The worst such punishment came when Oliver Cromwell landed at Dublin in and conducted a campaign of conquest that included the massacre and dispossession of thousands of Irish. Joseph was nephew to John Whitman, who had arrived from England in on the True Love and settled in Massachusetts. Before long Joseph Whitman would own a very sizeable portion of the West Hills area surrounding Huntington, where Walt Whitman was born. This defeat, bitterly remembered by the Catholic Irish, was triumphantly celebrated by the Protestant Irish on each anniversary of the date.
In the nineteenth century these celebrations, brought by immigrants from both sides of the religious conflict to the streets of American cities, became the cause of violent riots. The defeat at the Boyne would echo through the streets of New York City every July for a good part of the nineteenth century, with at least one such reminder terminating in a riot severe enough for Walt Whitman to comment on.
The penal laws that followed the defeat of the Jacobites aimed at eradicating Catholicism in Ireland. In , just a year after the birth of Walter Whitman Sr. Although the motion failed, it was successful in , and for a time relations between the two parliaments improved. The revolution in France, however, reawakened a thirst for independence, which led an Irish barrister, Theobald Wolfe Tone, to argue for sweeping reforms of a kind the English Parliament was not ready to grant.
Tone saw an advantage in uniting the interests of two groups, Irish Catholics and Protestant radicals who refused the claims on their allegiance of the established Anglican church. He also sought the help of France and in undertook a rebellion, which failed when the small number of French who arrived in August of that year were defeated along with the Irish revolutionaries in September. The rebellion was brutally put down, and Tone committed suicide rather than allow the English to hang him.
In New York Rufus King, then serving as United States minister to England, learned that the British planned to banish the captured Irish rebels to America and protested against the United States becoming a new penal colony for England. In Robert Emmet attempted to revive the revolutionary fervor of but was hanged and beheaded for his fruitless efforts. While no direct evidence of this exists, it seems likely that Walter Whitman Sr. It was in this democratic and dissenting atmosphere that Walter Jr. Later he would add to these the Irish who fought to secure for themselves their own native land.
Though the movement was slow to gather momentum, by he had enough support to launch a Repeal Association. In the event of such a separation, however, they wished to see neither religious faction gain an ascendency in Ireland, so they sought to focus attention instead on a common national culture of history and literature. One of their leaders was a Protestant attorney, Thomas Davis, who, with Charles Gavan Duffy, founded the Nation , a periodical devoted to fostering their ideals.
Through the pages of the widely read Nation Davis became the spokesperson for a cultural nationalism, the aim of which was to free the Irish people of their cultural dependency on Britain and provide them with a set of values that were distinctively Irish. In these same years Walt Whitman was making his first impress on the city of New York, soon to become the refuge of thousands of Irish.
After becoming editor of the New York Aurora in , however, Whitman came out against the Irish in New York, a position he took because of strong democratic reasons of his own. Soon after, in Ireland, both the Repeal movement and Young Ireland were overshadowed by a natural disaster of such proportions that it swept away all other concerns.
In the potato crop was destroyed by a fungal disease that caused black spots to appear on the leaves of potato plants and the potatoes to wither and rot. These were the first signs of the famine that would blight large portions of Ireland in that year and again in , , and By the end of the decade the population of Ireland had declined by 1. In New York Whitman became increasingly aware of the plight of these immigrants, finding himself particularly sympathetic to the public exposure of Irish women seeking employment.
Young Ireland attempted an uprising in , and a number of its leaders, notably John Mitchel, were arrested while others fled the country, some finding refuge in America. There, among the large population of Irish immigrants and with the help of other revolutionaries who had fled Ireland, he began raising funds for an organization that would undertake to free Ireland. When Mitchel had sufficient funding he returned to Ireland, in , to found the Irish Revolutionary Brotherhood; a year later an American branch of the brotherhood, the Fenian Brotherhood, was established in New York.
It rapidly gained momentum in America, however, where small militia groups formed and a rhetoric of Irish liberty developed. While serving as a hospital visitor in Washington, D.
They were dependent on their American counterparts for arms, however, and with insufficient support from the American Fenians the idea collapsed. Before that, in , the Irish Fenians undertook an attempted assault on Great Britain by invading Canada. The invasion was thwarted, but another attempt was made in ; equally unsuccessful, it heralded the decline and eventual end of the Fenian Brotherhood. In Ireland, the decade of the s was dominated by the land wars. The Protestant ascendancy of the late eighteenth century had been largely the result of their landownership.
In the famine years, thousands in the south who were unable to pay rent were evicted; many never really had an opportunity to catch up even after that disaster had passed. In the postfamine years a change in family practices of land transfer, which posited ownership with one son rather than parcelling the land among many, proved to be a move toward stabilization and toward focusing greater power within the ranks of tenant farmers. Such stabilization was needed, for an unofficial policy developed of agrarian disturbance, which sometimes became violent, directed against landowners, many of whom were English.
This unofficial policy was replaced in by the founding of the Irish National Land League, which sought specific objectives and had as its ultimate goal Irish ownership of Irish land. Though not Irish himself, James Redpath, friend and active supporter of Whitman, became a partisan of and fundraiser for the Land League, bringing to it the full force of his skills as writer and speaker. It was two former Fenians, Michael Davitt and John Devoy, both of whom had been imprisoned for their activities in the brotherhood, who saw in the question of land distribution an issue that could influence the outcome of the larger political objective, Home Rule for Ireland, which in the minds of most Irish meant complete independence.
The president of the Land League, Charles Stewart Parnell, took up what had been mainly an issue in the western counties and made it the Irish land issue by advocating fixed rents and an eventual right of landownership by the peasant population. In short, the object of the Land League was the abolition of landlordism and the return of the land to those who worked it. Parnell went to America in to raise funds for the Land League. While there he addressed Congress on the Irish issue and organized an American Land League that was strongly supported by the Irish population in America.
A more revolutionary movement in both Ireland and America was the Clan na Gael, founded in and later led by Rossa, who instituted a terrorist campaign of dynamite sabotage against Londoners in the s. By this time Walt Whitman had gained a following among students and professors at Trinity College, Dublin. Included was Thomas W. Land League activities included boycotting, or shunning those who took up tenancy on a farm from which a poor farmer, unable to pay rent, had been evicted. Gladstone became prime minister in and, with the help of the Liberal Party, which took up the cause of Irish Catholics as part of its opposition to the Whig Party and its support of the Protestant ascendancy, in succeeded in disestablishing the Church of Ireland, the first of many steps Gladstone would take to ameliorate conditions in Ireland.
In , just a year before Whitman welcomed Oscar Wilde in Camden, New Jersey, Parnell was arrested for publicly denouncing these repressive measures. Gladstone was forced into releasing Parnell early and had to agree to work with him in formulating legislation that would further address the land problem.
But Parnell was now ready to take another, nonviolent, step toward independence, the Home Rule movement.
Riddles, Nightlife, Substance
Two years later Gladstone introduced a Home Rule bill that included provision for an Irish Parliament that would attend to all Irish matters, leaving other matters to the English Parliament. Again, in , Gladstone offered the third Home Rule bill, which was also defeated.
The point became moot when Parnell died in of natural causes, contributed to, no doubt, by the disgrace he suffered. Strangely, it was a literary force that gave direction in the early years of the twentieth century by attempting to replace political nationalism with cultural nationalism. Although nationalist, like the earlier Young Ireland movement, its aim was to revive the submerged culture of the Irish and thus foster a new sense of nationalism. Their leaders, mostly Protestants, held to a firm belief that Ireland needed its educated Protestant class in order to command respect from other nations.
Yeats founded the Irish Literary Society in London in where he and others attempted to wrestle with questions of what constituted Irish culture and Irish literature and what each of those entities would be in the future. Their objective was an Irish literature that would take its place among those of other nations and command their respect. A nationalist movement, it had as its vision an independent Ireland unified politically as well as culturally.
