The Nation

History
1842-1891; fnd. Charles Gavan Duffy; ‘to create and foster public opnion and make it racy of the soil’; 10,000 copies per issue by 1843; Davis pronounced object of creating ‘nationality of the spirit as well as the letter … which would embrace Protestant, Catholic, and dissenter – Milesian and Cromwellian - the Irishman of a hundre generations and the stranger who is within our gates …’ (22 July 1843); supported Daniel O’Connell, but broke with him over physical force in 1846; supported the Queen’s Colleges against John MacHale; John Mitchel broke with Duffy over the latters moderation, 1847; Lady Wilde’s poem [?sic] ‘Jacta Alea Est’, or the Die is Cast, brought the suppression of The Nation, 29 July 1848;

The Nation supported Tenant League and Irish Independent Party in the 1850s; owned by A. M. Sullivan on Gavan Duffy’s departure to Australia; published a letter by William Smith O’Brien warning against the Phoenix Society; supported Charles Stewart Parnell; took anti-Parnellite side in the IPP Split; its Dublin site came to be occupied by the Irish Independent group; early contributors incl. Thomas Davis; Charles Gavan Duffy; Thomas D’Arcy McGee; Denis Florence McCarthy & Thomas Caulfield Irwin; Charles Joseph Kickham; Lady Wilde (‘Speranza’); John Francis O’Donnell; John Keegan Casey (‘Leo’); ‘Eva’; William Carleton; copies of the Nation are available on microfilm from the Center for Research Libraries (US).

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Criticism
Kevin MacGrath, ‘Writers in The Nation 1842-5’ in Irish Historical Studies, vol. VI (1948), pp.189-223. Also, Malcolm Brown, The Politics of Irish Literature: From Thomas Davis to WB Yeats (George Allen & Unwin 1972); Brendan Clifford, The Nation: Selections 1842-1844, Vol. 1 (Aubane Hist. Soc. [2000]), 205pp.

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Commentary
Stephen Gwynn, Irish Literature and Drama (1936) - quotes The Nation motto: ‘to create and foster public opinion in Ireland to make it racy of the soil.’ [&c.] p.90). Further, calls it ‘[...] the literature on which, even more than Moore’s Melodies, the young of Ireland were nourished for the next fifty years. Verse of this kind may abound in enthusiasm and practical energy, but it passes too eaily into bombast; it lies far too near declamation to be poetry, and it adopts facile and mechanical rhythms.’ [Gwynn, Irish Literature and Drama, op. cit., p. 92].

Further: In short, so far as poetry was concerned, the attempt to create an Irish national ballad literature led Ireland full cry down the wrong road. Whatever preached insurgent nationalism was regarded as more fully Irish, more national, than all the quieter kinds of song. [op. cit., p.93.] Young Ireland’s was the first deliberate movement to found a school of Irish literature in the English tongue .. Indeed, the defect of all the verse of The Spirit of the Nation is that the writer’s aim was too consciously a teacher’s or a preacher’s. (ibid.)

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Robert Welch, Irish Poetry (Colin Smythe 1980): The first issue appeared on 15 Oct 1842, under the editorship of Charles Gavan Duffy. The Nation was the newspaper of the Young Irelanders, as they came to be known, who, led by Thomas Davis, supported O’Connell in his movement for the Repeal of the Act of Union. Etc. […]. In it appeared Mangan’s strongest poetry, but also including his most frenetically nati-English – coinciding with reports of famine deaths by starvation, as for instance ‘To the Ingleeze Kafir, Calling Himself Djaun Bool Djenkinson (18 April 1846).’ (Welch, p.104.)

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Patrick Rafroidi, Irish Literature in English: The Romantic Period, Vol 1 (1980), remarks: ‘Mangan’s inaugural poem for The Nation, 15 Oct. 1842, was reprinted in The Spirit of the Nation as ‘The Nation’s first number’: ‘’Tis a great day and glorious, O Public! for you -/Those[?] October Fifteen, Eighteen Forty and Two! / For on this day of days, lo! THE NATION comes forth, / to commence its career of Wit, Wisdom and Worth - / To give genius its due – to do batttle with wrong - / And achieve things undreamt of as yet, save in song.’ (Nation, 15 Oct 1842, I, 1, p.9) clearly intended to be sung to tune of ’Rory O’More” [[143, and n.] Rafroidi adds the following note to Mangan’s poem, cited above: ‘It will be noted that the arrangement of the poems and pagination change in the 1845 ed., and again from the 50th ed., published, still by Duffy, in 1870; modern impressions like the 58th ed. of 1928 [used here]. are in line with the 1870 printing, where ‘The nation’s first number’ appears on p.17.’ Further, quotes The Nation, editorial of July 15, 1843 (I, 40, p.632): ‘[…] Englishmen, listen ... though you were tomorrow to give us the best tenures on earth – though you were to equalise Presbyterian, Catholic and Episcopalian – though, you were to gives us the amplest representation in your senate – though you were to restore our absentees, disencumber us of your debt, redress everyone of your fiscal wrongs – and though, in addition to this, you plundered the treasuries of the world to lay gold at our feet, and exhausted the resources of your genius to do us worship and honour – we still tell you – and tell you in the names of liberty and country – we tell you in the name of enthusiastic hearts, thoughtless souls, and fearless spirits – we tell you by the past, the present and the future – we would spurn your gifts, if the condition were that Ireland should remain a province. We tell you, and all whom it may concern, come what may – bribery or deceit, justice, policy, or WAR – we tell you, in the name of Ireland, that Ireland shall be a NATION.’ [147]

