, softly, the Whigs still love our church, though they have been her involuntary spoliators. They cannot be such fools, as not to value our friendship […; see longer extracts in Library, “Irish Classics”, infra.]

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Review of “Hardiman’s Irish Minstrelsy” (DUM, April-Nov. 1834)
Part 1: Dublin University Magazine, Vol. III, No. XVI (April 1834), pp.455-78
Part II: Dublin University Magazine, Vol. IV, No. XX (August 1834), pp.152-67
Part III: Dublin University Magazine, Vol. IV, No. XXII (Oct. 1834), pp.444-67
Part IV: Dublin University Magazine, Vol. IV, No. XXIII (Nov. 1834), pp.514-42*
*with trans. from Irish as appendix, including some poems later printed in Lays of the Western Gael, 1864

Note:The extracts given below have been compiled over time from various critical sources - chiefly Frank O’Connor (The Backward Look, London: Macmillan 1967), Terence Brown (Northern Voices: Poets from Ulster, Dublin Gill & Macmillan 1975), Mark Storey (Poetry and Ireland since 1800: A Source Book, London: Routledge 1988), and Michael Cronin (Translating Ireland: Translations, Languages, Cultures, Cork UP 1996); Robert Welch (Irish Poetry from Moore to Yeats, Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1980), David Cairns & Shaun Richards (Writing Ireland, colonialism, nationalism and culture, Manchester UP 1988). In addition to those, some passages have been added from bound copies of the original DUM printing. Paragraph breaks have been added here for screen-reading purposes only, rather than in imitation of the original or copies in the said critical works

For readers’ convenience, the extracts which follow here can also be read in a new window - here.

