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laws and institutions as a major component of their respective political
identities.
Gothic identity was a vital ingredient of eighteenth-century British
nationhood. The extension throughout the British Atlantic world of the
cult of English libertarianism, including the view that England was the
source of most of the freedoms enjoyed by the various British peoples,
suggested a vital imaginative connection to the motherland. Moreover,
the notion of an imagined Gothic community also reinforced the bonds of
a common British identity. Yet Gothicism was no monolith. The sense of
a shared ethnic history with England was not in itself a guarantee of an
easy provincial relationship with the English core. As well as strengthen-
ing the process of British integration, the rhetoric of Gothicism also had
the capacity to inject into political discourse a powerful solvent of im-
perial unity. Far from being an unambiguous glue of British integration
which promoted provincial adherence to the English core, pride in the
Gothic heritage could at crucial moments exacerbate Anglophobic anti-
metropolitan resentments.
The widely divergent contexts of colonial America, Protestant Ireland
and Enlightenment Scotland saw the emergence of diVerent dialects of
this common political language. The Irish Protestant nation exploited the
protean associations of the Gothic past as a means of holding in equilib-

250
Varieties of Gothicism in the British Atlantic world 251

rium divergent allegiances to Irish constitutionalism and an English
libertarian inheritance. In the American colonies an enthusiastic provin-
cial emulation of England™s political identity proved capable of fostering
peripheral nationalism. The widespread reception of an oppositional-
whig reading of English constitutional history led to disenchantment with
the perceived corruptions of contemporary English government. Inde-
pendence derived much more from a frustrated colonial Saxonism than it
did from any sense of ˜American™ identity. In Scotland in the middle of
the eighteenth century, by contrast, the substitution of an enlightened
Gothicism for a discredited Gaelic historical mythology assisted Anglo-
Scottish integration.
The Gothic identities of the Protestant Irish nation
The identity of the eighteenth-century ˜Anglo-Irish™ political nation and
the terminology which the historian should use to describe it remain
thorny historiographical issues. Historians of eighteenth-century Irish
political culture have been perplexed by the lack of any perceived incom-
patibility between the true Hibernian patriot and the proud heir of
England™s libertarian heritage. Both were, it seems, familiar aspects of the
same Anglo-Irish self-image. The usefulness of the term ˜Anglo-Irish™ as a
description of this dual identity is self-evident; yet, J. C. Beckett has noted
that the epithet gained widespread currency only in the late nineteenth
century.¦ Thomas Bartlett notes the complex feelings of a Protestant Irish
community which felt the need to ˜deWne itself against two ˜˜Others™™, the
inhabitants of the mother country and the native Irish™. Given this tension
it is unsurprising that eighteenth-century ˜Protestant nationalism™, in the
words of Bartlett, was ˜ambiguous, conditional and Xawed™; a ˜short-
lasting™ phenomenon, it evolved between the 1690s and the constitu-
tional revolution of 1782, only to collapse suddenly during the 1790s. 
The origins of this ˜Protestant nationalism™ have also been called into
question. Toby Barnard has shown that in the second half of the seven-
teenth century Protestant Irishmen identiWed both with the parliament of
the motherland and Ireland™s own ancient constitution, without being
committed to either a ˜full-blooded unionism™ or a ˜proto-nationalism™.À

¦ J. C. Beckett, The Anglo-Irish tradition (London, 1976), p. 10.
  T. Bartlett, ˜Protestant nationalism in eighteenth-century Ireland™, SVEC 335 (1995), 79;
Bartlett, ˜˜˜A people made rather for copies than originals™™: the Anglo-Irish, 1760“1800™,
International History Review 12 (1990), 11“25; Bartlett, The fall and rise of the Irish nation:
the Catholic question 1690“1830 (Dublin, 1992), p. 38.
À T. Barnard, ˜The Protestant interest, 1641“1660™, and Barnard, ˜Conclusion. Settling
and unsettling Ireland: the Cromwellian and Williamite revolutions™, both in J. Ohlmeyer
(ed.), Ireland from independence to occupation, 1641“1660 (Cambridge, 1995), pp. 237,
239, 288“9.
252 Points of contact

