Matthew Arnold: Commentary

W. B. Yeats
D. P. Moran
Thomas MacDonagh
Richard Kain
Rachel Bromwich
Chadwick & Dillon
Malcolm Brown
David Lloyd
Seamus Deane
W. J. McCormack
Cairns & Richards
Robert Welch
Declan Kiberd
E. B. Cullingford
Majorie Howes
Chris Morash
Peter McDonald
Len Platt
Denis Donoghue
Diarmuid Ó Giolláin
Gregory Castle
Elaine Sisson
Garry Leonard
Margaret Kelleher

Harold Bloom [speaking of the positive apophrades - his coinage for the illusion that a dread poet is imitating a living one]: ‘It is important only that we learn to distinguish this phenomenon from its aesthetic opposite, the embarrassment, say, of reading The Scholar Gipsy and Thyrsis, and finding the odes of Keats crowding out poor Arnold. Keats can seem a touch over-affected by Tennyson and the Pre-Raphaelites, even by Pater, but never does he seem the heir of Matthew Arnold.’ (The Anxiety of Influence: a Theory of Poetry, OUP 1973, p.154.)

Edward Said (Culture and Imperialism, London: Chatto & Windus 1993): ‘British Governor of Jamaica, E. J. Eyre, ordered a retaliatory massacre of Blacks for the killing of a few whites; this revealed to many English people the injustices and horrors of colonial life; the subsequent debate engaged famous public personalities both for Eyre’s declaration of martial law and massacre of Jamaican Blacks (Ruskin, Carlyle, Arnold) and against him (Mill, Huxley, Lord Chief Justice Cockburn). In time, however, the case was forgotten, and other “administrative massacres” in the empire occurred. Yet, in the words of one historian, “Great Britain managed to maintain the distinction between domestic liberty and imperial authority [which he describes as “repression and terror”] abroad.’ (See Bernard Semel, Jamaican Blood and Victorian Conscience: The Governor Eyre Controversy, Boston; Riverside Press 1963 p.179; here p.157.)
  Most modern readers of Matthew Arnold’s anguished poetry, or of his celebrated theory in praise of culture, do not also know that Arnold connected the “administrative massacre” ordered by Eyre with tough British policies towards colonial Eire and strongly approved of both; Culture and Anarchy is set plumb in the middle of the Hyde Park Riots of 1867, and what Arnold had to say about culture was specifically believed to be a deterrent to rampant disorder - colonial, Irish, domestic. Irishmen, and women, and some historians bring up these massacres at ‘inappropriate’ moments, but most Anglo-American readers of Arnold remain oblivious, see them - if they look at all - as irrelevant to the more important cultural theory that Arnold appears to be promoting for all ages.’ (pp.157-158.)

Note further reference to Daumier whose ‘famous ... drawing, for instance, explicitly connects Irish whites and Jamaican Blacks.’ (p.162.)

W. B. Yeats, “The Celtic Element in Literature”, 1898 (first. publ. in Cosmopolis, June 1898; rep. in Essays & Introductions, 1961, pp.173-88 - being a riposte to Arnold’s On the Study of Celtic Literature (1867): ‘[...] When Matthew Arnold wrote, it was not easy to know as much as we know now of folk-song and folk-belief, and I do not think he understood that our “natural magic” is but the ancient religion of the world, the ancient world of Nature and that troubled ecstasy before her, that certainty of beautiful places being haunted, which it brought into men’s minds.’ (pp.175-76; see longer extracts under Yeats, infra.)

Douglas Hyde, “Early Irish Literature” (1904), quotes Arnold with remarks: ‘In fact the glowing rendering of nature-scenes, which appear to have perfectly intoxicated the early Irish, frequently transcends mere descriptive and borders upon the interpretative. This is no doubt what prompted Matthew Arnold to write as follows: “The Celt’s quick feeling for that which is noble and distinguished gave his poetry style; his indomitable personality gave it pride and passion; his sensibility and nervous exaltation give it a better gift still the gift of rendering with wonderful felicity the magical charm of nature. The forest solitude, the bubbling spring, the wild flowers, are everywhere in romance. They have a mysterious life and grace there: they are nature’s own children and utter her secret in a way which makes them quite different from the woods, waters, and plants of Greek and Latin poetry. Now of this delicate magic Celtic romance is so pre-eminent a mistress that it seems impossible to believe the power did not come into romance with the Celts; magic is just the word for it the magic of nature; not merely the beauty of nature that the Greeks and Latins had; not merely an honest smack of the soil, a faithful realism that the Germans had; but the intimate life of nature, her weird power and fairy dream.” [...; &c.]’ (Hyde, “Early Irish Literature”, [ed. essay], in Irish Literature, gen. ed. Justin MacCarthy, Philadelphia: John Morris & Company 1904, Vol. II, p.xvi. [For full text of Hyde’s article, see under RICORSO Library, “Classics of Irish Criticism”, via index or direct.]

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D. P. Moran, ‘The Battle of Two Civilizations’ [1900], in ThePhilosophy of Irish Ireland (1905): ‘We were all on the look-out for someone to think for us, for we had given up that habit with our language. Matthew Arnold happily came along just in the nick of time, and in a much quoted essay suggested, among other things, that one of the characteristics of Celtic poetry was “natural magic”. I confess I don’t exactly know what “natural magic” means ... Then yet another Irish make-believe was born, and it was christened “The Celtic Note,” Mr W. B. Yeats standing sponsor for it.... caus[ing] a little stir among minor literary circles in London ... &c. &c.’; (Rep. in The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing, Derry, Field Day 1991, Vol. 2, p.555.) [For Moran, see also Elaine Sisson, infra.]

Thomas MacDonagh, Literature in Ireland (1916), Chap. IV: ‘[...] Matthew Arnold in his essay On the Study of Celtic Literature, largely a work of fiction, has written interestingly of the Celtic Note, using the name in a sense of his own. He has been rather apprehended than understood; and with later writers the meaning has become vaguer’ (Quoted in The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing, 1991, Vol. 2, p.989.

Richard Kain, Dublin in the Age of William Butler Yeats and James Joyce (Oklahoma UP 1962; Newton Abbot: David Charles 1972): ‘Arnold’s lectures at Oxford “On the Study of Celtic Literature,” delivered in 1865 and 1866, were deeply indebted to Renan, but he made the introverted race a bit more extrovert. As Frederic E. Faverty has noted in Matthew [43] Arnold the Ethnologist (1951), the Frenchman’s Celts were a douce petite race naturellement chrétienne,” but the Englishman’s Celts tended “to aspire ardently after life, light, and emotion, to be expansive, adventurous, and gay. To each his own Celt.’ (pp.43-44.)