PART I (DUM, III, XVI, April 1834, pp.455-78), Opening: ‘Oh ye fair hills of holy Ireland, who dares sustain the strangled calumny that you are not the land of our love? [Quotes:] “Sweet land of the bee-abounding hi9lls / Island of the year-old young horses, / Soil of the heaviest fruit of trees, / Soil of the greenest grassed pastures, / Old plain of Eber, harvestful, / Land of the ears of corn and wheat, / Land of heroes and clergy, / Ba[n]bá of the golden-hardied damsels, / Land of blue runnig pure streams, And of gold-rich fortunate men.” Who is he who ventures to stand between us and your Catholic sons’ good-will? What though for three centuries they and we [32] have made your valleys resound with the clang of axe and broadsword, ringing on chain-mail and plate-armour, or with the thunder of artillery tearing their way into bloody lanes, through columns and solid square, or with the discordant clash of pike or bayonet, and the vollied rattling of more deadly musket thinning the contracted lines, […] What though in times long past they startled your midnight echoes with our groans under the knife that spared neither bedridden age nor cradled infancy, […] what though the thick dregs of sanguinary intoxication are still poured forth by Discord’s Ganymedes, and still quaffed savagely in many a misty glen and black bog of your mountains. - What then? It was for love of you that we contended, for possession and enjoyment of you that we trampled down our rivals on your bosom; and now that the nuptial knot is tied and consecrated between us, nothing save the sword of Alexander shall dissolve the Gordian consummation! But who would be the jealous Turk to say, that those amorous Irishmen, whose love has been as constant as our own, and more legitimate by ages of possession, should not be admitted to all the privileges of a national panogamy? May we never again behold the Curragh of Kildare if wew would be that sordid tyrant for all the wealth and power of the British empire. The only emulation between us shall be in the honest endeavour of each to benefit and protect the common object of our affection; and, scorning the rancour of low rivalry that would content with misrepresentation, detraction, or suppression, we will be the first to tell the world what genius, what bravery, what loyalty, what pious love of country and kind has been vindicated to the mere Irish by Mr. Hardiman, in his collection and preservation of their national songs. Mr. Hardiman’s collection is truly a boon to the Irish reader. But the Irish reader is, in general, a being who exercises little influence on the book market; form howve highly he may appreciate the service done him, he must confine his expression of thanks to the few who have been hitherto supposed to sympathise with a poor scholar, a Papist and an Connaughtman. Much as the announcement may mortify some who would usurp the exclusive right to Catholic good-will, we declare ourselves one of the number of those who can feel for, and sympathise with, the poor Papist, [33] whether drudging on the wharfs of London, or eating limpets and sea weed on the rocks of Erris, or toiling homeward from the harvest of rich Britain, lying poorly in barns or ditches by the wayside, or herded like one of a drove of swine on the wet deck of a collier; or, when he has returned sitting perhaps on the bleak hill side, and looking back, with wife and hungry little ones, on the roof he has been forced to relinquish at the bidding of a cruel landlord; nay, to the most distant dens of squalid and savage barbarism, where burnings, housebreakings, rapes, assassinations, are to the ruffian conspirator familiar as the glass he drains; and to the very files of the marching marauders, as they line the road by which their victim is expected, we are not ashamed to declare that we can extend our indignant commiseration, and are not yet hopeless of obtaining the grateful confidence of an undeceived and rescued people in return. We will not suffer two of the finest races of men in the world, the Catholic and Protestant, or the Milesian and Anglo-Irish, to be duped into mutual hatred by the tale-bearing go-betweens who may struggle in impotent malice against our honest efforts, even though the panders of dissension should be willing to pay out of their own pockets as some, who may look to their backs and shoulders, have done - for the satisfaction of setting us by the ears. But let it first be our task to make the people of Ireland better acquainted with one another. We address in these pages the Protestant wealth and intelligence of the country, an interest acknowledged on all hands to be the depository of Ireland’s fate for good or evil. The Protestants of Ireland are wealthy and intelligent beyond most classes, of their numbers, in the world: but their wealth has hitherto been insecure, because their intelligence has not embraced a thorough knowledge of the genius and disposition of their Catholic fellow-citizens. The genius of a people at large is not to be learned by the notes of Sunday tourists. The history of centuries must be gathered, published, studied and digested, before the Irish people can be known to the world, and to each other, as they ought to be. We hail, with daily-increasing pleasure, the spirit of research and liberality which is manifesting itself in all the branches of our national literature, but chiefly in our earlier history and antiquities - subjects of paramount importance to every people who respect, or even desire to respect themselves. Let us contribute our aid to the auspicious undertaking, and introduce the Saxon and the Scottish Protestant to an acquaintance with the poetical genius of a people hitherto [34; DUM, p.455] unknown in them, as being known only in a character incompatible with sincerity or plain dealing. The present century will not answer the conditions of our enquiry. We will look nearer to times when they who had high treason in their hearts and arms in their hands, and honest defiance on their faces - when the game of nations was played boldly and won fairly - when victors and vanquished could afford to seem what they really were, and genuine feeling found utterance undisguised, in the passionate sincerity of exultation or despair. We will leave the idiotic brawler, the bankrupt and fraudulent demagogue, the crawling incendiary, the scheming, jesuitical, ambitious priest - that perverse rabble, on whom the mire in which they have wallowed for the last quarter of a century, has caked into a crust like the armour of the Egyptian beast, till they are case-hardened invulnerably in the fit of habitual impudence, ingratitude, hypocrisy, envy and malice; so that it were but a vain defilement of aught manly and honorable to advance it against such panoply of every foul component - we will leave them to their employment of reproach or agitation, and sing the songs of men who might well rise from honourable graves, and affright the midnight [evhoes] of Aughrim and Benburb with their lamentations, if they could know that their descendents were fools enough to be left by such a directory of knaves and cowards ( …; Storey, pp.32-35).

