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Title: The Prose Works of Jonathan Swift, D.D. - Volume 07

Author: Jonathan Swift

Editor: Temple Scott

Release date: April 24, 2006 [eBook #18250]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Janet Blenkinship and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at (This file was
produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive/Million Book Project)


Transcriber's Note: This book is a compilation of previously published works and contains many inconsistencies.









In 12 volumes, 5s. each.

VOL. I.A TALE OF A TUB and other Early Works.
 Edited by Temple Scott. With a biographical introduction by
 W. E. H. Lecky, M.P. With Portrait and Facsimiles.
VOL. II.THE JOURNAL TO STELLA. Edited by Frederick
 Ryland, M.A. With two Portraits of Stella and a Facsimile of
 one of the Letters.
 Edited by Temple Scott. With Portraits and Facsimiles of Title-pages.
 Edited by Temple Scott. With Portrait and Facsimiles of Title-pages.
VOL. VI.THE DRAPIER'S LETTERS. Edited by Temple Scott.
  With Portrait, Reproductions of Wood's Coinage,
 and Facsimiles of Title-pages.
 Edited by Temple Scott. With Portrait and Facsimiles of Title-pages.
VOL. VIII.GULLIVER'S TRAVELS. Edited by G. Ravenscroft Dennis.
 With Portrait, Maps and Facsimiles.
 "TATLER," "SPECTATOR," &c. Edited by Temple Scott.
 With Portrait.
VOL. X.HISTORICAL WRITINGS. Edited by Temple Scott.
 With Portrait.
VOL. XI.LITERARY ESSAYS. Edited by Temple Scott.
 With Portrait.      [In the press.
 Together with an Essay on the Portraits of
 Swift, by the Hon. Sir Frederick Falkiner, K.C. With two
 Portraits.      [In the press.


"An adequate edition of Swift—the whole of Swift, and nothing but Swift—has long been one of the pressing needs of students of English literature. Mr. Temple Scott, who is preparing the new edition of Swift's Prose Works, has begun well, his first volume is marked by care and knowledge. He has scrupulously collated his texts with the first or the best early editions, and has given various readings in the footnotes.... Mr. Temple Scott may well be congratulated on his skill and judgment as a commentator.... He has undoubtedly earned the gratitude of all admirers of our greatest satirist, and all students of vigorous, masculine, and exact English."—Athenæum.

"The volume is an agreeable one to hold and to refer to, and the notes and apparatus are, on the whole, exact. A cheap and handy reprint, which we can conscientiously recommend."—Saturday Review.

"From the specimen now before us we may safely predict that Mr. Temple Scott will easily distance both Roscoe and Scott. He deserves the gratitude of all lovers of literature for enabling Swift again to make his bow to the world in so satisfactory and complete a garb."—Manchester Guardian.

"Mr. Temple Scott's introductions and notes are excellent in all respects, and this edition of Swift is likely to be one most acceptable to scholars."—Notes and Queries.

"The new Bohn's Library edition of the prose works of Jonathan Swift is a venture which proves itself the more welcome as each instalment is issued.... This edition is likely long to remain the standard edition."—Literary World.

"'Bohn's Libraries' need no push, and the magnificent edition of 'The Prose Works of Jonathan Swift,' edited by Mr. Temple Scott, is in every respect worthy of that great collection of classics. It is an ideal edition, edited by an ideal editor, beautifully printed, handsomely bound, and ridiculously cheap. I have no hesitation in saying that this edition supersedes all its forerunners."—Star.

"We have nothing but praise for the editing, annotating, printing, and general production. Indeed, now that the set has advanced so far, we can safely pronounce the opinion that all other editions of Swift must give place to it, and that no serious student of the politics of the eighteenth century can afford to be without these volumes.... A superb edition."—Irish Times.

"Edited with exhaustive care, and produced in excellent style. This is not only the best, it is the only edition of Swift."—Pall Mall Gazette.

"There could hardly be a more acceptable addition to Bohn's Standard Library than a new edition of Swift's Prose Works. The text is well printed, and the volume is of convenient size. The edition deserves to be popular, since Swift is a writer who will always be read, while this edition will bring him within reach of a number of new readers."—Scotsman.

"The time is now ripe for a definite edition. This, of which the first volume lies before us, promises to fulfil all the conditions of a scholarly and satisfying work.... The edition is a genuine gain to English literature."—Birmingham Post.

"The publishers of Bohn's Libraries will earn the thanks of a wide circle of readers by their undertaking to produce a popular and collected edition of the prose works of Swift.... So far as one may judge from a first instalment, the present edition seems to fulfil the requirements of popularity and accuracy as well as could be desired.... The edition promises to be one of the most valuable and welcome items in those classic 'Libraries' which have done so much to bring good literature, in worthy form, within the reach of the British public."—Glasgow Herald.

"We are indebted to the proprietors of the Bohn Libraries for various literary enterprises, but it is questionable indeed if they have issued lately a work more acceptable, or likely to become more popular, than 'The Prose Works of Jonathan Swift.' No better edition of it could be desired. Mr. Temple Scott is editing the volumes with the greatest care."—Belfast News Letter.

"No more welcome reprint has appeared for some time past than the new edition, complete and exact so far as it was possible to make it, of Swift's 'Journal to Stella.'"—Morning Post.

"By far the most satisfactory text yet printed of the wonderful 'Journal to Stella.'"—Newcastle Daily Chronicle.

"The 'Journal to Stella' has long stood in need of editing, far more than any other of Swift's works. It abounds in references to persons great and small, to political and social 'occurrents,' to ephemeral publications; and to identify and explain all these demands an editor steeped in the history, literature, broadsides and press news of the time of the Harley administration. Mr. Ryland's present edition will satisfy all but the few who dream of an ideal."—Athenæum.

"The immortal 'Journal to Stella,' one of the works most indispensable to a knowledge of the life and literature of the early part of the eighteenth century. We know of no shape in which the Journal is published so convenient for perusal as this. The notes are short and serviceable, and there is a full index."—Notes and Queries.

"At last we have a well-printed, carefully edited text of Swift's famous Journal in a single, handy, and cheap volume. The present edition will, we hope, encourage many timid souls, who have been awed by the formidable array of Scott, Sheridan, or Hawkesworth's editions, to make the acquaintance of the most interesting, charming, and tender journal that ever man kept for a woman's eye."—St. James's Gazette.

"Mr. Dennis is quite justified in his boast of now first giving us a complete and trustworthy text [of 'Gulliver's Travels']."—Manchester Guardian.

"The number of useless reprints of Gulliver, based on Hawkesworth's untrustworthy edition, and mostly expurgated besides, is so great that we owe double thanks to Mr. Dennis, since he has not shirked the trouble of collating the five earliest editions, and has given us again at last—as far as is possible in the present case—the complete and authentic text of the original."—Prof. Max Förster in Anglia.

"An ideal text of 'Gulliver's Travels.'"—Literary World.

"The best and most scholarly edition of 'Gulliver's Travels.'"—University Correspondent.


Jonathan Swift
From an engraving by Andrew Miller after the painting
by Francis Bindon in the Deanery of St. Patrick's Dublin.


Swift took up his permanent residence in the Irish capital in 1714. The Harley Administration had fallen never to rise again. Harley himself was a prisoner in the Tower, and Bolingbroke a voluntary exile in France, and an open adherent of the Pretender. Swift came to Dublin to be met by the jeers of the populace, the suspicion of the government officials, and the polite indifference of his clerical colleagues. He had time enough now in which to reflect and employ his brain powers. For several years he kept himself altogether to his duties as Dean of the Cathedral of St. Patrick's, only venturing his pen in letters to dear friends in England—to Pope, Atterbury, Lady Howard. His private relations with Miss Hester Vanhomrigh came to a climax, also, during this period, and his peculiar intimacy with "Stella" Johnson took the definite shape in which we now know it.

He found himself in debt to his predecessor, Sterne, for a large and comfortless house and for the cost of his own installation into his office. The money he was to have received (£1,000) to defray these expenses, from the last administration, was now, on its fall, kept back from him. Swift had these encumbrances to pay off and he had his Chapter to see to. He did both in characteristic fashion. By dint of almost penurious saving he accomplished the former and the latter he managed autocratically and with good sense. His connection with Oxford and Bolingbroke had been of too intimate a nature for those in power to ignore him. Indeed,[Pg x] his own letters to Knightley Chetwode[1] show us that he was in great fear of arrest. But there is now no doubt that the treasonable relations between Harley and St. John and the Pretender were a great surprise to Swift when they were discovered. He himself had always been an ardent supporter of the Protestant succession, and his writings during his later period in Ireland constantly emphasize this attitude of his—almost too much so.

The condition of Ireland as Swift found it in 1714, and as he had known of it even before that time, was of a kind to rouse a temper like his to quick and indignant expression. Even as early as the spring of 1716 we find him unable to restrain himself, and in his letter to Atterbury of April 18th we catch the spirit which, four years later, showed itself in "The Proposal for the Universal Use of Irish Manufactures" and the "Drapier's Letters," and culminated in 1729 in the terrible "Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People from being a Burthen to their Parents." To Atterbury he wrote:

"I congratulate with England for joining with us here in the fellowship of slavery. It is not so terrible a thing as you imagine: we have long lived under it: and whenever you are disposed to know how to behave yourself in your new condition, you need go no further than me for a director. But, because we are resolved to go beyond you, we have transmitted a bill to England, to be returned here, giving the Government and six of the Council power for three years to imprison whom they please for three months, without any trial or examination: and I expect to be among the first of those upon whom this law will be executed."

Writing to Archdeacon Walls (May 5th, 1715)[2] of the people in power, he said:

"They shall be deceived as far as my power reaches, and [Pg xi]shall not find me altogether so great a cully as they would willingly make me."

At that time England was beginning to initiate a new method for what it called the proper government of Ireland. Hitherto it had tried the plan of setting one party in the country against another; but now a new party was called into being, known as the "English party." This party had nothing to do with the Irish national spirit, and any man, no matter how capable, who held by such a national spirit, was to be set aside. There was to be no Irish party or parties as such—there was to be only the English party governing Ireland in the interests of England. It was the beginning of a government which led to the appointment of such a man as Primate Boulter, who simply ruled Ireland behind the Lord Lieutenant (who was but a figurehead) for and on behalf of the King of England's advisers. Irish institutions, Irish ideas, Irish traditions, the Irish Church, Irish schools, Irish language and literature, Irish trade, manufactures, commerce, agriculture—all were to be subordinated to England's needs and England's demands. At any cost almost, these were to be made subservient to the interests of England. So well was this plan carried out, that Ireland found itself being governed by a small English clique and its Houses of Parliament a mere tool in the clique's hands. The Parliament no longer represented the national will, since it did really nothing but ratify what the English party asked for, or what the King's ministers in England instructed should be made law.

Irish manufactures were ruined by legislation; the commerce of Ireland was destroyed by the same means; her schools became practically penitentiaries to the Catholic children, who were compelled to receive a Protestant instruction; her agriculture was degraded to the degree that cattle could not be exported nor the wool sold or shipped from her own ports to other countries; her towns swarmed[Pg xii] with beggars and thieves, forced there by the desolation which prevailed in the country districts, where people starved by the wayside, and where those who lived barely kept body and soul together to pay the rents of the absentee landlords.

Swift has himself, in the pamphlets printed in the present volume, given a fairly accurate and no exaggerated account of the miserable condition of his country at this time; and his writings are amply corroborated by other men who might be considered less passionate and more temperate.

The people had become degraded through the evil influence of a contemptuous and spendthrift landlord class, who considered the tenant in no other light than as a rent-paying creature. As Roman Catholics they found themselves the social inferiors of the ruling Protestant class—the laws had placed them in that invidious position. They were practically without any defence. They were ignorant, poor, and half-starved. Thriftless, like their landlords, they ate up in the autumn what harvests they gathered, and begged for their winter's support. Adultery and incest were common and bred a body of lawless creatures, who herded together like wild beasts and became dangerous pests.

Swift knew all this. He had time, between the years 1714 and 1720, to find it out, even if he had not known of it before. But the condition was getting worse, and his heart filled, as he told Pope in 1728, with a "perfect rage and resentment" at "the mortifying sight of slavery, folly, and baseness about me, among which I am forced to live."

He commenced what might be called a campaign of attack in 1720, with the publication of his tract entitled, "A Modest Proposal for the Universal Use of Irish Manufactures." As has been pointed out in the notes prefixed to the pamphlets in the present volume, England had, apparently, gone to work systematically to ruin Irish manufactures. They seemed to threaten ruin to English industries; at least so the people in England thought. The pernicious legisla[Pg xiii]tion began in the reign of Charles II. and continued in that of William III. The Irish manufacturer was not permitted to export his products and found a precarious livelihood in a contraband trade. Swift's "Proposal" is one of retaliation. Since England will not allow Ireland to send out her goods, let the people of Ireland use them, and let them join together and determine to use nothing from England. Everything that came from England should be burned, except the people and the coal. If England had the right to prevent the exportation of the goods made in Ireland, she had not the right to prevent the people of Ireland from choosing what they should wear. The temper of the pamphlet was mild in the extreme; but the governing officials saw in it dangerous symptoms. The pamphlet was stigmatized as libellous and seditious, and the writer as attempting to disunite the two nations. The printer was brought to trial, and the pamphlet obtained a tremendous circulation. Although the jury acquitted the printer, Chief Justice Whitshed, who had, as Swift puts it, "so quick an understanding, that he resolved, if possible, to outdo his orders," sent the jury back nine times to reconsider their verdict. He even declared solemnly that the author's design was to bring in the Pretender. This cry of bringing in the Pretender was raised on any and every occasion, and has been well ridiculed by Swift in his "Examination of Certain Abuses and Corruptions in the City of Dublin." The end of Whitshed's persecution could have been foretold—it fizzled out in a nolle prosequi.

Following on this interesting commencement came the lengthened agitation against Wood's Halfpence to which we owe the remarkable series of writings known now as the "Drapier's Letters." These are fully discussed in the volume preceding this. But Swift found other channels in which to continue rousing the spirit of the people, and refreshing it to further effort. The mania for speculation which Law's schemes had given birth to, reached poor Ireland[Pg xiv] also. People thought there might be found a scheme on similar lines by which Ireland might move to prosperity. A Bank project was initiated for the purpose of assisting small tradesmen. But a scheme that in itself would have been excellent in a prosperous society, could only end in failure in such a community as peopled Ireland. Swift felt this and opposed the plan in his satirical tract, "The Swearer's Bank." The tract sufficed, for no more was heard of the National Bank after the House of Commons rejected it.

The thieves and "roughs" who infested Dublin came in next for Swift's attention. In characteristic fashion he seized the occasion of the arrest and execution of one of their leaders to publish a pretended "Last Speech and Dying Confession," in which he threatened exposure and arrest to the remainder of the gang if they did not make themselves scarce. The threat had its effect, and the city found itself considerably safer as a consequence.

How Swift pounded out his "rage and resentment" against English misgovernment, may be further read in the "Story of the Injured Lady," and in the "Answer" to that story. The Injured Lady is Ireland, who tells her lover, England, of her attractions, and upbraids him on his conduct towards her. In the "Answer" Swift tells the Lady what she ought to do, and hardly minces matters. Let her show the right spirit, he says to her, and she will find there are many gentlemen who will support her and champion her cause.

Then came the plain, pathetic, and truthful recital of the "Short View of the State of Ireland"—a pamphlet of but a few pages and yet terribly effective. As an historical document it takes rank with the experiences of the clergymen, Skelton and Jackson, as well as the more dispassionate writings of contemporary historians. It is frequently cited by Lecky in his "History of Ireland."

What Swift had so far left undone, either from political reasons or from motives of personal restraint, he completed[Pg xv] in what may, without exaggeration, be called his satirical masterpiece—the "Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People from being a Burthen to their Parents." Nothing comparable to this piece of writing is to be found in any literature; while the mere fact that it came into being must stand as one of the deadliest indictments against England's misrule. Governments and rulers have been satirized time and again, but no similar condition of things has existed with a Swift living at the time, to observe and comment on them. The tract itself must be read with a knowledge of the Irish conditions then prevailing; its temper is so calm and restrained that a reader unacquainted with the conditions might be misled and think that the author of "Gulliver's Travels" was indulging himself in one of his grim jokes. That it was not a joke its readers at the time well knew, and many of them also knew how great was the indignation which raged in Swift's heart to stir him to so unprecedented an expression of contempt. He had, as he himself said, raged and stormed only to find himself stupefied. In the "Modest Proposal" he changed his tune and

... with raillery to nettle,
Set your thoughts upon their mettle.

Swift has been censured for the cold-blooded cynicism of this piece of writing, but these censurers have entirely misunderstood both his motive and his meaning. We wonder how any one could take seriously a proposal for breeding children for food purposes, and our wonder grows in reflecting on an inability to see through the thin veil of satire which barely hid an impeachment of a ruling nation by the mere statement of the proposal itself. That a Frenchman should so misunderstand it (as a Frenchman did) may not surprise us, but that any Englishman should so take it argues an utter absence of humour and a total ignorance of Irish conditions at the time the tract was written. But history has[Pg xvi] justified Swift, and it is to his writings, rather than to the many works written by more commonplace observers, that we now turn for the true story of Ireland's wrongs, and the real sources of her continued attitude of hostility towards England's government of her.

It has been well noted by one of Swift's biographers, that for a thousand readers which the "Modest Proposal" has found, there is perhaps only one who is acquainted with Swift's "Answer to the Craftsman." It may be that the title is misleading or uninviting; but there is no question that this tract may well stand by the side of the "Modest Proposal," both for force of argument and pungency of satire. In its way and within the limits of its more restricted argument it is one of the ablest pieces of writing Swift has given us on behalf of Irish liberty.

The title of Irish patriot which Swift obtained was not sought for by him. It was given him mainly for the part he played, and for the success he achieved in the Wood's patent agitation. He was acclaimed the champion of the people, because he had stopped the foolish manœuvres of the Walpole Administration. So to label him, however, would be to do him an injustice. In truth, he would have championed the cause of liberty and justice in any country in which he lived, had he found liberty and justice wanting there. The matter of the copper coinage patent was but a peg for him to hang arguments which applied almost everywhere. It was not to the particular arguments but to the spirit which gave them life that we must look for the true value of Swift's work. And that spirit—honest, brave, strong for the right—is even more abundantly displayed in the writings we have just considered. They witness to his championship of liberty and justice, to his impeachment of selfish office-holders and a short-sighted policy. They gave him his position as the chief among the citizens of Dublin to whom he spoke as counsel and adviser. They proclaim him as the[Pg xvii] friend of the common people, to whom he was more than the Dean of St. Patrick's. He may have begun his work impelled by a hatred for Whiggish principles; but he undoubtedly accomplished it in the spirit of a broad-minded and far-seeing statesman. The pressing needs of Ireland were too urgent and crying for him to permit his personal dislike of the Irish natives to divert him from his humanitarian efforts. If he hated the beggar he was ready with his charity. The times in which he lived were not times in which, as he told the freemen of Dublin, "to expect such an exalted degree of virtue from mortal men." He was speaking to them of the impossibility of office-holders being independent of the government under which they held their offices. "Blazing stars," he said, "are much more frequently seen than such heroical virtues." As the Irish people were governed by such men he advised them strongly to choose a parliamentary representative from among themselves. He insisted on the value of their collected voice, their unanimity of effort, a consciousness of their understanding of what they wished to bring about. "Be independent" is the text of all his writings to the people of Ireland. It is idle to appeal to England's clemency or England's justice. It is vain to evolve social schemes and Utopian dreams. The remedy lay in their own hands, if the people only realized it.

"Violent zeal for truth," Swift noted in one of his "Thoughts on Religion," "has a hundred to one odds to be either petulancy, ambition, or pride." Examining Swift's writings on behalf of Ireland by the criterion provided in this statement, we must acquit him entirely of misusing any of these qualities. If he were bitter or scornful, he was certainly not petulant. No one has written with more justice or coolness; the temper is hot but it is the heat of a conscious and collected indignation. If he wrote or spoke in a manner somewhat overbearing, it was not because of ambition, since he was now long past his youth and his mind[Pg xviii] had become settled in a fairly complacent acceptance of his position. If he had pride, and he undoubtedly had, it was nowhere obtruded for personal aggrandizement, but rather by way of emphasizing the dignity of citizenship, and the value of self-respect. Assuredly, in these Irish tracts, Swift was no violent zealot for truth. Indeed, it is a high compliment to pay him, to say that we wonder he restrained himself as he did.

Swift, however, had his weakness also, and it lay, as weaknesses generally lie, very close to his strength. Swift's fault as a thinker was the outcome of his intellectuality—he was too purely intellectual. He set little store on the emotional side of human nature; his appeal was always to the reason. He hated cant, and any expression of emotion appealed to him as cant. He could not bear to be seen saying his prayers; his acts of charity were surreptitious and given in secret with an affectation of cynicism, so that they might veil the motive which impelled them. It may have been pride or a dislike to be considered sentimental; but his attitude owed its spring to a genuine faith in his own thought. If Swift had one pride more than another, it lay in a consciousness of his own superiority over his fellow-mortals. It was the pride of intellect and a belief that man showed himself best by following the judgements of the reason. His disgust with people was born of their unreasonable selfishness, their instinctive greed and rapacity, their blind stupidity, all which resulted for them in so much injustice. Had they been reasonable, he would have argued, they would have been better and happier. The sentiments and the passions were impulsive, and therefore unreasonable. Swift seemed to have no faith in their elevation to a higher intellectual plane, and yet he often roused them by his very appeals to reason. His eminently successful "Drapier's Letters" are a case in point. Yet we question if Swift were not himself surprised at their effect. He knew his power later[Pg xix] when he threatened the Archbishop of Armagh, but he, no doubt, credited the result to his own arguments, and not to the passions he had aroused. His sense of justice was the strongest, and it was through that sense that the condition of the people of Ireland appealed to him. He forgot, or he did not see that the very passion in himself was of prime importance, since it was really to it that his own efforts were due. The fine flower of imagination never blossomed in Swift. He was neither prophet nor poet; but he was a great leader, a splendid captain, a logical statesman. It is to this lack of imagination that we must look for the real root of his cynical humour and satirical temper. A more imaginative man than Swift with much less power would have better appreciated the weaknesses of humanity and made allowances for them. He would never have held them up to ridicule and contempt, but would rather have laid stress on those instincts of honour and nobility which the most ignorant and least reasoning possess in some degree.

Looking back on the work Swift did, and comparing its effect at the time with the current esteem in which he is held in the present day, we shall find that his reputation has altogether changed. In his own day, and especially during his life in Ireland, his work was special, and brought him a special repute. He was a party's advocate and the people's friend. His literary output, distinguished though it was, was of secondary importance compared with the purpose for which it was accomplished. He was the friend of Harley, the champion of the Protestant Church, the Irish patriot, the enemy of Whiggism, the opponent of Nonconformity. To-day all these phrases mean little or nothing to those who know of Swift as the author of "A Tale of a Tub," and "Gulliver's Travels." Swift is now accepted as a great satirist, and admired for the wonderful knowledge he shows of the failings and weaknesses of human nature. He is admired but never loved. The particular occasions in his life-[Pg xx]time which urged him to rouse passions mean nothing to us; they have lost the aroma of his just indignation and are become historical events. What is left of him for us is the result of cold analysis and almost heartless contempt. How different would it have been had Swift allied his great gift as a writer to such a spirit as breathes in the Sermon on the Mount! But to wish this is perhaps as foolish as to expect dates to grow on thistles. We must accept what is given us, and see that we, at any rate, steer clear of the dangers mapped out for us by the travellers of the past.

The editor takes this opportunity to thank Mr. G. Ravenscroft Dennis and Mr. W. Spencer Jackson for much valuable assistance in the reading of proofs and the collation of texts.

Temple Scott.

New York,

May 18, 1905.[Pg xxi]

[Pg ix]


A Letter to a Member of Parliament, in Ireland, upon the choosing a New Speaker there1
A Proposal for the Universal Use of Irish Manufacture11
An Essay on English Bubbles. By Thomas Hope, Esq.31
The Swearer's Bank37
A Letter to the King at Arms47
The Last Speech and Dying Words of Ebenezer Elliston55
The Truth of Some Maxims in State and Government, examined with Reference to Ireland63
The Blunders, Deficiencies, Distresses, and Misfortunes Of Quilca73
A Short View of the State of Ireland79
The Story of the Injured Lady. Written by Herself93
The Answer to the Injured Lady104
An Answer to a Paper called "A Memorial of the Poor Inhabitants, Tradesmen, and Labourers of the Kingdom of Ireland"107
Answer to Several Letters from Unknown Persons117
An Answer to Several Letters sent me from Unknown Hands127
A Letter to the Archbishop of Dublin concerning the Weavers135
Observations occasioned by reading a Paper entitled "The Case of the Woollen Manufactures of Dublin," etc.145
The Present Miserable State of Ireland151
The Substance of what was said by the Dean of St. Patrick's
to the Lord Mayor and some of the Aldermen
when His Lordship came to Present the said Dean
with his Freedom in a Gold Box167
Advertisement by Dr. Swift in his Defence Against Joshua, Lord Allen173
[Pg xxii]
A Letter on Mr. M'Culla's Project about Halfpence, and a new one Proposed177
A Proposal that all the Ladies and Women of Ireland
should appear constantly in Irish Manufactures191
A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of
Poor People from being a Burthen to their Parents
or the Country, and for making them beneficial to the Public201
Answer to the Craftsman217
A Vindication of his Excellency John, Lord Carteret225
A Proposal for An Act of Parliament to Pay off the
Debt of the Nation without Taxing the Subject251
A Case submitted by Dean Swift to Mr. Lindsay,
Counsellor at Law259
An Examination of Certain Abuses, Corruptions, and
Enormities in the City of Dublin261
A Serious and Useful Scheme to make an Hospital for Incurables283
The Humble Petition of the Footmen in and about the
City of Dublin305
Advice to the Freemen of the City of Dublin in the
Choice of a Member to represent them in Parliament309
Some Considerations humbly offered to the Lord
Mayor, the Court of Aldermen and Common-Council
of the City of Dublin in the Choice of a Recorder317
A Proposal for giving Badges to the Beggars in all the
Parishes of Dublin321
Considerations about Maintaining the Poor337
On Barbarous Denominations in Ireland343
Speech delivered on the Lowering of the Coin351
Irish Eloquence361
A Dialogue in Hibernian Style362
To the Provost and Senior Fellows of Trinity
College, Dublin364
To the Right Worshipful the Mayor, Aldermen,
Sheriffs, and Common-Council of the City of Cork366
To the Honourable the Society of the Governor and
Assistants in London, for the New Plantation in Ulster368
Certificate to a Discarded Servant369
[Pg xxiii]
An Exhortation addressed to the Sub-Dean and Chapter
of St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin370
A Letter to the Writer of the Occasional Paper375
An Account of the Court and Empire of Japan382
The Answer of the Right Hon. William Pulteney,
Esq., to the Right Hon. Sir Robert Walpole392

[Pg xxiv]




[Pg 1]


Written in the Year 1708.

[Pg 2]


In the note prefixed to the reprint of Swift's "Letter concerning the Sacramental Test," the circumstances under which this "Letter to a Member of Parliament in Ireland" was written, are explained (see vol. iv., pp. 3-4, of present edition). The Godolphin ministry was anxious to repeal the Test Act in Ireland, as a concession to the Presbyterians who had made themselves prominent by their expressions of loyalty to William and the Protestant succession. In this particular year also (1708), rumours of an invasion gave them another opportunity to send in loyal addresses. In reality, however, the endeavour to try the repeal in Ireland, was in the nature of a test, and Swift ridiculed the attempt as being like to "that of a discreet physician, who first gives a new medicine to a dog, before he prescribes it to a human creature." It seems that Swift had been consulted by Somers on the question of the repeal, and had given his opinion very frankly. The letter to Archbishop King, revealing this, contains some bitter remarks about "a certain lawyer of Ireland." The lawyer was Speaker Brodrick, afterwards Lord Midleton, who was enthusiastic for the repeal. The present letter gives a very clear idea of what Swift thought should be a Speaker's duties both as the chairman of the House and as related to this particular measure of the Test.

The text of the present reprint is based on the original manuscript in Swift's handwriting; but as this was found to be somewhat illegible, it has been collated with the text given in vol. viii. of the quarto edition of Swift's collected works, published in 1765.

[T. S.][Pg 3]






You may easily believe I am not at all surprised at what you tell me, since it is but a confirmation of my own conjecture that I sent you last week, and made you my reproaches upon it at a venture. It looks exceeding strange, yet, I believe it to be a great truth, that, in order to carry a point in your house, the two following circumstances are of great advantage; first, to have an ill cause; and, secondly, to be a minority. For both these circumstances are extremely apt to unite men, to make them assiduous in their attendance, watchful of opportunities, zealous for gaining over proselytes, and often successful; which is not to be wondered at, when favour and interest are on the side of their opinion. Whereas, on the contrary, a majority with a good cause are negligent and supine. They think it sufficient to declare themselves upon occasion in favour of their party, but, sailing against the tide of favour and preferment, they are easily scattered and driven back. In short, they want a common principle to cement, and motive to spirit them; For the bare acting upon a principle from the dictates of a good conscience, or prospect of serving the public, will not go very far under the present dispositions of mankind. This was amply verified last sessions of Parliament, upon occasion of the money bill, the merits of which I shall not pretend to examine. 'Tis enough that, upon the first news of its transmission hither, in the form it afterwards appeared, the members, upon discourse with their friends, seemed unanimous against it, I[Pg 4] mean those of both parties, except a few, who were looked upon as persons ready to go any lengths prescribed them by the court. Yet with only a week's canvassing among a very few hands, the bill passed after a full debate, by a very great majority; yet, I believe, you will hardly attempt persuading me, or anybody else, that one man in ten, of those who changed their language, were moved by reasons any way affecting the merits of the cause, but merely through hope, fear, indolence, or good manners. Nay, I have been assured from good hands, that there was still a number sufficient to make a majority against the bill, if they had not apprehended the other side to be secure, and therefore thought it imprudence, by declaring themselves, to disoblige the government to no purpose.

Reflecting upon this and forty other passages, in the several Houses of Commons since the Revolution, makes me apt to think there is nothing a chief governor can be commanded to attempt here wherein he may not succeed, with a very competent share of address, and with such assistance as he will always find ready at his devotion. And therefore I repeat what I said at first, that I am not at all surprised at what you tell me. For, if there had been the least spark of public spirit left, those who wished well to their country and its constitution in church and state, should, upon the first news of the late Speaker's promotion, (and you and I know it might have been done a great deal sooner) have immediately gone together, and consulted about the fittest person to succeed him. But, by all I can comprehend, you have been so far from proceeding thus, that it hardly ever came into any of your heads. And the reason you give is the worst in the world: That none offered themselves, and you knew not whom to pitch upon. It seems, however, the other party was more resolved, or at least not so modest: For you say your vote is engaged against your opinion, and several gentlemen in my neighbourhood tell me the same story of themselves; this, I confess, is of an unusual strain, and a good many steps below any condescensions a court will, I hope, ever require from you. I shall not trouble myself to inquire who is the person for whom you and others are engaged, or whether there be more candidates from that side, than one. You tell me nothing of either, and I[Pg 5] never thought it worth the question to anybody else. But, in so weighty an affair, and against your judgment, I cannot look upon you as irrevocably determined. Therefore I desire you will give me leave to reason with you a little upon the subject, lest your compliance, or inadvertency, should put you upon what you may have cause to repent as long as you live.

You know very well, the great business of the high-flying Whigs, at this juncture, is to endeavour a repeal of the test clause. You know likewise that the moderate men, both of High and Low Church, profess to be wholly averse from this design, as thinking it beneath the policy of common gardeners to cut down the only hedge that shelters from the north.[3] Now, I will put the case; If the person to whom you have promised your vote be one of whom you have the least apprehension that he will promote or assent to the repealing of that clause, whether it be decent or proper, he should be the mouth of an assembly, whereof a very great majority pretend to abhor his opinion. Can a body, whose mouth and heart must go so contrary ways, ever act with[Pg 6] sincerity, or hardly with consistence? Such a man is no proper vehicle to retain or convey the sense of the House, which, in so many points of the greatest moment, will be directly contrary to his; 'tis full as absurd, as to prefer a man to a bishopric who denies revealed religion. But it may possibly be a great deal worse. What if the person you design to vote into that important post, should not only be a declared enemy of the sacramental test, but should prove to be a solicitor, an encourager, or even a penner of addresses to complain of it? Do you think it so indifferent a thing, that a promise of course, the effect of compliance, importunity, shame of refusing, or any the like motive, shall oblige you past the power of retracting?

Perhaps you will tell me, as some have already had the weakness to do, that it is of little importance to either party to have a Speaker of their side, his business being only to take the sense of the House and report it, that you often, at committees, put an able speaker into the chair on purpose to prevent him from stopping a bill. Why, if it were no more than this, I believe I should hardly choose, even among my footmen, such a one to deliver a message, whose interest and opinions led him to wish it might miscarry. But I remember to have heard old Colonel Birch[4] of Herefordshire say, that "he was a very sorry Speaker, whose single vote was not better than fifty common ones." I am [Pg 7]sure it is reckoned in England the first great test of the prevalency of either party in the House. Sir Thomas Littleton[5] thought, that a House of Commons with a stinking breath (supposing the Speaker to be the mouth) would go near to infect everything within the walls, and a great deal without. It is the smallest part of an able Speaker's business, what he performs in the House, at least if he be in with the court, when it is hard to say how many converts may be made in a circle of dinners, or private cabals. And you and I can easily call to mind a gentleman in that station, in England, who, by his own arts and personal credit, was able to draw over a majority, and change the whole power of a prevailing side in a nice juncture of affairs, and made a Parliament expire in one party who had lived in another.

I am far from an inclination to multiply party causes, but surely the best of us can with very ill grace make that an objection, who have not been so nice in matters of much less importance. Yet I have heard some persons of both sides gravely deliver themselves in this manner; "Why should we make the choosing a Speaker a party cause? Let us fix upon one who is well versed in the practices and methods of parliament." And I believe there are too many who would talk at the same rate, if the question were not only about abolishing the sacramental test, but the sacrament itself.

But suppose the principles of the most artful Speaker could have no influence either to obtain or obstruct any point in Parliament, who can answer what effects such a choice may produce without doors? 'Tis obvious how small a matter serves to raise the spirits and hopes of the Dissenters and their high-flying advocates, what lengths they run, what conclusions they form, and what hopes they entertain. Do they hear of a new friend in office? That [Pg 8]is encouragement enough to practise the city, against the opinion of a majority into an address to the Queen for repealing the sacramental test; or issue out their orders to the next fanatic parson to furbish up his old sermons, and preach and print new ones directly against Episcopacy. I would lay a good wager, that, if the choice of a new Speaker succeeds exactly to their liking, we shall see it soon followed by many new attempts, either in the form of pamphlet, sermon, or address, to the same, or perhaps more dangerous purposes.

Supposing the Speaker's office to be only an employment of profit and honour, and a step to a better; since it is in your own gift, will you not choose to bestow it upon some person whose principles the majority of you pretends to approve, if it were only to be sure of a worthy man hereafter in a high station, on the bench or at the bar?

I confess, if it were a thing possible to be compassed, it would seem most reasonable to fill the chair with some person who would be entirely devoted to neither party: But, since there are so few of that character, and those either unqualified or unfriended, I cannot see how a majority will answer it to their reputation, to be so ill provided of able persons, that they must have recourse for a leader to their adversaries, a proceeding of which I never met with above one example, and even that succeeded but ill, though it was recommended by an oracle, which advised some city in Greece to beg a general from their enemies, who, in scorn, sent them either a fiddler or a poet, I have forgot which; but so much I remember, that his conduct was such, as they soon grew weary of him.

You pretend to be heartily resolved against repealing the sacramental test, yet, at the same time, give the only great employment you have to dispose of to a person who will take that test against his stomach (by which word I understand many a man's conscience) who earnestly wisheth it repealed, and will endeavour it to the utmost of his power; so that the first action after you meet, will be a sort of contravention to that test: And will anybody go further than your practice to judge of your principles?

And now I am upon this subject, I cannot conclude without saying something to a very popular argument against[Pg 9] that sacramental test, which may be apt to shake many of those who would otherwise wish well enough to it. They say it was a new hardship put upon the Dissenters, without any provocation; and, it is plain, could be no way necessary, because we had peaceably lived together so long without it. They add some other circumstances of the arts by which it was obtained, and the person by whom it was inserted. Surely such people do not consider that the penal laws against Dissenters were made wholly ineffectual by the connivance and mercy of the government, so that all employments of the state lay as open to them as they did to the best and most legal subjects. And what progress they would have made by the advantages of a late conjecture, is obvious to imagine; which I take to be a full answer to that objection.

I remember, upon the transmission of that bill with the test clause inserted, the Dissenters and their partisans, among other topics, spoke much of the good effects produced by the lenity of the government, that the Presbyterians were grown very inconsiderable in their number and quality, and would daily come into the church, if we did not fright them from it by new severities. When the act was passed, they presently changed their style, and raised a clamour, through both kingdoms, of the great numbers of considerable gentry who were laid aside, and could no longer serve their queen and country; which hyperbolical way of reckoning, when it came to be melted down into truth, amounted to about fifteen country justices, most of them of the lowest size, for estate, quality, or understanding. However, this puts me in mind of a passage told me by a great man, though I know not whether it be anywhere recorded. That a complaint was made to the king and council in Sweden, of a prodigious swarm of Scots, who, under the condition of pedlars, infested that kingdom to such a degree, as, if not suddenly prevented, might in time prove dangerous to the state, by joining with any discontented party. Meanwhile the Scots, by their agents, placed a good sum of money to engage the offices of the prime minister in their behalf; who, in order to their defence, told the council, he was assured they were but a few inconsiderable people, that lived honestly and poorly, and were[Pg 10] not of any consequence. Their enemies offered to prove the contrary, whereupon an order was made to take their number, which was found to amount, as I remember, to about thirty thousand. The affair was again brought before the council, and great reproaches made the first minister, for his ill computation; who, presently took the other handle, said, he had reason to believe the number yet greater than what was returned; and then gravely offered to the king's consideration, whether it were safe to render desperate so great a body of able men, who had little to lose, and whom any hard treatment would only serve to unite into a power capable of disturbing, if not destroying the peace of the kingdom. And so they were suffered to continue.[Pg 11]





This pamphlet constitutes the opening of a campaign against his political enemies in England on whom Swift had, it must be presumed, determined to take revenge. When the fall of Harley's administration was complete and irrevocable, Swift returned to Ireland and, for six years, he lived the simple life of the Dean of St. Patrick's, unheard of except by a few of his more intimate friends in England. Accustomed by years of intimacy with the ministers of Anne's court, and by his own temperament, to act the part of leader and adviser, Swift's compulsory silence must have chafed and irritated him to a degree. His opportunities for advancement had passed with the passing of Harley and Bolingbroke from power, and he had given too ardent and enthusiastic a support to these friends of his for Walpole to look to him for a like service. Moreover, however strong may have been these personal motives, Swift's detestation of Walpole's Irish policy must have been deep and bitter, even before he began to express himself on the matter. His sincerity cannot be doubted, even if we make an ample allowance for a private grudge against the great English minister. The condition of Ireland, at this time, was such as to arouse the warmest indignation from the most indifferent and unprejudiced—and it was a condition for which English misrule was mainly responsible. It cannot therefore be wondered at that Swift should be among the strenuous and persistent opponents of a policy which spelled ruin to his country, and his patriotism must be recognized even if we accept the existence of a personal motive.

The crass stupidity which characterized England's dealings with Ireland at this time would be hardly credible, were it not on record in the acts passed in the reigns of Charles II. and William III., and embodied in the resolutions of the English parliament during Walpole's term of power. An impartial historian is forced to the conclusion that England had determined to ruin the sister nation. Already its social life was disreputable; the people taxed in various ways far beyond their means; the agriculture at the lowest state by the neglect and indifference of the landed proprietors; and the manufactures crippled by a series of pernicious restrictions imposed by a selfish rival.

Swift, in writing this "Proposal," did not take advantage of any special occasion, as he did later in the matter of Wood's halfpence. His occasion must be found in the condition of the country, in the injustice to which she was subjected, and in the fact that the time had come when it would be wise and safe for him to come out once more into the open.

He began in his characteristic way. All the evils that the laws against the manufactures and agriculture of Ireland brought into existence are summarized in this "Proposal." His business is not to attack the laws directly, but to attempt a method by which these shall be nullified. Since the manufactures of Ireland might not be exported for sale, let [Pg 14]the people of Ireland wear them themselves, and let them resolve and determine to wear them in preference to those imported from England. If England had the right to prevent the importation to it of Irish woollen goods, it was surely only just that the Irish should exercise then right to wear their own home-made clothes! The tract was a reasonable and mild statement. Yet, such was the temper of the governing officials, that a cry was raised against it and the writer accused of attempting to disunite the two kingdoms. With consistent foolishness, the printer was brought to trial, and although the jury acquitted him, yet the Lord Chief Justice Whitshed, zealous for his employer more than for his office, refused to accept the verdict and attempted to force the jury to a conviction. In his letter to Pope, dated January 10th, 1720-21, Swift gives an account of this matter:

"I have written in this kingdom, a discourse, to persuade the wretched people to wear their own manufactures, instead of those from England. This treatise soon spread very fast, being agreeable to the sentiments of the whole nation, except those gentlemen who had employments, or were expectants. Upon which a person in great office here immediately took the alarm; he sent in haste for the chief-justice, and informed him of a seditious, factious, and virulent pamphlet, lately published, with a design of setting the two kingdoms at variance; directing, at the same time, that the printer should be prosecuted with the utmost rigour of the law. The chief-justice has so quick an understanding, that he resolved, if possible, to outdo his orders. The grand juries of the county and city were effectually practised with, to represent the said pamphlet with all aggravating epithets, for which they had thanks sent them from England, and their presentments published, for several weeks, in all the newspapers. The printer was seized, and forced to give great bail. After his trial, the jury brought him in not guilty, although they had been culled with the utmost industry. The chief-justice sent them back nine times, and kept them eleven hours, until, being perfectly tired out, they were forced to leave the matter to the mercy of the judge, by what they call a special verdict. During the trial, the chief-justice, among other singularities, laid his hand on his breast, and protested solemnly that the author's design was to bring in the Pretender, although there was not a single syllable of party in the whole treatise; and although it was known that the most eminent of those who professed his own principles, publicly disallowed his proceedings. But the cause being so very odious and unpopular, the trial of the verdict was deferred from one term to another, until, upon the Duke of Grafton's, the lord lieutenant's arrival, his grace, after mature advice, and permission from England, was pleased to grant a noli prosequi."

This Chief Justice Whitshed was the same who acted as judge on Harding's trial for printing the fourth Drapier letter. Swift never forgot him, and took several occasions to satirize him bitterly.

The text of the present edition is based on the Dublin edition of 1720 and collated with the texts of Faulkner, 1735, and Miscellanies of same date.

[T. S.][Pg 15]



For the universal Use

Of Irish Manufacture,


Cloaths and Furniture of Houses, &c.


Rejecting and Renouncing

Every Thing wearable that comes from


Dublin: Printed and Sold by E. Waters, in Essex-street, at the Corner of Sycamore-Alley, 1720.[Pg 17][Pg 16]



It is the peculiar felicity and prudence of the people in this kingdom, that whatever commodities or productions lie under the greatest discouragements from England, those are what we are sure to be most industrious in cultivating and spreading. Agriculture, which hath been the principal care of all wise nations, and for the encouragement whereof there are so many statute laws in England, we countenance so well, that the landlords are everywhere by penal clauses absolutely prohibiting their tenants from ploughing; not satisfied to confine them within certain limitations, as it is the practice of the English; one effect of which is already seen in the prodigious dearness of corn, and the importation of it from London, as the cheaper market:[6] And because people are the riches of a country, and that our neighbours have done, and are doing all that in them lie, to make our wool a drug to us, and a monopoly to them; therefore the politic gentlemen of Ireland have depopulated vast tracts of the best land, for the feeding of sheep.[7]

[Pg 18]

I could fill a volume as large as the history of the Wise Men of Gotham with a catalogue only of some wonderful laws and customs we have observed within thirty years past.[8] 'Tis true indeed, our beneficial traffic of wool with France, hath been our only support for several years past, furnishing us all the little money we have to pay our rents and go to market. But our merchants assure me, "This trade hath received a great damp by the present fluctuating condition of the coin in France; and that most of their wine is paid for in specie, without carrying thither any commodity from hence."

However, since we are so universally bent upon enlarging our flocks, it may be worth enquiring what we shall do with our wool, in case Barnstaple[9] should be overstocked, and our French commerce should fail?

I could wish the Parliament had thought fit to have suspended their regulation of church matters, and enlargements of the prerogative till a more convenient time, because they did not appear very pressing (at least to the persons prin[Pg 19]cipally concerned) and instead of these great refinements in politics and divinity, had amused themselves and their committees a little with the state of the nation. For example: What if the House of Commons had thought fit to make a resolution nemine contradicente against wearing any cloth or stuff in their families, which were not of the growth and manufacture of this kingdom? What if they had extended it so far as utterly to exclude all silks, velvets, calicoes, and the whole lexicon of female fopperies; and declared, that whoever acted otherwise, should be deemed and reputed an enemy to the nation?[10] What if they had sent up such a resolution to be agreed to by the House of Lords, and by their own practice and encouragement spread the execution of it in their several countries? What if we should agree to make burying in woollen a fashion, as our neighbours have made it a law? What if the ladies would be content with Irish stuffs for the furniture of their houses, for gowns and petticoats to themselves and their daughters? Upon the whole, and to crown all the rest: Let a firm resolution be taken by male and female, never to appear with one single shred that comes from England; "And let all the people say, amen."

I hope and believe nothing could please His Majesty better than to hear that his loyal subjects of both sexes in this kingdom celebrated his birthday (now approaching) universally clad in their own manufacture. Is there virtue enough left in this deluded people to save them from the brink of ruin? If the men's opinions may be taken, the ladies will look as handsome in stuffs as brocades; and since all will be equal, there may be room enough to employ their wit and fancy in choosing and matching of patterns and colours. I heard the late Archbishop of Tuam mention a pleasant observation of somebody's; "that Ireland would never be happy till a law were made for burning everything that came from England, except their people and [Pg 20]their coals." Nor am I even yet for lessening the number of those exceptions.[11]

Non tanti mitra est, non tanti judicis ostrum.

But I should rejoice to see a staylace from England be thought scandalous, and become a topic for censure at visits and tea-tables.

If the unthinking shopkeepers in this town had not been utterly destitute of common sense, they would have made some proposal to the Parliament, with a petition to the purpose I have mentioned; promising to improve the "cloths and stuffs of the nation into all possible degrees of fineness and colours, and engaging not to play the knave according to their custom, by exacting and imposing upon the nobility and gentry either as to the prices or the goodness." For I remember in London upon a general mourning, the rascally mercers and woollen-drapers, would in four-and-twenty hours raise their cloths and silks to above a double price; and if the mourning continued long, then come whining with petitions to the court, that they were ready to starve, and their fineries lay upon their hands.

I could wish our shopkeepers would immediately think on this proposal, addressing it to all persons of quality and others; but first be sure to get somebody who can write sense, to put it into form.

I think it needless to exhort the clergy to follow this good[Pg 21] example, because in a little time, those among them who are so unfortunate to have had their birth and education in this country, will think themselves abundantly happy when they can afford Irish crape, and an Athlone hat; and as to the others I shall not presume to direct them. I have indeed seen the present Archbishop of Dublin clad from head to foot in our own manufacture; and yet, under the rose be it spoken, his Grace deserves as good a gown as any prelate in Christendom.[12]

I have not courage enough to offer one syllable on this subject to their honours of the army: Neither have I sufficiently considered the great importance of scarlet and gold lace.

The fable in Ovid of Arachne and Pallas, is to this purpose. The goddess had heard of one Arachne a young virgin, very famous for spinning and weaving. They both met upon a trial of skill; and Pallas finding herself almost equalled in her own art, stung with rage and envy, knocked her rival down, turned her into a spider, enjoining her to spin and weave for ever, out of her own bowels, and in a very narrow compass. I confess, that from a boy, I always pitied poor Arachne, and could never heartily love the goddess on account of so cruel and unjust a sentence; which however is fully executed upon us by England, with further additions of rigour and severity. For the greatest part of our bowels and vitals are extracted, without allowing us the liberty of spinning and weaving them.

The Scripture tells us, that "oppression makes a wise man mad." Therefore, consequently speaking, the reason why some men are not mad, is because they are not wise:[Pg 22] However, it were to be wished that oppression would in time teach a little wisdom to fools.

I was much delighted with a person who hath a great estate in this kingdom, upon his complaints to me, "how grievously poor England suffers by impositions from Ireland. That we convey our own wool to France in spite of all the harpies at the custom-house. That Mr. Shuttleworth, and others on the Cheshire coasts are such fools to sell us their bark at a good price for tanning our own hides into leather; with other enormities of the like weight and kind." To which I will venture to add some more: "That the mayoralty of this city is always executed by an inhabitant, and often by a native, which might as well be done by a deputy, with a moderate salary, whereby poor England lose at least one thousand pounds a year upon the balance. That the governing of this kingdom costs the lord lieutenant two thousand four hundred pounds a year,[13] so much net loss to poor England. That the people of Ireland presume to dig for coals in their own grounds, and the farmers in the county of Wicklow send their turf to the very market of Dublin, to the great discouragement of the coal trade at Mostyn and Whitehaven. That the revenues of the post-office here, so righteously belonging to the English treasury, as arising chiefly from our own commerce with each other, should be remitted to London, clogged with that grievous burthen of exchange, and the pensions paid out of the Irish revenues to English favourites, should lie under the same disadvantage, to the great loss of the grantees. When a divine is sent over to a bishopric here, with the hopes of five-and-twenty hundred pounds a year; upon his arrival, he finds, alas! a dreadful discount of ten or twelve per cent. A judge or a commissioner of the revenue has the same cause of complaint."—Lastly,

[Pg 23]

"The ballad upon Cotter is vehemently suspected to be Irish manufacture; and yet is allowed to be sung in our open streets, under the very nose of the government."[14] These are a few among the many hardships we put upon that poor kingdom of England; for which I am confident every honest man wishes a remedy: And I hear there is a project on foot for transporting our best wheaten straw by sea and land carriage to Dunstable; and obliging us by a law to take off yearly so many ton of straw hats for the use of our women, which will be a great encouragement to the manufacture of that industrious town.

I should be glad to learn among the divines, whether a law to bind men without their own consent, be obligatory in foro conscientiae; because I find Scripture, Sanderson and Suarez are wholly silent in the matter. The oracle of reason, the great law of nature, and general opinion of civilians, wherever they treat of limited governments, are indeed decisive enough.

It is wonderful to observe the bias among our people in favour of things, persons, and wares of all kinds that come from England. The printer tells his hawkers that he has got "an excellent new song just brought from London." I have somewhat of a tendency that way myself; and upon hearing a coxcomb from thence displaying himself with great volubility upon the park, the playhouse, the opera, the gaming ordinaries, it was apt to beget in me a kind of veneration for his parts and accomplishments. 'Tis not many years, since I remember a person who by his style and literature seems to have been corrector of a hedge-press in some blind alley about Little Britain, proceed gradually to be an author, at least a translator of a lower rate, though somewhat of a larger bulk, than any that now flourishes in Grub Street; and upon the strength of this foundation, come over here, erect himself up into an orator and politician, and lead a kingdom after him.[15] This, I am told, was the very motive that prevailed on the author of a play, called "Love in a [Pg 24]hollow Tree," to do us the honour of a visit; presuming with very good reason, that he was a writer of a superior class.[16] I know another, who for thirty years past, hath been the common standard of stupidity in England, where he was never heard a minute in any assembly, or by any party with common Christian treatment; yet upon his arrival hither, could put on a face of importance and authority, talked more than six, without either gracefulness, propriety, or meaning; and at the same time be admired and followed as the pattern of eloquence and wisdom.

Nothing hath humbled me so much, or shewn a greater disposition to a contemptuous treatment of Ireland in some chief governors,[17] than that high style of several speeches from the throne, delivered, as usual, after the royal assent, in some periods of the two last reigns. Such high exaggerations of the prodigious condescensions in the prince, to pass those good laws, would have but an odd sound at Westminster: Neither do I apprehend how any good law can pass, wherein the king's interest is not as much concerned as that of the people. I remember after a speech on the like occasion, delivered by my Lord Wharton, (I think it was his last) he desired Mr. Addison to ask my opinion of it: My answer was, "That his Excellency had very honestly forfeited his head on account of one paragraph; wherein he asserted by plain consequence, a dispensing power in the Queen." His Lordship owned it was true, but swore the words were put into his mouth by direct orders from Court. From whence it is clear, that some ministers in those times, were apt, from their high elevation, to look down upon this kingdom [Pg 25]as if it had been one of their colonies of outcasts in America. And I observed a little of the same turn of spirit in some great men, from whom I expected better; although to do them justice, it proved no point of difficulty to make them correct their idea, whereof the whole nation quickly found the benefit?—But that is forgotten. How the style hath since run, I am wholly a stranger, having never seen a speech since the last of the Queen.

I would now expostulate a little with our country landlords, who by unmeasurable screwing and racking their tenants all over the kingdom, have already reduced the miserable people to a worse condition than the peasants in France, or the vassals in Germany and Poland; so that the whole species of what we call substantial farmers, will in a very few years be utterly at an end.[18] It was pleasant to observe these gentlemen labouring with all their might for preventing the bishops from letting their revenues at a moderate half value, (whereby the whole order would in an age have been reduced to manifest beggary) at the very instant when they were everywhere canting their own lands upon short leases, and sacrificing their oldest tenants for a penny an acre advance.[19] I know not how it comes to pass, [Pg 26](and yet perhaps I know well enough) that slaves have a natural disposition to be tyrants; and that when my betters give me a kick, I am apt to revenge it with six upon my footman; although perhaps he may be an honest and diligent fellow. I have heard great divines affirm, that "nothing is so likely to call down an universal judgment from Heaven upon a nation as universal oppression;" and whether this be not already verified in part, their worships the landlords are now at full leisure to consider. Whoever travels this country, and observes the face of nature, or the faces, and habits, and dwellings of the natives, will hardly think himself in a land where either law, religion, or common humanity is professed.[20][Pg 27]

I cannot forbear saying one word upon a thing they call a bank, which I hear is projecting in this town.[21] I never [Pg 28]saw the proposals, nor understand any one particular of their scheme: What I wish for at present, is only a sufficient[Pg 29] provision of hemp, and caps, and bells, to distribute according to the several degrees of honesty and prudence in some[Pg 30] persons. I hear only of a monstrous sum already named; and if others do not soon hear of it too, and hear of it with a vengeance, then am I a gentleman of less sagacity, than myself and very few besides, take me to be. And the jest will be still the better, if it be true, as judicious persons have assured me, that one half of this money will be real, and the other half only Gasconnade.[22] The matter will be likewise much mended, if the merchants continue to carry off our gold, and our goldsmiths to melt down our heavy silver.

[Pg 31]






The excitement and even fury which were prevalent in England and France during the years 1719 and 1720 over Law's South Sea schemes afforded Swift an opportunity for the play of his satire by way of criticism on projects which appeared to him to be of the same character. News from France on the Mississippi Scheme which, in 1719, was at the height of its stock-jobbing success, gave glorious accounts of fortunes made in a night, and of thousands who had become rich and were living in unheard of luxury. Schemes were floated on every possible kind of ventures, and so plentiful was the "paper money" that nothing was too absurd for speculators. All these schemes, which soon came to nought, went, later, by the name of "Bubbles," and this essay of Swift's touches the matter with his usual satire.

The time chosen for the proposal for the establishment of a National Bank in Ireland was not a happy one. It was made in 1720 when the "Bubbles" had burst and found thousands ruined and pauperized. Swift, always an enemy to schemes of any kind, classed that of the bank with the rest of the "Bubbles," and, although the plan itself was a real effort to relieve Ireland, and might have effected its purpose, the terror of the "Bubbles" was sufficient to wreck it.