This scepticism is shared in other quarters. Jim Smyth believes that too
much emphasis has been placed on the Irishness of the Anglo-Irish
community in the early years after the Revolution: the Protestant com-
munity was driven into Irishness by an English reluctance to admit their
overseas kindred to the beneWts of union.Ã There were a variety of staging
posts between the poles of Englishness and Protestant Irishness. David
Hayton warns the student of Anglo-Irish identity to be aware of the
diVerent shades of emphasis which could result from the variety of
biographical experiences and family backgrounds to be found in the
Protestant nation. Some Anglo-Irish were descended from recent settlers,
others from more established Irish lineage; some resided exclusively in
Ireland, while others Xitted between Ireland and the mother country.•
Another of the central points of contention is whether, as J. G. Simms and
others have argued, the eighteenth-century Anglo-Irish were ˜colonial
nationalists™,’ or, as D. G. Boyce has countered, their identity was regnal.“
This line has recently received some powerful support from Sean Con-
nolly, who has undermined the colonial paradigm by reintegrating eight-
eenth-century Ireland into ancien regime Europe as a confessional state
´
allied to an Anglican Church of Ireland which discriminated against
presbyterian colonists as well as an indigenous Roman Catholic popula-
tion.“ Other categories have also been applied to the problem. In particu-
lar, Joep Leerssen suggests that the language of nationhood is inappropri-
ate when discussing an eighteenth-century Enlightenment patriotism
couched in terms of universalism and philanthropy.”
The enigma of eighteenth-century Anglo-Irish identity is not reducible
to a single solution. Religion, ethnicity, colonialism and legitimate identi-
Wcation with the parliamentary institutions of both Dublin and Westmin-
ster together contributed to the multiplication of possible permutations of
Protestant Irish self-expression. In addition, the Gothic identity of the

à J. Smyth, ˜˜˜Like amphibious animals™™: Irish Protestants, ancient Britons, 1691“1707™,
HJ 36 (1993), 785“97.
• D. Hayton, ˜Anglo-Irish attitudes: changing perceptions of national identity among the
Protestant Ascendancy in Ireland, ca. 1690“1750™, Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture
17 (1987), 145“57.
’ See the essays by J. G. Simms, J. L. McCracken and R. B. McDowell in T. W. Moody and
W. E. Vaughan (eds.), A new history of Ireland, vol. IV, Eighteenth-century Ireland 1691“
1800 (Oxford, 1986).
“ D. G. Boyce, Nationalism in Ireland (1982: 2nd edn, London, 1991), pp. 102“7. See also
Bartlett, ˜˜˜A people made rather for copies than originals™™™, 14, for the idea of sister
kingdoms.
“ S. J. Connolly, Religion, law, and power: the making of Protestant Ireland 1660“1760 (1992:
Oxford pbk, 1995).
” J. Leerssen, ˜Anglo-Irish patriotism and its European context™, ECI 3 (1988), 7“24.
William Molyneux, The case of Ireland™s being bound by acts of parliament in England, stated
(1698: n.p., 1706), p. 3, upheld ˜the cause of the whole race of Adam™.
Varieties of Gothicism in the British Atlantic world 253

Protestant political nation was an important complicating factor in the
formation of a multifaceted identity. The various strands within the
Gothic history of the Anglo-Irish community “ English and Norman“
Irish, ethnic and regnalist “ created the potential for a coherent set of
concentric loyalties. Without resolving Anglo-Irish ambiguities into a
seamless whole, an analysis of Irish uses of the Gothic past indicates the
broad parameters within which a consistent identity was sustained.
The ambiguities of Anglo-Irish Gothicism arose, in large part, from the
appropriation by the emerging Irish Protestant nation of the late seven-
teenth century of the history of their ˜Gothic™ precursors, the twelfth-
century settlers, and of the constitution they established. Ireland™s Protes-
tant political nation was predominantly composed of the New English
settlers of the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, but also included
other groups such as Old English families who had embraced Protestant-
ism, and a small number of Protestant Old Irish. The processes of fusion
and appropriation were reXected in the reformulation of the Irish ˜Gothi-
cist™ tradition, whose champions Xaunted both its indigenous and metro-
politan components. The institutional heritage of the Old English com-
munity was grafted on to a colonialist remembrance of the rightful
inheritance bequeathed to all Englishmen. The Anglo-Irish nation de-
Wned itself as English, the descendants of the various English settlers in
Ireland from the time of Henry II, and also as the upholders of the free
institutions, ancient limited constitution and political autonomy of the
medieval Irish kingdom. The largely spurious adoption by the New
English of the heritage of medieval Irish constitutional achievement was
not accompanied by a corresponding renunciation of the libertarian
inheritance bequeathed to modern Englishmen by their medieval ances-
tors. The Irish Protestant community contrived to blur the diVerence
between the legacies of English and Irish constitutional history. Initially,
this shared commitment to Ireland™s parliamentary heritage and English
liberties had been the common heritage of Old English Catholics and
New English settlers. As late as the 1640s representatives of both groups,
the New Englishman Audley Mervyn and the Old English lawyer Patrick
Darcy, could speak similar hybrid languages of common law immemor-
ialism and Irish parliamentarism. From the Restoration era this became
more of an exclusively Protestant identity.¦»
From the Williamite war to the middle of the eighteenth century there
was a period of strong Anglocentric consciousness, which included an