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PART II (DUM, IV, XX, Aug. 1834, pp.152-67; rep. in Mark Storey, Poetry and Ireland Since 1800, Routledge 1988, pp.35-41): ‘[…] Again shift back the scene till the roar of the artillery is heard no longer, and the only smoke of battle is the steam of reeking men and horses; and over the same valley, now all uncultivated, yet green in deep, delicious pasture, we see the ancestors of the same men who vainly strove with British discipline at Kinsale and the Boyne, now still more vainly striving with one another, for the possession, perhaps, of the unconscious brutes scared from their grazing ground beside, perhaps of the grey ruin crumbling on the hill above; or, it may be, as it often was, for the mere lust of inflicting pain, and the mad glory of fighting. A horrid sight! They hack one another with brazen knives; they pierce one another with flint-headed arrows and the barbed blades of javelins; they torture the dying; they mangle and insult over the dead. Woe to the conquered! Wives and little ones, old men and maidens mingled in common massacre, expire among the ruins of the huts or the unavailing defences of their earthen rampart. No sulphurous canopy here to hide them from the eye of day; but all on the open plain, where summer dust never soiled a daisy, do the heroic savages exult before the face of heaven, while bards and Seanachies contend in glorifying the brave atrocity! Alas! how soon have we forgotten that love was to have been our theme! How soon has the sad necessity of Irish history drawn us into the strife, and cruelty, and desolation, and despair, by the modifications of which alone can we compare the different aspects of early Irish society - a society which has differed little from the days of Henry to those of George, save in degrees of violence or misery. But let war and famine do their worst, love is immortal and the same; and the valley before us, with all its successions of disfigurement and desolation, has never missed its May tribute of sighs and songs. The flowers of our forest are hard to weed away. Seven hundred years of disaster, as destructive as ever consumed the vitals of any country, have each in succession seen our people perishing by famine or the sword in almost every quarter of the land; yet at this day there is neither mountain, plain, nor valley that is not rife with generations of the unextinguishable nation; long may they walk upon our hills with the steps of freemen! long may they make our valleys ring with the songs of that love which has thus made them indomitable in defeat and ineradicable in a struggle of extermination! / These are the songs before us - songs such as the speakers of [37] the English language at large have never heard before, and which they could not see and hear now but for the pious labours of a man who, however politically malignant and religiously fanatical, has yet done such good service to his country in their collection and preservation, that for her sake we half forgive him our own quarrel, and consent to forego a great part of its vindication. / Those who have known the melodies of Ireland only in association with the delightful lyrics of Moore, will, we fear, be startled to find them connected with songs so marked as these are, by all the characteristics which distinguish the productions of rude, from those of refined society. Moore’s Melodies, indeed, present a combination of the most delightful attributes of music and poetry, unattainable otherwise than by uniting the music of a rude age to the poetry of a refined one. The hardships, dangers, and afflictions which must have crushed the heart of the musician before it could so shed its whole life-blood of passion into the absorbing and almost painful pathos of an Irish melody, must have been too destructive of all security to have admitted even an approach to that devoted leisure which alone could qualify a writer for success in finished poetry. The contrast between the native songs and the lyrics of Moore is indeed strangely striking - as strange as uncouthness can present in juxtaposition with politeness, but still no more than that which may be admitted to have distinguished the Merus Hibernicus, from the modern Irish gentleman. We will look in vain for the chasteness, the appositeness, the antithetical and epigrammatic point, and the measured propriety of prosody, which delight the car and the judgment, in a song by Thomas Moore, among the rude rhymes which accompanied the same notes two centuries ago; but the stamen and essence of each is interwoven and transfused through the whole texture and complexion of the other - for sentiment is the soul of song, and sentiment is one imprescriptible property of the common blood of all Irishmen. / What we mean by Irish sentiment, we hope to show in the progress of our notices; and we can execute our purpose only by adhering to the strict severity of literal translation. We have exemplified Irish adulation, Irish whimsicality, and Irish fun and jollity in the songs of Carolan, with a fidelity painful to ourselves, as it was derogatory from the character so long reflected on Carolan’s poetic, from his musical talent. If we have done that wonderful musician poetic injustice, we will give his poetic defenders their revenge in kind; for it is our purpose, sometime about the Lammas floods, to give an appendix to this series, containing, along with some communications of considerable interest and from rather distinguished persons, as many versions as we think ourselves and our aids sufficiently happy in, to warrant the assurance which we now beg to give our readers - that whatever versions of Irish song may find their way into our pages shall be as faithful as the best talents of ourselves and our assistants can secure - therefore should any Irish scholar, conscious of a good talent for translation conceive that he can set Carolan right with the English reader, (which we confess we ourselves almost despair of being able to do,) we will be happy to give his versions our best consideration for insertion with those alluded to. / Meanwhile, whatever beauties may remain concealed in the songs of Carolan, we will proceed with those which furnish less suspicious and equally, if not more, available material for a judgment on the subject proposed. Heaven help us! what a key to the whole melancholy mystery is here. It is the first part of the “Song of Sorrow”, and mournfully true to its name it is. “If you would go with me to the County Leitrim, / Uilecan dubh O! [… &c.; for remainder, see Notes, infra.] / Desire, despair, and the horrible reality of actual famine these are three dread prompters of song. Whoever first sung the Song of Sorrow had felt them all; but desire was his paramount inspirer, and the concluding stanzas rise into such a fervid frenzy of undisguised desire that we shrink from exhibiting them in their [39] literal English. Yet there is nothing impure, nothing licentious in their languishing but savage sincerity. This is the one great characteristic of all the amatory poetry of the country; and in its association with the despondency of conscious degradation, and the recklessness of desperate content, is partly to be found the origin of that wild, mournful, incondite, yet not uncouth, sentiment which distinguishes the national songs of Ireland from those of perhaps any other nation in the world. We say in this is “partly” to be found the source of that peculiarity which marks Irish sentiments; for we believe that great proportion of the characteristics of a people are inherent, not fictitious; and that there are as essential differences between the genius[es] as between the physical appearances of nations. We believe that no dissipating continuance of defeat, danger, famine, or misgovernment could ever, without the absolute infusion of Milesian blood, Hibernicize the English peasant; and that no stultifying operation of mere security, plenty, or laborious regularity could ever, without actual physical transubstantiation, reduce the native Irishman to the stolid standard of the sober Saxon. Holding these opinions, our object must be rather to ascertain what Irish sentiment is, than why or whence it may be so or so. The great ingredient in the sentiment of the song we have just translated is desire; yet that song is called the Song of Sorrow - not, as we conceive, on account of those misfortunes, however miserable, which rendered that an unattainable desire; but rather because the hopelessness of passion rises to such a paramount excess of anguish as overbears and obliterates all other griefs, and would make the lamentation of the hopeless lover pining among all that wealth and peace could give to comfort him, as bitterly woeful as that of the wan outlaw himself; were it not that the comparatively artificial state of feeling induced by the influences of wealth and refinement, renders such passionate excess in civilized life too rare to justify the general application of such a supposition. No doubt, the poignancy of the fugitive’s disappointment must have been greatly exasperated by the recollection that it had been his own rebellion (for the Song of Sorrow was composed by a fugitive rebel,) which had plunged him into this bitter abyss where desire turned to languishment, and hope to despair: still the great strength of the song’s concentrated pathos lies in deploring the effect, not in deprecating the cause. He does not blame the illfortune that struck him down before his enemy in battle, or that drove him bleeding and bare from his burned homestead to lead the life of a wild [40] animal among the woods and mountains: there is no reproach against the treachery or cowardice of his people, no complaint of the misery and insecurity of his country - and yet, had it not been for these, black Uilecan had surely been his own - no; he has but one wish, the enjoyment of his love; one grief, the hopelessness of having his desire; and there is nothing for him but to blaspheme heaven and fly - and he does blaspheme heaven - “Great God! why am I thus denied / My Uilecan dubh 0?” is the last exclamation of his agony, as, diving into the deepest forest of the Black Valley, he bursts away for the Lakes of Leitrim wild as the red deer in September. / Let us no longer imagine that humour is the characteristic of the Irish. Their sentiment is pathetic. Desire is the essence of that pathos - desire, either for the possession of love unenjoyed, or for the continuance of love being enjoyed, or for the restoration of enjoyed love lost. We know no Irish song addressed to the judgment: if an Irish song fail to go to the heart at once, it fails outright. Even in the most whimsical there is some touch of sentiment, some appeal to the pathetic principle. So also in their music, as admirably exemplified by Mr Moore in his dedication of the first number of the Melodies, where, alluding to the characteristic introduction of a flat third, he draws the same inference from its effect in harmony, which we would deduce from the presence when least expected of some pathetic allusion in the lyric composition of some of their most extravagantly humorous rhymes […]’ (pp.37-40.)