It required very little from Swift to insure its rejection, and rejected it was by the Irish legislature, before whose consideration it was brought.

Some doubt seems to obtain as to the authenticity of this "Essay on English Bubbles," which, in the words of Sir Walter Scott, may "be considered as introductory to the other" tracts on the Bank Project. This essay, however, appears in the edition of 1720 of "The Swearer's Bank," and, although it is not included in the "Miscellanies" of 1722, it is accepted by Faulkner in his collected edition of Swift's works. The present text is based on that prefixed to the edition of "The Swearer's Bank," 1720.

[T. S.][Pg 33]



To the Right Reverend, Right Honourable, and Right Worshipful, and to the Reverend, Honourable, and Worshipful, &c. Company of Stockjobbers; whether Honest or Dishonest, Pious or Impious, Wise or Otherwise, Male or Female, Young or Old, One with another, who have suffered Depredation by the late Bubbles: Greeting.

Having received the following scheme from Dublin, I give you the earliest notice, how you may retrieve the decus et tutamen,[23] which you have sacrificed by permits in bubbles. This project is founded on a Parliamentary security, besides, the devil is in it, if it can fail, since a dignitary of the Church[24] is at the head on't. Therefore you, who have subscribed to the stocking insurance, and are out at the heels, may soon appear tight about the legs. You, who encouraged the hemp manufacture, may leave the halter to rogues, and prevent the odium of felo de se. Medicinal virtues are here to be had without the expense and hazard of a dispensary: You may sleep without dreaming of bottles at your tail, and a looking-glass shall not affright you; and since the glass bubble proved as brittle as its ware, and broke together with itself the hopes of its proprietors, they may make themselves whole by subscribing to our new fund.

Here indeed may be made three very grave objections, by incredulous interested priests, ambitious citizens, and scrupulous statesmen. The stocking manufactory gentlemen don't know how swearing can bring 'em to any prob[Pg 34]ability of covering their legs anew, unless it be by the means of a pair of stocks: That the hemp-snared men apprehend, that such an encouragement for oaths can tend to no other advancement, promotion, and exaltation of their persons, than that of the gallows: The late old ordinary, Paul,[25] having grown grey in the habit of making this accurate observation in every month's Session-Paper, "That swearing had as great a hand in the suspension of every living soul under his cure, as Sabbath-breaking itself;" and that the glass-bubble-men cannot, for their lives, with the best pair of spectacles, that is the only thing left neat and whole, out of all their wares, see how they shall make anything out of this his oath-project, supposing he should even confirm by one its goodness: An oath being, as they say, as brittle as glass, and only made to be broken.

But those incredulous priests shall not go without an answer, that will, I am sure, induce them to place a great confidence in the benefit arising from Christians, who damn themselves every hour of the day. For while they speak of the vainness and fickleness of oaths, as an objection against our project, they little consider that this fickleness and vainness is the common practice among all the people of this sublunary world; and that consequently, instead of being an objection against the project, is a concluding argument of the constancy and solidity of their sure gain by it; a never-failing argument, as he tells us, among the brethren of his cloth.

The ambitious citizens, who from being plunged deep in the wealthy whirlpool of the South-Sea, are in hopes of rising to such seats of fortune and dignity, as would best suit with their mounting and aspiring hopes, may imagine that this new fund, in the sister nation, may prove a rival to theirs; and, by drawing off a multitude of subscribers, will, if it makes a flood in Ireland, cause an ebb in England. But it may be answered, that, though our author avers, that this fund will vie with the South-Sea, yet it will not clash [Pg 35]with it. On the contrary, the subscribers to this must wish the increase of the South-Sea, (so far from being its rival); because the multitude of people raised by it, who were plain-speakers, as they were plain-dealers before, must learn to swear, in order to become their clothes, and to be gentlemen à la mode; while those that are ruined, I mean Job'd by it, will dismiss the patience of their old pattern, swear at their condition, and curse their Maker in their distress; and so the increase of that English fund will be demonstratively an ample augmentation of the Irish one: So far will it be from being rivalled by it, so that each of them may subscribe to a fund they have their own security for augmenting.

The scrupulous statesmen (for we know that statesmen are usually very scrupulous) may object against having this project secured by votes in Parliament; by reason, as they may deem it, in their great wisdom, an impious project; and that therefore so illustrious an assembly, as the Irish parliament, ought, by no means, according to the opinion of a Christian statesman, to be concerned in supporting an impious thing in the world. The way that some may take to prove it impious, is, because it will tend highly to the interest of swearing.—But this I take to be plain downright sophistry, and playing upon words: If this be called the Swearing project, or the Oath-act, the increase of swearing will be very much for the benefit and interest of swearing, (i.e.) to the subscribers in the fund to be raised by this fruitful Swearing-act, if it should be so called; but not to the swearers themselves, who are to pay for it: So that it will be, according to this distinction, piously indeed an act for a benefit to mankind, from swearing, not impiously, a benefit in swearing: So that I think that argument entirely answered and defeated. Far be it from the Dean to have entered into so unchristian a project, as this had been, so considered. But then these politicians (being generally, as the world knows, mighty tender of conscience) may raise these new doubts, fears, and scruples, viz. that it will however cause the subscribers to wish, in their minds, for many oaths to fly about, which is a heinous crime, and to lay stratagems to try the patience of men of all sorts, to put them upon the swearing strain, in order to bring grist to their own mill, which is a crime still more enormous; and[Pg 36] that therefore, for fear of these evil consequences, the passing of such an act is not consistent with the really extraordinary and tender conscience of a true modern politician. But in answer to this, I think I can plead the strongest plea in nature, and that is called precedent, I think; which I take thus from the South-Sea: One man, by the very nature of that subscription, must naturally pray for the temporal damnation of another man in his fortune, in order for gaining his own salvation in it; yea, even though he knows the other man's temporal damnation would be the cause of his eternal, by his swearing and despairing. Neither do I think this in casuistry and sin, because the swearing, undone man is a free agent, and can choose whether he will swear or no, anybody's wishes whatsoever to the contrary notwithstanding: And in politics I am sure it is even a Machiavellian holy maxim, "That some men should be ruined for the good of others." Thus I think I have answered all the objections that can be brought against this project's coming to perfection, and proved it to be convenient for the state, of interest to the Protestant church, and consonant with Christianity, nay, with the very scruples of modern, squeamish statesmen.

To conclude: The laudable author of this project squares the measures of it so much according to the scripture rule, it may reasonably be presumed, that all good Christians in England will come as fast into the subscriptions for his encouragement, as they have already done throughout the kingdom of Ireland. For what greater proof could this author give of his Christianity, than, for bringing about this Swearing-act, charitably to part with his coat, and sit starving in a very thin waistcoat in his garret, to do the corporal virtues of feeding and clothing the poor, and raising them from the cottage to the palace, by punishing the vices of the rich. What more could have been done even in the primitive times!

Thomas Hope.

From my House in St. Faith's Parish,
London, August 10, 1720.

P.S.—For the benefit of the author, application may be made to me at the Tilt-Yard Coffee-house, Whitehall.[Pg 37]

[Pg 38]



The plan for the establishment of a National Bank in Dublin was first put forward in 1720 in the form of a petition presented to the King by the Earl of Abercorn, Viscount Boyne, Sir Ralph Gore, and others. It was proposed to raise a fund of £500,000 for the purpose of loaning money to merchants at a comparatively low rate of interest. The King approved of the petition, and directed that a charter of incorporation for such a bank should pass the Great Seal of Ireland. When the matter came up for discussion in the Irish Houses of Legislature, both the Lords and Commons rejected the proposal on the ground that no safe foundation for such an establishment could be found. (See note post.)

During and after the discussion on this project in the legislature a pamphlet controversy arose in which two able writers distinguished themselves—Mr. Henry Maxwell and Mr. Hercules Rowley. The former was in favour of the bank while Mr. Rowley was against it.

Mr. Maxwell argued soundly from the ground on which all banking institutions were founded. Mr. Rowley, however, pointed out that the condition of Ireland, dependent as that country was on England's whims, and interfered with as she always had been, by English selfishness, in her commercial and industrial enterprises, would not be bettered were the bank to prove even a great success. For, should the bank be found in any way to touch the trade of England, it might be taken for granted that its charter would be repealed, and Ireland find itself in a worse state than it was before.

The pamphlets written by these gentlemen bear the following titles:

(1) Reasons offer'd for erecting a Bank in Ireland, in a letter to
Hercules Rowley, Esq., by Henry Maxwell, Esq.
Dublin, 1721.
(2) An Answer to a Book, intitled Reasons offered for erecting a
Bank in Ireland. In a Letter to Henry Maxwell, Esq.
By Hercules Rowley, Esq.
Dublin, 1721.
(3) Mr. Maxwell's Second Letter to Mr. Rowley,
wherein the objections against the Bank are answered.
Dublin, 1721.
(4) An answer to Mr. Maxwell's Second Letter to Mr. Rowley,
concerning the Bank. By Hercules Rowley, Esq.
Dublin, 1721.

Sir Walter Scott, in his edition of Swift's works, reprints these pamphlets. The text of the present edition of "The Swearer's Bank" is based on that published in London in 1720.

[T. S.][Pg 39]




Parliamentary Security


Establishing a new Bank




The Medicinal Use of Oaths is considered.


The Best in Christendom. A TALE.)

Written by Dean Swift.

Si Populus vult decipi decipiatur.

To which is prefixed,

An ESSAY upon English Bubbles.

By Thomas Hope, Esq;


Printed by Thomas Hume, next Door to the Walsh's-Head in Smock-Alley. 1720. Reprinted at London by J. Roberts in Warwick-Lane.[Pg 41][Pg 40]


"To believe everything that is said by a certain set of men, and to doubt of nothing they relate, though ever so improbable," is a maxim that has contributed as much for the time, to the support of Irish banks, as it ever did to the Popish religion; and they are not only beholden to the latter for their foundation, but they have the happiness to have the same patron saint: For Ignorance, the reputed mother of the devotion of the one, seems to bear the same affectionate relation to the credit of the other.

To subscribe to banks, without knowing the scheme or design of them, is not unlike to some gentlemen's signing addresses without knowing the contents of them: To engage in a bank that has neither act of parliament, charter, nor lands to support it, is like sending a ship to sea without bottom; to expect a coach and six by the former, would be as ridiculous as to hope a return by the latter.

It was well known some time ago, that our banks would be included in the bubble-bill; and it was believed those chimeras would necessarily vanish with the first easterly wind that should inform the town of the royal assent.

It was very mortifying to several gentlemen, who dreamed of nothing but easy chariots, on the arrival of the fatal packet, to slip out of them into their walking shoes. But should those banks, as it is vainly imagined, be so fortunate as to obtain a charter, and purchase lands; yet on any run on them in a time of invasion, there would be so many starving proprietors, reviving their old pretensions to land, and a bellyful, that the subscribers would be unwilling, upon any call, to part with their money, not knowing what might[Pg 42] happen: So that in a rebellion, where the success was doubtful, the bank would infallibly break.[26][Pg 43]

Since so many gentlemen of this town have had the courage, without any security, to appear in the same paper with a million or two; it is hoped, when they are made sensible of their safety, that they will be prevailed to trust themselves in a neat skin of parchment with a single one.

To encourage them, the undertaker proposes the erecting a bank on parliamentary security, and such security as no revolution or change of times can affect.

To take away all jealousy of any private view of the undertaker, he assures the world, that he is now in a garret, in a very thin waistcoat, studying the public good, having given an undeniable pledge of his love to his country, by pawning his coat, in order to defray the expense of the press.

It is very well known, that by an act of parliament to prevent profane swearing, the person so offending, on oath made before a magistrate, forfeits a shilling, which may be levied with little difficulty.

It is almost unnecessary to mention, that this is become a pet-vice among us; and though age renders us unfit for other vices, yet this, where it takes hold, never leaves us but with our speech.

So vast a revenue might be raised by the execution of this act, that I have often wondered, in such a scarcity of funds, that methods have not been taken to make it serviceable to the public.[Pg 44]

I dare venture to say, if this act was well executed in England, the revenue of it applied to the navy, would make the English fleet a terror to all Europe.

It is computed by geographers, that there are two millions in this kingdom, (of Ireland) of which number there may be said to be a million of swearing souls.

It is thought there may be five thousand gentlemen; every gentleman, taking one with another, may afford to swear an oath every day, which will yearly produce one million, eight hundred, twenty-five thousand oaths, which number of shillings makes the yearly sum of ninety-one thousand, two hundred and fifty pounds.

The farmers of this kingdom, who are computed to be ten thousand, are able to spend yearly five hundred thousand oaths, which gives twenty-five thousand pounds; and it is conjectured, that from the bulk of the people twenty, or five-and-twenty thousand pounds may be yearly collected.

These computations are very modest, since it is evident that there is a much greater consumption of oaths in this kingdom, and consequently a much greater sum might be yearly raised.

That it may be collected with ease and regularity, it is proposed to settle informers in great towns in proportion to the number of inhabitants, and to have riding-officers in the country; and since nothing brings a greater contempt on any profession than poverty, it is determined to settle very handsome salaries on the gentlemen that are employed by the bank, that they may, by a generosity of living, reconcile men to an office, that has lain under so much scandal of late, as to be undertaken by none but curates, clerks of meeting-houses, and broken tradesmen.

It is resolved, that none shall be preferred to those employments, but persons that are notorious for being constant churchmen, and frequent communicants; whose piety will be a sufficient security for their honest and industrious execution of their office.

It is very probable, that twenty thousand pounds will be necessary to defray all expenses of servants salaries, &c. However, there will be the clear yearly sum of one hundred thousand pounds, which may very justly claim a million subscription.[Pg 45]

It is determined to lay out the remaining unapplied profits, which will be very considerable, towards the erecting and maintaining charity schools; a design so beneficial to the public, and especially to the Protestant interest of this kingdom, has met with so much encouragement from several great patriots in England, that they have engaged to procure an act to secure the sole benefit of informing, on this swearing act, to the agents and servants of this new bank. Several of my friends pretend to demonstrate, that this bank will in time vie with the South Sea Company: They insist, that the army dispend as many oaths yearly as will produce one hundred thousand pounds net.

There are computed to be one hundred pretty fellows in this town, that swear fifty oaths a head daily; some of them would think it hard to be stinted to an hundred: This very branch would produce a vast sum yearly.

The fairs of this kingdom will bring in a vast revenue; the oaths of a little Connaught one, as well as they could be numbered by two persons, amounted to three thousand. It is true, that it would be impossible to turn all of them into ready money; for a shilling is so great a duty on swearing, that if it was carefully exacted, the common people might as well pretend to drink wine as to swear; and an oath would be as rare among them as a clean shirt.

A servant that I employed to accompany the militia their last muster day, had scored down in the compass of eight hours, three hundred oaths, but as the putting the act in execution on those days, would only fill the stocks with porters, and pawn-shops with muskets and swords: And as it would be matter of great joy to Papists, and disaffected persons, to see our militia swear themselves out of their guns and swords, it is resolved, that no advantage shall be taken of any militiaman's swearing while he is under arms; nor shall any advantage be taken of any man's swearing in the Four Courts provided he is at hearing in the exchequer, or has just paid off an attorney's bill.

The medicinal use of oaths is what the undertaker would by no means discourage, especially where it is necessary to help the lungs to throw off any distilling humour. On certificate of a course of swearing prescribed by any physician, a permit will be given to the patient by the proper officer of[Pg 46] the bank, paying no more but sixpence. It is expected, that a scheme of so much advantage to the public will meet with more encouragement than their chimerical banks; and the undertaker hopes, that as he has spent a considerable fortune in bringing this scheme to bear, he may have the satisfaction to see it take place, for the public good, though he should have the fate of most projectors, to be undone.

It is resolved, that no compositions shall be made, nor licences granted for swearing, under a notion of applying the money to pious uses; a practice so scandalous as is fit only for the see of Rome, where the money arising from whoring licences is applied ad propagandam fidem: And to the shame of Smock-alley, and of all Protestant whores, (especially those who live under the light of the Gospel-ministry) be it spoken, a whore in Rome never lies down, but she hopes it will be the means of converting some poor heathen, or heretic.

The swearing revenues of the town of Cork will be given for ever, by the bank, to the support of poor clergymen's widows; and those of Ringsend will be allowed to the maintenance of sailors' bastards.

The undertaker designs, in a few days, to appoint time and place for taking subscriptions; the subscribers must come prepared to pay down one fourth, on subscribing.


The Jews of Rotterdam have offered to farm the revenues of Dublin at twenty thousand pounds per ann. Several eminent Quakers are also willing to take them at that rent; but the undertaker has rejected their proposals, being resolved to deal with none but Christians.

Application may be made to him about them, any day at Pat's coffee-house, where attendance will be given.[Pg 47]





November 18, 1721.


In a late printed paper,[28] containing some notes and queries upon that list of the subscribers' names, which was published by order of the commissioners for receiving of subscriptions, I find some hints and innuendoes that would seem to insinuate, as if I and some others were only reputed esquires; and our case is referred to you, in your kingly capacity. I desire you will please to let me know the lowest [Pg 50]price of a real esquire's coat of arms: And, if we can agree, I will give my bond to pay you out of the first interest I receive for my subscription; because things are a little low [Pg 51]with me at present, by throwing my whole fortune into the bank, having subscribed for five hundred pounds sterling.

I hope you will not question my pretensions to this title, when I let you know that my godfather was a justice of peace, and I myself have been often a keeper of it. My father was a leader and commander of horse, in which post he rode before the greatest lords of the land;[29] and, in long marches, he alone presided over the baggage, advancing directly before it. My mother kept open house in Dublin, where several hundreds were supported with meat and drink, [Pg 52]bought at her own charge, or with her personal credit, until some envious brewers and butchers forced her to retire.[30]

As to myself, I have been, for several years, a foot-officer; and it was my charge to guard the carriages, behind which I was commanded to stick close, that they might not be attacked in the rear. I have had the honour to be a favourite of several fine ladies; who, each of them at different times, gave me such coloured knots and public marks of distinction, that every one knew which of them it was to whom I paid my address. They would not go into their coach without me, nor willingly drink unless I gave them the glass with my own hand. They allowed me to call them my mistresses, and owned that title publicly. I have been told, that the true ancient employment of a squire was to carry a knight's shield, painted with his colours and coat of arms. This is what I have witnesses to produce that I have often done; not indeed in a shield, like my predecessors, but that which is full as good, I have carried the colours of a knight upon my coat.[31] I have likewise borne the king's arms in my hand, as a mark of authority;[32] and hung them painted before my dwelling-house, as a mark of my calling:[33] So that I may truly say, His Majesty's arms have been my supporters. I have been a strict and constant follower of men of quality, I have diligently pursued the steps of several squires, and am able to behave myself as well as the best of them, whenever there shall be occasion.

I desire it may be no disadvantage to me, that, by the new act of parliament going to pass for preserving the game, I am not yet qualified to keep a greyhound. If this should be the test of squirehood, it will go hard with a great number of my fraternity, as well as myself, who must all be unsquired, because a greyhound will not be allowed to keep us company; and it is well known I have been a companion to his betters. What has a greyhound to do with a squireship? Might I not be a real squire, although there was no such thing as a greyhound in the world? Pray tell me, sir, are greyhounds to be from henceforth the supporters of every [Pg 53]squire's coat of arms? Although I cannot keep a greyhound, may not a greyhound help to keep me? May not I have an order from the governors of the bank to keep a greyhound, with a non obstante to the act of parliament, as well as they have created a bank against the votes of the two Houses? But, however, this difficulty will soon be overcome. I am promised 125l. a year for subscribing 500l.; and, of this 500l. I am to pay in only 25l. ready money: The governors will trust me for the rest, and pay themselves out of the interest by 25l. per cent. So that I intend to receive only 40l. a-year, to qualify me for keeping my family and a greyhound, and let the remaining 85l. go on till it makes 500l. then 1000l. then 10,000l. then 100,000l. then a million, and so forwards. This, I think, is much better (betwixt you and me) than keeping fairs, and buying and selling bullocks; by which I find, from experience, that little is to be gotten, in these hard times. I am,

Your friend, and
Servant to command,
A. B. Esquire.

Postscript. I hope you will favourably represent my case to the publisher of the paper above-mentioned.

Direct your letter for A. B. Esquire, at —— in ——; and, pray, get some parliament-man to frank it, for it will cost a groat postage to this place.[Pg 55][Pg 54]






Published at his desire, for the common good.

N.B. About the time that this speech was written, the Town was much pestered with street-robbers; who, in a barbarous manner would seize on gentlemen, and take them into remote corners, and after they had robbed them, would leave them bound and gagged. It is remarkable, that this speech had so good an effect, that there have been very few robberies of that kind committed since.[34]

[Pg 56]


Burke spoke of Swift's tracts of a public nature, relating to Ireland, as "those in which the Dean appears in the best light, because they do honour to his heart as well as his head; furnishing some additional proofs that, though he was very free in his abuse of the inhabitants of that country, as well natives as foreigners, he had their interest sincerely at heart, and perfectly understood it."

The following tract on "The Last Words and Dying Speech of Ebenezer Elliston" admirably illustrates Burke's remark.

The city of Dublin, at the time Swift wrote, was on a par with some of the lower districts of New York City about twenty years ago, which were dangerous in the extreme to traverse after dark. Robbers in gangs would waylay pedestrians and leave them often badly maltreated and maimed. These thieves and "roughs" became so impudent and brazen in their business that the condition of the city was a disgrace to the municipal government. To put down the nuisance Swift took a characteristic method. Ebenezer Elliston had, about this time, been executed for street robbery. Although given a good education by his parents, he forsook his trade of a silk weaver, and became a gambler and burglar. He was well known to the other gangs which infested Dublin, but his death did not act as a deterrent. Swift, in composing Elliston's pretended dying speech, gave it the flavour and character of authenticity in order to impose on the members of other gangs, and so successful was he in his intention, that the speech was accepted as the real expression of their late companion by the rest and had a most salutary effect. Scott says it was "received as genuine by the banditti who had been companions of his depredations, who were the more easily persuaded of its authenticity as it contained none of the cant usual in the dying speeches composed for malefactors by the Ordinary or the ballad-makers. The threat which it held out of a list deposited with a secure hand, containing their names, crimes, and place of rendezvous, operated for a long time in preventing a repetition of their villanies, which had previously been so common."

The text of the present edition is based on that given by Faulkner in the fourth volume of his edition of Swift printed in Dublin in 1735.

[T. S.][Pg 57]


I am now going to suffer the just punishment for my crimes prescribed by the law of God and my country. I know it is the constant custom, that those who come to this place should have speeches made for them, and cried about in their own hearing, as they are carried to execution; and truly they are such speeches that although our fraternity be an ignorant illiterate people, they would make a man ashamed to have such nonsense and false English charged upon him even when he is going to the gallows: They contain a pretended account of our birth and family; of the fact for which we are to die; of our sincere repentance; and a declaration of our religion.[35] I cannot expect to avoid the same treatment with my predecessors. However, having had an education one or two degrees better than those of my rank and profession;[36] I have been considering ever since my commitment, what it might be proper for me to deliver upon this occasion.

And first, I cannot say from the bottom of my heart, that I am truly sorry for the offence I have given to God and the world; but I am very much so, for the bad success of my villainies in bringing me to this untimely end. For it is plainly evident, that after having some time ago obtained a pardon from the crown, I again took up my old trade; my evil habits were so rooted in me, and I was grown so unfit [Pg 58]for any other kind of employment. And therefore although in compliance with my friends, I resolve to go to the gallows after the usual manner, kneeling, with a book in my hand, and my eyes lift up; yet I shall feel no more devotion in my heart than I have observed in some of my comrades, who have been drunk among common whores the very night before their execution. I can say further from my own knowledge, that two of my fraternity after they had been hanged, and wonderfully came to life, and made their escapes, as it sometimes happens, proved afterwards the wickedest rogues I ever knew, and so continued until they were hanged again for good and all; and yet they had the impudence at both times they went to the gallows, to smite their breasts, and lift up their eyes to Heaven all the way.

Secondly, From the knowledge I have of my own wicked dispositions and that of my comrades, I give it as my opinion, that nothing can be more unfortunate to the public, than the mercy of the government in ever pardoning or transporting us; unless when we betray one another, as we never fail to do, if we are sure to be well paid; and then a pardon may do good; by the same rule, "That it is better to have but one fox in a farm than three or four." But we generally make a shift to return after being transported, and are ten times greater rogues than before, and much more cunning. Besides, I know it by experience, that some hopes we have of finding mercy, when we are tried, or after we are condemned, is always a great encouragement to us.

Thirdly, Nothing is more dangerous to idle young fellows, than the company of those odious common whores we frequent, and of which this town is full: These wretches put us upon all mischief to feed their lusts and extravagancies: They are ten times more bloody and cruel than men; their advice is always not to spare if we are pursued; they get drunk with us, and are common to us all; and yet, if they can get anything by it, are sure to be our betrayers.

Now, as I am a dying man, I have done something which may be of good use to the public. I have left with an honest man (and indeed the only honest man I was ever acquainted with) the names of all my wicked brethren, the present places of their abode, with a short account of the chief crimes they have committed; in many of which I have been their ac[Pg 59]complice, and heard the rest from their own mouths: I have likewise set down the names of those we call our setters, of the wicked houses we frequent, and of those who receive and buy our stolen goods. I have solemnly charged this honest man, and have received his promise upon oath, that whenever he hears of any rogue to be tried for robbing, or house-breaking, he will look into his list, and if he finds the name there of the thief concerned, to send the whole paper to the government. Of this I here give my companions fair and public warning, and hope they will take it.

In the paper above mentioned, which I left with my friend, I have also set down the names of several gentlemen who have been robbed in Dublin streets for three years past: I have told the circumstances of those robberies; and shewn plainly that nothing but the want of common courage was the cause of their misfortunes. I have therefore desired my friend, that whenever any gentlemen happens to be robbed in the streets, he will get that relation printed and published with the first letters of those gentlemen's names, who by their own want of bravery are likely to be the cause of all the mischief of that kind, which may happen for the future.

I cannot leave the world without a short description of that kind of life, which I have led for some years past; and is exactly the same with the rest of our wicked brethren.

Although we are generally so corrupted from our childhood, as to have no sense of goodness; yet something heavy always hangs about us, I know not what it is, that we are never easy till we are half drunk among our whores and companions; nor sleep sound, unless we drink longer than we can stand. If we go abroad in the day, a wise man would easily find us to be rogues by our faces; we have such a suspicious, fearful, and constrained countenance; often turning back, and slinking through narrow lanes and alleys. I have never failed of knowing a brother thief by his looks, though I never saw him before. Every man among us keeps his particular whore, who is however common to us all, when we have a mind to change. When we have got a booty, if it be in money, we divide it equally among our companions, and soon squander it away on our vices in those houses that receive us; for the master and mistress, and the very tapster, go snacks; and besides make us pay treble[Pg 60] reckonings. If our plunder be plate, watches, rings, snuff-boxes, and the like; we have customers in all quarters of the town to take them off. I have seen a tankard worth fifteen pounds sold to a fellow in —— street for twenty shillings; and a gold watch for thirty. I have set down his name, and that of several others in the paper already mentioned. We have setters watching in corners, and by dead walls, to give us notice when a gentleman goes by; especially if he be anything in drink. I believe in my conscience, that if an account were made of a thousand pounds in stolen goods; considering the low rates we sell them at, the bribes we must give for concealment, the extortions of alehouse-reckonings, and other necessary charges, there would not remain fifty pounds clear to be divided among the robbers. And out of this we must find clothes for our whores, besides treating them from morning to night; who, in requital, reward us with nothing but treachery and the pox. For when our money is gone, they are every moment threatening to inform against us, if we will not go out to look for more. If anything in this world be like hell, as I have heard it described by our clergy; the truest picture of it must be in the back-room of one of our alehouses at midnight; where a crew of robbers and their whores are met together after a booty, and are beginning to grow drunk, from which time, until they are past their senses, is such a continued horrible noise of cursing, blasphemy, lewdness, scurrility, and brutish behaviour; such roaring and confusion, such a clatter of mugs and pots at each other's heads, that Bedlam, in comparison, is a sober and orderly place: At last they all tumble from their stools and benches, and sleep away the rest of the night; and generally the landlord or his wife, or some other whore who has a stronger head than the rest, picks their pockets before they wake. The misfortune is, that we can never be easy till we are drunk; and our drunkenness constantly exposes us to be more easily betrayed and taken.

This is a short picture of the life I have led; which is more miserable than that of the poorest labourer who works for four pence a day; and yet custom is so strong, that I am confident, if I could make my escape at the foot of the gallows, I should be following the same course this very evening. So that upon the whole, we ought to be looked[Pg 61] upon as the common enemies of mankind; whose interest it is to root us out likes wolves, and other mischievous vermin, against which no fair play is required.

If I have done service to men in what I have said, I shall hope I have done service to God; and that will be better than a silly speech made for me full of whining and canting, which I utterly despise, and have never been used to; yet such a one I expect to have my ears tormented with, as I am passing along the streets.

Good people fare ye well; bad as I am, I leave many worse behind me. I hope you shall see me die like a man, the death of a dog.

E.E.[Pg 63][Pg 62]







These maxims, written in the year 1724, may be taken as Swift's opening of his campaign against the oppressive legislation of England which had brought Ireland to the degraded and poverty-stricken condition it existed in at the time he wrote. Burke characterizes these maxims as "a collection of State Paradoxes, abounding with great sense and penetration." The subjects they touch on are dealt with in greater detail in the tracts which follow in this volume, and the reader is referred to them and the notes for the causes which had brought Ireland in so low a state.

The text of the present edition is based on that given by Deane Swift in the eighth volume of the edition of 1765.

[T. S.][Pg 65]


There are certain maxims of state, founded upon long observation and experience, drawn from the constant practice of the wisest nations, and from the very principles of government, nor ever controlled by any writer upon politics. Yet all these maxims do necessarily presuppose a kingdom, or commonwealth, to have the same natural rights common to the rest of mankind, who have entered into civil society; for if we could conceive a nation where each of the inhabitants had but one eye, one leg, and one hand, it is plain that, before you could institute them into a republic, an allowance must be made for those material defects wherein they differed from other mortals. Or, imagine a legislator forming a system for the government of Bedlam, and, proceeding upon the maxim that man is a sociable animal, should draw them out of their cells, and form them into corporations or general assemblies; the consequence might probably be, that they would fall foul on each other, or burn the house over their own heads.

Of the like nature are innumerable errors committed by crude and short thinkers, who reason upon general topics, without the least allowance for the most important circumstances, which quite alter the nature of the case.

This hath been the fate of those small dealers, who are every day publishing their thoughts, either on paper or in their assemblies, for improving the trade of Ireland, and re[Pg 66]ferring us to the practice and example of England, Holland, France, or other nations.

I shall, therefore, examine certain maxims of government, which generally pass for uncontrolled in the world, and consider how far they will suit with the present condition of this kingdom.

First, It is affirmed by wise men, that "The dearness of things necessary for life, in a fruitful country, is a certain sign of wealth and great commerce;" for when such necessaries are dear, it must absolutely follow that money is cheap and plentiful.

But this is manifestly false in Ireland, for the following reason. Some years ago, the species of money here did probably amount to six or seven hundred thousand pounds;[38] and I have good cause to believe, that our remittances then did not much exceed the cash brought in to us. But, the prodigious discouragements we have since received in every branch of our trade, by the frequent enforcements and rigorous execution of the navigation-act,[39] the tyranny of under custom-house officers, the yearly addition of absentees, the payments to regiments abroad, to civil and military officers residing in England, the unexpected sudden demands of great sums from the treasury, and some other drains of perhaps as great consequence,[40] we now see ourselves reduced to a state (since we have no friends) of being pitied by our enemies; at least, if our enemies were of such a kind, as to be capable of any regard towards us except of hatred and contempt.

Forty years are now passed since the Revolution, when [Pg 67] the contention of the British Empire was, most unfortunately for us, and altogether against the usual course of such mighty changes in government, decided in the least important nation; but with such ravages and ruin executed on both sides, as to leave the kingdom a desert, which in some sort it still continues. Neither did the long rebellions in 1641, make half such a destruction of houses, plantations, and personal wealth, in both kingdoms, as two years campaigns did in ours, by fighting England's battles.

By slow degrees, and by the gentle treatment we received under two auspicious reigns,[41] we grew able to live without running in debt. Our absentees were but few: we had great indulgence in trade, a considerable share in employments of church and state; and while the short leases continued, which were let some years after the war ended, tenants paid their rents with ease and cheerfulness, to the great regret of their landlords, who had taken up a spirit of oppression that is not easily removed. And although, in these short leases, the rent was gradually to increase after short periods, yet, as soon as the terms elapsed, the land was let to the highest bidder, most commonly without the least effectual clause for building or planting. Yet, by many advantages, which this island then possessed, and hath since utterly lost, the rents of lands still grew higher upon every lease that expired, till they have arrived at the present exorbitance; when the frog, over-swelling himself, burst at last.

With the price of land of necessity rose that of corn and cattle, and all other commodities that farmers deal in: hence likewise, obviously, the rates of all goods and manufactures among shopkeepers, the wages of servants, and hire of labourers. But although our miseries came on fast, with neither trade nor money left; yet neither will the landlord abate in his rent, nor can the tenant abate in the price of what that rent must be paid with, nor any shopkeeper, tradesman, or labourer live, at lower expense for food and clothing, than he did before.

I have been the larger upon this first head, because the[Pg 68] same observations will clear up and strengthen a good deal of what I shall affirm upon the rest.

The second maxim of those who reason upon trade and government, is, to assert that "Low interest is a certain sign of great plenty of money in a nation," for which, as in many other articles, they produce the examples of Holland and England. But, with relation to Ireland, this maxim is likewise entirely false.

There are two reasons for the lowness of interest in any country. First, that which is usually alleged, the great plenty of species; and this is obvious. The second is, the want of trade, which seldom falls under common observation, although it be equally true: for, where trade is altogether discouraged, there are few borrowers. In those countries where men can employ a large stock, the young merchant, whose fortune may be four or five hundred pounds, will venture to borrow as much more, and can afford a reasonable interest. Neither is it easy, at this day, to find many of those, whose business reaches to employ even so inconsiderable a sum, except among the importers of wine, who, as they have most part of the present trade in these parts of Ireland in their hands, so they are the most exorbitant, exacting, fraudulent dealers, that ever trafficked in any nation, and are making all possible speed to ruin both themselves and the nation.

From this defect of gentlemen's not knowing how to dispose of their ready money, ariseth the high purchase of lands, which in all other countries is reckoned a sign of wealth. For, the frugal squires, who live below their incomes, have no other way to dispose of their savings but by mortgage or purchase, by which the rates of land must naturally increase; and if this trade continues long, under the uncertainty of rents, the landed men of ready money will find it more for their advantage to send their cash to England, and place it in the funds; which I myself am determined to do, the first considerable sum I shall be master of.

It hath likewise been a maxim among politicians, "That the great increase of buildings in the metropolis, argues a flourishing state." But this, I confess, hath been controlled from the example of London; where, by the long and annual[Pg 69] parliamentary session, such a number of senators, with their families, friends, adherents, and expectants, draw such prodigious numbers to that city, that the old hospitable custom of lords and gentlemen living in their ancient seats among their tenants, is almost lost in England; is laughed out of doors; insomuch that, in the middle of summer, a legal House of Lords and Commons might be brought in a few hours to London, from their country villas within twelve miles round.

The case in Ireland is yet somewhat worse: For the absentees of great estates, who, if they lived at home, would have many rich retainers in their neighbourhoods, have learned to rack their lands, and shorten their leases, as much as any residing squire; and the few remaining of these latter, having some vain hope of employments for themselves, or their children, and discouraged by the beggarliness and thievery of their own miserable farmers and cottagers, or seduced by the vanity of their wives, on pretence of their children's education (whereof the fruits are so apparent,) together with that most wonderful, and yet more unaccountable zeal, for a seat in their assembly, though at some years' purchase of their whole estates: these, and some other motives better let pass, have drawn such a concourse to this beggarly city, that the dealers of the several branches of building have found out all the commodious and inviting places for erecting new houses; while fifteen hundred of the old ones, which is a seventh part of the whole city, are said to be left uninhabited, and falling to ruin. Their method is the same with that which was first introduced by Dr. Barebone at London, who died a bankrupt.[42] The mason, the bricklayer, the carpenter, the slater, and the glazier, take a lot of ground, club to build one or more houses, unite their credit, their stock, and their money; and when their work is finished, sell it to the best advantage they can. But, as it often happens, and more every day, [Pg 70]that their fund will not answer half their design, they are forced to undersell it at the first story, and are all reduced to beggary. Insomuch, that I know a certain fanatic brewer, who is reported to have some hundreds of houses in this town, is said to have purchased the greater part of them at half value from ruined undertakers; hath intelligence of all new houses where the finishing is at a stand, takes advantage of the builder's distress, and, by the advantage of ready money, gets fifty per cent. at least for his bargain.

It is another undisputed maxim in government, "That people are the riches of a nation;" which is so universally granted, that it will be hardly pardonable to bring it in doubt. And I will grant it to be so far true, even in this island, that if we had the African custom, or privilege, of selling our useless bodies for slaves to foreigners, it would be the most useful branch of our trade, by ridding us of a most unsupportable burthen, and bringing us money in the stead. But, in our present situation, at least five children in six who are born, lie a dead weight upon us, for want of employment. And a very skilful computer assured me, that above one half of the souls in this kingdom supported themselves by begging and thievery; whereof two thirds would be able to get their bread in any other country upon earth.[43] Trade is the only incitement to labour; where that fails, the poorer native must either beg, steal, or starve, or be forced to quit his country. This hath made me often wish, for some years past, that instead of discouraging our people from seeking foreign soil, the public would rather pay for transporting all our unnecessary mortals, whether Papists or Protestants, to America; as drawbacks are sometimes allowed for exporting commodities, where a nation is over-stocked. I confess myself to be touched with a very sensible [Pg 71]pleasure, when I hear of a mortality in any country parish or village, where the wretches are forced to pay for a filthy cabin, and two ridges of potatoes, treble the worth; brought up to steal or beg, for want of work; to whom death would be the best thing to be wished for on account both of themselves and the public.[44]

Among all taxes imposed by the legislature, those upon luxury are universally allowed to be the most equitable, and beneficial to the subject; and the commonest reasoner on government might fill a volume with arguments on the subject. Yet here again, by the singular fate of Ireland, this maxim is utterly false; and the putting it in practice may have such pernicious a consequence, as, I certainly believe, the thoughts of the proposers were not able to reach.

The miseries we suffer by our absentees, are of a far more extensive nature than seems to be commonly understood. I must vindicate myself to the reader so far, as to declare solemnly, that what I shall say of those lords and squires, doth not arise from the least regard I have for their understandings, their virtues, or their persons: for, although I have not the honour of the least acquaintance with any one among them, (my ambition not soaring so high) yet I am too good a witness of the situation they have been in for thirty years past; the veneration paid them by the people, the high esteem they are in among the prime nobility and gentry, the particular marks of favour and distinction they receive from the Court; the weight and consequence of their interest, added to their great zeal and application for preventing any hardships their country might suffer from England, wisely considering that their own fortunes and honours were embarked in the same bottom.[Pg 73][Pg 72]





Begun April 20, 1724. To be continued Weekly, if due Encouragement be given.[Pg 74]


Swift's friends in Ireland were not many. He had no high opinion of the people with whom he was compelled to live. But among those who displeased him least, to use the phrase he employed in writing to Pope, was a kindly and warm-hearted scholar named Sheridan. Sheridan must have taken Swift's fancy, since they spent much time together and wrote each other verses and nonsense rhymes. He had failed in his attempt to keep up a school in Dublin, and refused the headmastership of the school of Armagh which Lord Primate Lindsay had offered him, through Swift's efforts. Swift however obtained for him, from Carteret, one of the chaplaincies of the Lord-Lieutenant and a small living near Cork. Unfortunately Sheridan was struck off from the list of chaplains on the information of one Richard Tighe who reported that Sheridan, on the anniversary of the accession of the House of Hanover, had preached from the text "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." Poor Sheridan had been totally unconscious of committing any indiscretion, but he could not deny the fact.

It was at Quilca, a small county village, near Kells, that Sheridan was accustomed to spend his vacations with his family at a small house he owned there. Swift used often to use this house, at Sheridan's desire, and spent many days there in quiet enjoyment with Mrs. Dingley and Esther Johnson. The place and his life there he has attempted to describe in the following piece; but the description may also stand, as Scott observes, as "no bad supplement to Swift's account of Ireland."

The text here given is based on that printed in the eighth volume of the Edinburgh edition of 1761.

[T. S.][Pg 75]



But one lock and a half in the whole house.

The key of the garden door lost.

The empty bottles all uncleanable.

The vessels for drink few and leaky.

The new house all going to ruin before it is finished.

One hinge of the street door broke off, and the people forced to go out and come in at the back-door.

The door of the Dean's bed-chamber full of large chinks.

The beaufet letting in so much wind that it almost blows out the candles.

The Dean's bed threatening every night to fall under him.

The little table loose and broken in the joints.

The passages open over head, by which the cats pass continually into the cellar, and eat the victuals; for which one was tried, condemned, and executed by the sword.

The large table in a very tottering condition.

But one chair in the house fit for sitting on, and that in a very ill state of health.

The kitchen perpetually crowded with savages.

Not a bit of mutton to be had in the country.

Want of beds, and a mutiny thereupon among the servants, till supplied from Kells.

An egregious want of all the most common necessary utensils.

Not a bit of turf in this cold weather; and Mrs. Johnson[46][Pg 76] and the Dean in person, with all their servants, forced to assist at the bog, in gathering up the wet bottoms of old clamps.

The grate in the ladies' bed-chamber broke, and forced to be removed, by which they were compelled to be without fire; the chimney smoking intolerably; and the Dean's great-coat was employed to stop the wind from coming down the chimney, without which expedient they must have been starved to death.

A messenger sent a mile to borrow an old broken tun-dish.

Bottles stopped with bits of wood and tow, instead of corks.

Not one utensil for a fire, except an old pair of tongs, which travels through the house, and is likewise employed to take the meat out of the pot, for want of a flesh-fork.

Every servant an arrant thief as to victuals and drink, and every comer and goer as arrant a thief of everything he or she can lay their hands on.

The spit blunted with poking into bogs for timber, and tears the meat to pieces.

Bellum atque foeminam: or, A kitchen war between nurse and a nasty crew of both sexes; she to preserve order and cleanliness, they to destroy both; and they generally are conquerors.

April 28. This morning the great fore-door quite open, dancing backwards and forwards with all its weight upon the lower hinge, which must have been broken if the Dean had not accidentally come and relieved it.

A great hole in the floor of the ladies' chamber, every hour hazarding a broken leg.

Two damnable iron spikes erect on the Dean's bedstead, by which he is in danger of a broken shin at rising and going to bed.

The ladies' and Dean's servants growing fast into the manners and thieveries of the natives; the ladies themselves very much corrupted; the Dean perpetually storming, and m danger of either losing all his flesh, or sinking into barbarity for the sake of peace.

Mrs. Dingley[47] full of cares for herself, and blunders and[Pg 77] negligence for her friends. Mrs. Johnson sick and helpless. The Dean deaf and fretting; the lady's maid awkward and clumsy; Robert lazy and forgetful; William a pragmatical, ignorant, and conceited puppy; Robin and nurse the two great and only supports of the family.

Bellum lacteum: or, The milky battle, fought between the Dean and the crew of Quilca; the latter insisting on their privilege of not milking till eleven in the forenoon; whereas Mrs. Johnson wanted milk at eight for her health. In this battle the Dean got the victory; but the crew of Quilca begin to rebel again; for it is this day almost ten o'clock, and Mrs. Johnson hath not got her milk.

A proverb on the laziness and lodgings of the servants: "The worse their sty—the longer they lie."[48]

Two great holes in the wall of the ladies' bed-chamber, just at the back of the bed, and one of them directly behind Mrs. Johnson's pillow, either of which would blow out a candle in the calmest day.[Pg 79][Pg 78]





Printed by S. HARDING, next Door to the Crown in Copper-Alley,


This tract, written and published towards the end of the year 1728, summarizes the disadvantages under which Ireland suffered at the time, and re-enforces the contention that these were mainly due to England's jealousy and stupid indifference. Swift, however, does not lose sight of the fact that the people of Ireland also were somewhat to blame, though in a much less degree.

In Dublin, where tracts of this nature had now become almost commonplace and where official interference in their publication had been found unwise and even dangerous, the issue of the "Short View" was effected without any official comment. In England, however, where it was reprinted by Mist the journalist, it was otherwise. Its publication brought down a prosecution on Mist, who, no doubt, numbered this with the many others which were visited upon him. It is an important tract, to which many historians of Ireland have often referred.

The text of the present edition is based on that of the first edition and compared with that given by Sir Walter Scott.

[T. S.][Pg 81]

[Pg 83][Pg 82]


Short VIEW





I am assured that it hath for some time been practised as a method of making men's court, when they are asked about the rate of lands, the abilities of tenants, the state of trade and manufacture in this Kingdom, and how their rents are paid, to answer, That in their neighbourhood all things are in a flourishing condition, the rent and purchase of land every day increasing. And if a gentleman happens to be a little more sincere in his representations, besides being looked on as not well affected, he is sure to have a dozen contradictors at his elbow. I think it is no manner of secret why these questions are so cordially asked, or so obligingly answered.

But since with regard to the affairs of this Kingdom, I have been using all endeavours to subdue my indignation, to which indeed I am not provoked by any personal interest, being not the owner of one spot of ground in the whole Island, I shall only enumerate by rules generally known, and never contradicted, what are the true causes of any country's flourishing and growing rich, and then examine what effects arise from those causes in the Kingdom of Ireland.

The first cause of a Kingdom's thriving is the fruitfulness of the soil, to produce the necessaries and conveniences of life, not only sufficient for the inhabitants, but for exportation into other countries.

The second, is the industry of the people in working up all their native commodities to the last degree of manufacture.

The third, is the conveniency of safe ports and havens, to carry out their own goods, as much manufactured, and bring[Pg 84] in those of others, as little manufactured as the nature of mutual commerce will allow.

The fourth, is, That the natives should as much as possible, export and import their goods in vessels of their own timber, made in their own country.

The fifth, is the liberty of a free trade in all foreign countries, which will permit them, except those who are in war with their own Prince or State.

The sixth, is, by being governed only by laws made with their own consent, for otherwise they are not a free People. And therefore all appeals for justice, or applications, for favour or preferment to another country, are so many grievous impoverishments.

The seventh, is, by improvement of land, encouragement of agriculture, and thereby increasing the number of their people, without which any country, however blessed by Nature, must continue poor.

The eighth, is the residence of the Princes, or chief administrators of the civil power.

The ninth, is the concourse of foreigners for education, curiosity or pleasure, or as to a general mart of trade.

The tenth, is by disposing all offices of honour, profit or trust, only to the natives, or at least with very few exceptions, where strangers have long inhabited the country, and are supposed to understand, and regard the interest of it as their own.

The eleventh is, when the rents of lands, and profits of employments, are spent in the country which produced them, and not in another, the former of which will certainly happen, where the love of our native country prevails.

The twelfth, is by the public revenues being all spent and employed at home, except on the occasions of a foreign war.

The thirteenth, is where the people are not obliged, unless they find it for their own interest, or conveniency, to receive any monies, except of their own coinage by a public mint, after the manner of all civilized nations.

The fourteenth, is a disposition of the people of a country to wear their own manufactures, and import as few incitements to luxury, either in clothes, furniture, food or drink, as they possibly can live conveniently without.

There are many other causes of a Nation's thriving, which[Pg 85] I cannot at present recollect; but without advantage from at least some of these, after turning my thoughts a long time, I am not able to discover from whence our wealth proceeds, and therefore would gladly be better informed. In the mean time, I will here examine what share falls to Ireland of these causes, or of the effects and consequences.

It is not my intention to complain, but barely to relate facts, and the matter is not of small importance. For it is allowed, that a man who lives in a solitary house far from help, is not wise in endeavouring to acquire in the neighbourhood, the reputation of being rich, because those who come for gold, will go off with pewter and brass, rather than return empty; and in the common practice of the world, those who possess most wealth, make the least parade, which they leave to others, who have nothing else to bear them out, in shewing their faces on the Exchange.

As to the first cause of a Nation's riches, being the fertility of the soil, as well as temperature of climate, we have no reason to complain; for although the quantity of unprofitable land in this Kingdom, reckoning bog, and rock, and barren mountain, be double in proportion to what it is in England, yet the native productions which both Kingdoms deal in, are very near on equality in point of goodness, and might with the same encouragement be as well manufactured. I except mines and minerals, in some of which however we are only defective in point of skill and industry.

In the second, which is the industry of the people, our misfortune is not altogether owing to our own fault, but to a million of discouragements.

The conveniency of ports and havens which Nature bestowed us so liberally is of no more use to us, than a beautiful prospect to a man shut up in a dungeon.

As to shipping of its own, this Kingdom is so utterly unprovided, that of all the excellent timber cut down within these fifty or sixty years, it can hardly be said that the Nation hath received the benefit of one valuable house to dwell in, or one ship to trade with.

Ireland is the only Kingdom I ever heard or read of, either in ancient or modern story, which was denied the liberty of exporting their native commodities and manufactures wherever they pleased, except to countries at war[Pg 86] with their own Prince or State, yet this by the superiority of mere power is refused us in the most momentous parts of commerce,[49] besides an Act of Navigation to which we never consented, pinned down upon us, and rigorously executed,[50] and a thousand other unexampled circumstances as grievous as they are invidious to mention. To go unto the rest.

It is too well known that we are forced to obey some laws we never consented to, which is a condition I must not call by its true uncontroverted name for fear of my Lord Chief Justice Whitshed's ghost with his Libertas et natale solum, written as a motto on his coach, as it stood at the door of the court, while he was perjuring himself to betray both.[51] Thus, we are in the condition of patients who have physic sent them by doctors at a distance, strangers to their constitution, and the nature of their disease: And thus, we are forced to pay five hundred per cent. to divide our properties, in all which we have likewise the honour to be distinguished from the whole race of mankind.

As to improvement of land, those few who attempt that or planting, through covetousness or want of skill, generally leave things worse than they were, neither succeeding in trees [Pg 87]nor hedges, and by running into the fancy of grazing after the manner of the Scythians, are every day depopulating the country.

We are so far from having a King to reside among us, that even the Viceroy is generally absent four-fifths of his time in the Government.

No strangers from other countries make this a part of their travels, where they can expect to see nothing but scenes of misery and desolation.[52]

Those who have the misfortune to be born here, have the least title to any considerable employment to which they are seldom preferred, but upon a political consideration.[Pg 88]

One third part of the rents of Ireland is spent in England, which with the profit of employments, pensions, appeals, journeys of pleasure or health, education at the Inns of Court, and both Universities, remittances at pleasure, the pay of all superior officers in the army and other incidents, will amount to a full half of the income of the whole Kingdom, all clear profit to England.

We are denied the liberty of coining gold, silver, or even copper. In the Isle of Man, they coin their own silver, every petty Prince, vassal to the Emperor, can coin what money he pleaseth.[53] And in this as in most of the articles already mentioned, we are an exception to all other States or Monarchies that were ever known in the world.

As to the last, or fourteenth article, we take special care to act diametrically contrary to it in the whole course of our lives. Both sexes, but especially the women, despise and abhor to wear any of their own manufactures, even those which are better made than in other countries, particularly a sort of silk plaid, through which the workmen are forced to run a sort of gold thread that it may pass for Indian. Even ale and potatoes in great quantity are imported from England as well as corn, and our foreign trade is little more than importation of French wine, for which I am told we pay ready money.

Now if all this be true, upon which I could easily enlarge, I would be glad to know by what secret method it is that we grow a rich and flourishing people, without liberty, trade, manufactures, inhabitants, money, or the privilege of coining; without industry, labour or improvement of lands, and with more than half of the rent and profits of the whole Kingdom, annually exported, for which we receive not a single farthing: And to make up all this, nothing worth mentioning, except the linen of the North, a trade casual, corrupted, and at mercy, and some butter from Cork. If we do flourish, it must be against every law of Nature and Reason, like the thorn at Glastonbury, that blossoms in the midst of Winter.

Let the worthy Commissioners who come from England[Pg 89] ride round the Kingdom, and observe the face of Nature, or the face of the natives, the improvement of the land, the thriving numerous plantations, the noble woods, the abundance and vicinity of country seats, the commodious farmers houses and barns, the towns and villages, where everybody is busy and thriving with all kind of manufactures, the shops full of goods wrought to perfection, and filled with customers, the comfortable diet and dress, and dwellings of the people, the vast numbers of ships in our harbours and docks, and shipwrights in our sea-port towns. The roads crowded with carriers laden with rich manufactures, the perpetual concourse to and fro of pompous equipages.

With what envy and admiration would these gentlemen return from so delightful a progress? What glorious reports would they make when they went back to England?

But my heart is too heavy to continue this journey[54] longer, for it is manifest that whatever stranger took such a journey, would be apt to think himself travelling in Lapland or Ysland,[55] rather than in a country so favoured by Nature as ours, both in fruitfulness of soil, and temperature of climate. The miserable dress, and diet, and dwelling of the people. The general desolation in most parts of the Kingdom. The old seats of the nobility and gentry all in ruins, and no new ones in their stead. The families of farmers who pay great rents, living in filth and nastiness upon butter-milk and potatoes, without a shoe or stocking to their feet, or a house so convenient as an English hog-sty to receive them.[56] These indeed may be comfortable sights to an English spectator, who comes for a short time only to learn the language, and returns back to his own country, whither he finds all our wealth transmitted.

Nostrâ miseriâ magnus es.

There is not one argument used to prove the riches of [Pg 90]Ireland, which is not a logical demonstration of its poverty. The rise of our rents is squeezed out of the very blood and vitals, and clothes, and dwellings of the tenants who live worse than English beggars. The lowness of interest, in all other countries a sign of wealth, is in us a proof of misery, there being no trade to employ any borrower. Hence alone comes the dearness of land, since the savers have no other way to lay out their money. Hence the dearness of necessaries for life, because the tenants cannot afford to pay such extravagant rates for land (which they must take, or go a-begging) without raising the price of cattle, and of corn, although they should live upon chaff. Hence our increase of buildings in this City, because workmen have nothing to do but employ one another, and one half of them are infallibly undone. Hence the daily increase of bankers, who may be a necessary evil in a trading country, but so ruinous in ours, who for their private advantage have sent away all our silver, and one third of our gold, so that within three years past the running cash of the Nation, which was about five hundred thousand pounds, is now less than two, and must daily diminish unless we have liberty to coin, as well as that important Kingdom the Isle of Man, and the meanest Prince in the German Empire, as I before observed.[57]

I have sometimes thought, that this paradox of the Kingdom growing rich, is chiefly owing to those worthy gentlemen the BANKERS, who, except some custom-house officers, birds of passage, oppressive thrifty squires, and a few others that shall be nameless, are the only thriving people among us: And I have often wished that a law were enacted to hang up half a dozen bankers every year, and thereby interpose at least some short delay, to the further ruin of Ireland.

"Ye are idle, ye are idle," answered Pharaoh to the[Pg 91] Israelites, when they complained to his Majesty, that they were forced to make bricks without straw.

England enjoys every one of these advantages for enriching a Nation, which I have above enumerated, and into the bargain, a good million returned to them every year without labour or hazard, or one farthing value received on our side. But how long we shall be able to continue the payment, I am not under the least concern. One thing I know, that when the hen is starved to death, there will be no more golden eggs.

I think it a little unhospitable, and others may call it a subtile piece of malice, that, because there may be a dozen families in this Town, able to entertain their English friends in a generous manner at their tables, their guests upon their return to England, shall report that we wallow in riches and luxury.

Yet I confess I have known an hospital, where all the household officers grew rich, while the poor for whose sake it was built, were almost starving for want of food and raiment.

