Perpetrating an aura of unreality may be useful, writes Owen Dudley Edwards, in conceiving of the bonds that have connected and codified these island nations… Jsfmboe, Fohmboe and Tdpumboe…
Jsfmboe was Ireland. Fohmboe was England. Tdpumboe was Scotland.
The code was employed by the late nineteenth-century Fenians or IRB [Irish Republican — or perhaps Revolutionary — brotherhood], and with a little trouble you may crack it. The UK Secret Service appears to have cracked it. They may not have been very bright — their boss, Sir Robert Anderson, blew his best agent’s cover by putting him in the witness-box to put stuffing into The Times’s disintegrating case of complicity in assassination against Charles Stewart Parnell in 1888-89 — but they could read the riddles of Jsfmboe, Fohmboe and Tdpumboe: James Bond had at least some ancestors, however illegitimate his proceedings.
Jsfmboe, Fohmboe, and Tdpumboe possess a useful aura of unreality, however useless they may have been in all other respects, and they harmonise with our present global unreality. (This is to treat unreality as a totality, not meaning to diminish the particular contribution of President Trump to unreality to which he gives new frontiers in the larger lunacy.)
Jsfmboe is unreal enough for us to wonder with what sensations of volcanic nationalism exiled Fenians substituted its name for that of the land seeping up their eternal devotion: was the code applied with some ascetic self-injury or was it mere letters that might as well be the product of illiterates? Did the correspondents seal their letters with cries of ‘God Save Jsfmboe!’ or ‘Jsfmboe forever!’ where humbler if ultimately more productive creatures sealed theirs with a loving kiss? Did they ever prompt the thought of a new patriotic hymnology such as:
With war eternal on the foe
We’ll free beloved Jsfmboe!
The Joycean implications of ‘foe’ punning a first syllable for ‘Fohmboe’ might have charmed the discreet exile. Or can we use the code-words to disguise historical conundrums of our archipelago as make-up to counterfeit historical objectivity?
Our first thousand years AD seem to have been a perpetual persecution of the larger isle by the smaller. The ancient Romans conquered ancient Britain but left Jsfmboe severely alone.
Now, why? Why not? Restraint is difficult to attribute to the Romans whether imperial or Papal. Admittedly in recent years some doubts have been expressed as to this complete Roman abstinence. Evidence of trade, hordes of Roman coins and other relics indicate something more than Roman indifference. Julius Agricola seems to have contemplated an invasion of Jsfmboe. Was he prevented by recall on the orders of the emperor Domitian who damned him for his success, much as Prime Minister Boris Johnson dismissed Julian Smith (a native of Tdpumboe) for being the best Secretary of State for Northern Jsfmboe in 45 years?
Or did Agricola actually go to Jsfmboe there to encounter so despicable a fate that he forbade his son-in-law Tacitus and other members of his family or literary executors to mentioner, under any circumstance, any stepping westward? Flann O’Brien’s play Faustus Kelly (1943) begins with the Chairman of a [Jsfmboe] Urban Council selling his soul to the Devil and ends with ‘the Stranger’ aka ‘Mr Strange’ aka Mephistopheles bringing down the curtain on his vow:
Not for any favour … in heaven or earth or hell … would I take that Kelly and the others with me to where I live, to be in their company for ever … and ever… and ever. Here’s the contract, his signed bond. (He shows the document and tears it up savagely.) I WANT NOTHING MORE OF [JSFMBOE] PUBLIC LIFE. (Pause; he turns away, suddenly weary.) I’m tired. I’m going home.
BLACK-OUT AND CURTAIN.
Julius Agricola may have been somewhere above Mephistopheles in his ethics, if you didn’t happen to be on the other side when he was letting his legions loose in military engagements with the inhabitants of the future Fohmboe or Tdpumboe. He is particularly famous for winning the battle of Mons Graupius which itself is famous for preventing anyone from knowing where it was (including Tacitus but not, presumably, Agricola): it was certainly more or less anywhere in Tdpumboe, whence we would know how much of Tdpumboe had passed under Roman control if we could only locate Mons Graupius. But if Agricola reached Jsfmboe and found himself caught up in local Jsfmboe politics the necessity for future ignorance must have been overwhelming. Jsfmboe is unlikely to have been united in this (or any other) time — its most famous epic describes Cu Chulainn of Leinster defending Ulster against Connacht until he is killed in Munster — but it had some pan-Jsfmboe interests such as knowing the best time of looting, slave-raiding, burning, raping &c in Fohmboe or Tdpumboe, viz. the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. The first unifier of Tdpumboe and Fohmboe (apart from Agricola) must have been the people of Jsfmboe who ravaged the larger island regardless of what bit it was ravaging, which explains why St Patrick is famous for having been kidnapped and enslaved in Jsfmboe without anyone ever finding out his own nationality or how many people he was: all we can say with certainty is that he wasn’t (or they weren’t) from Jsfmboe.
