There is something Griceian about Yeats – and in fact, there is something
Griceian about the Irish government – or something Irish governmental about
Grice – your pick.
But the good news is that at long last the Irish government has intervened to
save some personal effects of W. B. Yeats, an Irish poet, from sale. (The
coincidence is that both H. P. Grice and W. B. Yeats went by initials).
Amid fears that culturally significant items that belonged to W. B. Yeats (not
H. P. Grice) would be sold, the Irish government itself (or ‘themselves,’ as
Grice implicates – ‘surery there’s more than one individual, in Strawson’s
usage of this Aristotelian term of art that the Irish government must involve”
– Strawson, “Individuals: an essay in descriptive metaphysics) announced it had
secured the purchase of a portion of the collection ahead of an auction.
Over 200 lots of paintings, sketches and personal effects from Yeats and his
family members were sold in an auction at Sotheby’s, fetching $2.7 million.
However, Yeats’s writing bureau sold to a private bidder for five times the
estimated auction price. (“And what am I going to do with it, now?” she
But the most valuable lot in the sale, a cache of love letters between Yeats
and one Olivia Shakespear failed to sell. (Yeats constantly misspells Olivia’s
surname as “Shakespeare,” “for implicature effect,” Grice annotates).
The Irish arts minister, Heather Humphreys, has now announced that her
department had provided $763,000, in funding to the National Museum of Ireland
and the National Library of Ireland to buy “significant items of the
collection” – where she is using ‘item’ and ‘significant’ alla Peirce – on whom
Grice lectured – and on behalf of the Irish state. (For surely the Irish state
cannot be _present_ -- cfr. the recent controversy as to whether a river can
The library and the museum – or rather the people ‘working’ therein -- selected
the items for purchase themselves, and they were withdrawn from the auction in
The items acquired by the museum include very Griceian objects-d’art:
a walnut table, a Burmese chest in which Yeats stored manuscripts
a series of Japanese masks, and
a collection of objects that show the influence of occultism and spiritualism
on Yeats’s oeuvre (“if any,” Grice adds for implicature effect.)
The announcement that the Irish government would intervene was made after
high-profile Irish literary, artistic and academic figures decried the sale –
in a BIG EXPLICATRE!! -- as a great loss to the country’s cultural heritage.
Christopher Morash, of Trinity (where Donleavy’s “Ginger man” attended, and
indeed Donleavy his self) was one of many who urged the government to keep the
collection within (rather than without) Ireland.
Morash says: "I am delighted to see that the Irish government acted so
promptly, and wisely, too, in allowing the key cultural institutions to decide
which significant items are most important to preserve in public ownership.”
A letter was signed by Morash along with other academics and Irish luminaries,
including Marie Heaney, Paul Muldoon and Michael Longley, which (the letter,
that is) called on the Irish government to prevent the collection being sold.
“Preserving such a collection for the benefit of Ireland has to be within the
power of the Irish government and the national institutions concerned,” the
letter reads (or rather, one reads as one reads the letter – “but ‘a letter
reads’ triggers the right implicature,” Grice allows. “It’s a metaphor, in
"Once the collection is broken up and sold, the chance will not come again,”
the letter reads.
An op-ed in “The Irish Times” before the auction says:
"Far too much of Ireland’s literary heritage has made its way into private
individuals” (where the usage is, again, alla Strawson’s “Individuals: an essay
in descriptive metaphysics.”)
A statement from the department of culture said the Irish government’s action
was not a last-minute intervention and had been in the works for some time (“if
not centuries,” Grice jokes).
“Over the past nine months, I have been working with the National Library and
the National Museum to ensure the purchase for the Irish state of significant
items, as identified by both institutions, which were due to be auctioned,”
Humphrey adds that, over the past years, the Irish state has acquired material
from the Yeats family collection worth a total of approximately €4 million.
(“Wow,” Grice implicated).
Adrian Paterson, of The National University of Ireland, Galway and another
signatory to the letter to the department of culture, says that while the
state’s intervention is welcome, it does not go far enough (Grice glosses: “He
possibly implicates: ‘what happens at Trinity, stays at Trinity.”)
“This is not a victory for Ireland but at best a fighting retreat,” Paterson
“It does not keep the collection together.” – implicating this is a bad thing –
cfr. the Grice collection, dispersed all over the globe.
"The chance to acquire from the Yeats family home will never come again,” he
added, uttering what Aristotle calls a future contingent, “but giving it the
air of an analytic statement,” Grice adds, quoting from his “Defense of a
dogma,” co-written with Strawson. (Popper denied analyticity to ‘chance’
The items came from The Cliff House, the home of W. B. Yeats’s son, Michael
The sale was made by W. B. Yeats’s three grandchildren, who have donated
(rather) items from their family’s estate to Irish cultural institutions in the
The family sold correspondence between W. B. Yeats and James Joyce (whom Popper
mentions in terms of his ‘stream-of-consciousness’, that Kerouac borrowed from
Neal Cassady) to Ireland’s National Library, and the Irish government provided
€500,000 (in cash) toward the sale.
However, the Irish government was criticised (there are always Griceian
critics) for passing up the opportunity to purchase the surrender letter of
Padraig Pearse, leader of the Easter Rising, when it went up for auction in
Dublin. (This letter does not compare to Cassady’s, incidentally --).
“Ireland uses its remarkable pre-eminence in literature and art to sell itself
around the world,” Paterson adds, “if I can speak crudely,” he adds for
“It is a shame that this has not been matched by sufficient conviction of its
worth at home,” where by ‘home’ he does not mean HIS home, but His Home, if you
catch the Griceian implicature – or even if you don’t!
Incidentally, the most Griceian of Yeats’s poems is memorised by ‘heart’ by
Griceians of course!