To conclude. If Ireland be a rich and flourishing Kingdom, its wealth and prosperity must be owing to certain causes, that are yet concealed from the whole race of mankind, and the effects are equally invisible. We need not wonder at strangers when they deliver such paradoxes, but a native and inhabitant of this Kingdom, who gives the same verdict, must be either ignorant to stupidity, or a man-pleaser at the expense of all honour, conscience and truth.[Pg 93][Pg 92]









Under the guises of a gentleman and two ladies, Swift represents England, Scotland, and Ireland—England being the gentleman and Scotland and Ireland the two mistresses for whom he is affecting an honourable love. The Injured Lady is Ireland, who represents her rival, Scotland, as unworthy of her lover's attention. She expatiates on her own attractions and upbraids him also on his treatment of her. This affords Swift an opportunity for some searching and telling criticism on England's conduct towards Ireland. The fiction is admirably maintained throughout the story.

In "The Answer to the Injured Lady" which follows "The Story," Swift takes it upon himself to give her proper advice for her future conduct towards her lover. In this advice he reiterates what he has always been saying to the people of Ireland, but formulates it in the language affected by the lady herself. He tells her that she should look to it that her "family and tenants have no dependence upon the said gentleman farther than by the old agreement [the Act of Henry VII], which obliges you to have the same steward, and to regulate your household by such methods as you should both agree to"; that she shall be free to carry her goods to any market she pleases; that she shall compel the servants to whom she pays wages to remain at home; and that if she make an agreement with a tenant, it shall not be in his power to break it. If she will only show a proper spirit, he assures her that there are gentlemen who would be glad of an occasion to support her in her resentment.

The text of both the tracts here given is based on that of the earliest edition I could find, namely, that of 1746, collated with that given by Faulkner.

[T. S.][Pg 95]





Being a true Picture of

Scotch Perfidy, Irish Poverty, and English Partiality.



Never before Printed.

By the Rev. Dr. Swift, D.S.P.D.


Printed for M. Cooper, at the Globe in
Pater-Noster-Row. MDCCXLVI.
[Price One Shilling.][Pg 97][Pg 96]



Being ruined by the inconstancy and unkindness of a lover, I hope, a true and plain relation of my misfortunes may be of use and warning to credulous maids, never to put too much trust in deceitful men.

A gentleman[58] in the neighbourhood had two mistresses, another and myself;[59] and he pretended honourable love to us both. Our three houses stood pretty near one another; his was parted from mine by a river,[60] and from my rival's by an old broken wall.[61] But before I enter into the particulars of this gentleman's hard usage of me, I will give a very just impartial character of my rival and myself.

As to her person she is tall and lean, and very ill shaped; she hath bad features, and a worse complexion; she hath a stinking breath, and twenty ill smells about her besides; which are yet more insufferable by her natural sluttishness; for she is always lousy, and never without the itch. As to other qualities, she hath no reputation either for virtue, honesty, truth, or manners; and it is no wonder, considering what her education hath been. Scolding and cursing are her common conversation. To sum up all; she is poor and beggarly, and gets a sorry maintenance by pilfering wherever she comes. As for this gentleman who is now so fond of her, she still beareth him an invincible hatred; revileth him to his face, and raileth at him in all companies. Her house is frequented by a company of rogues and [Pg 98]thieves, and pickpockets, whom she encourageth to rob his hen-roosts, steal his corn and cattle, and do him all manner of mischief.[62] She hath been known to come at the head of these rascals, and beat her lover until he was sore from head to foot, and then force him to pay for the trouble she was at. Once, attended with a crew of ragamuffins, she broke into his house, turned all things topsy-turvy, and then set it on fire. At the same time she told so many lies among his servants, that it set them all by the ears, and his poor Steward was knocked on the head;[63] for which I think, and so doth all the Country, that she ought to be answerable. To conclude her character; she is of a different religion, being a Presbyterian of the most rank and virulent kind, and consequently having an inveterate hatred to the Church; yet, I am sure, I have been always told, that in marriage there ought to be an union of minds as well as of persons.

I will now give my own character, and shall do it in few words, and with modesty and truth.

I was reckoned to be as handsome as any in our neighbourhood, until I became pale and thin with grief and ill usage. I am still fair enough, and have, I think, no very ill feature about me. They that see me now will hardly allow me ever to have had any great share of beauty; for besides being so much altered, I go always mobbed and in an undress, as well out of neglect, as indeed for want of clothes to appear in. I might add to all this, that I was born to a good estate, although it now turneth to little account under the oppressions I endure, and hath been the true cause of all my misfortunes.[64]

Some years ago, this gentleman taking a fancy either to my person or fortune, made his addresses to me; which, being then young and foolish, I too readily admitted; he seemed to use me with so much tenderness, and his conversation was so very engaging, that all my constancy and virtue were too soon overcome; and, to dwell no longer upon a theme that causeth such bitter reflections, I must [Pg 99]confess with shame, that I was undone by the common arts practised upon all easy credulous virgins, half by force, and half by consent, after solemn vows and protestations of marriage. When he had once got possession, he soon began to play the usual part of a too fortunate lover, affecting on all occasions to shew his authority, and to act like a conqueror. First, he found fault with the government of my family, which I grant, was none of the best, consisting of ignorant illiterate creatures; for at that time, I knew but little of the world. In compliance to him, therefore, I agreed to fall into his ways and methods of living; I consented that his steward[65] should govern my house, and have liberty to employ an under-steward,[66] who should receive his directions. My lover proceeded further, turning away several old servants and tenants, and supplying me with others from his own house. These grew so domineering and unreasonable, that there was no quiet, and I heard of nothing but perpetual quarrels, which although I could not possibly help, yet my lover laid all the blame and punishment upon me; and upon every falling out, still turned away more of my people, and supplied me in their stead with a number of fellows and dependents of his own, whom he had no other way to provide for.[67] Overcome by love and to avoid noise and contention, I yielded to all his usurpations, and finding it in vain to resist, I thought it my best policy to make my court to my new servants, and draw them to my interests; I fed them from my own table with the best I had, put my new tenants on the choice parts of my land, and treated them all so kindly, that they began to love me as well as their master. In process of time, all my old servants were gone, and I had not a creature about me, nor above one or two tenants but what were of his choosing; yet I had the good luck by gentle usage to bring over the greatest part of them to my side. When my lover observed this, he began to alter his language; and, to those who enquired about me, he would answer, that I was an old [Pg 100]dependant upon his family, whom he had placed on some concerns of his own; and he began to use me accordingly, neglecting by degrees all common civility in his behaviour. I shall never forget the speech he made me one morning, which he delivered with all the gravity in the world. He put me in the mind of the vast obligations I lay under to him, in sending me so many of his people for my own good, and to teach me manners: That it had cost him ten times more than I was worth, to maintain me: That it had been much better for him, if I had been damned, or burnt, or sunk to the bottom of the sea: That it was but reasonable I should strain myself as far as I was able, to reimburse him some of his charges: That from henceforward he expected his word should be a law to me in all things: That I must maintain a parish-watch against thieves and robbers, and give salaries to an overseer, a constable, and others, all of his own choosing, whom he would send from time to time to be spies upon me: That to enable me the better in supporting these expenses, my tenants shall be obliged to carry all their goods cross the river to his town-market, and pay toll on both sides, and then sell them at half value.[68] But because we were a nasty sort of people, and that he could not endure to touch anything we had a hand in, and likewise, because he wanted work to employ his own folks, therefore we must send all our goods to his market just in their naturals;[69] the milk immediately from the cow without making it into cheese or butter; the corn in the ear, the grass as it is mowed; the wool as it cometh from the sheep's back, and bring the fruit upon the branch, that he might not be obliged to eat it after our filthy hands: That if a tenant carried but a piece of bread and cheese to eat by the way, or an inch of worsted to mend his stockings, he should forfeit his whole parcel: And because a company of rogues usually plied on the river between us, who often robbed my tenants of their goods and boats, he ordered a waterman of his to guard them, whose manner was to be out of the way until the poor wretches were plundered; then to overtake the thieves, and seize all as lawful prize to his master and [Pg 101]himself. It would be endless to repeat a hundred other hardships he hath put upon me; but it is a general rule, that whenever he imagines the smallest advantage will redound to one of his footboys by any new oppression of me and my whole family and estate, he never disputeth it a moment. All this hath rendered me so very insignificant and contemptible at home, that some servants to whom I pay the greatest wages, and many tenants who have the most beneficial leases, are gone over to live with him; yet I am bound to continue their wages, and pay their rents;[70] by which means one third part of my whole income is spent on his estate, and above another third by his tolls and markets; and my poor tenants are so sunk and impoverished, that, instead of maintaining me suitably to my quality, they can hardly find me clothes to keep me warm, or provide the common necessaries of life for themselves.

Matters being in this posture between me and my lover; I received intelligence that he had been for some time making very pressing overtures of marriage to my rival, until there happened some misunderstandings between them; she gave him ill words, and threatened to break off all commerce with him. He, on the other side, having either acquired courage by his triumphs over me, or supposing her as tame a fool as I, thought at first to carry it with a high hand; but hearing at the same time, that she had thoughts of making some private proposals to join with me against him, and doubting, with very good reason, that I would readily accept them, he seemed very much disconcerted.[71] This I thought was a proper occasion to shew some great example of generosity and love, and so, without further consideration, I sent him word, that hearing there was likely to be a quarrel between him and my rival; notwithstanding all that had passed, and without binding him to any conditions in my own favour, I would stand by him against her and all the world, while I had a penny in my purse, or a petticoat to pawn. This message was subscribed by all my chief tenants; and proved so powerful, that my rival imme[Pg 102]diately grew more tractable upon it. The result of which was, that there is now a treaty of marriage concluded between them,[72] the wedding clothes are bought, and nothing remaineth but to perform the ceremony, which is put off for some days, because they design it to be a public wedding. And to reward my love, constancy, and generosity, he hath bestowed on me the office of being sempstress to his grooms and footmen, which I am forced to accept or starve.[73] Yet, in the midst of this my situation, I cannot but have some pity for this deluded man, to cast himself away on an infamous creature, who, whatever she pretendeth, I can prove, would at this very minute rather be a whore to a certain great man, that shall be nameless, if she might have her will.[74] For my part, I think, and so doth all the country too, that the man is possessed; at least none of us are able to imagine what he can possibly see in her, unless she hath bewitched him, or given him some powder.

I am sure, I never sought his alliance, and you can bear me witness, that I might have had other matches; nay, if I were lightly disposed, I could still perhaps have offers, that some, who hold their heads higher, would be glad to accept.[75] But alas! I never had any such wicked thought; all I now desire is, only to enjoy a little quiet, to be free from the persecutions of this unreasonable man, and that he will let me manage my own little fortune to the best advantage; for which I will undertake to pay him a considerable pension every year, much more considerable than what he now gets by his oppressions; for he must needs find himself a loser at last, when he hath drained me and my tenants so dry, that we shall not have a penny for him or ourselves. There is one imposition of his, I had almost forgot, which I think unsufferable, and will appeal to you or any reasonable person, whether it be so or not. I told you before, that by an old compact we agreed to have the same steward, at which time I consented likewise to regulate my family and estate [Pg 103]by the same method with him, which he then shewed me writ down in form, and I approved of.[76] Now, the turn he thinks fit to give this compact of ours is very extraordinary; for he pretends that whatever orders he shall think fit to prescribe for the future in his family, he may, if he will, compel mine to observe them, without asking my advice, or hearing my reasons. So that, I must not make a lease without his consent, or give any directions for the well-governing of my family, but what he countermands whenever he pleaseth. This leaveth me at such confusion and uncertainty, that my servants know not when to obey me, and my tenants, although many of them be very well inclined, seem quite at a loss.

But I am too tedious upon this melancholy subject, which however, I hope, you will forgive, since the happiness of my whole life dependeth upon it. I desire you will think a while, and give your best advice what measures I shall take with prudence, justice, courage, and honour, to protect my liberty and fortune against the hardships and severities I lie under from that unkind, inconstant man.[Pg 104]



I have received your Ladyship's letter, and carefully considered every part of it, and shall give you my opinion how you ought to proceed for your own security. But first, I must beg leave to tell your Ladyship, that you were guilty of an unpardonable weakness t'other day in making that offer to your lover, of standing by him in any quarrel he might have with your rival. You know very well, that she began to apprehend he had designs of using her as he had done you; and common prudence might have directed you rather to have entered into some measures with her for joining against him, until he might at least be brought to some reasonable terms: But your invincible hatred to that lady hath carried your resentments so high, as to be the cause of your ruin; yet, if you please to consider, this aversion of yours began a good while before she became your rival, and was taken up by you and your family in a sort of compliment to your lover, who formerly had a great abhorrence for her. It is true, since that time you have suffered very much by her encroachments upon your estate,[77] but she never pretended to govern or direct you: And now you have drawn a new enemy upon yourself; for I think you may count upon all the ill offices she can possibly do you by her credit with her husband; whereas, if, instead of openly declaring against her without any provocation, you had but sat still awhile, and said nothing, that gentleman would have lessened his severity to you out of perfect fear. This weakness of yours, you call generosity; but I doubt there was more in the [Pg 105]matter. In short, Madam, I have good reasons to think you were betrayed to it by the pernicious counsels of some about you: For to my certain knowledge, several of your tenants and servants, to whom you have been very kind, are as arrant rascals as any in the Country. I cannot but observe what a mighty difference there is in one particular between your Ladyship and your rival. Having yielded up your person, you thought nothing else worth defending, and therefore you will not now insist upon those very conditions for which you yielded at first. But your Ladyship cannot be ignorant, that some years since your rival did the same thing, and upon no conditions at all; nay, this gentleman kept her as a miss, and yet made her pay for her diet and lodging.[78] But, it being at a time when he had no steward, and his family out of order, she stole away, and hath now got the trick very well known among the women of the town, to grant a man the favour over night and the next day have the impudence to deny it to his face. But, it is too late to reproach you with any former oversights, which cannot now be rectified. I know the matters of fact as you relate them are true and fairly represented. My advice therefore is this. Get your tenants together as soon as you conveniently can, and make them agree to the following resolutions.

First, That your family and tenants have no dependence upon the said gentleman, further than by the old agreement, which obligeth you to have the same steward, and to regulate your household by such methods as you should both agree to.[79]

Secondly, That you will not carry your goods to the market of his town, unless you please, nor be hindered from carrying them anywhere else.[80]

Thirdly, That the servants you pay wages to shall live at home, or forfeit their places.[81]

Fourthly, That whatever lease you make to a tenant, it shall not be in his power to break it.[82]

[Pg 106]

If he will agree to these articles, I advise you to contribute as largely as you can to all charges of Parish and County.

I can assure you, several of that gentleman's ablest tenants and servants are against his severe usage of you, and would be glad of an occasion to convince the rest of their error, if you will not be wanting to yourself.

If the gentleman refuses these just and reasonable offers, pray let me know it, and perhaps I may think of something else that will be more effectual.

I am,
Your Ladyship's, etc.
[Pg 107]







Written in the Year 1728.[Pg 108]


This is, perhaps, as trenchant and fine a piece of writing as is to be found in any of those pamphlets Swift wrote for the alleviation of the miserable condition of Ireland. The author of the "Memorial" to which Swift made this passionate reply was Sir John Browne, and the purport of his writing may be easily gathered from Swift's animadversions.

The text here given is based on that printed by Faulkner in 1735 in the fourth volume of his collected edition of Swift's works. Scott reprints Browne's "Memorial" and his reply to the present "Answer," but they are of little importance and in no way assist us in our appreciation of Swift's work. The date of Swift's answer is given by Faulkner as "March 25th, 1728," which year Scott misprints 1738, evidently a printer's error, though the arrangement of the order of the pamphlets in his edition leaves much to be desired.

[T. S.][Pg 109]




I received a paper from you, wherever you are, printed without any name of author or printer, and sent, I suppose, to me among others, without any particular distinction. It contains a complaint of the dearness of corn, and some schemes of making it cheaper which I cannot approve of.

But pray permit me, before I go further, to give you a short history of the steps by which we arrived at this hopeful situation.

It was, indeed, the shameful practice of too many Irish farmers, to wear out their ground with ploughing; while, either through poverty, laziness, or ignorance, they neither took care to manure it as they ought, nor gave time to any part of the land to recover itself; and, when their leases are near expiring, being assured that their landlords would not renew, they ploughed even the meadows, and made such a havock, that many landlords were considerable sufferers by it.

This gave birth to that abominable race of graziers, who, upon expiration of the farmer's leases were ready to engross great quantities of land; and the gentlemen having been before often ill paid, and their land worn out of heart, were too easily tempted, when a rich grazier made him an offer to take all his land, and give his security for payment. Thus a vast[Pg 110] tract of land, where twenty or thirty farmers lived, together with their cottagers and labourers in their several cabins, became all desolate, and easily managed by one or two herdsmen and their boys; whereby the master-grazier, with little trouble, seized to himself the livelihood of a hundred people.

It must be confessed, that the farmers were justly punished for their knavery, brutality, and folly. But neither are the squires and landlords to be excused; for to them is owing the depopulating of the country, the vast number of beggars, and the ruin of those few sorry improvements we had.

That farmers should be limited in ploughing is very reasonable, and practised in England, and might have easily been done here by penal clauses in their leases; but to deprive them, in a manner, altogether from tilling their lands, was a most stupid want of thinking.

Had the farmers been confined to plough a certain quantity of land, with a penalty of ten pounds an acre for whatever they exceeded, and farther limited for the three or four last years of their leases, all this evil had been prevented; the nation would have saved a million of money, and been more populous by above two hundred thousand souls.

For a people, denied the benefit of trade, to manage their lands in such a manner as to produce nothing but what they are forbidden to trade with,[83] or only such things as they can neither export nor manufacture to advantage, is an absurdity that a wild Indian would be ashamed of; especially when we add, that we are content to purchase this hopeful commerce, by sending to foreign markets for our daily bread.

The grazier's employment is to feed great flocks of sheep, or black cattle, or both. With regard to sheep, as folly is usually accompanied with perverseness, so it is here. There is something so monstrous to deal in a commodity (further than for our own use) which we are not allowed to export manufactured, nor even unmanufactured, but to one certain country, and only to some few ports in that country;[84] there [Pg 111]is, I say, something so sottish, that it wants a name in our language to express it by: and the good of it is, that the more sheep we have, the fewer human creatures are left to wear the wool, or eat the flesh. Ajax was mad, when he mistook a flock of sheep for his enemies; but we shall never be sober, until we have the same way of thinking.

The other part of the grazier's business is, what we call black-cattle, producing hides, tallow, and beef for exportation: all which are good and useful commodities, if rightly managed. But it seems, the greatest part of the hides are sent out raw, for want of bark to tan them; and that want will daily grow stronger; for I doubt the new project of tanning without it is at an end. Our beef, I am afraid, still continues scandalous in foreign markets, for the old reasons. But our tallow, for anything I know, may be good. However, to bestow the whole kingdom on beef and mutton, and thereby drive out half the people who should eat their share, and force the rest to send sometimes as far as Egypt for bread to eat with it, is a most peculiar and distinguished piece of public economy, of which I have no comprehension.

I know very well that our ancestors the Scythians, and their posterity our kinsmen the Tartars, lived upon the blood, and milk, and raw flesh of their cattle, without one grain of corn; but I confess myself so degenerate, that I am not easy without bread to my victuals.

What amazed me for a week or two, was to see, in this prodigious plenty of cattle, and dearth of human creatures, and want of bread, as well as money to buy it, that all kind of flesh-meat should be monstrously dear, beyond what was ever known in this kingdom. I thought it a defect in the laws, that there was not some regulation in the price of flesh, as well as bread: but I imagine myself to have guessed out the reason: In short, I am apt to think that the whole kingdom is overstocked with cattle, both black and white; and as it is observed, that the poor Irish have a vanity to be[Pg 112] rather owners of two lean cows, than one fat, although with double the charge of grazing, and but half the quantity of milk; so I conceive it much more difficult at present to find a fat bullock or wether, than it would be if half of both were fairly knocked on the head: for I am assured that the district in the several markets called Carrion Row is as reasonable as the poor can desire; only the circumstance of money to purchase it, and of trade, or labour, to purchase that money, are indeed wholly wanting.

Now, sir, to return more particularly to you and your memorial.

A hundred thousand barrels of wheat, you say, should be imported hither; and ten thousand pounds premium to the importers. Have you looked into the purse of the nation? I am no commissioner of the treasury; but am well assured that the whole running cash would not supply you with a sum to purchase so much corn, which, only at twenty shillings a barrel, will be a hundred thousand pounds; and ten thousand more for the premiums. But you will traffic for your corn with other goods: and where are those goods? if you had them, they are all engaged to pay the rents of absentees, and other occasions in London, besides a huge balance of trade this year against us. Will foreigners take our bankers' papers? I suppose they will value it at little more than so much a quire. Where are these rich farmers and engrossers of corn, in so bad a year, and so little sowing?

You are in pain of two shillings premium, and forget the twenty shillings for the price; find me out the latter, and I will engage for the former.

Your scheme for a tax for raising such a sum is all visionary, and owing to a great want of knowledge in the miserable state of this nation. Tea, coffee, sugar, spices, wine, and foreign clothes, are the particulars you mention upon which this tax should be raised. I will allow the two first; because they are unwholesome; and the last, because I should be glad if they were all burned: but I beg you will leave us our wine to make us a while forget our misery; or give your tenants leave to plough for barley. But I will tell you a secret, which I learned many years ago from the commissioners of the customs in London: they said, when any[Pg 113] commodity appeared to be taxed above a moderate rate, the consequence was, to lessen that branch of the revenue by one half; and one of those gentlemen pleasantly told me, that the mistake of parliaments, on such occasions, was owing to an error of computing two and two to make four; whereas, in the business of laying impositions, two and two never made more than one; which happens by lessening the import, and the strong temptation of running such goods as paid high duties. At least in this kingdom, although the women are as vain and extravagant as their lovers or their husbands can deserve, and the men are fond enough of wine; yet the number of both who can afford such expenses is so small, that the major part must refuse gratifying themselves, and the duties will rather be lessened than increased. But, allowing no force in this argument; yet so preternatural a sum as one hundred and ten thousand pounds, raised all on a sudden, (for there is no dallying with hunger,) is just in proportion with raising a million and a half in England; which, as things now stand, would probably bring that opulent kingdom under some difficulties.

You are concerned how strange and surprising it would be in foreign parts to hear that the poor were starving in a rich country, &c. Are you in earnest? Is Ireland the rich country you mean? Or are you insulting our poverty? Were you ever out of Ireland? Or were you ever in it till of late? You may probably have a good employment, and are saving all you can to purchase a good estate in England. But by talking so familiarly of one hundred and ten thousand pounds, by a tax upon a few commodities, it is plain you are either naturally or affectedly ignorant of our present condition: or else you would know and allow, that such a sum is not to be raised here, without a general excise; since, in proportion to our wealth, we pay already in taxes more than England ever did in the height of the war. And when you have brought over your corn, who will be the buyers? Most certainly not the poor, who will not be able to purchase the twentieth part of it.

Sir, upon the whole, your paper is a very crude piece, liable to more objections than there are lines; but I think your meaning is good, and so far you are pardonable.

If you will propose a general contribution in supporting[Pg 114] the poor in potatoes and butter-milk, till the new corn comes in, perhaps you may succeed better, because the thing at least is possible; and I think if our brethren in England would contribute upon this emergency, out of the million they gain from us every year, they would do a piece of justice as well as charity. In the mean time, go and preach to your own tenants, to fall to the plough as fast as they can; and prevail with your neighbouring squires to do the same with theirs; or else die with the guilt of having driven away half the inhabitants, and starving the rest. For as to your scheme of raising one hundred and ten thousand pounds, it is as vain as that of Rabelais; which was, to squeeze out wind from the posteriors of a dead ass.

But why all this concern for the poor? We want them not, as the country is now managed; they may follow thousands of their leaders, and seek their bread abroad. Where the plough has no work, one family can do the business of fifty, and you may send away the other forty-nine. An admirable piece of husbandry, never known or practised by the wisest nations, who erroneously thought people to be the riches of a country!

If so wretched a state of things would allow it, methinks I could have a malicious pleasure, after all the warning I have in vain given the public, at my own peril, for several years past, to see the consequences and events answering in every particular. I pretend to no sagacity: what I writ was little more than what I had discoursed to several persons, who were generally of my opinion; and it was obvious to every common understanding, that such effects must needs follow from such causes;—a fair issue of things begun upon party rage, while some sacrificed the public to fury, and others to ambition: while a spirit of faction and oppression reigned in every part of the country, where gentlemen, instead of consulting the ease of their tenants, or cultivating their lands, were worrying one another upon points of Whig and Tory, of High Church and Low Church; which no more concerned them than the long and famous controversy of strops for razors: while agriculture was wholly discouraged, and consequently half the farmers and labourers, and poorer tradesmen, forced to beggary or banishment. "Wisdom crieth in the streets:[Pg 115] Because I have called on ye; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all my counsels, and would none of my reproof; I also will laugh at your calamity, and mock when your fear cometh."

I have now done with your Memorial, and freely excuse your mistakes, since you appear to write as a stranger, and as of a country which is left at liberty to enjoy the benefits of nature, and to make the best of those advantages which God hath given it, in soil, climate, and situation.

But having lately sent out a paper, entitled, A Short View of the State of Ireland; and hearing of an objection, that some people think I have treated the memory of the late Lord Chief Justice Whitshed with an appearance of severity; since I may not probably have another opportunity of explaining myself in that particular, I choose to do it here. Laying it, therefore, down for a postulatum, which I suppose will be universally granted, that no little creature of so mean a birth and genius, had ever the honour to be a greater enemy to his country, and to all kinds of virtue, than HE, I answer thus; Whether there be two different goddesses called Fame, as some authors contend, or only one goddess sounding two different trumpets, it is certain that people distinguished for their villainy have as good a title for a blast from the proper trumpet, as those who are most renowned for their virtues have from the other; and have equal reason to complain if it be refused them. And accordingly the names of the most celebrated profligates have been faithfully transmitted down to posterity. And although the person here understood acted his part in an obscure corner of the world, yet his talents might have shone with lustre enough in the noblest scene.

As to my naming a person dead, the plain honest reason is the best. He was armed with power, guilt, and will to do mischief, even where he was not provoked, as appeared by his prosecuting two printers,[85] one to death, and both to ruin, who had neither offended God nor the King, nor him nor the public.

What an encouragement to vice is this! If an ill man be [Pg 116]alive, and in power, we dare not attack him; and if he be weary of the world, or of his own villainies, he has nothing to do but die, and then his reputation is safe. For these excellent casuists know just Latin enough to have heard a most foolish precept, that de mortuis nil nisi bonum; so that if Socrates, and Anytus his accuser, had happened to die together, the charity of survivors must either have obliged them to hold their peace, or to fix the same character on both. The only crime of charging the dead is, when the least doubt remains whether the accusation be true; but when men are openly abandoned, and lost to all shame, they have no reason to think it hard if their memory be reproached. Whoever reports, or otherwise publisheth, any thing which it is possible may be false, that man is a slanderer; hic niger est, hunc tu, Romane, caveto. Even the least misrepresentation, or aggravation of facts, deserves the same censure, in some degree, but in this case, I am quite deceived if my error hath not been on the side of extenuation.

I have now present before me the idea of some persons (I know not in what part of the world) who spend every moment of their lives, and every turn of their thoughts, while they are awake, (and probably of their dreams while they sleep,) in the most detestable actions and designs; who delight in mischief, scandal, and obloquy, with the hatred and contempt of all mankind against them, but chiefly of those among their own party and their own family; such whose odious qualities rival each other for perfection: avarice, brutality, faction, pride, malice, treachery, noise, impudence, dullness, ignorance, vanity, and revenge, contending every moment for superiority in their breasts. Such creatures are not to be reformed, neither is it prudence or safety to attempt a reformation. Yet, although their memories will rot, there may be some benefit for their survivors to smell it while it is rotting.

I am, Sir,
Your humble servant,
A. B.

March 25th, 1728.
[Pg 117]



Written in the Year 1729.

[Pg 119]

[Pg 118]



I am inclined to think that I received a letter from you two, last summer, directed to Dublin, while I was in the country, whither it was sent me; and I ordered an answer to it to be printed, but it seems it had little effect, and I suppose this will have not much more. But the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed. And, gentlemen, I am to tell you another thing: That the world is so regardless of what we write for the public good, that after we have delivered our thoughts, without any prospect of advantage, or of reputation, which latter is not to be had but by subscribing our names, we cannot prevail upon a printer to be at the charge of sending it into the world, unless we will be at all or half the expense; and although we are willing enough to bestow our labours, we think it unreasonable to be out of pocket; because it probably may not consist with the situation of our affairs.

I do very much approve your good intentions, and in a great measure your manner of declaring them; and I do imagine you intended that the world should not only know your sentiments, but my answer, which I shall impartially give.

That great prelate, to whose care you directed your letter, sent it to me this morning;[88] and I begin my answer to-night, not knowing what interruption I may meet with.

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I have ordered your letter to be printed, as it ought to be, along with my answer; because I conceive it will be more acceptable and informing to the kingdom.

I shall therefore now go on to answer your letter in all manner of sincerity.

Although your letter be directed to me, yet I take myself to be only an imaginary person; for, although I conjecture I had formerly one from you, yet I never answered it otherwise than in print; neither was I at a loss to know the reasons why so many people of this kingdom were transporting themselves to America. And if this encouragement were owing to a pamphlet written, giving an account of the country of Pennsylvania, to tempt people to go thither, I do declare that those who were tempted, by such a narrative, to such a journey, were fools, and the author a most impudent knave; at least, if it be the same pamphlet I saw when it first came out, which is above 25 years ago, dedicated to Will Penn (whom by a mistake you call "Sir William Penn,") and styling him, by authority of the Scripture, "Most Noble Governor." For I was very well acquainted with Penn, and did, some years after, talk with him upon that pamphlet, and the impudence of the author, who spoke so many things in praise of the soil and climate, which Penn himself did absolutely contradict. For he did assure me that his country wanted the shelter of mountains, which left it open to the northern winds from Hudson's Bay and the Frozen Sea, which destroyed all plantations of trees, and was even pernicious to all common vegetables. But, indeed, New York, Virginia, and other parts less northward, or more defended by mountains, are described as excellent countries: but, upon what conditions of advantage foreigners go thither, I am yet to seek.[89]

What evils do our people avoid by running from hence, is easier to be determined. They conceive themselves to live under the tyranny of most cruel exacting landlords, who have no view further than increasing their rent-rolls. Secondly, you complain of the want of trade, whereof you seem not to know the reason. Thirdly, you lament most [Pg 121]justly the money spent by absentees in England. Fourthly, you complain that your linen manufacture declines. Fifthly, that your tithe-collectors oppress you. Sixthly, that your children have no hopes of preferment in the church, the revenue, or the army; to which you might have added the law, and all civil employments whatsoever. Seventhly, you are undone for silver, and want all other money.

I could easily add some other motives, which, to men of spirit, who desire and expect, and think they deserve the common privileges of human nature, would be of more force, than any you have yet named, to drive them out of this kingdom. But, as these speculations may probably not much affect the brains of your people, I shall choose to let them pass unmentioned. Yet I cannot but observe, that my very good and virtuous friend, his excellency Burnet, (O fili, nec tali indigne parente!)[90] hath not hitherto been able to persuade his vassals, by his oratory in the style of a command, to settle a revenue on his viceroyal person.[91] I have been likewise assured, that in one of those colonies on the continent, which nature hath so far favoured, as (by the industry of the inhabitants) to produce a great quantity of excellent rice, the stubbornness of the people, who having been told that the world is wide, took it into their heads that they might sell their own rice at whatever foreign markets they pleased, and seem, by their practice, very unwilling to quit that opinion.

But, to return to my subject: I must confess to you both, that if one reason of your people's deserting us be, the despair of things growing better in their own country, I have not one syllable to answer; because that would be to hope for what is impossible; and so I have been telling the public these ten years. For there are three events which must precede any such blessing: First, a liberty of trade; secondly, a share of preferments in all kinds, to the British natives; and thirdly, a return of those absentees, who take almost one half [Pg 122]of the kingdom's revenues. As to the first, there is nothing left us but despair; and for the third, it will never happen till the kingdom hath no money to send them; for which, in my own particular, I should not be sorry.

The exaction of landlords hath indeed been a grievance of above twenty years' standing. But as to what you object about the severe clauses relating to improvement, the fault lies wholly on the other side: for the landlords, either by their ignorance, or greediness of making large rent-rolls, have performed this matter so ill, as we see by experience, that there is not one tenant in five hundred who hath made any improvement worth mentioning. For which I appeal to any man who rides through the kingdom, where little is to be found among the tenants but beggary and desolation; the cabins of the Scotch themselves, in Ulster, being as dirty and miserable as those of the wildest Irish. Whereas good firm penal clauses for improvement, with a tolerable easy rent, and a reasonable period of time, would, in twenty years, have increased the rents of Ireland at least a third part in the intrinsic value.

I am glad to hear you speak with some decency of the clergy, and to impute the exactions you lament to the managers or farmers of the tithes. But you entirely mistake the fact; for I defy the most wicked and most powerful clergymen in the kingdom to oppress the meanest farmer in the parish; and I likewise defy the same clergyman to prevent himself from being cheated by the same farmer, whenever that farmer shall be disposed to be knavish or peevish. For, although the Ulster tithing-teller is more advantageous to the clergy than any other in the kingdom, yet the minister can demand no more than his tenth; and where the corn much exceeds the small tithes, as, except in some districts, I am told it always doth, he is at the mercy of every stubborn farmer, especially of those whose sect as well as interest incline them to opposition. However, I take it that your people bent for America do not shew the best part of their prudence in making this one part of their complaint: yet they are so far wise, as not to make the payment of tithes a scruple of conscience, which is too gross for any Protestant dissenter, except a Quaker, to pretend. But do your people indeed think, that if tithes were abolished, or delivered into[Pg 123] the hands of the landlord, after the blessed manner in the Scotch spiritual economy, that the tenant would sit easier in his rent under the same person, who must be lord of the soil and of the tithe together?

I am ready enough to grant, that the oppression of landlords, the utter ruin of trade, with its necessary consequence the want of money, half the revenues of the kingdom spent abroad, the continued dearth of three years, and the strong delusion in your people by false allurement from America, may be the chief motives of their eagerness after such an expedition. [But there is likewise another temptation, which is not of inconsiderable weight; which is their itch of living in a country where their sect is predominant, and where their eyes and consciences would not be offended by the stumbling-block of ceremonies, habits, and spiritual titles.[92]]

But I was surprised to find that those calamities, whereof we are innocent, have been sufficient to drive many families out of their country, who had no reason to complain of oppressive landlords. For, while I was last year in the northern parts, a person of quality, whose estate was let above 20 years ago, and then at a very reasonable rent, some for leases of lives, and some perpetuities, did, in a few months, purchase eleven of those leases at a very inconsiderable price, although they were, two years ago, reckoned to pay but half value. From whence it is manifest, that our present miserable condition, and the dismal prospect of worse, with other reasons above assigned, are sufficient to put men upon trying this desperate experiment, of changing the scene they are in, although landlords should, by a miracle, become less inhuman.

There is hardly a scheme proposed for improving the trade of this kingdom, which doth not manifestly shew the stupidity and ignorance of the proposer; and I laugh with contempt at those weak wise heads, who proceed upon general maxims, or advise us to follow the examples of Holland and England. These empirics talk by rote, without understanding the constitution of the kingdom: as if a physician, knowing that exercise contributed much to health, [Pg 124]should prescribe to his patient under a severe fit of the gout, to walk ten miles every morning. The directions for Ireland are very short and plain; to encourage agriculture and home consumption, and utterly discard all importations which are not absolutely necessary for health or life. And how few necessities, conveniences, or even comforts of life, are denied us by nature, or not to be attained by labour and industry! Are those detestable extravagancies of Flanders lace, English cloths of our own wool, and other goods, Italian or Indian silks, tea, coffee, chocolate, china-ware, and that profusion of wines, by the knavery of merchants growing dearer every season, with a hundred unnecessary fopperies, better known to others than me; are these, I say, fit for us, any more than for the beggar who could not eat his veal without oranges? Is it not the highest indignity to human nature, that men should be such poltroons as to suffer the kingdom and themselves to be undone, by the vanity, the folly, the pride, and wantonness of their wives,[93] who, under their present corruptions, seem to be a kind of animal, suffered, for our sins, to be sent into the world for the destruction of families, societies, and kingdoms; and whose whole study seems directed to be as expensive as they possibly can, in every useless article of living; who, by long practice, can reconcile the most pernicious foreign drugs to their health and pleasure, provided they are but expensive, as starlings grow fat with henbane; who contract a robustness by mere practice of sloth and luxury; who can play deep several hours after midnight, sleep beyond noon, revel upon Indian poisons, and spend the revenue of a moderate family to adorn a nauseous, unwholesome living carcase? Let those few who are not concerned in any part of this accusation, suppose it unsaid; let the rest take it among them. Gracious God, in His mercy, look down upon a nation so shamefully besotted!

If I am possessed of an hundred pounds a year, and by some misfortune it sinks to fifty, without a possibility of ever [Pg 125]being retrieved; does it remain a question, in such an exigency, what I am to do? Must not I retrench one-half in every article of expense, or retire to some cheap, distant part of the country, where necessaries are at half value?

Is there any mortal who can shew me, under the circumstances we stand with our neighbours, under their inclinations towards us, under laws never to be repealed, under the desolation caused by absentees, under many other circumstances not to be mentioned, that this kingdom can ever be a nation of trade, or subsist by any other method than that of a reduced family, by the utmost parsimony, in the manner I have already prescribed?

I am tired with letters from many unreasonable, well-meaning people, who are daily pressing me to deliver my thoughts in this deplorable juncture, which, upon many others, I have so often done in vain. What will it import, that half a score people in a coffee-house may happen to read this paper, and even the majority of those few differ in every sentiment from me? If the farmer be not allowed to sow his corn; if half the little money among us be sent to pay rents to Irish absentees, and the rest for foreign luxury and dress for the women, what will our charitable dispositions avail, when there is nothing left to be given? When, contrary to all custom and example, all necessaries of life are so exorbitant; when money of all kinds was never known to be so scarce, so that gentlemen of no contemptible estates are forced to retrench in every article, (except what relates to their wives,) without being able to shew any bounty to the poor?[Pg 127][Pg 126]


Written in the Year 1729.

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[Pg 128]

I am very well pleased with the good opinion you express of me; and wish it were any way in my power to answer your expectations, for the service of my country. I have carefully read your several schemes and proposals, which you think should be offered to the Parliament. In answer, I will assure you, that, in another place, I have known very good proposals rejected with contempt by public assemblies, merely because they were offered from without doors; and yours, perhaps, might have the same fate, especially if handed into the public by me, who am not acquainted with three members, nor have the least interest with one. My printers have been twice prosecuted, to my great expense, on account of discourses I writ for the public service, without the least reflection on parties or persons; and the success I had in those of the Drapier, was not owing to my abilities, but to a lucky juncture, when the fuel was ready for the first hand that would be at the pains of kindling it. It is true, both those envenomed prosecutions were the workmanship of a judge, who is now gone to his own place.[95] But, let that be as it will, I am determined, henceforth, never to be the instrument of leaving an innocent man at the mercy of that bench.

It is certain there are several particulars relating to this kingdom (I have mentioned a few of them in one of my Drapier's letters,[96]) which it were heartily to be wished that the [Pg 130]Parliament would take under their consideration, such as will nowise interfere with England, otherwise than to its advantage.

The first I shall mention, is touched at in a letter which I received from one of you, gentlemen, about the highways; which, indeed, are almost everywhere scandalously neglected. I know a very rich man in this city, a true lover and saver of his money, who, being possessed of some adjacent lands, hath been at great charge in repairing effectually the roads that lead to them; and has assured me that his lands are thereby advanced four or five shillings an acre, by which he gets treble interest. But, generally speaking, all over the kingdom the roads are deplorable; and, what is more particularly barbarous, there is no sort of provision made for travellers on foot; no, not near this city, except in a very few places, and in a most wretched manner: whereas the English are so particularly careful in this point, that you may travel there an hundred miles with less inconvenience than one mile here. But, since this may be thought too great a reformation, I shall only speak of roads for horses, carriages, and cattle.[97]

Ireland is, I think, computed to be one-third smaller than England; yet, by some natural disadvantages, it would not bear quite the same proportion in value, with the same encouragement. However, it hath so happened, for many years past, that it never arrived to above one-eleventh part in point of riches; and of late, by the continual decrease of trade, and increase of absentees, with other circumstances not here to be mentioned, hardly to a fifteenth part; at least, if my calculations be right, which I doubt are a little too favourable on our side.

Now, supposing day-labour to be cheaper by one half here than in England, and our roads, by the nature of our carriages, and the desolation of our country, to be not worn and beaten above one-eighth part so much as those of England, which is a very moderate computation, I do not see why the mending of them would be a greater burthen to this kingdom than to that.[Pg 131]

There have been, I believe, twenty acts of Parliament, in six or seven years of the late King, for mending long tracts of impassable ways in several counties of England, by erecting turnpikes, and receiving passage-money, in a manner that everybody knows. If what I have advanced be true, it would be hard to give a reason against the same practice here; since the necessity is as great, the advantage, in proportion, perhaps much greater, the materials of stone and gravel as easy to be found, and the workmanship, at least, twice as cheap. Besides, the work may be done gradually, with allowances for the poverty of the nation, by so many perch a year; but with a special care to encourage skill and diligence, and to prevent fraud in the undertakers, to which we are too liable, and which are not always confined to those of the meaner sort: but against these, no doubt, the wisdom of the nation may and will provide.

Another evil, which, in my opinion, deserves the public care, is the ill management of the bogs; the neglect whereof is a much greater mischief to this kingdom than most people seem to be aware of.

It is allowed, indeed, by those who are esteemed most skilful in such matters, that the red, swelling mossy bog, whereof we have so many large tracts in this island, is not by any means to be fully reduced; but the skirts, which are covered with a green coat, easily may, being not an accretion, or annual growth of moss, like the other.

Now, the landlords are generally too careless that they suffer their tenants to cut their turf in these skirts, as well as the bog adjoined; whereby there is yearly lost a considerable quantity of land throughout the kingdom, never to be recovered.

But this is not the greatest part of the mischief: for the main bog, although, perhaps, not reducible to natural soil, yet, by continuing large, deep, straight canals through the middle, cleaned at proper times as low as the channel or gravel, would become a secure summer-pasture; the margins might, with great profit and ornament, be filled with quickens, birch, and other trees proper for such a soil, and the canals be convenient for water-carriage of the turf, which is now drawn upon sled-cars, with great expense, difficulty, and loss of time, by reason of the many turf-pits scattered irregularly[Pg 132] through the bog, wherein great numbers of cattle are yearly drowned. And it hath been, I confess, to me a matter of the greatest vexation, as well as wonder, to think how any landlord could be so absurd as to suffer such havoc to be made.

All the acts for encouraging plantations of forest-trees are, I am told, extremely defective;[98] which, with great submission, must have been owing to a defect of skill in the contrivers of them. In this climate, by the continual blowing of the west-south-west wind, hardly any tree of value will come to perfection that is not planted in groves, except very rarely, and where there is much land-shelter. I have not, indeed, read all the acts; but, from enquiry, I cannot learn that the planting in groves is enjoined. And as to the effects of these laws, I have not seen the least, in many hundred miles riding, except about a very few gentlemen's houses, and even those with very little skill or success. In all the rest, the hedges generally miscarry, as well as the larger slender twigs planted upon the tops of ditches, merely for want of common skill and care.

I do not believe that a greater and quicker profit could be made, than by planting large groves of ash a few feet asunder, which in seven years would make the best kind of hop-poles, and grow in the same or less time to a second crop from their roots.

It would likewise be of great use and beauty in our desert scenes, to oblige all tenants and cottagers to plant ash or elm before their cabins, and round their potato-gardens, where cattle either do not or ought not to come to destroy them.

The common objections against all this, drawn from the laziness, the perverseness, or thievish disposition, of the poor native Irish, might be easily answered, by shewing the [Pg 133]true reasons for such accusations, and how easily those people may be brought to a less savage manner of life: but my printers have already suffered too much for my speculations. However, supposing the size of a native's understanding just equal to that of a dog or horse, I have often seen those two animals to be civilized by rewards, at least as much as by punishments.

It would be a noble achievement to abolish the Irish language in this kingdom, so far at least as to oblige all the natives to speak only English on every occasion of business, in shops, markets, fairs, and other places of dealing: yet I am wholly deceived, if this might not be effectually done in less than half an age, and at a very trifling expense; for such I look upon a tax to be of only six thousand pounds a year, to accomplish so great a work.[99] This would, in a great measure, civilize the most barbarous among them, reconcile them to our customs and manner of living, and reduce great numbers to the national religion, whatever kind may then happen to be established. The method is plain and simple; and although I am too desponding to produce it, yet I could heartily wish some public thoughts were employed to reduce this uncultivated people from that idle, savage, beastly, thievish manner of life, in which they continue sunk to a degree, that it is almost impossible for a country gentleman to find a servant of human capacity, or the least tincture of natural honesty; or who does not live among his own tenants in continual fear of having his plantations destroyed, his cattle stolen, and his goods pilfered.

The love, affection, or vanity of living in England, continuing to carry thither so many wealthy families, the consequences thereof, together with the utter loss of all trade, except what is detrimental, which hath forced such great numbers of weavers, and others, to seek their bread in foreign countries; the unhappy practice of stocking such vast quantities of land with sheep and other cattle, which [Pg 134]reduceth twenty families to one: these events, I say, have exceedingly depopulated this kingdom for several years past. I should heartily wish, therefore, under this miserable dearth of money, that those who are most concerned would think it advisable to save a hundred thousand pounds a year, which is now sent out of this kingdom, to feed us with corn. There is not an older or more uncontroverted maxim in the politics of all wise nations, than that of encouraging agriculture: and therefore, to what kind of wisdom a practice so directly contrary among us may be reduced, I am by no means a judge. If labour and people make the true riches of a nation, what must be the issue where one part of the people are forced away, and the other part have nothing to do?

If it should be thought proper by wiser heads, that his Majesty might be applied to in a national way, for giving the kingdom leave to coin halfpence for its own use, I believe no good subject will be under the least apprehension that such a request could meet with refusal, or the least delay. Perhaps we are the only kingdom upon earth, or that ever was or will be upon earth, which did not enjoy that common right of civil society, under the proper inspection of its prince or legislature, to coin money of all usual metals for its own occasions. Every petty prince in Germany, vassal to the Emperor, enjoys this privilege. And I have seen in this kingdom several silver pieces, with the inscription of Civitas Waterford, Droghedagh, and other towns.[Pg 135]



Written in the Year 1729.[Pg 136]


The archbishop to whom Swift wrote was Dr. William King, for many years his friend. King was a fine patriot and had stood out strongly against the imposition of Wood's Halfpence. In this letter, so characteristic of Swift's attitude towards the condition of Ireland, he aims at a practical and immediate relief. The causes for this condition discussed so ably by Molesworth, Prior and Dobbs in their various treatises are too academic for him. His "Proposal for the Universal Use of Irish Manufacture" well illustrates the kind of practical reform Swift insisted on. Yet the insistence was more because of the spirit of independence such a course demanded. To Swift there was no hope for Ireland without a radical change in the spirit of its people. The change meant the assertion of manliness, independence, and strength of character. How to attain these, and how to make the people aware of their power, were always Swift's aims. All his tracts are assertions of and dilations on these themes. If the people were but to insist on wearing their own manufactures, since they were prohibited from exporting them, they would keep their money in the kingdom. Likewise, if they were to deny themselves the indulgence in luxuries, they would not have to send out their money to the countries from which these luxuries were obtained. There were methods ready at hand, but the practice in them would result in the cultivation of that respect for themselves without which a nation is worse than a pauper and lower than a slave.

The text of this edition is based on the original manuscript, and collated with that of Scott's second edition of Swift's collected works.

[T. S.][Pg 137]


My Lord,

The corporation of weavers in the woollen manufacture, who have so often attended your Grace, and called upon me with their schemes and proposals were with me on Thursday last, when he who spoke for the rest and in the name of his absent brethren, said, "It was the opinion of the whole body, that if somewhat were written at this time by an able hand to persuade the people of the Kingdom to wear their own woollen manufactures, it might be of good use to the Nation in general, and preserve many hundreds of their trade from starving." To which I answered, "That it was hard for any man of common spirit to turn his thoughts to such speculations, without discovering a resentment which people are too delicate to bear." For, I will not deny to your Grace, that I cannot reflect on the singular condition of this Country, different from all others upon the face of the Earth, without some emotion, and without often examining as I pass the streets whether those animals which come in my way with two legs and human faces, clad and erect, be of the same species with what I have seen very like them in England, as to the outward shape, but differing in their notions, natures, and intellectuals, more than any two kinds of brutes in a forest, which any men of common prudence would immediately discover, by persuading them to define what they mean by law, liberty, property, courage, reason, loyalty or religion.

One thing, my Lord, I am very confident of; that if God[Pg 138] Almighty for our sins would most justly send us a pestilence, whoever should dare to discover his grief in public for such a visitation, would certainly be censured for disaffection to the Government. For I solemnly profess, that I do not know one calamity we have undergone this many years, whereof any man whose opinions were not in fashion dared to lament without being openly charged with that imputation. And this is the harder, because although a mother when she hath corrected her child may sometimes force it to kiss the rod, yet she will never give that power to the footboy or the scullion.

My Lord, there are two things for the people of this Kingdom to consider. First their present evil condition; and secondly what can be done in some degree to remedy it.

I shall not enter into a particular description of our present misery; It hath been already done in several papers, and very fully in one, entitled, "A short View of the State of Ireland." It will be enough to mention the entire want of trade, the Navigation Act executed with the utmost rigour, the remission of a million every year to England, the ruinous importation of foreign luxury and vanity, the oppression of landlords, and discouragement of agriculture.

Now all these evils are without the possibility of a cure except that of importations, and to fence against ruinous folly will be always in our power in spite of the discouragements, mortifications, contempt, hatred, and oppression we can lie under. But our trade will never mend, the Navigation Act never be softened, our absentees never return, our endless foreign payments never be lessened, or our landlords ever be less exacting.

All other schemes for preserving this Kingdom from utter ruin are idle and visionary, consequently drawn from wrong reasoning, and from general topics which for the same causes that they may be true in all Nations are certainly false in ours; as I have told the Public often enough, but with as little effect as what I shall say at present is likely to produce.

I am weary of so many abortive projects for the advancement of trade, of so many crude proposals in letters sent me from unknown hands, of so many contradictory speculations about raising or sinking the value of gold and silver: I[Pg 139] am not in the least sorry to hear of the great numbers going to America, though very much so for the causes that drive them from us, since the uncontrolled maxim, "That people are the riches of a Nation," is no maxim here under our circumstances. We have neither [manufactures] to employ them about, nor food to support them.

If a private gentleman's income be sunk irretrievably for ever from a hundred pounds to fifty, and that he hath no other method to supply the deficiency, I desire to know, my Lord, whether such a person hath any other course to take than to sink half his expenses in every article of economy, to save himself from ruin and the gaol. Is not this more than doubly the case of Ireland, where the want of money, the irrecoverable ruin of trade, with the other evils above mentioned, and many more too well known and felt, and too numerous or invidious to relate, have been gradually sinking us for above a dozen years past, to a degree that we are at least by two thirds in a worse condition than was ever known since the Revolution? Therefore instead of dreams and projects for the advancing of trade, we have nothing left but to find out some expedient whereby we may reduce our expenses to our incomes.

Yet this procedure, allowed so necessary in all private families, and in its own nature so easy to be put in practice, may meet with strong opposition by the cowardly slavish indulgence of the men to the intolerable pride arrogance vanity and luxury of the women, who strictly adhering to the rules of modern education seem to employ their whole stock of invention in contriving new arts of profusion, faster than the most parsimonious husband can afford; and to compass this work the more effectually, their universal maxim is to despise and detest everything of the growth and manufacture of their own country, and most to value whatever comes from the very remotest parts of the globe. And I am convinced, that if the virtuosi could once find out a world in the moon, with a passage to it, our women would wear nothing but what came directly from thence.[100]

The prime cost of wine yearly imported to Ireland is valued at thirty thousand pounds, and the tea (including [Pg 140]coffee and chocolate) at five times that sum. The lace, silks, calicoes, and all other unnecessary ornaments for women, including English cloths and stuffs, added to the former articles, make up (to compute grossly), about four hundred thousand pounds.

Now, if we should allow the thirty thousand pounds for wine, wherein the women have their share, and which is all we have to comfort us, and deduct seventy thousand pounds more for over-reckoning, there would still remain three hundred thousand pounds, annually spent for unwholesome drugs, and unnecessary finery. Which prodigious sum would be wholly saved, and many thousands of our miserable shopkeepers and manufacturers comfortably supported.

Let speculative people busy their brains as much as they please, there is no other way to prevent this Kingdom from sinking for ever than by utterly renouncing all foreign dress and luxury.

It is absolutely so in fact that every husband of any fortune in the Kingdom is nourishing a poisonous, devouring serpent in his bosom with all the mischief but with none of its wisdom.

If all the women were clad with the growth of their own Country, they might still vie with each other in the cause of foppery, and still have room left to vie with each other, and equally shew their wit and judgment in deciding upon the variety of Irish stuffs; And if they could be contented with their native wholesome slops for breakfast, we should hear no more of their spleen, hysterics, colics, palpitations, and asthmas. They might still be allowed to ruin each other and their husbands at play, because the money lost would only circulate among ourselves.

My Lord; I freely own it a wild imagination that any words will cure the sottishness of men, or the vanity of women, but the Kingdom is in a fair way of producing the most effectual remedy, when there will not be money left for the common course of buying and selling the very necessaries of life in our markets, unless we absolutely change the whole method of our proceedings.

This Corporation of Weavers in Woollen and Silks, who have so frequently offered proposals both to your Grace and to me, are the hottest and coldest generation of men that I[Pg 141] have known. About a month ago they attended your Grace, when I had the honour to be with you, and designed me then the same favour. They desired you would recommend to your clergy to wear gowns of Irish stuffs, which might probably spread the example among all their brethren in the Kingdom, and perhaps among the lawyers and gentlemen of the University and among the citizens of those Corporations who appear in gowns on solemn occasions. I then mentioned a kind of stuff, not above eightpence a yard, which I heard had been contrived by some of the trade and was very convenient. I desired they would prepare some of that or any sort of black stuff on a certain day, when your Grace would appoint as many clergymen as could readily be found to meet at your Palace, and there give their opinions; and that your Grace's visitations approaching you could then have the best opportunity of seeing what could be done in a matter of such consequence, as they seemed to think, to the woollen manufacture. But instead of attending, as was expected, they came to me a fortnight after, with a new proposal; that something should be writ by an acceptable and able hand to promote in general the wearing of home manufactures, and their civilities would seem to fix that work upon me. I asked whether they had prepared the stuffs, as they had promised, and your Grace expected; but they had not made the least step in the matter, nor as it appears thought of it more.

I did some years ago propose to the masters and principal dealers in the home manufactures of silk and wool, that they should meet together, and after mature consideration, publish advertisements to the following purpose.[101] That in order to encourage the wearing of Irish manufactures in silk and woollen, they gave notice to the nobility and gentry of the Kingdom, That they the undersigned would enter into bonds, for themselves and for each other, to sell the several sorts of stuffs, cloths and silks, made to the best perfection they were able, for certain fixed prices, and in such a manner, that if a child were sent to any of their shops, the buyer might be secure of the value and goodness, and measure of the ware, and lest this might be thought to look [Pg 142]like a monopoly any other member of the trade might be admitted upon such conditions as should be agreed on. And if any person whatsoever should complain that he was ill used in the value or goodness of what he bought, the matter should be examined, the person injured be fully satisfied, by the whole corporation without delay, and the dishonest seller be struck out of the society, unless it appeared evidently that the failure proceeded only from mistake.

The mortal danger is, that if these dealers could prevail by the goodness and cheapness of their cloths and stuffs to give a turn to the principal people of Ireland in favour of their goods, they would relapse into the knavish practice peculiar to this Kingdom, which is apt to run through all trades even so low as a common ale-seller, who as soon as he gets a vogue for his liquor, and outsells his neighbour, thinks his credit will put off the worst he can buy; till his customers will come no more. Thus I have known at London in a general mourning, the drapers dye black all their old damaged goods, and sell them at double rates, and then complain and petition the Court, that they are ready to starve by the continuance of the mourning.