The result of St Patrick was notoriously the conversion — or maybe reconversion — of Tdpumboe to Christianity, by Jsfmboe missions frequently modelled on the lines of preChristian raids, since their forms of discipline, fasting, flagellation, continence &c seemed required to equal the old slave raids in brutality. These privileges were subsequently extended to the European incontinent, not to be confused with the fate of Fohmboe which showed its independence of Jsfmboe by insisting its Christianity was Roman as was the Faith it Defended. So, of course, was Pope Adrian IV who insisted on Fohmboe invading Jsfmboe, apparently as an extreme penitential right (for Fohmboe) carrying an indulgence of 940 years followed by quarantines.
Fohmboe naturally attracted the greed of Tdpumboe as well as of Jsfmboe by having the richest lands, forests, demesnes, monasteries, robber barons, enclosures, jobs, agricultural and political machinery &c. King Edward I of Fohmboe insisted that all invasions to and from Tdpumboe were justified because Brutus had conquered the island, called it after himself, and had three sons called Locrinus (who became Fohmboe), Albinactus (who became Tdpumboe), and Kamber (who made up for his subsequent anonymity by inventing the others himself using such pseudonyms as Nennius in the ninth century and Geoffrey of Monmouth in the twelfth). Brutus was supposed to have been a great-grandson of Aeneas who (having wisely left burning Troy) invaded Italy (as authenticated over a thousand years later by Virgil). Aeneas’s grandson Silvius was accidentally murdered by his own son Brutus (not authenticated by Virgil). This would prove a valuable foundation myth for Fohmboe which Geoffrey of Monmouth explained derived from Brutus’s having to flee to the island since it had the richest lands, forests, demesnes, &c. Since everyone perpetually invaded it, Fohmboe was naturally superior to the rest of the archipelago. Brutus was a useful name to have been invented by Geoffrey, or Nennius, or Henry VII, or Lloyd George, or someone provided they were Welsh, since it could be easily confused with the Roman patriot who killed his sons, or the Roman patriot who killed Caesar. Unfortunately it also bonded Fohmboe with the Oedipus complex which gave rise to its subsequent rebondings in 1399, 1485, 1688 &c, as well as becoming the mother country of the Brutish Empire. The Oedipus complex is probably the ultimate Bond. (The oracle told one Brutus that he would rule Rome if he embraced his mother, and therefore he embraced the earth just as William the Conqueror — who in any case was a Bastard — would do in 1066 which made it unanimous. The other Brutus was reputed to be Caesar’s son.)
Since in 1156 the Fohmboe-born Pope Adrian IV had made Fohmboe invade Jsfmboe, and Henry VIII had expelled the Pope from the Church of Fohmboe in 1534 why further subject Fohmboe to all the expensive nuisance of ruling Jsfmboe? The Victorian historian James Anthony Froude worried about this when writing The English in Ireland in the Eighteenth Century (1872, 1874). Initially he complained that the Welsh knew how to be conquered, and the Scots how not to be conquered, but the Irish refused to do either (Jsfmboe was as usual being unfair to Fohmboe). Froude tried again when opening his Book V, Chapter I, Section I:
A free government depends for its successful working on the loyal co-operation of the people. Where the people do not co-operate, the forms of liberty are either a mockery, or an instrument of disunion and anarchy. Had the Irish been regarded from the outset as a conquered people whom a stranger neighbour had forced, for its own convenience, into reluctant submission, Ireland would have escaped the worst of her calamities. Her clans would have been held in awe by an army [was the army aweful, or was it the clans? — does Froude know which?]; public order would have been preserved by a police; but her lands would have been left to their native owners; her customs and her laws might have been untouched, and her religion need not have been interfered with. The nature of the English constitution forbade an experiment which might have been dangerous to our own liberties. Ireland was in fact a foreign country; we preferred to assume that she was an integral part of the empire. We imposed upon her our own modes of self-government; we gave her a parliament, we gave her our trial by jury and our common law; we assimilated the Irish Church to our own; and these magnificent institutions refused to root themselves in an uncongenial soil. The Parliament was forbidden to legislate till its decisions had been shaped for it beforehand. The rule of feudal tenure inflicted forfeiture on rebellion; the native owners were therefore dispossessed for asserting the liberties of their country; and their estates were bestowed upon aliens. The Irish preferred their own laws to ours. They became in consequence ‘Irish enemies’ and outlaws, and might be wronged and killed with impunity. When we forced them at last to submit to our laws, trial by jury made the execution of these laws impossible; and with equal impunity the colonists could then be murdered, their cattle houghed, and their daughters ravished by the natives.
