Monday, 7 January 2019

Harriet Beecher Stowe and Charlotte Elizabeth

Harriet Beecher Stowe
Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) was an American abolitionist and author and she is best remembered as the author of Uncle Tom's Cabin..

She was born in Connecticut, the daughter of Rev Lyman Beecher, a Presbyterian minister, and had a good education.  

After that she settled in Cincinnati, Ohio, where her father was president of Lane Theological Seminary, and in due course she married Calvin Ellis Stowe, a Biblical scholar and a professor in the seminary.
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There had been racist riots in Cincinnati in 1829 when Irish-Americans attacked African-Americans.  Harriet met some of the African-Americans who had suffered in the attacks and when she heard their stories it confirmed her in her opposition to slavery.

Uncle Tom's Cabin was published in 1852 as an anti-slavery novel and it was the best-selling novel of the 19th century.  It was also the second best-selling book of the century, second only to the Bible.  Its first appearance in print was in 1851 as a 40-week serial in the National Era and then the following year it was published as a single volume.

In 1844 she wrote an introduction to The Works of Charlotte Elizabeth, which was published in three volumes.

Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna
These were the works of Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna (1790-1846), a British author who was born Charlotte Elizabeth Browne in Norfolk and was a daughter of a canon of Norwich Cathedral.  She married a British Army officer who had a small estate in Ireland but it was a very unhappy marriage and they separated about 1824.  After the death of her husband in Dublin in 1837, she married Lewis Tonna in 1841.

Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna was an evangelical Protestant and she wrote books, evangelistic tracts and poems on a variety of subjects but always from an evangelical perspective.  She also edited the Protestant Annual and The Christian Lady's Magazine and produced an abridged version of Foxe's Book of Martyrs.

Among her poems were hymns and also several written on Orange themes, including The Maiden City and No Surrender.  She was a fine poet and writing in 1899 the Irish Catholic editor D J O'Donoghue said: 'These are extremely vigorous and popular.  They are quite the best Orange songs that have ever been written.'

She also wrote a novel titled Derry: A Tale of the Revolution.

Sadly Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna is now largely forgotten but those who uphold the Protestant tradition in Ulster and who would share her evangelical Protestant faith could learn much from her fearless defence of truth. Harriet Beecher Stowe spoke well of her and so should we.

Thursday, 3 January 2019

More hypocrisy from Sinn Fein

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Sinn Fein commemoration for the Brookeborough IRA raid
In my Belfast Telegraph column today I highlighted the hypocrisy and inconsistency of Sinn Fein on New Year's Day in protesting against a 'drag hunt' in North Down in the morning and then commemorating and celebrating an IRA attack in the afternoon.

There is a Sinn Fein calendar of IRA commemorations and the Brookeborough event, which commemorates an IRA raid on 1 January 1957, marks the start of another year of that calendar of shame.

However the hypocrisy of Sinn Fein is further highlighted when we recall their voting record in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

When the Wildlife and Natural Environment Bill came before the Assembly in 2010 there was an amendment which placed a ban on hare coursing, and this was passed by 23 votes to 18.

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Hare coursing - backed by Sinn Fein
However when the Bill came back for its Further Consideration stage on 7 February 2011 the Sinn Fein MLA Francie Molloy, now the Sinn Fein MP for Mid-Ulster, attempted to amend it and prevent a complete ban on hare coursing.  Indeed during the debate he said, 'I support coursing'.

In the end his attempt was voted down by 53 votes to 33 but that 33 included Molloy and the other Sinn Fein MLAs.  

Sinn Fein supported hare coursing but oppose fox hunting.

So the next time Sinn Fein attempt to assert their 'progressive party' credentials by protesting against fox hunting, it is worth remembering that the party backed the retention of hare coursing.