Rachel Bromwich, Matthew Arnold and Celtic Literature: A Retrospect 1865-1965 (OUP 1965), p.32: ‘[Arnold] was uncompromising in his attitude to the Celtic tradition as something which was dead and belonged solely to the past’.

Nora Chadwick & Myles Dillon, The Celtic Realms (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson 1967): ‘The attempt to present the Celts in history as one people, with a common tradition and a common character, is new, and in some degree, experimental. It seems to us to have been justified beyond our expectations, inasmuch as there does emerge in the history and institutions and religion, in the art and literature, perhaps even in the language, a quality that is distinctive and common to the Celts of Gaul, of Britain and of Ireland. We hesitate to give it a name: it makes a contrast with Greek temperance, it is marked by extremes of luxury and asceticism, of exultation and despair, by lack of discipline and of the gift for organising secular affairs, by delight in natural beauty and in tales of mystery and imagination, by an artistic sense that prefers decoration and pattern to mere representation. Matthew Arnold called it the Celtic Magic.’ (Pref. [iii].)

Malcolm Brown, Politics of Irish Literature (London: Allen & Unwin 1972), p.320: ‘Every Irish writer from Yeats’s first beginnings to Frank O’Connor’s valedictory eighty years later, has felt the urge to work within Arnold’s categories, though not always towards Arnold’s conclusions [...] ‘it seems transparent that Arnold was offering, besides an ethnopoetic theory, topical advice on “the Irish problem”’.

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David Lloyd, Nationalism and Minor Literature (California UP 1982), considers the theory of culture in Arnold’s Study of Celtic Literature to be ‘an aesthetic conception of history as a narrative of the production of a harmonious state of culture’ (p.73), and hence shot through with a colonising intent: ‘Arnold’s desire is as much to assimilate the English to the Celtic as the Celtic to the English. The process, it appears, will be reciprocal, as the Celt and the Englishman will come to like one another if they are shown how originally alike they are and if they seek to develop that obscure likeness. In the process of assimilation, of course, it is still the case that the Celt will be absorbed into the political English Empire, which in turn will be made more complete by the absorption of what had formerly seemed alien and different.’ (p.78.)

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Seamus Deane, ‘Arnold, Burke and the Celts, in Celtic Revivals: Essays in Modern Irish Literature, 1880-1980 (London: Faber 1985), pp.17-27: ‘[Arnold’s Celt] is already encroaching upon the territory of Yeats and Synge - where folk-tales are preferred to the “English diet of parliamentary speeches and the gutter press”, where speech is highly-flavoured, where peasants, be they Christy Mahons or figures from a Jack Yeats painting, have the vigour and vitality the anaemic city-dweller has lost.’ (Ibid., p.25; quoted in Conor McCarthy, Modernisation: Crisis and Culture in Ireland 1969-1992, Dublin: Four Courts Press 2000, p.150.) Further, ‘Burke and Arnold seem to be unlikely grandparents to the Irish Literary Revival. But the facts of the case seem to warrant this conclusion.’ (p.27.)

W. J. McCormack, Ascendancy and Tradition in Anglo-Irish Literary History (Oxford: Clarendon 1985), p.225, characterises Arnold’s Celticism as ‘echoes of Renan and Burke [...] simultaneously adjusted so as to produce a new synthetic and British Celticism’ [cited in Mary King, typescript paper on Oscar Wilde, 1998.]

David Cairns & Shaun Richards, Writing Ireland (Manchester UP 1988), pp.44-48: Arnold’s On the Study of Celtic Literature (1867) caused Oxford to establish a chair of Celtic Literature and provided impetus for Celtic Revival, as well as defining the Celtic psyche as ‘feminine’; Arnold began to consider cultural relations of the English and the Celts seriously after reading Renan’s Poésie des Races Celtiques in 1860; his conclusions published in the form of lectures and serial articles in Cornhill Magazine in 1866, later collected as “On the Study of Celtic Literature”, coinciding with the outbreak of Fenian bombing in Autumn 1865 which he took as a warning of the price to be paid if the Irish were not induced to accept subsidiary status in United Kingdom; hence recommended an accommodatory gesture to reconcile Celts to their subordinate state. [See num. quotations from Arnold in this text - as infra.]

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Robert Welch, ed. & intro., W. B. Yeats, Writings on Irish Folklore, Legend and Myth (London: Penguin 1993), pp.xxiii-iv; ‘Whenever the “Celtic Twilight” is mentioned, Arnold, whether consciously or not, is being invoked. It was he, in lectures delivered as Professor of Poetry at Oxford in 1866, who developed the notion of the sane and solid Saxon as against the wild and imaginative Celtic. The “despotism of fact” was something the Celt reacted against, with his capacity for dreaming, his sensitivity, his hatred of empiricism. Arnold’s racial stereotypes were well intentioned, because he did envisage an imperial culture in which Celtic emotionalism (something present in he substrata of Saxon psychology but normally repressed) would, once liberated, mitigate the harsh and solid practicality of the empire-builder. But this compliment, Yeats saw, was double-edged. To imagine the Celt as soft consigned him to an inferior role; whereas to imagine the Saxon as harsh offered the Celt a justification for dislike as well as providing the Saxon with the opportunity for masochistic self-laceration; thereby creating a psychological tangle [crucial] to the nuanced shiftings of guilt, the blaming of self rapidly [xxii] becoming the blaming of the other, characteristics of colonial psychology. [...] Yeats’s method is not so much to contradict Arnold as to write against him, to formulate a language different from the stereotyped categories Arnold has stated, whilst also giving him his due. Arnold had praised the “Celtic Note”, suggesting that English literature derives its “natural magic” from a Celtic source. Yeats refused the compliment, and opens the field of discourse to a vastly wider perspective [xxiii; ...] The method is not argument; it is an open acknowledgement of a difference, which is then said to be deeply integrative, profoundly unifying, because it leads into the “main river” of European tradition.’ (Quoted [in part], in Chris Corr, ‘Matthew Arnold and the Younger: Yeats: The Manoeuvrings of Cultural Aesthetics’ , in Irish University Review, Vol. 28, No. 1 (Spring/Summer 1998, p.19.)

