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Select Document: John Hampden Jackson, ‘Finland and Ireland: assorted comparisons’ (1937)

  • Andrew G. Newby (a1) and Richard Mc Mahon (a1)

This select document is an annotated translation of John Hampden Jackson’s 1937 Finnish-language text ‘Finland and Ireland: assorted comparisons’, an article previously unavailable in English. It represents an intriguing and extended instance of the generalised comparisons that were made between Irish and Finnish history by observers from the nineteenth century onwards. Therefore, as an example of a mid-twentieth-century primer of the two countries’ ‘parallel histories’, Hampden Jackson’s article is an excellent resource. Moreover, although Hampden Jackson had carved out a niche by the 1930s as an expert on Finland, his reflections on Ireland expose a rather patchy and superficial knowledge, and arguably a degree of condescension. Some of the value of translating this article is that it exposes attitudes of the (broadly-defined) British Left towards Ireland in the 1930s, and particularly the way these were presented, in comparisons with other countries, to an overseas audience.

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      Select Document: John Hampden Jackson, ‘Finland and Ireland: assorted comparisons’ (1937)
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* Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies, Aarhus University, Denmark, and Department of History, Trinity College Dublin,
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1 Evening Herald, 19 Nov. 1904.

2 Freeman’s Journal, 10 Aug. 1910.

3 Tuam Herald, 27 Oct. 1923.

4 Jackson, John Hampden, ‘Suomi ja Irlanti: eräitä vertauskohtia’ in Suomalainen Suomi, no. 6 (Oct. 1937), pp 415421 .

5 Liverpool Daily Post, 2 Mar. 1940.

6 The complete works of George Orwell: a kind of compulsion, 1903–1936, eds Peter Davison, Ian Angus and Sheila Davison (London, 1998), p. 493.

7 Mary Salinsky, ‘Writing British national history in the twentieth century’ (Ph.D. thesis, King’s College, London, 2013), p. 220; The Independent (London), 9 Oct. 2008.

8 Morgan, Elaine, Knock ‘em cold, kid (Kibworth Beauchamp, 2012), p. 51 .

9 Frank H. Simonds’s review of John Hampden Jackson, The post-war world: a short political history, 1918–1934 (London, 1935), in Saturday Review of Literature (20 July 1935), pp 6–7.

10 The Guardian, 21 Sept. 1989.

11 Marley, Laurence, ‘Introduction’ in idem (ed.), The British Labour Party and twentieth-century Ireland: the cause of Ireland, the cause of labour (Manchester, 2016), p. 7 . See also Gibbons, Ivan, The British Labour Party and the establishment of the Irish Free State, 1918–1924 (Basingstoke, 2015).

12 Kerrane, Kevin, ‘Orwell’s Ireland’ in Irish Review, nos 3637 (2007), p. 14 .

13 This strengthened during the Second World War. Perhaps no better example of Hampden Jackson’s faith in ‘Britishness’ can be found than his article ‘A forgotten ideal’ in The Spectator, 26 Oct. 1944. Here, he argued that to British readers, ‘It is right that we should be modest about our national achievement, proper that we should realise our shortcomings and the need to repair the ravages of laissez-faire and class inequalities. But at the risk of sinful pride we should remind ourselves that for a hundred years and more the people of Europe have looked to us for a model.’

14 Carrington, Charles E. and Jackson, John Hampden, A history of England (London, 1932), pp 767768 .

15 Orwell quoted in Erika Gottlieb, The Orwell conundrum: a cry of despair or faith in the spirit of man (Ottawa, 1992), p. 57 .

16 In The post-war world, he noted that the British ‘almost executed a lean crow of a man who gave his name as Eamon de Valera, but reprieved him because he had been born in America’ (Hampden Jackson, The post-war world, p. 91). In England since the Industrial Revolution, Hampden Jackson wrote: ‘Only one leader was reprieved, and that was because he had been born in America and the English were anxious not to offend the United States just when there was a chance that they would come in to the World War on the English side. The name of the reprieved man was Eamonn [sic] de Valera.’ See Jackson, John Hampden, England since the Industrial Revolution, 1815–1948 (Rev. ed., London, 1949) pp 167168 .

