Tourism, Landscape, and the Irish Character: British Travel Writers in Pre-Famine Ireland
Picturesque but poor, abject yet sublime in its Gothic melancholy, the Ireland perceived by British visitors during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries did not fit their ideas of progress, propriety, and Protestantism. The rituals of Irish Catholicism, the lamentations of funeral wakes, the Irish language they could not comprehend, even the landscapes were all strange to tourists from England, Wales, and Scotland. Overlooking the acute despair in England’s own industrial cities, these travelers opined in their writings that the poverty, bog lands, and ill-thatched houses of rural Ireland indicated moral failures of the Irish character.
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As a way of looking at landscape , the picturesque provided the British urban
middle class with a set of techniques that enabled them to organize nature into a
“ scene ” and conceptualize it as a picture . The chief popularizer of these ...
Claude ' s organization of a landscape , Rosa ' s dark sense of drama and
excitement , Gilpin ' s techniques of critiquing a scene , echoes of Burke ' s
sublime - travel writers merrily mixed them all into the visual and verbal
vocabulary of “ the ...
upon peasant “ scenes ” and then fashioned or at least suggested narratives for
them . ... experience ” the lives of the poor without really confronting the depth of
their poverty or letting the emotions generated by a scene become too disturbing