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Declan Kiberd, Inventing Ireland: The Literature of the Modern Nation (London: Jonathan Cape 1995), p.31 - quotes Arnold: ‘the Celtic genius had sentiment for its main basis ... with love of beauty, charm and spirituality for its excellence, ineffectualness and self-will for its defect’ (Study of Celtic Literature, 1891 edn., p.115), with the remark that such a genius flourishes in short lyric bursts, but not in ‘the steady, deep-searching survey’ (Arnold, op. cit., p.104); further remarks, ‘Arnold showed remarkably little patience for the steady, deep-searching survey himself, basing most of his ideas on ... Ernest Renan ... of actual Irish-language texts themselves, [...] Arnold was almost entirely ignorant’; ‘[I]n 1886 Arnold proclaimed himself a staunch critic of Gladstone’s proposal, arguing that the “idle and imprudent” Irish could never properly govern themselves (citing Arnold, op .cit., p.92); ‘[Arnold] was the consummate surveyor, the Celt the consummately surveyed.’ Note, Kiberd’s context gives the impression that a speech of 1886 is being cited here whereas the passage cited is once again from the lectures of 1865.]

Elizabeth Butler Cullingford, ‘British Romans and Irish Carthaginians: Anticolonial Metaphor in Heaney, Friel and McGuinness, PMLA (March 1996), pp.222-36: ‘In nineteenth-century Britain hands, this fusion of Ireland with the feminine had dubious consequences. Claiming that the “sensibility of the Celtic nature, its nervous exaltation, have something feminine in them” [Lectures [i.e., Super, Complete Prose Works, p.347; see further, infra], Matthew Arnold illustrates what he calls “the sheer inimitable Celtic note” in poetry by quoting from The Merchant of Venice: “[I]n such a night / Stood Dido, with a willow in her hand / Upon the wild sea-banks, and waved her love / To come again to Carthage’’ [5.1.8-12; Arnold, p.379]. For Arnold, these lines epitomise the feminine sensibility of the Celts: they are ”drenched and intoxicated with the fairy-dew of ... natural magic” [p.380; also Cairns and Richards, 1988, pp.43-50]. It suits his argument that Shakespeare’s Lorenzo deprives Dido of her fury, softening her into a pathetic figure ... Shakespeare’s Dido begs Aeneas to return. Arnold who wanted to send “a message of peace to Ireland” [Arnold, p.386], may have been unaware of the local political implications of the Dido story [in Ireland], but he used it to stereotype the Celts as feminine victims and romantic figures. [...] For Irish writers, however, the Phoenician metaphor retained imaginative currency a figure of difference and resistance as long as the British occupied Ireland.’ [p.227]. See also remarks on Frank McGuinness who employs Dido as the transgender name of the main character in his play Carthaginians (1988).

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Marjorie Howes, Yeats’s Nations: Gender, Class, and Irishness (Cambridge UP 1996): ‘Arnold’s pronouncements on Ireland and the Irish in On the Study Celtic Literature (1867) and the essays on Irish affairs written in the 1880s insisted that Ireland should remain within the empire, but they criticized England’s treatment of the Irish and urged the British to become a people capable of “attaching” Ireland and the other Celtic territories under British dominion in order to form a peaceful union with “its parts blended together in a common national feeling.” [Complete Prose Works, ed. R. H. Super, Vol. XI, Michigan UP 1973, p.242.] There is a close relationship between his criticism of English attitudes towards Ireland and his criticism of British Philistinism in Culture and Anarchy (1869). The position Arnold and other liberal Victorian thinkers adopted was deeply indebted to the works of Edmund Burke. Burke’s unionism involved criticizing the corruption and [19] brutality of the Protestant Ascendancy, calling for a “true aristocracy” to replace it, and protesting against the penal laws and other forms of Catholic oppression. Later these positions became central to nineteenth-century efforts to kill Home Rule with kindness. [Seamus Deane, ‘Arnold, Burke and the Celts’, in Celtic Revivals: Essays in Modern Irish Literature 1880-1980, Faber 1985.] Arnold cited Burke frequently and even edited an anthology of Burke’s writings on Irish affairs. The publication of On the Study of Celtic Literature coincided with an increase in “Fenian fever” in Ireland and the United States, an outbreak of Fenian violence in Ireland and England, an English crackdown on Irish unrest, and a rise in popular and media attention to the Fenian movement. In this political climate its enthusiasm for Celtic culture and its relatively benign form of imperialism made it a fairly radical document, and it made little impression on Arnold’s immediate contemporaries.’ (pp.19-20.)

Marjorie Howes (Yeats’s Nations: Gender, Class, and Irishness, 1996), cont.: ‘Arnold’s emphasis on sympathy and integration, his preference for conciliation over coercion, and the intermediate position the Irish occupied in the British hierarchy of races all helped make a particular version of nineteenth-century femininity a useful category for his construction of the Celt: a cultured, sensitive, middle-class femininity associated with hysteria. Arnold’s debts to the works of Ernest Renan, Henri Martin and W. F. Edwards have been well documented, and critics have often noted the importance of the Celt’s femininity to the imperialist ambitions of Arnold’s vision. Here I wish to emphasize a few points about how this version of femininity functioned in Arnold’s argument. It provided crucial support to a major aspect of Arnold’s formulation of Celtic otherness - complementarity. Femininity marked the Celt’s difference from the Saxon. but also placed her in a relationship of natural complementarity to him. Like man and woman, they were meant for each other, and should acquiesce in the dictates of nature and history, combining to form a more perfect whole. Both Celt and Saxon were radically incomplete. The Saxon possessed precisely the qualities the Celt lacked, and the Celt in turn could supply the Saxon deficiencies Arnold outlined in Culture and Anarchy. The Celt’s femininity stood, not merely for racial difference, but for a combination of racial difference and racial affinity in relation to the English. Robert Young has analyzed Arnold’s debts to nineteenth-century racial theory, and argues that theories of race were also “covert theories of desire” because they were largely based on the perceived results of sexual unions between different peoples. [Robert Young, Colonial Desire: Hybridity in Theory, Culture and Race, NY: Routledge 1995, p.9.] (p.20.)

