German Travel Writers’ Narratives on Ireland from Before the 1798 Rising to After the Great Famine- Texts Edited, Translated and Annotated by Eoin Bourke
13 Friedrich von Raumer (1835)
Before the Prussian historian Friedrich von Raumer (1781-1873) travelled to Ireland on 19 August 1835 he had already studied the question of Catholic Emancipation in great detail. While in London throughout the summer of that year he had followed Parliamentary debates on the question of tithes, schooling, crime, the Poor Law and Repeal of the Union very closely and repeatedly quotes Hansard on earlier debates in his letters from London. His reception of these debates can be followed in Sarah Austen’s 1836 translation of Raumer’s letters [Austen 1836]. But as we wish to present actual eye- witness accounts of Ireland, let it suffice to quote from Raumer’s comments on Catholic Emancipation, William of Orange, the Cromwellian confiscations of Catholic-owned property, the tithe system and the “demagogue” Daniel O’Connell, to give some impression of his thinking before he set foot in Ireland. Raumer, though a Protestant, is very critical of England’s tardiness in granting Catholic Emancipation and compares England to Prussia in their respective handling of religious differences, very much to the detriment of the former. From London he reports on a conversation with an English gentleman: 13.1 England and Prussia Yesterday I breakfasted with Mrs. A. When the conversation touched upon the conditions in Ireland, a gentleman said that it was only through military despotism that Prussia could rule quietly and undisturbed over Catholics. I replied that as long as Prussia had existed, no sword had ever been drawn against a single Catholic; on the contrary, they were won over...
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