This vision was opposed by the Ulster unionists, who prized their connection to the United Kingdom. While the question of Irish independence continued to dominate the national discourse, a labor movement was forming strength under the leadership of James Larkin and James Connolly. The strikes caused widespread disruption in Ireland but brought little change for the workers.
The year is indelibly stamped in Irish history by the events in Dublin during the Easter Rising, a rebellion against the British government. The nationalist Sinn Fein believed that the Irish volunteers fighting in the World War should not have been so engaged anywhere until the battle for their own national independence had been won.
The Sinn Fein were joined in rebellion by an Irish Citizens Army, formed to protect strikers during the lockout. The rebellion centered on the capture of the General Post Office, from the steps of which one of the rebel leaders, Patrick Pearse, read a proclamation declaring an Irish republic. The rebellion lasted only six days before being put down by the British.
The British moved swiftly against the rebels, and court martial trials of key figures in the rising were followed by executions that roused the passions of the Irish populace. James Connolly was one of those executed; another who was sentenced to die, Eamon De Valera, was spared because of his American citizenship, a consequence of his New York birth. As a result of the Easter Rising, Sinn Fein became the political force of revolutionary nationalists, eventually replacing the Irish Party and the Irish Republican Brotherhood. In de Valera was elected president of Sinn Fein.
In , with the British army taxed heavily by the war, the United Kingdom decided to extend conscription to Ireland, which had been exempted until some form of Home Rule could be enacted. However, in an underground military force made up of the Irish Republican Army and, under Michael Collins, the Irish Republican Brotherhood began a guerrilla war against the British government. The objective was to prove to the British that they were not capable of governing Ireland, and in this the guerrillas enjoyed the wide support of the populace. The British retaliated by sending additional forces, the Auxiliaries and the Black and Tans, the latter so named for the colors of their uniforms, who were responsible for atrocities against the general populace as well as against the rebels.
Late in the Government of Ireland Act ended the hope of a united independent Ireland by acceding to the Ulster resistance to Home Rule, partitioning the country into north and south, and establishing parliaments in Dublin and in Belfast. These two bodies were empowered to exert control in local matters, but the United Kingdom Parliament could still interfere and held supreme authority. The following year, in the face of continued agitation in the southern counties, the United Kingdom offered a treaty stipulating dominion status similar to that of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.
It amounted to near independence for the southern counties, though with sworn allegiance to the king and continued separation for Northern Ireland. A team of negotiators, including Michael Collins, agreed to the offer, but de Valera and the Republicans rejected it because a Free State was not a republic. They further rejected the oath of allegiance to the king required by the terms of the treaty.
The Irish Parliament accepted the treaty, as did a majority of the Irish people. Conflict over the two positions led to a civil war of largely guerrilla actions. The loss of the dream of an Irish republic was a terrible blow to the revolutionaries, for whom the division of the country was of lesser importance.
The division of north and south remained in place, with Northern Ireland still a part of the United Kingdom until such time as its Parliament should demand a change. In November the British and Irish governments signed the Anglo-Irish Agreement by which the British allowed the Irish government some sway over the affairs of Northern Ireland in exchange for Irish cooperation in rooting out terrorists.
The terrorism, mostly directed against the British army in Northern Ireland, continued, and long years of violence ensued. Whitman born May 31 on Long Island, N. Whitman and family live in various places in Brooklyn, including the vicinity of the Brooklyn Navy Yard located very near the heaviest concentration of Irish in Brooklyn. The great Irish famine migration begins, bringing Irish in record numbers to the United States.
Whitman, now editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle , adopts the Free Soil position supported by Irish workers; Whitman recommends books by William Carlton to Eagle readers and editorializes on the problems of Irish laborers and their attempts to unionize. Whitman writes sketch of Irish drayman for the New Orleans Daily Crescent ; back in New York later this year Whitman has his head "read" by a phrenologist and becomes an advocate of this pseudoscience, which contributed to notions of national characteristics.
Whitman writes an unpublished account of the plight of Irish women seeking new positions as servants through an emigrant agency. Whitman may have written "Poem of Apparitions in Boston," later known as "A Boston Ballad," in this year at the time of the trial in Boston of fugitive slave Anthony Burns; an attempt by abolitionists to rescue Burns leads to the death of Irishman James Batchelder. Whitman publishes Leaves of Grass ; this and succeeding editions of Leaves contain references to the Irish and to New York employment, activities, and events that included many Irish.
Whitman goes to Washington, D. The Fenians invade Canada for a second time the first was in ; John Boyle O'Reilly, just escaped from an English prison, accompanies invasion as a reporter for the Boston Pilot. Rolleston for a German translation. Whitman meets Abraham Bram Stoker; Stoker has admired Whitman's poetry since and had written to him in Although the events of are not especially memorable in American history, the year offers a good starting place for a consideration of relationships between Walt Whitman and the Irish.
Indeed, his earliest published utterances on them were filled with the kind of venom most often associated with nativism. Unfortunately, the alteration was not so public as had been his earlier attack, appearing as it did in private correspondence rather than, as before, in a public newspaper. In truth, it must be allowed that his warming toward the Irish may have been somewhat influenced since Whitman was susceptible to such influences by a show of appreciation for his work coming at about this time from a group of writers and scholars in Dublin.
Certainly he was influenced by his deep love for particular Irish friends, some of whom were born in Ireland and others born in America. There is, in fact, reason enough to believe he welcomed the thought that his early belief in the democratic impulses of the Irish immigrants was vindicated by those changes. Some of those who came after the uprising, men like Thomas Addis Emmett and William James Mac Nevin, were by their culture and refinement considerably more aristocratic than their revolutionary activities would indicate.
In subsequent decades Catholic Irish immigrants were increasingly among the poor who gathered in neighborhoods on the fringes of middle-class enclaves. Here the drainage or sewerage is usually imperfect and the whole soil is thus ripe for diarrhea or cholera. Edgar Allan Poe described an Irish squatter camp in the southern portion of the site where Central Park was later built.
One result of this, as the Times noted, was contamination of the city water supply drawn from shallow wells. When cholera struck the worst neighborhoods of the city in and as the result of the contaminated water, the Irish who lived there were believed to be the cause of the contagion. Whitman seems not to have been completely immune to this line of reasoning. Though he was in the safer regions of Brooklyn and Long Island while the epidemic raged in , he later worked it into one of his fiction pieces, presenting the disease in such a way as to somewhat uphold the belief that epidemics can function as a means of moral cleansing.
It is the story of Philip Marsh, a man who commits murder and escapes the law before punishment can be meted out. Askers embody themselves in me, and I am embodied in them, I project my hat and sit shamefaced and beg. In the s when he was fashioning the all-encompassing poetic voice he believed America needed, Whitman experimented by assuming a fluid, flexible persona. The edition of Leaves of Grass , however, contained a direct reference to these immigrants that subtly reminded them that for all their troubles in America, they were still better off here than at home.
As the immigrants were forced into ever tighter precincts the Irish neighborhoods of the midcentury became the worst slums of the city. In , however, by which time the United States had absorbed, subsequent to the famine, some 2. They had moved ahead in the workforce to become tailors, shoemakers, metalworkers, and masons, while still filling those roles they had earlier claimed as carters, coachmen, housemaids, longshoremen, and ferrymen. Most had been within his family structure. Thomas Jefferson Whitman, or Jeff, the brother to whom he had felt closest since their six-month sojourn in New Orleans in , had moved to St.
Louis with his wife and two daughters. Leaves of Grass had seen its fourth edition in , and he continued to work on poems to be added to the next edition. In the same year he would produce Passage to India , the title poem of which is arguably the last of his great poems. Since the publication of some of his poems in England in , he had become a focus of attention for a number of prominent figures there, among them a female admirer, Anne Gilchrist, who sent an impassioned marriage proposal he did not accept. Although he had lived in Washington, D. New York, then as now, had a tendency to believe itself the center of the world, but Whitman would have been quite conscious of the fact that the District of Columbia had been provided for the first time with a form of territorial government.