17 Bluemel, Kristin, George Orwell and the radical eccentrics: intermodernism in literary London (Basingstoke, 2004), p. 70 .

18 Cambridge Daily News, 2 Dec. 1939.

19 Teljo was sub-editor of Suomalainen Suomi magazine in 1937, during which time Hampden Jackson contributed three articles. Teljo was also a translator of various works into Finnish, notably Trevelyan’s History of England (published as G. M. Trevelyan, Englannin historia (Porvoo, 1948)).

20 Ylioppilas, 12 Apr. 1933; Jussi Teljo, Suomalaisuusliikkeen Tehtävät (Porvoo, 1935); Hämeläinen, Pekka Kalevi, Kielitaistelu Suomessa, 1917–1939 (Helsinki, 1968), pp 192, 232 .

21 Jackson, John Hampden, ‘Englantilainen tekee havaintoja Suomesta’ in Suomalainen Suomi, no. 2 (Mar. 1937), pp 107112 ; idem, ‘Muuttuva Englanti’, Suomalainen Suomi, no. 8 (Dec. 1937), pp 567–73. Elsewhere, see: John Hampden Jackson, ‘German interventions in Finland, 1918’ in Slavonic and East European Review, xviii (1939), pp 93–101; idem, ‘Russian control in Finland’ in Contemporary Review, clxx (Aug. 1946), pp 69–72; idem, ‘Finland since the armistice’ in International Affairs, xxiv, no. 4 (Oct. 1948), pp 505–14; idem, ‘Russia, Finland and Estonia’ in Contemporary Review, clxxxi (June 1952), pp 334–7; idem, ‘Finland’s reparations’ in World Today, viii, no. 7 (July 1952), pp 307–14; idem, ‘Resettlement of Karelian refugees’ in World Today, ix, no. 6 (June 1953), pp 249–56. In addition to his academic and political reflections, Hampden Jackson featured on Yleisradio (national broadcaster) radio programmes in Finland in the late 1940s and 1950s, e.g.: Sunday 13 Feb. 1949 – John Hampden Jackson, ‘Englantilais-Suomalaisia Suhteita: 1 – Historiallinen Tausta’, [‘English–Finnish Relations: 1 – Historical Background’]; Friday 26 June 1953 – John Hampden Jackson, ‘Vaikutelmia Suomesta’ [‘Impressions of Finland’]. See also, John Hampden Jackson, ‘Democracy in Finland’ (16 Jan. 1940) (Royal Institute of International Affairs, London, MS RIIA/8/611); idem, ‘The Finnish situation’ (20 May 1948) (ibid., MS RIIA/8/1542); idem, ‘Problems of Finland today’ (9 June 1953) (ibid., MS RIIA/8/2145). Hampden Jackson’s appearances on B.B.C. radio – e.g., in 1954, speaking on ‘Modern Art in Finland’ – also indicate that he was required to act as a general commentator on Finland (Belfast Telegraph, 18 Jan. 1954).

22 See Hampden Jackson, ‘Englantilainen tekee havaintoja Suomesta’. Some of this enthusiasm was based on the apparent defeat of fascism in Finland. In early 1938, Hampden Jackson penned an article entitled ‘Fascism in Finland’ for the New Statesman, in which he argued that only one country in the world had seen a ‘fully-fledged fascist movement’ decline in influence after initial success, and ‘that country was Finland’. The right-wing Finnish nationalist Lapua League, which had been founded in 1929 was outlawed after the Mäntsälä Rebellion in 1932, an attempted coup d’état, and its influence gradually declined. This article received particular attention in Finland. See: John Hampden Jackson, ‘Fascism in Finland’ in New Statesman and Nation, xv (Jan. 1938), pp 4–6.

23 Jackson, John Hampden, Finland (2nd ed., London, 1940), p. 16 .

The first edition of this work was an inspiration for Revd Edward J. Coyne’s comparative article ‘Finland and its lessons for Ireland’ in Studies, xxviii, no. 112 (Dec. 1939), pp 651–61.