Marjorie Howes (Yeats’s Nations: Gender, Class, and Irishness, 1996), cont. [no para.]: Arnold’s essay contains a tension between two related models of complementarity that reflects a major [20] nineteenth-century debate about the possibilities and results of racial hybridity. Arnold insists that the English race is a hybrid race, and that it already contains a Celtic element. Assimilation was prepared for by “affinity of race” [Arnold, Complete Prose Works, Vol. XI, p.9] between Irish and English and was already under way. But while the essay lauds the mutual benefits of integrating Saxon and Celt, it also asserts their permanence as racial types. Complementarity as a natural tendency to fuse into a new, homogeneous whole conflicted with complementarity as the existence of mutually enriching, interlocking characteristics that remained distinct and identifiable. The dialectic between hybridity as the elimination of difference and hybridity as the intermingling of distinct entities was central to the period’s racial theory. Arnold’s version of this dialectic enabled him to use an argument about racial and cultural separatism in the service of an argument for political integration. As he put it in 1887, the Irish could be “a nation poetically only, not politically.” [‘From Easter to August’, in The Nineteenth Century, XXII, Sept. 1887, p.321; quoted in Frederick Faverty, Mathew Arnold the Ethnologist, Northwestern UP 1951, p.142.] The gendering of Celt and Saxon also revealed the important role sexuality played in Arnold’s model of political integration as imperial romance and in his insistence that the English should become capable of “attaching” the Irish. [...] , &c.’; for longer extract, see RICORSO Library, “Major Authors” / W. B. Yeats - as infra.] (pp.20-21.)

Marjorie Howes (Yeats’s Nations: Gender, Class, and Irishness, 1996), cont.: - quotes Arnold: ‘[N]o doubt the sensibility of the Celtic nature, its nervous exaltation, have something feminine in them, and the Celt is thus particularly disposed to feel the spell of the feminine idiosyncrasy; he has affinity to it; he is not far from its secret.’ [Complete Prose Works, Vol. III, p.347], and remarks, ad interim: ‘The version of feminity Arnold ascribed to the Celt allowed him to express at the same time the Celt’s valuable uniqueness and crippling inferiority, spiritual strength and practical weakness, energetic passion and the inability to govern it, imaginative richness and incapacity for sustained and balanced logical thought. It enabled Arnold to construct a Celit racial or national difference whose complementary relation to the Saxon combined cultural separation and political integration. The Celt alone was a specimen of maimed masculinity, of illness and lack, while the Celt coupled with Saxon could [22] become the angel in the British house of empire, sweetening and completing it. On the other hand, the Celt’s femininity also expressed fears about integration, revolution, and English weakness. Behind Arnold’s Celt lurk the degenerate, the hysteric, and the revolutionary. Arnold warned his fellow Englishmen, “perhaps if we are doomed to perish ... we shall perish by our Celticism [sic]” [Complete Prose Works, Vo. III, p.382.]’ (pp.22-23; see ensuing remarks Edmund Burke - as supra.)

Marjorie Howes (Yeats’s Nations: Gender, Class, and Irishness, 1996), cont.: ‘In the 1860s, then, femininity and nervous instability could acquire political implications radically different from those Arnold attributed to them, albeit in discourses outside the bounds of traditional political theory. By the late nineteenth century, however, the cultural equation of femininity with pathology - medical, political and sexual - was even more firmly established than at mid-century. In addition, the fact that the Celt’s racial otherness sprang more from an excess of civilization and culture than from a barbaric lack of it gave the sensitive, brilliant and unstable Celt something in common with a new figure that appeared on the late Victorian cultural horizon: the decadent. The Celt’s gender and the sexual excesses suggested by her emotionalism and sensuousness reinforced that connection. Sexual pathology and effeminacy were central to contemporary descriptions of decadence, as were the decadent’s similarities to the perceived depravities of the New Woman. Freud and Breuer notwithstanding, the Celt’s hysteria and decadence were also culturally linked to some late nineteenth-century theories of degeneration; as Daniel Pick has argued, such theories expressed fears about too much progress and civilization as well as too little. Many of Arnold’s Celtic traits were also the same qualities that were to charcterize Max Nordau’s 1895 portrait of the decadent artistic degenerate. Although Nordau acknowledged that degeneration afflicted both men and women, its symptoms, which resemled and often occurred in conjucntion with those of hysteria, were particularly feminine. Arnold’s feminization of the Celt found further echoes in the work of Otto Weineger, whose “anti-feminine” and racist theories involved extensive comparison of Jews and women in his influential book Sex and Character (1903). Like Arnold, Weininger linked femininity to necessary and natural colonial status, insisting that the Jew, “like the woman, requires the rule of an exterior authority. His formulation of femininity as racial inferiority lacks both Arnold’s sympathy with the inferior race, and his relative optimism about the causes and results of assimilation; the racial meaning of femininity had become less ambiguous, more decidedly damning.’ [Notes omitted.]

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Christopher Morash, ‘Celticism: Between Race and Culture’, [pt. 2 of] ‘The Triple Play of Irish History’, Irish Review No. 20 (Winter-Spring 1997), pp.29-36: ‘In short, by using “Arnold” as the name for a discourse od Celticism, we impose the old familiar story of imperial cultural hegemony on a situation which exceeds it.’ [p.30.]

Peter McDonald, ‘The Function of Criticism at the Present Time: Arnold and Irish Culture’, in Irish Review, 23 (Winter 1998), pp.94-104: ‘In one context, however, Arnold is still held to be very much a contemporary force: Irish politics, and in a wider sense Irish culture, are still in contact with the dynamics of the colonial, or imperial, discourse which Arnold operated, and a sense of his “relevance” to contemporary debates is therefore hard to resist. It was Arnold, after all, who published On the Study of Celtic Literature (1867) and later collected his Irish Essays (1882), who wrote throughout his career with reference to Irish topics and, in particular, to the relations between Ireland and England. ... somehow, in Irish literary discourse, a sense of Arnold’s relevance persists, and expresses itself in a rejection or an indignation that ought to be, by now, redundant.’ [p.96]; McDonagh goes on to make a critical analysis of Declan Kiberd’s use of Arnold in Inventing Ireland, with further remarks about Tom Paulin’s assumption that Arnold ‘wanted to take the critic out of the fray’ in evoking the term ‘disinterestedness’, so that he can ‘float free into a realm of pure, weightless impartiality’. Note that McDonald cites Bill Bell, ‘The Function of Arnold at the Present Time’, in Essays in Criticism, Vol. 47, No. 3 (July 1997), pp.203-19, where Bell makes mention of Terry Eagleton’s addition of ‘the victimisation of Sinn Féin to the already long catalogue of ideological abuses of which his predecessor [Arnold] was not to be found guilty.’ [p.104].