Bibl.: Rafroidi lists poets in Spirit of the Nation (1843): Davis, Mangan, also M. J. Barry, K. T. Buggy, Michael Doheny, Wm. Drennan, C. G. Duffy, J. D. Frazer, Hugh Harkin, John Keegan, Denny lane, M. J. M’Cann, D. F. M’Carthy, R. R. Madden, C. Meehan, William Mulchinock, J. C. O’Collaghan, John O’Hagan (“Sliabh Cuilinn”), G. S. Phillips, E. N. Shannon, E. Walsh, R. D. Williams. The New Spirit (1894) included also R. D’Arcy McGee, Ellen Downing, A. G. Geoghenan, Lady Wilde, et al. [142, n.143]

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Barbara Hayley, ‘A Reading and Thinking Nation: Periodicals as the Voice of Nineteenth-century Ireland’, in Hayley and Enda McKay, ed., Three Hundred Years of Irish Periodical (Assoc. of Irish Learned Journasl: Gigginstown, Mullingar 1987), pp.29-48, pp.40-41: ‘The Nation, founded in 1842 by Davis, Charles Gavan Duffy and John Blake Dillon is not, strictly speaking, a periodical, but as a weekly newspaper it performed many of the functions of a magazine. As well as its news reports (made exciting by the fact that half the staff were paracipants in the trials and meetings reported), it kept abreast of Irish literature, reviewing Irish books as they came out in a lively, off-the-cuff sort of criticism. It commissioned original poetry and made great use of music and ballads. It reviewed Irish periodicals. In its columns Mangan, Ferguson and Davis worked at creating a new Irish mode, founded on the traditions of early Irish poetry and often supposedly translated or adapted from it; in many ways the singlemindedness of [40] this work gave it an admirable immediacy and vigour. There were several flaws however; first, the profligate weekly output (Davis contributed over 200 articles between 1842 and his death in 1845); secondly, the attempt to create a new literature as a manifestation of race was too precipitate - it is hard to build a literature on political demand. The main weakness was critical. If a ballad was Irish it was printed; if a book had a nationalist message, it was praised. "Native literature" was always given pride of place and very lenient criticism. The paper had an immense circulation (Gavan Duffy estimated the greatest sale to have been 13,000 copies a week, with a wider readership). Davis’s nationalism has been criticised as prejudiced and racialist, propagating a hatred of the English and of the landlord class, but if one looks at the Nation in the periodical context one can see that it was trying to encourage a positive love of country, not a negative chauvinism. It took away much of the energy that had gone into literature and put it into a more ephemeral kind of writing. / The Nation was followed by the Irish Tribune which attempted to keep up a literary content, but its real successors were inflammatory newspapers such as John Mitchel’s Irish Felon’ and the United Irishman, while we revert to the periodical. ./ Overall the effect of the Nation was damaging in that it reversed the outward-looking and self-expressive tendency in Irish literature and periodicals, and turned Ireland inward again; afterwards if the Irish looked abroad it was to look only to England in that particularly negative confrontation that establishes Irishness only as not-Englishness. [… &c.]’ (p.40-41.)