¦» A. Clarke, ˜Colonial constitutional attitudes in Ireland, 1640“1660™, Proceedings of the
Royal Irish Academy 90 (sect. C) (1990), 357“75; Beckett, Anglo-Irish tradition, pp. 32“3,
36“7; N. L. York, Neither kingdom, nor nation: the Irish quest for constitutional rights,
1698“1800 (Washington, DC, 1994), ch. 1.
254 Points of contact

aspiration for Anglo-Irish incorporating union. However, the English
parliament snubbed Irish overtures in preference for an incorporating
union with the Scots in 1707.¦¦ This provoked Jonathan Swift™s classic
allegory of jilted love, The story of the injured lady (written 1707, but not
published until 1746), which played on the common bonds shared by the
English and the Protestant Irish.¦  The perceived exclusion of the Irish
from the beneWts of incorporating union appeared to conWrm the helot
status of the Irish. An insensitive motherland had been trampling under-
foot the interests of her progeny: a number of mercantilist measures had
emanated from the English parliament during the late seventeenth cen-
tury, such as the Woollen Act (1699), which restricted Irish trade.¦À The
result in the case of ˜Annesley v. Sherlock™, decided on appeal to the
Lords at Westminster, who overturned an earlier appellate decision of the
Irish House of Lords, and the subsequent Declaratory Act of 1720, which
also asserted the right of the British parliament to make statutes binding
upon Ireland, did much to conWrm Irish Protestant anxieties. This was
quickly followed by the ultimate indignity “ and tangible economic griev-
ance “ of Wood™s Halfpence, the ill-considered grant of a minting patent
to one William Wood who imposed upon the Irish a debauched cur-
rency.¦Ã The Anglo-Irish were embarrassed and outraged to be treated as
second-class Englishmen. In 1726 Swift complained of the travesty that
˜all persons born in Ireland are called and treated as Irishmen, although
their fathers and grandfathers were born in England™: the Anglo-Irish
ought rather to have been ˜on as good a foot as any subjects of Britain™.¦•
Ironically, this heightened sense of an Englishness deprived led in turn led
to concern for the regnal privileges of the Irish kingdom. It was but a short
step from Anglo-Irish unionism to a deWant patriotism, and both posi-
tions depended, in good part, on the language of Gothicism.
The Xuid polyvalent qualities of its Gothic heritage helped to resolve

¦¦ J. C. Beckett, The making of modern Ireland 1603“1923 (1966: London, 1981), p. 157;
Smyth, ˜˜˜Like amphibious animals™™™, 795“6; J. Hill, ˜Ireland without union: Molyneux
and his legacy™, in J. Robertson (ed.), A union for empire (Cambridge, 1995), pp. 287“9.
¦  Jonathan Swift, The story of the injured lady, in J. McMinn (ed.), Swift™s Irish pamphlets
(Gerrard™s Cross, 1991), pp. 23“8. For the anti-presbyterian impetus of Irish tory
unionism, see J. Smyth, ˜The communities of Ireland and the British state, 1660“1714™,
in B. Bradshaw and J. Morrill (eds.), The British problem, c. 1534“1707 (Houndmills,
1996), p. 254.
¦À L. Cullen, An economic history of modern Ireland since 1660 (2nd edn, London, 1987),
p. 34; I. Hont, ˜Free trade and the economic limits to national politics™, in J. Dunn (ed.),
The economic limits to modern politics (Cambridge, 1990), pp. 78“89.
¦Ã M. Flaherty, ˜The empire strikes back: ˜˜Annesley v. Sherlock™™ and the triumph of
imperial parliamentary supremacy™, Columbia Law Review 87 (1987), 593“622; Cullen,
Economic history of modern Ireland, p. 36.
¦• Swift to the Earl of Peterborough, April 28, 1726, in F. Elrington Ball (ed.), The
correspondence of Jonathan Swift (6 vols., London, 1910“14), III, p. 309.
Varieties of Gothicism in the British Atlantic world 255