Len Platt, ‘Corresponding with the Greeks: An Overview of Ulysses as an Irish Epic’ , in James Joyce Quarterly, 36, 3 (Spring 1996): : ‘[...] Arnold’s Hellenizing agenda [...] was well known to Joyce, and it is evident from Ulysses that he attached particular significance to Arnold. The specific association between Arnold, Oxford, and Mulligan’s elitist Hellenizing proposal in “Telemachus” very clearly establishes correspondence, in the opening pages of Ulysses, as a hegemonic cultural practice. Moreover, the whole Jew/Greek pattern in Ulysses is itself in exploitative correspondence with Arnold’s dialectical treatment of class, race, and culture in Culture and Anarchy. Something of the character of the subversion can be seen in “Circe”, the episode where Arnold’s face is featured as a ghostly presence in a brothel and where his elegant homily to “Hebraism” and “Hellenism”, the two most powerful constituents of culture and civilization in Arnold’s account, is reduced to the crass formulation “Jewgreek is greekjew” (U 15.2097-98). All this indicates that Arnold was important for Joyce, his consequence determined partly by Arnold’s prominence in the liberal tradition outlined above but also by the significant divergences from the mainstream orthodoxy in Arnold’s thinking. These divergences are clearly illustrated in Arnold’s controversial evaluation of ancient Irish culture. [... 514;] / The Literary Revival’s obsessive alignment of Gaelic culture with Greek culture was distinct from Arnold’s version of analogue in some key respects. Yeats, who connected Arnold with the degradation of “classical morality”, [Memoirs, ed. Donoghue, 1972, p.169] saw parallels of aristocratic action, energy, heroism, and valor that are inconsistent with Arnold’s identification of a more humble and less dangerous “lightness” and gaiety. But Arnold did identify Celticism with Hellenism. Moreover, there were compelling ideological similarities between the Oxford and Anglo-Irish intellectuals resisting a modernization that was reshaping both societies. In both instances, cultural retrospection reestablishes the authority of the elites; in both, tradition is privileged over innovation and continuity over change. The irony of England’s most eminent cultural theorist massaging the basic Greek/Irish correspondence was one further illustration of the essentially Anglicized nature of revivalism in Ireland. / In Ireland, as in England, establishing correspondences with classical Greece was routine [...].’ (pp.514-15.)

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Denis Donoghue, ‘Ireland, Race, Nation, State’ [Part 1], Partisan Review, Vol. LXVI, No. 2 (1999), pp.223-34; quotes Arnold, ‘the shrunken and diminished remains of this great primitive race [...] failure to reach any material civilisation sound and satisfying, and now out at the elbows, poor slovenly, and half-barbarous.’ [p.225]; chose for epigraph line from Macpherson’s Poems of Ossian: ‘they went forth to the war, but they always fell.’ [p.226]; their genius counted for something ‘in the inward world of thought and science [but for nothing] in the outward and visible world of material life’; Arnold said in 1887 that the Irish could be ‘a nation poetically only, not politically’; Arnold endorses a claim of Henry Martin’s that the Celt’s were ‘always ready to react against the despotism of fact’ [p.227]; in his essay ‘The Incompatible’, Arnold noted that England had ‘completely failed to attach Ireland’, and that ‘We find ourselves the object of glowing fierce, unexplained hatred on the part of the Irish people’; urged Ireland to ‘acquiesce in the English connection by good and just treatment’; and remarks upon ‘the equitable treatment of Catholicism’ in regard to education. [p.228; &c.]

Diarmuid Ó Giolláin, Locating Irish Folklore: Tradition, Modernity, Identity (Cork UP 2000): ‘Arnold, in on the Study of Celtic Literature (1867), similarly [to Ernest Renan] saw a Celtic failing in “the outward and visible world of material life” [quotes as infra]. Paraphrases further: ‘The Celt’s nature, “undisciplinable, anarchical, and turbulent”, and at the same time susceptible to demagoguery, is bad for politics in contrast to the Anglo-Saxon’s, “disciplinable and steadily obedient within certain limits, but retaining an inalienable part of freedom and self-dependence”. (Ibid., 105, 109.) Renan and Matthew Arnold helped to develop some of the characteristic traits of the Celt: sensitive, spiritual, feminine, imaginative, poetic, passionate, impractical. They were as a result instrumental in establishing a long-lasting opposition between the Celt and the Anglo-Saxon, characterized as restrained, predictable, rational, materialistic and impassive.’ (See Malcolm Chapman, The Celts: The Invention of a Myth , NY: St. Martin’s Press 1992, pp.214-17.)

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Gregory Castle, Modernism and the Celtic Revival (Cambridge UP 2001), pp.7-8: ‘[...] this proximity [i.e., same language, legal code, urban culture and geopolitical location as England] ought not to lead us to believe that Ireland somehow suffered less profoundly the violence of imperialism. Indeed, the very lack of discernible racial difference led to an especially pernicious, because discursive, form of violence. Matthew Arnold’s On the Study of Celtic Literature, in an effort to resolve the problem of racial similarity, posits a Celtic “element” that, though part of the British national character, is nevertheless inferior to a stronger Teutonic one. The burden of assimilation was therefore greater on the Irish than elsewhere in the Empire, in part because assimilation was perceived as natural and inevitable. “Let the Celtic members of this empire consider that they too have to transform themselves,” Arnold admonished. “Let them consider that they are inextricably bound up with us.” (Works, Vol. V., 1867, rep. London: Macmillan 1924, p.83.) The anthropological modernism of the Revival seeks both to counter and to rewrite a discourse in which, as David Cairns and Shaun Richards argue, “the Irish were racially and culturally located to a subordinate position in the Imperial community through, amongst other elements, [Matthew] Arnold’s typifications of ‘Celtic’ personality as feminine, irrational, [7] impractical and childlike, and social-Darwinist stereotypig of the Irish as inferior racially to the Aryan Anglo-Saxons.”’ (‘Reading a Riot: The “Reading Formation” of Synge’s Abbey Audience’, in Literature and History, 12, 2, Autumn 1987, p.222.)

Elaine Sisson, Pearse’s Patriots: St. Enda’s and the Cult of Boyhood (Dublin: Four Court’s Press 2004): ‘When Arnold aligned the Celtic with the feminine he was [...] directly, or indirectly, suggesting that public life, self-government, rationality and autonomy were not available or desirable for the Irish. Studies of female iconography suggest that Ireland is gendered as female in order to make certain points about the nature of Irishness. Yet Ireland is not always gendered as female within imperial discourses; as L. P. Curtis has argued, it is often gendered as male in brutalised depictions of Fenianism [...]’ (p.12.) ‘The implication [...] of Arnold ascribing a “feminine” sensibility to Irishness is double-edged. On the one hand it fed into a pre-existing nationalist system of representation which allowed for an opposition between Irishness and femininity; on the other hand it reinscribed many imperial ideologies already in place about the suitability of the Irish for self-government. It would seem that to accept one meant accepting the logic of the other. / For [D. P.] Moran, the figure of the elemental Gael offered an alternative model of Irish masculinity to the enervated, emotional, feminised Celt of Arnoldian Celticism. [...].’