Of more immediate interest to the vacationing Whitman would have been some New York events of that summer: work on the bridge between the cities of Brooklyn and New York entered the second of its fourteen years; more than a hundred people were killed when a boiler exploded aboard the Westfield , a Staten Island ferry; and at least fifty people were killed in a riot involving Irish Catholics and Irish Protestants. All of these events would have impressed Walt Whitman, but we have his comments on only one, the Irish riot. Just three months earlier he had been declared dead by the New York World , which ran a lengthy obituary in the mistaken belief that he had been killed by a railroad train in Croton, New York.
When not with her, Walt told Pete, he was riding the ferry and visiting Coney Island. To Pete he wrote: There was quite a brush in N. Orangemen, originally members of an Ulster Protestant Society in Ireland dating to , were, in the United States, members of an ethnic organization whose principal activity was its annual celebration of the Battle of the Boyne.
The observance had been given an extra boost by the fact that in May President Grant had declared the government would no longer tolerate the Irish Catholic Fenian Brotherhood functioning as a kind of separate government within the United States. On July 12 they had a procession up Eighth Avenue to a park located at Ninetieth Street, where a picnic and dance were to be held.
The Metropolitan Police were notified, but by the time they reached the park a shower of stones was falling on the Orange-men. A general melee followed, with clubs, sticks, and anything that could serve as a weapon being brought to bear. The militia were called, but by the time they arrived the injured were scattered about the streets. Groups from both sides of the combat tried to crowd into horsecars to escape, and as the fighting continued it brought wreckage to the cars and animals as well as to innocent passengers. At the time, the New York Irish were as closely linked to the powerful Tweed Ring as any politically motivated ethnic group could hope to be.
William M. Connolly was the city comptroller. The Irish had been in America long enough to be able to see some of their number move up into the ranks of the well-to-do, and some even became Republicans. For example, in Edward Gleason, superintendent of the Union League Club, a highly respectable Republican political group, was able to build a house on th Street near Fifth Avenue. Labor activism among Irish immigrants throughout the midcentury had focused mainly on improved wages, and this limited objective hampered any strides toward overall improvement of working conditions.
In addition, Irish workers originally impeded their own progress by forming rival groups and secret societies whose memberships were determined by place of origin in Ireland. Benevolent societies, forerunners of organized labor unions, had political and religious as well as occupational roots.
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A partial victory was claimed by reading aloud letters from contractors who had agreed to the demanded wage, among them Messrs. Collins, Brady, S. While Whitman makes no mention of this, note the Irish names of the contractors, who may have been Americans born to immigrant parents and who are indicative of entrepreneurial advancement possible in a labor-dominated economy that was beginning to break down, creating the need for unions. Craft workers, among whom the prefamine Irish immigrants numbered highly, were essential to the working class that developed in New York from the s to the mid-nineteenth century.
In his Eagle article Whitman warmly supported the organization of a benevolent society but denounced the attempt to regulate wages, which he saw as similar to tariffs, fair trade laws, and other such restrictions on business, to all of which he was opposed. He examined the case of the workers, however, and found it worthy of attention, pointing out that they labored from sunrise to dark for sixty-four and a half cents and were docked exorbitantly for being only minutes late.
Let our philanthropists not go to oppressed England and starving Ireland for samples of scanty comfort.
Walt Whitman & the Irish - The Walt Whitman Archive
The following day the editor reported that several of those in the association had called upon him and made him realize he had not done its members justice, for they were in fact ready to receive any work when available. One supposes that the contingent of workers with whom he met included more than a few Irish, for Whitman went on to a lengthy discussion of the condition of Irish laborers. There was violence, especially when the construction firm brought in German workers to replace the striking Irish. In the Atlantic Dock strike German workers were attacked and badly beaten, for which a number of Irish were indicted.
The indictments broke the strike, and though many of the Irish returned to their jobs, the workforce was carefully set at half Irish, half German, which meant that many Irish workers lost jobs. Most devastating, however, there was no increase in salary for the laborers on land, who were mostly Irish, while the dredgemen, all Germans, received an increase of five cents an hour, bringing their hourly rate to eighty-five cents, five cents more than the Irish were paid. The Irishman took the Germans to the boat and saw them safely across the river, where, with no common language in which to do so, they made every effort to convey to him their gratitude.
Subsequent strikes, in , , , and , though undertaken for higher wages, also involved violence aimed at black workers brought in to replace the strikers. On principle, in the s and s Whitman did not support the idea of organized labor, which he saw as an attempt to interfere with business and manufacturing. There was always the hope, however, that the narrowness of focus that shaped the views of most immigrants would expand under the influence of democracy. The only ethnic paper on the list is the Irish-American , at Nassau Street, and while there is no direct evidence that Whitman actually published in it, the paper was the one Irish newspaper in New York that would have welcomed such a liberal approach.
In Boston Lynch had used his paper to support revolutionary movements in Europe and repeal of the enforced union of England and Ireland. Lynch learned from his experience, and in moving to New York to begin publication of the Irish-American , he made an effort to reconcile Irish American republicanism and Roman Catholic interests. In the first issue of the paper he indicated he would support democratic-republican principles but would not forsake Catholicism, and in later editorials he scrupulously defended the honor of the Church.
The process of democratization, Whitman knew, had begun long before among the Irish Protestants who had arrived in the States earlier. It could continue among the more recent Catholic arrivals, he believed, if the influence of their priests could be overcome. The Irish had started coming to North America before that continent boasted a free and independent nation. Many proved themselves valiant in both the Revolutionary War and the War of A slow but steady immigration rate continued, with an upsurge early in the s that seemed to signal the spiraling rate of increase that would follow the famines in Ireland.
Among those who came in the years of a declining economy in the southern counties of Ireland, immediately preceding the famine, were Catholics who then found themselves at odds with the already established Protestant Irish when such issues arose as the controversial move to fund parochial schools with public tax monies. The famine, of course, brought the great waves of Catholic immigration. So many of them remained in the city that in New York was the most Irish city in the United States, with the Irish population totaling some , out of a total population of , Census figures for show a New York City Irish-born population of , Oakey Hall as mayor and John T.
Hoffman as governor. The Irish had played a vital role in shifting the political power base away from Albany and toward New York City. The earliest Irish immigrants found their way into whichever of the parties suited their political philosophy, but as the immigrant population increased and especially as it became clear that the immigrants intended to remain in the city, they were viewed by the Democratic Party as a means of gaining power through sheer force of numbers.
This brought the Irish into the rivalry between upstate and downstate politicians in which Albany Whigs, later Republicans, sought to keep the city submissive to the state government. When the doors to the Tammany Society and the Democratic Party were opened to them they entered in great numbers, eventually finding their way, by , to Albany. For some years William Tweed wielded great power in the state legislature. Of its fewer than thirty members, nine were native Irishmen, the parents of another eight had been born in Ireland, and three had other Irish family connections. With the help of the Metropolitan Police, however, Tweed was able to prevent the meeting at which the takeover was to occur, an indication not only of his influence on the police force but of the large number of Irish who marched in its ranks.
Other powerful forces were at work as well, led by wealthy reformers who, stimulated to action by disclosures in the Republican New York Times of massive fraud and financial misdealings within the city government, now sought to oust Tweed and restore fiscal responsibility. Unfortunately, any threat to Tweed was seen by the Irish political bloc as a threat to them. In January their rival political factions, Catholic and Protestant, had vied for the honor of welcoming five Fenian prisoners recently released from English jails.
Spring brought its own troubles. In May there had been labor unrest, with Irish workers striking for pay increases. The Catholics sought to have the mayor issue an order restraining the Orangemen from parading, but Hall chose to hide behind his superintendent of police and had him issue the ban.
