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Occupational Hazards: The Irishness of Liberal Opinion

Occupational Hazards: The Irishness of Liberal Opinion

(p.229) Chapter Five Occupational Hazards: The Irishness of Liberal Opinion
Living Liberalism
Elaine Hadley
University of Chicago Press

This chapter explores mid-Victorian political liberalism and liberalism's relation to its imperial holdings. It discusses how Ireland mattered in Anthony Trollope's novel Phineas Finn and it particularly looks at Irish tenant rights. The Union of Settlement between Ireland and Britain was often understood—not just among liberals—as a problem of consent, framed in the affective language of attachment, even allegorized as a marital union. More important to this parallel construction between political and marital consent is the ethical content of these choices. Phineas Finn, however, opens a tiny aperture onto an alternative perspective of liberalism. This liberalism takes its stand not through appropriation or imperial occupation but from an ambivalent relation to one's own place, a dual occupation, as if an Irishman and liberal all at once, in the same space. It is liberalism where consent occurs through attachment and connection, not coercion or alienation.

Keywords:   liberalism, mid-Victorian politics, Phineas Finn, Ireland, tenant rights, Anthony Trollope, imperialism

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