Garry Leonard, ‘James Joyce and Popular Culture’, in Jean-Michel Rabaté, ed., James Joyce Studies (London: Palgrave/Macmillan 2004): ‘Matthew Arnold makes a rather odd cameo appearance in Ulysses when Stephen is imagining the world of Oxford University: “Shouts from the open window startling evening in the quadrangle. A deaf gardener, aproned, masked with Matthew Arnold’s face, pushes his mower on the somber lawn watching narrowly the dancing motes of grasshalms” (Ulysses, Corrected Edn., 1.172-5). “Watching narrowly” may well stand in for the visual equivalent of Joyce’s critique of Arnold: a cultural watchdog patrolling the border protecting those who reserve the right to determine and preserve a sel-fperpetuating cultural meaning system advantageous to their personal and economic self-interest, from those who feel systematically disenfranchised, and would challenge this same cultural meaning system in an effort to get their own concerns included within the purview of “legitimate.” Arnold presents the gathering and appreciation of “culture” as something as neutral as collecting butterflies. The resulting collection, however, especially after it has been naturalized as no more than “what is the best that has been thought and known,” also serves as the basis for granting legitimacy to a dominant hegemonic discourse and thereby, without having to argue the point, permanently excluding competing forms of discourse as illegitimate. [39; ...] [F]or everything to which Matthew Arnold has grown deaf, Joyce has the ears of a fox and the eyes of a hawk: overheard trivial conversation [...], overheard shouts in a public street [...], advertisements [...], pulp fiction [...], popular song [...].vulgar music hall songs [...], pantomime [...], graffiti scratched into a desk [...], even pornography [...]. / To the question “How low can you go?” Joyce seems to answer: there is no limit. No low art is low enough to be excluded or ignored [...]’ (pp.39-20). [Note, Leonard provides instances of each type, here replaced with parenthesis-ellipses.]

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Margaret Kelleher, ‘Prose Writing and Drama in English; 1830-1890 [...]’, in Cambridge History of Irish Literature, ed. Kelleher & Philip O’Leary (Cambridge UP 2006), Vol. 1 [Chap. 11]: ‘In the spring of 1867, Arnold’s On the Study of Celtic Literature appeared in volume form, drawn from a series of lectures first delivered in his role as chair of poetry in Oxford and first published in four parts in the Cornhill Magazine between March and July 1866. The much-cited and controversial definitions of the “Celtic genius” (“with its chafing against the despotism of fact, its perpetual straining after mere emotion”) have tended to obscure the contemporary potency of the Study’s conclusion: “and let it be one of our angelic revenges on the Philistines, who among their other sins are the guilty authors of Fenianism, to found at Oxford a chair of Celtic, and to send, through the gentle ministration of science, a message of peace to Ireland“. (Arnold, On the Study of Celtic Literature, London: Smith & Elder, 1867, pp.103, 181.) “Provoked by Fenianism”, Arnold maybe judged to have “lapsed into Celticism”, as Seamus Deane has argued; but, as Deane also acknowledges, in the process the word “Celtic” was given “a political resonance which it has not yet entirely lost”.’ (Seamus Deane, A Short History of Irish Literature, London: Hutchinson 1986, p.85; Celtic Revivals, 1985; Winston-Salem, NC: Wake Forest University Press 1987, p.22; Kelleher, op. cit., p.476.)

Margaret Kelleher, ‘Prose Writing and Drama in English; 1830-1890 [...]’, in Cambridge History of Irish Literature (2006), Vol. 1 - cont.: In ensuing remarks, Kelleher writes of Arnold’s several Irish articles: ‘Irish Catholicism and British Liberalism’, 1878; reprinted with another on An Unregarded Irish Grievance’ in 1882; his collection of Edmund Burke’s writings on Ireland (Letters, Speeches and Tracts on Irish Affairs, 1881, in which ‘Arnold’s construction of an ‘Irish Burke’ was rare for its time and sharply different, for example, from the Burke excerpts chosen by Charles Read [...] in the second volume of the Cabinet of Irish Literature ([1880]’. Further cites John O’Leary, who concluded his list of ‘best hundred Irish books’ in writing the Freeman’s Journal with the ‘the name of a most un-Dryasdustian sort of man, the celebrated apostle of sweetness and light’, of whom O’Leary went on to write: ‘There are very good things in Matthew Arnold’s essay on “Celtic Literature,” as in many other papers of his on Ireland and things Irish; he is always more or less suggestive and mostly very sympathetic, if occasionally, as is almost invariably the case with his countrymen, more than a little patronizing.’ (See R. Barry O’Brien, ed. Best Hundred Irish Books by ‘Historicus’ (Dublin: privately printed by the Freeman’s Journal, 1886, p.29.) [For full text, see RICORSO Library, “Criticism”, via index, or direct.]

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Commonplace Quotations Function of Criticism
Study of Celtic Literature (I)
Study of Celtic Literature (II)
The Study of Poetry
The Incompatibles
Irish Essays
Nadir of Liberalism
On a Celtic epitaph
Principality of Wales

‘The Celt’s quick feeling for what is noble and distinguished gave his poetry style; his indomitable personality gave it pride and passion; his sensibility and nervous exaltation gave it a better gift still, the gift of rendering with wonderful felicity the magical charm of nature.’ (“On the Study of Celtic Literature”, 1867; rep. in R. H. Super, ed., The Complete Prose Works of Matthew Arnold, Vol. III: “Lectures and Essays in Criticism”, Michigan UP 1962, p.374; see longer version, infra.)

‘The forms of its language are not our only key to a people; what it says in its language, its literature, is the great key, and we must get back to literature [...] traces of kinship, and the more essential sort of kinship, spiritual kinship, between us and the Celt, of which we have never dreamed.’ (“On the Study of Celtic Literature” [1867], in On the Study of Celtic Literature and Other Essays, NY: Dent 1919, pp.69-70; quoted in Brendan T. Mitchell, MA Dip., UU, 2009.)

‘[L]et it be one of our angelic revenges on the Philistines, who among their other sins are the guilty authors of Fenianism, to found at Oxford a chair of Celtic, and to send, through the gentle ministration of science, a message of peace to Ireland’. (Arnold, On the Study of Celtic Literature, London: Smith & Elder, 1867, p.181 [Conclusion]; quoted in Margaret Kelleher, ‘Prose Writing and Drama in English; 1830-1890 [...]’, in Cambridge History of Irish Literature, ed. Kelleher & Philip O’Leary, Cambridge UP 2006, Vol. 1 [Chap. 11], p.476.)