Therefore I say, those principal weavers who would enter in such a compact as I have mentioned, must give sufficient security against all such practices; for if once the women can persuade their husbands that foreign goods besides the finery will be as cheap, and do more service, our last state will be worse than the first.

I do not here pretend to digest perfectly the method by which these principal shopkeepers shall proceed in such a proposal; but my meaning is clear enough, and cannot reasonably be objected against.

We have seen what a destructive loss the Kingdom received by the detestable fraud of the merchants, or Northern weavers, or both, notwithstanding all the care of the Governers at that Board; the whole trade with Spain for our linen, when we had an offer of commerce with the Spaniards, to the value as I am told of three hundred thousand pounds a year. But while we deal like pedlars, we shall practise like pedlars; and sacrifice all honesty to the present urging advantage.[Pg 143]

What I have said may serve as an answer to the desire made me by the Corporation of Weavers, that I would offer my notions to the public. As to anything further, let them apply themselves to the Parliament in their next Session. Let them prevail in the House of Commons to grant one very reasonable request: And I shall think there is still some spirit left in the Nation, when I read a vote to this purpose: "Resolved, nemine contradicente, That this House will, for the future, wear no clothes but such as are made of Irish growth, or of Irish manufacture, nor will permit their wives or children to wear any other; and that they will to the utmost endeavour to prevail with their friends, relations, dependants and tenants to follow their example." And if at the same time they could banish tea and coffee, and china-ware, out of their families, and force their wives to chat their scandal over an infusion of sage, or other wholesome domestic vegetables, we might possibly be able to subsist, and pay our absentees, pensioners, generals, civil officers, appeals, colliers, temporary travellers, students, schoolboys, splenetic visitors of Bath, Tunbridge, and Epsom, with all other smaller drains, by sending our crude unwrought goods to England, and receiving from thence and all other countries nothing but what is fully manufactured, and keep a few potatoes and oatmeal for our own subsistence.

I have been for a dozen years past wisely prognosticating the present condition of this Kingdom, which any human creature of common sense could foretell with as little sagacity as myself. My meaning is that a consumptive body must needs die, which hath spent all its spirits and received no nourishment. Yet I am often tempted to pity when I hear the poor farmer and cottager lamenting the hardness of the times, and imputing them either to one or two ill seasons, which better climates than ours are more exposed to, or to the scarcity of silver which to a Nation of Liberty would be only a slight and temporary inconveniency, to be removed at a month's warning.

Ap., 1729.[Pg 145][Pg 144]



The paper called "The Case of the Woollen Manufactures," &c. is very well drawn up. The reasonings of the authors are just, the facts true, and the consequences natural. But his censure of those seven vile citizens, who import such a quantity of silk stuffs and woollen cloth from England, is an hundred times gentler than enemies to their country deserve; because I think no punishment in this world can be great enough for them, without immediate repentance and amendment. But, after all, the writer of that paper hath very lightly touched one point of the greatest importance, and very poorly answered the main objection, that the clothiers are defective both in the quality and quantity of their goods.

For my own part, when I consider the several societies of handicraftsmen in all kinds, as well as shopkeepers, in this city, after eighteen years' experience of their dealings, I am at a loss to know in which of these societies the most or least honesty is to be found. For instance, when any trade comes first into my head, upon examination I determine it exceeds all others in fraud. But after I have considered them all round, as far as my knowledge or experience reacheth, I am at a loss to determine, and to save trouble I put them all upon a par. This I chiefly apply to those societies of men who get their livelihood by the labour of [Pg 148]their hands. For, as to shopkeepers, I cannot deny that I have found some few honest men among them, taking the word honest in the largest and most charitable sense. But as to handicraftsmen, although I shall endeavour to believe it possible to find a fair dealer among their clans, yet I confess it hath never been once my good fortune to employ one single workman, who did not cheat me at all times to the utmost of his power in the materials, the work, and the price. One universal maxim I have constantly observed among them, that they would rather gain a shilling by cheating you, than twenty in the honest way of dealing, although they were sure to lose your custom, as well as that of others, whom you might probably recommend to them.

This, I must own, is the natural consequence of poverty and oppression. These wretched people catch at any thing to save them a minute longer from drowning. Thus Ireland is the poorest of all civilized countries in Europe, with every natural advantage to make it one of the richest.

As to the grand objection, which this writer slubbers over in so careless a manner, because indeed it was impossible to find a satisfactory answer, I mean the knavery of our woollen manufacturers in general, I shall relate some facts, which I had more opportunities to observe than usually fall in the way of men who are not of the trade. For some years, the masters and wardens, with many of their principal workmen and shopkeepers, came often to the Deanery to relate their grievances, and to desire my advice as well as my assistance. What reasons might move them to this proceeding, I leave to public conjecture. The truth is, that the woollen manufacture of this kingdom sate always nearest my heart. But the greatest difficulty lay in these perpetual differences between the shopkeepers and workmen they employed. Ten or a dozen of these latter often came to the Deanery with their complaints, which I often repeated to the shopkeepers. As, that they brought their prices too low for a poor weaver to get his bread by; and instead of ready money for their labour on Saturdays, they gave them only such a quantity of cloth or stuff, at the highest rate, which the poor men were often forced to sell one-third below the rate, to supply their urgent necessities. On the other side, the shopkeepers complained of idleness, and want of skill,[Pg 149] or care, or honesty, in their workmen; and probably their accusations on both sides were just.

Whenever the weavers, in a body, came to me for advice, I gave it freely, that they should contrive some way to bring their goods into reputation; and give up that abominable principle of endeavouring to thrive by imposing bad ware at high prices to their customers, whereby no shopkeeper can reasonably expect to thrive. For, besides the dread of God's anger, (which is a motive of small force among them,) they may be sure that no buyer of common sense will return to the same shop where he was once or twice defrauded. That gentlemen and ladies, when they found nothing but deceit in the sale of Irish cloths and stuffs, would act as they ought to do, both in prudence and resentment, in going to those very bad citizens the writer mentions, and purchase English goods.

I went farther, and proposed that ten or a dozen of the most substantial woollen-drapers should join in publishing an advertisement, signed with their names to the following purpose:—That for the better encouragement of all gentlemen, &c. the persons undernamed did bind themselves mutually to sell their several cloths and stuffs, (naming each kind) at the lowest rate, right merchantable goods, of such a breadth, which they would warrant to be good according to the several prices; and that if a child of ten years old were sent with money, and directions what cloth or stuff to buy, he should not be wronged in any one article. And that whoever should think himself ill-used in any of the said shops, he should have his money again from the seller, or upon his refusal, from the rest of the said subscribers, who, if they found the buyer discontented with the cloth or stuff, should be obliged to refund the money; and if the seller refused to repay them, and take his goods again, should publicly advertise that they would answer for none of his goods any more. This would be to establish credit, upon which all trade dependeth.

I proposed this scheme several times to the corporation of weavers, as well as to the manufacturers, when they came to apply for my advice at the Deanery-house. I likewise went to the shops of several woollen-drapers upon the same errand, but always in vain; for they perpetually gave me the[Pg 150] deaf ear, and avoided entering into discourse upon that proposal: I suppose, because they thought it was in vain, and that the spirit of fraud had gotten too deep and universal a possession to be driven out by any arguments from interest, reason, or conscience.[Pg 151]




IRELAND.[Pg 153][Pg 152]


The following tract was taken by Sir Walter Scott "from a little miscellaneous 12mo volume of pamphlets, communicated by Mr. Hartsonge, relating chiefly to Irish affairs, the property at one time of Thomas Kingsbury, Esq., son of Dr. Kingsbury, who attended Swift in his last illness." The present editor came across a similar volume while on a visit of research in Dublin, among the collection of books which belonged to the late Sir W. Gilbert, and which were being catalogued for auction by the bookseller, Mr. O'Donoghue. The little 12mo contained this tract which had, as Sir W. Scott points out, a portrait of Swift at the end, on the recto of the last leaf.

According to Sir W. Scott, the friend in Dublin to whom the letter is supposed to be addressed, was Sir Robert Walpole. If Scott be correct, and there seems little reason to doubt his conjecture, the tract must have been written in the second half of the year 1726. In the early part of that year Swift had an interview with Walpole. Our knowledge of what transpired at that interview is obtained from Swift's letter of April 28th, 1726, to Lord Peterborough; from Swift's letter to Dr. Stopford of July 20th, 1726; from Pope's letter to Swift of September 3rd, 1726; and from Swift's letter to Lady Betty Germaine of January 8th, 1732/3. From these letters we learn that Swift was really invited by Walpole to meet him. Swift's visit to England concerned itself mainly with the publication of "Gulliver's Travels," but Sir Henry Craik thinks that Swift had other thoughts. "As regards politics," says this biographer, "he was encouraged to hope that without loss either of honour or consistency, it was open to him to make terms with the new powers. In the end, the result proved that he either over-estimated his own capacity of surrendering his independence, or under-estimated the terms that would be exacted." This remark would leave it open for a reader to conclude that Swift would, at a certain price, have been ready to join Walpole and his party. But the letters referred to do not in the least warrant such a conclusion. Swift's thought was for Ireland, and had he been successful with Walpole in his pleading for Ireland's cause that minister might have found an ally in Swift; but the price to be paid was not to the man. From Swift's letter to Peterborough we are at once introduced to Ireland's case, and his point of view on this was so opposed to Walpole's preconceived notions of how best to govern Ireland, as well as of his settled plans, that Swift found, as he put it, that Walpole "had conceived opinions ... which I could not reconcile to the notions I had of liberty." Not at all of his own liberty, but of that of the liberty of a nation; for, as he says (giving now the quotation in full): "I had no other design in desiring to see Sir Robert Walpole, than to represent the affairs of Ireland to him in a true light, not only without any view to myself, but to any party whatsoever ... I failed very much [Pg 154]in my design; for I saw that he had conceived opinions, from the example and practices of the present, and some former governors, which I could not reconcile to the notions I had of liberty." The part given here in italics is omitted by Sir H. Craik in his quotation.

Swift saw Walpole twice—once at Walpole's invitation at a dinner at Chelsea, and a second time at his own wish, expressed through Lord Peterborough. At the first meeting nothing of politics could be broached, as the encounter was a public one. The second meeting was private and resulted in nothing. The letter to Peterborough was written by Swift the day after he had seen Walpole, and Peterborough was requested to show it to that minister. The letter is so pertinent to the subject-matter of this volume that it is printed here:

"April 28th, 1726.

"Swift to the Earl of Peterborough.

"My Lord,

"Your lordship having, at my request, obtained for me an hour from Sir Robert Walpole, I accordingly attended him yesterday at eight o'clock in the morning, and had somewhat more than an hour's conversation with him. Your lordship was this day pleased to inquire what passed between that great minister and me; to which I gave you some general answers, from whence you said you could comprehend little or nothing.

"I had no other design in desiring to see Sir Robert Walpole, than to represent the affairs of Ireland to him in a true light, not only without any view to myself, but to any party whatsoever: and, because I understood the affairs of that kingdom tolerably well, and observed the representations he had received were such as I could not agree to; my principal design was to set him right, not only for the service of Ireland, but likewise of England, and of his own administration.

"I failed very much in my design; for I saw he had conceived opinions, from the example and practices of the present, and some former governors, which I could not reconcile to the notions I had of liberty, a possession always understood by the British nation to be the inheritance of a human creature.

"Sir Robert Walpole was pleased to enlarge very much upon the subject of Ireland, in a manner so alien from what I conceived to be the rights and privileges of a subject of England, that I did not think proper to debate the matter with him so much as I otherwise might, because I found it would be in vain. I shall, therefore, without entering into dispute, make bold to mention to your lordship some few grievances of that kingdom, as it consists of a people who, beside a natural right of enjoying the privileges of subjects, have also a claim of merit from their extraordinary loyalty to the present king and his family.

"First, That all persons born in Ireland are called and treated as Irishmen, although their fathers and grandfathers were born in England; and their predecessors having been conquerors of Ireland, it is humbly considered they ought to be on as good a foot as any subjects of Britain, according to the practice of all other nations, and particularly of the Greeks and Romans.[Pg 155]

"Secondly, That they are denied the natural liberty of exporting their manufactures to any country which is not engaged in a war with England.

"Thirdly, That whereas there is a university in Ireland, founded by Queen Elizabeth, where youth are instructed with a much stricter discipline than either in Oxford or Cambridge, it lies under the greatest discouragements, by filling all the principal employments, civil and ecclesiastical, with persons from England, who have neither interest, property, acquaintance, nor alliance, in that kingdom; contrary to the practice of all other states in Europe which are governed by viceroys, at least what hath never been used without the utmost discontents of the people.

"Fourthly, That several of the bishops sent over to Ireland, having been clergymen of obscure condition, and without other distinction than that of chaplains to the governors, do frequently invite over their old acquaintances or kindred, to whom they bestow the best preferment in their gift. The like may be said of the judges, who take with them one or two dependants, to whom they give their countenance; and who, consequently, without other merit, grow immediately into the chief business of their courts. The same practice is followed by all others in civil employments, if they have a cousin, a valet, or footman in their family, born in England.

"Fifthly, That all civil employments, granted in reversion, are given to persons who reside in England.

"The people of Ireland, who are certainly the most loyal subjects in the world, cannot but conceive that most of these hardships have been the consequence of some unfortunate representations (at least) in former times; and the whole body of the gentry feel the effects in a very sensible part, being utterly destitute of all means to make provision for their younger sons, either in the Church, the law, the revenue, or (of late) in the army; and, in the desperate condition of trade, it is equally vain to think of making them merchants. All they have left is, at the expiration of leases, to rack their tenants, which they have done to such a degree, that there is not one farmer in a hundred through the kingdom who can afford shoes or stockings to his children, or to eat flesh, or drink anything better than sour milk or water, twice in a year; so that the whole country, except the Scottish plantation in the north, is a scene of misery and desolation hardly to be matched on this side of Lapland.

"The rents of Ireland are computed to about a million and a half, whereof one half million at least is spent by lords and gentlemen residing in England, and by some other articles too long to mention.

"About three hundred thousand pounds more are returned thither on other accounts; and, upon the whole, those who are the best versed in that kind of knowledge agree, that England gains annually by Ireland a million at least, which even I could make appear beyond all doubt.

"But, as this mighty profit would probably increase, with tolerable treatment, to half a million more, so it must of necessity sink, under the hardships that kingdom lies at present.

"And whereas Sir Robert Walpole was pleased to take notice, how little the king gets by Ireland, it ought, perhaps to be considered, that the revenues and taxes, I think, amount to above four hundred thousand [Pg 156]pounds a-year; and, reckoning the riches of Ireland, compared with England, to be as one to twelve, the king's revenues there would be equal to more than five millions here; which, considering the bad payment of rents, from such miserable creatures as most of the tenants in Ireland are, will be allowed to be as much as such a kingdom can bear.

"The current coin of Ireland is reckoned, at most, but at five hundred thousand pounds; so that above four-fifths are paid every year into the exchequer.

"I think it manifest, that whatever circumstances could possibly contribute to make a country poor and despicable, are all united with respect to Ireland. The nation controlled by laws to which they do not consent, disowned by their brethren and countrymen, refused the liberty not only of trading with their own manufactures, but even their native commodities, forced to seek for justice many hundred miles by sea and land, rendered in a manner incapable of serving their king and country in any employment of honour, trust, or profit; and all this without the least demerit; while the governors sent over thither can possibly have no affection to the people, further than what is instilled into them by their own justice and love of mankind, which do not always operate; and whatever they please to represent hither is never called in question.

"Whether the representatives of such a people, thus distressed and laid in the dust, when they meet in a parliament, can do the public business with that cheerfulness which might be expected from free-born subjects, would be a question in any other country except that unfortunate island; the English inhabitants whereof have given more and greater examples of their loyalty and dutifulness, than can be shown in any other part of the world.

"What part of these grievances may be thought proper to be redressed by so wise and great a minister as Sir Robert Walpole, he perhaps will please to consider; especially because they have been all brought upon that kingdom since the Revolution; which, however, is a blessing annually celebrated there with the greatest zeal and sincerity.

"I most humbly entreat your lordship to give this paper to Sir Robert Walpole, and desire him to read it, which he may do in a few minutes. I am, with the greatest respect, my lord,

"Your lordship's
"most obedient and humble servant,
"Jon. Swift."

Scott thinks that had Swift been anxious for personal favours from Walpole he could easily have obtained them; "but the minister did not choose to gain his adherence at the expense of sacrificing the system which had hitherto guided England in her conduct towards the sister kingdom, and the patriot of Ireland was not to be won at a cheaper rate than the emancipation of his country."

The original pamphlet bears neither date nor printer's name.

[T. S.]

[Pg 157]



By the last packets I had the favour of yours, and am surprised that you should apply to a person so ill qualified as I am, for a full and impartial account of the state of our trade. I have always lived as retired as possible; I have carefully avoided the perplexed honour of city-offices; I have never minded anybody's business but my own; upon all which accounts, and several others, you might easily have found among my fellow-citizens, persons more capable to resolve the weighty questions you put to me, than I can pretend to be.

But being entirely at leisure, even at this season of the year, when I used to have scarce time sufficient to perform the necessary offices of life, I will endeavour to comply with your requests, cautioning you not implicitly to rely upon what I say, excepting what belongs to that branch of trade in which I am more immediately concerned.

The Irish trade is, at present, in the most deplorable condition that can be imagined; to remedy it, the causes of its languishment must be inquired into: But as those causes (you may assure yourself) will not be removed, you may look upon it as a thing past hopes of recovery.

The first and greatest shock our trade received, was from an act passed in the reign of King William, in the Parliament of England, prohibiting the exportation of wool manufactured in Ireland. An act (as the event plainly shews) fuller of greediness than good policy; an act as beneficial to France and Spain, as it has been destructive to England and Ireland.[103] At the passing of this fatal act, the condition [Pg 158]of our trade was glorious and flourishing, though no way interfering with the English; we made no broad-cloths above 6s. per yard; coarse druggets, bays and shalloons, worsted damasks, strong draught works, slight half-works, and gaudy stuffs, were the only product of our looms: these were partly consumed by the meanest of our people,[Pg 159] and partly sent to the northern nations, from which we had in exchange, timber, iron, hemp, flax, pitch, tar, and hard dollars. At the time the current money of Ireland was foreign silver, a man could hardly receive 100l., without finding the coin of all the northern powers, and every prince of the empire among it. This money was returned into[Pg 160] England for fine cloths, silks, &c. for our own wear, for rents, for coals, for hardware, and all other English manufactures, and, in a great measure, supplied the London merchants with foreign silver for exportation.

The repeated clamours of the English weavers produced this act, so destructive to themselves and us. They looked with envious eyes upon our prosperity, and complained of being undersold by us in those commodities, which they themselves did not deal in. At their instances the act was passed, and we lost our profitable northern trade. Have they got it? No, surely, you have found they have ever since declined in the trade they so happily possessed; you shall find (if I am rightly informed) towns without one loom in them, which subsisted entirely upon the woollen manufactory before the passing of this unhappy bill; and I will try if I can give the true reasons for the decay of their trade, and our calamities.

Three parts in four of the inhabitants of that district of the town where I dwell were English manufacturers, whom either misfortunes in trade, little petty debts, contracted through idleness, or the pressures of a numerous family, had driven into our cheap country: These were employed in[Pg 161] working up our coarse wool, while the finest was sent into England. Several of these had taken the children of the native Irish apprentices to them, who being humbled by the forfeiture of upward of three millions by the Revolution, were obliged to stoop to a mechanic industry. Upon the passing of this bill, we were obliged to dismiss thousands of these people from our service. Those who had settled their affairs returned home, and overstocked England with workmen; those whose debts were unsatisfied went to France, Spain, and the Netherlands, where they met with good encouragement, whereby the natives, having got a firm footing in the trade, being acute fellows, soon became as good workmen as any we have, and supply the foreign manufactories with a constant recruit of artisans; our island lying much more under pasture than any in Europe. The foreigners (notwithstanding all the restrictions the English Parliament has bound us up with) are furnished with the greatest quantity of our choicest wool. I need not tell you, sir, that a custom-house oath is held as little sacred here as in England, or that it is common for masters of vessels to swear themselves bound for one of the English wool ports, and unload in France or Spain. By this means the trade in those parts is, in a great measure, destroyed, and we were obliged to try our hands at finer works, having only our home consumption to depend upon; and, I can assure you, we have, in several kinds of narrow goods, even exceeded the English, and I believe we shall, in a few years more, be able to equal them in broad cloths; but this you may depend upon, that scarce the tenth part of English goods are now imported, of what used to be before the famous act.

The only manufactured wares we are allowed to export, are linen cloth and linen yarn, which are marketable only in England; the rest of our commodities are wool, restrained to England, and raw hides, skins, tallow, beef, and butter. Now, these are things for which the northern nations have no occasion; we are therefore obliged, instead of carrying woollen goods to their markets, and bringing home money, to purchase their commodities.

In France, Spain, and Portugal, our wares are more valuable, though it must be owned, our fraudulent trade in wool is the best branch of our commerce; from hence we get[Pg 162] wines, brandy, and fruit, very cheap, and in great perfection; so that though England has constrained us to be poor, they have given us leave to be merry. From these countries we bring home moydores, pistoles, and louisdores, without which we should scarce have a penny to turn upon.

To England we are allowed to send nothing but linen cloth, yarn, raw hides, skins, tallow, and wool. From thence we have coals, for which we always pay ready money, India goods, English woollen and silks, tobacco, hardware, earthenware, salt, and several other commodities. Our exportations to England are very much overbalanced by our importations; so that the course of exchange is generally too high, and people choose rather to make their remittances to England in specie, than by a bill, and our nation is perpetually drained of its little running cash.

Another cause of the decay of trade, scarcity of money, and swelling of exchange, is the unnatural affectation of our gentry to reside in and about London.[104] Their rents are remitted to them, and spent there. The countryman wants employment from them; the country shopkeeper wants their custom. For this reason he can't pay his Dublin correspondent readily, nor take off a great quantity of his wares. There[Pg 163]fore, the Dublin merchant can't employ the artisan, nor keep up his credit in foreign markets.

I have discoursed some of these gentlemen, persons esteemed for good sense, and demanded a reason for this their so unaccountable proceeding,—expensive to them for the present, ruinous to their country, and destructive to the future value of their estates,—and find all their answers summed up under three heads, curiosity, pleasure, and loyalty to King George. The two first excuses deserve no answer; let us try the validity of the third. Would not loyalty be much better expressed by gentlemen staying in their respective countries, influencing their dependents by their examples, saving their own wealth, and letting their neighbours profit by their necessary expenses, thereby keeping them from misery, and its unavoidable consequence, discontent? Or is it better to flock to London, be lost in a crowd, kiss the King's hand, and take a view of the royal family? The seeing of the royal house may animate their zeal for it; but other advantages I know not. What employment have any of our gentlemen got by their attendance at Court, to make up to them their expenses? Why, about forty of them have been created peers, and a little less than a hundred of them baronets and knights. For these excellent advantages, thousands of our gentry have squeezed their tenants, impoverished the trader, and impaired their own fortunes!

Another great calamity, is the exorbitant raising of the rents of lands. Upon the determination of all leases made before the year 1690, a gentleman thinks he has but indifferently improved his estate if he has only doubled his rent-roll. Farms are screwed up to a rack-rent, leases granted but for a small term of years, tenants tied down to hard conditions, and discouraged from cultivating the lands they occupy to the best advantage, by the certainty they have of the rent being raised, on the expiration of their lease, proportionably to the improvements they shall make. Thus is honest industry restrained; the farmer is a slave to his landlord; 'tis well if he can cover his family with a coarse home-spun frieze. The artisan has little dealings with him; yet he is obliged to take his provisions from him at an extravagant price, otherwise the farmer cannot pay his rent.

The proprietors of lands keep great part of them in their[Pg 164] own hands for sheep-pasture; and there are thousands of poor wretches who think themselves blessed, if they can obtain a hut worse than the squire's dog-kennel, and an acre of ground for a potato-plantation, on condition of being as very slaves as any in America. What can be more deplorable, than to behold wretches starving in the midst of plenty!

We are apt to charge the Irish with laziness, because we seldom find them employed; but then we don't consider they have nothing to do. Sir William Temple, in his excellent remarks on the United Provinces, inquires why Holland, which has the fewest and worst ports and commodities of any nation in Europe, should abound in trade, and Ireland, which has the most and best of both, should have none? This great man attributes this surprising accident to the natural aversion man has for labour; who will not be persuaded to toil and fatigue himself for the superfluities of life throughout the week, when he may provide himself with all necessary subsistence by the labour of a day or two. But, with due submission to Sir William's profound judgment, the want of trade with us is rather owing to the cruel restraints we lie under, than to any disqualification whatsoever in our inhabitants.

I have not, sir, for these thirty years past, since I was concerned in trade, (the greatest part of which time distresses have been flowing in upon us,) ever observed them to swell so suddenly to such a height as they have done within these few months. Our present calamities are not to be represented; you can have no notion of them without beholding them. Numbers of miserable objects crowd our doors, begging us to take their wares at any price, to prevent their families from immediate starving. We cannot part with our money to them, both because we know not when we shall have vent for their goods; and, as there are no debts paid, we are afraid of reducing ourselves to their lamentable circumstances. The dismal time of trade we had during Marr's Troubles in Scotland, are looked upon as happy days when compared with the present.[105][Pg 165]

I need not tell you, sir, that this griping want, this dismal poverty, this additional woe, must be put to the accursed stocks, which have desolated our country more effectually than England. Stockjobbing was a kind of traffic we were utterly unacquainted with. We went late to the South Sea market, and bore a great share in the losses of it, without having tasted any of its profits.

If many in England have been ruined by stocks, some have been advanced. The English have a free and open trade to repair their losses; but, above all, a wise, vigilant, and uncorrupted Parliament and ministry, strenuously endeavouring to restore public trade to its former happy state. Whilst we, having lost the greatest part of our cash, without any probability of its returning, must despair of retrieving our losses by trade, and have before our eyes the dismal prospect of universal poverty and desolation.

I believe, sir, you are by this time heartily tired with this indigested letter, and are firmly persuaded of the truth of what I said in the beginning of it, that you had much better have imposed this task on some of our citizens of greater abilities. But perhaps, sir, such a letter as this may be, for the singularity of it, entertaining to you, who correspond with the politest and most learned men in Europe. But I am satisfied you will excuse its want of exactness and perspicuity, when you consider my education, my being unaccustomed to writings of this nature, and, above all, those calamitous objects which constantly surround us, sufficient to disturb the cleanest imagination, and the soundest judgment.

Whatever cause I have given you, by this letter, to think worse of my sense and judgment, I fancy I have given you a manifest proof that I am, sir,

Your most obedient humble servant,

J. S.[Pg 167][Pg 166]








It was only proper and fitting that the citizens and freemen of the City of Dublin should express their sense of the high appreciation in which they held the writer of the "Drapier's Letters," and the man who had fought and was still fighting for an alleviation of the grievances under which their country suffered. The Dublin Corporation, in 1729, presented Swift with the freedom of the city, an honour rarely bestowed, and only on men in high position and power. To Swift the honour was welcome. It was a public act of justification of what he had done, and it came gratefully to the man who had at one time been abused and reviled by the people of the very city which was now honouring him. Furthermore, such a confirmation of his acts set the seal of public authority which was desirable, even if not necessary, to a man of Swift's temper. He could save himself much trouble by merely pointing to the gold box which was presented to him with the freedom. Even in this last moment, however, of public recognition, he was not allowed to receive it without a snarl from one of the crowd of the many slanderers who found it safer to backbite him. Lord Allen may have been wrong in his head, or ill-advised, or foolishly over-zealous, but his ill-tempered upbraiding of the Dublin Corporation for what he called their treasonable extravagance in thus honouring Swift, whom he deemed an enemy of the King, was the act of a fool. Swift was not the man to let the occasion slip by without advantage. In the substance of what he said to the Lord Mayor and Aldermen of Dublin in accepting their gift, he replied to the charges made by Lord Allen, and also issued a special advertisement by way of defence against what the lord had thought fit to say.

Both these pieces are here reprinted; the first from a broadside in the British Museum, and the second from a manuscript copy in the Forster Collection at South Kensington.

[T. S.][Pg 169]



When his Lordship had said a few words, and presented the instrument, the Dean gently put it back, and desired first to be heard. He said, "He was much obliged to his lordship and the city for the honour they were going to do him, and which, as he was informed, they had long intended him. That it was true, this honour was mingled with a little mortification by the delay which attended it, but which, however, he did not impute to his lordship or the city; and that the mortification was the less, because he would willingly hope the delay was founded on a mistake;—for which opinion he would tell his reason."

He said, "It was well known, that, some time ago, a person with a title[106] was pleased, in two great assemblies, to rattle bitterly somebody without a name, under the injurious appellations of a Tory, a Jacobite, an enemy to King George, and a libeller of the government; which character," the Dean said that, "many people thought was applied to him. But he was unwilling to be of that opinion, because the person who had delivered those abusive words, had, for several years, caressed, and courted, and solicited his friendship more than any man in either kingdom had ever done,—by inviting him to his house in town and country,—by coming [Pg 170]to the Deanery often, and calling or sending almost every day when the Dean was sick,—with many other particulars of the same nature, which continued even to a day or two of the time when the said person made those invectives in the council and House of Lords. Therefore, that the Dean would by no means think those scurrilous words could be intended against him; because such a proceeding would overthrow all the principles of honour, justice, religion, truth, and even common humanity. Therefore the Dean will endeavour to believe, that the said person had some other object in his thoughts, and it was only the uncharitable custom of the world that applied this character to him. However, that he would insist on this argument no longer. But one thing he would affirm and declare, without assigning any name, or making any exception, that whoever either did, or does, or shall hereafter, at any time, charge him with the character of a Jacobite, an enemy to King George, or a libeller of the government, the said accusation was, is, and will be, false, malicious, slanderous, and altogether groundless. And he would take the freedom to tell his lordship, and the rest that stood by, that he had done more service to the Hanover title, and more disservice to the Pretender's cause, than forty thousand of those noisy, railing, malicious, empty zealots, to whom nature hath denied any talent that could be of use to God or their country, and left them only the gift of reviling, and spitting their venom, against all who differ from them in their destructive principles, both in church and state. That he confessed, it was sometimes his misfortune to dislike some things in public proceedings in both kingdoms, wherein he had often the honour to agree with wise and good men; but this did by no means affect either his loyalty to his prince, or love to his country. But, on the contrary, he protested, that such dislikes never arose in him from any other principles than the duty he owed to the king, and his affection to the kingdom. That he had been acquainted with courts and ministers long enough, and knew too well that the best ministers might mistake in points of great importance; and that he had the honour to know many more able, and at least full as honest, as any can be at present."

The Dean further said, "That since he had been so[Pg 171] falsely represented, he thought it became him to give some account of himself for about twenty years, if it were only to justify his lordship and the city for the honour they were going to do him." He related briefly, how, "merely by his own personal credit, without other assistance, and in two journeys at his own expense, he had procured a grant of the first-fruits to the clergy, in the late Queen's time, for which he thought he deserved some gentle treatment from his brethren.[107] That, during all the administration of the said ministry, he had been a constant advocate for those who are called the Whigs,—and kept many of them in their employments both in England and here,—and some who were afterwards the first to lift up their heels against him." He reflected a little upon the severe treatment he had met with upon his return to Ireland after her Majesty's death, and for some years after. "That being forced to live retired, he could think of no better way to do public service, than by employing all the little money he could save, and lending it, without interest, in small sums to poor industrious tradesmen, without examining their party or their faith. And God had so far pleased to bless his endeavours, that his managers tell him he hath recovered above two hundred families in this city from ruin, and placed most of them in a comfortable way of life."

The Dean related, how much he had suffered in his purse, and with what hazard to his liberty, by a most iniquitous judge[108]; who, to gratify his ambition and rage of party, had condemned an innocent book, written with no worse a design, than to persuade the people of this kingdom to wear their own manufactures.[109] How the said judge had endeavoured to get a jury to his mind; but they proved so honest, that he was forced to keep them eleven hours, and send them back nine times; until, at last, they were compelled to leave the printer[110] to the mercy of the court, and the Dean was forced to procure a noli prosequi from a noble person, then secretary of state, who had been his old friend.

The Dean then freely confessed himself to be the author of those books called "The Drapier's Letters;" spoke [Pg 172]gently of the proclamation, offering three hundred pounds to discover the writer.[111] He said, "That although a certain person was pleased to mention those books in a slight manner at a public assembly, yet he (the Dean) had learned to believe, that there were ten thousand to one in the kingdom who differed from that person; and the people of England, who had ever heard of the matter, as well as in France, were all of the same opinion."

The Dean mentioned several other particulars, some of which those from whom I had the account could not recollect; and others, although of great consequence, perhaps his enemies would not allow him.

The Dean concluded, with acknowledging to have expressed his wishes, that an inscription might have been graven on the box, shewing some reason why the city thought fit to do him that honour, which was much out of the common forms to a person in a private station;—those distinctions being usually made only to chief governors, or persons in very high employments.[Pg 173]




Feb. 18, 1729.[Pg 175][Pg 174]

"Whereas Dr. Jonathan Swift, Dean of St. Patrick's, Dublin, hath been credibly informed, that, on Friday the 13th of this instant February, a certain person did, in a public place, and in the hearing of a great number, apply himself to the Right Honourable the Lord Mayor of this city, and some of his brethren, in the following reproachful manner: 'My lord, you and your city can squander away the public money, in giving a gold box to a fellow who hath libelled the government!' or words to that effect.

"Now, if the said words, or words to the like effect, were intended against him the said Dean, and as a reflection on the Right Hon. the Lord Mayor, aldermen, and commons, for their decreeing unanimously, and in full assembly, the freedom of this city to the said Dean, in an honourable manner, on account of an opinion they had conceived of some services done by him the said Dean to this city, and to the kingdom in general,—the said Dean doth declare, [Pg 176]That the said words, or words to the like effect, are insolent, false, scandalous, malicious, and, in a particular manner, perfidious; the said person, who is reported to have spoken the said or the like words, having, for some years past, and even within some few days, professed a great friendship for the said Dean; and, what is hardly credible, sending a common friend of the Dean and himself, not many hours after the said or the like words had been spoken, to renew his profession of friendship to the said Dean, but concealing the oratory; whereof the said Dean had no account till the following day, and then told it to all his friends."[Pg 177]






Written in 1729.[Pg 178]


The matter of this tract explains itself. M'Culla's project was to put in circulation notes stamped on copper to supply the deficiency in copper coins which Wood attempted. Swift, apparently, took a mild tone towards M'Culla's plan, but thought that M'Culla would make too much out of it for himself. He made a counter proposal which is fully entered into here. Nothing came either of M'Culla's proposal or Swift's counter-suggestion.

The present text is based on that given in the eighth volume of the edition of 1765, and compared with that of Faulkner's edition of 1772. Faulkner's edition differs in many details from that given by Scott. The first sheet only of the original autograph manuscript is in the Forster Collection at South Kensington.

[T. S.][Pg 179]



You desire to know my opinion concerning Mr. M'Culla's project, of circulating notes stamped on copper, that shall pass for the value of halfpence and pence. I have some knowledge of the man; and about a month ago he brought me his book, with a couple of his halfpenny notes: but I was then out of order, and he could not be admitted. Since that time I called at his house; where I discoursed, the whole affair with him as thoroughly as I could. I am altogether a stranger to his character. He talked to me in the usual style, with a great profession of zeal for the public good, which is the common cant of all projectors in their Bills, from a First Minister of State down to a corn-cutter. But I stopped him short, as I would have done a better man; because it is too gross a pretence to pass at any time, and especially in this age, where we all know one another so well. Yet, whoever proposeth any scheme which may prove to be a public benefit, I shall not quarrel if it prove likewise very beneficial to the contriver. It is certain, that next to the want of silver, our greatest distress in point of coin is the want of small change, which may be some poor relief for the defect of the former, since the Crown will not please to take that work upon them here as they do in England. One thing in Mr. M'Culla's book is certainly right, that no law hinders me from giving a payable note upon leather, wood, copper, brass, iron, or any other material (except gold and silver) as well as upon paper. The question is, whether I can sue him on a copper bond, when there is neither his hand nor seal, nor witnesses to[Pg 180] prove it? To supply this, he hath proposed, that the materials upon which his note is written, shall be in some degree of value equal to the debt. But that is one principal matter to be enquired into. His scheme is this:

He gives you a piece of copper for a halfpenny or penny, stamped with a promissory note to pay you twentypence for every pound of the said copper notes, whenever you shall return them. Eight and forty of the halfpenny pieces are to weigh a pound, and he sells you that pound coined and stamped for two shillings: by which he clearly gains a little more than sixteen per cent.; that is to say, twopence in every shilling. This will certainly arise to a great sum, if he should circulate as large a quantity of his notes, as the kingdom, under the great dearth of silver, may very probably require: enough indeed to make any Irish tradesman's fortune; which, however, I should not repine at in the least, if we could be sure of his fair-dealing.

It was obvious for me to raise the common objection, why Mr. M'Culla would not give security to pay the whole sum to any man who returned him his copper notes, as my Lord Dartmouth and Colonel Moor were, by their patents, obliged to do.[113] To which he gave some answers plausible enough. First, "He conceived that his coins were much nearer to the intrinsic value than any of those coined by patents, the bulk and goodness of the metal fully equalling the best English halfpence made by the crown: That he apprehended the ill-will of envious and designing people, who, if they found him to have a great vent for his notes, since he wanted the protection of a patent, might make a run upon him, which he could not be able to support: And lastly, that his copper, (as is already said,) being equal in value and bulk to the English halfpence, he did not apprehend they should ever be returned, unless a combination, proceeding from spite and envy, might be formed against him."

But there are some points in his proposals which I cannot[Pg 181] well answer for; nor do I know whether he would be able to do it himself. The first is, whether the copper he gives us will be as good as what the crown provided for the English halfpence and farthings; and, secondly, whether he will always continue to give us as good; and, thirdly, when he will think fit to stop his hand, and give us no more; for I should be as sorry to lie at the mercy of Mr. M'Culla, as of Mr. Wood.

There is another difficulty of the last importance. It is known enough that the Crown is supposed to be neither gainer nor loser by the coinage of any metal; for they subtract, or ought to subtract, no more from the intrinsic value than what will just pay all the charges of the mint; and how much that will amount to, is the question. By what I could gather from Mr. M'Culla, good copper is worth fourteenpence per pound. By this computation, if he sells his copper notes for two shillings the pound, and will pay twentypence back, then the expense of coinage for one pound of copper must be sixpence, which is thirty per cent. The world should be particularly satisfied on this article before he vends his notes; for the discount of thirty per cent. is prodigious, and vastly more than I can conceive it ought to be. For, if we add to that proportion the sixteen per cent. which he avows to keep for his own profit, there will be a discount of about forty-six per cent. Or, to reckon, I think, a fairer way: Whoever buys a pound of Mr. M'Culla's coin, at two shillings per pound, carries home only the real value of fourteenpence, which is a pound of copper; and thus he is a loser of 41l. 13s. 4d. per cent.[114] But, however, this high discount of thirty per cent. will be no objection against M'Culla's proposals; because, if the charge of coinage will honestly amount to so much, and we suppose his copper notes may be returned upon him, he will be the greater sufferer of the two; because the buyer can lose but fourpence in the pound, and M'Culla must lose sixpence, which was the charge of the coinage.[115]

Upon the whole, there are some points which must be settled to the general satisfaction, before we can safely take [Pg 182]Mr. M'Culla's copper notes for value received; and how he will give that satisfaction, is not within my knowledge or conjecture. The first point is, that we shall be always sure of receiving good copper, equal in bulk and fineness to the best English halfpence.

The second point is, to know what allowance he makes to himself, either out of the weight or mixture of his copper, or both, for the charge of his coinage. As to the weight, the matter is easy by his own scheme; for, as I have said before, he proposes forty-eight to weigh a pound, which he gives you for two shillings, and receives it by the pound at twentypence: so that, supposing pure copper to be fourteenpence a pound, he makes you pay thirty per cent. for the labour of coining, as I have already observed, besides sixteen per cent. when he sells it. But if to this he adds any alloy, to debase the metal, although it be not above ten per cent.; then Mr. M'Culla's promissory notes will, as to the intrinsic value of the metal, be above forty-seven per cent. discount.

For, subtracting ten per cent. off sixty pound's worth of copper, it will (to avoid fractions) be about five and a half per cent. in the whole 100l., which, added to

will be per cent.4734

That we are under great distress for change, and that Mr. M'Culla's copper notes, on supposition of the metal being pure, is less liable to objection than the project of Wood, may be granted: but such a discount, where we are not sure even of our twentypence a pound, appears hitherto a dead weight on his scheme.

Since I writ this, calling to mind that I had some copper halfpence by me, I weighed them with those of Mr. M'Culla, and observed as follows:

First, I weighed Mr. M'Culla's halfpenny against an English one of King Charles II., which out-weighed Mr. M'Culla's a fourth part, or twenty-five per cent.

I likewise weighed an Irish Patrick and David halfpenny, which outweighed Mr. M'Culla's twelve and a half per cent.[Pg 183] It had a very fair and deep impression, and milled very skilfully round.

I found that even a common halfpenny, well-preserved, weighed equal to Mr. M'Culla's. And even some of Wood's halfpence were near equal in weight to his. Therefore, if it be true that he does not think Wood's copper to have been faulty, he may probably give us no better.

I have laid these loose thoughts together with little order, to give you, and others who may read them, an opportunity of digesting them better. I am no enemy to Mr. M'Culla's project; but I would have it put upon a better foot. I own that this halfpenny of King Charles II., which I weighed against Mr. M'Culla's, was of the fairest kind I had seen. However, it is plain the Crown could afford it without being a loser.[116] But it is probable that the officers of the mint were then more honest than they have since thought fit to be; for I confess not to have met those of any other year so weighty, or in appearance of so good metal, among all the copper coins of the three last reigns; yet these, however, did much outweigh those of Mr. M'Culla; for I have tried the experiment on a hundred of them. I have indeed seen accidentally one or two very light; but it must certainly have been done by chance, or rather I suppose them to be counterfeits. Be that as it will, it is allowed on all hands, that good copper was never known to be cheaper than it is at present. I am ignorant of the price, further than by his informing me that it is only fourteenpence a pound; by which, I observe, he charges the coinage at thirty per cent.; and therefore I cannot but think his demands are exorbitant. But, to say the truth, the dearness or cheapness of the metal do not properly enter into the question. What we desire is, that it should be of the best kind, and as weighty as can be afforded; that the profit of the contriver should be reduced from sixteen to eight per cent.; and the charge of coinage, if possible, from thirty to ten, or fifteen at most.

Mr. M'Culla must also give good security that he will coin only a determinate sum, not exceeding twenty thousand pounds; by which, although he should deal with all upright[Pg 184]ness imaginable, and make his coin as good as that I weighed of King Charles II., he will, at sixteen per cent., gain three thousand two hundred pounds; a very good additional job to a private tradesman's fortune!

I must advise him also to employ better workmen, and make his impressions deeper and plainer; by which a rising rim may be left about the edge of his coin, to preserve the letter from wearing out too soon. He hath no wardens nor masters, or other officers of the mint, to suck up his profit; and therefore can afford to coin cheaper than the Crown, if he will but find good materials, proper implements, and skilful workmen.

Whether this project will succeed in Mr. M'Culla's hands, (which, if it be honestly executed, I should be glad to see,) one thing I am confident of, that it might be easily brought to perfection by a society of nine or ten honest gentlemen of fortune, who wish well to their country, and would be content to be neither gainers nor losers, further than the bare interest of their money. And Mr. M'Culla, as being the first starter of the scheme, might be considered and rewarded by such a society; whereof, although I am not a man of fortune, I should think it an honour and happiness to be one, even with borrowed money upon the best security I could give. And, first, I am confident, without any skill, but by general reason, that the charge of coining copper would be very much less than thirty per cent. Secondly, I believe ten thousand pounds, in halfpence and farthings, would be sufficient for the whole kingdom, even under our great and most unnecessary distress for the want of silver; and that, without such a distress, half the sum would suffice. For, I compute and reason thus: the city of Dublin, by a gross computation, contains ten thousand families; and I am told by shopkeepers, "That if silver were as plenty as usual, two shillings in copper would be sufficient, in the course of business, for each family." But, in consideration of the want of silver, I would allow five shillings to each family, which would amount to 2,500l.; and, to help this, I would recommend a currency of all the genuine undefaced harp-halfpence, which are left, of Lord Dartmouth's and Moor's patents under King Charles II.; and the small Patrick and David for farthings. To the rest of the kingdom,[Pg 185] I would assign the 7,500l. remaining; reckoning Dublin to answer one-fourth of the kingdom, as London is judged to answer (if I mistake not) one-third of England; I mean in the view of money only.

To compute our want of small change by the number of souls in the kingdom, besides being perplexed, is, I think, by no means just. They have been reckoned at a million and a half; whereof a million at least are beggars in all circumstances, except that of wandering about for alms; and that circumstance may arrive soon enough, when it will be time to add another ten thousand pounds in copper. But, without doubt, the families of Ireland, who lie chiefly under the difficulties of wanting small change, cannot be above forty or fifty thousand, which the sum of ten thousand pounds, with the addition of the fairest old halfpence, would tolerably supply; for, if we give too great a loose to any projector to pour in upon us what he pleases, the kingdom will be, (how shall I express it under our present circumstances?) more than undone.

And hence appears, in a very strong light, the villainy of Wood, who proposed the coinage of one hundred and eight thousand pounds in copper, for the use of Ireland; whereby every family in the kingdom would be loaden with ten or a dozen shillings, although Wood might not transgress the bounds of his patent, and although no counterfeits, either at home or abroad, were added to the number; the contrary to both which would indubitably have arrived. So ill informed are great men on the other side, who talk of a million with as little ceremony as we do of half-a-crown!

But to return to the proposal I have made: Suppose ten gentlemen, lovers of their country, should raise 200l. a-piece; and, from the time the money is deposited as they shall agree, should begin to charge it with seven per cent. for their own use; that they should, as soon as possible, provide a mint and good workmen, and buy copper sufficient for coining two thousand pounds, subtracting a fifth part of the interest of ten thousand pounds for the charges of the tools, and fitting up a place for a mint; the other four parts of the same interest to be subtracted equally out of the four remaining coinages of 2,000l. each, with a just allowance for other necessary incidents. Let the charge of coinage be[Pg 186] fairly reckoned, and the kingdom informed of it, as well as of the price of copper. Let the coin be as well and deeply stamped as it ought. Let the metal be as pure as can consist to have it rightly coined, (wherein I am wholly ignorant,) and the bulk as large as that of King Charles II. And let this club of ten gentlemen give their joint security to receive all the coins they issue out for seven or ten years, and return gold and silver without any defalcation.

Let the same club, or company, when they have issued out the first two thousand pounds, go on the second year, if they find a demand, and that their scheme hath answered to their own intention, as well as to the satisfaction of the public. And, if they find seven per cent. not sufficient, let them subtract eight, beyond which I would not have them go. And when they have in five years coined ten thousand pounds, let them give public notice that they will proceed no further, but shut up their mint, and dismiss their workmen; unless the real, universal, unsolicited, declaration of the nobility and gentry of the kingdom shall signify a desire that they shall go on for a certain sum farther.

This company may enter into certain regulations among themselves; one of which should be, to keep nothing concealed, and duly to give an account to the world of their whole methods of acting.

Give me leave to compute, wholly at random, what charge the kingdom will be at, by the loss of intrinsic value in the coinage of 10,000l. in copper, under the management of such a society of gentlemen.

First, It is plain that instead of somewhat more than sixteen per cent. as demanded by Mr. M'Culla, this society desires but eight per cent.

Secondly, Whereas Mr. M'Culla charges the expense of coinage at thirty per cent., I hope and believe this society will be able to perform it at ten.

Thirdly, Whereas it doth not appear that Mr. M'Culla can give any security for the goodness of his copper, because not one in ten thousand have the skill to distinguish, the society will be all engaged that theirs shall be of the best standard.

Fourthly, That whereas Mr. M'Culla's halfpence are one-fourth part lighter than that kind coined in the time of King[Pg 187] Charles II., these gentlemen will oblige themselves to the public, to give their coin of the same weight and goodness with those halfpence, unless they shall find they cannot afford it; and, in that case, they shall beforehand inform the public, show their reasons, and signify how large they can make them without being losers; and so give over or pursue their scheme, as they find the opinion of the world to be. However, I do not doubt but they can afford them as large, and of as good metal, as the best English halfpence that have been coined in the three last reigns, which very much outweighed those of Mr. M'Culla. And this advantage will arise in proportion, by lessening the charge of coinage from thirty per cent. to ten or fifteen, or twenty at most. But I confess myself in the dark on that article; only I think it impossible it should amount to any proportion near thirty per cent.; otherwise the coiners of those counterfeit halfpence called raps[117] would have little encouragement to follow their trade.

But the indubitable advantages, by having the management in such a society, would be the paying eight per cent. instead of sixteen, the being sure of the goodness and just weight of the coin, and the period to be put to any further coinage than what was absolutely necessary to supply the wants and desires of the kingdom; and all this under the security of ten gentlemen of credit and fortune, who would be ready to give the best security and satisfaction, that they had no design to turn the scheme into a job.

As to any mistakes I have made in computation, they are of little moment; and I shall not descend so low as to justify them against any caviller.

The strongest objection against what I offer, and which perhaps may make it appear visionary, is the difficulty to find half a score gentlemen, who, out of a public spirit, will be at the trouble, for no more profit than one per cent. above the legal interest, to be overseers of a mint for five years; and perhaps, without any justice, raise the clamour of the people against them. Besides, it is most certain that many a squire is as fond of a job, and as dexterous to make the best of it, as Mr. M'Culla himself, or any of his level.[Pg 188]

However, I do not doubt but there may be ten such persons in this town, if they had only some visible mark to know them at sight. Yet I just foresee another inconveniency; That knavish men are fitter to deal with others of their own denomination; while those who are honest and best-intentioned may be the instruments of as much mischief to the public, for want of cunning, as the greatest knaves; and more, because of the charitable opinion which they are apt to have of others. Therefore, how to join the prudence of the serpent with the innocency of the dove, in this affair, is the most difficult point. It is not so hard to find an honest man, as to make this honest man active, and vigilant, and skilful; which, I doubt, will require a spur of profit greater than my scheme will afford him, unless he will be contented with the honour of serving his country, and the reward of a good conscience.

After reviewing what I had written, I see very well that I have not given any allowance for the first charge of preparing all things necessary for coining, which, I am told, will amount to about 200l. besides 20l. per annum for five years rent of a house to work in. I can only say, that, this making in all 300l., it will be an addition of no more than three per cent. out of 10,000l.

But the great advantages to the public, by having the coinage placed in the hands of ten gentlemen such as I have already described, (if such are to be found,) are these:—

First, They propose no other gain to themselves than one per cent. above the legal interest for the money they advance; which will hardly afford them coffee when they meet at their mint-house.

Secondly, They bind themselves to make their coins of as good copper as the best English halfpence, and as well coined, and of equal weight; and do likewise bind themselves to charge the public with not one farthing for the expense of coinage, more than it shall really stand them in.

Thirdly, They will, for a limited term of seven or ten years, as shall be thought proper upon mature consideration, pay gold and silver, without any defalcation, for all their own coin that shall be returned upon their hands.

Fourthly, They will take care that the coins shall have a deep impression, leaving a rising rim on both sides, to pre[Pg 189]vent being defaced in a long time; and the edges shall be milled.

I suppose they need not be very apprehensive of counterfeits, which it will be difficult to make so as not to be discovered; for it is plain that those bad halfpence called raps are so easily distinguished, even from the most worn genuine halfpenny, that nobody will now take them for a farthing, although under the great present want of change.

I shall here subjoin some computations relating to Mr. M'Culla's copper notes. They were sent to me by a person well skilled in such calculations; and therefore I refer them to the reader.[118]

Mr. M'Culla charges good copper at fourteenpence per pound: but I know not whether he means avoirdupois or troy weight.

Avoirdupois is sixteen ounces to a pound,6960 grains.
A pound troy weight,5760 grains.
Mr. M'Culla's copper is fourteenpence per pound avoirdupois.
Two of Mr. M'Culla's penny notes, one with another, weigh524 grains.
By which computation, two shillings of his notes, which he
sells for one pound weight, will weigh6288 grains.
But one pound avoirdupois weighs, as above,6960 grains.
This difference makes 10 per cent. to Mr. M'Culla's profit, in point of weight.
The old Patrick and David halfpenny weighs149 grains.
Mr. M'Culla's halfpenny weighs131 grains.
The difference is  18
Which is equal to 10-1/2 per cent.
The English halfpenny of King Charles II. weighs167 grains.
M'Culla's halfpenny weighs131 grains.
The difference  36
Which difference, allowed a fifth part, is 20 per cent. 

[Pg 190]


Mr. M'Culla allows his pound of copper (coinage included) to be worth twentypence; for which he demands two shillings.

His coinage he computes at sixpence per pound weight; therefore,
he laying out only twentypence, and gaining fourpence,
he makes per cent. profit,20
The sixpence per pound weight, allowed for coinage,
makes per cent.30
The want of weight in his halfpenny, compared as above,
is per cent.10
By all which (viz. coinage, profit, and want of weight)
—the public loses per cent.60

If Mr. M'Culla's coins will not pass, and he refuses to receive them back, the owner cannot sell them at above twelvepence per pound weight; whereby, with the defect of weight of 10 per cent., he will lose 60 per cent.

The scheme of the society, raised as high as it can possibly be, will be only thus:

For interest of their money, per cent.8
For coinage, instead of 10, suppose at most per cent.20
For l.300 laid out for tools, a mint, and house-rent,
charge 3 per cent. upon the coinage of l.10,000,3
Charges in all upon interest, coinage, &c. per cent.,31

Which, with all the advantages above-mentioned, of the goodness of the metal, the largeness of the coin, the deepness and fairness of the impression, the assurance of the society confining itself to such a sum as they undertake, or as the kingdom shall approve; and lastly, their paying in gold or silver for all their coin returned upon their hands without any defalcation, would be of mighty benefit to the kingdom; and, with a little steadiness and activity, could, I doubt not, be easily compassed.

I would not in this scheme recommend the method of promissory notes, after Mr. M'Culla's manner; but, as I have seen in old Irish coins, the words civitas dvblin, on one side, with the year of our Lord and the Irish harp on the reverse.[Pg 191]





The arguments advanced in this tract are practically repetitions of those already given in previous pieces. Swift laid much stress on the people buying and wearing goods made in Ireland, since in that way the money would remain in the country. In this little tract he winds up with a special appeal to the women of Ireland.

The present text is based on that of the quarto edition (vol. viii.) of 1765, and compared with Faulkner's of 1772.

[T. S.][Pg 193]


There was a treatise written about nine years ago, to persuade the people of Ireland to wear their own manufactures.[119] This treatise was allowed to have not one syllable in it of party or disaffection; but was wholly founded upon the growing poverty of the nation, occasioned by the utter want of trade in every branch, except that ruinous importation of all foreign extravagancies from other countries. This treatise was presented, by the grand jury of the city and county of Dublin, as a scandalous, seditious, and factious pamphlet. I forget who was the foreman of the city grand jury; but the foreman for the county was one Doctor Seal, register to the Archbishop of Dublin, wherein he differed much from the sentiments of his lord.[120] The printer[121] was tried before the late Mr. Whitshed, that famous Lord chief-justice; who, on the bench, laying his hand on his heart, declared, upon his salvation, that the author was a Jacobite, and had a design to beget a quarrel between the two nations.[122] In the midst of this prosecution, about fifteen hundred weavers were forced to beg their bread, and had a general contribution made for their relief, which just served to make them drunk for a week; and then they were forced to turn rogues, or strolling beggars, or to leave the kingdom.