certain problems which dogged the Irish Protestant nation. These ethnic
and historical ambiguities enabled the Anglo-Irish nation to mobilise
alternative rhetorical strategies as it struggled to cope with the vicissitudes
of its relationship with the mother-nation. The sense of a shared Gothic
ancestry with the English also meant that Anglo-Irish patriots were less
than wholehearted in their commitment to the institutions of the Irish
kingdom. At any rate, late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century
Anglo-Irish patriotism fell far short of nationalism. The controversial
polemicist William Molyneux, the author of the classic text of Anglo-Irish
political thought, The case of Ireland™s being bound by acts of parliament in
England, stated (1698), which denied the authority of the English parlia-
ment to legislate for Ireland, was not a nationalist.¦’ Anglo-Irish patriots
celebrated their colonial heritage of English liberties, but denied that
Ireland was a colony. Molyneux furiously rejected any equivalence be-
tween Ireland™s constitutional status and that of Virginia, New England
or Maryland.¦“ England and Ireland were separate and distinct kingdoms
but the historic rights of the English nation had been transferred to and
were replicated in the English nation in Ireland. However, although he
defended Ireland as ˜a complete kingdom within itself™,¦“ Molyneux also
welcomed the prospect of English parliamentary authority over Ireland, if
that meant Irish representation in a united parliament. Parliamentary
union with England was for Molyneux ˜an happiness we can hardly hope
for™.¦” In 1703, a resolution of the Irish House of Commons called for the
restoration to the Irish political nation of its full constitutional rights, but
conceded that ˜a more Wrm and strict union™ with England would be an
acceptable alternative route to the desired end of untrammelled parlia-
mentary self-government. » The Gothicist tradition permitted two sets of
symbolic reference. The Anglo-Irish took pride in such English shibbol-
eths as Magna Carta as their own, while also celebrating peculiarly Irish
totems. For example, the privileges and procedures of their own historic
constitution were laid out in the Modus tenendi parliamenta in Hibernia, an
edition of which was published in 1692 by Molyneux™s brother-in-law
Bishop Anthony Dopping. ¦
The language of Gothicism could be deployed eVectively and without
embarrassment to answer various demands in the diVerent spheres of

¦’ Hill, ˜Ireland without union™. ¦“ Molyneux, Case of Ireland, p. 145.
¦“ Ibid., p. 144. ¦” Ibid., p. 94.
 » J. G. Simms, William Molyneux of Dublin (ed. P. H. Kelly, Dublin, 1982), p. 115; York,
Neither kingdom, nor nation, p. 32. For Anglo-Irish unionism, see C. Robbins, The
eighteenth-century commonwealthman (Cambridge, MA, 1959), pp. 147“9; J. Smyth,
˜Anglo-Irish unionist discourse, c. 1656“1707™, Bullan 2 (1995), 17“34.
´
 ¦ Simms, Molyneux, p. 92; Robbins, Commonwealthman, pp. 138, 140; York, Neither
kingdom, nor nation, pp. 19“20 n., 26.
256 Points of contact

Anglo-Irish discourse. Within Ireland, Gothicism answered the needs
both of exclusivism and comprehension. Aspects of the Gothic past might
be used as a foil with which to contrast the noble and spirited ethnic
heritage of Ireland™s ruling Protestant caste with the inferior character of
the Gaelic Irish.   On the other hand, Gothicism was one of the vital
preconditions of the emergence of a more latitudinarian Anglo-Irish
identity. A common commitment to Ireland™s Gothic parliamentary heri-
tage assisted the formation of an Anglo-Irish identity which, while pre-
dominantly New English, also embraced a signiWcant minority of Protes-
tant Old English. À
The malleability of the Gothic inheritance also allowed the Anglo-Irish

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