This cowardliness, as well as the ban itself, stirred the non-Irish of the city to public outcry. In an effort to quiet things, Governor Hoffman issued a proclamation sanctioning the observance. Resentment at this edict coming from the governor they had elected spilled over into the streets as gangs of Irish laborers set upon the marchers with results much as Whitman described them.
At the height of the riot, with the procession of Orangemen determinedly advancing on their tormenters, a shot was fired from a nearby window, and the militia of the Eighty-fourth Regiment, called out by the governor, fired into the crowd killing and injuring scores of people. The count of dead and injured on this one July day was in the neighborhood of In this [the Boyne Day riot], as well as in the draft riots, they have left a record of which any city might be proud. He wrote to Peter Doyle: The N. Whitman appears to have been looking at the police from a dual perspective, both of which aided his newly acquired respect.
For one thing, he associates them with veterans of the Civil War, a group he held in the highest regard and personal affection. The question of character was a subject on which most nineteenth-century New Yorkers held opinions, since character and its national determination had come very much to the foreground of public discourse, largely as the result of the great influx of Irish.
Connolly was the principal factor in the downfall of the Tweed Ring because of financial malfeasance from which he personally profited, to the tune of some six million dollars he is believed to have taken with him when he fled the country to avoid a jail sentence. In he was elected to the Tammany Society and worked his way up. In May , before leaving Washington for New York, Whitman had prepared an editorial defending Francis Doyle against newspaper claims of brutality in the arrest of a young boy on theft charges.
The larger issue in the Whitman letters is his changed attitude toward the Irish in general. It was a leap shared by many Americans, for whom the Civil War and the heroic participation of thousands of Irish-born immigrants proved a turning point in attitudes. But despite his changed attitude, there is little reason to believe Whitman would not have continued to justify his intent, if not his rhetoric, in the New York Aurora in when he publicly reviled the Irish and took on no less a figure than the Reverend John Hughes, bishop later the first archbishop of New York.
When he could dissociate the Irish from their religion he found much about them to his liking, even identifying his poetic persona with them in Leaves of Grass. When the twenty-three-year-old Whitman joined the staff of the Aurora in , first as the writer of a series of articles and then as editor, the two-penny daily was one of many newspapers produced in New York City. As editor, Whitman would alter this. For one year, —, he was owner, editor, and printer of his own paper, the Long Islander , produced near his birthplace in Huntington.
He treated me well. John L. John Louis was born on a British warship off the coast of Gibraltar in and was brought to New York in Though baptized a Catholic, he was an Episcopalian for most of his life, before returning to the Catholicism of his family. Despite his own scholarly achievements, he eschewed the fields of teaching and the law to enter the world of newspaper and magazine writing. In practice, the latter consideration pretty much limited the published materials to those written from a Democratic perspective, but the magazine also had a strong literary goal, which was to present the very best that a democratic society could offer.
In he moved the Democratic Review to Manhattan. Young America had no real connection to the Young Ireland movement of the s, but it shared a common nationalistic fervor, which in Ireland, of course, took the form of promoting Irish culture over the claims of the dominant English culture.
Whitman had already been initiated into the turbulent world of politics, both through his experiences with newspapers that served as party organs and via his own involvement as an appointed Democratic electioneer on behalf of Van Buren. In the presidential campaign he took part in political debates and gave speeches for the party and its candidate, achieving some local recognition though his oratorical skills were somewhat lacking.
The Tammany Society, originally a fraternal group named for a Native American chieftain, had its origins in late-eighteenth-century Enlightenment ideals, which quickly became Jeffersonian principles. In the s the society offered membership to the Irish, and a decade later they and it were dedicated Democrats.
By , when the society supported Van Buren for president, its political influence reached deep and wide in the city, where it had become synonymous with the Democratic Party. In he remembered learning much about Thomas Paine from a personal acquaintance of the great infidel, Tammany member Colonel John Fellows. At the time, Catholicism was antithetical to those who believed, as did Whitman and his father, in individual liberty and freedom of thought. Given his political background, it is not surprising that the new editor of the Aurora would move the paper into the political sphere.
Nor is it surprising that the issue that would capture his attention strong opinions on the subject. His role as schoolteacher had come about not by his own choosing. Along with the print houses and newspapers lost in the fire went the jobs of many, like Whitman, who were employed within its precincts. It was an alternative he preferred to working with his housewright father, but it thrust him back to Long Island which, after his years of city life, he found irritating.
Attendance at city schools was not mandated by law, which meant that thousands of children did not attend any school and thus received no education. When the bishop informed the Whig governor William Seward that many Catholic children were kept from school or were sent to church schools by parents who saw it as a matter of conscience, the governor was genuinely, as well as politically, motivated to do something. The Democratic-controlled council reacted by accusing Seward of trying to win Irish Catholic votes, which, through Tammany Hall, the Democrats were able to command.
With this kind of stimulus, the council took a hard look at earlier state legislation specifically the law nullifying the statute that had allowed sectarian schools to partake of public funds before denying the Catholic request in January It concluded that Catholics had a right to send their children to Catholic schools, but Catholic schools did not have a right to public funds.
Hughes was counting on Seward to wield influence in Albany. Spencer eventually recommended that the state district school system be extended to include New York City. Under this plan the districts would choose their own representatives to administer the district school, thus ethnic and religious concerns would be addressed on a local level. Hughes was delighted with this recommendation. It was submitted to the legislature for action but was delayed largely because of complaints from the Public School Society, which feared its own imminent demise under the new system.
The nativists also began to rumble their displeasure, and with what seemed like a strong negative reaction to the proposal—and with an election looming in November—both the Whig and Democratic parties turned against the Catholics. Hughes took a desperate measure and offered a slate of independent candidates under the banner of Carroll Hall. His aim was really to push the Democrats into endorsing the Catholic position on the school issue, but they failed to give in.
As a result, the Carroll Hall candidates, all of whom were elected, split the Democratic vote, allowing the Whigs to take City Hall. The Democrats were equally fearful of losing the Catholics, and the Democratic majority in the state legislature soon was ready to pass whatever school bill would placate them. The Public School Society, still fighting to retain control, asked for a delay and for an investigatory committee of state and city education officials. The committee, under the leadership of Assemblyman William Maclay, reported to the assembly that the Public School Society was not doing a good job of educating children, or of gaining the trust of parents, or of handling school funds.
The assembly then engaged in a general debate of the bill and began writing rules of organization by which the new district schools would operate. March was the crucial time when New York City was engulfed in turmoil over this matter, and it was then the new editor of the Aurora entered the picture. Whitman began by pointing out his familiarity and experience with the state district schools; he also claimed to have over the previous six months visited every public school in the city. He provided details of enrollments in various schools, including percentages of Catholic students, adding that there were many Catholic teachers.
On St. With this diatribe Whitman had moved dangerously close to the position of the Native American Party, though when charged with this he protested it was not so. Then, using Ireland to make his point, There is too much mankind, and too little earth. What wretchedness in the hovels of the poor peasants! On March 24, , however, his Aurora editorial began to widen the focus of his attack in ways that need to be taken into consideration.
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He also attacks the party organ, the New Era , and its editor, Levi Slamm, for having gone over to the side of the Catholics. The next day Whitman implored the party not to follow the dictates of the New Era and its Irish Catholic cohorts but to stand by its democratic principles. Once again he declared an independent Carroll Hall ticket of nominees for city offices but conceded the ticket would be withdrawn if the Maclay bill was passed.
After numerous amendments the legislature passed a school bill that did not allow public funding of religious schools but did proscribe all sectarianism in the public schools and made the city schools part of the state system with a board of education to oversee them. The school bill was passed by a vote of 13 to 12 when New York City Democratic Senator John Scott, who opposed it, deliberately avoided the roll call , and the Carroll Hill candidates returned to the Democratic fold.