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PART III (DUM, Vol. IV, No. XXII, 4 Oct. 1834, pp.444-67): ‘[P]eople the desert with W]ith bold men and chaste women, and you have the elements of a nation, though its metropolis be a kraal, and its via regia a sheep track. / Our capital is no circle of log huts, our royal road is no green forest pass, no ragged mountain pathway. Dublin with her palaces, deserted though they are, were no unworthy residence for kings and legislators; our great northern line, unfreqauented though the travelling carriage of native absentee or foreign proprietor may be upons its level causeway, were no unmeet avenue for the returning march of victorious armies, or the peaceful pomp of regal or viceregal progresses. Our people, we believe, before Heaven, to be as brave and as virtuous a people as the world ever saw. Female purity is ever the concomitant, the crown and halo of true love; and the sentiment of legitimate desire, as we have illustrated it in our preceding paper, is not more nationally characteristic of our courageous countrymen than is this its purer, though twin sister, attribute, of the virgins, wives, and matrons, whom we rejoice to recall our fair and merry countrywomen. No - whatever calamitous degradation the violence of an oppressive conquest, or the lingering tyranny of a debasing priestcraft may have exercised in other regards upon the moral condition of the Irish, however self-respect and manly charity may have been thrust down by the iron heel of an unavoidable civil domination; however reason and free intellect may have been prostrated by the hoofs of a more brutal spiritual ascendancy, virtue, evading alike the spurns of power and the trampling march of superstition, has risen, is rising, and will rise, immaculate as the love it fosters, indomitable as the nation it redeems. Let violence and discord do their worst; while virtue is our people’s heritage we will not despair for Ireland. Eight millions of people cannot for ever remain in obscurity; sooner or later Ireland must rise into importance, perhaps as an emulator, perhaps as an equal, perhaps as a superior to the other members of our imperial confederacy. Let politicians quarrel as to the means, all Irishmen must be unanimous in common aspiration for that noble end; but, if our country were to attain to power and distinction only by forfeiting these virtues which have hallowed her adversity, we would rather see her chained for ever to the level of her present civil degradation, than emulating France in military renown, while she imitated her in heartless sensuality, or rivalling England herself in political and commercial influence, while a like indifference to humble honor made the churchwarden’s liability her peasant girl’s best portion. As this never has been, so, we [42] trust, it never can be in Ireland: the Irish heart must first be stripped of all those characteristics which most ennoble its peculiar constitution; and to effect that revolution, which neither ignorance, nor superstition, nor brutalising exclusion from humane society has been able to bring about through seven hundred years of outrage and outlawry, will, with God’s help, be equally impracticable, by whatever knowledge, or power, or lawful luxury may come in the train of those long centuries of improvement that are yet in store for her. o far, then, from yielding to despair, we rejoice in all auspicious hopes for our country. The arts of civilized life have already half-forestalled the national civilization. Great works, which in common progress of society must have been preceded by a development of local intelligence and enterprize adequate to their conception and execution are, by a generous anomaly, extended through our most remote and savage districts; high roads, canals, embankments, piers, and harbours, await prospective use and reproductive operation; and dormant facilities for the development of unimagined applications of advancing art are prepared by nature over and under the whole face of the high-destined country. But are our people such as could make a nation of the desert, much more of such a rich and well-conditioned island? Education based upon the only true basis - scriptural education alone is wanted to make our men as bbld as our women are chaste - to make us a nation of enlightened, liberal, and prosperous people - assertors of our own rights, respecters of the rights of others - a truly integral and influential portion of the empire, repudiating alike the insolent violence of civil degradation and the hideous impiety of spiritual thraldom - in the fullest sense of the words, bold men, honoured by others and respected by ourselves […] (Storey, edn., 1988, pp.41-43.)

