Theobald Wolfe Tone (1763-1798), born in Dublin, educated at Trinity College, and called to the Irish bar in 1789, fills a large space in the history of his country from 1790 to his death in 1798. Intrepid, daring, and resourceful, he was one of the most dangerous of the enemies to English domination in Ireland that arose at any time during the troubled relations between the two countries. Taken prisoner on board a French ship of the line bound for Ireland on a mission of freedom, he committed suicide in prison rather than submit to the ignominy of being hanged to which he had been condemned. He sleeps his last sleep in Bodenstown churchyard, in that county of Kildare to which he was connected by many ties. His grave is still the Mecca of many a pilgrimage, and the corner-stone of a statue to his memory has been laid for some years on a commanding site in the city of his birth. He is known in literature for his Journals and his Autobiography, both containing sad, but inspiring, reading for the Irishman of today.
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Here this rapid survey of Irish writers of English must close. To tell in any sort of appropriate detail the story of the English literature of Ireland in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries would require a separate volume—a volume which is now under way and will, it is hoped, be speedily forthcoming. There is all the less need to attempt the agreeable task here, because in other portions of this book much more than passing reference is made to the chief Irish authors who, in the last hundred and fifteen years, have distinguished themselves and shed lustre on their country. During that period Irish poets, playwrights, novelists, essayists, historians, biographers, humorists, critics, and scholars have fully held their own both in the quantity and the quality of the work produced, and have left an impression of power and personality, of graceful style and vivifying imagination, that in itself constitutes, and must for ever constitute, one of the distinctive Glories of Ireland.
Irish Literature (10 vols., New York, 1904); Chambers’s Cyclopaedia of English Literature (3 vols., Philadelphia and London, 1902-1904); Dictionary of National Biography; Encyclopaedia Britannica; Cambridge History of English Literature; D’Alton: History of Ireland (London, 1910); Lennox: Early Printing in Ireland (Washington, 1909), Addison and the Modern Essay (Washington, 1912), Lessons in English Literature (21st edition, Baltimore, 1913); Macaulay: Essays, History of England; Brown: A Reader’s Guide to Irish Fiction (London, 1910), A Guide to Books on Ireland (Dublin, 1912).