[Pg 194]

The Duke of Grafton,[123] who was then Lieutenant, being perfectly ashamed of so infamous and unpopular a proceeding, obtained from England a noli prosequi for the printer. Yet the grand jury had solemn thanks given them from the Secretary of State.

I mention this passage (perhaps too much forgotten,) to shew how dangerous it hath been for the best meaning person to write one syllable in the defence of his country, or discover the miserable condition it is in.

And to prove this truth, I will produce one instance more; wholly omitting the famous case of the Drapier, and the proclamation against him, as well as the perverseness of another jury against the same Mr. Whitshed, who was violently bent to act the second part in another scene.[124]

About two years ago, there was a small paper printed, which was called, "A Short View of the State of Ireland," relating the several causes whereby any country may grow rich, and applying them to Ireland.[125] Whitshed was dead, and consequently the printer was not troubled. Mist, the famous journalist, happened to reprint this paper in London, for which his press-folks were prosecuted for almost a twelve-month; and, for aught I know, are not yet discharged.[126]

This is our case; insomuch, that although I am often without money in my pocket, I dare not own it in some company, for fear of being thought disaffected.

But, since I am determined to take care that the author of this paper shall not be discovered (following herein the [Pg 195]most prudent practice of the Drapier,) I will venture to affirm, that the three seasons wherein our corn hath miscarried, did no more contribute to our present misery, than one spoonful of water thrown upon a rat already drowned would contribute to his death; and that the present plentiful harvest, although it should be followed by a dozen ensuing, would no more restore us, than it would the rat aforesaid to put him near the fire, which might indeed warm his fur coat, but never bring him back to life.

The short of the matter is this: The distresses of the kingdom are operating more and more every day, by very large degrees, and so have been doing for above a dozen years past.

If you demand from whence these distresses have arisen, I desire to ask the following question:

If two-thirds of any kingdom's revenue be exported to another country, without one farthing of value in return; and if the said kingdom be forbidden the most profitable branches of trade wherein to employ the other third, and only allowed to traffic in importing those commodities which are most ruinous to itself[127]; how shall that kingdom stand?

If this question were formed into the first proposition of an hypothetical syllogism, I defy the man born in Ireland, who is now in the fairest way of getting a collectorship, or a cornet's post, to give a good reason for denying it.

Let me put another case. Suppose a gentleman's estate of two hundred pounds a year should sink to one hundred, by some accident, whether by an earthquake, or inundation, it matters not: and suppose the said gentleman utterly hopeless and unqualified ever to retrieve the loss; how is he otherwise to proceed in his future economy, than by reducing it on every article to one half less, unless he will be content to fly his country, or rot in jail? This is a representation of Ireland's condition; only with one fault, that it is a little too favourable. Neither am I able to propose a full remedy for this, that shall ever be granted, but only a small prolongation of life, until God shall miraculously dispose the hearts of our neighbours, our kinsmen, our fellow-protestants, fellow-subjects, and fellow rational creatures, to [Pg 196]permit us to starve without running further in debt. I am informed that our national debt (and God knows how we wretches came by that fashionable thing a national debt) is about two hundred and fifty thousand pounds; which is at least one-third of the whole kingdom's rents, after our absentees and other foreign drains are paid, and about fifty thousand pounds more than all the cash.

It seems there are several schemes for raising a fund to pay the interest of this formidable sum (not the principal, for this is allowed impossible). The necessity of raising such a fund, is strongly and regularly pleaded, from the late deficiencies in the duties and customs. And is it the fault of Ireland that these funds are deficient? If they depend on trade, can it possibly be otherwise, while we have neither liberty to trade, nor money to trade with; neither hands to work, nor business to employ them, if we had? Our diseases are visible enough both in their causes and effects; and the cures are well known, but impossible to be applied.

If my steward comes and tells me, that my rents are sunk so low, that they are very little more than sufficient to pay my servants their wages; have I any other course left than to cashier four in six of my rascally footmen, and a number of other varlets in my family, of whose insolence the whole neighbourhood complains? And I should think it extremely severe in any law, to force me to maintain a household of fifty servants, and fix their wages, before I had offered my rent-roll upon oath to the legislators.

To return from digressing: I am told one scheme for raising a fund to pay the interest of our national debt, is, by a further duty of forty shillings a tun upon wine. Some gentlemen would carry this matter much further, by raising it to twelve pounds; which, in a manner, would amount to a prohibition: thus weakly arguing from the practice of England.

I have often taken notice, both in print and in discourse, that there is no topic so fallacious, either in talk or in writing, as to argue how we ought to act in Ireland, from the example of England, Holland, France, or any other country, whose inhabitants are allowed the common rights and liberties of humankind. I could undertake to name six or seven of the most uncontrolled maxims in government, which are utterly false in this kingdom.[Pg 197]

As to the additional duty on wine, I think any person may deliver his opinion upon it, until it shall have passed into a law; and till then, I declare mine to be positively against it.

First, Because there is no nation yet known, in either hemisphere, where the people of all conditions are more in want of some cordial to keep up their spirits, than in this of ours. I am not in jest; and if the fact will not be allowed me, I shall not argue it.

Secondly, It is too well and generally known, that this tax of forty shillings additional on every tun of wine, (which will be double, at least, to the home consumer) will increase equally every new session of Parliament, until, perhaps, it comes to twelve pounds.

Thirdly, Because, as the merchants inform me, and as I have known many the like instances in England, this additional tax will more probably lessen this branch of the revenue, than increase it. And therefore Sir John Stanley, a commissioner of the customs in England, used to say, that the House of Commons were generally mistaken in matters of trade, by an erroneous opinion that two and two make four. Thus, if you should lay an additional duty of one penny a pound on raisins or sugar, the revenue, instead of rising, would certainly sink; and the consequence would only be, to lessen the number of plum-puddings, and ruin the confectioner.

Fourthly, I am likewise assured by merchants, that upon this additional forty shillings, the French will at least equally raise their duties upon all commodities we export thither.

Fifthly, If an original extract of the exports and imports be true, we have been gainers, upon the balance, by our trade with France, for several years past; and, although our gain amounts to no great sum, we ought to be satisfied, since we are no losers, with the only consolation we are capable of receiving.

Lastly, The worst consequence is behind. If we raise the duty on wine to a considerable height, we lose the only hold we have of keeping among us the few gentlemen of any tolerable estates. I am confident there is hardly a gentleman of eight hundred pounds a year and upwards, in this kingdom, who would balance half an hour to consider[Pg 198] whether he should live here or in England, if a family could be as cheaply maintained in the one as the other. As to eatables, they are as cheap in many fine counties of England, as in some very indifferent ones here; or, if there be any difference, that vein of thrift and prudence in economy, which passes there without reproach, (and chiefly in London itself,) would amply make up the difference. But the article of French wine is hardly tolerable, in any degree of plenty, to a middling fortune; and this is it, which, by growing habitual, wholly turns the scale with those few landed men, disengaged from employments, who content themselves to live hospitably with plenty of good wine in their own country, rather than in penury and obscurity in another, with bad, or with none at all.

Having, therefore, as far as in me lies, abolished this additional duty upon wine; for I am not under the least concern about paying the interest of the national debt, but leave it, as in loyalty bound, wholly to the wisdom of the honourable House of Commons; I come now to consider by what methods we may be able to put off and delay our utter undoing as long as it is possible.

I never have discoursed with any reasonable man upon this subject, who did not allow that there was no remedy left us, but to lessen the importation of all unnecessary commodities as much as it was possible; and likewise either to persuade our absentees to spend their money at home, which is impossible; or tax them at five shillings in the pound during their absence, with such allowances, upon necessary occasions, as it shall be thought convenient: or, by permitting us a free trade, which is denied to no other nation upon earth. The three last methods are treated by Mr. Prior, in his most useful treatise, added to his list of absentees.[128]

It is to gratify the vanity, and pride, and luxury of the women, and of the young fops who admire them, that we owe this insupportable grievance, of bringing in the instruments of our ruin. There is annually brought over to this [Pg 199]kingdom near ninety thousand pounds worth of silk, whereof the greater part is manufactured. Thirty thousand pounds more is expended in muslin, holland, cambric, and calico. What the price of lace amounts to, is not easy to be collected from the custom-house book, being a kind of goods that takes up little room, and is easily run; but, considering the prodigious price of a woman's head-dress, at ten, twelve, twenty pounds a yard, must be very great. The tea, rated at seven shillings per pound, comes to near twelve thousand pounds; but, considering it as the common luxury of every chambermaid, sempstress, and tradesman's wife, both in town and country, however they come by it, must needs cost the kingdom double that sum. Coffee is somewhere above seven thousand pounds. I have seen no account of the chocolate, and some other Indian or American goods. The drapery imported is about four-and-twenty thousand pounds. The whole amounts (with one or two other particulars) to one hundred and fifty thousand pounds. The lavishing of all which money is just as prudent and necessary, as to see a man in an embroidered coat, begging out of Newgate in an old shoe.

I allow that the thrown and raw silk is less pernicious, because we have some share in the manufacture: but we are not now in circumstances to trifle. It costs us above forty thousand pounds a-year; and if the ladies, till better times, will not be content to go in their own country shifts, I wish they may go in rags.

Let them vie with each other in the fineness of their native linen: their beauty and gentleness will as well appear, as if they were covered over with diamonds and brocade.

I believe no man is so weak, as to hope or expect that such a reformation can be brought about by a law. But a thorough hearty, unanimous vote, in both houses of Parliament, might perhaps answer as well: every senator, noble or plebeian, giving his honour, that neither himself, nor any of his family, would, in their dress, or furniture of their houses, make use of anything except what was of the growth and manufacture of this kingdom; and that they would use the utmost of their power, influence, and credit, to prevail on their tenants, dependants, and friends, to follow their example.[Pg 201][Pg 200]



For preventing the




From being a Burthen to

Their Parents or Country,


For making them Beneficial to the


By Dr. Swift.

Dublin, Printed by S. Harding:

London, Re-printed; and sold by J. Roberts in Warwick-lane, and the Pamphlet-Shops.

[Pg 203][Pg 202]


Perhaps in no literature is there to be found a piece of writing in any sense comparable to this "Modest Proposal." Written, apparently, in a light and comic vein, it might deceive the casual reader into the belief that Swift had achieved a joke. It has the air of a smiling and indifferent raconteur amusing an after-dinner table. In truth, however, this piece of writing is a terrible indictment made by an advocate speaking against the result of a tyranny of power which, through wicked stupidity or complacent indifference, had afflicted a people almost to extinction. The restraint of the writer evinced in this tract, is the more remarkable, when we remember that he was Ireland's foremost patriot, that he had been her champion for liberty and independence, and that an indignation filled him at all times, lacerating his heart, against the cruelty and oppression and wretchedness of humanity generally. Here, he sits down and writes as calmly as if composing an ordinary sermon, and proposes, in cold blood, to alleviate the poverty of the Irish people by the sale of their children as table food for the rich. He even goes into calculations as to cost of breeding, and shows how a mother might earn eight shillings a year on each child, by disposing of its carcass for ten shillings. Of the million and a half people who inhabit the country, he assumes that there are 200,000 who beget children; of these about 30,000 are able to provide for their offspring, but the balance of 170,000 must inevitably become a burden. What is to become of them? Many schemes have been proposed to meet their case, but not one of them has answered. Trade and agriculture gave them no opportunity, since the trade of the country was almost at a standstill, and land was now either too dear to keep or too poor to cultivate. At the time of Swift's writing Ireland had passed through three frightful years of famine. Corn had become so dear that riots occurred at the ports where what corn remained was being exported. The land, as Swift wrote to Pope (August 11th, 1729) was in every place strewn with beggars. The poor labourer, had work been found for him, was too weak in body to undertake it. Thousands had already died of starvation and the diseases consequent on hunger. Those that managed to exist did so in filth, and dying every day, as Swift wrote on another occasion, "and rotting, by cold and famine, and filth and vermin."

No, there was only one way out of the difficulty, and that was to have these poor people breed children, which they could profitably dispose of for food. Let them fatten their offspring as best they could and sell them dead or alive for cooking. The irony of the proposition may sound appalling to us in this century, but Swift was not exaggerating the distress of his day. Even Primate Boulter, who was certainly the last man to overstate an Irish case, sent such reports as gave the English Government anxiety. To Swift it was no time for polite speeches and [Pg 204]calm proposals. He had already given them in abundance. Now was the time for something merry and with laughter:

"I may storm and rage in vain;
It but stupifies your brain.
But with raillery to nettle,
Set your thoughts upon their mettle."

It was in this spirit that the "Modest Proposal" was written. Swift concludes with a final touch by telling us that he has nothing to gain personally by his suggestion, since his "youngest child is nine and his wife past child-bearing."

The text of the present edition is that of the original issue collated with that given by Faulkner.

[T. S.][Pg 205]




[Pg 207][Pg 206]

It is a melancholy object to those, who walk through this great town, or travel in the country, when they see the streets, the roads, and cabin-doors, crowded with beggars of the female sex, followed by three, four, or six children, all in rags, and importuning every passenger for an alms. These mothers instead of being able to work for their honest livelihood, are forced to employ all their time in strolling, to beg sustenance for their helpless infants, who, as they grow up, either turn thieves for want of work, or leave their dear Native Country to fight for the Pretender in Spain,[129] or sell themselves to the Barbadoes.

I think it is agreed by all parties, that this prodigious number of children, in the arms, or on the backs, or at the heels of their mothers, and frequently of their fathers, is in the present deplorable state of the kingdom, a very great additional grievance; and therefore whoever could find out a fair, cheap and easy method of making these children sound useful members of the commonwealth would deserve so well of the public, as to have his statue set up for a preserver of the nation.

But my intention is very far from being confined to pro[Pg 208]vide only for the children of professed beggars, it is of a much greater extent, and shall take in the whole number of infants at a certain age, who are born of parents in effect as little able to support them, as those who demand our charity in the streets.

As to my own part, having turned my thoughts, for many years, upon this important subject, and maturely weighed the several schemes of other projectors, I have always found them grossly mistaken in their computation. It is true a child, just dropped from its dam, may be supported by her milk for a solar year with little other nourishment, at most not above the value of two shillings, which the mother may certainly get, or the value in scraps, by her lawful occupation of begging, and it is exactly at one year old that I propose to provide for them, in such a manner, as, instead of being a charge upon their parents, or the parish, or wanting food and raiment for the rest of their lives, they shall, on the contrary, contribute to the feeding and partly to the clothing of many thousands.

There as likewise another great advantage in my scheme, that it will prevent those voluntary abortions, and that horrid practice of women murdering their bastard children, alas, too frequent among us, sacrificing the poor innocent babes, I doubt, more to avoid the expense, than the shame, which would move tears and pity in the most savage and inhuman breast.

The number of souls in this kingdom being usually reckoned one million and a half,[130] of these I calculate there may be about two hundred thousand couple whose wives are breeders, from which number I subtract thirty thousand couples, who are able to maintain their own children, although I apprehend there cannot be so many under the present distresses of the kingdom, but this being granted, there will remain an hundred and seventy thousand breeders. I again subtract fifty thousand for those women who miscarry, or whose children die by accident, or disease within the year. There only remain an hundred and twenty thousand children of poor parents annually born: The question therefore is, how this number shall be reared, and provided [Pg 209]for, which, as I have already said, under the present situation of affairs, is utterly impossible by all the methods hitherto proposed, for we can neither employ them in handicraft, or agriculture; we neither build houses, (I mean in the country) nor cultivate land: they can very seldom pick up a livelihood by stealing till they arrive at six years old, except where they are of towardly parts, although, I confess they learn the rudiments much earlier, during which time, they can however be properly looked upon only as probationers, as I have been informed by a principal gentleman in the County of Cavan, who protested to me, that he never knew above one or two instances under the age of six, even in a part of the kingdom so renowned for the quickest proficiency in that art.

I am assured by our merchants, that a boy or a girl, before twelve years old, is no saleable commodity, and even when they come to this age, they will not yield above three pounds, or three pounds and half-a-crown at most on the Exchange, which cannot turn to account either to the parents or the kingdom, the charge of nutriment and rags having been at least four times that value.

I shall now therefore humbly propose my own thoughts, which I hope will not be liable to the least objection.

I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London,[131] that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled, and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee, or a ragout.

I do therefore humbly offer it to public consideration, that of the hundred and twenty thousand children, already computed, twenty thousand may be reserved for breed, whereof only one fourth part to be males, which is more than we allow to sheep, black-cattle, or swine, and my reason is that these children are seldom the fruits of marriage, a circumstance not much regarded by our savages, therefore one male will be sufficient to serve four females. That the remaining hundred thousand may at a year old be [Pg 210]offered in sale to the persons of quality, and fortune, through the kingdom, always advising the mother to let them suck plentifully in the last month, so as to render them plump, and fat for a good table. A child will make two dishes at an entertainment for friends, and when the family dines alone, the fore or hind quarter will make a reasonable dish, and seasoned with a little pepper or salt will be very good boiled on the fourth day, especially in winter.

I have reckoned upon a medium, that a child just born will weigh 12 pounds, and in a solar year if tolerably nursed increaseth to 28 pounds.

I grant this food will be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper for landlords, who, as they have already devoured most of the parents, seem to have the best title to the children.

Infants' flesh will be in season throughout the year, but more plentiful in March, and a little before and after, for we are told by a grave author an eminent French physician, that fish being a prolific diet, there are more children born in Roman Catholic countries about nine months after Lent, than at any other season; therefore reckoning a year after Lent, the markets will be more glutted than usual, because the number of Popish infants, is at least three to one in this kingdom, and therefore it will have one other collateral advantage by lessening the number of Papists among us.

I have already computed the charge of nursing a beggar's child (in which list I reckon all cottagers, labourers, and four-fifths of the farmers) to be about two shillings per annum, rags included, and I believe no gentleman would repine to give ten shillings for the carcass of a good fat child, which, as I have said will make four dishes of excellent nutritive meat, when he hath only some particular friend, or his own family to dine with him. Thus the Squire will learn to be a good landlord, and grow popular among his tenants, the mother will have eight shillings net profit, and be fit for work till she produces another child.

Those who are more thrifty (as I must confess the times require) may flay the carcass; the skin of which, artificially dressed, will make admirable gloves for ladies, and summer boots for fine gentlemen.[Pg 211]

As to our City of Dublin, shambles may be appointed for this purpose, in the most convenient parts of it, and butchers we may be assured will not be wanting, although I rather recommend buying the children alive, and dressing them hot from the knife, as we do roasting pigs.

A very worthy person, a true lover of his country, and whose virtues I highly esteem, was lately pleased, in discoursing on this matter, to offer a refinement upon my scheme. He said, that many gentlemen of this kingdom, having of late destroyed their deer, he conceived that the want of venison might be well supplied by the bodies of young lads and maidens, not exceeding fourteen years of age, nor under twelve, so great a number of both sexes in every country being now ready to starve, for want of work and service: and these to be disposed of by their parents if alive, or otherwise by their nearest relations. But with due deference to so excellent a friend, and so deserving a patriot, I cannot be altogether in his sentiments; for as to the males, my American acquaintance assured me from frequent experience, that their flesh was generally tough and lean, like that of our schoolboys, by continual exercise, and their taste disagreeable, and to fatten them would not answer the charge. Then as to the females, it would, I think with humble submission, be a loss to the public, because they soon would become breeders themselves: And besides, it is not improbable that some scrupulous people might be apt to censure such a practice, (although indeed very unjustly) as a little bordering upon cruelty, which, I confess, hath always been with me the strongest objection against any project, however so well intended.

But in order to justify my friend, he confessed that this expedient was put into his head by the famous Psalmanazar,[132][Pg 212] a native of the island Formosa, who came from thence to London, above twenty years ago, and in conversation told my friend, that in his country when any young person happened to be put to death, the executioner sold the carcass to persons of quality, as a prime dainty, and that, in his time, the body of a plump girl of fifteen, who was crucified for an attempt to poison the emperor, was sold to his Imperial Majesty's Prime Minister of State, and other great Mandarins of the Court, in joints from the gibbet, at four hundred crowns. Neither indeed can I deny, that if the same use were made of several plump young girls in this town, who, without one single groat to their fortunes, cannot stir abroad without a chair, and appear at the playhouse, and assemblies in foreign fineries, which they never will pay for, the kingdom would not be the worse.

Some persons of a desponding spirit are in great concern about that vast number of poor people, who are aged, diseased, or maimed, and I have been desired to employ my thoughts what course may be taken, to ease the nation of so grievous an encumbrance. But I am not in the least pain upon that matter, because it is very well known, that they are every day dying, and rotting, by cold, and famine, and filth, and vermin, as fast as can be reasonably expected. And as to the younger labourers they are now in almost as hopeful a condition. They cannot get work, and consequently pine away for want of nourishment, to a degree,[Pg 213] that if at any time they are accidentally hired to common labour, they have not strength to perform it; and thus the country and themselves are happily delivered from the evils to come.

I have too long digressed, and therefore shall return to my subject. I think the advantages by the proposal which I have made are obvious and many, as well as of the highest importance.

For first, as I have already observed, it would greatly lessen the number of Papists, with whom we are yearly over-run, being the principal breeders of the nation, as well as our most dangerous enemies, and who stay at home on purpose with a design to deliver the kingdom to the Pretender, hoping to take their advantage by the absence of so many good Protestants, who have chosen rather to leave their country, than stay at home, and pay tithes against their conscience, to an Episcopal curate.[133]

Secondly, The poorer tenants will have something valuable of their own, which by law may be made liable to distress, and help to pay their landlord's rent, their corn and cattle being already seized, and money a thing unknown.

Thirdly, Whereas the maintenance of an hundred thousand children, from two years old, and upwards, cannot be computed at less than ten shillings a piece per annum, the nation's stock will be thereby increased fifty thousand pounds per annum, besides the profit of a new dish, introduced to the tables of all gentlemen of fortune in the kingdom, who have any refinement in taste, and the money will circulate among ourselves, the goods being entirely of our own growth and manufacture.

Fourthly, The constant breeders, besides the gain of eight shillings sterling per annum, by the sale of their children, will be rid of the charge of maintaining them after the first year.

Fifthly, This food would likewise bring great custom to taverns, where the vintners will certainly be so prudent as to procure the best receipts for dressing it to perfection, and [Pg 214]consequently have their houses frequented by all the fine gentlemen, who justly value themselves upon their knowledge in good eating; and a skilful cook, who understands how to oblige his guests will contrive to make it as expensive as they please.

Sixthly, This would be a great inducement to marriage, which all wise nations have either encouraged by rewards, or enforced by laws and penalties. It would increase the care and tenderness of mothers toward their children, when they were sure of a settlement for life, to the poor babes, provided in some sort by the public to their annual profit instead of expense. We should see an honest emulation among the married women, which of them could bring the fattest child to the market, men would become as fond of their wives, during the time of their pregnancy, as they are now of their mares in foal, their cows in calf, or sows when they are ready to farrow, nor offer to beat or kick them (as it is too frequent a practice) for fear of a miscarriage.

Many other advantages might be enumerated: For instance, the addition of some thousand carcasses in our exportation of barrelled beef; the propagation of swine's flesh, and improvement in the art of making good bacon, so much wanted among us by the great destruction of pigs, too frequent at our tables, which are no way comparable in taste, or magnificence to a well-grown, fat yearling child, which roasted whole will make a considerable figure at a Lord Mayor's feast, or any other public entertainment. But this, and many others I omit being studious of brevity.

Supposing that one thousand families in this city, would be constant customers for infants' flesh, besides others who might have it at merry-meetings, particularly weddings and christenings, I compute that Dublin would take off annually about twenty thousand carcasses, and the rest of the kingdom (where probably they will be sold somewhat cheaper) the remaining eighty thousand.

I can think of no one objection, that will possibly be raised against this proposal, unless it should be urged that the number of people will be thereby much lessened in the kingdom. This I freely own, and was indeed one principal design in offering it to the world. I desire the reader will observe, that I calculate my remedy for this one individual[Pg 215] Kingdom of Ireland, and for no other that ever was, is, or, I think, ever can be upon earth. Therefore let no man talk to me of other expedients: Of taxing our absentees at five shillings a pound: Of using neither clothes, nor household furniture, except what is of our own growth and manufacture: Of utterly rejecting the materials and instruments that promote foreign luxury: Of curing the expensiveness of pride, vanity, idleness, and gaming in our women: Of introducing a vein of parsimony, prudence and temperance: Of learning to love our Country, wherein we differ even from Laplanders, and the inhabitants of Topinamboo:[134] Of quitting our animosities and factions, nor act any longer like the Jews, who were murdering one another at the very moment their city was taken: Of being a little cautious not to sell our country and consciences for nothing:[135] Of teaching landlords to have at least one degree of mercy toward their tenants. Lastly of putting a spirit of honesty, industry and skill into our shopkeepers, who, if a resolution could now be taken to buy only our native goods, would immediately unite to cheat and exact upon us in the price, the measure, and the goodness, nor could ever yet be brought to make one fair proposal of just dealing, though often and earnestly invited to it.[136]

Therefore I repeat, let no man talk to me of these and the like expedients, till he hath at least some glimpse of hope, that there will ever be some hearty and sincere attempt to put them in practice.

But as to myself, having been wearied out for many years with offering vain, idle, visionary thoughts, and at length utterly despairing of success, I fortunately fell upon this proposal, which as it is wholly new, so it hath something solid and real, of no expense and little trouble, full in our own power, and whereby we can incur no danger in dis[Pg 216]obliging England. For this kind of commodity will not bear exportation,[137] the flesh being of too tender a consistence, to admit a long continuance in salt, although perhaps I could name a country, which would be glad to eat up our whole nation without it.

After all I am not so violently bent upon my own opinion, as to reject any offer, proposed by wise men, which shall be found equally innocent, cheap, easy and effectual. But before something of that kind shall be advanced in contradiction to my scheme, and offering a better, I desire the author, or authors will be pleased maturely to consider two points. First, as things now stand, how they will be able to find food and raiment for an hundred thousand useless mouths and backs. And secondly, there being a round million of creatures in human figure, throughout this kingdom, whose whole subsistence put into a common stock, would leave them in debt two millions of pounds sterling adding those, who are beggars by profession, to the bulk of farmers, cottagers and labourers with their wives and children, who are beggars in effect. I desire those politicians, who dislike my overture, and may perhaps be so bold to attempt an answer, that they will first ask the parents of these mortals, whether they would not at this day think it a great happiness to have been sold for food at a year old, in the manner I prescribe, and thereby have avoided such a perpetual scene of misfortunes, as they have since gone through, by the oppression of landlords, the impossibility of paying rent without money or trade, the want of common sustenance, with neither house nor clothes to cover them from the inclemencies of the weather, and the most inevitable prospect of entailing the like, or greater miseries upon their breed for ever.

I profess in the sincerity of my heart that I have not the least personal interest in endeavouring to promote this necessary work, having no other motive than the public good of my country, by advancing our trade, providing for infants, relieving the poor, and giving some pleasure to the rich. I have no children, by which I can propose to get a single penny; the youngest being nine years old, and my wife past child-bearing.[Pg 217]

[Pg 218]



This "Answer" forms an excellent continuation of the "Modest Proposal." It is in an entirely different vein, but is, in its own way, an admirable example of Swift's strength in handling a public question. The English government had been offering every facility to French officers for recruiting their army from Ireland. The "Craftsman" made some strong remarks on this, and Primate Boulter, in his letter to the Duke of Newcastle, under date October 14th, 1730, told his Grace, "that after consulting with the Lords Justices on the subject he found that they apprehend there will be greater difficulties in this affair than at first offered." He enters into the difficulties to be overcome in order to act in consonance with the wishes of his Majesty, and promises that "effectual care shall be taken that none of the officers who are come hither, suffer on this account" (Letter, pp. 26-27, vol. ii., Dublin, edit. 1770). Swift uses the matter for his own purposes and ironically welcomes this chance for the depopulation of Ireland. "When our island is a desert, we will send all our raw material to England, and receive from her all our manufactured articles. A leather coinage will be all we want, separated, as we shall then be, from all human kind. We shall have lost all; but we may be left in peace, and we shall have no more to tempt the plunderer." Scott styles this "Answer" a masterpiece.

The text of this edition is based on that given by Faulkner in the ninth volume of his edition of Swift issued in 1772.

[T. S.][Pg 219]



I detest reading your papers, because I am not of your principles, and because I cannot endure to be convinced. Yet I was prevailed on to peruse your Craftsman of December the 12th, wherein I discover you to be as great an enemy of this country, as you are of your own. You are pleased to reflect on a project I proposed, of making the children of Irish parents to be useful to the public instead of being burdensome;[139] and you venture to assert, that your own scheme is more charitable, of not permitting our Popish natives to be listed in the service of any foreign prince.

Perhaps, sir, you may not have heard of any kingdom so unhappy as this, both in their imports and exports. We import a sort of goods, of no intrinsic value, which costeth us above forty thousand pounds a year to dress, and scour, and polish them, which altogether do not yield one penny advantage;[140] and we annually export above seven hundred thousand pounds a year in another kind of goods, for which we receive not one single farthing in return; even the money paid for the letters sent in transacting this commerce being [Pg 220]all returned to England. But now, when there is a most lucky opportunity offered to begin a trade, whereby this nation will save many thousand pounds a year, and England be a prodigious gainer, you are pleased, without a call, officiously and maliciously to interpose with very frivolous arguments.

It is well known, that about sixty years ago the exportation of live cattle from hence to England was a great benefit to both kingdoms, until that branch of traffic was stopped by an act of Parliament on your side, whereof you have had sufficient reason to repent.[141] Upon which account, when another act passed your Parliament, forbidding the exportation of live men to any foreign country, you were so wise to put in a clause, allowing it to be done by his Majesty's permission, under his sign manual,[142] for which, among other great benefits granted to Ireland, we are infinitely obliged to the British legislature. Yet this very grace and favour you, Mr. D'Anvers, whom we never disobliged, are endeavouring to prevent; which, I will take upon me to say, is a manifest mark of your disaffection to his Majesty, a want of duty to the ministry, and a wicked design of oppressing this kingdom, and a traitorous attempt to lessen the trade and manufacture of England.

Our truest and best ally, the Most Christian King,[143] hath obtained his Majesty's licence, pursuant to law, to export from hence some thousand bodies of healthy, young, living men, to supply his Irish regiments. The King of Spain, as you assert yourself, hath desired the same civility, and seemeth to have at least as good a claim. Supposing then that these two potentates will only desire leave to carry off [Pg 221]six thousand men between them to France and Spain; then, by computing the maintenance of a tall, hungry Irishman, in food and clothes, to be only at five pounds a head, here will be thirty thousand pounds per annum saved clear to the nation; for they can find no other employment at home, beside begging, robbing, or stealing. But, if thirty, forty, or fifty thousand (which we could gladly spare) were sent on the same errand, what an immense benefit must it be to us! And if the two princes, in whose service they were, should happen to be at war with each other, how soon would those recruits be destroyed! Then what a number of friends would the Pretender lose, and what a number of Popish enemies all true Protestants get rid of! Add to this, that then, by such a practice, the lands of Ireland, that want hands for tillage, must be employed in grazing, which would sink the price of wool, raw hides, butter, and tallow, so that the English might have them at their own rates, and in return send us wheat to make our bread, barley to brew our drink, and oats for our houses, without any labour of our own.

Upon this occasion, I desire humbly to offer a scheme, which, in my opinion, would best answer the true interests of both kingdoms: For although I bear a most tender filial affection to England, my dear native country, yet I cannot deny but this noble island hath a great share in my love and esteem; nor can I express how much I desire to see it flourish in trade and opulence, even beyond its present happy condition.

The profitable land of this kingdom is, I think, usually computed at seventeen millions of acres, all which I propose to be wholly turned to grazing. Now, it is found by experience, that one grazier and his family can manage two thousand acres. Thus sixteen millions eight hundred thousand acres may be managed by eight thousand four hundred families; and the fraction of two hundred thousand acres will be more than sufficient for cabins, out-houses, and potatoe-gardens; because it is to be understood that corn of all sorts must be sent to us from England.

These eight thousand four hundred families may be divided among the four provinces, according to the number of houses in each province; and making the equal allowance of eight to a family, the number of inhabitants will amount[Pg 222] to sixty-seven thousand two hundred souls. To these we are to add a standing army of twenty thousand English; which, together with their trulls, their bastards, and their horse-boys, will, by a gross computation, very near double the count, and be very sufficient for the defence and grazing of the kingdom, as well as to enrich our neighbours, expel popery, and keep out the Pretender. And, lest the army should be at a loss for business, I think it would be very prudent to employ them in collecting the public taxes for paying themselves and the civil list.

I advise, that all the owners of these lands should live constantly in England, in order to learn politeness, and qualify themselves for employments; but, for fear of increasing the natives in this island, that an annual draught, according to the number born every year, be exported to whatever prince will bear the carriage, or transplanted to the English dominions on the American continent, as a screen between his Majesty's English subjects and the savage Indians.

I advise likewise, that no commodity whatsoever, of this nation's growth, should be sent to any other country except England, under the penalty of high treason; and that all the said commodities shall be sent in their natural state; the hides raw, the wool uncombed, the flax in the stub; excepting only fish, butter, tallow, and whatever else will be spoiled in the carriage. On the contrary, that no goods whatsoever shall be exported hither, except from England, under the same penalty: that England should be forced, at their own rates, to send us over clothes ready made, as well as shirts and smocks to the soldiers and their trulls; all iron, wooden, and earthen ware, and whatever furniture may be necessary for the cabins of graziers; with a sufficient quantity of gin, and other spirits, for those who, can afford to be drunk on holidays.

As to the civil and ecclesiastical administration, which I have not yet fully considered, I can say little; only, with regard to the latter, it is plain, that the article of paying tithe for supporting speculative opinions in religion, which is so insupportable a burden to all true Protestants, and to most churchmen, will be very much lessened by this expedient; because dry cattle pay nothing to the spiritual hireling, any[Pg 223] more than imported corn; so that the industrious shepherd and cowherd may sit every man under his own blackberry-bush, and on his own potato-bed, whereby this happy island will become a new Arcadia.

I do likewise propose, that no money shall be used in Ireland except what is made of leather, which likewise shall be coined in England, and imported; and that the taxes shall be levied out of the commodities we export to England, and there turned into money for his Majesty's use; and the rents to landlords discharged in the same manner. This will be no manner of grievance, for we already see it very practicable to live without money, and shall be more convinced of it every day. But whether paper shall still continue to supply that defect, or whether we shall hang up all those who profess the trade of bankers, (which latter I am rather inclined to,) must be left to the consideration of wiser politicians.

That which maketh me more zealously bent upon this scheme, is my desire of living in amity with our neighbouring brethren; for we have already tried all other means without effect, to that blessed end: and, by the course of measures taken for some years past, it should seem that we are all agreed in the point.

This expedient will be of great advantage to both kingdoms, upon several accounts: for, as to England, they have a just claim to the balance of trade on their side with the whole world: and therefore our ancestors and we, who conquered this kingdom for them, ought, in duty and gratitude, to let them have the whole benefit of that conquest to themselves; especially when the conquest was amicably made without bloodshed, by a stipulation between the Irish princes and Henry II.; by which they paid him, indeed, not equal homage with what the electors of Germany do to the emperor, but very near the same that he did to the King of France for his French dominions.

In consequence of this claim from England, that kingdom may very reasonably demand the benefit of all our commodities in their natural growth, to be manufactured by their people, and a sufficient quantity of them for our use to be returned hither fully manufactured.

This, on the other side, will be of great benefit to our in[Pg 224]habitants the graziers; when time and labour will be too much taken up in manuring their ground, feeding their cattle, shearing their sheep, and sending over their oxen fit for slaughter; to which employments they are turned by nature, as descended from the Scythians, whose diet they are still so fond of. So Virgil describeth it:—

Et lac concretum cum sanguine bibit equino;

Which, in English, is bonnyclabber[144] mingled with the blood of horses, as they formerly did, until about the beginning of the last century luxury, under the form of politeness, began to creep in, they changed the blood of horses for that of their black cattle, and, by consequence, became less warlike than their ancestors.

Although I proposed that the army should be collectors of the public revenues, yet I did not thereby intend that those taxes should be paid in gold or silver; but in kind, as all other rent: For, the custom of tenants making their payments in money, is a new thing in the world, little known in former ages, nor generally practised in any nation at present, except this island and the southern parts of Britain. But, to my great satisfaction, I foresee better times; the ancient manner beginneth to be now practised in many parts of Connaught, as well as in the county of Cork; where the squires turn tenants to themselves, divide so many cattle to their slaves, who are to provide such a quantity of butter, hides, or tallow, still keeping up their number of cattle; and carry the goods to Cork, or other port towns, and then sell them to the merchants. By which invention there is no such thing as a ruined farmer to be seen; but the people live with comfort on potatoes and bonnyclabber, neither of which are vendible commodities abroad.[Pg 225]






John Carteret, Earl Granville, succeeded to the Carteret barony at the early age of five years. He was the son of George, the first Baron Carteret, and was born in 1690. He was educated at Westminster School and Christ Church, Oxford, from which latter place, as Swift puts it, "he carried away more Greek, Latin, and philosophy than properly became a person of his rank." In the House of Lords Carteret was known as a strong adherent of the Protestant succession, and joined the Sunderland party on the split of the Whigs in 1717. As ambassador extraordinary to the Court of Sweden he was eminently successful, being the instrument by which, in 1720, peace was established between Sweden, Prussia, and Hanover. Later, he served in a similar capacity with Earl Stanhope and Sir Robert Sutton at the Congress of Cambray.

In 1721 he was appointed Secretary of State of the southern province, but although a member of the Walpole administration, he intrigued with the King against Walpole, and attempted to form a party in opposition to that minister. He ingratiated himself in the King's favour by means of his knowledge of the German language (for George knew no English), and obtained the support of Carleton, Roxburghe, Cadogan, and the Countess of Darlington. Walpole, however, was too strong for him. He managed to get Carteret to Ireland as Lord Lieutenant, and the Duke of Newcastle took up the office held by him in England. The condition of Ireland at this time was such as to cause grave anxiety to the English government. Carteret was sent ostensibly to a post of great importance, though, in reality, to be out of Walpole's way. For an account of Carteret's government during the agitation against Wood's halfpence, the reader is referred to the sixth volume of the present edition.

During the King's absence from England in 1723, Carteret had been one of the lords justices of the country, and in 1725, when George was again away, he was again appointed to this office. George, however, died on his way to Hanover; but, on the accession of George II., Carteret continued to hold high office. He was re-appointed to the Irish Lord Lieutenancy in 1727, and it was during this second term that he was criticised for the conduct Swift vindicates in the following tract.

The Dean had a great admiration both for the scholarship and temper of Carteret. The admiration was mutual, for Carteret often consulted with Swift on important matters, and, though he dared not appoint the Drapier to any position of importance, he took occasion to assist the Drapier's friends. At the time of the proclamation against the Drapier's fourth letter, the Dean, writes Scott, "visited the Castle, and having waited for some time without seeing the Lord Lieutenant, wrote upon one of the windows of the chamber of audience these lines:

'My very good lord, 'tis a very hard task,
For a man to wait here, who has nothing to ask.'

[Pg 228] Under which Carteret wrote the following happy reply:

'My very good Dean, there are few who come here, But have something to ask, or something to fear.'"

To Carteret's politic government of Ireland was mainly due the peaceful condition which prevailed amidst all the agitation roused by bad management and wretchedness. In a letter to Swift, written many years later (March, 1737), Carteret writes: "The people ask me how I governed Ireland, I say that I pleased Dr. Swift." And Swift confessed (in a letter to Gay, November 19th, 1730) that Carteret "had a genteeler manner of binding the chains of the kingdom than most of his predecessors." It was to Carteret that Swift made his well-known remark, on an occasion of a visit, "What, in God's name, do you do here? Get back to your own country, and send us our boobies again."

Swift was well aware that Carteret had not the power to make the changes in Ireland necessary for its well-being. Such changes could come only from the government in England, and as this was implacable, Carteret was but an instrument in its hands. Swift was therefore compelled to rest content with obtaining what favours he could for those friends of his who he knew deserved advancement, and he allowed no occasion to slip by without soliciting in their behalf.

Richard Tighe (who had managed to injure Sheridan in his chaplaincy), with a number of the more violent members of the Whigs in Ireland, took up Carteret's conduct, attempted, by means of their interpretation of the Lord Lieutenant's promotions, to injure him with the government, and accused him of advancing individuals who were enemies of the government. Swift took up the charge in his usual ironical manner, and wrote the Vindication which follows.

Carteret, it may be added here, was dismissed from his office in 1730, and joined Pulteney in a bitter struggle against Walpole, which culminated in his famous resolution, presented to the House of Lords, desiring that the King should remove Walpole from his presence and counsels for ever. Carteret failed, but Walpole was compelled to resign in 1742. The rest of Carteret's career bears no relation to Irish affairs.

The present text is founded on that of the original London edition printed in 1730, collated with the Dublin edition of the same date. They differ in many minor details from that given by Scott in 1824.

[T. S.][Pg 229]






Lord C——T,



Of favouring none but

Tories, High-Churchmen and

By the Reverend Dr, S——T.

Printed for T. Warner at the Black-Boy in Pater-Noster-Row.
(Price 6d.)[Pg 230]


In order to treat this important subject with the greatest fairness and impartiality, perhaps it may be convenient to give some account of his Excellency in whose life and character there are certain particulars, which might give a very just suspicion of some truth in the accusation he lies under.

He is descended from two noble, ancient, and most loyal families, the Carterets and the Granvilles. Too much distinguish'd, I confess, for what they acted, and what they suffer'd in defending the former Constitution in Church and State, under King Charles the Martyr; I mean that very Prince, on account of whose martyrdom "a Form of Prayer, with Fasting," was enjoined, by Act of Parliament, "to be used on the 30th day of January every year, to implore the mercies of God, that the guilt of that sacred and innocent blood, might not be visited on us or our posterity," as we may read at large in our Common Prayer Books. Which day hath been solemnly kept, even within the memory of many men now alive.

His Excellency, the present Lord, was educated in the University of Oxford,[145] from whence, with a singularity scarce to be justified, he carried away more Greek, Latin, and philosophy, than properly became a person of his rank, indeed much more of each than most of those who are forced to live by their learning, will be at the unnecessary pains to load their heads with.

This was the rock he split on, upon his first appearance in the world, and just got clear of his guardians. For, as soon [Pg 232]as he came to town, some bishops, and clergymen, and other persons most eminent for learning and parts, got him among them, from whom though he were fortunately dragged by a lady and the Court, yet he could never wipe off the stain, nor wash out the tincture of his University acquirements and dispositions.

To this another misfortune was added; that it pleased God to endow him with great natural talents, memory, judgment, comprehension, eloquence, and wit. And, to finish the work, all these were fortified even in his youth, with the advantages received by such employments as are best fitted both to exercise and polish the gifts of nature and education; having been Ambassador in several Courts when his age would hardly allow him to take a degree, and made principal Secretary of State, at a period when, according to custom, he ought to have been busied in losing his money at a chocolate-house, or in other amusements equally laudable and epidemic among persons of honour.

I cannot omit another weak side in his Excellency, for it is known, and can be proved upon him, that Greek and Latin books might be found every day in his dressing-room, if it were carefully searched; and there is reason to suspect, that some of the said books have been privately conveyed to him by Tory hands. I am likewise assured, that he hath been taken in the very fact of reading the said books, even in the midst of a session, to the great neglect of public affairs.[146]

I own there may be some grounds for this charge, because I have it from good hands, that when his Excellency is at [Pg 233]dinner with one or two scholars at his elbows, he grows a most unsupportable, and unintelligible companion to all the fine gentlemen round the table.

I cannot deny that his Excellency lies under another great disadvantage. For, with all the accomplishments above-mentioned, adding that of a most comely and graceful person, and during the prime of youth, spirits, and vigor, he hath in a most unexemplary manner led a regular domestic life, discovers a great esteem, and friendship, and love for his lady, as well as a true affection for his children; and when he is disposed to admit an entertaining evening companion, he doth not always enough reflect whether the person may possibly in former days have lain under the imputation of a Tory; nor at such times do the natural or affected fears of Popery and the Pretender make any part of the conversation; I presume, because neither Homer, Plato, Aristotle, nor Cicero have made any mention of them.

These I freely acknowledge to be his Excellency's failings: Yet I think it is agreed by philosophers and divines, that some allowance ought to be given to human infirmity, and the prejudices of a wrong education.

I am well aware how much my sentiments differ from the orthodox opinion of one or two principal patriots, (at the head of whom I name with honour Pistorides.[147]) For these have decided the matter directly against me, by declaring that no person who was ever known to lie under the suspicion of one single Tory principle, or who had been once seen at a great man's levee in the worst of times,[148] should be allowed to come within the verge of the Castle; much less to bow in the antechamber, appear at the assemblies, or dance at a birth-night. However, I dare [Pg 234]assert, that this maxim hath been often controlled, and that on the contrary a considerable number of early penitents have been received into grace, who are now an ornament, happiness, and support to the nation.

Neither do I find any murmuring on some other points of greater importance, where this favourite maxim is not so strictly observed.

To instance only in one. I have not heard that any care hath hitherto been taken to discover whether Madam Violante[149] be a Whig or Tory in her principles, or even that she hath ever been offered the oaths to the Government; on the contrary I am told that she openly professes herself to be a high-flyer, and it is not improbable, by her outlandish name she may also be a Papist in her heart; yet we see this illustrious and dangerous female openly caressed by principal persons of both parties, who contribute to support her in a splendid manner, without the least apprehensions from a grand jury, or even from Squire Hartley Hutcheson himself, that zealous prosecutor of hawkers and libels.[150] And as Hobbes wisely observes, so much money being equivalent to so much power, it may deserve considering with what safety such an instrument of power ought to be trusted in the hands of an alien, who hath not given any legal security for her good affection to the government.

I confess, there is one evil which I could wish our friends would think proper to redress. There are many Whigs in this Kingdom of the old-fashioned stamp, of whom we might make very good use; They bear the same loyalty [Pg 235]with us, to the Hanoverian family, in the person of King George II.; the same abhorrence of the Pretender, with the consequent of Popery and slavery; and the same indulgence to tender consciences; but having nothing to ask for themselves, and consequently the more leisure to think for the public, they are often apt to entertain fears, and melancholy prospects concerning the state of their country, the decay of trade, the want of money, the miserable condition of the people, with other topics of like nature, all which do equally concern both Whig and Tory, who if they have anything to lose must be equally sufferers. Perhaps one or two of these melancholy gentlemen will sometimes venture to publish their thoughts in print: Now I can by no means approve our usual custom of cursing and railing at this species of thinkers under the names of Tories, Jacobites, Papists, libellers, rebels, and the like.

This was the utter ruin of that poor, angry, bustling, well-meaning mortal Pistorides, who lies equally under the contempt of both parties, with no other difference than a mixture of pity on one side, and of aversion on the other.

How hath he been pelted, pestered, and pounded by one single wag, who promiseth never to forsake him living or dead![151]

I was much pleased with the humour of a surgeon in this town, who having in his own apprehension, received some great injustice from the Earl of Galway,[152] and despairing of revenge, as well as relief, declared to all his friends that he had set apart a hundred guineas to purchase the Earl's carcase from the sexton, whenever it should die; to make a skeleton of the bones, stuff the hide, and shew them for threepence; and thus get vengeance for the injuries he had suffered by the owner.

Of the like spirit too often is that implacable race of wits, against whom there is no defence but innocence, and philo[Pg 236]sophy: Neither of which is likely to be at hand; and therefore the wounded have nowhere to fly for a cure, but to downright stupidity, a crazed head, or a profligate contempt of guilt and shame.

I am therefore sorry for that other miserable creature Traulus,[153] who although of somewhat a different species, yet seems very far to outdo even the genius of Pistorides, in that miscarrying talent of railing without consistency or discretion, against the most innocent persons, according to the present situation of his gall and spleen. I do not blame an honest gentleman for the bitterest invectives against one to whom he professeth the greatest friendship; provided he acts in the dark, so as not to be discovered. But in the midst of caresses, visits, and invitations, to run into the streets, or to as public a place, and without the least pretended excitement, sputter out the basest and falsest accusations; then to wipe his mouth, come up smiling to his friend, shake him by the hand, and tell him in a whisper, it was "all for his service;" this proceeding, I am bold to think a great failure in prudence; and I am afraid lest such a practitioner, with a body so open, so foul, and so full of sores, may fall under the resentment of an incensed political surgeon, who is not in much renown for his mercy upon great provocation: who without waiting for his death, will flay, and dissect him alive, and to the view of mankind lay open all the disordered cells of his brain, the venom of his tongue, the corruption of his heart, and spots and flatuses of his spleen—And all this for threepence.[154]

In such a case what a scene would be laid open! and to drop my metaphor what a character of our mistaking friend might an angry enemy draw and expose! particularizing that unnatural conjunction of vices and follies, so inconsistent with each other in the same breast: Furious and fawning, scurrilous and flattering, cowardly and provoking, insolent and abject; most profligately false, with the strongest professions of sincerity, positive and variable, tyrannical and slavish.

[Pg 237]

I apprehend that if all this should be set out to the world by an angry Whig of the old stamp, the unavoidable consequence must be a confinement of our friend for some months more to his garret, and thereby depriving the public for so long a time, and in so important a juncture, of his useful talents in their service, while he is fed like a wild beast through a hole; but I hope with a special regard to the quantity and quality of his nourishment.

In vain would his excusers endeavour to palliate his enormities, by imputing them to madness:[155] Because, it is well known, that madness only operates by inflaming and enlarging the good or evil dispositions of the mind: For the curators of Bedlam assure us, that some lunatics are persons of honour, truth, benevolence, and many other virtues, which appear in their highest ravings, although after a wild incoherent manner; while others on the contrary, discover in every word and action the utmost baseness and depravity of human minds; which infallibly they possessed in the same degree, although perhaps under a better regulation, before their entrance into that academy.

But it may be objected, that there is an argument of much force to excuse the overflowings of that zeal, which our friend shews or means for our cause. And it must be confessed, that the easy and smooth fluency of his elocution bestowed on him by nature, and cultivated by continual practice, added to the comeliness of his person, the harmony of his voice, the gracefulness of his manner, and the decency of his dress, are temptations too strong for such a genius to resist upon any public occasion of making them appear with universal applause: And if good men are sometimes accused of loving their jest better than their friend, surely to gain the reputation of the first orator in the kingdom, no man of spirit would scruple to lose all the friends he had in the world.

It is usual for masters to make their boys declaim on[Pg 238] both sides of an argument; and as some kinds of assemblies are called the schools of politics, I confess nothing can better improve political school-boys, than the art of making plausible or implausible harangues, against the very opinion for which they resolve to determine.

So Cardinal Perron after having spoke for an hour to the admiration of all his hearers, to prove the existence of God; told some of his intimates that he could have spoken another hour, and much better, to prove the contrary.

I have placed this reasoning in the strongest light, that I think it will bear; and have nothing to answer, but that allowing it as much weight as the reader shall please, it hath constantly met with ill success in the mouth of our friend, whether for want of good luck, or good management I suspend my judgment.

To return from this long digression. If persons in high stations have been allowed to choose mistresses, without regard even to difference in religion, yet never incurred the least reflection on their loyalty or their Protestantism; shall the chief governor of a great kingdom be censured for choosing a companion, who may formerly have been suspected for differing from the orthodox in some speculative opinions of persons and things, which cannot affect the fundamental principles of a sound Whig?

But let me suppose a very possible case. Here is a person sent to govern Ireland, whose unfortunate weak side it happens to be, for several reasons abovementioned, that he hath encouraged the attendance of one or two gentlemen distinguished for their taste, their wit, and their learning; who have taken the oaths to his Majesty, and pray heartily for him: Yet because they may perhaps be stigmatized as quondam Tories by Pistorides and his gang; his Excellency must be forced to banish them under the pain and peril of displeasing the zealots of his own party; and thereby be put into a worse condition than every common good-fellow; who may be a sincere Protestant, and a loyal subject, and yet rather choose to drink fine ale at the Pope's head, than muddy at the King's.

Let me then return to my supposition. It is certain, the high-flown loyalists in the present sense of the word, have their thoughts, and studies, and tongues so entirely diverted[Pg 239] by political schemes, that the zeal of their principles hath eaten up their understandings; neither have they time from their employments, their hopes, and their hourly labours for acquiring new additions of merit, to amuse themselves with philological converse, or speculations which are utterly ruinous to all schemes of rising in the world: What must then a great man do whose ill stars have fatally perverted him to a love, and taste, and possession of literature, politeness, and good sense? Our thorough-sped republic of Whigs, which contains the bulk of all hopers, pretenders, expecters and professors, are, beyond all doubt, most highly useful to princes, to governors, to great ministers, and to their country, but at the same time, and by necessary consequence, the most disagreeable companions to all who have that unfortunate turn of mind peculiar to his Excellency, and perhaps to five or six more in a nation.

I do not deny it possible, that an original or proselyte favourer of the times, might have been born to those useless talents which in former ages qualified a man to be a poet, or a philosopher. All I contend for is, that where the true genius of party once enters, it sweeps the house clean, and leaves room for many other spirits to take joint possession, till the last state of that man is exceedingly better than the first.

I allow it a great error in his Excellency that he adheres so obstinately to his old unfashionable academic education: Yet so perverse is human nature, that the usual remedies for this evil in others, have produced a contrary effect in him; to a degree, that I am credibly informed, he will, as I have already hinted, in the middle of a session quote passages out of Plato, and Pindar at his own table to some book-learned companion, without blushing, even when persons of great stations are by.

I will venture one step further; which is, freely to confess, that this mistaken method of educating youth in the knowledge of ancient learning and language, is too apt to spoil their politics and principles; because the doctrine and examples of the books they read, teach them lessons directly contrary in every point to the present practice of the world: And accordingly, Hobbes most judiciously observes, that the writings of the Greeks and Romans made young men[Pg 240] imbibe opinions against absolute power in a prince, or even in a first minister, and to embrace notions of liberty and property.

It hath been therefore a great felicity to these kingdoms, that the heirs to titles and large estates, have a weakness in their eyes, a tenderness in their constitutions, are not able to bear the pain and indignity of whipping; and as the mother rightly expresses it, could never take to their book; yet are well enough qualified to sign a receipt for half a year's rent, to put their names (rightly spelt) to a warrant, and to read pamphlets against religion and high-flying; whereby they fill their niches, and carry themselves through the world with that dignity which best becomes a senator, and a squire.[156]

I could heartily wish his Excellency would be more condescending to the genius of the kingdom he governs, to the condition of the times, and to the nature of the station he fills. Yet if it be true, what I have read in old English story-books, that one Agesilaus (no matter to the bulk of my readers, whether I spell the names right or wrong) was caught by the parson of the parish, riding on a hobby-horse with his children; that Socrates a heathen philosopher, was found dancing by himself at fourscore; that a king called Cæsar Augustus (or some such name) used to play with boys; whereof some might possibly be sons of Tories; and, that two great men called Scipio and Lælius, (I forget their Christian names, and whether they were poets or generals,) often played at duck and drake with smooth stones on a river. Now I say, if these facts be true (and the book where I found them is in print) I cannot imagine why our most zealous patriots may not a little indulge his Excellency, in an infirmity which is not morally evil, provided he gives no public scandal (which is by all means to be avoided) I say, why he may not be indulged twice a week to converse with one or two particular persons, and let him and them con over their old exploded readings together, after mornings spent in hearing and prescribing ways and means from and to his most obedient politicians, for the welfare of the king[Pg 241]dom; although the said particular person or persons may not have made so public a declaration of their political faith in all its parts, as the business of the nation requires. Still submitting my opinion to that happy majority, which I am confident is always in the right; by whom the liberty of the subject hath been so frequently, so strenuously, and so successfully asserted; who by their wise counsels have made commerce to flourish, money to abound, inhabitants to increase, the value of lands and rents to rise; and the whole island put on a new face of plenty and prosperity.

But in order to clear his Excellency, more fully from this accusation of shewing his favours to high-flyers, Tories, and Jacobites; it will be necessary to come to particulars.

