23 MARCH 1918, Page 13


IRISH SELF-CRITICISM.* THE five volumes here selected for notice differ in their outlook and temper, but they have at least these points of contact, that they are all written by living Irishmen, issued by Irish pub- lishers, and deal almost entirely with Irish literature, history, politics, and personalities. In some the literary motive predominates, but all these varying aspects are united in the very interesting volume, one of the latest additions to "Every Irishman's Library," containing a representative selection from the works of Mr. Standish O'Grady,' edited with a brief Introduction by Mr. Ernest A. Boyd. Mr. Standish O'Grady, who is will happily with us, is generally recog- nized by the most distinguished representatives of the Irish Literary Revival as its true father, if not its only begetter. He has excelled alike as an epic historian, a writer of brilliant historical romances and tales of adventure, a dramatist, publicist, and poet. And ii his political has not been equal to his literary influence, here too he has been a commanding if isolated figure, from the days of his impassioned appeal to the Irish landlords in 1882 to rise to the

occasion down to his support of Guild Socialism in the New Age. He began with a profound mistrust of democracy and politicians, and a firm belief in aristocratic control. His warnings have largely boon justified, but they met with no response, and he turned a few years later to Lord Randolph Churchill and Tory Democracy to organize labour on the basis of national service, where use is substi- tuted for profit and pay for wages. Even then, while lamenting the downfall of the Protestant Anglo-Irish aristocracy, ho still believed they might form a focus of national life. Though a Loyalist, ho was a severe critic of English rule and England's betrayal of the Irish aristocracy, witness his powerful allegories of The Veiled Player and Bluebeard and his huntsman. As editor of the Kilkenny Moderator—ono of the most unconventional and whimsical papers ever published--and the All Ireland Review, he advocated a policy which earned for him the title of a Fenian Unionist, " whose ambition it was to capture the British Empire

for the greater glory of Ireland." Though he had retired from active life, he not only continued to fill the younger writers " with the proud. consciousness of a nationality divorced from mere politics," but exercised a stimulating influence on those practical idealists like "./E," of whom Mr. Boyd happily remarks that., " if he has hitched his wagon to a star, it is a real wagon, nevertheless, an agricultural implement, laden perhaps with the fruits of co-operation." The selected passages and essays illus- trate the manysidedness of Mr. 'Standish O'Grady's genius, and the singular variety of his style, ranging from Carlylean invective to idyllic simplicity. But in all one recognizes the " strivings of a great soul " who, though unrecognized by party politicians, has never lost hope of the ultimate realization of the ever-persistent but never fulfilled idea of Irish Unity.

