Bog Men: Celtic Landscapes in Mid-Eighteenth-Century Satire
This chapter analyses representations of Celtic landscapes by English satirists in the 1760s. Whereas late eighteenth-century Anglo-Irish writers treated the bog as signifying not only colonial oppression, but also an opportunity for agricultural and political improvement, English metropolitan authors at mid-century represented Britain’s Celtic fringes as intractable, primitive, and unprofitable. In sustained attacks on the nationality and politics of writers such as Tobias Smollett and Arthur Murphy, John Wilkes and Charles Churchill in The North Briton deployed images of barrenness, sexual rapacity, queerness and emasculation to reconfigure England’s political relations with Ireland and Scotland. By conflating Irish and Scottish men with the anomalous site of the wasteland, this essay shows how the rhetoric of the bog delegitimised Celtic participation in English political and colonial discourses.