Robert Morris, the Democratic mayor, was reelected, and the Whigs, who gained control of the Common Council, joined forces with the Native American Party to urge a repeal of the new school law. Most important, what the Protestant majority, including Whitman, had to learn to accept was the justice of demands by minorities for full inclusion in the political process, not just—as was the case with the Democratic Party—to provide dependable votes. American history, of course, reveals that succeeding generations of varying majorities have had to learn to accept this idea, that it is part of the process of democratization and is perhaps most common to the urban experience.
The Irish immigrant played into this fear only insofar as he or she refused to break free of the religious bond. A decade later Brownson reached the conclusion that the Irish gave Catholicism a bad name and that anti-Catholic bias was really predicated on hatred of what Irish Catholics represented to the general public. In notes written in the s he seems to be attempting to modify his reactions to religious practices he had earlier condemned and to see them as part of a developmental process of which he no longer complains: Those stages, all over the world leaving their memories and inheritances in all the continents—how credulous!
Of present and past, I do not blame them for doing what they have done, and are doing—I applaud them that they have done so well. It was a reaction in which he was far from alone. Newspapers such as the Aurora reflected more than the thoughts and attitudes of their writers, they reflected the popular society within which they found an audience. The language Whitman employed was that of his readers, and the image his words evoked was one already familiar enough to be recognizable to them.
One study of the stereotypical Paddy distinguishes between its two principal icons: extrinsic and intrinsic characteristics. This was a calamitous move away from an earlier perception that defined the Irish by intrinsic characteristics pertaining more to intellect, morality, and a love of freedom. The usual year of demarcation between the two is , the year of the Irish famine; however, in New York City, where Irish immigration was heavy even prior to the famine, the change occurred a few years earlier, which places it at about the time of the public school debate.
On the afternoon of the April city elections a band of Protestant Irish, nativists, and other anti-Irish Democrats, all of whom felt themselves to have been ignored by their party in favor of the Irish Catholics, descended upon a Catholic neighborhood and beat its inhabitants fiercely. The Catholics retreated but regrouped a few hours later, and the fighting resumed. Mayor Robert H. Morris and the police came to restore peace, but by some accounts the police did more harm to the Catholics than had their opponents.
More and more combatants joined the action. Hughes was not at home, so the mob vented its anger on the first floor of the building by smashing windows and threatening to burn the residence, a threat they might have made good but for the arrival of police. The Spartan Band was led by Mike Walsh, a Protestant Irishman and friend of Whitman, who also wrote for the Aurora on occasion and who later would go far in Democratic politics.
Despite the disappointments he had experienced in , Whitman regained his faith in the Democratic Party and proved himself so loyal to it that four years later he was rewarded with the editorship of the Brooklyn Eagle. One of his first pieces bears out his earlier contention in the Aurora that he was not a nativist.
In the first week of March Whitman wrote in the Eagle of visiting New York docks where he saw ships at anchor that had weathered the cruel winter storms in the Atlantic the preceding months. These are the same sorts of emigrants Herman Melville described in Redburn , where his young sailor makes his first transatlantic voyage from New York to Liverpool and back.
On the return trip the ship transports a number of emigrants, most of whom are leaving Ireland. Is it one of the dullfaced immigrants just landed on the wharf? Not yet aware in of the desperation that in many cases impelled the immigrants, what Whitman welcomed was a desire for political freedom that he read into the act of Irish emigration.
It is obvious that Whitman saw signs of inherent good character in the Irish, so when he pointed to them as a stumbling block to the possibility presented by democracy for a human evolution into a more perfect form he was pointing to an extrinsic quality not rooted in character but in behavior, specifically the seeming refusal of the Irish to participate in this evolutionary process. To them the Paddy demonstrated not an inherent lack of character and intelligence but a determined preference for ignorance by clinging to his Roman Catholic faith, obeying its clergy, and maintaining a belligerent form of sectarian and political activity.
But he did expect the foreigner, once admitted, to seize the opportunity to improve his or her character and condition. Many of the draymen had made their first mark in New Orleans as laborers on the canals before moving into the carting business, where they quickly pushed aside the blacks who previously had done this work.
Patrick McDray, who owns his own team and drives it like a gentleman. He goes rolling along in an elephantine style, and for fear of being trod on, probably, people get out of the way. That is George Law, who never will be President. There were few questions of more general interest to antebellum America than character. The possibility held out by democracy for character formation and reformation led the states and their citizenry, especially in the North, into all manner of reform movements and attempts at social engineering.
In the more high-minded New England states such movements were truly reformist, but in New York City they often took a political bent. Such was the case with the temperance movement, to which Whitman briefly lent himself out of a need for money. After leaving the Aurora Whitman accepted seventy-five dollars from Park Benjamin, owner of the New World , to produce a novel to be published as a supplement to the newspaper. Whitman later offered a few different versions of its creation, one being that he wrote it while under the influence of rum, but he was clearly embarrassed by the novel and always insisted it was done for the money.
Though the Washington Temperance Society was nationwide, temperance became a political issue in nineteenth-century New York State when, under the guise of reform interests, the Republicans attempted to pass legislation that would regulate the sale of liquor and limit the number of licensed saloons. This was aimed at New York City, where Democratic political power was closely tied to the high number of Irish saloon owners. By the mids nearly 15 percent of those Democratic officeholders whose occupations are known were saloon keepers. Often, in return for the use of their premises for such purposes, saloon keepers were made ward captains and eventually became nominees for political office.
In the s they even made inroads among city firemen who, often in large numbers, took the pledge in Protestant churches. While Whitman was writing Franklin Evans and Protestant churches were pledging firemen to temperance, Sullivan was opening his saloon, the Sawdust House, to firemen in Engine Company 27, who made it their headquarters. Reformers who did not commit themselves to specific areas, such as temperance or the penitentiary movement, often brought to bear on the subject of character reformation advances being made in science, especially in the field of what later was called eugenics.
Embedded in this general theme were such questions as, Was it enough for individuals to be transplanted to a democratic soil? Could their characters be freshly nurtured and perfected simply by partaking of freedom, or environments? One of the places Whitman looked for answers to questions such as these was in the writings of German philosophers which he read in translation , whose arguments often were predicated on physiological principles. In general, philosophy, politics and literature underwent a turn away from older courtly concerns towards something closer to a modern sensibility.
Alexander Pope , who had been imitating Horace , wrote an Epistle to Augustus that was in fact addressed to George II of Great Britain and seemingly endorsed the notion of his age being like that of Augustus, when poetry became more mannered, political and satirical than in the era of Julius Caesar. Outside poetry, however, the Augustan era is generally known by other names. Partially because of the rise of empiricism and partially because of the self-conscious naming of the age in terms of ancient Rome , two rather imprecise labels have been affixed to the age. One is that it is the age of neoclassicism ; the other is that it is the Age of Reason.
While neoclassical criticism from France was imported to English letters, the English had abandoned their strictures in all but name by the s. Critics disagree over the applicability of the concept of "the Enlightenment" to the literary history of this period. Donald Greene argued forcefully that the age should rather be known as "The Age of Exuberance", and T.
White made a case for "The Age of Scandal". More recently, Roy Porter put forward the notion of a distinctively "English Enlightenment" to characterise the intellectual climate of the period. One of the most critical elements of the 18th century was the increasing availability of printed material, both for readers and authors.
Books fell in price dramatically and used books were sold at Bartholomew Fair and other fairs. Additionally, a brisk trade in chapbooks and broadsheets carried London trends and information out to the farthest reaches of the kingdom. That was furthered with the establishment of periodicals, including The Gentleman's Magazine and the London Magazine. People in York aware of the happenings of Parliament and the court, but people in London were also more aware than before of the happenings of York. Furthermore, before copyright , pirate editions were commonplace, especially in areas without frequent contact with London.