In Mr. Boyd's Appreciations and Deprecidtione ate first essay is devoted to Mr. O'Grady, and forms an enlightening supplement, on which we have already drawn, to his Introduction to the volume noticed above. We have also forestalled his felicitous summary of the conflicting tendencies revealed in " 1E," " mystic and economist," whose multiple personality he regards as exceptional in the group of writers with whom he is associated. In discussing " /E's " poetry Mr. Boyd deals with the alleged " inhumanity " of his • (1) Standish O'Grady : Selected Essays and Passages. With an Introduction by Ernest A. Boyd. " Every Irishman's Library." Dublin : The Talbot Press. London T. Fisher Unwin. [3s. net.]—(2) Appreciations and Depreciations : DOA Literary Studies. By Ernest A. Boyd. Same publishers. [3a. ed. net.]—(3) Anglo-Irish Essays. By John Eglinton. Same publishers and priee.—(4) Douglas Hyde. By Diarmid 0 Cobhthaigh. Dublin and London : Mumma and Co. [38. net.i- (5) John Mitchel : an Appreciation, with Some Account of Young Ireland. By P. S. treatzerty. Same publisher.. [Es. Bd. tet.1 ranecendentalism, the phantasmal figures with which he peoples his landscape, the influence of Mr. O'Grady in inspiring him oath admiration for the heroic figures of Celtic history, and the Oriental mysticism of his theology. The loss and gain involved in his later absorption in economic propaganda are dispassionately handled. Mr. Boyd observes with perfect truth that " political unorthodoxy is still the unpardonable offence in Ireland." At arst it was " 1E's " spiritual unorthodoxy that disturbed ; " now attention is directed to his heretical politics, for he refuses to accept current political labels. As he rightly says, the movement he stands for is one which must go on ` whether we are ruled from Westminster or College Green.' " The study of " Lord Dunsany Fantaisiste"' is an enthusiastic appreciation of that engaging explorer of incredible realms. " An Irish Protestant : Bernard Shaw " is not an essay in paradox, but an exceedingly acute and thoughtful study of the effect of heredity and environment on " an intellectual expatriate," who has fallen to the ground between two national stools. " He cannot persuade himself that he is an Englishman, yet England is his country, because he neither likes nor understands his corn- patriots. He finds himself, in consequence, hovering between England and Ireland, and is identified with neither." The second part of the essay is devoted to an entertaining account of the vagaries of foreign, and especially French, critics of Mr. Shaw's ork, and the suicidal results of his choice of M. Hamm as his translator. In " A Lonely Irishman : Edward Dowden " Mr. lioyd expresses his deep regret that " a saint of culture," endowed with great gifts and extraordinary personal charm, should yet have been so denationalized by education and Anglo-Irish influences that " the Literary Revival was prepared and flourished without a word of help or welcome from the one man who should have been the Master. He could have supplied precisely the element that was lacking, creative criticism." Another " lonely Irishman," Mr. John Eglinton, forms the theme of the remaining study in this volume. Mr. Boyd describes him as " an Irish Essayist," but Mr. Eglinton entitles the selection made from his more recent writings, simultaneously published by the same firm, Anglo-Irish E'ssays,3 and Mr. Boyd is not likely to quarrel with the expanded epithet. They fully bear out all that Mr. Boyd says of Mr. Eglinton's tine distinction of style, his austere idealism, and his ironical detach- ment, and scepticism. The lack of an Irish Emerson has been deplored by Mr. Eglinton himself, but he comes nearest to filling the gap. In politics he too has refused to wear a label, and " in- curred the unqualified hostility of vociferous patriots " ; the regenerate patriotism he would substitute for that mostly in vogue is based upon the relation of a man with his fellow-men and with Nature, rather than upon his relation with the State." Yet in the essay on the Philosophy of the Celtic movement Mr. Eglinton demurs to Mr. Yeats's view of the absolute breach between poetry and modern life. Some of these essays explore interesting bypaths in Anglo-Irish litera- ture. Others explain the resentment aroused among Gaelic Jingoists by Mr. Eglinton's literary estimates and his damaging criticism of the Irish language—witness his ironical if not altogether unfriendly paper on " The Grand Old Tongue." Mr. Boyd condenses Mr. Eglinton's teaching very truly as inspired by the conviction that " political and linguistic independence cannot give Ireland that real personality which comes from the existence of an inner life." For him the true development of the race does not depend on Supermen, Science, or Speed, but on the spiritual influence of thinkers and poets and idealists—the men who grow like trees, and are the reafforesters of the waste spaces of the human mind."

Mr. Diarmid 0 Cobhthaigh, unlike Mr. Eglinton, is a whole- hearted enthusiast for the revival of the Irish language, though he frankly admits that " as things are it will be some time before Ireland becomes generally Irish-speaking, if that day ever arrive." Irish, he declares, is one of the most difficult of European languages, and " great numbers of those who started to learn Irish at the end of the nineteenth century have given it up in despair." His little hook" gives a most interesting account of the gradual growth of the movement, the activities of the Gaelic Union and Gaelic League, the attitude of the Roman Catholic priesthood and the Nationalist Party, the fight for compulsory Irish in the National University, and the triumph of the extremists in the Gaelic League, which led Dr. Douglas Hyde, the life and soul of the movement, " but for whom the language would have died," to resign his presidency, For the rest, the book gives an engaging picture of a charming personality and a true poet, who has devoted the best years of his life to furthering the language movement on non-political lines.

Mr. O'Hegarty's study of Mitchel' is more than an appreciation. It is a fiery panegyric of " the greatest Irishman of the nineteenth century, Ireland's greatest political genius, and her greatest literary figure as well." He alone had the true " revolutionary courage," never fell into the trap of Constitutionalism, and remained an im- penitent and intractable rebel to the lest. The book is inspired by a passionate hatred of England ; while O'Connell, Parnell, and the Nationalist Parliamentary Party all come under the lash of Mr. O'Hegarty's disparagement, or even contempt. But the relations between Mitchel and his colleagues are clearly traced and well documented. and in irreconcilable invective Mr. O'Hegarty shows himself an apt disciple of his master and hero. The concluding chapter, vindicating Mitchel's policy and his disbelief in the efficacy of secret military organization, and describing how the Irish Revolution will come and ought to come, is at least a remarkable tribute to the freedom of the Press.