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Commonplace Quotations, ‘Dryden and Pope are not classics of our poetry, they are classics of our prose’ (“The Study of Poetry”, Essays in Criticism, 1888; 2nd. ser. [q.p.]); ‘The difference between genuine poetry and the poetry of Dryden, Pope, and all their school, is briefly this: their poetry is conceived and composed in their wits, genuine poetry is conceived and composed in the soul.’ (Ibid., ‘Thomas Gray’ [q.p.]); ‘Dr Gray, a born poet, fell upon an age of reason.’ (Idem. [q.p.]); [On Wordworth] ‘His expression may often be called bald ... but it is bald as the bare mountain tops are bald, with a baldness full of grandeur.’ (Ibid., ‘Wordsworth’ [q.p.]); [Quoting his own writing on Byron] ‘In poetry, no less than in life, he is “a beautiful and ineffectual angel, beating in the void his luminous wings in vain”. (Ibid., ‘Shelley’ [q.p.]); ‘I am past thirty, and three parts iced over.’ (Letter to A. H . Clough, 1853); ‘People think that I can teach them style. What stuff it all is! Have something to say, and say it as clearly as you can. That is the only secret of style.’ (In G. W. E. Russell, Collections and Recollections, 1898, [q.p.])

The Function of Criticism at the Present Time”, ‘For the creation of a master work of literature two powers must concur, the power of the man and the power of the moment, and the man is not enough without the moment; the creative power has, for its happy exercise, appointed elements, and those elements are not in its control.’ (Prose Works, ed. R. H. Super, Vol. 3, p.261); ‘The grand work of literary genius is a work of synthesis and exposition, not of analysis and discover; its gift lies in the faculty of being happily inspired by a certain intellectual and spiritual atmosphere, by a certain order of ideas, presenting them in the most effective and attractive combinations - making beautiful works with them, in short.’ (Super, ibid.[q.p.]);

Further: ‘Now then is the moment for the greater delicacy and spirituality of the Celtic peoples who are blended with us, if it be but wisely directed, to make itself pr[ou]d and honoured. In a certain measure the children of Taliesin and Ossian have now an opportunity for renewing the famous feat of the Greeks and conquering their conquerors.’ (‘The Function of Criticism at the Present Time’, rep. in Lectures and Essays in Criticism, ed. R. H. Super 1962, p.261-63; cited in James Flannery, Yeats and the Idea of the Theatre, 1976, p.141.)

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On the Study of Celtic Literature (1865-66) [I]: ‘Celtic poetry seems to make up to itself for being unable to master the world and give an adequate interpretation of it, by throwing all its forces into style, by bending language at any rate to its will, and expressing the ideas it has with unsurpassable intensity, elevation, and effect’ (Study of Celtic Literature, 1891 edn., p.144; Super, Vol. 3, p.366.) ‘All Europe felt the power of that melancholy; but what I wish to point out is, that no nation of Europe so caught in its poetry the passionate penetrating accent of Celtic genius, its strain of Titanism, as the English’ (ibid., p.371.)

Celtic feeling: ‘The Celt’s quick feeling for that which is noble and distinguished gave his poetry style; his indomitable personality gave it pride and passion; his sensibility and nervous exaltation give it a better gift still the gift of rendering with wonderful felicity the magical charm of nature. The forest solitude, the bubbling spring, the wild flowers, are everywhere in romance. They have a mysterious life and grace there: they are nature’s own children and utter her secret in a way which makes them quite different from the woods, waters, and plants of Greek and Latin poetry. Now of this delicate magic Celtic romance is so pre-eminent a mistress that it seems impossible to believe the power did not come into romance with the Celts; magic is just the word for it the magic of nature; not merely the beauty of nature that the Greeks and Latins had; not merely an honest smack of the soil, a faithful realism that the Germans had; but the intimate life of nature, her weird power and fairy dream [recte charm; ...; &c.]’ ([Ibid., p.374;] quoted in Douglas Hyde, “Early Irish Literature”, [ed. essay], in Irish Literature, gen. ed. Justin MacCarthy, Philadelphia: John Morris & Company 1904, Vol. II, p.xvi; also quoted in part in Marjorie Howes (Yeats’s Nations: Gender, Class, and Irishness, 1996) - ‘[N]o doubt .... its secret.’ - as supra. [For full text of Hyde’s article, see under RICORSO Library, “Classics of Irish Criticism”, via index or direct.]

On the Study of Celtic Literature (1865-66) - cont.: ‘[S]o long as this mixed constitution of our nature possess us, we pay it tribute and serve it; so soon as we possess it, it pays tribute and serves us’ (ibid., p.380); ‘[I]f we had been all Celtic, we might have been popular and agreeable; if we had all been Latinised, we might have governed Ireland as the French govern Alsace, without getting ourselves detested’ (ibid., p.382.) ‘But, at any rate, let us consider that of the shrunken and diminished remains of this great primitive race, all, with one insignificant exception, belongs to the English empire; only Brittany is not ours; we have Ireland, the Scotch Highlands, Wales, the Isle of Man, Cornwall. They are part of ourselves, we are deeply interested in knowing them, they are deeply interested in being known by us ...’ (ibid., p.384.)

Further: ‘Let us reunite ourselves with our better mind and with the world through science; and let it be one of our angelical revenges on the Philistines, who among their other sins are the guilty authors of Fenianism, to found at Oxford a chair of Celtic, and to send, through the gentle ministration of science, a message of peace to Ireland.’ (ibid. p.386).

On the Study of Celtic Literature (1865-66) [II]: ‘It is a consoling thought and one which history allows us to entertain, that nationals disinherited of political success may yet leave their mark on the world’s progress, and contribute powerfully to the civilisation of mankind. (On the Study of Celtic Literature, 1867, pp.ix-x.) ‘The fusion of all the inhabitants of these islands into a homogeneous, English-speaking whole, the breaking down of barriers between us, the swallowing up of separate provincial nationalities, is a consummation to which the natural course of things irresistibly tends; it is a necessity of what is called modern civilisation, and modern civilisation is a real, legitimate force ...’ (Lectures & Essays, [1962?] p.292; orig. p.10.)

Orphans: ‘It is a consoling thought and one which history allows us to entertain, that nationals disinherited of political success may yet leave their mark on the world’s progress, and contribute powerfully to the civilisation of mankind.’ (Super, op. cit., 340; 1867 Edn., pp.ix-x.) [The Celt is shown to be] ‘always ready to react against the despotism of fact’ [sic] (ibid., p.344) and ‘sensual’ (ibid., p.345); ‘ineffectual in politics’ (ibid., p.346.)