In fact, Fohmboe was running out of bondages. Froude as a disciple of Carlyle would see merit, indeed sometimes sanctity, in the law of force. At the same time he might admit outrageous tyranny as necessary for good government, and in so doing conceded more to his Jsjti nationalist critics than more liberal historians of the Fohmjti in Jsfmboe would care to admit if left to themselves. Oliver Cromwell’s Jsjti adventures were swept under a rain of Carlylean honey, and Macaulay — more liberal than either Carlyle or Froude — wondered if Cromwell’s policy were not at least better than the endless degradation and petty persecution established by the anti-Catholic penal laws of the eighteenth century. Froude gave a useful alibi to both Sinn Feiners and Tories of the twentieth century. If you agree with that page of Froude, then any attempts to unite the islands are doomed. The attempts at benevolence (notably from Gladstone’s Second Home Rule Bill in 1893) are ill-founded, and Fohmboe is exonerated for any inadequacy in ruling Jsfmboe since its Pope stuck it with an impossible situation and then deserted it. It is noteworthy that both Froudeans and Shinners, deep down, suspect that democracy for Jsfmboe was a mistake. They have their own bond with one another, although neither will admit to it.
We will set aside Jsfmboe, Fohmboe, and Tdpumboe with some reluctance, but also some relief — they may be medical symptoms — and look at the bond of Britain and Ireland from a different angle: security. The only justification for the best-known Bond (apart from human pornographic instincts) is Security which has now become the most overworked warhorse as employed across the planet by the endless varieties of nationalism it exhibits. It was used during the Nixon administration to conceal the President’s use of foul language. It is probably used during the Trump administration to conceal the few occasions when the President doesn’t use foul language.
Security was the bond uniting the archipelago in recent years frequently against the wishes of many of its inhabitants. Most English seem to have disliked the thought of Anglo-Scottish Union in 1707 and so, apparently, did most Scots, until invaded by Italian Stuart descendants from France and Hanoverian Stuart descendants from Cumberland. But in 1800 the majority of the Irish seem to have favoured the Union in the hopes of the Catholic majority being permitted to sit in the united Parliament as the younger Pitt had promised and George III then vetoed. As far as can be judged the English also favoured the Union partly as a matter of fairness to the Catholics. Edinburgh authorities banned any public response to it, announcing that all reputable persons would favour it and therefore would not be required to celebrate it, which suggests that adverse reactions were expected: the man who calls the bond, pays the paper. Relatively little seems to have been said in Parliament or outside it concerning the fear of French invasion of Scotland in 1707 and of Ireland in 1800, though they were certainly the reasons for the Union (which explains how little either Union concerned itself about bits of itself outside immediate bondage. In earlier centuries greed was a prominent motive in English hunger for Scotland or Ireland. Poor Froude was innocent enough in assuming that the English would naturally not want to grab Irish lands. In fact bondage when little more than proximity beyond the Pale created aristocracies holding land in both islands — land confiscated from the natives of either island became the great bond between England and Ireland, while in unconquered Scotland land might remain in the hands of chieftains conspicuous for Hanoverian loyalties whatever their brothers might have done, but loyalism meant the bond of Anglicization. Highlands and Islands were given over to the Cheviot, and the Stag (Unionist profits from the black, black oil came later). Ireland and England were Spanish satellites 1553-1558, Scotland a French satellite. Those particular bonds dissolved rapidly enough but in 1603 Scotland inherited England and begat all subsequent rulers (with the probable exception of Oliver Cromwell). All subsequent battles (Killiecrankie, the Boyne, Culloden) were family quarrels. James VI/I should receive more credit than he gets for establishing 400 years of monarchical descendants since his gender preferences were otherwise. It is not always sweet and decorous to end or begin life for one’s country, and Horace should have understood the variations. But it may be the unspoken bond. All bonnie princes are potential butchers.
Henry VIII’s nationalization of the Church of England created the Pope as England’s leading European security risk, meaning that Ireland facilitating a Papal or Spanish landing unless bonded down (be the bondage voluntary or involuntary) 1570-1659, subsequently a French landing (1688-1815), or a German landing (1914-45). In the heyday of Jsfmboe (1875-82), the origin of the security risk was Russia but nobody seems to have told the Russians. Today the bond uniting the archipelago is nominally anti-Russian or anti-Chinese. Actually the most likely menace to our survival is probably President Trump, especially if he loses the election of 2020. The ultimate bond is that we’ll all go together when we go.