Pirate editions thereby encouraged booksellers to increase their shipments to outlying centres like Dublin , which further increased awareness across the whole realm. That was compounded by the end of the Press Restriction Act in , which allowed for provincial printing presses to be established, creating a printing structure that was no longer under government control Clair — All types of literature were spread quickly in all directions. Newspapers began and even multiplied. Furthermore, the newspapers were immediately compromised, as the political factions created their own newspapers, planted stories and bribed journalists.
Leading clerics had their sermon collections printed, which were top selling books. Since dissenting, Establishment and Independent divines were in print, the constant movement of these works helped defuse any region's religious homogeneity and fostered emergent latitudinarianism. Periodicals were exceedingly popular, and the art of essay writing was at nearly its apex.
Furthermore, the happenings of the Royal Society were published regularly, and they were digested and explained or celebrated in more popular presses. The latest books of scholarship had "keys", "indexes" and "digests" made of them that could popularise, summarise and explain them to a wide audience. The cross-index , now commonplace, was a novelty in the 18th century, and several persons created indexes for older books of learning to allow anyone to find what an author had to say about a given topic at a moment's notice.
Books of etiquette, of correspondence and of moral instruction and hygiene multiplied. Economics began as a serious discipline but did so in the form of numerous "projects" for solving England, Ireland and Scotland's ills. Sermon collections, dissertations on religious controversy, and prophecies, both new and old and explained, cropped up in endless variety. In short, readers in the 18th century were overwhelmed by competing voices. Truth and falsehood sat side by side on the shelves, and anyone could be a published author, just as anyone could quickly pretend to be a scholar by using indexes and digests Clair 45, — The positive side of the explosion in information was that the 18th century was markedly more generally educated than the centuries before.
Education was less confined to the upper classes than it had been in prior centuries so contributions to science, philosophy, economics, and literature came from all parts of the kingdom. It was the first time that literacy and a library were all that stood between a person and education. It was an age of "enlightenment" in the sense that the insistence and drive for reasonable explanations of nature and mankind was a rage.
It was an "age of reason" in that it was an age that accepted clear, rational methods as superior to tradition. However, there was a dark side to such literacy as well, which authors of the 18th century felt at every turn, which was that nonsense and insanity were also getting more adherents than ever before. Charlatans and mountebanks were fooling more, just as sages were educating more, and alluring and lurid apocalypses vied with sober philosophy on the shelves.
As with the Worldwide Web in the 21st century, the democratisation of publishing meant that older systems for determining value and uniformity of view were both in shambles. Thus, it was increasingly difficult to trust books in the 18th century, as books were increasingly easy to make and buy. The Restoration period ended with the exclusion crisis and the Glorious Revolution , where Parliament set up a new rule for succession to the British throne that would always prefer Protestantism over consanguinity. James had fled to France from where his son, James Francis Edward Stuart , launched an attempt to retake the throne in Another attempt was launched by the latter's son Charles Edward Stuart in The attempted invasions are often referred to as "the 15" and "the 45".
When William died, Anne Stuart came to the throne. Anne was reportedly immoderately stupid: Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1st Baron Macaulay would say of Anne that "when in good humour, [she] was meekly stupid and, when in bad humour, was sulkily stupid". Anne's reign saw two wars and great triumphs by John Churchill , the Duke of Marlborough.
Marlborough's wife, Sarah Churchill , was Anne's best friend, and many supposed that she secretly controlled the Queen in every respect. With a weak ruler and the belief that true power rested in the hands of the leading ministers, the two factions of politics stepped up their opposition to each other, and Whig and Tory were at each other's throats.
That weakness at the throne would lead quickly to the expansion of the powers of the party leader in Parliament and the establishment in all but name of the Prime Minister office in the form of Robert Walpole. George I spoke poor English , and his isolation from the English people was instrumental in keeping his power relatively irrelevant. His son, George II , on the other hand, spoke some English and some more French , and his rule was the first full Hanoverian rule in England. By then, the powers of Parliament had silently expanded, and his power was perhaps only equal to that of Parliament.
London's population exploded spectacularly. During the Restoration, it had grown from around , to , in Old Bailey Millwall history. By , it had reached , Not all of the residents were prosperous, as the Enclosure Acts had destroyed lower-class farming in the countryside, and rural areas experienced painful poverty. Communities of the country poor were forced to migrate or suffer see Thompson, Whigs so young people from the country often moved to London with hopes of achieving success, which swelled the ranks of the urban poor and cheap labour for city employers.
It also meant an increase in numbers of criminals, prostitutes and beggars. The fears of property crime, rape and starvation found in Augustan literature should be kept in the context of London's growth and the depopulation of the countryside. Partially because of the population pressures, property crime became a business both for the criminals and those who fed off of the criminals. Major crime lords like Jonathan Wild invented new schemes for stealing, and newspapers were eager to report crime. Biographies of the daring criminals became popular, which spawned fictional biographies of fictional criminals.
Cautionary tales of country women abused by sophisticated rakes such as Anne Bond and libertines in the city were popular fare, and they prompted fictional accounts of exemplary women abused or narrowly escaping abuse. Increased population also meant that urban discontent was never particularly difficult to find for political opportunists, and London suffered a number of riots, most of them against supposed Roman Catholic provocateurs.
CRITICAL AND HISTORICAL ESSAYS, VOLUME II
When highly potent, inexpensive distilled spirits were introduced, matters worsened and authors and artists protested the innovation of gin see, e. William Hogarth 's Gin Lane. From , the government encouraged distilling as a source of revenue and trade goods, and there were no licenses required for the manufacturing or selling of gin. There were documented instances of women drowning their infants to sell the child's clothes for gin, and the facilities created both the fodder for riots and the conditions against which riots would occur Loughrey and Treadwell, Dissenters Protestants not conforming to the Church of England recruited and preached to the poor of the city, and various offshoots of the Puritan and "Independent" Baptist movements increased their numbers substantially.
One theme of the ministers was the danger of the Roman Catholic Church, which they frequently saw as the Whore of Babylon. While Anne tended to favor the High Church faction, particularly towards the close of her reign, the court of George I was more closely allied with Low Church and latitudinarian elements and was warmer to nonconformists. The convocation was effectively disbanded by George I, who was struggling with the House of Lords , and George II was pleased to keep it in abeyance.
Additionally, both Georges were concerned with James Francis Edward Stuart and Charles Edward Stuart , who had considerable support in Scotland and Ireland, and many were suspected of being closet Jacobites. Walpole inflated fears of Stuart sympathisers from any group that did not support him. The literature of the 18th century, particularly the early 18th century, which is what "Augustan" most commonly indicates, is explicitly political in ways that few others are.
Because the professional author was still not distinguishable from the hack-writer, those who wrote poetry, novels, and plays were frequently either politically active or politically funded. At the same time, an aesthetic of artistic detachment from the everyday world had yet to develop, and the aristocratic ideal of an author so noble as to be above political concerns was largely archaic and irrelevant. The period may be an "Age of Scandal", as authors dealt specifically with the crimes and the vices of their world.
Satire, in prose, drama and poetry, was the genre that attracted the most energetic and voluminous writing. The satires that were produced during the Augustan period were occasionally gentle and nonspecific, commentaries on the comically flawed human condition, but they were at least as frequently specific critiques of specific policies, actions and persons.
Even the works studiously nontopical were, in fact, transparently political statements in the 18th century. Consequently, readers of 18th-century literature now need to understand the history of the period more than most readers of other literature do. The authors were writing for an informed audience and only secondarily for posterity. Even the authors, who criticised writing that lived for only a day like Jonathan Swift and Alexander Pope , in The Dedication to Prince Posterity of A Tale of a Tub and Dunciad , among other pieces were criticising specific authors, who are unknown to those without historical knowledge of the period.