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PART III (DUM, Vol. IV, No. XXII, 4 Oct. 1834, pp.444-67) - cont.: ‘The clansman idolises his chief instead of venerating the sentiment of patriarchal supremacy … of a legitimate monarchy.’ [On fosterage:] ‘we can readily find an excuse for [English] law against communication with the Irish, which, if not justified by the existence of a contagion so catching, would appear unnecessarily and atrociously cruel.’ ‘Let us contribute our aid to the auspicious undertaking, and introduce the Saxon and Scottish Presbyterian to an acquaintance with poetical genius of a people hitherto unknown to them, as being known only in a character compatible with sincerity and plain dealing. The present century will not answer the conditions of our enquiry. We will look nearer to times when they who had high treason in their hearts had arms in their hands, and honest defiance on their faces - when the game of nations was played boldly and won fairly - when victors and vanquished could afford to seem what they really were, and genuine feeling found utterance undisguised, in the passionate sincerity of exultation or despair. We will leave the idiotic brawler, the bankrupt and fraudulent demagogue, the crawling incendiary, the scheming, Jesuitical, ambitious priest - that perverse rabble, on whom the mire in which they have wallowed for the last quarter of a century has caked into a crust like the armour of the Egyptian beast, till they are case hardened invulnerably in the filth of habitual impudence, ingratitude, hypocrisy, envy and malice; so that it were but a vain defilement of aught manly or honourable to advance it against such panoply of every foul component - we will leave them to their employment of reproach and agitation, and sing the songs of men who might well rise from honourable graves, and affright the midnight echoes of Antrim or Benburb with their lamentations, if they could know that their descendants were fools enough to be led by such a directory of knaves and cowards.’ (Dublin University Magazine, Vol. III, No. XVI, April 1834, p.457; cited in Brown, op. cit., 1975, pp. 32-33.)