24 Hampden Jackson, Finland, p. 17.

25 Rothery, Agnes, ‘Four books on Finland’ in Saturday Review of Literature (2 Mar. 1940), p. 10 .

26 Page references corresponding to the original Finnish text are included in square brackets in the translation below.

27 Eric’s crusade (or invasion) is said to have taken place two decades ahead of Diarmait Mac Murchada’s invitation to Henry II to intervene in Leinster. The traditional historical narrative describes the First Swedish Crusade as taking place around 1150, with the goal of converting heathen Finns to Christianity. Researchers have questioned the historicity of these events. See: Murray, Alan V., Crusade and conversion on the Baltic frontier, 1150–1500 (London, 2001), p. 123 .

28 The reference here is to the papal bull Laudabiliter, issued by Pope Adrian IV in 1155, in which Henry II was given papal blessing for an intended invasion of Ireland to root out evil and extend the boundaries of the church. This was issued apparently at Henry’s request but historians now identify the church of Canterbury as the prime mover. In any case, Henry II did not act on Laudabiliter and when he did go to Ireland in 1171, it was to enforce his power on the Anglo-Norman barons recruited by Diarmait Mac Murchada as much as, or more than, a personal wish to invade and hold Ireland as part of his empire. While in Ireland, however, Henry held a reforming church council. See: Marie Therese Flanagan, Irish society, Anglo-Norman settlers, Angevin kingship, interactions in Ireland in the late twelfth century (Oxford, 1989). We are grateful to Dr Margaret Murphy (Carlow College) for the above note and for further clarification on some of the finer details of Irish medieval history in the notes that follow. See, in particular, notes 29, 31, 32 and 34.

29 Henry II, it might be noted, did not engage in a single battle while in Ireland.

30 Turku, in southwestern Finland, was founded in 1229, and its castle dates from the 1280s. The territory of ‘Finland’ at this time was not clearly defined. The first formal delineation of Finland’s eastern border did not occur until the Treaty of Pähkinasaari between Sweden and Russia (Novgorod) in 1323. See: Pirjo Jukarainen, ‘The boundaries of Finland in transition’ in Fennia, clxxx, nos 1–2 (2002), pp 83–8 (figure 1).

31 The Irish form would be de Búrca, with Burke as the Anglicised form. The practice of the English in Ireland adopting Irish forms of their names was specifically forbidden by the Statute of Kilkenny, 1366.

32 At the height of English power in medieval Ireland about two-thirds of the country had been colonised and was nominally loyal to the English crown. This area rapidly contracted thereafter but the statement that the power of the English kings hardly reached further than Dublin is an exaggeration even with reference to the fifteenth century. See: Frame, Robin, Colonial Ireland, 1169–1369 (2 nd ed., Dublin, 2012).

33 i.e., Russia.

34 Richard’s expeditions of 1394 and 1399 were primarily to obtain the subjection of the Irish kings and return Ireland to profitability for the English crown. In 1394 he did propose some measures for ‘civilising’ the Irish kings but there was no great will on either side to carry on with this experiment after the king returned to England.

35 Gustav I Vasa (1496–1560) is generally credited with creating a centralised Swedish state, through administrative reforms and the creation of a powerful army and navy.

36 Poynings’ Law, 1494, laid down that no legislation could be enacted by the Irish parliament until it had been inspected and approved by the king and his council in England. Gustav I Vasa took the Swedish throne in 1523, after the end of the Kalmar Union. Gustav I instigated a Protestant Reformation in 1527, but it was a gradual process rather than a revolution, and was only confirmed by the victory of Charles IX over the Catholic king, Sigismund, in 1598.

37 The centralisation of the Swedish state (including Finland) did indeed precipitate considerable population movement. Members of the higher nobility in Finland tended to settle around the royal court in Stockholm, but at the same time, as Hampden Jackson notes here, there were opportunities for lesser nobles from all over the Swedish realm to gain offices in Finland. The late sixteenth century also saw the large-scale movement of Finns from Häme and Savo to various parts of Sweden and, later, Norway. These ‘Forest Finns’ were initially encouraged by the Swedish monarchs as they settled large areas of previously uninhabited land.

38 James I’s plantations also featured a considerable English contingent, though Hampden Jackson might have simplified this for narrative purposes, and to reflect James’s own Scottish origins.

