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«Poor Green Erin»

German Travel Writers’ Narratives on Ireland from Before the 1798 Rising to After the Great Famine- Texts Edited, Translated and Annotated by Eoin Bourke

Edited By Eoin Bourke

The area of 19 th -century German travel writing on Ireland has received widespread scholarly attention over the years in treatises in both English and German, but these efforts were directed largely at fellow-scholars and formed part of an academic discourse on travel, interculturality and alterity. This book, on the other hand, is conceived of more as a reader for the general public than as an academic treatise, presents a surprisingly extensive body of comments drawn from German and Austrian sources from between 1783 and 1865 and lets them «talk for themselves». Some of these remarkably empathetic and well-founded eye-witness accounts were translated into English already in the 19 th century by people like Sarah Austin and Sir Lascelles Wraxhall, but the editor has re-translated them to remove varying degrees of antiquatedness of formulation and has added other accounts that were hitherto largely unknown to the non-German-speaking reading public.
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3 Caspar Voght (1794)


Caspar Voght (1752-1839) was a prominent Hamburg silk and linen merchant and philanthropist, model agriculturist, cosmopolitan and lover of philosophy and the arts. He was a leading figure in the combating of poverty and reforming of the prison system in the region and beyond. The Hamburg welfare system which he introduced and oversaw featured a large staff of social workers, free medical care, pre-, peri- and post-natal care for poor mothers and schooling for their children. These ameliorative measures had the direct effect of leading to a marked reduction in the number of inmates in the local prisons. As his report on the system was translated into English and published in London, one asks oneself why the proposed measures were not applied in Ireland. He was called to Berlin, Vienna, Paris, Marseilles and Lyon to advise the governments there on the eradication of poverty, and wrote in his last years: “I have spent 30 years of my life visiting several thousand poor people to find out the causes and effects of poverty. I spent 40 years of my life lecturing in France and England on the fact that our peace of mind and security will be endangered if we fail to make sure that lack of employment or the results of competition do not drive the workers to despair” (see ADB, X, 163). He was later to establish Germany’s first agricultural college, a model farm and tree nursery in the im- mediate environs of Hamburg. In Vienna he had the...

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