Cosmopolitan Nationalism in the Victorian Empire: Ireland, by Jennifer Regan-Lefebvre

By Jennifer Regan-Lefebvre

The 1st biography of Alfred Webb, Irish nationalist and president of the 1894 Indian nationwide Congress. The biography explores how Webb seen nationalism as a automobile for worldwide social justice. Drawing on files in Britain, eire and India the writer unearths how Irish and Indians used cosmopolitan London to create networks around the Empire.

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Extra resources for Cosmopolitan Nationalism in the Victorian Empire: Ireland, India and the Politics of Alfred Webb

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33 Events in far-off lands such as the American South or British India were very real to Webb, and his and his parents’ interest in these places and their inhabitants bore no recognisable trace of exoticism. News of the progress of the Mexican War, the Opium Wars in China and the Crimean War (all of which the Webbs opposed) was eagerly consumed by the family. In his late teens Webb was sent to Australia to improve his health. He took to the physical life, at one point walking some 500 miles across the continent, and worked as a ship hand on his return journey to Ireland.

R. D. 42 He also collected, with James Haughton, 25,000 signatures on a petition for mercy for the lives of convicted Young Irelanders in 1848,43 although their campaign may have been motivated by the Quaker disapproval of the death penalty, and not by nationalistic feelings. One more bizarre story concerning the Webbs’ interest in the Irish past deserves scrutiny. 44 Beheading was punishment for high treason and bodies of traitors were not always rejoined with their respective heads. The head, which bore an anguished expression and a rope-burned neck, was displayed in a glass case, having been removed from Sheares’s coffin in what Webb described simply as a ‘prank’.

83 ‘Letters from Kerry’ was printed in 1846, and is believed to be a letter concerning Famine conditions in that area. Ironically, due to their high involvement in Famine relief through printing, the Webbs stood a chance of profiting from the Famine; however, all the bill book can prove is that workers were paid for printing, and A Quaker Family in the Atlantic World 27 it is impossible to know whether the Webbs did the work gratis or at a reduced cost. Anecdotal evidence is available of printing carried out by the Webbs after 1850.

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