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PART III (DUM, Vol. IV, No. XXII, 4 Oct. 1834, pp.444-67) - cont.: ‘We have hitherto so slightly alluded to the accompanying metrical versions of Mr. Hardiman’s collection, that the reader may not improbably suppose it, what we sincerely wish it were, a mere compilation of untranslated Irish pieces. It were fortunate for the subject had it been so; but the laudable desire of making the English reader acquainted with the style and sentiment of our native poetry, has, unfortunately, induced Mr. Hardiman to attach versions so strangely unlike the originals both in sentiment and style, as to destroy alike the originality and the interest of Irish minstrelsy for those who can only appreciate it through such a medium. / It is but justice to the gentlemen who furnished these translations to observe, that their labour was gratuitous and the task peculiarly difficult. Indeed the disinterestedness (so far as it concerns pecuniary matters) which characterises the whole undertaking, challenges the highest praise. Mr. Hardiman collected and compiled, and Messrs. D’Alton, Furlong, Curran, and other well-disposed and learned men versified the translations of the compiled matter, and presented the whole, without recompense of any kind, as a mark of their esteem to Mr. Robbins, the publisher. We regret that, while we applaud the purpose, we must unequivocally condemn the execution. All the versifiers seem to have been actuated by a morbid desire, neither healthy nor honest, to elevate the tone of the original to a pitch of refined poetic art altogether foreign from the whole genius and rationale of its composition. We are sorry to be obliged to add, that the majority of these attempts are spurious, puerile, unclassical - lamentably bad. [the foregoing quoted in Cronin, op. cit., 1996, p.108-09.] (For remarks on the editor and translators, see James Hardiman [infra], Thomas Furlong [infra] and William Drummond [supra]. )

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Dublin Penny Journal” [review-article], in Dublin University Magazine, 15, 85 (1840), pp.115-16: ‘In reviewing the whole progress and prospects of Irish literature, there is no event to which we would be disposed to attach so much importance, as an effectual revival of that taste for facts which prevailed in the times of Ware, Davis [err. for Davies], and of Ussher. It is a most prejudicial error to suppose that matter of fact, however, the term may have been abused, is necessarily dry or uninteresting; on the contrary, there can be no true romance, no real poetry, nothing, in a word, that will effectually touch either the heart or the imagination, that has not its foundation in experience of existing facts, or in knowledge of facts that have existed in times past.’ (Quoted in Michael Cronin, Translating Ireland: Translations, Languages, Cultures, Cork UP 1996, pp.109-10.) Further: ‘[…] By the knowledge of the acts, opinions, and conditions of our ancestors […] we can extend the poor three score and ten years, which is our immediate portion in time, back and back as far as facts exist, for the support of speculation. It is this enlarging of our portion of space, of time, of feeling, that is the true source of all intellectual pleasure. […; cont.]’

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Dublin Penny Journal” [review-article], 1840) - cont.: ‘And all this doubling, and trebling, and infinite multiplying of the shares of time, and space, and feeling, originally placed at our disposal, is the result of the observation and recording of facts. All must be set down at first in strict (not dry) detail. … What we have to do with, and that to which these observations properly point, is the recovery of the mislaid, but not lost, records of the acts, and opinions, and condition of our ancestors - the disinterring and bringing back to the light of intellectual day, the already recorded facts, by which the people of Ireland will be able to live back, in the land they live in, with as ample and as interesting a field of retrospective enjoyment as any of the nations around us. (‘Dublin Penny Journal’, in Dublin University Magazine, Vol. XV, 1840, p.115-16.)

