Irish Servility (Paul-Dubois, 1908)

1.146, 638. L. Paul-Dubois, Contemporary Ireland, with an Introduction by T.M. Kettle, M.P. (Dublin: Maunsel and Company, Ltd.; New York: The Baker and Taylor Co., 1908), pp.164-65, 463. BL

Two extracts from L. Paul-Dubois, Contemporary Ireland (1908), on Irish servility.

In these two extracts from Paul-Dubois’s book, the idea is advanced of a continuing ‘remnant of servility’ in the Irish character. The first follows on from a discussion of the impact on Ireland of the Penal Laws, while the second is part of an account of ‘The Religious Question’.

Morally speaking, then, while the Irishman is no longer a slave, he has still something of the slave in him, or at best of the freed bondsman. He is hardly able to rid himself of that sense of inferiority which his old masters have so strongly inculcated in him. To his former oppressor he often shows a remnant of servility, unless, indeed, by reaction he may affect a tone of aggravated rudeness like that old peasant of whom Mr. William O’Brien speaks, who, hearing the insolence of land agents in the past recalled, replied, “Begob, we’ll have them put their hands to their hats for us yet.” As concerns himself he has retained from his servitude a certain lack of dignity, of moral discipline, of self-mastery and self-respect.

Haunted by the memory of the Penal Laws, they are but gradually freeing themselves from the idea that the Protestant is the master of Ireland and that they are his slaves, that he is a free man and they are helots. They are rather anti-English than anti-Protestant; if they attack the members of the Ascendancy party or the English Colony, it is rather on account of their tyranny and their privileges than on account of their religion.