[See numerous references to ‘despotism of fact’ in Irish literary criticism - chiefly with reference to Arnold himself [as above], but also one by Sean O’Faolain in reference to James Joyce: ‘If every there was an adventure which was a revolt against the despotism of fact this little book is one, and as such, if not as literature, it is priceless.’ [398] (Irish Statesman, 5 Jan. 1929, pp.354-55; rep. as ‘Almost Music’, in Hound and Horn, Jan.-March 1929, pp.178-90; rep. in Robert Deming, ed., James Joyce: The Critical Heritage, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul 1970 [Vol. 2], pp.396-98; and see further under Joyce > Commentary > O’Faolain - infra.)]

On the Study of Celtic Literature (1865-66) [III]: ‘[I]ts chafing against the despotism of fact, its perpetual straining after mere emotion’; ‘the skilful and resolute appliance of means to ends which is needed both to make progress in material civilisation, and also to form powerful states, is just what the Celt has least turn for.’ (On the Study of Celtic Literature, [in Lectures and Essays in Criticism], ed., R. H. Super, Michigan UP, 1962, pp.344-45; quoted in Richard Haslam, ‘Oscar Wilde and the Imagination of the Celt’ [Oscar Wilde Special Issue], Irish Studies Review, 11, Summer 1995, pp.2-5; ‘[Celts] out at the elbows, poor, slovenly, and half-barbarous’ (Another edn., p.88; quoted in Chris Morash, ‘Ever Under Some Unnatural Condition: Bram Stoker and the Colonial Fantastic’, in Morash, ed., Literature and the Supernatural, Lilliput 1996, pp.95-117; p.102.)

Further: ‘[T]here is nothing to hinder us from effacing the last poor material remains of that Celtic power which once was everywhere’ (ibid., p.298.) ‘[T]he Celtic genius, sentiment as its main bias, with the love of beauty, charm, spirituality for its excellence, [had] ineffectualness and self-will for its deficit’ (ibid., p.311.) ‘So long as this mixed nature of our constitution possesses us we are blindly and ignorantly rolled about by the forces of our culture; ... so soon as we have clearly discerned what they are and begun to apply them to a law of measure, control and guidance they may be made to work for our good [...] [T]he skilful and resolute application of means to ends which is needed both to make progress in material civilisation and also to turn for ... as in material civilisation he has been ineffectual, so had the Celt been ineffectual in politics’ (ibid., pp.345-46.)

On the Study of Celtic Literature (1865-66) [IV]: ‘Then we may use German faithfulness to nature to give us science and to free us from insolence and self-will; we may use the Celtic quickness of perception to give us delicacy and to free us from hardness and Philistinism; we may use the Latin decisiveness to give us strenuous clear method and free us from fumbling and idling.’ (ibid., p.383). ‘Out of the steady humdrum habit of the creeping [Saxon], as the Celt calls him ... has come, no doubt, Philistinism’ (ibid., p.384). Note: many of the foregoing are quoted - albeit in variant order - in David Cairns & Shaun Richards, Writing Ireland (Manchester UP 1988), pp.44-48.

On the Study of Celtic Literature (1865-66) [V]: ‘[...H]s want of sanity and steadfastness has kept the Celt back from the highest success. If his rebellion against fact has thus lamed the Celt in spiritual work, how much more must it have lamed him in the world of business and politics! The skilful and resolute appliance of means to ends which is needed both to make progress in material civilisation, and also to form powerful states, is just what the Celt has least turn for.’ ( Study of Celtic Literature, London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1867, pp.14; quoted in Diarmuid Ó Giolláin, Locating Irish Folklore: Tradition, Modernity, Identity (Cork UP 2000, as supra.)

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‘The Incompatibles’ (1881): ‘One of the greatest [difficulties] is to be found in our English habit of adopting a conventional account of things, satisfying our own mind with it, and then imagining that it will satisfy other people’s minds also, and may really be relied on.’; ‘[I]t is well that people should come to understand and feel that it is quite incumbent on a nation to have its parts blended together in a common national feeling; and there is insecurity, there is reason for mortification and humiliation, if they are not.’; ‘We ... Germanic and Protestant England, we have utterly failed to attach Celtic Ireland, although our language prevails there, and although we have no great counter-nationality on the borders of Ireland to compete with us for the possession of her affections, as the French had Germany on the borders of Alsace.’; ‘‘But however the misery arises, there cannot, as I have already said, be fusion ... while the misery lasts’. [q.pp.]

The Study of Poetry (1881): ‘The future of poetry is immense, because in poetry, where it is worthy of its high destinies, our race, as time goes on, will find an ever surer and surer stay. There is not a creed which is not shaken, not an accredited dogma which is not shown to be questionable, not a received tradition which does not threaten to dissolve. Our religion has materialised itself in the fact, in the supposed fact, it has attached its emotions to the fact, and now the fact is failing it. But for poetry the idea is everything; the rest is a world of illusion, of divine illusion. Poetry attaches emotion to the idea; the idea is the fact. The strongest part of our religion today is its unconscious poetry.’ [q.p.]

Irish Essays and Others (1882), Preface: ‘[I]n order to attach Ireland to us solidly, English people have not only to do something different from what they have done hitherto, they have also to be something different from what they have been hitherto.’ [q.p.]

The Nadir Of Liberalism (1886) [against the Home Rule Bill], ‘The project of giving a separate parliament to Ireland has every fault which a project of state can have.’ - ‘And when estranged from us in feeling as Celtic Ireland unhappily is, we have yet in Ulster a bit of Great Britain, we had a friend there, you propose to merge Ulster in a Celtic Ireland! You propose to efface and expunge your friend! Was ever such madness heard of?’ - ‘But we have at least three divisions in Ireland, each of them, materials for a separate provincial assembly, Ulster proper, or British Ireland; Leinster, or metropolitan Ireland; Munster and Connaught, or Celtic Ireland.’ [q.pp.]

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Arnold on the epitaph of Angus, Clonenagh, Queen’s County: ‘this is by no eminent hand; yet a Greek epitaph could not show a finer perception of what constitutes propriety and felicity of style in compositions of this nature.’ (Selected from The Study of Celtic Literature in Frank O’Connor, Book of Ireland [1959], London: Collins 1967, p.276.)

Arnold on Wales: ‘Wales, where the past still lives, where every place has its tradition, every name its poetry, and where the people [...] still know this past, this tradition, this poetry, and lives with it [and] clings to it.’ (Quoted in Sarah-Jane Foster, ‘Another Country’, National Trust, No. 65, Spring 1992, p.37.)

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