The first person of a Tory denomination to whom his Excellency gave any marks of his favour, was Doctor Thomas Sheridan.[157] It is to be observed, that this happened so early in his Excellency's government, as it may be justly supposed he had not been informed of that gentleman's character upon so dangerous an article. The Doctor being well known and distinguished, for his skill and success in the education of youth, beyond most of his profession for many years past, was recommended to his Excellency on the score of his learning, and particularly for his knowledge in the Greek tongue, whereof it seems his Excellency is a great admirer, although for what reasons I could never imagine. However it is agreed on all hands, that his lordship was too easily prevailed on by the Doctor's request, or indeed rather from the bias of his own nature, to hear a tragedy acted in that unknown language by the Doctor's lads,[158] which was written by some heathen author, but whether it contained any Tory or High-Church principles, must be left to the consciences of the boys, the Doctor, and his Excellency: The only witnesses in this case, whose testimonies can be depended upon.

It seems, his Excellency (a thing never to be sufficiently wondered at) was so pleased with his entertainment, that some time after he gave the Doctor a church living to the value of almost one hundred pounds a year, and made him one of his chaplains, from an antiquated notion, that good [Pg 242]schoolmasters ought to be encouraged in every nation, professing civility and religion. Yet his Excellency did not venture to make this bold step without strong recommendations from persons of undoubted principles, fitted to the times; who thought themselves bound in justice, honour, and gratitude, to do the Doctor a good office in return for the care he had taken of their children, or those of their friends.[159] Yet the catastrophe was terrible: For, the Doctor in the height of his felicity and gratitude, going down to take possession of his parish, and furnished with a few led-sermons, whereof as it is to be supposed the number was very small, having never served a cure in the Church; he stopped at Cork to attend on his bishop; and going to church on the Sunday following, was according to the usual civility of country clergymen, invited by the minister of the parish to supply the pulpit. It happened to be the first of August[160]; and the first of August happened that year to light upon a Sunday: And it happened that the Doctor's text was in these words; "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof;" and lastly it happened, that some one person of the congregation, whose loyalty made him watchful upon every appearance of danger to his Majesty's person and Government, when service was over, gave the alarm. Notice was immediately sent up to town, and by the zeal of one man[161] of no large dimensions of body or mind, such a clamour was raised, that we in Dublin could apprehend no less than an invasion by the Pretender, who must be landed in the South. The result was, that the Doctor must be struck out of the chaplains' list, and appear no more at the Castle; yet, whether he were then, or be at this day, a Whig or a Tory, I think is a secret; only it is manifest, that he is a zealous Hanoverian, at least in poetry,[162] and a great adorer of the [Pg 243]present Royal Family through all its branches. His friends likewise assert, that he had preached this same sermon often, under the same text; that not having observed the words till he was in the pulpit, and had opened his notes; as he is a person a little abstracted, he wanted presence of mind to change them: And that in the whole sermon there was not a syllable relating to Government or party, or to the subject of the day.

In this incident there seems to have been an union of events, that will probably never happen again to the end of the world, or at least like the grand conjunction in the heavens, which I think they say can arrive but once in twenty thousand years.

The second gentleman (if I am right in my chronology) who under the suspicion of a Tory, received some favour from his Excellency, is Mr. James Stopford[163]; very strongly recommended by the most eminent Whig in England, on the account of his learning, and virtue, and other accomplishments. He had passed the greatest part of his youth in close study, or in travelling; and was neither not at home, or not at leisure to trouble his thoughts about party; which I allow to be a great omission; though I cannot honestly place him in the list of Tories, and therefore think his [Pg 244]Excellency may be fairly acquitted for making him Vicar of Finglass, worth about one hundred and fifty pounds a year.

The third is Doctor Patrick Delany.[164] This divine lies under some disadvantage; having in his youth received many civilities from a certain person then in a very high station here,[165] for which reason I doubt the Doctor never drank his confusion since: And what makes the matter desperate, it is now too late; unless our inquisitors will be content with drinking confusion to his memory. The aforesaid eminent person who was a judge of all merit but party, distinguished the Doctor among other juniors in our University, for his learning, virtue, discretion, and good sense. But the Doctor was then in too good a situation at his college, to hope or endeavour at a better establishment, from one who had no power to give it him.

Upon the present Lord-lieutenant's coming over, the Doctor was named to his Excellency by a friend,[166] among other clergy of distinction, as persons whose characters it was proper his Excellency should know: And by the truth of which the giver would be content to stand or fall in his Excellency's opinion; since not one of those persons were in particular friendship with the gentleman who gave in their names. By this and some other incidents, particularly the recommendation of the late Archbishop of Dublin,[167] the Doctor became known to his Excellency; whose fatal turn of mind toward heathenish and outlandish books and languages, finding, as I conceive a like disposition in the Doctor, was the cause of his becoming so domestic, as we are told he is, at the Castle of Dublin.

Three or four years ago, the Doctor grown weary of an [Pg 245]academic life, for some reasons best known to the managers of the discipline in that learned society (which it may not be for their honour to mention[168]) resolved to leave it, although by the benefit of the pupils, and his senior-fellowship with all its perquisites, he received every year between nine hundred and a thousand pounds.

And a small northern living, in the University's donation, of somewhat better than hundred pounds a year, falling at the same time with the Chancellorship of Christ-Church, to about equal the value, in the gift of his Excellency, the Doctor ventured into the world in a very scanty condition, having squandered away all his annual income in a manner, which although perhaps proper enough for a clergyman without a family, will not be for the advantage of his character to discover either on the exchange, or at a banker's shop.

About two months ago, his Excellency gave the Doctor a prebend in St. Patrick's Cathedral; which being of near the same value with either of the two former, will add a third part to his revenues, after he shall have paid the great incumbrances upon it; so that he may now be said to possess of Church preferments in scattered tithes, three hundred pounds a year, instead of the like sum of infallible rents from a senior fellowship with the offices annexed; beside the advantage of a free lodging, and some other easements.

But since the Doctor hath not in any of his writings, his sermons, his actions, his discourse, or his company, discovered one single principle of either Whig or Tory; and that the Lord Lieutenant still continues to admit him; I shall boldly pronounce him ONE OF US: but like a new free-mason, who hath not yet learned all the dialect of the mystery. Neither can he justly be accused of any Tory doctrines, except perhaps some among those few, with which that wicked party was charged, during the height of their power; but have been since transferred for the [Pg 246]most solid reasons, to the whole body of our firmest friends.

I have now done with the clergy; And upon the strictest examination have not been able to find above one of that order, against whom any party suspicion can lie, which is the unfortunate gentleman, Doctor Sheridan, who by mere chance-medley shot his own fortune dead with a single text.

As to the laity I can hear of but one person of the Tory stamp, who since the beginning of his Excellency's government, did ever receive any solid mark of his favour; I mean Sir Arthur Acheson,[169] reported to be an acknowledged Tory, and what is almost as bad, a scholar into the bargain. It is whispered about as a certain truth, that this gentleman is to have a grant of a certain barrack upon his estate, within two miles of his own house; for which the Crown is to be his tenant, at the rent of sixty pounds per annum; he being only at the expense of about five hundred pounds, to put the house in repair, build stables, and other necessaries. I will place this invidious mark of beneficence, conferred on a Tory, in a fair light, by computing the costs and necessary defalcations; after which it may be seen how much Sir Arthur will be annually a clear gainer by the public, notwithstanding his unfortunate principles, and his knowledge in Greek and Latin.

For repairs, &c. 500l. the interest
whereof per ann.3000
For all manner of poultry to furnish the troopers,
but which the said troopers must be at the
labour of catching, valued per ann.500
For straggling sheep,800
For game destroyed five miles round,600

[Pg 247]

Rent paid to Sir Arthur,6000
Remains clear,1100

Thus, if Sir Arthur Acheson shall have the good fortune to obtain a grant of this barrack, he will receive net profit annually from the Crown ELEVEN pounds sterling to help him in entertaining the officers, and making provisions for his younger children.

It is true, there is another advantage to be expected, which may fully compensate the loss of cattle and poultry; by multiplying the breed of mankind, and particularly of good Protestants, in a part of the Kingdom half depopulated by the wild humour among the farmers there, of leaving their country. But I am not so skilful in arithmetic, as to compute the value.

I have reckoned one per cent. below the legal interest for the money that Sir Arthur must expend, and valued the damage in the other articles very moderately. However, I am confident he may with good management be a saver at least; which is a prodigious instance of moderation in our friends toward a professed Tory, whatever merit he may pretend by the unwillingness he hath shewn to make his Excellency uneasy in his administration.

Thus I have with the utmost impartiality collected every single favour, (further than personal civilities) conferred by his Excellency on Tories, and reputed Tories, since his first arrival hither to this present 13th day of April, in the year of our Lord 1730, giving all allowance possible to the arguments on the other side of the question.

And the account will stand thus.

Disposed of preferments and employments to Tories, or reputed Tories, by his Excellency the Lord Lieutenant in about the space of six years.[Pg 248]

To Doctor Thomas Sheridan in a rectory near
Kinsale, per ann.10000
To Sir Arthur Acheson, Baronet, a barrack,
per ann.1100

Give me leave now to compute in gross the value of the favours done by his Excellency to the true friends of their King and Country, and of the Protestant religion.

It is to be remembered, that although his Excellency cannot be properly said to bestow bishoprics, commands in the army, the place of a judge, or commissioner in the revenue, and some others; yet they are, for the most part, disposed upon his recommendation, except where the persons are immediately sent from England by their interest at Court, for which I have allowed large defalcations in the following accounts. And it is remarkable that the only considerable station conferred on a reputed Tory since his present Excellency's government was of this latter kind.

And indeed it is but too remarkable, that in a neighbouring nation, (where that dangerous denomination of men is incomparably more numerous, more powerful, and of consequence more formidable) real Tories can often with much less difficulty obtain very high favours from the Government, than their reputed brethren can arrive to the lowest in ours. I observe this with all possible submission to the wisdom of their policy, which, however, will not I believe, dispute the praise of vigilance with ours.

WHIG account.
To persons promoted to bishoprics, or removed
to more beneficial ones, computed
per ann.1005000
To civil employments,903000
To military commands,843600
TORY account
To Tories11100

[Pg 249]

I shall conclude with this observation. That, as I think, the Tories have sufficient reason to be fully satisfied with the share of trust, and power, and employments which they possess under the lenity of the present Government; so, I do not find how his Excellency can be justly censured for favouring none but High-Church, high-fliers, termagants, Laudists, Sacheverellians, tip-top-gallant-men, Jacobites, tantivies, anti-Hanoverians, friends to Popery and the Pretender, and to arbitrary power, disobligers of England, breakers of DEPENDENCY, inflamers of quarrels between the two nations, public incendiaries, enemies to the King and Kingdoms, haters of TRUE Protestants, laurelmen, Annists, complainers of the Nation's poverty, Ormondians, iconoclasts, anti-Glorious-memorists, white-rosalists, tenth-a-Junians, and the like: when by a fair state of the account, the balance, I conceive, plainly lies on the other side.[170]

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By which the Number of Landed Gentry and Substantial Farmers will be considerably increased, and no one Person will be the poorer, or contribute one farthing to the Charge.

[Pg 252]


In volume three of the present edition two tracts are given relating to attempts made by the bishops of Ireland for enlarging their powers. These tracts are entitled: "On the Bill for the Clergy's residing on their Livings," and "Considerations upon two Bills, sent down from the House of Lords and the House of Commons in Ireland relating to the Clergy of Ireland" (pp. 249-272). The bills which Swift argued against were evidently intended to give the bishops further powers and increased opportunities for making money. (The matter is gone into at length in the notes prefixed to the above reprints.) The bishops sought rights which would enable them to obtain large powers in letting leases, and their eagerness to get such powers, coupled with the efforts they expended, showed that they had less regard for the Church's interest than for their own.

In the present tract Swift, with his usual assumption of grave consideration of an important question, but in reality with cutting irony, proposes to dispose of all the Church lands for a lump sum, give the bishops their full just share, including the amount of fines for possible renewals of leases, and, at the same time, pay off the national debt with the money that remains. With an air of strict seriousness he solemnly computes the exact sums obtainable, and impartially divides the amounts with accurate care. Then, with a dig at the strangers England was continually sending to Irish preferments, among whom he counts himself, he concludes by saying that although the interests of such cannot be expected to be those of the country to which they have been translated, yet he, as one of them, is quite willing, and indeed feels himself in duty bound "to consult the interest of people among whom I have been so well received. And if I can be any way instrumental toward contributing to reduce this excellent proposal into a law ... my sincere endeavours to serve this Church and kingdom will be rewarded."

The text of this pamphlet is based on that given at the end of the volume containing the first edition of "Considerations upon two Bills," etc., published in 1732.

[T. S.][Pg 253]


The debts contracted some years past for the service and safety of the nation, are grown so great, that under our present distressed condition by the want of trade, the great remittances to pay absentees, regiments serving abroad, and many other drains of money, well enough known and felt; the kingdom seems altogether unable to discharge them by the common methods of payment: And either a poll or land tax would be too odious to think of, especially the latter, because the lands, which have been let for these ten or dozen years past, were raised so high, that the owners can, at present, hardly receive any rent at all. For, it is the usual practice of an Irish tenant, rather than want land, to offer more for a farm than he knows he can be ever able to pay, and in that case he grows desperate, and pays nothing at all. So that a land-tax upon a racked estate would be a burthen wholly insupportable.

The question will then be, how these national debts can be paid, and how I can make good the several particulars of my proposal, which I shall now lay open to the public.

The revenues of their Graces and Lordships the Archbishops and Bishops of this kingdom (excluding the fines) do amount by a moderate computation to 36,800l. per ann. I mean the rents which the bishops receive from their tenants. But the real value of those lands at a full rent, taking the several sees one with another, is reckoned to be at least three-fourths more, so that multiplying 36,800l. by[Pg 254] four, the full rent of all the bishops' lands will amount to 147,200l. per ann. from which subtracting the present rent received by their lordships, that is 36,800l. the profits of the lands received by the first and second tenants (who both have great bargains) will rise to the sum of 110,400l. per ann. which lands, if they were to be sold at twenty-two years' purchase, would raise a sum of 2,428,800l. reserving to the Bishops their present rents, only excluding fines.[171]

Of this sum I propose, that out of the one-half which amounts to 1,214,400l. so much be applied as will entirely discharge the debts of the nation, and the remainder laid up in the treasury, to supply contingencies, as well as to discharge some of our heavy taxes, until the kingdom shall be in a better condition.

But whereas the present set of bishops would be great losers by this scheme for want of their fines, which would be hard treatment to such religious, loyal and deserving personages, I have therefore set apart the other half to supply that defect, which it will more than sufficiently do.

A bishop's lease for the full term, is reckoned to be worth eleven years' purchase, but if we take the bishops round, I suppose, there may be four years of each lease elapsed, and many of the bishops being well stricken in years, I cannot think their lives round to be worth more than seven years' purchase; so that the purchasers may very well afford fifteen years' purchase for the reversion, especially by one great additional advantage, which I shall soon mention.

This sum of 2,428,800l. must likewise be sunk very considerably, because the lands are to be sold only at fifteen years' purchase, and this lessens the sum to about 1,656,000l. of which I propose twelve hundred thousand pounds to be applied partly for the payment of the national debt, and partly as a fund for future exigencies, and the remaining 456,000l. I propose as a fund for paying the present set of bishops their fines, which it will abundantly do, and a great part remain as an addition to the public stock.

Although the bishops round do not in reality receive three fines a-piece, which take up 21 years, yet I allow it to [Pg 255]be so; but then I will suppose them to take but one year's rent, in recompense of giving them so large a term of life, and thus multiplying 36,800l. by 3 the product will be only 110,400l. so that above three-fourths will remain to be applied to public use.

If I have made wrong computations, I hope to be excused, as a stranger to the kingdom, which I never saw till I was called to an employment, and yet where I intend to pass the rest of my days; but I took care to get the best information I could, and from the most proper persons; however, the mistakes I may have been guilty of, will very little affect the main of my proposal, although they should cause a difference of one hundred thousand pounds more or less.

These fines, are only to be paid to the bishop during his incumbency in the same see; if he changeth it for a better, the purchasers of the vacant see lands, are to come immediately into possession of the see he hath left, and both the bishop who is removed, and he who comes into his place, are to have no more fines, for the removed bishop will find his account by a larger revenue; and the other see will find candidates enough. For the law maxim will here have place, that caveat, &c. I mean the persons who succeed may choose whether they will accept or no.

As to the purchasers, they will probably be tenants to the see, who are already in possession, and can afford to give more than any other bidders.

I will further explain myself. If a person already a bishop, be removed into a richer see, he must be content with the bare revenues, without any fines, and so must he who comes into a bishopric vacant by death: And this will bring the matter sooner to bear; which if the Crown shall think fit to countenance, will soon change the present set of bishops, and consequently encourage purchasers of their lands. For example, If a Primate should die, and the gradation be wisely made, almost the whole set of bishops might be changed in a month, each to his great advantage, although no fines were to be got, and thereby save a great part of that sum which I have appropriated towards supplying the deficiency of fines.

I have valued the bishops' lands two years' purchase[Pg 256] above the usual computed rate, because those lands will have a sanction from the King and Council in England, and be confirmed by an Act of Parliament here; besides, it is well known, that higher prices are given every day, for worse lands, at the remotest distances, and at rack rents, which I take to be occasioned by want of trade, when there are few borrowers, and the little money in private hands lying dead, there is no other way to dispose of it but in buying of land, which consequently makes the owners hold it so high.

Besides paying the nation's debts, the sale of these lands would have many other good effects upon the nation; it will considerably increase the number of gentry, where the bishops' tenants are not able or willing to purchase; for the lands will afford an hundred gentlemen a good revenue to each; several persons from England will probably be glad to come over hither, and be the buyers, rather than give thirty years' purchase at home, under the loads of taxes for the public and the poor, as well as repairs, by which means much money may be brought among us, and probably some of the purchasers themselves may be content to live cheap in a worse country, rather than be at the charge of exchange and agencies, and perhaps of non-solvencies in absence, if they let their lands too high.

This proposal will also multiply farmers, when the purchasers will have lands in their own power, to give long and easy leases to industrious husbandmen.

I have allowed some bishoprics of equal income to be of more or less value to the purchaser, according as they are circumstanced. For instance, The lands of the primacy and some other sees, are let so low, that they hardly pay a fifth penny of the real value to the bishop, and there the fines are the greater. On the contrary, the sees of Meath and Clonfert, consisting, as I am told, much of tithes, those tithes are annually let to the tenants without any fines. So the see of Dublin is said to have many fee-farms which pay no fines, and some leases for lives which pay very little, and not so soon nor so duly.

I cannot but be confident, that their Graces my Lords the Archbishops, and my Lords the Bishops will heartily join in this proposal, out of gratitude to his late and present[Pg 257] Majesty, the best of Kings, who have bestowed such high and opulent stations, as well as in pity to this country which is now become their own; whereby they will be instrumental towards paying the nation's debts, without impoverishing themselves, enrich an hundred gentlemen, as well as free them from dependence, and thus remove that envy which is apt to fall upon their Graces and Lordships from considerable persons, whose birth and fortunes rather qualify them to be lords of manors, than servile dependants upon Churchmen however dignified or distinguished.

If I do not flatter myself, there could not be any law more popular than this; for the immediate tenants to bishops, being some of them persons of quality, and good estates, and more of them grown up to be gentlemen by the profits of these very leases, under a succession of bishops, think it a disgrace to be subject both to rents and fines, at the pleasure of their landlords. Then the bulk of the tenants, especially the dissenters, who are our loyal Protestant brethren, look upon it both as an unnatural and iniquitous thing that bishops should be owners of land at all; (wherein I beg to differ from them) being a point so contrary to the practice of the Apostles, whose successors they are deemed to be, and who although they were contented that land should be sold, for the common use of the brethren, yet would not buy it themselves, but had it laid at their feet, to be distributed to poor proselytes.

I will add one word more, that by such a wholesome law, all the oppressions felt by under-tenants of Church leases, which are now laid on by the bishops would entirely be prevented, by their Graces and Lordships consenting to have their lands sold for payment of the nation's debts, reserving only the present rent for their own plentiful and honourable support.

I beg leave to add one particular, that, when heads of a Bill (as I find the style runs in this kingdom) shall be brought in for forming this proposal into a law; I should humbly offer that there might be a power given to every bishop (except those who reside in Dublin) for applying one hundred acres of profitable land that lies nearest to his palace, as a demesne for the conveniency of his family.

I know very well, that this scheme hath been much talked[Pg 258] of for some time past, and is in the thoughts of many patriots, neither was it properly mine, although I fell readily into it, when it was first communicated to me.

Though I am almost a perfect stranger in this kingdom, yet since I have accepted an employment here, of some consequence as well as profit, I cannot but think myself in duty bound to consult the interest of a people, among whom I have been so well received. And if I can be any way instrumental towards contributing to reduce this excellent proposal into a law which being not in the least injurious to England, will, I am confident, meet with no opposition from that side, my sincere endeavours to serve this Church and kingdom will be well rewarded.[Pg 259]


A. B. agent for J. S. comes to desire J. S. to sign an assignment of a lease in order to be registered for the security of 38l. J. S. asks A. B. to show him the lease A. B. says he left it at home. J. S. asks the said A. B. how many years of the lease are unexpired? what rent the tenant pays, and how much below the rack value? and what number of acres there are upon the farm? To each of which questions the agent A. B. answers categorically, that he cannot tell, and that he did not think J. would ask him such questions. The said A. B. was asked how he came two years after the lease was assigned, and not sooner, to have it registered. A. B. answers, that he could not sue till the assignment.

Query, Whether the said agent A. B. made any one answer like a man of business?

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IN THE CITY OF DUBLIN.[Pg 263][Pg 262]


Like many of Swift's satirical writings the title of this tract is no indication to its subject-matter. Whatever "abuses, corruptions and enormities" may have been rife in the city of Dublin in Swift's time, the pamphlet which follows certainly throws no light on them. It is in no sense a social document. But it is a very amusing and excellent piece of jeering at the fancied apprehensions that were rife about the Pretender, the "disaffected" people, and the Jacobites. It is aimed at the Whigs, who were continually using the party cries of "No Popery," "Jacobitism," and the other cognate expressions to distress their political opponents. At the same time, these cries had their effects, and created a great deal of mischief. The Roman Catholics, in particular, were cruelly treated because of the anxiety for the Protestant succession, and among the lower tradesmen, for whom such cries would be of serious meaning, a petty persecution against their Roman Catholic fellow-tradesmen continually prevailed. Monck Mason draws attention to some curious instances. (See his "History of St. Patrick's Cathedral," p. 399, note y.)

In the "Journals of the Irish House of Commons" (vol. ii., p. 77) is the record of a petition presented in the year 1695, by the Protestant porters of the city of Dublin, against one Darby Ryan, "a papist and notoriously disaffected." This Ryan was complained of for employing those of his own persuasion and affection to carry a cargo of coals he had bought, to his own customers. The petitioners complained that they, Protestants, were "debased and hindered from their small trade and gains." Another set of petitioners was the drivers of hackney coaches. They complained that, "before the late trouble, they got a livelihood by driving coaches in and about the city of Dublin, but since that time, so many papists had got coaches, and drove them with such ordinary horses, that the petitioners could hardly get bread.... They therefore prayed the house that none but Protestant hackney-coachmen may have liberty to keep and drive hackney-coaches." Swift may have had these instances in his mind when he urges that the criers who cry their wares in Dublin should be True Protestants, and should give security to the government for permission to cry.

In a country where such absurd complaints could be seriously presented, and as seriously considered, a genuine apprehension must have existed. The Whigs in making capital out of this existing feeling stigmatized their Tory opponents as High Churchmen, and therefore very little removed from Papists, and therefore Jacobites. Of course there were no real grounds for such epithets, but they indulged in them nevertheless, with the addition of insinuations and suggestions—no insinuation being too feeble or too far-fetched so long as it served.

Swift, writing in the person of a Whig, affects extreme anxiety for the [Pg 264]most ridiculous of signs, and finds a Papist, or a Jacobite, or a disaffected person, in the least likely of places. The tract, in this light, is a really amusing piece. Swift takes the opportunity also to hit Walpole, under a pretended censure of his extravagance, corruption, and avarice.

The text here given of this tract is based on that of the original edition issued in Dublin in 1732. The last paragraph, however, does not appear in that edition, and is reprinted here from Scott.

[T. S.][Pg 265]




Abuses, Corruptions,




City of DUBLIN.

Dublin: Printed in the Year 1732.[Pg 267][Pg 266]

Nothing is held more commendable in all great cities, especially the metropolis of a kingdom, than what the French call the police; by which word is meant the government thereof, to prevent the many disorders occasioned by great numbers of people and carriages, especially through narrow streets. In this government our famous City of Dublin is said to be very defective, and universally complained of. Many wholesome laws have been enacted to correct those abuses, but are ill executed; and many more are wanting, which I hope the united wisdom of the nation (whereof so many good effects have already appeared this session) will soon take into their most profound consideration.

As I have been always watchful over the good of mine own country, and particularly for that of our renowned city, where (absit invidia) I had the honour to draw my first breath[173]; I cannot have a minute's ease or patience to forbear enumerating some of the greatest enormities, abuses, and corruptions, spread almost through every part of Dublin; and proposing such remedies as, I hope, the legislature will approve of.

The narrow compass to which I have confined myself in this paper, will allow me only to touch at the most important defects, and such as I think seem to require the most speedy redress.

And first, perhaps there was never known a wiser instit[Pg 268]ution than that of allowing certain persons of both sexes, in large and populous cities, to cry through the streets many necessaries of life; it would be endless to recount the conveniences which our city enjoys by this useful invention, and particularly strangers, forced hither by business, who reside here but a short time; for, these having usually but little money, and being wholly ignorant of the town, might at an easy price purchase a tolerable dinner, if the several criers would pronounce the names of the goods they have to sell, in any tolerable language. And therefore till our law-makers shall think it proper to interpose so far as to make these traders pronounce their words in such terms, that a plain Christian hearer may comprehend what is cried, I would advise all new comers to look out at their garret windows, and there see whether the thing that is cried be tripes or flummery, butter-milk or cow-heels. For, as things are now managed, how is it possible for an honest countryman, just arrived, to find out what is meant, for instance, by the following words, with which his ears are constantly stunned twice a day, "Mugs, jugs and porringers, up in the garret, and down in the cellar." I say, how is it possible for any stranger to understand that this jargon is meant as an invitation to buy a farthing's worth of milk for his breakfast or supper, unless his curiosity draws him to the window, or till his landlady shall inform him. I produce this only as one instance, among a hundred much worse, I mean where the words make a sound wholly inarticulate, which give so much disturbance, and so little information.

The affirmation solemnly made in the cry of herrings, is directly against all truth and probability, "Herrings alive, alive here." The very proverb will convince us of this; for what is more frequent in ordinary speech, than to say of some neighbour for whom the passing-bell rings, that he is dead as a herring. And, pray how is it possible, that a herring, which as philosophers observe, cannot live longer than one minute, three seconds and a half out of water, should bear a voyage in open boats from Howth to Dublin, be tossed into twenty hands, and preserve its life in sieves for several hours. Nay, we have witnesses ready to produce, that many thousands of these herrings, so impudently asserted to be alive, have been a day and a night upon dry[Pg 269] land. But this is not the worst. What can we think of those impious wretches, who dare in the face of the sun, vouch the very same affirmative of their salmon, and cry, "Salmon alive, alive;" whereas, if you call the woman who cries it, she is not ashamed to turn back her mantle, and shew you this individual salmon cut into a dozen pieces. I have given good advice to these infamous disgracers of their sex and calling, without the least appearance of remorse, and fully against the conviction of their own consciences. I have mentioned this grievance to several of our parish ministers, but all in vain; so that it must continue until the government shall think fit to interpose.

There is another cry, which, from the strictest observation I can make, appears to be very modern, and it is that of sweethearts,[174] and is plainly intended for a reflection upon the female sex, as if there were at present so great a dearth of lovers, that the women instead of receiving presents from men, were now forced to offer money, to purchase sweethearts. Neither am I sure, that the cry doth not glance at some disaffection against the government; insinuating, that while so many of our troops are engaged in foreign service, and such a great number of our gallant officers constantly reside in England, the ladies are forced to take up with parsons and attorneys: But, this is a most unjust reflection, as may soon be proved by any person who frequents the Castle, our public walks, our balls and assemblies, where the crowds of toupees[175] were never known to swarm as they do at present.

There is a cry, peculiar to this City, which I do not remember to have been used in London, or at least, not in the same terms that it has been practised by both parties, during each of their power; but, very unjustly by the Tories. While these were at the helm, they grew daily more and more impatient to put all true Whigs and Hanoverians out of employments. To effect which, they hired certain ordinary fellows, with large baskets on their shoulders, to call aloud at every house, "Dirt to carry out;" giving that denomination to our whole party, as if they [Pg 270]would signify, that the kingdom could never be cleansed, till we were swept from the earth like rubbish. But, since that happy turn of times, when we were so miraculously preserved by just an inch, from Popery, slavery, massacre, and the Pretender, I must own it prudence in us, still to go on with the same cry, which hath ever since been so effectually observed, that the true political dirt is wholly removed, and thrown on its proper dunghills, there to corrupt, and be no more heard of.

But, to proceed to other enormities: Every person who walks the streets, must needs observe the immense number of human excrements at the doors and steps of waste houses, and at the sides of every dead wall; for which the disaffected party have assigned a very false and malicious cause. They would have it, that these heaps were laid there privately by British fundaments, to make the world believe, that our Irish vulgar do daily eat and drink; and, consequently, that the clamour of poverty among us, must be false, proceeding only from Jacobites and Papists. They would confirm this, by pretending to observe, that a British anus being more narrowly perforated than one of our own country; and many of these excrements upon a strict view appearing copple crowned, with a point like a cone or pyramid, are easily distinguished from the Hibernian, which lie much flatter, and with lest continuity. I communicated this conjecture to an eminent physician, who is well versed in such profound speculations; and at my request was pleased to make trial with each of his fingers, by thrusting them into the anus of several persons of both nations, and professed he could find no such difference between them as those ill-disposed people allege. On the contrary, he assured me, that much the greater number of narrow cavities were of Hibernian origin. This I only mention to shew how ready the Jacobites are to lay hold of any handle to express their malice against the government. I had almost forgot to add, that my friend the physician could, by smelling each finger, distinguish the Hibernian excrement from the British, and was not above twice mistaken in an hundred experiments; upon which he intends very soon to publish a learned dissertation.

There is a diversion in this City, which usually begins[Pg 271] among the butchers, but is often continued by a succession of other people, through many streets. It is called the COSSING of a dog; and I may justly number it among our corruptions. The ceremony is this: A strange dog happens to pass through a flesh-market; whereupon an expert butcher immediately cries in a loud voice, and the proper tone, "Coss, coss," several times: The same word is repeated by the people. The dog, who perfectly understands the terms of art, and consequently the danger he is in, immediately flies. The people, and even his own brother animals pursue; the pursuit and cry attend him perhaps half a mile; he is well worried in his flight, and sometimes hardly escapes. This, our ill-wishers of the Jacobite kind, are pleased to call a persecution; and affirm, that it always falls upon dogs of the Tory principle. But, we can well defend ourselves, by justly alleging that when they were uppermost, they treated our dogs full as inhumanly: As to my own part, who have in former times often attended these processions, although I can very well distinguish between a Whig and Tory dog, yet I never carried my resentments very far upon a party principle, except it were against certain malicious dogs, who most discovered their malice against us in the worst of times.[176] And, I remember too well, that in the wicked ministry of the Earl of Oxford, a large mastiff of our party being unmercifully cossed, ran, without thinking, between my legs, as I was coming up Fishamble Street; and, as I am of low stature, with very short legs, bore me riding backwards down the hill, for above two hundred yards: And, although I made use of his tail for a bridle, holding it fast with both my hands, and clung my legs as close to his sides as I could, yet we both came down together into the middle of the kennel; where after rolling three or four times over each other, I got up with much ado, amid the shouts and huzzas of a thousand malicious Jacobites: I cannot, indeed, but gratefully acknowledge, that for this and many other services and sufferings, I have been since more than over-paid.

This adventure may, perhaps, have put me out of love with the diversions of cossing, which I confess myself an [Pg 272]enemy to, unless we could always be sure of distinguishing Tory dogs; whereof great numbers have since been so prudent, as entirely to change their principles, and are now justly esteemed the best worriers of their former friends.

I am assured, and partly know, that all the chimney-sweepers' boys, where Members of Parliament chiefly lodge, are hired by our enemies to skulk in the tops of chimneys, with their heads no higher than will just permit them to look round; and at the usual hours when members are going to the House, if they see a coach stand near the lodging of any loyal member, they call "Coach, coach," as loud as they can bawl, just at the instant when the footman begins to give the same call. And this is chiefly done on those days, when any point of importance is to be debated. This practice may be of very dangerous consequence. For, these boys are all hired by enemies to the government; and thus, by the absence of a few members for a few minutes, a question may be carried against the true interest of the kingdom, and very probably, not without any eye toward the Pretender.

I have not observed the wit and fancy of this town, so much employed in any one article, as that of contriving variety of signs to hang over houses, where punch is to be sold. The bowl is represented full of punch, the ladle stands erect in the middle, supported sometimes by one, and sometimes by two animals, whose feet rest upon the edge of the bowl. These animals are sometimes one black lion, and sometimes a couple; sometimes a single eagle, and sometimes a spread one, and we often meet a crow, a swan, a bear, or a cock, in the same posture.

Now, I cannot find how any of these animals, either separate, or in conjunction, are properly speaking, either fit emblems or embellishments, to advance the sale of punch. Besides, it is agreed among naturalists, that no brute can endure the taste of strong liquor, except where he hath been used to it from his infancy: And, consequently, it is against all the rules of hieroglyph, to assign those animals as patrons, or protectors of punch. For, in that case, we ought to suppose, that the host keeps always ready the real bird, or beast, whereof the picture hangs over his door, to[Pg 273] entertain his guest; which, however, to my knowledge, is not true in fact. For not one of those birds is a proper companion for a Christian, as to aiding and assisting in making the punch. For the birds, as they are drawn upon the sign, are much more likely to mute, or shed their feathers into the liquor. Then, as to the bear, he is too terrible, awkward, and slovenly a companion to converse with; neither are any of them at all, handy enough to fill liquor to the company: I do, therefore, vehemently suspect a plot intended against the Government, by these devices. For, although the spread-eagle be the arms of Germany, upon which account it may possibly be a lawful Protestant sign; yet I, who am very suspicious of fair outsides, in a matter which so nearly concerns our welfare, cannot but call to mind, that the Pretender's wife is said to be of German birth: And that many Popish Princes, in so vast an extent of land, are reported to excel both at making and drinking punch. Besides, it is plain, that the spread-eagle exhibits to us the perfect figure of a cross, which is a badge of Popery. Then, as to the cock, he is well known to represent the French nation, our old and dangerous enemy. The swan, who must of necessity cover the entire bowl with his wings, can be no other than the Spaniard, who endeavours to engross all the treasures of the Indies to himself. The lion is indeed, the common emblem of Royal power, as well as the arms of England; but to paint him black, is perfect Jacobitism, and a manifest type of those who blacken the actions of the best Princes. It is not easy to distinguish, whether the other fowl painted over the punch-bowl, be a crow or raven? It is true, they have both been held ominous birds; but I rather take it to be the former; because it is the disposition of a crow, to pick out the eyes of other creatures; and often even of Christians, after they are dead; and is therefore drawn here, with a design to put the Jacobites in mind of their old practice, first to lull us asleep, (which is an emblem of Death) and then to blind our eyes, that we may not see their dangerous practices against the State.

To speak my private opinion, the least offensive picture in the whole set, seems to be the bear; because he represents ursa major, or the Great Bear, who presides over the[Pg 274] North, where the Reformation first began, and which, next to Britain, (including Scotland and the north of Ireland) is the great protector of the Protestant religion. But, however, in those signs where I observe the bear to be chained, I can't help surmising a Jacobite contrivance, by which these traitors hint an earnest desire of using all true Whigs, as the predecessors did the primitive Christians; I mean, to represent us as bears, and then halloo their Tory dogs to bait us to death.

Thus I have given a fair account of what I dislike, in all those signs set over those houses that invite us to punch: I own it was a matter that did not need explaining, being so very obvious to the most common understanding. Yet, I know not how it happens, but methinks there seems a fatal blindness, to overspread our corporeal eyes, as well as our intellectual; and I heartily wish, I may be found a false prophet; for, these are not bare suspicions, but manifest demonstrations.

Therefore, away with those Popish, Jacobite, and idolatrous gew-gaws. And I heartily wish a law were enacted, under severe penalties, against drinking any punch at all. For nothing is easier, than to prove it a disaffected liquor. The chief ingredients, which are brandy, oranges, and lemons, are all sent us from Popish countries; and nothing remains of Protestant growth but sugar and water. For, as to biscuit, which formerly was held a necessary ingredient, and is truly British, we find it is entirely rejected.

But I will put the truth of my assertion, past all doubt: I mean, that this liquor is by one important innovation, grown of ill example, and dangerous consequence to the public. It is well known, that, by the true original institution of making punch, left us by Captain Ratcliffe, the sharpness is only occasioned by the juice of lemons, and so continued till after the happy Revolution. Oranges, alas! are a mere innovation, and in a manner but of yesterday. It was the politics of Jacobites to introduce them gradually: And, to what intent? The thing speaks itself. It was cunningly to shew their virulence against his sacred Majesty King William, of ever glorious and immortal memory. But of late, (to shew how fast disloyalty increaseth) they came from one or two, and then to three oranges; nay, at present[Pg 275] we often find punch made all with oranges, and not one single lemon. For the Jacobites, before the death of that immortal Prince, had, by a superstition, formed a private prayer, that, as they squeezed the orange, so might that Protestant King be squeezed to death[177]: According to that known sorcery described by Virgil,

Limus ut hic durescit, et hæc ut cera liquescit, &c.

[Ecl. viii. 80.]

And, thus the Romans, when they sacrificed an ox, used this kind of prayer. "As I knock down this ox, so may thou, O Jupiter, knock down our enemies." In like manner, after King William's death, whenever a Jacobite squeezed an orange, he had a mental curse upon the "glorious memory," and a hearty wish for power to squeeze all his Majesty's friends to death, as he squeezed that orange, which bore one of his titles, as he was Prince of Orange. This I do affirm for truth; many of that faction having confessed it to me, under an oath of secrecy; which, however, I thought it my duty not to keep, when I saw my dear country in danger. But, what better can be expected from an impious set of men, who never scruple to drink confusion to all true Protestants, under the name of Whigs? a most unchristian and inhuman practice, which, to our great honour and comfort, was never charged upon us, even by our most malicious detractors.

The sign of two angels, hovering in the air, and with their right hands supporting a crown, is met with in several parts of this city; and hath often given me great offence: For, whether by the unskilfulness, or dangerous principles of the painters, (although I have good reasons to suspect the latter) those angels are usually drawn with such horrid countenances, that they give great offence to every loyal eye, and equal cause of triumph to the Jacobites being a most infamous reflection upon our most able and excellent ministry.

I now return to that great enormity of our city cries; most of which we have borrowed from London. I shall consider [Pg 276]them only in a political view, as they nearly affect the peace and safety of both kingdoms; and having been originally contrived by wicked Machiavels, to bring in Popery, slavery, and arbitrary power, by defeating the Protestant Succession, and introducing the Pretender, ought, in justice, to be here laid open to the world.

About two or three months after the happy Revolution, all persons who possessed any employment, or office, in Church or State, were obliged by an Act of Parliament, to take the oaths to King William and Queen Mary: And a great number of disaffected persons, refusing to take the said oaths, from a pretended scruple of conscience, but really from a spirit of Popery and rebellion, they contrived a plot, to make the swearing to those Princes odious in the eyes of the people. To this end, they hired certain women of ill fame, but loud shrill voices, under pretence of selling fish, to go through the streets, with sieves on their heads, and cry, "Buy my soul, buy my soul;" plainly insinuating, that all those who swore to King William, were just ready to sell their souls for an employment. This cry was revived at the death of Queen Anne, and, I hear, still continues in London, with great offence to all true Protestants; but, to our great happiness, seems to be almost dropped in Dublin.

But, because I altogether contemn the displeasure and resentment of high-fliers, Tories, and Jacobites, whom I look upon to be worse even than professed Papists, I do here declare, that those evils which I am going to mention, were all brought in upon us in the worst of times, under the late Earl of Oxford's administration, during the four last years of Queen Anne's reign. That wicked minister was universally known to be a Papist in his heart. He was of a most avaricious nature, and is said to have died worth four millions, sterl.[178] besides his vast expenses in building, statues, gold plate, jewels, and other costly rarities. He was of a mean obscure birth, from the very dregs of the people, and so illiterate, that he could hardly read a paper at the council table. I forbear to touch at his open, profane, profligate life; [Pg 277]because I desire not to rake into the ashes of the dead, and therefore I shall observe this wise maxim: De mortuis nil nisi bonum.

This flagitious man, in order to compass his black designs, employed certain wicked instruments (which great statesmen are never without) to adapt several London cries, in such a manner as would best answer his ends. And, whereas it was upon grounds grievously suspected, that all places at Court were sold to the highest bidder: Certain women were employed by his emissaries, to carry fish in baskets on their heads, and bawl through the streets, "Buy my fresh places." I must, indeed, own that other women used the same cry, who were innocent of this wicked design, and really sold their fish of that denomination to get an honest livelihood; but the rest, who were in the secret, although they carried fish in their sieves or baskets, to save appearances; yet they had likewise, a certain sign, somewhat resembling that of the free-masons, which the purchasers of places knew well enough, and were directed by the women whither they were to resort, and make their purchase. And, I remember very well, how oddly it looked, when we observed many gentlemen finely dressed, about the Court end of the town, and as far as York Buildings, where the Lord Treasurer Oxford dwelt, calling the women who cried "Buy my fresh places," and talking to them in the corner of a street, after they understood each other's sign: But we never could observe that any fish was bought.

Some years before the cries last mentioned, the Duke of Savoy was reported to have made certain overtures to the Court of England, for admitting his eldest son by the Duchess of Orleans's daughter, to succeed to the Crown, as next heir, upon the Pretender's being rejected, and that son was immediately to turn Protestant. It was confidently reported, that great numbers of people disaffected to the then illustrious but now Royal House of Hanover, were in those measures. Whereupon another set of women were hired by the Jacobite leaders, to cry through the whole town, "Buy my Savoys, dainty Savoys, curious Savoys." But, I cannot directly charge the late Earl of Oxford with this conspiracy, because he was not then chief Minister. However, the wicked cry still continues in London, and was brought over[Pg 278] hither, where it remains to this day, and in my humble opinion, a very offensive sound to every true Protestant, who is old enough to remember those dangerous times.

During the Ministry of that corrupt and Jacobite earl above-mentioned, the secret pernicious design of those in power, was to sell Flanders to France; the consequence of which, must have been the infallible ruin of the States-General, and would have opened the way for France to obtain that universal monarchy, after which they have so long aspired; to which the British dominions must next, after Holland, have been compelled to submit, and the Protestant religion would be rooted out of the world.

A design of this vast importance, after long consultation among the Jacobite grandees, with the Earl of Oxford at their head, was at last determined to be carried on by the same method with the former; it was therefore again put in practice; but the conduct of it was chiefly left to chosen men, whose voices were louder and stronger than those of the other sex. And upon this occasion, was first instituted in London, that famous cry of "Flounders." But the criers were particularly directed to pronounce the word "Flaunders," and not "Flounders." For, the country which we now by corruption call Flanders, is in its true orthography spelt Flaunders, as may be obvious to all who read old English books. I say, from hence begun that thundering cry, which hath ever since stunned the ears of all London, made so many children fall into fits, and women miscarry; "Come buy my fresh flaunders, curious flaunders, charming flaunders, alive, alive, ho;" which last words can with no propriety of speech be applied to fish manifestly dead, (as I observed before in herrings and salmon) but very justly to ten provinces, which contain many millions of living Christians. And the application is still closer, when we consider that all the people were to be taken like fishes in a net; and, by assistance of the Pope, who sets up to be the universal Fisher of Men, the whole innocent nation, was, according to our common expression, to be "laid as flat as a flounder."

I remember, myself, a particular crier of flounders in London, who arrived at so much fame for the loudness of his voice, that he had the honour to be mentioned upon that[Pg 279] account, in a comedy. He hath disturbed me many a morning, before he came within fifty doors of my lodging. And I can't tell if there's a comma here] although I were not in those days so fully apprized of the designs, which our common enemy had then in agitation, yet, I know not how, by a secret impulse, young as I was, I could not forbear conceiving a strong dislike against the fellow; and often said to myself, "This cry seems to be forged in the Jesuits' school. Alas, poor England! I am grievously mistaken if there be not some Popish Plot at the bottom." I communicated my thoughts to an intimate friend, who reproached me with being too visionary in my speculations: But, it proved afterwards, that I conjectured right. And I have often since reflected, that if the wicked faction could have procured only a thousand men, of as strong lungs as the fellow I mentioned, none can tell how terrible the consequences might have been, not only to these two Kingdoms, but over all Europe, by selling Flanders to France. And yet these cries continue unpunished, both in London and Dublin, although I confess, not with equal vehemency or loudness, because the reason for contriving this desperate plot, is, to our great felicity, wholly ceased.

It is well known, that the majority of the British House of Commons in the last years of Queen Anne's reign, were in their hearts directly opposite to the Earl of Oxford's pernicious measures; which put him under the necessity of bribing them with salaries. Whereupon he had again recourse to his old politics. And accordingly, his emissaries were very busy in employing certain artful women of no good life or conversation, (as it was fully proved before Justice Peyton) to cry that vegetable commonly called celery, through the town. These women differed from the common criers of that herb, by some private mark which I could never learn; but the matter was notorious enough, and sufficiently talked of, and about the same period was the cry of celery brought over into this kingdom. But since there is not at this present, the least occasion to suspect the loyalty of our criers upon that article, I am content that it may still be tolerated.

I shall mention but one cry more, which hath any reference to politics; but is indeed, of all others the most insolent, as well as treasonable, under our present happy[Pg 280] Establishment. I mean that of turnups; not of turnips, according to the best orthography, but absolutely turnups. Although this cry be of an older date than some of the preceding enormities, for it began soon after the Revolution; yet was it never known to arrive at so great a height, as during the Earl of Oxford's power. Some people, (whom I take to be private enemies) are, indeed, as ready as myself to profess their disapprobation of this cry, on pretence that it began by the contrivance of certain old procuresses, who kept houses of ill-fame, where lewd women met to draw young men into vice. And this they pretend to prove by some words in the cry; because, after the crier had bawled out, "Turnups, ho, buy my dainty turnups," he would sometimes add the two following verses:—

"Turn up the mistress, and turn up the maid,
And turn up the daughter, and be not afraid."

This, say some political sophists, plainly shews that there can be nothing further meant in this infamous cry, than an invitation to lewdness, which indeed, ought to be severely punished in all well-regulated Governments; but cannot be fairly interpreted as a crime of State. But, I hope, we are not so weak and blind to be deluded at this time of day, with such poor evasions. I could, if it were proper, demonstrate the very time when those two verses were composed, and name the author, who was no other than the famous Mr. Swan, so well known for his talent at quibbling, and was as virulent a Jacobite as any in England. Neither could he deny the fact, when he was taxed for it in my presence by Sir Harry Button-Colt, and Colonel Davenport, at the Smyrna coffee-house, on the 10th of June, 1701. Thus it appears to a demonstration, that those verses were only a blind to conceal the most dangerous designs of that party, who from the first years after the happy Revolution, used a cant way of talking in their clubs after this manner: "We hope, to see the cards shuffled once more, and another king turn up trump:" And, "When shall we meet over a dish of turnups?" The same term of art was used in their plots against the government, and in their treasonable letters writ in ciphers, and deciphered by the famous Dr. Wallis, as you may read in the trials of those times. This I thought fit to[Pg 281] set forth at large, and in so clear a light, because the Scotch and French authors have given a very different account of the word turnup, but whether out of ignorance or partiality I shall not decree; because I am sure, the reader is convinced by my discovery. It is to be observed, that this cry was sung in a particular manner by fellows in disguise, to give notice where those traitors were to meet, in order to concert their villainous designs.

I have no more to add upon this article, than an humble proposal, that those who cry this root at present in our streets of Dublin, may be compelled by the justices of the peace, to pronounce turnip, and not turnup; for, I am afraid, we have still too many snakes in our bosom; and it would be well if their cellars were sometimes searched, when the owners least expect it; for I am not out of fear that latet anguis in herbâ.

Thus, we are zealous in matters of small moment, while we neglect those of the highest importance. I have already made it manifest, that all these cries were contrived in the worst of times, under the ministry of that desperate statesman, Robert, late Earl of Oxford, and for that very reason ought to be rejected with horror, as begun in the reign of Jacobites, and may well be numbered among the rags of Popery and treason: Or if it be thought proper, that these cries must continue, surely they ought to be only trusted in the hands of true Protestants, who have given security to the government.

[Having already spoken of many abuses relating to signposts, I cannot here omit one more, because it plainly relates to politics; and is, perhaps, of more dangerous consequence than any of the city cries, because it directly tends to destroy the succession. It is the sign of his present Majesty King George the Second, to be met with in many streets; and yet I happen to be not only the first, but the only, discoverer of this audacious instance of Jacobitism. And I am confident, that, if the justices of the peace would please to make a strict inspection, they might find, in all such houses, before which those signs are hung up in the manner I have observed, that the landlords were malignant Papists, or, which is worse, notorious Jacobites. Whoever views those signs, may read, over his Majesty's head, the following letters and ciphers,[Pg 282] G.R.II., which plainly signifies George, King the Second, and not King George the Second, or George the Second, King; but laying the point after the letter G, by which the owner of the house manifestly shews, that he renounces his allegiance to King George the Second, and allows him to be only the second king, inuendo, that the Pretender is the first king; and looking upon King George to be only a kind of second king, or viceroy, till the Pretender shall come over and seize the kingdom. I appeal to all mankind, whether this be a strained or forced interpretation of the inscription, as it now stands in almost every street; whether any decipherer would make the least doubt or hesitation to explain it as I have done; whether any other Protestant country would endure so public an instance of treason in the capital city from such vulgar conspirators; and, lastly, whether Papists and Jacobites of great fortunes and quality may not probably stand behind the curtain in this dangerous, open, and avowed design against the government. But I have performed my duty; and leave the reforming of these abuses to the wisdom, the vigilance, the loyalty, and activity of my superiors.] [179]

[Pg 283]

[Pg 284]




To make an

Hospital for Incurables,


Universal Benefit to all His Majesty's Subjects.

Humbly addressed to the Rt. Hon. the Lord ——, the Rt. Hon. Sir ——, and to the Rt. Hon. ——, Esq;

To which is added,

A Petition of the Footmen in and about Dublin.

Fæcunda Culpæ Secula!——Hor.

Printed at LONDON: And,
Printed by GEORGE FAULKNER, and Sold at his Shop in Essex Street, opposite to the Bridge, and by G. Risk, G. Ewing and W. Smith, Booksellers in Dame-Street, 1733.[Pg 287][Pg 286]


This piece, included by Sir Walter Scott for the first time among Swift's writings, was, in the opinion of that editor, indisputably the work of the Dean of St. Patrick's. The present editor sees no reason to disagree with this judgement, and it is therefore reprinted here. The original issue of 1733, printed by Faulkner contained also Swift's "Petition of the Footmen in and about Dublin," and had a lengthy advertisement of the Complete Works of Swift which Faulkner was, at that time, projecting. It is difficult, however, to understand why the tract was not included in later editions of Swift's complete works. Sir Walter Scott puts forward an explanation suggested by Dr. Barrett, who believed the reason to have been, that this "jeu d'esprit might be interpreted as casting a slur on an hospital erected upon Lazors-Hill, now on the Donny-Brook road near Dublin, for the reception of persons afflicted with incurable maladies." The reason seems a poor one, though it may have been as Dr. Barrett states. A better argument might be found from the style and subject matter of the tract itself. The style is strongly Swift's, and the subject of such an hospital must certainly have occupied Swift's thoughts at this time, since he left his fortune for the erection of a similar building.

The text of the present edition is based on that of the volume issued by Faulkner in 1733, compared with the Dublin reprint of the following year.

[T. S.][Pg 285]


There is not any thing which contributes more to the reputation of particular persons, or to the honour of a nation in general, than erecting and endowing proper edifices, for the reception of those who labour under different kinds of distress. The diseased and unfortunate are thereby delivered from the misery of wanting assistance; and others are delivered from the misery of beholding them.

It is certain, that the genius of the people of England is strongly turned to public charities; and to so noble a degree, that almost in every part of this great and opulent city, and also in many of the adjacent villages, we meet with a great variety of hospitals, supported by the generous contributions of private families, as well as by the liberality of the public. Some for seamen worn out in the service of their country, and others for infirm disabled soldiers; some for the maintenance of tradesmen decayed, and others for their widows and orphans; some for the service of those who linger under tedious distempers, and others for such as are deprived of their reason.

But I find, upon nice inspection, that there is one kind of charity almost totally disregarded, which, nevertheless, appears to me of so excellent a nature, as to be at present more wanted, and better calculated for the ease, quietness, and felicity of this whole kingdom, than any other can possibly be. I mean an hospital for incurables.

I must indeed confess, that an endowment of this nature would prove a very large and perpetual expense. However, I have not the least diffidence, that I shall be able effectually[Pg 288] to convince the world that my present scheme for such an hospital is very practicable, and must be very desirable by every one who hath the interest of his country, or his fellow-creatures, really at heart.

It is observable, that, although the bodies of human creatures be affected with an infinite variety of disorders, which elude the power of medicine, and are often found to be incurable, yet their minds are also overrun with an equal variety, which no skill, no power, no medicine, can alter or amend. And I think, that, out of regard to the public peace and emolument, as well as the repose of many pious and valuable families, this latter species of incurables ought principally to engage our attention and beneficence.

I believe an Hospital for such Incurables will be universally allowed necessary, if we only consider what numbers of absolute incurables every profession, rank, and degree, would perpetually produce, which, at present, are only national grievances, and of which we can have no other effectual method to purge the kingdom.

For instance; let any man seriously consider what numbers there are of incurable fools, incurable knaves, incurable scolds, incurable scribblers, (besides myself,) incurable coxcombs, incurable infidels, incurable liars, incurable whores, in all places of public resort:—not to mention the incurably vain, incurably envious, incurably proud, incurably affected, incurably impertinent, and ten thousand other incurables, which I must of necessity pass over in silence, lest I should swell this essay into a volume. And without doubt, every unprejudiced person will agree, that, out of mere Christian charity, the public ought to be eased as much as possible of this troublesome and intolerable variety of incurables.

And first, Under the denomination of incurable fools, we may reasonably expect, that such an hospital would be furnished with considerable numbers of the growth of our own universities; who, at present, appear in various professions in the world, under the venerable titles of physicians, barristers, and ecclesiastics.

And as those ancient seminaries have been, for some years past, accounted little better than nurseries of such sort of incurables, it should seem highly commendable to make some kind of provision for them; because it is more than[Pg 289] probable, that, if they are to be supported by their own particular merit in their several callings, they must necessarily acquire but a very indifferent maintenance.

I would not, willingly, be here suspected to cast reflections on any order of men, as if I thought that small gains from the profession of any art or science, were always an undoubted sign of an equally small degree of understanding; for I profess myself to be somewhat inclined to a very opposite opinion, having frequently observed, that at the bar, the pulse, and the pulpit, those who have the least learning or sense to plead, meet generally with the largest share of promotions and profit: of which many instances might be produced; but the public seems to want no conviction in this particular.

Under the same denominations we may further expect a large and ridiculous quantity of old rich widows; whose eager and impatient appetites inflame them with extravagant passions for fellows of a very different age and complexion from themselves; who purchase contempt and aversion with good jointures; and being loaded with years, infirmities, and probably ill humour, are forced to bribe into their embraces such whose fortunes and characters are equally desperate.

Besides, our collection of incurable fools would receive an incredible addition from every one of the following articles.

