Carlyle at His Zenith (1848-53)

By David Alec Wilson | Go to book overview

XI
ABOUT THE IRISH (1848)

IT was a sign of the times that the violent Chartist was an O'Connor. The common people saw no need to revolt in England or in Scotland. It was only among the Irish that there was danger. And so it was now about Ireland that Carlyle was publishing a few words of wisdom. The Repeal of the Union is reported to have appeared in the Examiner on 29.4.1848; and a fortnight later a sequel to it on Legislation for Ireland. Two in the Spectator, Ireland and the British Chief Governor, and Irish Regiments of the New Æra, are dated about the same time.1

The last three were full-length articles. The first was two or three times the usual length, and directly aimed to clear away confusion of thought which might lead to violence. According to many of the Irish, he explains without naming "Dan," the Repeal of the Union is the one thing needed to make Ireland happy. But it is impossible. Ireland is too close to England. Repealing the union would enable foreigners, French, American, and other, to interfere in English business.--

'True, the Irish have enough to complain of. We too have governing classes that do not govern, and working classes that cannot longer do without governing. But we bear our woes till they can be articulated into proposals; we do not think (that) to rush out into the street and knock men down will be the way of healing them. Considerable improvements have been made in this island; but what is remarkable, by pikes and insurrection not one of them hitherto. Our Civil War itself proceeded according to Act of Parliament. . . . So the case stands thus. Ireland is

____________________
1
For dates, Thomas Carlyle, by W. H. Wylie, p. 245. All are reprinted by the Leadenhall Press, edited by P. Newberry, and named Rescued Essays of Thomas Carlyle.

-38-

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