Ireland’s fine timber

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May 10, 2017 by AK

Prompted by Language Hat’s latest post on Ivan Goncharov’s Oblomov, I wondered if its protagonist could be described as “fine-souled” and ran a Google search for the expression. The second link on the results page brought me this:

Here the sensitive and fine-souled author of “Psyche” died.

I thought of Keats (Ode to Psyche) but he died in Italy. The “here” above refers to a place in Ireland and the author of Psyche is Mary Tighe (1772-1810). What’s amusing about this passage from The Miseries and Beauties of Ireland by Jonathan Binns (Vol. 2, 1837) is the use of “fine” in two consecutive sentences, the third and fourth in this paragraph:

At Innistiogue we recrossed the Nore by a bridge of ten arches, near which is a salmon fishery. A short distance below the village, on the southern bank of the river, stands Woodstock, the seat of Mr. and Lady Louisa Tighe. Here the sensitive and fine-souled author of “Psyche” died. Woodstock is one of the most lovely places in Ireland, abounding in fine timber. On the western bank of the river is a wood, which covers no less than five hundred acres of ground.

One is tempted to quote Kant on the crooked timber business at this point, holding up Woodstock, Kilkenny, as a possible counterexample.


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