From young extravagant heirs; who are just of a competent age to become the bubbles of jockeys, sportsmen, gamesters, bullies, sharpers, courtesans, and such sort of honourable pickpockets.

From misers; who half starve themselves to feed the prodigality of their heirs, and who proclaim to the world how unworthy they are of possessing estates, by the wretched and ridiculous methods they take to enjoy them.

From contentious people, of all conditions; who are content to waste the greatest part of their own fortunes at law, to be the instruments of impoverishing others.

From those who have any confidence in profession of friendship, before trial; or any dependence on the fidelity of a mistress.

From young illiterate squires, who travel abroad to import lewdness, conceit, arrogance, vanity, and foppery; of which commodities there seems to be so great an abundance at home.[Pg 290]

From young clergymen; who contrive, by matrimony, to acquire a family, before they have obtained the necessary means to maintain one.

From those who have considerable estates in different kingdoms, and yet are so incurably stupid as to spend their whole incomes in this.

These, and several other articles which might be mentioned, would afford us a perpetual opportunity of easing the public, by having an hospital for the accommodation of such incurables; who, at present, either by the over-fondness of near relations, or the indolence of the magistrates, are permitted to walk abroad, and appear in the most crowded places of this city, as if they were indeed reasonable creatures.

I had almost forgot to hint, that, under this article, there is a modest probability that many of the clergy would be found properly qualified for admittance into the hospital, who might serve in the capacity of chaplains, and save the unnecessary expense of salaries.

To these fools, in order succeed such as may justly be included under the extensive denomination of incurable knaves; of which our several Inns of Court would constantly afford us abundant supplies.

I think indeed, that, of this species of incurables, there ought to be a certain limited number annually admitted; which number, neither any regard to the quiet or benefit of the nation, nor any other charitable or public-spirited reason, should tempt us to exceed; because, if all were to be admitted on such a foundation, who might be reputed incurable of this distemper; and if it were possible for the public to find any place large enough for their reception; I have not the least doubt, that all our Inns, which are at this day so crowded, would in a short time be emptied of their inhabitants; and the law, that beneficial craft, want hands to conduct it.

I tremble to think what herds of attorneys, solicitors, pettifoggers, scriveners, usurers, hackney-clerks, pickpockets, pawn-brokers, jailors, and justices of the peace, would hourly be driven to such an hospital; and what disturbance it might also create in several noble and wealthy families.

What unexpected distress might it prove to several men[Pg 291] of fortune and quality, to be suddenly deprived of their rich stewards, in whom they had for many years reposed the utmost confidence, and to find them irrecoverably lodged among such a collection of incurables!

How many orphans might then expect to see their guardians hurried away to the hospital; and how many greedy executors find reason to lament the want of opportunity to pillage!

Would not Exchange Alley have cause to mourn for the loss of its stock-jobbers and brokers; and the Charitable Corporation for the confinement of many of its directors?

Might not Westminster-Hall, as well as all the gaming-houses in this great city, be entirely unpeopled; and the professors of art in each of those assemblies become useless in their vocations, by being deprived of all future opportunity to be dishonest?

In short, it might put the whole kingdom into confusion and disorder; and we should find that the entire revenues of this nation would be scarce able to support so great a number of incurables, in this way, as would appear qualified for admission into our hospital.

For if we only consider how this kingdom swarms with quadrille-tables, and gaming-houses, both public and private; and also how each of those houses, as well as Westminster-Hall aforesaid, swarms with knaves who are anxious to win, or fools who have anything to lose; we may be soon convinced how necessary it will be to limit the number of incurables, comprehended under these titles, lest the foundation should prove insufficient to maintain any others besides them.

However, if, by this Scheme of mine, the nation can be eased of twenty or thirty thousand such incurables, I think it ought to be esteemed somewhat beneficial, and worthy of the attention of the public.

The next sort for whom I would gladly provide, and who for several generations have proved insupportable plagues and grievances to the good people of England, are those who may properly be admitted under the character of incurable scolds.

I own this to be a temper of so desperate a nature, that few females can be found willing to own themselves anyway[Pg 292] addicted to it; and yet, it is thought that there is scarce a single parson, 'prentice, alderman, squire, or husband, who would not solemnly avouch the very reverse.

I could wish, indeed, that the word scold might be changed for some more gentle term, of equal signification; because I am convinced, that the very name is as offensive to female ears, as the effects of that incurable distemper are to the ears of the men; which, to be sure, is inexpressible.

And that it hath been always customary to honour the very same kind of actions with different appellations, only to avoid giving offence, is evident to common observation.

For instance: How many lawyers, attorneys, solicitors, under-sheriffs, intriguing chambermaids, and counter-officers, are continually guilty of extortion, bribery, oppression, and many other profitable knaveries, to drain the purses of those with whom they are any way concerned! And yet, all these different expedients to raise a fortune, pass generally under the milder names of fees, perquisites, vails, presents, gratuities, and such like; although, in strictness of speech, they should be called robbery, and consequently be rewarded with a gibbet.

Nay, how many honourable gentlemen might be enumerated, who keep open shop to make a trade of iniquity; who teach the law to wink whenever power or profit appears in her way; and contrive to grow rich by the vice, the contention, or the follies of mankind; and who, nevertheless, instead of being branded with the harsh-sounding names of knaves, pilferers, or public oppressors, (as they justly merit,) are only distinguished by the title of justices of the peace; in which single term, all those several appellations are generally thought to be implied.

But to proceed. When first I determined to prepare this Scheme for the use and inspection of the public, I intended to examine one whole ward in this city, that my computation of the number of incurable scolds might be more perfect and exact. But I found it impossible to finish my progress through more than one street.

I made my first application to a wealthy citizen in Cornhill, common-council-man for his ward; to whom I hinted, that if he knew e'er an incurable scold in the neighbourhood, I had some hope to provide for her in such a manner, as to[Pg 293] hinder her from being further troublesome. He referred me with great delight to his next-door friend; yet whispered me, that, with much greater ease and pleasure, he could furnish me out of his own family ——; and begged the preference.

His next-door friend owned readily that his wife's qualifications were not misrepresented, and that he would cheerfully contribute to promote so useful a scheme; but positively asserted, that it would be of small service to rid the neighbourhood of one woman, while such multitudes would remain all equally insupportable.

By which circumstance I conjectured, that the quantity of these incurables in London, Westminster, and Southwark, would be very considerable; and that a generous contribution might reasonably be expected for such an hospital as I am recommending.

Besides, the number of these female incurables would probably be very much increased by additional quantities of old maids; who, being wearied with concealing their ill-humour for one-half of their lives, are impatient to give it full vent in the other. For old maids, like old thin-bodied wines, instead of growing more agreeable by years, are observed, for the most part, to become intolerably sharp, sour, and useless.

Under this denomination also, we may expect to be furnished with as large a collection of old bachelors, especially those who have estates, and but a moderate degree of understanding. For, an old wealthy bachelor, being perpetually surrounded with a set of flatterers, cousins, poor dependents, and would-be heirs, who for their own views submit to his perverseness and caprice, becomes insensibly infected with this scolding malady, which generally proves incurable, and renders him disagreeable to his friends, and a fit subject for ridicule to his enemies.

As to the incurable scribblers, (of which society I have the honour to be a member,) they probably are innumerable; and, of consequence, it will be absolutely impossible to provide for one-tenth part of their fraternity. However, as this set of incurables are generally more plagued with poverty than any other, it will be a double charity to admit them on the foundation; a charity to the world, to whom they are a common pest and nuisance; and a charity to themselves, to[Pg 294] relieve them from want, contempt, kicking, and several other accidents of that nature, to which they are continually liable.

Grub-street itself would then have reason to rejoice, to see so many of its half-starved manufacturers amply provided for; and the whole tribe of meagre incurables would probably shout for joy, at being delivered from the tyranny and garrets of printers, publishers, and booksellers.

What a mixed multitude of ballad-writers, ode-makers, translators, farce-compounders, opera-mongers, biographers, pamphleteers, and journalists, would appear crowding to the hospital; not unlike the brutes resorting to the ark before the deluge! And what an universal satisfaction would such a sight afford to all, except pastry-cooks, grocers, chandlers, and tobacco-retailers, to whom alone the writings of those incurables were anyway profitable!

I have often been amazed to observe, what a variety of incurable coxcombs are to be met with between St. James's and Limehouse, at every hour of the day; as numerous as Welsh parsons, and equally contemptible. How they swarm in all coffeehouses, theatres, public walks, and private assemblies; how they are incessantly employed in cultivating intrigues, and every kind of irrational pleasure; how industrious they seem to mimic the appearance of monkeys, as monkeys are emulous to imitate the gestures of men: And from such observations, I concluded, that to confine the greatest part of those incurables, who are so many living burlesques of human nature, would be of eminent service to this nation; and I am persuaded that I am far from being singular in that opinion.

As for the incurable infidels and liars, I shall range them under the same article, and would willingly appoint them the same apartment in the hospital; because there is a much nearer resemblance between them, than is generally imagined.

Have they not an equal delight in imposing falsities on the public; and seem they not equally desirous to be thought of more sagacity and importance than others? Do they not both report what both know to be false; and both confidently assert what they are conscious is most liable to contradiction?

The parallel might easily be carried on much further, if[Pg 295] the intended shortness of this essay would admit it. However, I cannot forbear taking notice, with what immense quantities of incurable liars his Majesty's kingdoms are overrun; what offence and prejudice they are to the public; what inconceivable injury to private persons; and what a necessity there is for an hospital, to relieve the nation from the curse of so many incurables.

This distemper appears almost in as many different shapes, as there are persons afflicted with it; and, in every individual, is always beyond the power of medicine.

Some lie for their interest; such as fishmongers, flatterers, pimps, lawyers, fortune-hunters, and fortune-tellers; and others lie for their entertainment, as maids, wives, widows, and all other tea-table attendants.

Some lie out of vanity, as poets, painters, players, fops, military officers, and all those who frequent the levees of the great: and others lie out of ill nature, as old maids, &c.

Some lie out of custom, as lovers, coxcombs, footmen, sailors, mechanics, merchants, and chambermaids; and others lie out of complaisance or necessity, as courtiers, chaplains, &c. In short, it were endless to enumerate them all, but this sketch may be sufficient to give us some small imperfect idea of their numbers.

As to the remaining incurables, we may reasonably conclude, that they bear at least an equal proportion to those already mentioned; but with regard to the incurable whores in this kingdom, I must particularly observe, that such of them as are public, and make it their profession, have proper hospitals for their reception already, if we could find magistrates without passions, or officers without an incurable itch to a bribe. And such of them as are private, and make it their amusement, I should be unwilling to disturb, for two reasons.

First, Because it might probably afflict many noble, wealthy, contented, and unsuspecting husbands, by convincing them of their own dishonour, and the unpardonable disloyalty of their wives: And, secondly, Because it will be for ever impossible to confine a woman from being guilty of any kind of misconduct, when once she is firmly resolved to attempt it.

From all which observations, every reasonable man must[Pg 296] infallibly be convinced, that an hospital for the support of these different kinds of incurables, would be extremely beneficial to these kingdoms. I think, therefore, that nothing further is wanting, but to demonstrate to the public, that such a Scheme is very practicable; both by having an undoubted method to raise an annual income, at least sufficient to make the experiment, (which is the way of founding all hospitals,) and by having also a strong probability, that such an hospital would be supported by perpetual benefactions; which, in very few years, might enable us to increase the number of incurables to nine-tenths more than we can reasonably venture on at first.

A Computation of the Daily and Annual Expenses of an Hospital, to be erected for Incurables.

 Per day.
Incurable fools, are almost infinite; however, at
first, I would have only twenty thousand admitted;
and, allowing to each person but one shilling per
day for maintenance, which is as low as possible, the
daily expense for this article will be£1000
Incurable knaves, are, if possible, more numerous,
including foreigners, especially Irishmen. Yet I
would limit the number of these to about thirty
thousand; which would amount to1500
Incurable scolds, would be plentifully supplied
from almost every family in the kingdom. And indeed,
to make this hospital of any real benefit, we
cannot admit fewer, even at first, than thirty thousand,
including the ladies of Billingsgate and Leadenhall
market, which is1500
The incurable scribblers, are undoubtedly a very
considerable society, and of that denomination I
would admit at least forty thousand; because it is
to be supposed, that such incurables will be found
in greatest distress for a daily maintenance. And
if we had not great encouragement to hope, that
many of that class would properly be admitted
among the incurable fools, I should strenuously intercede
to have ten or twenty thousand more added.
But their allowed number will amount to2000
[Pg 297]
Incurable coxcombs, are very numerous; and,
considering what numbers are annually imported
from France and Italy, we cannot admit fewer than
ten thousand, which will be500
Incurable infidels, (as they affect to be called)
should be received into the hospital to the number
of ten thousand. However, if it should accidentally
happen to grow into a fashion to be believers, it is
probable, that the great part of them would, in a
very short time, be dismissed from the hospital, as
perfectly cured. Their expense would be500
Incurable liars, are infinite in all parts of the kingdom;
and, making allowance for citizens' wives,
mercers, prentices, news-writers, old maids, and
flatterers, we cannot possibly allow a smaller number
than thirty thousand, which will amount to1500
The incurable envious, are in vast quantities
throughout this whole nation. Nor can it reasonably
be expected that their numbers should lessen, while
fame and honours are heaped upon some particular
persons, as the public reward of their superior
accomplishments, while others, who are equally excellent,
in their own opinions, are constrained to
live unnoticed and contemned. And, as it would
be impossible to provide for all those who are possessed
with this distemper, I should consent to admit
only twenty thousand at first, by way of experiment,
amounting to1000
Of the incurable vain, affected, and impertinent,
I should at least admit ten thousand; which number
I am confident will appear very inconsiderable, if
we include all degrees of females, from the duchess
to the chambermaid; all poets, who have had a little
success, especially in the dramatic way, and all
players, who have met with a small degree of approbation.
Amounting only to500

By which plain computation it is evident, that two hundred thousand persons will be daily provided for, and the allowance for maintaining this collection of incurables may be seen in the following account.[Pg 298]

        Per day.
  Fools, being 20,000 at one shilling each £1000
  Knaves 30,000 ditto 1500
For Scolds 30,000   1500
the Scribblers 40,000   2500
Incurables Coxcombs 10,000   500
  Infidels 10,000   500
  Liars 30,000   1500
For the Envious 20,000   1000
Incurably Vain 10,000   500
        ——   ——
Total maintained     200,000 Total expense £10,000

 M.   Th.   H.
From whence it appears, that the daily expense
will amount to such a sum, as in 365
days comes to£3,650,000

And I am fully satisfied that a sum, much greater than this, may easily be raised, with all possible satisfaction to the subject, and without interfering in the least with the revenues of the crown.

In the first place, a large proportion of this sum might be raised by the voluntary contribution of the inhabitants.

The computed number of people in Great Britain is very little less than eight millions; of which, upon a most moderate computation, we may account one half to be incurables. And as all those different incurables, whether acting in the capacity of friends, acquaintances, wives, husbands, daughters, counsellors, parents, old maids, or old bachelors, are inconceivable plagues to all those with whom they happen to be concerned; and as there is no hope of being eased of such plagues, except by such an hospital, which by degrees might be enlarged to contain them all: I think it cannot be doubted, that at least three millions and an half of people, out of the remaining proportion, would be found both able and desirous to contribute so small a sum as twenty shillings per annum, for the quiet of the kingdom, the peace of private families, and the credit of the nation in general. And this contribution would amount to very near our requisite sum.[Pg 299]

Nor can this by any means be esteemed a wild conjecture; for where is there a man of common sense, honesty, or good-nature, who would not gladly propose even a much greater sum to be freed from a scold, a knave, a fool, a liar, a coxcomb conceitedly repeating the compositions of others, or a vain impertinent poet repeating his own?

In the next place, it may justly be supposed, that many young noblemen, knights, squires, and extravagant heirs, with very large estates, would be confined in our hospital. And I would propose, that the annual income of every particular incurable's estate should be appropriated to the use of the house. But, besides these, there will undoubtedly be many old misers, aldermen, justices, directors of companies, templars, and merchants of all kinds, whose personal fortunes are immense, and who should proportionably pay to the hospital.

Yet, lest, by being here misunderstood, I should seem to propose an unjust or oppressive Scheme, I shall further explain my design.

Suppose, for instance, a young nobleman, possessed of ten or twenty thousand pounds per annum, should accidentally be confined there as an incurable: I would have only such a proportion of his estate applied to the support of the hospital, as he himself would spend if he were at liberty. And, after his death, the profits of the estate should regularly devolve to the next lawful heir, whether male or female.

And my reason for this proposal is; because considerable estates, which probably would be squandered away among hounds, horses, whores, sharpers, surgeons, tailors, pimps, masquerades, or architects, if left to the management of such incurables; would, by this means, become of some real use, both to the public and themselves. And perhaps this may be the only method which can be found to make such young spendthrifts of any real benefit to their country.

And although the estates of deceased incurables might be permitted to descend to the next heirs, the hospital would probably sustain no great disadvantage; because it is very likely that most of these heirs would also gradually be admitted under some denomination or other; and consequently their estates would again devolve to the use of the hospital.[Pg 300]

As to the wealthy misers, &c., I would have their private fortunes nicely examined and calculated; because, if they were old bachelors, (as it would frequently happen,) their whole fortunes should then be appropriated to the endowment; but, if married, I would leave two-thirds of their fortunes for the support of their families; which families would cheerfully consent to give away the remaining third, if not more, to be freed from such peevish and disagreeable governors.

So that, deducting from the two hundred thousand incurables the forty thousand scribblers, who to be sure would be found in very bad circumstances; I believe, among the remaining hundred and sixty thousand fools, knaves, and coxcombs, so many would be found of large estates and easy fortunes, as would at least produce two hundred thousand pounds per annum.

As a further addition to our endowment, I would have a tax upon all inscriptions and tombstones, monuments and obelisks, erected to the honour of the dead, or on porticoes and trophies, to the honour of the living; because these will naturally and properly come under the article of lies, pride, vanity, &c.

And if all inscriptions throughout this kingdom were impartially examined, in order to tax those which should appear demonstrably false or flattering, I am convinced that not one-fifth part of the number would, after such a scrutiny, escape exempted.

Many an ambitious turbulent spirit would then be found, belied with the opposite title of "lover of his country"; and many a Middlesex justice, as improperly described, "sleeping in hope of salvation."

Many an usurer, discredited by the appellations of "honest and frugal"; and many a lawyer, with the character of conscientious and "equitable."

Many a British statesman and general, decaying, with more honour than they lived; and their dusts distinguished with a better reputation than when they were animated.

Many dull parsons, improperly styled eloquent; and as many stupid physicians, improperly styled learned.

Yet, notwithstanding the extensiveness of a tax upon such monumental impositions, I will count only upon twenty[Pg 301] thousand, at five pounds per annum each, which will amount to one hundred thousand pounds annually.

To these annuities, I would also request the Parliament of this nation to allow the benefit of two lotteries yearly; by which the hospital would gain two hundred thousand pounds clear. Nor can such a request seem any way extraordinary, since it would be appropriated to the benefit of fools and knaves, which is the sole cause of granting one for this present year.

In the last place, I would add the estate of Richard Norton, Esq.;[180] and, to do his memory all possible honour, I would have his statue erected in the very first apartment of the hospital, or in any other which might seem more apt. And, on his monument, I would permit a long inscription, composed by his dearest friends, which should remain tax-free for ever.

From these several articles, therefore, would annually arise the following sums.

  M.   Th.    H.
    P.  Ann.
From the voluntary contribution,£3,500,000
From the estates of the incurables,200,000
By the tax upon tombstones, monuments,
&c. (that of Richard Norton, Esq. always
By two annual lotteries,200,000
By the estate of Richard Norton, Esq.6,000
And the necessary sum for the hospital being£3,650,000
There will remain annually over and above,356,000

Which sum of 356,000l. should be applied towards erecting the building, and answer accidental expenses, in such a [Pg 302]manner as should seem most proper to promote the design of the hospital. But the whole management of it should be left to the skill and discretion of those who are to be constituted governors.

It may, indeed, prove a work of some small difficulty to fix upon a commodious place, large enough for a building of this nature. I should have thoughts of attempting to enclose all Yorkshire, if I were not apprehensive that it would be crowded with so many incurable knaves of its own growth, that there would not be the least room left for the reception of any others; by which accident, our whole project might be retarded for some time.

Thus have I set this matter in the plainest light I could, that every one may judge of the necessity, usefulness, and practicableness of this Scheme: and I shall only add a few scattered hints, which, to me, seem not altogether unprofitable.

I think the prime minister for the time being ought largely to contribute to such a foundation; because his high station and merits must of necessity infect a great number with envy, hatred, lying, and such sort of distempers; and, of consequence, furnish the hospital annually with many incurables.

I would desire that the governors appointed to direct this hospital, should have (if such a thing were possible) some appearance of religion, and belief in God; because those who are to be admitted as incurable infidels, atheists, deists, and freethinkers, most of which tribe are only so out of pride, conceit, and affectation, might perhaps grow gradually into believers, if they perceived it to be the custom of the place where they lived.

Although it be not customary for the natives of Ireland to meet with any manner of promotion in this kingdom, I would, in this respect, have that national prejudice entirely laid aside; and request, that, for the reputation of both kingdoms, a large apartment in the hospital may be fitted up for Irishmen particularly, who, either by knavery, lewdness, or fortune-hunting, should appear qualified for admittance; because their numbers would certainly be very considerable.

I would further request, that a father, who seems delighted at seeing his son metamorphosed into a fop, or a coxcomb, because he hath travelled from London to Paris; may be[Pg 303] sent along with the young gentleman to the hospital, as an old fool, absolutely incurable.

If a poet hath luckily produced anything, especially in the dramatic way, which is tolerably well received by the public, he should be sent immediately to the hospital; because incurable vanity is always the consequence of a little success. And, if his compositions be ill received, let him be admitted as a scribbler.

And I hope, in regard to the great pains I have taken, about this Scheme, that I shall be admitted upon the foundation, as one of the scribbling incurables. But, as an additional favour, I entreat, that I may not be placed in an apartment with a poet who hath employed his genius for the stage; because he will kill me with repeating his own compositions: and I need not acquaint the world, that it is extremely painful to bear any nonsense—except our own.

My private reason for soliciting so early to be admitted is, because it is observed that schemers and projectors are generally reduced to beggary; but, by my being provided for in the hospital, either as an incurable fool or a scribbler, that discouraging observation will for once be publicly disproved, and my brethren in that way will be secure of a public reward for their labours.

It gives me, I own, a great degree of happiness, to reflect, that although in this short treatise the characters of many thousands are contained, among the vast variety of incurables; yet, not any one person is likely to be offended; because, it is natural to apply ridiculous characters to all the world, except ourselves. And I dare be bold to say, that the most incurable fool, knave, scold, coxcomb, scribbler, or liar, in this whole nation, will sooner enumerate the circle of their acquaintance as addicted to those distempers, than once imagine themselves any way qualified for such an hospital.

I hope, indeed, that our wise legislature will take this project into their serious consideration; and promote an endowment, which will be of such eminent service to multitudes of his Majesty's unprofitable subjects, and may in time be of use to themselves and their posterity.

From my Garret in Moorfields, Aug. 20, 1733.[Pg 305]

[Pg 304]



The Humble Petition of the Footmen in and about the City of Dublin.[Pg 306]


Swift may have written the following mock petition by way of satire against the many absurd petitions which were presented at the time to the Irish House of Commons, and of which two examples were quoted in the note to a previous tract. If coal-porters and hackney-coachmen might address the Honourable House, why not footmen?

The present text is based on that found at the end of Swift's "Serious and Useful Scheme to make an Hospital for Incurables," issued by George Faulkner in 1733. Faulkner reprinted this volume in 1734.

[T. S.][Pg 307]



The Humble Petition of the Footmen in and about the City of Dublin.

Humbly Sheweth,

That your Petitioners are a great and numerous society, endowed with several privileges, time out of mind.

That certain lewd, idle, and disorderly persons, for several months past, as it is notoriously known, have been daily seen in the public walks of this City, habited sometimes in green coats, and sometimes in laced, with long oaken cudgels in their hands, and without swords, in hopes to procure favour, by that advantage, with a great number of ladies who frequent those walks, pretending and giving themselves out to be true genuine Irish footmen. Whereas they can be proved to be no better than common toupees,[182] as a judicious eye may soon discover by their awkward, clumsy, ungenteel gait and behaviour, by their unskilfulness in dress, even with the advantage of wearing our habits, by their ill-favoured countenances, with an air of impudence and dulness peculiar to the rest of their brethren; who have not yet arrived at that transcendent pitch of assurance. Although, it may be justly apprehended, that they will do so in time, if these counterfeits shall happen to succeed in their evil design, of passing for real footmen, thereby to render themselves more amiable to the ladies.

Your petitioners do further allege, that many of the said counterfeits, upon a strict examination, have been found in the very act of strutting, swearing, staring, swaggering, in a [Pg 308]manner that plainly shewed their best endeavours to imitate us. Wherein, although they did not succeed, yet by their ignorant and ungainly way of copying our graces, the utmost indignity was endeavoured to be cast upon our whole profession.

Your Petitioners do therefore make it their humble request, that this Honourable House, (to many of whom your Petitioners are nearly allied) will please to take this grievance into your most serious consideration: Humbly submitting, whether it would not be proper, that certain officers might, at the public charge, be employed to search for, and discover all such counterfeit footmen, and carry them before the next Justice of Peace; by whose warrant, upon the first conviction, they should be stripped of their coats, and oaken ornaments, and be set two hours in the stocks. Upon the second conviction, besides stripping, be set six hours in the stocks, with a paper pinned on their breast signifying their crime, in large capital letters, and in the following words. "A. B. commonly called A. B. Esq.; a toupee, and a notorious impostor, who presumed to personate a true Irish footman."

And for any further offence the said toupee shall be committed to Bridewell, whipped three times, forced to hard labour for a month, and not be set at liberty, till he shall have given sufficient security for his good behaviour.

Your Honours will please to observe with what lenity we propose to treat these enormous offenders, who have already brought such a scandal on our honourable calling, that several well-meaning people have mistaken them to be of our Fraternity; in diminution to that credit and dignity wherewith we have supported our station, as we always did, in the worst of times.[183] And we further beg leave to remark, that this was manifestly done with a seditious design, to render us less capable of serving the public in any great employments, as several of our Fraternity, as well as our ancestors have done.

We do therefore humbly implore your Honours, to give necessary orders for our relief, in this present exigency, and your Petitioners (as in duty bound) shall ever pray, &c.

Dublin, 1733.

[Pg 309]





Written in the Year 1733.[Pg 310]


Swift here argues that a holder of an office under the government cannot, of necessity, be an honest representative of the people. There were two candidates before the freemen for the suffrages of the City, one, Lord Mayor French, and the other Mr. John Macarrell. The latter was an office-holder; he was Register to the Barracks, and received his salary from the government. It was not to be expected that he would vote against his employer, be he never so honest a man. Swift openly informs the freemen that the Drapier is against this man. The Lord Mayor was elected.

The text of this "Advice" is based on that given in the eighth volume of Swift's Collected Works, issued in 1746. The Forster Collection contains a made-up booklet of pp. 196-205, taken from a volume of one of the collected editions.

[T. S.][Pg 311]


Those few writers, who, since the death of Alderman Burton, have employed their pens in giving advice to our citizens, how they should proceed in electing a new representative for the next sessions, having laid aside their pens, I have reason to hope, that all true lovers of their country in general, and particularly those who have any regard for the privileges and liberties of this great and ancient city, will think a second, and a third time, before they come to a final determination upon what person they resolve to fix their choice.

I am told, there are only two persons who set up for candidates; one is the present Lord Mayor,[184] and the other, a gentleman of good esteem, an alderman of the city, a merchant of reputation, and possessed of a considerable office under the crown.[185] The question is, which of these two persons it will be most for the advantage of the city to elect? I have but little acquaintance with either, so that my inquiries will be very impartial, and drawn only from the general character and situation of both.

In order to this, I must offer my countrymen and fellow-citizens some reasons why I think they ought to be more than ordinarily careful, at this juncture, upon whom they bestow their votes.

[Pg 312]

To perform this with more clearness, it may be proper to give you a short state of our unfortunate country.

We consist of two parties: I do not mean Popish and Protestant, High and Low Church, Episcopal and Sectarians, Whig and Tory; but of these English who happen to be born in this kingdom, (whose ancestors reduced the whole nation under the obedience of the English crown,) and the gentlemen sent from the other side to possess most of the chief employments here. This latter party is very much enlarged and strengthened by the whole power in the church, the law, the army, the revenue, and the civil administration deposited in their hands; although, out of political ends, and to save appearances, some employments are still deposited (yet gradually in a smaller number) to persons born here; this proceeding, fortified with good words and many promises, is sufficient to flatter and feed the hopes of hundreds, who will never be one farthing the better, as they might easily be convinced, if they were qualified to think at all.

Civil employments of all kinds have been for several years past, with great prudence, made precarious, and during pleasure; by which means the possessors are, and must inevitably be, for ever dependent; yet those very few of any consequence, which are dealt with so sparing a hand to persons born among us, are enough to keep hope alive in great numbers, who desire to mend their condition by the favour of those in power.

Now, my dear fellow-citizens, how is it possible you can conceive, that any person, who holds an office of some hundred pounds a year, which may be taken from him whenever power shall think fit, will, if he should be chosen a member for any city, do the least thing, when he sits in the house, that he knows or fears may be displeasing to those who gave him or continue him in that office? Believe me, these are no times to expect such an exalted degree of virtue from mortal men. Blazing stars are much more frequently seen than such heroical worthies. And I could sooner hope to find ten thousand pounds by digging in my garden, than such a phœnix, by searching among the present race of mankind.

I cannot forbear thinking it a very erroneous, as well as[Pg 313] modern maxim of politics, in the English nation, to take every opportunity of depressing Ireland; whereof an hundred instances may be produced in points of the highest importance, and within the memory of every middle-aged man; although many of the greatest persons among that party which now prevails, have formerly, upon that article, much differed in their opinion from their present successors.

But so the fact stands at present. It is plain that the court and country party here, (I mean in the House of Commons,) very seldom agree in anything but their loyalty to his present Majesty, their resolutions to make him and his viceroy easy in the government, to the utmost of their power, under the present condition of the kingdom. But the persons sent from England, who (to a trifle) are possessed of the sole executive power in all its branches, with their few adherents in possession who were born here, and hundreds of expectants, hopers, and promissees, put on quite contrary notions with regard to Ireland. They count upon a universal submission to whatever shall be demanded; wherein they act safely, because none of themselves, except the candidates, feel the least of our pressures.

I remember a person of distinction some days ago affirmed in a good deal of mixed company, and of both parties, that the gentry from England, who now enjoy our highest employments of all kinds, can never be possibly losers of one farthing by the greatest calamities that can befall this kingdom, except a plague that would sweep away a million of our hewers of wood and drawers of water, or an invasion that would fright our grandees out of the kingdom. For this person argued, that while there was a penny left in the treasury, the civil and military list must be paid; and that the Episcopal revenues, which are usually farmed out at six times below the real value, could hardly fail. He insisted farther, that as money diminished, the price of all necessaries for life must of consequence do so too, which would be for the advantage of all persons in employment, as well as of my lords the bishops, and to the ruin of everybody else. Among the company there wanted not men in office, besides one or two expectants; yet I did not observe any of them disposed to return an answer; but the consequences[Pg 314] drawn were these: That the great men in power sent hither from the other side, were by no means upon the same foot with his Majesty's other subjects of Ireland; they had no common ligament to bind them with us; they suffered not with our sufferings; and if it were possible for us to have any cause of rejoicing, they could not rejoice with us.

Suppose a person, born in this kingdom, shall happen by his services for the English interest to have an employment conferred on him worth four hundred pounds a year; and that he hath likewise an estate in land worth four hundred pounds a year more; suppose him to sit in Parliament; then, suppose a land-tax to be brought in of five shillings a pound for ten years; I tell you how this gentleman will compute. He hath four hundred pounds a year in land: the tax he must pay yearly is one hundred pounds; by which, in ten years, he will pay only a thousand pounds. But if he gives his vote against this tax, he will lose four thousand pounds by being turned out of his employment, together with the power and influence he hath, by virtue or colour of his employment; and thus the balance will be against him three thousand pounds.

I desire, my fellow-citizens, you will please to call to mind how many persons you can vouch for among your acquaintance, who have so much virtue and self-denial as to lose four hundred pounds a year for life, together with the smiles and favour of power, and the hopes of higher advancement, merely out of a generous love of his country.

The contentions of parties in England are very different from those among us. The battle there is fought for power and riches; and so it is indeed among us: but whether a great employment be given to Tom or to Peter, they were both born in England, the profits are to be spent there. All employments (except a very few) are bestowed on the natives; they do not send to Germany, Holland, Sweden, or Denmark, much less to Ireland, for chancellors, bishops, judges, or other officers. Their salaries, whether well or ill got, are employed at home: and whatever their morals or politics be, the nation is not the poorer.

The House of Commons in England have frequently endeavoured to limit the number of members, who should be allowed to have employments under the Crown. Several[Pg 315] acts have been made to that purpose, which many wise men think are not yet effectual enough, and many of them are rendered ineffectual by leaving the power of re-election. Our House of Commons consists, I think, of about three hundred members; if one hundred of these should happen to be made up of persons already provided for, joined with expecters, compliers easy to be persuaded, such as will give a vote for a friend who is in hopes to get something; if they be merry companions, without suspicion, of a natural bashfulness, not apt or able to look forwards; if good words, smiles, and caresses, have any power over them, the larger part of a second hundred may be very easily brought in at a most reasonable rate.

There is an Englishman[186] of no long standing among us, but in an employment of great trust, power, and profit. This excellent person did lately publish, at his own expense, a pamphlet printed in England by authority, to justify the bill for a general excise or inland duty, in order to introduce that blessed scheme among us. What a tender care must such an English patriot for Ireland have of our interest, if he should condescend to sit in our Parliament! I will bridle my indignation. However, methinks I long to see that mortal, who would with pleasure blow us all up at a blast: but he duly receives his thousand pounds a year; makes his progresses like a king; is received in pomp at every town and village where he travels,[187] and shines in the English newspapers.

I will now apply what I have said to you, my brethren and fellow-citizens. Count upon it, as a truth next to your creed, that no one person in office, of which he is not master for life, whether born here or in England, will ever hazard that office for the good of this country. One of your candidates is of this kind, and I believe him to be an honest gentleman, as the word honest is generally understood. But he loves his employment better than he doth you, or his country, or all the countries upon earth. Will you contribute and give him city security to pay him the value of his employment, if [Pg 316]it should be taken from him, during his life, for voting on all occasions with the honest country party in the House?—although I must question, whether he would do it even upon that condition.

Wherefore, since there are but two candidates, I entreat you will fix on the present Lord Mayor. He hath shewn more virtue, more activity, more skill, in one year's government of the city, than a hundred years can equal. He hath endeavoured, with great success, to banish frauds, corruptions, and all other abuses from amongst you.

A dozen such men in power would be able to reform a kingdom. He hath no employment under the Crown; nor is likely to get or solicit for any: his education having not turned him that way. I will assure for no man's future conduct; but he who hath hitherto practised the rules of virtue with so much difficulty in so great and busy a station, deserves your thanks, and the best return you can make him; and you, my brethren, have no other to give him, than that of representing you in Parliament. Tell me not of your engagements and promises to another: your promises were sins of inconsideration, at best; and you are bound to repent and annul them. That gentleman, although with good reputation, is already engaged on the other side. He hath four hundred pounds a year under the Crown, which he is too wise to part with, by sacrificing so good an establishment to the empty names of virtue, and love of his country. I can assure you, the Drapier is in the interest of the present Lord Mayor, whatever you may be told to the contrary. I have lately heard him declare so in public company, and offer some of these very reasons in defence of his opinion; although he hath a regard and esteem for the other gentleman, but would not hazard the good of the city and the kingdom for a compliment.

The Lord Mayor's severity to some unfair dealers, should not turn the honest men among them against him. Whatever he did, was for the advantage of those very traders, whose dishonest members he punished. He hath hitherto been above temptation to act wrong; and therefore, as mankind goes, he is the most likely to act right as a representative of your city, as he constantly did in the government of it.[Pg 317]



Humbly offered to the Right Honourable the Lord
Mayor, the Court of Aldermen, and Common-Council
of the Honourable City of Dublin



1733.[Pg 319][Pg 318]


The office of Recorder to this city being vacant by the death of a very worthy gentleman,[188] it is said, that five or six persons are soliciting to succeed him in the employment. I am a stranger to all their persons, and to most of their characters; which latter, I hope, will at this time be canvassed with more decency than it sometimes happeneth upon the like occasions. Therefore, as I am wholly impartial, I can with more freedom deliver my thoughts how the several persons and parties concerned ought to proceed in electing a Recorder for this great and ancient city.

And first, as it is a very natural, so I can by no means think it an unreasonable opinion, that the sons or near relations of Aldermen, and other deserving citizens, should be duly regarded as proper competitors for an employment in the city's disposal, provided they be equally qualified with other candidates; and provided that such employments require no more than common abilities, and common honesty. But in the choice of a Recorder, the case is entirely different. He ought to be a person of good abilities in his calling; of an unspotted character; an able practitioner; one who hath occasionally merited of this city before; he ought to be of some maturity in years; a member of Parliament, and likely to continue so; regular in his life; firm in his loyalty to the Hanover succession; indulgent to tender consciences; but, [Pg 320]at the same time, a firm adherer to the established church. If he be such a one who hath already sat in Parliament, it ought to be inquired of what weight he was there; whether he voted on all occasions for the good of his country; and particularly for advancing the trade and freedom of this city; whether he be engaged in any faction, either national or religious; and, lastly, whether he be a man of courage, not to be drawn from his duty by the frown or menaces of power, nor capable to be corrupted by allurements or bribes.—These, and many other particulars, are of infinitely more consequence, than that single circumstance of being descended by a direct or collateral line from any Alderman, or distinguished citizen, dead or alive.

There is not a dealer or shopkeeper in this city, of any substance, whose thriving, less or more, may not depend upon the good or ill conduct of a Recorder. He is to watch every motion in Parliament that may the least affect the freedom, trade, or welfare of it.

In this approaching election, the commons, as they are a numerous body, so they seem to be most concerned in point of interest; and their interest ought to be most regarded, because it altogether dependeth upon the true interest of the city. They have no private views; and giving their votes, as I am informed, by balloting, they lie under no awe, or fear of disobliging competitors. It is therefore hoped that they will duly consider, which of the candidates is most likely to advance the trade of themselves and their brother-citizens; to defend their liberties, both in and out of Parliament, against all attempts of encroachment or oppression. And so God direct them in the choice of a Recorder, who may for many years supply that important office with skill, diligence, courage, and fidelity. And let all the people say, Amen.[Pg 321]

[Pg 322]







Parishes of DUBLIN.



Printed for T. Cooper at the Globe in Pater Noster Row.
Price Six Pence.[Pg 325][Pg 324]


The "badging" of beggars was a favourite scheme of Swift's for the better regulation of the many who infested the city of Dublin as tramps and idlers. While many of these were really deserving persons, there were a great many also who made the business of begging a profession. Eleven years before this tract was printed Swift wrote to Archbishop King on the same subject, as will be seen from the letter quoted in the note on pages 326-327.

The present text is based on the original edition of 1737 collated with that given by Sir Walter Scott.

[T. S.][Pg 323]


It hath been a general complaint, that the poor-house, especially since the new Constitution by Act of Parliament, hath been of no benefit to this city, for the ease of which it was wholly intended. I had the honour to be a member of it many years before it was new modelled by the legislature, not from any personal regard, but merely as one of the two deans, who are of course put into most commissions that relate to the city; and I have likewise the honour to have been left out of several commissions upon the score of party, in which my predecessors, time out of mind, have always been members.

The first commission was made up of about fifty persons, which were the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, and Sheriffs, and some few other citizens; the Judges, the two Archbishops, the two Deans of the city, and one or two more gentlemen. And I must confess my opinion, that the dissolving the old commission, and establishing a new one of nearly three times the number, have been the great cause of rendering so good a design not only useless, but a grievance instead of a benefit to the city. In the present commission all the city clergy are included, besides a great number of 'squires, not only those who reside in Dublin, and the neighbourhood, but several who live at a great distance, and cannot possibly have the least concern for the advantage of the city.

At the few general meetings that I have attended since the new Establishment, I observed very little was done, except one or two Acts of extreme justice, which I then thought[Pg 326] might as well have been spared: and I have found the Court of Assistants usually taken up in little brangles about coachmen, or adjusting accounts of meal and small beer; which, however necessary, might sometimes have given place to matters of much greater moment, I mean some schemes recommended to the General Board, for answering the chief ends in erecting and establishing such a poor-house, and endowing it with so considerable a revenue: and the principal end I take to have been that of maintaining the poor and orphans of the city, where the parishes are not able to do it; and clearing the streets from all strollers, foreigners, and sturdy beggars, with which, to the universal complaint and admiration, Dublin is more infested since the Establishment of the poor-house, than it was ever known to be since its first erection.

As the whole fund for supporting this hospital is raised only from the inhabitants of the city, so there can be hardly any thing more absurd, than to see it mis-employed in maintaining foreign beggars and bastards, or orphans, whose country landlords never contributed one shilling towards their support. I would engage, that half this revenue, if employed with common care, and no very great degree of common honesty, would maintain all the real objects of charity in this city, except a small number of original poor in every parish, who might, without being burthensome to the parishioners, find a tolerable support.

I have for some years past applied myself to several Lord Mayors, and to the late Archbishop of Dublin[189], for a remedy to this evil of foreign beggars; and they all appeared ready to receive a very plain proposal, I mean, that of badging the original poor of every parish, who begged in the streets;[190] [Pg 327] that the said beggars should be confined to their own parishes; that, they should wear their badges well sewn upon one of their shoulders, always visible, on pain of being whipped and turned out of town; or whatever legal punishment may be thought proper and effectual. But, by the wrong way of thinking in some clergymen, and the indifference of others, this method was perpetually defeated, to their own continual disquiet, which they do not ill deserve; and if the grievance affected only them, it would be of less consequence, because the remedy is in their own power. But all street-walkers, and shopkeepers bear an equal share in this hourly vexation.

I never heard more than one objection against this ex[Pg 328]pedient of badging the poor, and confining their walks to their several parishes. The objection was this: What shall we do with the foreign beggars? Must they be left to starve? I answered, No; but they must be driven or whipped out of town; and let the next country parish do as they please; or rather after the practice in England, send them from one parish to another, until they reach their own homes. By the old laws of England still in force, and I presume by those of Ireland, every parish is bound to maintain its own poor; and the matter is of no such consequence in this point as some would make it, whether a country parish be rich or poor. In the remoter and poorer parishes of the kingdom, all necessaries for life proper for poor people are comparatively cheaper; I mean butter-milk, oatmeal, potatoes, and other vegetables; and every farmer or cottager, who is not himself a beggar, can sometimes spare a sup or a morsel, not worth the fourth part of a farthing, to an indigent neighbour of his own parish, who is disabled from work. A beggar native of the parish is known to the 'squire, to the church minister, to the popish priest, or the conventicle teachers, as well as to every farmer: he hath generally some relations able to live, and contribute something to his maintenance. None of which advantages can be reasonably expected on a removal to places where he is altogether unknown. If he be not quite maimed, he and his trull, and litter of brats (if he hath any) may get half their support by doing some kind of work in their power, and thereby be less burthensome to the people. In short, all necessaries of life grow in the country, and not in cities, and are cheaper where they grow; nor is it equal, that beggars should put us to the charge of giving them victuals, and the carriage too.

But, when the spirit of wandering takes him, attended by his female, and their equipage of children, he becomes a nuisance to the whole country: he and his female are thieves, and teach the trade of stealing to their brood at four years old; and if his infirmities be counterfeit, it is dangerous for a single person unarmed to meet him on the road. He wanders from one county to another, but still with a view to this town, whither he arrives at last, and enjoys all the privileges of a Dublin beggar.[Pg 329]

I do not wonder that the country 'squires should be very willing to send up their colonies; but why the city should be content to receive them, is beyond my imagination.

If the city were obliged by their charter to maintain a thousand beggars, they could do it cheaper by eighty per cent. a hundred miles off, than in this town, or any of its suburbs.

There is no village in Connaught, that in proportion shares so deeply in the daily increasing miseries of Ireland, as its capital city; to which miseries there hardly remained any addition, except the perpetual swarms of foreign beggars, who might be banished in a month without expense, and with very little trouble.

As I am personally acquainted with a great number of street beggars, I find some weak attempts to have been made in one or two parishes to promote the wearing of badges; and my first question to those who ask an alms, is, Where is your badge? I have in several years met with about a dozen who were ready to produce them, some out of their pockets, others from under their coat, and two or three on their shoulders, only covered with a sort of capes which they could lift up or let down upon occasion. They are too lazy to work, they are not afraid to steal, nor ashamed to beg; and yet are too proud to be seen with a badge, as many of them have confessed to me, and not a few in very injurious terms, particularly the females. They all look upon such an obligation as a high indignity done to their office. I appeal to all indifferent people, whether such wretches deserve to be relieved. As to myself, I must confess, this absurd insolence hath so affected me, that for several years past, I have not disposed of one single farthing to a street beggar, nor intend to do so, until I see a better regulation; and I have endeavoured to persuade all my brother-walkers to follow my example, which most of them assure me they do. For, if beggary be not able to beat out pride, it cannot deserve charity. However, as to persons in coaches and chairs, they bear but little of the persecution we suffer, and are willing to leave it entirely upon us.

To say the truth, there is not a more undeserving vicious[Pg 330] race of human kind than the bulk of those who are reduced to beggary, even in this beggarly country. For, as a great part of our publick miseries is originally owing to our own faults (but, what those faults are I am grown by experience too wary to mention) so I am confident, that among the meaner people, nineteen in twenty of those who are reduced to a starving condition, did not become so by what lawyers call the work of God, either upon their bodies or goods; but merely from their own idleness, attended with all manner of vices, particularly drunkenness, thievery, and cheating.

Whoever enquires, as I have frequently done, from those who have asked me an alms; what was their former course of life, will find them to have been servants in good families, broken tradesmen, labourers, cottagers, and what they call decayed house-keepers; but (to use their own cant) reduced by losses and crosses, by which nothing can be understood but idleness and vice.

As this is the only Christian country where people contrary to the old maxim, are the poverty and not the riches of the nation, so, the blessing of increase and multiply is by us converted into a curse; and, as marriage hath been ever countenanced in all free countries, so we should be less miserable if it were discouraged in ours, as far as can be consistent with Christianity. It is seldom known in England, that the labourer, the lower mechanick, the servant, or the cottager thinks of marrying until he hath saved up a stock of money sufficient to carry on his business; nor takes a wife without a suitable portion; and as seldom fails of making a yearly addition to that stock, with a view of providing for his children. But, in this kingdom, the case is directly contrary, where many thousand couples are yearly married, whose whole united fortunes, bating the rags on their backs, would not be sufficient to purchase a pint of butter-milk for their wedding supper, nor have any prospect of supporting their honourable state, but by service, or labour, or thievery. Nay, their happiness is often deferred until they find credit to borrow, or cunning to steal a shilling to pay their Popish priest, or infamous couple-beggar. Surely no miraculous portion of wisdom would be required to find some kind of remedy against[Pg 331] this destructive evil, or at least, not to draw the consequences of it upon our decaying city; the greatest part whereof must of course in a few years become desolate, or in ruins.

In all other nations, that are not absolutely barbarous, parents think themselves bound by the law of nature and reason to make some provision for their children; but the reasons offered by the inhabitants of Ireland for marrying is, that they may have children to maintain them when they grow old and unable to work.

I am informed that we have been for some time past extremely obliged to England for one very beneficial branch of commerce: for, it seems they are grown so gracious as to transmit us continually colonies of beggars, in return of a million of money they receive yearly from hence. That I may give no offence, I profess to mean real English beggars in the literal meaning of the word, as it is usually understood by protestants. It seems, the Justices of the Peace and parish officers in the western coasts of England, have a good while followed the trade of exporting hither their supernumerary beggars, in order to advance the English Protestant interest among us; and, these they are so kind to send over gratis, and duty free. I have had the honour more than once to attend large cargoes of them from Chester to Dublin: and I was then so ignorant as to give my opinion, that our city should receive them into bridewell, and after a month's residence, having been well whipped twice a day, fed with bran and water, and put to hard labour, they should be returned honestly back with thanks as cheap as they came: or, if that were not approved of, I proposed, that whereas one English man is allowed to be of equal intrinsic value with twelve born in Ireland, we should in justice return them a dozen for one, to dispose of as they pleased. But to return.

As to the native poor of this city, there would be little or no damage in confining them to their several parishes. For instance; a beggar of the parish of St. Warborough's,[191] or any other parish here, if he be an object of compassion, hath an equal chance to receive his proportion of alms [Pg 332]from every charitable hand; because the inhabitants, one or other, walk through every street in town, and give their alms, without considering the place, wherever they think it may be well disposed of: and these helps, added to what they get in eatables by going from house to house among the gentry and citizens, will, without being very burthensome, be sufficient to keep them alive.

It is true, the poor of the suburb parishes will not have altogether the same advantage, because they are not equally in the road of business and passengers: but here it is to be considered, that the beggars there have not so good a title to publick charity, because most of them are strollers from the country, and compose a principal part of that great nuisance, which we ought to remove.

I should be apt to think, that few things can be more irksome to a city minister, than a number of beggars which do not belong to his district, whom he hath no obligation to take care of, who are no part of his flock, and who take the bread out of the mouths of those, to whom it properly belongs. When I mention this abuse to any minister of a city-parish, he usually lays the fault upon the beadles, who he says are bribed by the foreign beggars; and, as those beadles often keep ale-houses, they find their account in such customers. This evil might easily be remedied, if the parishes would make some small addition to the salaries of a beadle, and be more careful in the choice of those officers. But, I conceive there is one effectual method, in the power of every minister to put in practice; I mean, by making it the interest of all his own original poor, to drive out intruders: for, if the parish-beggars were absolutely forbidden by the minister and church-officers, to suffer strollers to come into the parish, upon pain of themselves not being permitted to beg alms at the church-doors, or at the houses and shops of the inhabitants; they would prevent interlopers more effectually than twenty beadles.

And, here I cannot but take notice of the great indiscretion in our city-shopkeepers, who suffer their doors to be daily besieged by crowds of beggars, (as the gates of a lord are by duns,) to the great disgust and vexation of many customers, whom I have frequently observed to go to other shops, rather than suffer such a persecution; which might[Pg 333] easily be avoided, if no foreign beggars were allowed to infest them.

Wherefore, I do assert, that the shopkeepers, who are the greatest complainers of this grievance, lamenting that for every customer, they are worried by fifty beggars, do very well deserve what they suffer, when a 'prentice with a horse-whip is able to lash every beggar from the shop, who is not of the parish, and does not wear the badge of that parish on his shoulder, well fastened and fairly visible; and if this practice were universal in every house to all the sturdy vagrants, we should in a few weeks clear the town of all mendicants, except those who have a proper title to our charity: as for the aged and infirm, it would be sufficient to give them nothing, and then they must starve or follow their brethren.

It was the city that first endowed this hospital, and those who afterwards contributed, as they were such who generally inhabited here; so they intended what they gave to be for the use of the city's poor. The revenues which have since been raised by parliament, are wholly paid by the city, without the least charge upon any other part of the kingdom; and therefore nothing could more defeat the original design, than to misapply those revenues on strolling beggars, or bastards from the country, which bear no share in the charges we are at.

If some of the out-parishes be overburthened with poor, the reason must be, that the greatest part of those poor are strollers from the country, who nestle themselves where they can find the cheapest lodgings, and from thence infest every part of the town, out of which they ought to be whipped as a most insufferable nuisance, being nothing else but a profligate clan of thieves, drunkards, heathens, and whore-mongers, fitter to be rooted out of the face of the earth, than suffered to levy a vast annual tax upon the city, which shares too deep in the public miseries, brought on us by the oppressions we lye under from our neighbours, our brethren, our countrymen, our fellow protestants, and fellow subjects.

Some time ago I was appointed one of a committee to inquire into the state of the workhouse; where we found that a charity was bestowed by a great person for a certain[Pg 334] time, which in its consequences operated very much to the detriment of the house: for, when the time was elapsed, all those who were supported by that charity, continued on the same foot with the rest of the foundation; and being generally a pack of profligate vagabond wretches from several parts of the kingdom, corrupted all the rest; so partial, or treacherous, or interested, or ignorant, or mistaken are generally all recommenders, not only to employments, but even to charity itself.

I know it is complained, that the difficulty of driving foreign beggars out of the city is charged upon the bellowers (as they are called) who find their accounts best in suffering those vagrants to follow their trade through every part of the town. But this abuse might easily be remedied, and very much to the advantage of the whole city, if better salaries were given to those who execute that office in the several parishes, and would make it their interest to clear the town of those caterpillars, rather than hazard the loss of an employment that would give them an honest livelyhood. But, if that would fail, yet a general resolution of never giving charity to a street beggar out of his own parish, or without a visible badge, would infallibly force all vagrants to depart.

There is generally a vagabond spirit in beggars, which ought to be discouraged and severely punished. It is owing to the same causes that drove them into poverty; I mean, idleness, drunkenness, and rash marriages without the least prospect of supporting a family by honest endeavours, which never came into their thoughts. It is observed, that hardly one beggar in twenty looks upon himself to be relieved by receiving bread or other food; and they have in this town been frequently seen to pour out of their pitcher good broth that hath been given them, into the kennel; neither do they much regard clothes, unless to sell them; for their rags are part of their tools with which they work: they want only ale, brandy, and other strong liquors, which cannot be had without money; and, money as they conceive, always abounds in the metropolis.

I had some other thoughts to offer upon this subject. But, as I am a desponder in my nature, and have tolerably well discovered the disposition of our people, who never will[Pg 335] move a step towards easing themselves from any one single grievance; it will be thought, that I have already said too much, and to little or no purpose; which hath often been the fate, or fortune of the writer,

J. Swift.

April 22,
[Pg 337][Pg 336]




The text of this short paper is taken from Deane Swift's edition, which was followed by Sir Walter Scott.

[T. S.][Pg 339]


We have been amused, for at least thirty years past, with numberless schemes, in writing and discourse, both in and out of Parliament, for maintaining the poor, and setting them to work, especially in this city: most of which were idle, indigested, or visionary; and all of them ineffectual, as it has plainly appeared by the consequences. Many of those projectors were so stupid, that they drew a parallel from Holland to England, to be settled in Ireland; that is to say, from two countries with full freedom and encouragement for trade, to a third where all kind of trade is cramped, and the most beneficial parts are entirely taken away. But the perpetual infelicity of false and foolish reasoning, as well as proceeding and acting upon it, seems to be fatal to this country.

For my own part, who have much conversed with those folks who call themselves merchants, I do not remember to have met with a more ignorant and wrong-thinking race of people in the very first rudiments of trade; which, however, was not so much owing to their want of capacity, as to the crazy constitution of this kingdom, where pedlars are better qualified to thrive than the wisest merchants. I could fill a volume with only setting down a list of the public absurdities, by which this kingdom has suffered within the compass of my own memory, such as could not be believed of any nation, among whom folly was not established as a law. I cannot forbear instancing a few of these, because it may be of some use to those who shall have it in their power to be more cautious for the future.

The first was, the building of the barracks; whereof I have seen above one-half, and have heard enough of the rest, to[Pg 340] affirm that the public has been cheated of at least two-thirds of the money raised for that use, by the plain fraud of the undertakers.

Another was the management of the money raised for the Palatines; when, instead of employing that great sum in purchasing lands in some remote and cheap part of the kingdom, and there planting those people as a colony, the whole end was utterly defeated.