39 The Baltic nobility were a privileged class of families – originally largely of German background – who resided in the Baltic states and provided officers for the Swedish and Polish kings.

40 This is an exaggeration, as Catholics did operate at the lowest levels of state administration as, for instance, local constables. See: Garnham, Neal, The courts, crime and the criminal law in Ireland, 1692–1760 (Dublin, 1996), pp 2930 .

41 As political relations between Sweden and Russia deteriorated, Catherine the Great had given some encouragement to the small Finnish separatist group led by George (or Göran) Magnus Sprengtporten (1740–1819). See: Oakley, Stewart P., War and peace in the Baltic, 1560–1790 (London, 1992), pp 153154 ; Derry, T. K., A history of Scandinavia (London, 1979), pp 189192 .

42 Gustaf Mauritz Armfelt (1757–1814). Despite a somewhat turbulent relationship with the Swedish King Gustav III, Armfelt distinguished himself as an officer in the Swedish army and, in 1792, was appointed guardian of the infant Gustav IV. Russia’s defeat of Sweden in 1809 led to the abdication of Gustaf IV, and also cost Sweden its Finnish territories. Armfelt subsequently became an adviser to Tsar Alexander I and is credited with convincing Alexander to recognise Finland as a ‘Grand Duchy of the Russian Empire’, therefore giving the Finns an opportunity to develop an autonomous state in the nineteenth century. See: Kirby, David, A concise history of Finland (Cambridge, 2006), pp 7174 .

43 Hampden Jackson seems to have been unaware of the life and career of Johan Anders Jägerhorn, a Finnish nobleman and army officer. In 1788 Jägerhorn was implicated in a plot against the Swedish king, and of advocating Finnish sovereignty, for which act of treason he was exiled to Germany. In Hamburg he got to know Lord Edward FitzGerald. As an agent of the French, Jägerhorn met with FitzGerald to discuss the 1798 invasion plans, only for the Finn to be arrested by the English and imprisoned for two years in the Tower of London. In 1982, Des O’Malley unveiled a plaque outside Jägerhorn’s house in Porvoo. See: Etelä-Suomen Sanomat, 7 Apr. 1982; Weber, Paul, On the road to rebellion: the United Irishmen and Hamburg, 1796–1803 (Dublin, 1997), pp 5960 . The connection of Jägerhorn to the United Irishmen was reasonably well-known and it is conceivable that Hampden Jackson was seeking to maintain a strictly comparative narrative without intertwining historical threads.

44 French troops, under the command of General Hoche, did not land in Ireland and references to slaughter are unfounded. For the best guide to the 1790s, see Bartlett, Thomas, Dickson, David, Keogh, Dáire and Whelan, Kevin (eds), 1798: a bicentenary perspective (Dublin, 2003).

45 Although not expressed explicitly here, Hampden Jackson would have expected his Finnish readers to contrast this with the momentous events of 1809, when Finland passed from being part of the Swedish kingdom to being a self-governing grand duchy of the Russian tsar.

46 There were, of course, a series of Catholic relief acts in Ireland in the closing decades of the eighteenth century that introduced more than ‘a hint of tolerance’ for Catholics, allowing them to hold, in theory at least, a series of important positions within Irish society. On the relief acts of 1778, 1782, 1792 and 1793, see Bartlett, Thomas, The fall and rise of the Irish nation: the Catholic question, 1690–1830 (Dublin, 1992). It is likely that, for Hampden Jackson, Daniel O’Connell’s international fame would make 1829 a more recognisable date for a Finnish readership.

47 In highlighting a demand for ‘independence’ (itsenäisyys) rather than self-government (itsehallinto), Hampden Jackson conflated here the home rule demands of the Parnellites with the republican separatism of the Fenians / I.R.B. In so doing, he arguably simplified, misunderstood or misrepresented the chronology of the Irish nationalist movement.

48 Despite Hampden Jackson’s poetic prose, of course, Frederick Cavendish and his assistant Thomas Henry Burke were stabbed to death by the Invincibles in the Phoenix Park in 1882, and not shot.

49 As it had been a part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and governed from London, the implication that Ireland was ‘neutral’ is misleading. A stronger comparison would have been an exploration of the ‘special’ status that Finland and Ireland had been granted over conscription.