The foregoing quoted [in part] in Robert Welch, Irish Poetry from Moore to Yeats, Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe, 1980, pp.134-45, and [in part] in Frank O’Connor in The Backward Look, 1967, p.150 - the former citing Dublin University Magazine [as above], and latter copying from M[ary] C[atharine] Ferguson, Sir Samuel Ferguson in the Ireland of His Day, London 1896) [n.p.]. Welch remarks: ‘The cultural interconnection between past and present, the idea that contemporary disunion between the Irish people can be modified if not healed by a clear understanding of the Gaelic past on the part of the Protestants, which is the burden of [his] essay on the Dublin Penny Journal of 1840, became less tenable as [he] grew older’ (Welch, 1980, p.138.) O’Connor speaks of Ferguson as having a ‘sense of reality like a pile-driver’, and being the first to recognise that ‘literature in Irish was an essential part of the education of any Irishman and tried to make it so.’ (p.150.)

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Annals of the Four Masters, ed., John O’Donovan, reviewed in Dublin University Magazine, Vol. 31 (March 1848), pp.359-76: ‘[W]hatever of that kind has been done here [as opposed to the best writing in England] has had a directly contrary design and operation; all our labours in antiquity and history going consistently to the one point - the propagation, namely, of self-knowledge, self-respect, and attachment to the country in which our lot is cast’; the truly wonderful accuracy with every place mentioned in the text is identified by its modern name’; ‘the histories we now want are particular and local … such as will enable us to know one another and the land we live in; that such knowledge may beget mutual confidence and united labour …’; ‘The general history of Ireland in the last six hundred years, expresses itself in two words, “disunion-weakness”. These annals (of local history) … teaching is to know one another, appear, under God, the chief available instruments for laying grounds for altering the state of things.’

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The Attractions of Ireland”, in Dublin University Magazine, Vol. VIII, No. XLVIII, Dec. 1836, p.661-62: ’We must be Irish in mental achievements or we are nothing’; further, ‘The development of a new national genius is an era in the history of human life’; [Ferguson eulogises] ‘the young nation entering the lists of intellectual competition, striking out paths of enquiry hitherto untrodden, creating styles and schools hitherto unimagined … perhaps in the collision of intellects throwing light upon questions till then involved in undissipated darkness.’ (cited in Terence Brown, Northern Voices: Poets from Ulster, Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1975, p.31.)

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George Fox, et al.: ‘Among my schoolfellows and youthful associations in Belfast were the late Mr John Maclean, afterwards the millionaire, and Lord O’Hagan. We three used greatly to affect the society of another young Belfast man, Mr George Fox, son of a widow lady resident in North Street in that our common native town. Mr Fox, to judge of him by the influence he exercised on the minds of two at least of our coterie, will be recognised as a man of singular ability and attractiveness of conversation. His discourse, indeed, possessed a fascination equal to all that I have heard of Coleridge [and] [U]nder these influences my poetic faculty, which had already shown itself in the ballad of ‘Willy Gilliland’, acquired strength … We had formed a private class for the study of Irish. The early history of Ulster had seized my imagination, and the ‘Return of Claneboy’, a prose romance which I had contributed about that time to Blackwood, may be regarded as the first indication of my ambition to raise the native elements of Irish poetry to a dignified level; and that ambition I think may be taken as the key to almost all the literary work of my subsequent life.’ [Quoted by Lady Ferguson, Sir Samuel Ferguson in the Ireland of his Day (Edinburgh and London, William Blackwood & Sons, 1896), I, 35-6; cited in Terence Brown, Northern Voices, Poets from Northern Ireland (1975), p.29-30; also cited [with slight variants] in A. P. Graves, ed., Poems of Sir Samuel Ferguson (Talbot [1918], Introduction, p.xxii. Note that the ‘private class’ is the subject of remarks in Robert Welch, Irish Poetry from Moore to Yeats, 1980, p.123.)

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Irish Protestants: ‘The Protestants of Ireland are wealthy and intelligent beyond most classes of their numbers, in the world, but their wealth has hitherto been insecure, because their intelligence has not embraced a thorough knowledge of the genius and disposition of their Catholic fellow-citizens.’ (Dublin University Magazine, 1834; cited in Storey, Poetry and Ireland, 1988, p.34; Corr., 77); Also, ‘I am an Irishman and a Protestant [but] an Irishman before I was a Protestant’ (Quoted in Robert O’Driscoll, ‘Samuel Ferguson: An Ascendancy of the Heart’, 1976, p.15; cited in Gerry Smyth, Decolonisation and Criticism: The Construction of Irish Literature, Pluto Press 1998, p.66.)