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Reference
Seamus Deane, gen. ed., Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (1991), Vol. 1 960, 1013, The Spirit of the Nation, 1055, The Nation, 1055, 1081, 1174, 1176, 1177; from The Nation (manifesto by CG Duffy) [1248-50]; ‘Thomas Moore’ [1250-54]; ‘Mr Lever’s Irish Novels"’ by Duffy [1255-65]; ‘Our Periodical Literature’, anon. [1265-69]; ‘The Young Irishman of the Middle Classes’, lecture by Davis in 1839, published in three installments in The Nation as a retrospective tribute, 1848 [1269-86]; ‘Dreadful Loss of Life in Catholic Chapel, Galway’ [1286-88]; ‘The Memory of the Dead’ [1288]; ‘Irish’, a report on the tran. of Four Masters by Owen Connellan (1846), then due to appear [1289-90]; ‘Lecture on the Irish Language’, reporting a discourse by Rev Thomas de Vere Coneys, [n.dd.], Professor of Irish at TCD; cites letter of Dr Johnson to Charles O’Conor [1290-92]; also 1296n [Nation’s article on periodical literature cites Griffin favourably]; [biog. Mangan, contrib., 1298]; [biog. Davis, fnd. 1842, 1299].

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Seamus Deane, gen. ed., Field Day Anthology (1991), Vol. 2: [supported poets, 2]; [poetry achieved popularity in alliance with powerful if callow conventions of Young Ireland, ed., 4]; [Mangan one of the chief contributors, 6]; John Francis O’Donnell published in, 8]; Mangan’s ‘Dark Rosaleen’, 30 May 1846 [26]; Mangan’s ‘Vision of Connaught in the 13th Century’ (epigraph, “Et moi, j’ai été aussi en Arcadie”, 11 July 1846 [29]; Mangan’s ‘Lament over the Ruins of the Abbey of Teach Molaga’, 8 Aug. 1846 [30]; Mangan’s ‘The Lovely Land’, after Maclise, in The Nation, 1849 [37]; several ballads of Thomas Davis [51-54]; deliberate attempt to raise national consciousness through song [77]; TD Sullivan’s ‘God Save Ireland’, The Nation, 7 Dec 1867 [106]; first version of ‘The Shan Van Vocht’, The Nation, 29 Oct 1842 [109]; biogs: Denis Florence McCarthy & Thomas Caulfield Irwin, contribs. to The Nation, 113]; [biogs: JF O;Donnell & John Keegan Casey, contribs., 114]; [Nation rhetoric locked within narrow range of feeling, ed., 119]; Thomas Meagher: ‘I have no more connection with the Nation [sic] than I have with the Times .. it is a source of true delight and honest pride to speak this day in defence of that great journal’ [and of CG Duffy], ‘Sword’ Speech, 28 July 1846 [123]; James Fintan Lalor famine address to the landlords (Letter, 24 Apr 1847) [165-72]; John Mitchel quotes the Nation [sic] on the Coercion Bill [179]; proprietorship of A. M. Sullivan, 185-76 [192]; Davitt points out that the founders of The Nation had offered land-reform policies, but that the Young Irelanders such as William Smith O’Brien and the readership were not generally seen as agrarians – until Lalor’s letters of 1847 appeared [200-02]; [biog: William Carleton, contrib., 205]; A. M. Sullivan, proprietor, 1855; passed The Nation to his brother D Sullivan, 1876 [207]; ‘Davis was the Nation and the Nation was Davis’ (and remarks) [253]; [‘Who Fears to Speak of Ninety-Eight’ appeared in The Nation, April 1843, 267n]; proposal to gather an effectual Irish parliament, or Council of three Hundred, adopted by O’Connell, earlier appeared in The Nation [357n]; [err., 369, poss. the Irish Nation, owned by John Devoy, 368]; Tim Healy, parliamentary reporter for The Nation, charts rise of Parnell [370]; [C. G. Duffy, 556n]; The Nation called prototype of D. P. Moran’s Leader by TW Rolleston, though the exclusionism (or watertight compartments) of the latter defeats the nationalist object of the former [973]; A. M. Sullivan joined [sic] The Nation in 1855 [poss. err., 999n]; the indigenous readership and criticism adumbrated by The Nation a reality at the time of the Revival (Gus Martin, ed.,) [1021].

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Seamus Deane, gen. ed., Field Day Anthology (1991), Vol. 3 [founded 1842, 6n]; Sullivan, owner-editor until 1876 [417n]; [Davis, 425n]; derivation of ‘racy of the soil’, The Nation, epigraph, from 1843 [484n]; Charles Gavan Duffy, Davis’s colleague on The Nation, opposed his language revivalist idea [570]; [O’Faoláin on empty sentiment in ‘A Nation Once Again’], 571n]; [AM Sullivan, asst. ed., 583n]; [Young Ireland & ihe Nation, 612n]; Yeats recalls that there was in the Young Irelanders and their paper ‘one quality I admired and admire: they were not separated individual men: they spoke or tried to speak out of a people to a people’ (A General Introduction for my Work’, 1937) [628]; David Lloyd quotes Davis, ‘Our National Language, The Nation, 1 April 1843, (p.304) [635-36]. Further, in sections dealing with youth in Autobiography (Alan Price, ed. Collected Works, II, 1962 [constructed from various papers], Synge wrote: ‘The Irish ballad poetry of "The Spirit of the Nation" school engrossed me for a while and made [me] commit my most serious literary error; I thought it excellent for a considerable time and then repented bitterly./ ... /Soon after I had relinquished the Kingdom of God I began to take a real interest in the kingdom of Ireland. &c’. See also ed. remark: The Spirit of the Nation, a collection of ballads and songs from The Nation newspaper, published in 1843, with several reprints thereafter. A further collection, The New Spirit of the Nation, appeared in 1894; another enlarged ed., Songs and Ballads of Young Ireland, came out in 1896. [405].