50 Although there are few examples of direct links between Finns and Irish agitators during the First World War, Germany was actively engaged with nationalists from both countries. The British ambassador in Sweden, Sir Esme Howard, also acknowledged that, having failed with the Easter Rising in Dublin, and with the Verdun offensive having stalled, the Germans would be seeking new opportunities to create chaos. Howard’s report to London quoted a local political informant that ‘whenever a big military movement came to naught the Germans promptly turned to political intriguing, in order to create a diversion both at home and in the field’. With Verdun at a stalemate, ‘the nearest result was the uprising in Ireland’. After its failure, ‘something else has to be thought of. Undoubtedly the turn has now come to Finland and Sweden’. See: Jeffery, Keith, 1916: a global history (London, 2015), p. 103 .

51 Teutophile academics in Helsinki launched a secret recruitment drive for the German army. When it became known in September 1914 that a new Russification scheme was planned, activity increased among those who hoped to take advantage of the international situation, and profit from German assistance, guns and pressure. Some 2,000 Finns travelled in secret to Hamburg for military training. They would form the Twenty-Seventh Prussian Jaeger Brigade. They did see action on the Eastern Front rather than in Finland, and returned to fight for the Whites in the Finnish Civil War.

52 Roger Casement’s treatment in Hampden Jackson & Carrington’s schoolbook A history of England was even less sympathetic; he was dismissed as a ‘fanatic called Casement’ (Carrington & Hampden Jackson, A history of England, p. 766).

53 Hampden Jackson had previously referred to the Easter Rising as a ‘mad, mad escapade’ in The post war world, p. 91.

54 Finland’s Civil War (1918) has been the subject of concerted comparative analysis with the Irish case by Bill Kissane, who has written that ‘the very moment Finland and Ireland asserted their claims to independence, statehood revealed the depths of their internal divisions’ (Bill Kissane, ‘Victory in defeat? National identity after civil war in Finland and Ireland’ in John A. Hall and Siniša Malešević (eds), Nationalism and war (Cambridge, 2013), pp 322–3; A. G. Newby, Éire na Rúise: An Fhionlainn agus Éire ar thóir na saoirse (Dublin, 2016), pp 115–16). To give some statistical context, the Finnish Civil War resulted in over nine times more deaths than the Irish case (approximately 36,000 in Finland), arising from a conflict that lasted just over three months (as opposed to just short of eleven months in Ireland). Hampden Jackson sidestepped mentioning the Finnish case explicitly in his text, probably because this would have meant an unavoidable choice of label to describe the conflict. The victorious Whites recalled the ‘War of Liberation’ (implying a fight for national freedom from Russia), which only gradually (by the 1960s) came to be replaced by more neutral terms such as ‘civil war’ or ‘internal war’. See: Tuomas Tepora and Aapo Roselius, ‘Introduction: the Finnish Civil War, revolution and scholarship’ in idem, The Finnish Civil War, 1918: history, memory, legacy (Leiden, 2014), pp 6–7. In his 1938 English-language account, Finland, Hampden Jackson allowed himself space to express some of this nuance: ‘The civil war is officially known today in Finland as the War of Independence, the implication being that the Whites fought for Finland’s independence against Russian Bolsheviks and the misguided proletariat whom the Russians had fooled into supporting them … the truth, however, is not so simple’ (Hampden Jackson, Finland, pp 141–42).

55 Presumably referring to the Scot, Thomas Cochrane, tenth earl of Dundonald, a storied officer in the British navy, nicknamed ‘the sea-wolf’ by Napoleon. Hampden Jackson is employing here an extremely liberal definition of ‘Irish roots’. See: Grimble, Ian, The sea wolf: the life of Admiral Cochrane (Edinburgh, 2000).

56 Hampden Jackson here seems to be conflating ‘Anglo-Irish’ with Irish (and Irish-American) literary figures who worked through the medium of English.

