Belief in England's Decay

John Francis Maguire
CHAPTER XXX (14) start of chapter

A strange notion—indeed, downright delusion—exists in the Irish-American mind as to the power of England. One would suppose, from listening to one of her contemners, that England's day was gone—that she was worn out and effete, that the British Lion was fangless, as harmless as a performing poodle, as innocuous as a stuffed specimen in a travelling show. You may tell the scoffer, of her revenue of more than $350,000,000 in gold, and how her people every year ungrudgingly expend $130,000,000 in gold on her army and her fleet; but you are pooh-poohed, and answered, that her day is past, and that she will go to pieces at the first shock. 'Her 100,000, or 150,000 soldiers, scattered over the world; what are they? We had more than a million in arms at the close of the war, besides what the South had. What is she, then, to this great country? We'—the speaker is an Irishman of less than thirty years' standing—'we whipped her in 1776, and we whipped her in 1812, and we'd whip her again; and I wish to God we had the chance to-day before to-morrow —that's all.'

The same belief in the power of America and the decay of England is as strongly entertained by the civilian as by the soldier, by the female contributor to the funds of the local 'circle,' as by the most enthusiastic of its members.

The Irish in America, first published in 1868, provides an invaluable account of the extreme difficulties that 19th Century Irish immigrants faced in their new homeland and the progress which they had nonetheless made in the years since arriving on a foreign shore. A new edition, including additional notes and an index, has been published by Books Ulster/LibraryIreland:

Paperback: 700+ pages The Irish in America

ebook: The Irish in America