Gladstone and Ascendancy
Or, Here we go round the upas tree
in Dissolute characters
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Gladstonian liberalism quickly replaced an exhausted whiggery, and Gladstone's programme placed the Irish landlord system, education, and the established church at the head of its list of demons. The unnamed but recognisable upas tree, by which Gladstone introduced the notion of poisonous growth, unfamiliar now, had a long history as a romantic metaphor. In turn, Gladstone's upas tree becomes the totem pole of the Anglo-Irish. The metamorphosis of Gladstone's denunciation into a programme for self-enhanced dignity and cultural re-orientation follows a certain pattern in the naming of social groups. Gladstone re-baptised the Protestant Ascendancy by reading an order of anathema over its head. Ascendancy is another serial factor in the culture emergent in the last days of Sheridan Le Fanu.

Dissolute characters

Irish literary history through Balzac, Sheridan Le Farm, Yeats and Bowen

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