Poetry of all forms was in constant dialogue, and each author was responding and commenting upon the others. Novels were written against other novels like the battles between Samuel Richardson and Henry Fielding , who, along with Eliza Haywood , wrote a novel satirising Richardson's Pamela , and between Laurence Sterne and Tobias Smollett.
Plays were written to make fun of plays or to counter the success of plays like the reaction against and for Cato and, later, Fielding's The Author's Farce. Therefore, history and literature are linked in a way rarely seen at other times. On one hand, the metropolitan and political writing can seem like coterie or salon work, but on the other hand, it was the literature of people deeply committed to sorting out a new type of government, new technologies and newly-vexatious challenges to philosophical and religious certainty. The essay , satire, and dialogue in philosophy and religion thrived in the age, and the English novel was truly begun as a serious art form.
Literacy in the early 18th century passed into the working classes, as well as the middle and upper classes Thompson, Class. Furthermore, literacy was not confined to men, though rates of female literacy are very difficult to establish. For those who were literate, circulating libraries in England began in the Augustan period. Libraries were open to all, but they were mainly associated with female patronage and novel reading. English essayists were aware of Continental models, but they developed their form independently from that tradition, and periodical literature grew between and Periodicals were inexpensive to produce, quick to read, and a viable way of influencing public opinion, and consequently there were many broadsheet periodicals headed by a single author and staffed by hirelings so-called "Grub Street" authors.
One periodical outsold and dominated all others, however, and that was The Spectator , written by Joseph Addison and Richard Steele with occasional contributions from their friends. The Spectator developed a number of pseudonymous characters, including "Mr.
Spectator," Roger de Coverley , and " Isaac Bickerstaff ", and both Addison and Steele created fictions to surround their narrators. The dispassionate view of the world the pose of a spectator, rather than participant was essential for the development of the English essay, as it set out a ground wherein Addison and Steele could comment and meditate upon manners and events. Samuel Johnson 's command of words and his practical wisdom gained a following as he published more than essays offering insights into the follies of human nature and moral perseverance.
Rather than being philosophers like Montesquieu , the English essayist could be an honest observer and his reader's peer.
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After the success of The Spectator, more political periodicals of comment appeared. However, the political factions and coalitions of politicians very quickly realized the power of this type of press, and they began funding newspapers to spread rumors. The Tory ministry of Robert Harley — reportedly spent over 50, pounds sterling on creating and bribing the press Butt ; this figure is known because their successors publicized it, but they the Walpole government were suspected of spending even more. Politicians wrote papers, wrote into papers, and supported papers, and it was well known that some of the periodicals, like Mist's Journal, were party mouthpieces.
The 18th century was a time of enlightenment progression occurring in all intellectual fields. However, the English language was deteriorating into a tangled mess. A group of London booksellers commissioned well-known essayist Samuel Johnson to compile a set of rules governing the English Language. After nine years and the help of six assistants the first edition of A Dictionary of the English Language was published in Johnson's great knowledge of letters, words and literature brought uniqueness to his dictionary. Each word defined in detail, with descriptions of their various uses and numerous literary quotes as illustrations.
This was the first dictionary of its kind, containing 40, words and nearly , quotes packed together with Johnson's personal touch. A warm reception greeted Johnson's Dictionary as it was the first dictionary that could be read with pleasure. The definitions full of wit and depth of thought supported by passages from beloved poets and philosophers, which a reader could be content spending an evening poring over its pages.
Johnson's choice of structure and format has certainly shaped future English dictionaries and lexicons and the role they play in language development. The Augustan period showed less literature of controversy than the Restoration. There were Puritan authors, however, and one of the names usually associated with the novel is perhaps the most prominent in Puritan writing: Daniel Defoe. After the coronation of Anne, dissenter hopes of reversing the Restoration were at an ebb, and dissenter literature moved from the offensive to the defensive, from revolutionary to conservative.
Defoe's infamous volley in the struggle between high and low church came in the form of The Shortest Way with the Dissenters; Or, Proposals for the Establishment of the Church. The work is satirical, attacking all of the worries of Establishment figures over the challenges of dissenters. It is, in other words, defensive. The Meditations of Robert Boyle remained popular as well. Both Law and Boyle called for revivalism, and they set the stage for the later development of Methodism and George Whitefield 's sermon style.
However, their works aimed at the individual, rather than the community. The age of revolutionary divines and militant evangelists in literature was over for a considerable time. Also in contrast to the Restoration, when philosophy in England was fully dominated by John Locke , the 18th century had a vigorous competition among followers of Locke. Bishop Berkeley extended Locke's emphasis on perception to argue that perception entirely solves the Cartesian problem of subjective and objective knowledge by saying "to be is to be perceived.
For Berkeley, the persistence of matter rests in the fact that God perceives those things that humans are not, that a living and continually aware, attentive, and involved God is the only rational explanation for the existence of objective matter. In essence, then, Berkeley's skepticism leads to faith. David Hume , on the other hand, took empiricist skepticism to its extremes, and he was the most radically empiricist philosopher of the period. He attacked surmise and unexamined premises wherever he found them, and his skepticism pointed out metaphysics in areas that other empiricists had assumed were material.
Hume doggedly refused to enter into questions of his personal faith in the divine, but he assaulted the logic and assumptions of theodicy and cosmogeny , and he concentrated on the provable and empirical in a way that would lead to utilitarianism and naturalism later.
In social and political philosophy, economics underlies much of the debate. Bernard de Mandeville's The Fable of the Bees became a centre-point of controversy regarding trade, morality, and social ethics. Mandeville argued that wastefulness, lust, pride, and all the other "private" vices were good for the society at large, for each led the individual to employ others, to spend freely, and to free capital to flow through the economy.
Mandeville's work is full of paradox and is meant, at least partially, to problematize what he saw as the naive philosophy of human progress and inherent virtue. However, Mandeville's arguments, initially an attack on graft of the War of the Spanish Succession , would be quoted often by economists who wished to strip morality away from questions of trade. Adam Smith is remembered by lay persons as the father of capitalism , but his Theory of Moral Sentiments of also attempted to strike out a new ground for moral action.
His emphasis on "sentiment" was in keeping with the era, as he emphasized the need for "sympathy" between individuals as the basis of fit action. These ideas, and the psychology of David Hartley , were influential on the sentimental novel and even the nascent Methodist movement. If sympathetic sentiment communicated morality, would it not be possible to induce morality by providing sympathetic circumstances? What it held in common with de Mandeville, Hume, and Locke was that it began by analytically examining the history of material exchange, without reflection on morality.
Instead of deducing from the ideal or moral to the real, it examined the real and tried to formulate inductive rules. The ground for the novel had been laid by journalism, drama and satire. Long prose satires like Swift's Gulliver's Travels had a central character who goes through adventures and may or may not learn lessons.
However, the most important single satirical source for the writing of novels came from Cervantes 's Don Quixote , In general, one can see these three axes, drama, journalism, and satire, as blending in and giving rise to three different types of novel. Daniel Defoe 's Robinson Crusoe was the first major novel of the new century and was published in more editions than any other works besides Gulliver's Travels Mullan Defoe worked as a journalist during and after its composition, and therefore he encountered the memoirs of Alexander Selkirk , who had been stranded in South America on an island for some years.
Defoe took aspects of the actual life and, from that, generated a fictional life, satisfying an essentially journalistic market with his fiction Hunter — In the s, Defoe interviewed famed criminals and produced accounts of their lives. In particular, he investigated Jack Sheppard and Jonathan Wild and wrote True Accounts of the former's escapes and fate and the latter's life. From his reportage on the prostitutes and criminals, Defoe may have become familiar with the real-life Mary Mollineaux, who may have been the model for Moll in Moll Flanders In the same year, Defoe produced A Journal of the Plague Year , which summoned up the horrors and tribulations of for a journalistic market for memoirs, and an attempted tale of a working-class male rise in Colonel Jack His last novel returned to the theme of fallen women in Roxana Thematically, Defoe's works are consistently Puritan.
