By Michael Tomko (auth.)
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Additional info for British Romanticism and the Catholic Question: Religion, History and National Identity, 1778–1829
Walsh 108) The Purgatorial Politics of the Catholic Question 41 This poem exemplifies the persistent emphasis in the Catholic press on reclaiming a Catholic stake in national identity through antiquarian and historical projects that focus on Britain’s monastic and church ruins. By linking the Catholic claims to the suffering of other persecuted minorities and by engaging in a discourse about ruins that was part of Catholic campaigns, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage could have been a poem about Catholic Emancipation.
As Luke Gibbons has argued in Burke and Ireland (2003), the ‘political turbulence’ and ‘unresolved anxieties’ from Burke’s own ‘Catholic background, raised in the shadow of the Penal Laws’ left him ‘a man deeply divided against himself, a very fusion of opposites yoked together’ (xii, xi). That division reveals itself through the historical cracks running through Burke’s Reflections and encapsulates the way that the Catholic Question complicated and combined sometimes contradictory positions on nation, religion and history.
It could also modify the Prince who is in the process of dying and is thus within the ‘embrace of death’. ‘Aghast’ may refer on one level to the Prince’s mental shock, but ‘aghast’ carries an etymological residue of ‘ghost’, suggesting the historical father is becoming increasingly spectral (OED). The ambiguity of the syntax conflates the progressive marriage of the nations with the death of the obsolete Prince. 32 British Romanticism and the Catholic Question How then does The Wild Irish Girl address the issues associated with the Catholic Question and the troubled religious dimension of the Union?