57 Karelia was in many respects the heartland of Finnish national identity, and its people presented as the culture-bearers of Finnish music and poetry. Lönnrot’s ethnographical investigations in the region, resulting in the publication of Kalevala in 1835, underpinned subsequent constructions of a Finnish ‘national’ history. See: Pertti Antonen, ‘The Kalevala and the authenticity debate’ in Bak, János M., Geary, Patrick J. and Klanczay, Gábor (eds), Manufacturing a past for the present: forgery and authenticity in medievalist texts and objects in nineteenth-century Europe (Leiden, 2014), pp 6162 ; Fewster, Derek, Visions of past glory: nationalism and the construction of early Finnish history (Helsinki, 2006), p. 94 . The first edition of Kalevala was published by the Finnish Literature Society: Lönnrot, Elias, Kalewala taikka Wanhoja Karjalan runoja Suomen Kansan muinosista ajoista (Helsinki, 1835).

58 Standish O’Grady and Douglas Hyde, for example, have been compared to Lönnrot in the sense of being national ‘culture-givers’. See: Foster, John Wilson, Fictions of the Irish literary revival: a changeling art (Syracuse, 1987), p. 20 . In his 1904 account, William Alexander Henderson also referred to Lönnrot as ‘a scholar after the stamp of Eugene O’Curry or Douglas Hyde’ (Evening Herald, 19 Nov. 1904). It should be noted, of course, that there was a strong Irish language manuscript tradition for centuries prior to the publication of Hampden Jackson’s article.

59 Jöröjukka is the Finnish name of the German folk character Der Struwwelpeter (Shock-headed Peter). The implication here is that the inland Finns of the Häme region would be considered morose or grumpy in Irish eyes, unlike the Karelians.

60 Blatherer.

61 The magazine Suomalainen Suomi was in many respects a product of the language contention between Finnish and Swedish in Finland, and this seems to have been an important point of comparison for both Hampden Jackson and his editor.

62 Johan Ludvig Runeberg (1804–1877) was one of the nation builders of the nineteenth century, a Swedish-speaking Finn who nonetheless seemed to present the essence of the Finnish land and people through his poems. He became the acknowledged national poet of Finland, and composed the song Vårt Land / Maamme which became the national anthem of independent Finland.

63 Johan Vilhelm Snellman (1806–1881) was, like Runeberg, a leading figure in Finland’s national movement in the nineteenth century. An essentially conservative figure in many respects, he promoted the Finnish language as an essential ingredient of nationhood, and he helped to establish Finnish as an official language in 1863. Hampden Jackson’s main point here is that many of the leading Finnish nationalists, and promoters of the Finnish language, came themselves from Swedish-speaking backgrounds.

64 See: Coleman, Michael C., ‘“You might all be speaking Finnish today”: language change in nineteenth century Finland and Ireland’ in Scandinavian Journal of History, xxxv, no. 1 (2010), pp 4464 . In Finland, Hampden Jackson continued this flattery of his Finnish-speaking Finnish friends: ‘The Gaelic enthusiasts were as uncompromising as the Finns in their triumph were generous; the Gaels have not yet found a modus vivendi with the Anglo-Irish while the Finns have reconciled, if they have not quite finally appeased, the Swedo-Finns’ (Hampden Jackson, Finland, p. 17).

65 Again, he seems to have been reassured by his Finnish colleagues that the language question was now settled in Finland: ‘In fact the language quarrel in Finland, like the religious quarrel in Ireland, is an anachronism. The chief purpose it serves in this century is as a disguise for the new economic conflict between the old ruling class and the new’ (Hampden Jackson, Finland, pp 126–7).

66 Quite why Hampden Jackson considered there to be seven counties in Northern Ireland is not clear.

67 This comparison was the basis for one of the Free State’s earliest interventions in the League of Nations: ‘On their first appearance at Geneva, Irish delegates supported Finland in its dispute with the Soviet Union over autonomy for the Finnish-speaking province of Karelia (“a kind of Finnish Six Counties”) and took particular interest in the working of the League’s machinery for dealing with minorities’ ( Keown, Gerard, First of the small nations: the beginnings of Irish foreign policy in the interwar years, 1919–1932 (Oxford, 2016), p. 135).

68 This was a curious and largely invalid point of division to highlight given that there was broad agreement within Irish political life in the 1930s on the need to support the Irish language.

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