They all involve a fall, a degradation of the spirit, a conversion, and an ecstatic elevation. This religious structure necessarily involved a bildungsroman , for each character had to learn a lesson about him or herself and emerge the wiser. Although there were novels in the interim, Samuel Richardson 's Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded is the next landmark development in the English novel.
Richardson's generic models were quite distinct from those of Defoe. Instead of working from the journalistic biography , Richardson had in mind the books of improvement that were popular at the time. Pamela Andrews enters the employ of a "Mr. As a dutiful girl, she writes to her mother constantly, and as a Christian girl, she is always on guard for her "virtue" i. B lusts after her. The novel ends with her marriage to her employer and her rising to the position of lady. Pamela , like its author, presents a dissenter's and a Whig's view of the rise of the classes.
The work drew a nearly instantaneous set of satires, of which Henry Fielding 's Shamela, or an Apology for the Life of Miss Shamela Andrews is the most memorable. Fielding continued to bait Richardson with Joseph Andrews , the tale of Shamela's brother, Joseph, who goes through his life trying to protect his own virginity, thus reversing the sexual predation of Richardson and satirizing the idea of sleeping one's way to rank. However, Joseph Andrews is not a parody of Richardson, for Fielding proposed his belief in "good nature", which is a quality of inherent virtue that is independent of class and which can always prevail.
His own basic good nature blinds him to the wickedness of the world, and the incidents on the road for most of the novel is a travel story allow Fielding to satirize conditions for the clergy, rural poverty and squires , and the viciousness of businessmen. In through , Samuel Richardson published Clarissa in serial form.
Unlike Pamela , it is not a tale of virtue rewarded. Instead, it is a highly tragic and affecting account of a young girl whose parents try to force her into an uncongenial marriage, thus pushing her into the arms of a scheming rake named Lovelace. In the end, Clarissa dies by her own will. The novel is a masterpiece of psychological realism and emotional effect, and when Richardson was drawing to a close in the serial publication, even Henry Fielding wrote to him, begging him not to kill Clarissa.
As with Pamela , Richardson emphasized the individual over the social and the personal over the class. Even as Fielding was reading and enjoying Clarissa , he was also writing a counter to its messages. His Tom Jones of offers up the other side of the argument from Clarissa. Tom Jones agrees substantially in the power of the individual to be more or less than his or her birth would indicate, but it again emphasizes the place of the individual in society and the social ramifications of individual choices.
Fielding answers Richardson by featuring a similar plot device whether a girl can choose her own mate but showing how family and village can complicate and expedite matches and felicity. Two other novelists should be mentioned, for they, like Fielding and Richardson, were in dialogue through their works. Laurence Sterne 's and Tobias Smollett 's works offered up oppositional views of the self in society and the method of the novel.
Tristram seeks to write his autobiography , but like Swift's narrator in A Tale of a Tub , he worries that nothing in his life can be understood without understanding its context. For example, he tells the reader that at the very moment he was conceived, his mother was saying, "Did you wind the clock? To clarify how he knows this, he explains that his father took care of winding the clock and "other family business" on one day a month.
To explain why the clock had to be wound then, he has to explain his father.
In other words, the biography moves backward rather than forward in time, only to then jump forward years, hit another knot, and move backward again. It is a novel of exceptional energy, of multi-layered digressions , of multiple satires, and of frequent parodies. Journalist, translator and historian Tobias Smollett , on the other hand, wrote more seemingly traditional novels. He concentrated on the picaresque novel , where a low-born character would go through a practically endless series of adventures.
Sterne thought that Smollett's novels always paid undue attention to the basest and most common elements of life, that they emphasized the dirt. Although this is a superficial complaint, it points to an important difference between the two as authors. Sterne came to the novel from a satirical background, while Smollett approached it from journalism. In the 19th century, novelists would have plots much nearer to Smollett's than either Fielding's or Sterne's or Richardson's, and his sprawling, linear development of action would prove most successful.
In the midst of this development of the novel, other trends were also taking place. Women were writing novels and moving away from the old romance plots that had dominated before the Restoration. There were utopian novels, like Sarah Scott 's Millennium Hall , autobiographical women's novels like Frances Burney 's works, female adaptations of older, male motifs, such as Charlotte Lennox 's The Female Quixote and many others. These novels do not generally follow a strict line of development or influence. There were several thousand other satirical works written during the period, which have until recently been, by widespread consensus, ignored.
The central group of "Scriblerians"—Pope, Swift, Gay, and their colleague John Arbuthnot—are considered to have had common satiric aims. Until recently, these writers formed a "school" of satire. After Swift and Pope died, the emergent "Age of Sensibility" discouraged the often cruel and abrasive tenor of the Augustans, and satire was rendered gentler and more diffuse. Many scholars of the era argue that a single name overshadows all others in 18th-century prose satire: Jonathan Swift. Critically, Swift's satire marked the development of prose parody away from simple satire or burlesque.
A burlesque or lampoon in prose would imitate a despised author and quickly move to reductio ad absurdum by having the victim say things coarse or idiotic. On the other hand, other satires would argue against a habit, practice, or policy by making fun of its reach or composition or methods. What Swift did was to combine parody , with its imitation of form and style of another, and satire in prose.
Swift's works would pretend to speak in the voice of an opponent and imitate the style of the opponent and have the parodic work itself be the satire. The "moderns" sought trade, empirical science, the individual's reason above the society's, while the "ancients" believed in inherent and immanent value of birth, and the society over the individual's determinations of the good. In Swift's satire, the moderns come out looking insane and proud of their insanity, and dismissive of the value of history. In Swift's most significant satire, Gulliver's Travels , autobiography, allegory, and philosophy mix together in the travels.
Thematically, Gulliver's Travels is a critique of human vanity, of pride. Book one, the journey to Liliput, begins with the world as it is. Book two shows that the idealized nation of Brobdingnag with a philosopher king is no home for a contemporary Englishman.
Book four depicts the land of the Houyhnhnms, a society of horses ruled by pure reason, where humanity itself is portrayed as a group of "yahoos" covered in filth and dominated by base desires. It shows that, indeed, the very desire for reason may be undesirable, and humans must struggle to be neither Yahoos nor Houyhnhnms, for book three shows what happens when reason is unleashed without any consideration of morality or utility i. There were other satirists who worked in a less virulent way, who took a bemused pose and only made lighthearted fun.
Tom Brown , Ned Ward , and Tom D'Urfey were all satirists in prose and poetry whose works appeared in the early part of the Augustan age. Ned Ward's most memorable work was The London Spy — The London Spy, before The Spectator, took up the position of an observer and uncomprehendingly reporting back. Tom D'Urfey's Wit and Mirth: or Pills to Purge Melancholy was another satire that attempted to offer entertainment, rather than a specific bit of political action, in the form of coarse and catchy songs. Particularly after Swift's success, parodic satire had an attraction for authors throughout the 18th century.
A variety of factors created a rise in political writing and political satire, and Robert Walpole 's success and domination of House of Commons was a very effective proximal cause for polarized literature and thereby the rise of parodic satire. The parodic satire takes apart the cases and plans of policy without necessarily contrasting a normative or positive set of values. Therefore, it was an ideal method of attack for ironists and conservatives—those who would not be able to enunciate a set of values to change toward but could condemn present changes as ill-considered.
Satire was present in all genres during the Augustan period. Perhaps primarily, satire was a part of political and religious debate. Every significant politician and political act had satires to attack it. Few of these were parodic satires, but parodic satires, too, emerged in political and religious debate.
So omnipresent and powerful was satire in the Augustan age that more than one literary history has referred to it as the "Age of satire" in literature. In the Augustan era, poets wrote in direct counterpoint and direct expansion of one another, with each poet writing satire when in opposition.