Willa Murphy, ‘A Queen of Hearts or an Old Maid?: Maria Edgeworth’s Fictions of Union’, in Dáire Keogh & Kevin Whelan, eds., Acts of Union: The Causes, Contexts and Consequences of the Act of Union (Dublin: Four Courts Press 2001), c.p.213.

‘Romantic nationalism is explicitly opposed to a contractarian society. Oliver MacDonagh links O’Connell’s romantic nationalism with Teutonic romanticism and its idea of Gemeinschaft nationalism, which is opposed to Gesellschaft nationalism, the national of the French Revolution and the United Irishmen of the late-eighteenth century: ‘gemeinschaft tends to be used of an association that is internal, organic, private, spontaneous: its paradigm is the Gemeinschaft of marriage, the communio totius vitae. Gesellschaft - comparatively new as a word and as a phenomenon - is, on the other hand, usually something external, public, mechanical, formal or legalisitc. It is not an organic merger or a fusion but a rational coming together for ends that remain individual’ (“Age of O’Connell, 1830-45”, in Vaughan, ed., Ireland Under the Union, p.161, n.) Romantic nationalism, then, replaces the contractarian version of marriage with one that is mystical, organic, and natural. It is marriate that propagates the race, not marriage in which a woman and a man contract for, respectively, protection and obedience. Eagleton has written that contractarian notions were not necessarily importable to Ireland: “if the British tought in terms of contract and utility, there was at work in popular Irish attitudes a doctrine of moral economy.” (Heathcliff and the Irish Famine, p.139.) Indeed, the catholics of Ireland had signed no contracts, and so were bound by no terms.’ (ftn., p.213.)

‘In order for the Irish to reclaim masculinity, they had to be violent, in order to restore the self/other split, they had to claim racial difference [...] These repeated assertions of an othered identity were often taken by the British authorities to be disguised cries for reform, suggesting the extent to which even armed rebellion could be “domesticated” in the union relationship. One famous example is Gladstone’s admission that it was [213] the Fenians who inspired him to pursue a policy of Irish reform (Foster, Modern Ireland, p.395). And, indeed, it was Matthew Arnold’s attempt to argue for an inclusion of Irish culture in the domestic sphere in Britain - for the union finally to be consumated - that provided the writers of the Irish Literary Renaissance with the materials of cultural nationalism. Thus did the assertion of a separae, reacial, and masculine identity have to be rpeated and rehearsed throghout the nineteenth century, as the Irih question remained unanswered.’ (pp.213-14.)

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