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National Characteristics: ‘We believe that great proportion of the characteristics of a people are inherent, not fictitious, and that there are as essential differences between the genius’s [sic] as between the physical appearances of nations. We believe that … no stultifying operation of mere security, plenty, or laborious regularity could ever, without actual physical transubstantiation, reduce the native Irishman to the stolid standard of the sober Saxon.’ (Dublin University Magazine, Vol. IV, No. XX, Aug. 1834, pp.154-55; Terence Brown, Northern Voices: Poets from Ulster, Dublin 1975, p.31.) Also [on Irish sentiments], ‘the excess of natural piety, developing itself over loyal attachment to principles subversive of reason and independence.’ (Dublin University Magazine 1834, 448; quoted in Welch, Irish Poetry [... &c.], Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1980, p.129.)

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Irish verse translation: ‘The main difficulty, and one which is in some cases insurmountable, consists in the multitude of words in the original forrning a measure which f equently does not afford room for more than half the English expressions requisite for their adequate translation. This arises from the ellipsis of aspirated consonants and concurrent vowels, which frequently slurs three or four words into a single dactyl, and compresses the meanings into so small bounds, that the translator is driven either to lengthen the measure, and thus make his version incompatible with the tune of the original, if a song, and indeed with its spirit and character in any case, or else to double each stanza, and by a dilation as prejudicial to the genius of his subject as the over compression of too strict adherence, to lose the raciness of translation in the effete expansion of a paraphrase.’ (‘Hardiman’s Irish Minstrelsy’, in Dublin University Magazine, Nov. 1834, p.529; quoted in Gerry Smyth, Decolonisation and Criticism: The Construction of Irish Literature, London: Pluto Press 1998, p.67.)

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On early Irish literature: ‘It is no answer to say these things are intrinsically ugly, or jejune or barbarous. You will probably agree with me that much of the material of the best classic literature is as crude and revolting as anything in Irish or in Welsh story. Raw material, however, to be converted to the uses of cultivated genius, is not all that we might reasonably hope for from such sources. There are ways of looking at things, and even of expressing thought, in these deposits of old experience, not to be lightly rejected by a generation whose minds are restless with unsatisfied speculation, and the very clothing of whose ideas begins to show the polish of threadbareness as much as of culture.’ (Letter to J. S. Blackie, 5 May 1875; quoted in Lady Ferguson, Sir Samuel Ferguson in the Ireland of his Day, 1896, Vol. 2, pp.220-2; quoted in Eve Patten, Samuel Ferguson and the Culture of Nineteenth-Century Ireland, Dublin: Four Courts Press 2004, p.24.)

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Irish antiquities: ‘No longer bound by their country by the ties of national institutions, the heads of society in Ireland have to receive the quickening impulse that will yet make them all they ought to be, from a national literature. Wat Minerva can no longer do for us, Clio will - Clio has done, for the foundation of tha literture are now laid so deeply and substantially that nothing can prevent the ultimate completion of the superstructure.’ (‘The Annals fo the Four Masters’ [review], in Dublin University Magazine, March 1848; quoted in Patten, op. cit. 2004, p.25.)

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Literature of Ireland: ‘We will have to make a literature for this country whatever be the fate of this or that policy, and you and a few others are the men on whom the duty will first fall. It must be lofty, moral, and distinctively Irish … The poets will save the people whom the rogues and cowards have corrupted. I shall not live, I dare say, to see the salvation, but I shall die believing in it.’ (Letter to Prof. Francis Savage-Armstrong [q.d.]; quoted in Lady Ferguson, Samuel Ferguson and his Times in Ireland, 1896, vol. 2, p.248). Further: ‘Whether the high place and permanence as part of our national literature aimed at in these works will be ultimately attained must be left to the test of time. At present the cultured criticism of the day is averse to the Irish subject in any form, and the uncultured will not have it save in that form of helotism in which I at least will not present it.’ (Ibid., p.292; the foregoing cited in Christopher Corr, ‘English Literary Culture and Irish Literary Revival’, PhD Thesis, UUC 1995, p.148.)

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