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Anglo-Irish loyalists

Moore fulfilled, to an extent, his ambition of emulating the literary success enjoyed in London as well as Ireland by many of his Anglo-Irish Protestant countrymen, almost all of whom had been educated at either Kilkenny College (the oldest grammar school in Ireland, founded in 153861), or TCD or both. Such authors had included, by Moore’s time, Jonathan Swift and the playwrights Nahum Tate, George Farquhar, Oliver Goldsmith and William Congreve (who was born in England but raised in Ireland). The dramatist Thomas Southerne (1660-1746) was an early example.

The son of a Dublin brewer, Southerne served James II loyally in the army,62 and was consequently careful to embrace the principles of the Glorious Revolution with enthusiasm.63 He is best known for his influential 1695 stage adaptation of Aphra Behn’s 1688 novel Oroonoko, but the progressive views on slavery and race it espoused did not extend to the white working classes. He wrote a play based on an episode from Livy XXIII (with insertions from books

XXV and XXVI), The Fate of Capua (performed at Lincoln’s Inn Fields in 1700), in which the Capuans rebel in favour of Hannibal. Southerne emphasised that such mobs are uncouth, fickle and incapable of sensible decisions, basing his stage crowds on those in Shakespeare’s Coriolanus. He completed Dryden’s Cleomenes, the Spartan Hero (1692), and in 1719 found success with a similar drama, The Spartan Dame, drawing on another Plutarch biography, that of Agis.64 Its politics are inherently conservative: ‘As in The Fate of Capua, the Grecian mobs might have come from Eastcheap. The ignorant rabble quibbles much in the manner of Shakespeare’s plebeians’.65 Crites (III.l) says that ‘they shake/Their brainless coxcombs, reading dirty palms/They snuffle out their fears’.66

The politics of Arthur Murphy (1727-1805) were even more reactionary. A Catholic native of County Roscommon originally from a lowly labouring background, he was sent by his widowed and impoverished mother to live with her sister in France. Before moving to London, he became an outstanding classical scholar at the famous English Jesuit College at St Omer.67 A significant author, Murphy wrote biographies of Dr. Johnson, Fielding and Garrick and translated Latin prose, including Sallust and Cicero: his 1793 translation of Tacitus remained standard into the 20th century. But it also ‘provided the occasion for his expression of anti-republicanism in response to the French revolution’.68 In accordance with the 18th-century British taste for ‘She-Tragedies’,69 he enjoyed hits with two vaguely anti-tyrannical tragedies featuring traumatised classical heroines. Zenobia (1768) draws on Tacitus’ Annals XII-XIII and The Grecian Daughter (1772) dramatises a tale of filial piety from Valerius Maximus’ On Memorable Things Said and Done (5.4).70 But Murphy’s last Tacitean classical play, Arminius, was an anti-jacobin assault on any threat to the constitution, in which he revealed himself as violently anti-democratic, drawing on Quintilian, Lucan and Montesquieu along with Tacitus and other Roman historians in the process.71 It was deemed unperformable.

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