Frank James Mathew
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England? Here are questions that ought to be answered; for even the many who care little about Ireland are concerned with the last of them, and this problem cannot be solved alone. In this book I propose to suggest answers to them and to others equally hard. If you think that you know all about Ireland, you are probably wrong. It is an undiscovered country. As an Irishman, I can bear witness to the fact that its people are by no means agreed in their Opinions about it. We are aware how difficult its problems remain, even in these days of enlightenment; and for that reason I shall leave you to take my views for what they are worth, which may be little or nothing. At least, they are honest, not consciously distorted by prejudice and quite unconcerned with politics. There is one point on which we are agreed: we are convinced that foreigners, and in especial our dear English neighbours, misunderstand us, and not seldom betray a deplorable ignorance. This book will be no more than a quiet intro duction to Ireland. If you are content with your knowledge, you had better throw it aside; those who pine for statistics must turn to somebody else, and SO must all who require political wrangling. In it you will have two impressions, — the Artist’s and mine. Just as the Artist wandered where he chose and painted what he liked, without any thought of depicting notable scenes, so my inde pendent description will not rival a Guide Book, nor be in any way detailed or complete. Yet it may be that this pleasant method of ours will impart a true notion. If that notion is true, it must also be new. Let us take the Artist’s work first. If you have not visited Ireland, the odds are that you think that it is wholly addicted to the wearing of the Green. Is it not called the Green Isle? Yet few pictures of his give that as a prominent colour, and many of them seize varying shades of brown. The truth is that Ireland has the colouring a wood has in the autumn. In the wide places of bogs and in the Highlands it is brown for the most part, though its tints change as the sky does above them, and are at times purple or red or black the lesser hills are grey, and so are the moors. In these hues green is latent; it dwells in them as it does in the garb of a wood just before the leaves fall. One might say that one was aware of it without seeing it, as if it was implied. The grey of the hills and the moors will remind you of a mist over leaves.
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