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Catalogues
Belfast Central Public Library
holds Spirit of the Nation (n.d.); Spirit of the Nation: Ballads and Songs (1844); The Voice of the Nation (1844).

Univ. of Ulster Library (MORRIS) holds Spirit of the Nation 1843-44, 2 vols in 1.

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Quotation
High/low: ‘The era to which Englishmen point as that in which their constitution was finally established in highest perfection […] is precisely the day from which Ireland’s lowest debasement and bitterest sorrow most be dated. The “Glorious Revolution” is to us an abomination; the “Bill of Rights” a fraud, the “privileges of Parliament”, and the whole system of parliamentary government then se tup for worship and obedience, a delusion and a cruel mockery.’ (Anon, ‘The British Constitution’, The Nation, Sept. 1846p.746; quoted in David Lloyd, Anomalous States, 1993, p.134, and cited in Conor McCarthy, Modernisation, Crisis and Culture in Ireland 1969-1992, Four Courts Press 2000, p.125 [no primary source given].)

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It is said that English capital would flow in, of its own accord, if we were only quiet. When we were quiet, there was no appearance of English capital. It was when we were quiet that the Poor Law was enacted.’ the separation of husband and wife on entering the workhouse was a ‘revolting sample’ of English legislation. (Nation, 16 Sept. 1845; cited in ‘Famine Diary, Breandan Ó Cathaoir, Irish Times, 13 Sept. 1995).

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Fatigue ground: ‘Ireland is the fatigue ground of English imagination; and a full-bellied, dyspeptic people must have some have some daily providence of terror, that they may “sup full of horrors” and bless their stars for living east of the channel. Every people in every age have had their [?wandry] monsters … Mrs Ann Radclife being dead … it is now our part to “furnish” England with monsters, thugs and devils great and small.’ (“Priesthunting”, p.89; The Nation, 1848; quoted in Christopher Morash, ‘“Ever Under Some Unnatural Condition”: Bram Stoker and the Colonial Fantastic’, in Brian Cosgrove, ed., Literature and the Supernatural: Essays for the Maynooth Bicentenary, Blackrock: Columba Press 1995, pp.99.)

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The  Spirit of the Nation (anthology): Seamus Deane, gen. ed., Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day Co. 1991), Vol. 2,: 1843, comprising ‘Political Songs and Ballads’ [4]; CG Duffy’s later Ballad Poetry of Ireland (1845) rivalled it in popularity [5]; Thomas Davis’s ballads in, [51]; version of ‘Shan Van Vocht’ appearing in Spirit (1882 ed.) with words by Michael Doheny, entirely different from The Nation original [see supra] [ 109]; [Shan Van Vocht parodied by Susan Mitchell, 740], Also The New Spirit of the Nation, ed. Martin MacDermott, 1894, 728]

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Spirit of the Nation, characterised in the preface as an expression of ‘the confidence of the national party’ that ‘Manhood, Union, and Nationality would replace Submission, Hatred, and Provincialism.’ See Colm O’Lochlainn, Anglo-Irish Song Writers, Bibl. Soc of Ireland Publ., VI, 1 (1950).

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Sinn Féin: the first song printed in The Spirit of the Nation is “Ourselves Alone”, of which the 2nd stanza: ‘Too long our Irish hearts we schooled, / In patient hope to bide; /By dreams of English justice fooled, / And english tongues that lied. / That hour of weak delusion past / The empty dream has flown. / Our hope and strength we find at last, / Is in OURSELVES ALONE.’ The final stanza ends: ‘we’ll be a glorious nation yet / Redeemed – erect – alone.’

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Notes
Physicians: Kevin Izod O’Doherty and Richard D’Alton Williams, both Nation contribs., were doctors. Anent the literary propensities of the profession, it was said that there was a better chance of finding a doctor at D’Olier St – the Nation offices – than at Mercer’s Hospital. (Morash, op. cit. p.27.)

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