A third is, the insurance office against fire, by which several thousand pounds are yearly remitted to England, (a trifle, it seems, we can easily spare,) and will gradually increase until it comes to a good national tax: for the society-marks upon our houses (under which might properly be written, "The Lord have mercy upon us!") spread faster and farther than the colony of frogs.[192] I have, for above twenty years past, given warning several thousand times to many substantial people, and to such who are acquainted with lords and squires, and the like great folks, to any of whom I have not the honour to be known: I mentioned my daily fears, lest our watchful friends in England might take this business out of our hands; and how easy it would be to prevent that evil, by erecting a society of persons who had good estates, such, for instance, as that noble knot of bankers, under the style of "Swift and Company." But now we are become tributary to England, not only for materials to light our own fires, but for engines to put them out; to which, if hearth-money be added, (repealed in England as a grievance,) we have the honour to pay three taxes for fire.

A fourth was the knavery of those merchants, or linen-manufacturers, or both, when, upon occasion of the plague [Pg 341]at Marseilles, we had a fair opportunity of getting into our hands the whole linen-trade of Spain; but the commodity was so bad, and held at so high a rate, that almost the whole cargo was returned, and the small remainder sold below the prime cost.

So many other particulars of the same nature crowd into my thoughts, that I am forced to stop; and the rather because they are not very proper for my subject, to which I shall now return.

Among all the schemes for maintaining the poor of the city, and setting them to work, the least weight has been laid upon that single point which is of the greatest importance; I mean, that of keeping foreign beggars from swarming hither out of every part of the country; for, until this be brought to pass effectually, all our wise reasonings and proceedings upon them will be vain and ridiculous.

The prodigious number of beggars throughout this kingdom, in proportion to so small a number of people, is owing to many reasons: to the laziness of the natives; the want of work to employ them; the enormous rents paid by cottagers for their miserable cabins and potatoe-plots; their early marriages, without the least prospect of establishment; the ruin of agriculture, whereby such vast numbers are hindered from providing their own bread, and have no money to purchase it; the mortal damp upon all kinds of trade, and many other circumstances, too tedious or invidious to mention.

And to the same causes we owe the perpetual concourse of foreign beggars to this town, the country landlords giving all assistance, except money and victuals, to drive from their estates those miserable creatures they have undone.

It was a general complaint against the poor-house, under its former governors, "That the number of poor in this city did not lessen by taking three hundred into the house, and all of them recommended under the minister's and churchwardens' hands of the several parishes": and this complaint must still continue, although the poor-house should be enlarged to contain three thousand, or even double that number.

The revenues of the poor-house, as it is now established, amount to about two thousand pounds a-year; whereof two[Pg 342] hundred allowed for officers, and one hundred for repairs, the remaining seventeen hundred, at four pounds a-head, will support four hundred and twenty-five persons. This is a favourable allowance, considering that I subtract nothing for the diet of those officers, and for wear and tear of furniture; and if every one of these collegiates should be set to work, it is agreed they will not be able to gain by their labour above one-fourth part of their maintenance.

At the same time, the oratorial part of these gentlemen seldom vouchsafe to mention fewer than fifteen hundred or two thousand people, to be maintained in this hospital, without troubling their heads about the fund. * * * *[Pg 343]

IN IRELAND.[Pg 345][Pg 344]


I have been lately looking over the advertisements in some of your Dublin newspapers, which are sent me to the country, and was much entertained with a large list of denominations of lands, to be sold or let. I am confident they must be genuine; for it is impossible that either chance or modern invention could sort the alphabet in such a manner as to make those abominable sounds; whether first invented to invoke or fright away the devil, I must leave among the curious.

If I could wonder at anything barbarous, ridiculous, or absurd, among us, this should be one of the first. I have often lamented that Agricola, the father-in-law of Tacitus, was not prevailed on by that petty king from Ireland, who followed his camp, to come over and civilize us with a conquest, as his countrymen did Britain, where several Roman appellations remain to this day, and so would the rest have done, if that inundation of Angles, Saxons, and other northern people, had not changed them so much for the worse, although in no comparison with ours. In one of the advertisements just mentioned, I encountered near a hundred words together, which I defy any creature in human shape, except an Irishman of the savage kind, to pronounce; neither would I undertake such a task, to be owner of the lands, unless I had liberty to humanize the syllables twenty miles round. The legislature may think what they please, and that they are above copying the Romans in all their conquests of barbarous nations; but I am deceived, if anything has more contributed to prevent the Irish from being tamed, than this[Pg 346] encouragement of their language, which might be easily abolished, and become a dead one in half an age, with little expense, and less trouble.

How is it possible that a gentleman who lives in those parts where the town-lands (as they call them) of his estate produce such odious sounds from the mouth, the throat, and the nose, can be able to repeat the words without dislocating every muscle that is used in speaking, and without applying the same tone to all other words, in every language he understands; as it is plainly to be observed not only in those people of the better sort who live in Galway and the Western parts, but in most counties of Ireland?

It is true, that, in the city parts of London, the trading people have an affected manner of pronouncing; and so, in my time, had many ladies and coxcombs at Court. It is likewise true, that there is an odd provincial cant in most counties in England, sometimes not very pleasing to the ear; and the Scotch cadence, as well as expression, are offensive enough. But none of these defects derive contempt to the speaker: whereas, what we call the Irish brogue is no sooner discovered, than it makes the deliverer in the last degree ridiculous and despised; and, from such a mouth, an Englishman expects nothing but bulls, blunders, and follies. Neither does it avail whether the censure be reasonable or not, since the fact is always so. And, what is yet worse, it is too well known, that the bad consequence of this opinion affects those among us who are not the least liable to such reproaches, farther than the misfortune of being born in Ireland, although of English parents, and whose education has been chiefly in that kingdom.

I have heard many gentlemen among us talk much of the great convenience to those who live in the country, that they should speak Irish. It may possibly be so; but I think they should be such who never intend to visit England, upon pain of being ridiculous; for I do not remember to have heard of any one man that spoke Irish, who had not the accent upon his tongue easily discernible to any English ear.

But I have wandered a little from my subject, which was only to propose a wish that these execrable denominations were a little better suited to an English mouth, if it were[Pg 347] only for the sake of the English lawyers; who, in trials upon appeals to the House of Lords, find so much difficulty in repeating the names, that, if the plaintiff or defendant were by, they would never be able to discover which were their own lands. But, besides this, I would desire, not only that the appellations of what they call town-lands were changed, but likewise of larger districts, and several towns, and some counties; and particularly the seats of country-gentlemen, leaving an alias to solve all difficulties in point of law. But I would by no means trust these alterations to the owners themselves; who, as they are generally no great clerks, so they seem to have no large vocabulary about them, nor to be well skilled in prosody. The utmost extent of their genius lies in naming their country habitation by a hill, a mount, a brook, a burrow, a castle, a bawn, a ford, and the like ingenious conceits. Yet these are exceeded by others, whereof some have contrived anagramatical appellations, from half their own and their wives' names joined together: others only from the lady; as, for instance, a person whose wife's name was Elizabeth, calls his seat by the name of Bess-borow. There is likewise a famous town, where the worst iron in the kingdom is made, and it is called Swandlingbar: the original of which name I shall explain, lest the antiquaries of future ages might be at a loss to derive it. It was a most witty conceit of four gentlemen, who ruined themselves with this iron project. Sw. stands for Swift,[193] And. for Sanders, Ling for Davling and Bar. for Barry. Methinks I see the four loggerheads sitting in consult, like Smectymnuus, each gravely contributing a part of his own name, to make up one for their place in the ironwork; and could wish they had been hanged, as well as undone, for their wit. But I was most pleased with the denomination of a town-land, which I lately saw in an advertisement of Pue's paper: "This is to give notice, that the lands of Douras, alias Whig-borough," &c. Now, this zealous proprietor, having a mind to record his principles in religion or loyalty to future ages, within five miles round him, for want of other merit, thought fit to make use of this expedient: wherein he [Pg 348]seems to mistake his account; for this distinguishing term, whig, had a most infamous original, denoting a man who favoured the fanatic sect, and an enemy to kings, and so continued till this idea was a little softened, some years after the Revolution, and during a part of her late Majesty's reign. After which it was in disgrace until the Queen's death, since which time it hath indeed flourished with a witness: But how long will it continue so, in our variable scene, or what kind of mortal it may describe, is a question which this courtly landlord is not able to answer; and therefore he should have set a date on the title of his borough, to let us know what kind of a creature a whig was in that year of our Lord. I would readily assist nomenclators of this costive imagination, and therefore I propose to others of the same size in thinking, that, when they are at a loss about christening a country-seat, instead of straining their invention, they would call it Booby-borough, Fool-brook, Puppy-ford, Coxcomb-hall, Mount-loggerhead, Dunce-hill; which are innocent appellations, proper to express the talents of the owners. But I cannot reconcile myself to the prudence of this lord of Whig-borough, because I have not yet heard, among the Presbyterian squires, how much soever their persons and principles are in vogue, that any of them have distinguished their country abode by the name of Mount-regicide, Covenant-hall, Fanatic-hill, Roundhead-bawn, Canting-brook, or Mont-rebel, and the like; because there may probably come a time when those kind of sounds may not be so grateful to the ears of the kingdom. For I do not conceive it would be a mark of discretion, upon supposing a gentleman, in allusion to his name, or the merit of his ancestors, to call his house Tyburn-hall.

But the scheme I would propose for changing the denominations of land into legible and audible syllables, is by employing some gentlemen in the University; who, by the knowledge of the Latin tongue, and their judgment in sounds, might imitate the Roman way, by translating those hideous words into their English meanings, and altering the termination where a bare translation will not form a good cadence to the ear, or be easily delivered from the mouth. And, when both those means happen to fail, then to name the parcels of land from the nature of the soil, or some peculiar circum[Pg 349]stance belonging to it; as, in England, Farn-ham, Oat-lands, Black-heath, Corn-bury, Rye-gate, Ash-burnham, Barn-elms, Cole-orton, Sand-wich, and many others.

I am likewise apt to quarrel with some titles of lords among us, that have a very ungracious sound, which are apt to communicate mean ideas to those who have not the honour to be acquainted with their persons or their virtues, of whom I have the misfortune to be one. But I cannot pardon those gentlemen who have gotten titles since the judicature of the peers among us has been taken away, to which they all submitted with a resignation that became good Christians, as undoubtedly they are. However, since that time, I look upon a graceful harmonious title to be at least forty per cent. in the value intrinsic of an Irish peerage; and, since it is as cheap as the worst, for any Irish law hitherto enacted in England to the contrary, I would advise the next set, before they pass their patents, to call a consultation of scholars and musical gentlemen, to adjust this most important and essential circumstance. The Scotch noblemen, though born almost under the north pole, have much more tunable appellations, except some very few, which I suppose were given them by the Irish along with their language, at the time when that kingdom was conquered and planted from hence; and to this day retain the denominations of places, and surnames of families, as all historians agree.[194][Pg 350]

I should likewise not be sorry, if the names of some bishops' sees were so much obliged to the alphabet, that upon pronouncing them we might contract some veneration for the order and persons of those reverend peers, which the gross ideas sometimes joined to their titles are very unjustly apt to diminish.

[Pg 351]


ON THE LOWERING OF COIN, APRIL 24TH, 1736.[Pg 353][Pg 352]


Writing to Sheridan, under date April 24th, 1736, in a letter written partly by herself and partly by Swift, Mrs. Whiteway, Swift's housekeeper, refers to the occasion of this speech in the following words:

"The Drapier went this day to the Tholsel[195] as a merchant, to sign a petition to the government against lowering the gold, where we hear he made a long speech, for which he will be reckoned a Jacobite. God send hanging does not go round." (Scott's edition, vol. xviii., p. 470. 1824.)

The occasion for this agitation against the lowering of the gold arose thus. Archbishop Boulter had, for a long time, been much concerned about the want of small silver in Ireland. The subject seemed to weigh on him greatly, since he refers to it again and again in his correspondence with Carteret, Newcastle, Dorset, and Walpole. On May 25th, 1736, he wrote to Walpole to inform him that the Lord Lieutenant had taken with him to England "an application from the government for lowering the gold made current here, by proclamation, and raising the foreign silver." Silver, being scarce, bankers and tradesmen were accustomed to charge a premium for the changing of gold, as much as sixpence and sevenpence in the pound sterling being obtained. (See Boulter's "Letters," vol. ii., p. 122. Dublin, 1770.)

There was no question about the benefit of Boulter's scheme in the minds of the two Houses of Commons and Lords: Swift, however, opposed it vehemently, because he thought the advantage to be obtained by this lowering of the gold would accrue to the absentees. In 1687 James had issued a proclamation by which an English shilling was made the equivalent of thirteen pence in Ireland, and an English guinea to twenty-four shillings. Primate Boulter's object (gained by the proclamation of the order on September 29th, 1737) was to reduce the value of the guinea from twenty-three shillings (at which it then stood) to £1 2s. 9d. Swift, thinks Monck Mason, considered the absentees would benefit by this "from the circumstances of the reserved rents, being expressed in the imaginary coin, called a pound, but actually paid in guineas, when the value of guineas was lowered, it required a proportionately greater number to make up a specific sum" ("History of St. Patrick's," p. 401, note c.)

Swift, as he wrote to Sheridan, "battled in vain with the duke and his clan." He thought it "just a kind of settlement upon England of £25,000 a year for ever; yet some of my friends," he goes on to say, [Pg 354]"differ from me, though all agree that the absentees will be just so much gainers." (Letter of date May 22nd, 1737.)

In a note to Boulter's letter to the Duke of Newcastle (September 29th, 1737) the editor of those letters (Ambrose Phillips) remarks: "Such a spirit of opposition had been raised on this occasion by Dean Swift and the bankers, that it was thought proper to lodge at the Primate's house, an extraordinary guard of soldiers." This, probably, was after the open exchange of words between Boulter and Swift. The Primate had accused Swift of inflaming the minds of the people, and hinted broadly that he might incur the displeasure of the government. "I inflame them!" retorted Swift, "had I but lifted my finger, they would have torn you to pieces." The day of the proclaiming of the order for the lowering of the gold was marked by Swift with the display of a black flag from the steeple of St. Patrick's, and the tolling of muffled bells, a piece of conduct which Boulter called an insult to the government.

It is à propos to record here the revenge Swift took on Boulter for the accusation of inflaming the people. The incident was put by him into the following verse:

"At Dublin's high feast sat primate and dean,
Both dressed like divines, with hand and face clean:
Quoth Hugh of Armagh, 'the mob is grown bold.'
'Ay, ay,' quoth the Dean, 'the cause is old gold.'
'No, no,' quoth the primate, 'if causes we sift,
The mischief arises from witty Dean Swift.'
The smart one replies, 'There's no wit in the case;
And nothing of that ever troubled your grace.
Though with your state sieve your own motions you s—t,
A Boulter by name is no bolter of wit.
It's matter of weight, and a mere money job;
But the lower the coin, the higher the mob.
Go to tell your friend Bob and the other great folk,
That sinking the coin is a dangerous joke.
The Irish dear joys have enough common sense,
To treat gold reduced like Wood's copper pence.
It's pity a prelate should die without law;
But if I say the word—take care of Armagh!"

With the lowering of the gold the Primate imported £2,000 worth of copper money for Irish consumption. Swift was most indignant at this, and his protest, printed by Faulkner, brought that publisher before the Council, and gave Swift a fit of "nerves." (MS. Letter, March 31st, 1737, to Lord Orrery, quoted by Craik in Swift's "Life," vol. ii., p. 160.) Swift's objection against the copper was due to the fact that it was not minted in Ireland. "I quarrel not with the coin, but with the indignity of its not being coined here." (Same MS. Letter.)

Among the pamphlets in the Halliday collection in the Royal Irish Academy, Dublin, is a tract with the following title:

"Reasons why we should not lower the Coins now Current in this [Pg 355]Kingdom ... Dublin: Printed and Sold by E. Waters in Dame-street."

At the end of this tract is printed Swift's speech to "an Assembly of above one Hundred and fifty eminent persons who met at the Guild Hall, on Saturday the 24th April, 1736, in order to draw up their Petition, and present it to his grace the Lord Lieutenant against lowering said Coin." It is from this tract that the present text has been taken. The editor is obliged to Sir Henry Craik's "Life of Swift" for drawing attention to this hitherto uncollected piece.

[T. S.][Pg 357][Pg 356]


I beg you will consider and very well weigh in your hearts, what I am going to say and what I have often said before. There are several bodies of men, among whom the power of this kingdom is divided—1st, The Lord-Lieutenant, Lords Justices and Council; next to these, my Lords the Bishops; there is likewise my Lord Chancellor, and my Lords the Judges of the land—with other eminent persons in the land, who have employments and great salaries annexed. To these must be added the Commissioners of the Revenue, with all their under officers: and lastly, their honours of the Army, of all degrees.

Now, Gentlemen, I beg you again to consider that none of these persons above named, can ever suffer the loss of one farthing by all the miseries under which the kingdom groans at present. For, first, until the kingdom be entirely ruined, the Lord-Lieutenant and Lords Justices must have their salaries. My Lords the Bishops, whose lands are set at a fourth part value, will be sure of their rents and their fines. My Lords the Judges and those of other employments in the country must likewise have their salaries. The gentlemen of the revenue will pay themselves, and as to the officers of the army, the consequence of not paying them is obvious enough. Nay, so far will those persons I have already mentioned be from suffering, that, on the contrary, their revenues being no way lessened by the fall of money, and the price of all commodities considerably sunk thereby, they must be great gainers. Therefore, Gentlemen, I do entreat you that as long as you live, you will look on all persons who are for lowering the gold, or any other coin, as no friends to this poor kingdom, but such, who find their private account in[Pg 358] what will be detrimental to Ireland. And as the absentees are, in the strongest view, our greatest enemies, first by consuming above one-half of the rents of this nation abroad, and secondly by turning the weight, by their absence, so much on the Popish side, by weakening the Protestant interest, can there be a greater folly than to pave a bridge of gold at your own expense, to support them in their luxury and vanity abroad, while hundreds of thousands are starving at home for want of employment.[Pg 359]

[Pg 360]

[Pg 361]



I hope you will come and take a drink of my ale. I always brew with my own bear. I was at your large Toun's house, in the county of Fermanegh. He has planted a great many oak trees, and elm trees round his lough: And a good warrent he had, it is kind father for him, I stayd with him a week. At breakfast we had sometimes sowins, and sometimes stirrabout, and sometimes fraughauns and milk; but his cows would hardly give a drop of milk. For his head had lost the pachaun. His neighbour Squire Dolt is a meer buddaugh. I'd give a cow in Conaught you could see him. He keeps none but garrauns, and he rides on a soogaun with nothing for his bridle but gadd. In that, he is a meer spaulpeen, and a perfect Monaghan, and a Munster Croch to the bargain. Without you saw him on Sunday you would take him for a Brogadeer and a spaned to a carl did not know had to draw butter. We drank balcan and whisky out of madders. And the devil a niglugam had but a caddao. I wonder your cozen does na learn him better manners. Your cousin desires you will buy him some cheney cups. I remember he had a great many; I wonder what is gone with them. I coshered on him for a week. He has a fine staggard of corn. His dedy has been very unwell. I was sorry that anything ayl her father's child.

Firing is very dear thereabout. The turf is drawn tuo near in Kislers; and they send new rounds from the mines, nothing comes in the Cleeves but stock. We had a sereroar of beef, and once a runy for dinner.[Pg 362]


A. Them aples is very good.

B. I cam again you in that.

A. Lord I was bodderd t'other day with that prating fool, Tom.

B. Pray, how does he get his health?

A. He's often very unwell.

B. [I] hear he was a great pet of yours.

A. Where does he live?

B. Opposite the red Lyon.

A. I think he behaved very ill the last sessions.

B. That's true, but I cannot forbear loving his father's child: Will you take a glass of my ale?

A. No, I thank you, I took a drink of small beer at home before I came here.

B. I always brew with my own bear: You have a country-house: Are you [a] planter.

A. Yes, I have planted a great many oak trees and ash trees, and some elm trees round a lough.

B. And so a good warrant you have: It is kind father for you.

A. And what breakfast do you take in the country?

B. Sometimes stirabout, and in sumer we have the best frauhaurg in all the county.

A. What kind of man is your neighbour Squire Dolt?

B. Why, a meer Buddogh. He sometimes coshers with me; and once a month I take a pipe with him, and we shot it about for an hour together.[Pg 363]

A. I hear he keeps good horses.

B. None but garrauns, and I have seen him often riding on a sougawn. In short, he is no better than a spawlpien; a perfect Marcghen. When I was there last, we had nothing but a medder to drink out of; and the devil a nighigam but a caddao. Will you go see him when you come unto our quarter?

A. Not without you go with me.

B. Will you lend me your snuff-box?

A. Do you make good cheese and butter?

B. Yes, when we can get milk; but our cows will never keep a drop of milk without a Puckaun.[Pg 364]


Deanery House,
July 5, 1736.

Rev. and Worthy Sirs,

As I had the honour of receiving some part of my education in your university, and the good fortune to be of some service to it while I had a share of credit at court, as well as since, when I had very little or none, I may hope to be excused for laying a case before you, and offering my opinion upon it.

Mr. Dunkin,[198] whom you all know, sent me some time ago a memorial intended to be laid before you, which perhaps he hath already done. His request is, that you would be pleased to enlarge his annuity at present, and that he may have the same right, in his turn, to the first church preferment, vacant in your gift, as if he had been made a fellow, according to the scheme of his aunt's will; because the absurdity of the condition in it ought to be imputed to the old woman's ignorance, although her intention be very manifest; and the intention of the testator in all wills is chiefly regarded by the law. What I would therefore propose is this, that you would increase his pension to one hundred pounds a-year, and make him a firm promise of the first church living in your disposal, to the value of two hundred pounds a-year, or somewhat more. This I take to be a reasonable medium between what he hath proposed in his memorial, and what you allow him at present.

I am almost a perfect stranger to Mr. Dunkin, having never seen him above twice, and then in mixed company, nor should I know his person if I met him in the streets.[Pg 365]

But I know he is a man of wit and parts; which if applied properly to the business of his function, instead of poetry, (wherein it must be owned he sometimes excels,) might be of great use and service to him.

I hope you will please to remember, that, since your body hath received no inconsiderable benefaction from the aunt, it will much increase your reputation, rather to err on the generous side toward the nephew.

These are my thoughts, after frequently reflecting on the case under all its circumstances; and so I leave it to your wiser judgments.

I am, with true respect and esteem, reverend and worthy Sirs,

Your most obedient and most humble servant,

Jon. Swift.

[Pg 366]


Deanery House, Dublin,
August 15, 1737.


I received from you, some weeks ago, the honour of my freedom, in a silver box, by the hands of Mr. Stannard; but it was not delivered to me in as many weeks more; because, I suppose, he was too full of more important business. Since that time, I have been wholly confined by sickness, so that I was not able to return you my acknowledgment; and it is with much difficulty I do it now, my head continuing in great disorder. Mr. Faulkner will be the bearer of my letter, who sets out this morning for Cork.

I could have wished, as I am a private man, that, in the instrument of my freedom, you had pleased to assign your reasons for making choice of me. I know it is a usual compliment to bestow the freedom of the city on an archbishop, or lord-chancellor, and other persons of great titles, merely on account of their stations or power: but a private man, and a perfect stranger, without power or grandeur, may justly expect to find the motives assigned in the instrument of his freedom, on what account he is thus distinguished. And yet I cannot discover, in the whole parchment scrip, any one reason offered. Next, as to the silver box, there is not so much as my name upon it, nor any one syllable to show it was a present from your city. Therefore I have, by the advice of friends, agreeable with my opinion, sent back the box and instrument of freedom by Mr. Faulkner, to be returned to you; leaving to your choice whether to insert the[Pg 367] reasons for which you were pleased to give me my freedom, or bestow the box upon some more worthy person whom you may have an intention to honour, because it will equally fit everybody.

I am, with true esteem and gratitude,


Your most obedient and obliged servant,

Jon. Swift.[Pg 368]





April 19, 1739.

Worthy Gentlemen,

I heartily recommend to your very Worshipful Society, the Reverend Mr. William Dunkin,[199] for the living of Colrane, vacant by the death of Dr. Squire. Mr. Dunkin is a gentleman of great learning and wit, true religion, and excellent morals. It is only for these qualifications that I recommend him to your patronage; and I am confident that you will never repent the choice of such a man, who will be ready at any time to obey your commands. You have my best wishes, and all my endeavours for your prosperity: and I shall, during my life, continue to be, with the truest respect and highest esteem,

Worthy Sirs,

Your most obedient, and most humble servant,

Jon. Swift.[Pg 369]


Jan. 9, 1739-40

Whereas the bearer served me the space of one year, during which time he was an idler and a drunkard, I then discharged him as such; but how far his having been five years at sea may have mended his manners, I leave to the penetration of those who may hereafter choose to employ him.

Jon. Swift.[Pg 370]


January 28, 1741.

Whereas my infirmities of age and ill-health have prevented me to preside in the chapters held for the good order and government of my cathedral church of St. Patrick, Dublin, in person: I have, by a legal commission, made and appointed the very reverend Doctor John Wynne, præcentor of the said cathedral, to be sub-dean in my stead and absence. I do hereby ratify and confirm all the powers delegated to the said Dr. Wynne in the said Commission.

And I do hereby require and request the very reverend sub-dean not to permit any of the vicars-choral, choristers, or organists, to attend or assist at any public musical performances, without my consent, or his consent, with the consent of the chapter first obtained.

And whereas it hath been reported, that I gave a licence to certain vicars to assist at a club of fiddlers in Fishamble Street, I do hereby declare that I remember no such licence to have been ever signed or sealed by me; and that if ever such pretended licence should be produced, I do hereby annul and vacate the said licence. Intreating my said sub-dean and chapter to punish such vicars as shall ever appear there, as songsters, fiddlers, pipers, trumpeters, drummers, drum-majors, or in any sonal quality, according to the flagitious aggravations of their respective disobedience, rebellion, perfidy, and ingratitude.

I require my said sub-dean to proceed to the extremity of[Pg 371] expulsion, if the said vicars should be found ungovernable, impenitent, or self-sufficient, especially Taberner, Phipps, and Church, who, as I am informed, have, in violation of my sub-dean's and chapter's order in December last, at the instance of some obscure persons unknown, presumed to sing and fiddle at the club above mentioned.

My resolution is to preserve the dignity of my station, and the honour of my chapter; and, gentlemen, it is incumbent upon you to aid me, and to show who and what the Dean and Chapter of Saint Patrick's are.

Signed by me,
Jonathan Swift
Dean of St. Patrick's.

Witnesses present,
James King,
Francis Wilson.

To the very Reverend Doctor John Wynne, sub-dean of the Cathedral church of Saint Patrick, Dublin, and to the reverend dignitaries and prebendaries of the same.[Pg 373][Pg 372]

[Pg 374]

[Pg 375]




In April, 1727, Swift paid his last visit to England. The visit paid by him to Walpole, already referred to, resulted in nothing, though it cannot, on that account, be argued that Swift's open friendship for, and even support of, Pulteney and Bolingbroke was owing to his failure with Walpole. Swift pleaded with Walpole for Ireland and Ireland only, as his letter to Peterborough amply testifies. It had nothing to do with the political situation in England. The explanation for this sympathy is most likely found in Sir Henry Craik's suggestion that Swift humoured the pretences of his friends that they were of the party that maintained the national virtues, resisted corruption, and defended liberty against arbitrary power. To Pulteney Swift always wrote reminding him that the country looked to him as its saviour, and he wrote in a similar vein to Bolingbroke and Pope. The "Craftsman" had been founded by Pulteney and Bolingbroke (a curious companionship when one remembers the past lives of these two men) for the express purpose of bringing low Walpole's political power. It began by exposing the tricks of "Robin" and continued to lay bare the cunning and wiles of the "Craftsman" at the head of the government of the country. Both Pulteney and Bolingbroke wrote regularly, and the former displayed a journalistic power quite extraordinary.

The letter which follows was written by Swift when in London on the occasion of his last visit; but a note in Craik's "Life of Swift" (vol. ii., pp. 166-167) is very interesting as showing that Swift did certainly give hints for some of the subjects for discussion. I take the liberty to transcribe this note in full. Sir Henry Craik thinks it more than likely that Swift may have suggested, during his last visit to London, some of the lines on which Bolingbroke and Pulteney worked. In the note he adds:

"This finds some confirmation, from the following heads of a Tract, which I have found in a memorandum in Swift's handwriting. The memorandum belongs to Mr. Frederick Locker [now dead], who kindly permitted me to use his papers, the same which came from Theophilus Swift into Scott's possession. But the interest of this memorandum escaped Scott's notice."

[Pg 376]


"Every little fellow who has a vote now corrupted.

"An arithmetical computation, how much spent in election of Commons, and pensions and foreign courts: how then can our debts be paid?

"No fear that gentlemen will not stand and serve without Pensions, and that they will let the Kingdom be invaded for want of fleets and armies, or bring in Pretender, etc.

"How K(ing) will ensure his own interest as well as the Publick: he is now forced to keep himself bare, etc., at least, late King was.

"Perpetual expedients, stop-gaps, etc., at long run must terminate in something fatal, as it does in private estates.

"There may be probably 10,000 landed men in England fit for Parliament. This would reduce Parliament to consist of real landed men, which is full as necessary for Senates as for Juries. What do the other 9,000 do for want of pensions?

" ... In private life, virtue may be difficult, by passions, infirmities, temptations, want of pence, strong opposition, etc. But not in public administration: there it makes all things easy.

"Form the Scheme. Suppose a King of England would resolve to give no pension for party, etc., and call a Parliament, perfectly free, as he could.

"What can a K. reasonably ask that a Parliament will refuse? When they are resty, it is by corrupt ministers, who have designs dangerous to the State, and must therefore support themselves by bribing, etc.

"Open, fair dealing the best.

"A contemptuous character of Court art. How different from true politics. For, comparing the talents of two professions that are very different, I cannot but think, that in the present sense of the word Politician, a common sharper or pickpocket, has every quality that can be required in the other, and accordingly I have personally known more than half a dozen in their hour esteemed equally to excell in both."

The present text is based on that given in the eighth volume of the quarto issue of Swift's Works published in 1765.

[T. S.][Pg 377]




Although, in one of your papers, you declare an intention of turning them, during the dead season of the year, into accounts of domestic and foreign intelligence; yet I think we, your correspondents, should not understand your meaning so literally, as if you intended to reject inserting any other paper, which might probably be useful for the public. Neither, indeed, am I fully convinced that this new course you resolve to take will render you more secure than your former laudable practice, of inserting such speculations as were sent you by several well-wishers to the good of the kingdom; however grating such notices might be to some, who wanted neither power nor inclination to resent them at your cost. For, since there is a direct law against spreading false news, if you should venture to tell us in one of the Craftsmen that the Dey of Algiers had got the toothache, or the King of Bantam had taken a purge, and the facts should be contradicted in succeeding packets; I do not see what plea you could offer to avoid the utmost penalty of the law, because you are not supposed to be very gracious among those who are most able to hurt you.

Besides, as I take your intentions to be sincerely meant for the public service, so your original method of entertaining and instructing us will be more general and more useful in this season of the year, when people are retired to amuse[Pg 378]ments more cool, more innocent, and much more reasonable than those they have left; when their passions are subsided or suspended; when they have no occasions of inflaming themselves, or each other; where they will have opportunities of hearing common sense, every day in the week, from their tenants or neighbouring farmers, and thereby be qualified, in hours of rain or leisure, to read and consider the advice or information you shall send them.

Another weighty reason why you should not alter your manner of writing, by dwindling to a newsmonger, is because there is no suspension of arms agreed on between you and your adversaries, who fight with a sort of weapons which have two wonderful qualities, that they are never to be worn out, and are best wielded by the weakest hands, and which the poverty of our language forceth me to call by the trite appellations of scurrility, slander, and Billingsgate. I am far from thinking that these gentlemen, or rather their employers, (for the operators themselves are too obscure to be guessed at) should be answered after their own way, although it were possible to drag them out of their obscurity; but I wish you would enquire what real use such a conduct is to the cause they have been so largely paid to defend. The author of the three first Occasional Letters, a person altogether unknown, hath been thought to glance (for what reasons he best knows) at some public proceedings, as if they were not agreeable to his private opinions. In answer to this, the pamphleteers retained on the other side are instructed by their superiors, to single out an adversary whose abilities they have most reason to apprehend, and to load himself, his family, and friends, with all the infamy that a perpetual conversation in Bridewell, Newgate, and the stews could furnish them; but, at the same time, so very unluckily, that the most distinguishing parts of their characters strike directly in the face of their benefactor, whose idea presenting itself along with his guineas perpetually to their imagination, occasioned this desperate blunder.

But, allowing this heap of slander to be truth, and applied to the proper person; what is to be the consequence? Are our public debts to be the sooner paid; the corruptions that author complains of to be the sooner cured; an honourable peace, or a glorious war the more likely to ensue; trade to[Pg 379] flourish; the Ostend Company to be demolished; Gibraltar and Port Mahon left entire in our possession; the balance of Europe to be preserved; the malignity of parties to be for ever at an end; none but persons of merit, virtue, genius, and learning to be encouraged? I ask whether any of these effects will follow upon the publication of this author's libel, even supposing he could prove every syllable of it to be true?

At the same time, I am well assured, that the only reason of ascribing those papers to a particular person, is built upon the information of a certain pragmatical spy of quality, well known to act in that capacity by those into whose company he insinuates himself; a sort of persons who, although without much love, esteem, or dread of people in present power, yet have too much common prudence to speak their thoughts with freedom before such an intruder; who, therefore, imposes grossly upon his masters, if he makes them pay for anything but his own conjectures.

It is a grievous mistake in a great minister to neglect or despise, much more to irritate men of genius and learning. I have heard one of the wisest persons in my time observe, that an administration was to be known and judged by the talents of those who appeared their advocates in print. This I must never allow to be a general rule; yet I cannot but think it prodigiously unfortunate, that, among the answerers, defenders, repliers, and panegyrists, started up in defence of present persons and proceedings, there hath not yet arisen one whose labours we can read with patience, however we may applaud their loyalty and good will. And all this with the advantages of constant ready pay, of natural and acquired venom, and a grant of the whole fund of slander, to range over and riot in as they please.[201]

On the other side, a turbulent writer of Occasional Letters, and other vexatious papers, in conjunction perhaps with one or two friends as bad as himself, is able to disconcert, tease, [Pg 380]and sour us whenever he thinks fit, merely by the strength of genius and truth; and after so dexterous a manner, that, when we are vexed to the soul, and well know the reasons why we are so, we are ashamed to own the first, and cannot tell how to express the other. In a word, it seems to me that all the writers are on one side, and all the railers on the other.

However, I do not pretend to assert, that it is impossible for an ill minister to find men of wit who may be drawn, by a very valuable consideration, to undertake his defence; but the misfortune is, that the heads of such writers rebel against their hearts; their genius forsakes them, when they would offer to prostitute it to the service of injustice, corruption, party rage, and false representations of things and persons.

And this is the best argument I can offer in defence of great men, who have been of late so very unhappy in the choice of their paper-champions; although I cannot much commend their good husbandry, in those exorbitant payments of twenty and sixty guineas at a time for a scurvy pamphlet; since the sort of work they require is what will all come within the talents of any one who hath enjoyed the happiness of a very bad education, hath kept the vilest company, is endowed with a servile spirit, is master of an empty purse, and a heart full of malice.

But, to speak the truth in soberness; it should seem a little hard, since the old Whiggish principle hath been recalled of standing up for the liberty of the press, to a degree that no man, for several years past, durst venture out a thought which did not square to a point with the maxims and practices that then prevailed: I say, it is a little hard that the vilest mercenaries should be countenanced, preferred, rewarded, for discharging their brutalities against men of honour, only upon a bare conjecture.

If it should happen that these profligates have attacked an innocent person, I ask what satisfaction can their hirers give in return? Not all the wealth raked together by the most corrupt rapacious ministers, in the longest course of unlimited power, would be sufficient to atone for the hundredth part of such an injury.

In the common way of thinking, it is a situation sufficient in all conscience to satisfy a reasonable ambition, for a private person to command the forces, the laws, the revenues[Pg 381] of a great kingdom, to reward and advance his followers and flatterers as he pleases, and to keep his enemies (real or imaginary) in the dust. In such an exaltation, why should he be at the trouble to make use of fools to sound his praises, (because I always thought the lion was hard set, when he chose the ass for his trumpeter) or knaves to revenge his quarrels, at the expense of innocent men's reputations?

With all those advantages, I cannot see why persons, in the height of power, should be under the least concern on account of their reputation, for which they have no manner of use; or to ruin that of others, which may perhaps be the only possession their enemies have left them. Supposing times of corruption, which I am very far from doing, if a writer displays them in their proper colours, does he do anything worse than sending customers to the shop? "Here only, at the sign of the Brazen Head, are to be sold places and pensions: beware of counterfeits, and take care of mistaking the door."

For my own part, I think it very unnecessary to give the character of a great minister in the fulness of his power, because it is a thing that naturally does itself, and is obvious to the eyes of all mankind; for his personal qualities are all derived into the most minute parts of his administration. If this be just, prudent, regular, impartial, intent upon the public good, prepared for present exigencies, and provident of the future; such is the director himself in his private capacity: If it be rapacious, insolent, partial, palliating long and deep diseases of the public with empirical remedies, false, disguised, impudent, malicious, revengeful; you shall infallibly find the private life of the conductor to answer in every point; nay, what is more, every twinge of the gout or gravel will be felt in their consequences by the community. As the thief-catcher, upon viewing a house broke open, could immediately distinguish, from the manner of the workmanship, by what hand it was done.

It is hard to form a maxim against which an exception is not ready to start up: So, in the present case, where the minister grows enormously rich, the public is proportionably poor; as, in a private family, the steward always thrives the fastest when his lord is running out.

[Pg 382]


Regoge[203] was the thirty-fourth emperor of Japan, and began his reign in the year 341 of the Christian era, succeeding to Nena,[204] a princess who governed with great felicity.

There had been a revolution in that empire about twenty-six years before, which made some breaches in the hereditary line; and Regoge, successor to Nena, although of the [Pg 383]royal family, was a distant relation. There were two violent parties in the empire, which began in the time of the revolution above mentioned; and, at the death of the Empress Nena, were in the highest degree of animosity, each charging the other with a design of introducing new gods, and changing the civil constitution. The names of these two parties were Husiges and Yortes.[205] The latter were those whom Nena, the late empress, most favoured towards the end of her reign, and by whose advice she governed.

The Husige faction, enraged at their loss of power, made private applications to Regoge during the life of the empress; which prevailed so far, that, upon her death, the new emperor wholly disgraced the Yortes, and employed only the Husiges in all his affairs. The Japanese author highly blames his Imperial Majesty's proceeding in this affair; because, it was allowed on all hands, that he had then a happy opportunity of reconciling parties for ever by a moderating scheme. But he, on the contrary, began his reign by openly disgracing the principal and most popular Yortes, some of which had been chiefly instrumental in raising him to the throne. By this mistaken step he occasioned a rebellion; which, although it were soon quelled by some very surprising turns of fortune, yet the fear, whether real or pretended, of new attempts, engaged him in such immense charges, that, instead of clearing any part of that prodigious debt left on his kingdom by the former war, which might have been done by any tolerable management, in twelve years of the most profound peace; he left his empire loaden with a vast addition to the old encumbrance.

This prince, before he succeeded to the empire of Japan, was king of Tedsu,[206] a dominion seated on the continent, to the west side of Japan. Tedsu was the place of his birth, and more beloved by him than his new empire; for there he spent some months almost every year, and thither was supposed to have conveyed great sums of money, saved out of his Imperial revenues.

There were two maritime towns of great importance[Pg 384] bordering upon Tedsu:[207] Of these he purchased a litigated title; and, to support it, was forced not only to entrench deeply on his Japanese revenues, but to engage in alliances very dangerous to the Japanese empire.[208]

Japan was at that time a limited monarchy, which some authors are of opinion was introduced there by a detachment from the numerous army of Brennus, who ravaged a great part of Asia; and, those of them who fixed in Japan, left behind them that kind of military institution, which the northern people, in ensuing ages, carried through most parts of Europe; the generals becoming kings, the great officers a senate of nobles, with a representative from every centenary of private soldiers; and, in the assent of the majority in these two bodies, confirmed by the general, the legislature consisted.

I need not farther explain a matter so universally known; but return to my subject.

The Husige faction, by a gross piece of negligence in the Yortes, had so far insinuated themselves and their opinions into the favour of Regoge before he came to the empire, that this prince firmly believed them to be his only true friends, and the others his mortal enemies.[209] By this opinion he governed all the actions of his reign.

The emperor died suddenly, in his journey to Tedsu; where, according to his usual custom, he was going to pass the summer.

This prince, during his whole reign, continued an absolute stranger to the language, the manners, the laws, and the religion of Japan; and passing his whole time among old mistresses, or a few privadoes, left the whole management of the empire in the hands of a minister, upon the condition of being made easy in his personal revenues, and the management of parties in the senate. His last minister,[210] who governed in the most arbitrary manner for several years, he was thought to hate more than he did any other person [Pg 385]in Japan, except his only son, the heir to the empire. The dislike he bore to the former was, because the minister, under pretence that he could not govern the senate without disposing of employments among them, would not suffer his master to oblige one single person, but disposed of all to his own relations and dependants. But, as to that continued and virulent hatred he bore to the prince his son, from the beginning of his reign to his death, the historian hath not accounted for it, further than by various conjectures, which do not deserve to be related.

The minister above mentioned was of a family not contemptible, had been early a senator, and from his youth a mortal enemy to the Yortes. He had been formerly disgraced in the senate, for some frauds in the management of a public trust.[211] He was perfectly skilled, by long practice, in the senatorial forms; and dexterous in the purchasing of votes, from those who could find their accounts better in complying with his measures, than they could probably lose by any tax that might be charged on the kingdom. He seemed to fail, in point of policy, by not concealing his gettings, never scrupling openly to lay out vast sums of money in paintings, buildings, and purchasing estates; when it was known, that, upon his first coming into business, upon the death of the Empress Nena, his fortune was but inconsiderable. He had the most boldness, and the least magnanimity that ever any mortal was endowed with. By enriching his relations, friends, and dependants, in a most exorbitant manner, he was weak enough to imagine that he had provided a support against an evil day. He had the best among all false appearances of courage, which was a most unlimited assurance, whereby he would swagger the boldest men into a dread of his power, but had not the smallest portion of magnanimity, growing jealous, and disgracing every man, who was known to bear the least civility to those he disliked. He had some small smattering in books, but no manner of politeness; nor, in his whole [Pg 386]life, was ever known to advance any one person, upon the score of wit, learning, or abilities for business. The whole system of his ministry was corruption; and he never gave bribe or pension, without frankly telling the receivers what he expected from them, and threatening them to put an end to his bounty, if they failed to comply in every circumstance.

A few months before the emperor's death, there was a design concerted between some eminent persons of both parties, whom the desperate state of the empire had united, to accuse the minister at the first meeting of a new chosen senate, which was then to assemble according to the laws of that empire. And it was believed, that the vast expense he must be at in choosing an assembly proper for his purpose, added to the low state of the treasury, the increasing number of pensioners, the great discontent of the people, and the personal hatred of the emperor; would, if well laid open in the senate, be of weight enough to sink the minister, when it should appear to his very pensioners and creatures that he could not supply them much longer.

While this scheme was in agitation, an account came of the emperor's death, and the prince his son,[212] with universal joy, mounted the throne of Japan.

The new emperor had always lived a private life, during the reign of his father; who, in his annual absence, never trusted him more than once with the reins of government, which he held so evenly that he became too popular to be confided in any more. He was thought not unfavourable to the Yortes, at least not altogether to approve the virulence wherewith his father proceeded against them; and therefore, immediately upon his succession, the principal persons of that denomination came, in several bodies, to kiss the hem of his garment, whom he received with great courtesy, and some of them with particular marks of distinction.

The prince, during the reign of his father, having not been trusted with any public charge, employed his leisure in learning the language, the religion, the customs, and disposition of the Japanese; wherein he received great in[Pg 387]formation, among others, from Nomptoc[213], master of his finances, and president of the senate, who secretly hated Lelop-Aw, the minister; and likewise from Ramneh[214], a most eminent senator; who, despairing to do any good with the father, had, with great industry, skill, and decency, used his endeavour to instil good principles into the young prince.

Upon the news of the former emperor's death, a grand council was summoned of course, where little passed besides directing the ceremony of proclaiming the successor. But, in some days after, the new emperor having consulted with those persons in whom he could chiefly confide, and maturely considered in his own mind the present state of his affairs, as well as the disposition of his people, convoked another assembly of his council; wherein, after some time spent in general business, suitable to the present emergency, he directed Lelop-Aw to give him, in as short terms as he conveniently could, an account of the nation's debts, of his management in the senate, and his negotiations with foreign courts: Which that minister having delivered, according to his usual manner, with much assurance and little satisfaction, the emperor desired to be fully satisfied in the following particulars.

Whether the vast expense of choosing such members into the senate, as would be content to do the public business, were absolutely necessary?

Whether those members, thus chosen in, would cross and impede the necessary course of affairs, unless they were supplied with great sums of money, and continued pensions?

Whether the same corruption and perverseness were to be expected from the nobles?

Whether the empire of Japan were in so low a condition, that the imperial envoys, at foreign courts, must be forced to purchase alliances, or prevent a war, by immense bribes, given to the ministers of all the neighbouring princes?

Why the debts of the empire were so prodigiously advanced, in a peace of twelve years at home and abroad?

[Pg 388]

Whether the Yortes were universally enemies to the religion and laws of the empire, and to the imperial family now reigning?

Whether those persons, whose revenues consist in lands, do not give surer pledges of fidelity to the public, and are more interested in the welfare of the empire, than others whose fortunes consist only in money?

And because Lelop-Aw, for several years past, had engrossed the whole administration, the emperor signified, that from him alone he expected an answer.

This minister, who had sagacity enough to cultivate an interest in the young prince's family, during the late emperor's life, received early intelligence from one of his emissaries of what was intended at the council, and had sufficient time to frame as plausible an answer as his cause and conduct would allow. However, having desired a few minutes to put his thoughts in order, he delivered them in the following manner.


"Upon this short unexpected warning, to answer your Imperial Majesty's queries I should be wholly at a loss, in your Majesty's august presence, and that of this most noble assembly, if I were armed with a weaker defence than my own loyalty and integrity, and the prosperous success of my endeavours.

"It is well known that the death of the Empress Nena happened in a most miraculous juncture; and that, if she had lived two months longer, your illustrious family would have been deprived of your right, and we should have seen an usurper upon your throne, who would have wholly changed the constitution of this empire, both civil and sacred; and although that empress died in a most opportune season, yet the peaceable entrance of your Majesty's father was effected by a continual series of miracles. The truth of this appears by that unnatural rebellion which the Yortes raised, without the least provocation, in the first year of the late emperor's reign, which may be sufficient to convince your Majesty, that every soul of that denomination was, is, and will be for ever, a favourer of the Pretender, a mortal enemy to your illustrious family, and an introducer[Pg 389] of new gods into the empire. Upon this foundation was built the whole conduct of our affairs; and, since a great majority of the kingdom was at that time reckoned to favour the Yortes faction, who, in the regular course of elections, must certainly be chosen members of the senate then to be convoked; it was necessary, by the force of money, to influence elections in such a manner, that your Majesty's father might have a sufficient number to weigh down the scale on his side, and thereby carry on those measures which could only secure him and his family in the possession of the empire. To support this original plan I came into the service: But the members of the senate, knowing themselves every day more necessary, upon the choosing of a new senate, I found the charges to increase; and that, after they were chosen, they insisted upon an increase of their pensions; because they well knew that the work could not be carried on without them: And I was more general in my donatives, because I thought it was more for the honour of the crown, that every vote should pass without a division; and that, when a debate was proposed, it should immediately be quashed, by putting the question.

"Sir, The date of the present senate is expired, and your Imperial Majesty is now to convoke a new one; which, I confess, will be somewhat more expensive than the last, because the Yortes, from your favourable reception, have begun to reassume a spirit whereof the country had some intelligence; and we know the majority of the people, without proper management, would be still in that fatal interest. However, I dare undertake, with the charge only of four hundred thousand sprangs,[215] to return as great a majority of senators of the true stamp, as your Majesty can desire. As to the sums of money paid in foreign courts, I hope, in some years, to ease the nation of them, when we and our neighbours come to a good understanding. However, I will be bold to say, they are cheaper than a war, where your Majesty is to be a principal.

"The pensions, indeed, to senators and other persons, must needs increase, from the restiveness of some, and scrupulous nature of others; and the new members, who [Pg 390]are unpractised, must have better encouragement. However, I dare undertake to bring the eventual charge within eight hundred thousand sprangs. But, to make this easy, there shall be new funds raised, of which I have several schemes ready, without taxing bread or flesh, which shall be referred to more pressing occasions.

"Your Majesty knows it is the laudable custom of all Eastern princes, to leave the whole management of affairs, both civil and military, to their viziers. The appointments for your family, and private purse, shall exceed those of your predecessors: You shall be at no trouble, further than to appear sometimes in council, and leave the rest to me: You shall hear no clamour or complaints: Your senate shall, upon occasions, declare you the best of princes, the father of your country, the arbiter of Asia, the defender of the oppressed, and the delight of mankind.

"Sir, Hear not those who would most falsely, impiously, and maliciously insinuate, that your government can be carried on without that wholesome, necessary expedient, of sharing the public revenue with your faithful deserving senators. This, I know, my enemies are pleased to call bribery and corruption. Be it so: But I insist, that without this bribery and corruption, the wheels of government will not turn, or at least will be apt to take fire, like other wheels, unless they be greased at proper times. If an angel from heaven should descend, to govern this empire upon any other scheme than what our enemies call corruption, he must return from whence he came, and leave the work undone.

"Sir, It is well known we are a trading nation, and consequently cannot thrive in a bargain where nothing is to be gained. The poor electors, who run from their shops, or the plough, for the service of their country, are they not to be considered for their labour and their loyalty? The candidates, who, with the hazard of their persons, the loss of their characters, and the ruin of their fortunes, are preferred to the senate, in a country where they are strangers, before the very lords of the soil; are they not to be rewarded for their zeal to your Majesty's service, and qualified to live in your metropolis as becomes the lustre of their stations?[Pg 391]

"Sir, If I have given great numbers of the most profitable employments among my own relations and nearest allies, it was not out of any partiality, but because I know them best, and can best depend upon them. I have been at the pains to mould and cultivate their opinions. Abler heads might probably have been found, but they would not be equally under my direction. A huntsman, who hath the absolute command of his dogs, will hunt more effectually than with a better pack, to whose manner and cry he is a stranger.

"Sir, Upon the whole, I will appeal to all those who best knew your royal father, whether that blessed monarch had ever one anxious thought for the public, or disappointment, or uneasiness, or want of money for all his occasions, during the time of my administration? And, how happy the people confessed themselves to be under such a king, I leave to their own numerous addresses; which all politicians will allow to be the most infallible proof how any nation stands affected to their sovereign."

Lelop-Aw, having ended his speech and struck his forehead thrice against the table, as the custom is in Japan, sat down with great complacency of mind, and much applause of his adherents, as might be observed by their countenances and their whispers. But the Emperor's behaviour was remarkable; for, during the whole harangue, he appeared equally attentive and uneasy. After a short pause, His Majesty commanded that some other counsellor should deliver his thoughts, either to confirm or object against what had been spoken by Lelop-Aw.[Pg 392]


Oct. 15, 1730.


A pamphlet was lately sent me, entitled, "A Letter from the Right Honourable Sir R. W. to the Right Honourable W. P. Esq; occasioned by the late Invectives on the King, her Majesty, and all the Royal Family." By these initial letters of our names, the world is to understand that you and I must be meant. Although the letter seems to require an answer, yet because it appears to be written rather in the style and manner used by some of your pensioners, than your own, I shall allow you the liberty to think the same of this answer, and leave the public to determine which of the two actors can better personate their principals. That frigid and fustian way of haranguing wherewith your representer begins, continues, and ends his declamation, I shall leave to the critics in eloquence and propriety to descant on; because it adds nothing to the weight of your accusations, nor will my defence be one grain the better by exposing its puerilities.[Pg 393]

I shall therefore only remark upon this particular, that the frauds and corruptions in most other arts and sciences, as law, physic (I shall proceed no further) are usually much more plausibly defended than in that of politics; whether it be, that by a kind of fatality the vindication of a corrupt minister is always left to the management of the meanest and most prostitute writers; or whether it be, that the effects of a wicked or unskilful administration, are more public, visible, pernicious and universal. Whereas the mistakes in other sciences are often matters that affect only speculation; or at worst, the bad consequences fall upon few and private persons. A nation is quickly sensible of the miseries it feels, and little comforted by knowing what account it turns to by the wealth, the power, the honours conferred on those who sit at the helm, or the salaries paid to their penmen; while the body of the people is sunk into poverty and despair. A Frenchman in his wooden shoes may, from the vanity of his nation, and the constitution of that government, conceive some imaginary pleasure in boasting the grandeur of his monarch, in the midst of his own slavery; but a freeborn Englishman, with all his loyalty, can find little satisfaction at a minister overgrown in wealth and power from the lowest degree of want and contempt; when that power or wealth are drawn from the bowels and blood of the nation, for which every fellow-subject is a sufferer, except the great man himself, his family, and his pensioners. I mean such a minister (if there hath ever been such a one) whose whole management hath been a continued link of ignorance, blunders, and mistakes in every article besides that of enriching and aggrandizing himself.

For these reasons the faults of men, who are most trusted in public business, are, of all others, the most difficult to be defended. A man may be persuaded into a wrong opinion, wherein he hath small concern: but no oratory can have the power over a sober man against the conviction of his own senses: and therefore, as I take it, the money thrown away on such advocates might be more prudently spared, and kept in such a minister's own pocket, than lavished in hiring a corporation of pamphleteers to defend his conduct, and prove a kingdom to be flourishing in trade and wealth, which every particular subject (except those few already excepted)[Pg 394] can lawfully swear, and, by dear experience knows, to be a falsehood.

Give me leave, noble sir, in the way of argument, to suppose this to be your case; could you in good conscience, or moral justice, chide your paper-advocates for their ill success in persuading the world against manifest demonstration? Their miscarriage is owing, alas! to want of matter. Should we allow them to be masters of wit, raillery, or learning, yet the subject would not admit them to exercise their talents; and, consequently, they can have no recourse but to impudence, lying, and scurrility.

I must confess, that the author of your letter to me hath carried this last qualification to a greater height than any of his fellows: but he hath, in my opinion, failed a little in point of politeness from the original which he affects to imitate. If I should say to a prime minister, "Sir, you have sufficiently provided that Dunkirk should be absolutely demolished and never repaired; you took the best advantages of a long and general peace to discharge the immense debts of the nation; you did wonders with the fleet; you made the Spaniards submit to our quiet possession of Gibraltar and Portmahon; you never enriched yourself and family at the expense of the public."—Such is the style of your supposed letter, which however, if I am well informed, by no means comes up to the refinements of a fishwife in Billingsgate. "You never had a bastard by Tom the waterman; you never stole a silver tankard; you were never whipped at the cart's tail."

In the title of your letter, it is said to be "occasioned by the late invectives on the King, her Majesty, and all the Royal Family:" and the whole contents of the paper (stripped from your eloquence) goes on upon a supposition affectedly serious, that their Majesties, and the whole Royal Family, have been lately bitterly and publicly inveighed against in the most enormous and treasonable manner. Now, being a man, as you well know, altogether out of business, I do sometimes lose an hour in reading a few of those controversial papers upon politics, which have succeeded for some years past to the polemical tracts between Whig and Tory: and in this kind of reading (if it may deserve to be so called) although I have been often but little edified, or entertained,[Pg 395] yet hath it given me occasion to make some observations. First, I have observed, that however men may sincerely agree in all the branches of the Low Church principle, in a tenderness for dissenters of every kind, in a perfect abhorrence of Popery and the Pretender, and in the most firm adherence to the Protestant succession in the royal house of Hanover; yet plenty of matter may arise to kindle their animosities against each other from the various infirmities, follies, and vices inherent in mankind.

Secondly, I observed, that although the vulgar reproach which charges the quarrels between ministers, and their opposers, to be only a contention for power between those who are in, and those who would be in if they could; yet as long as this proceeds no further than a scuffle of ambition among a few persons, it is only a matter of course, whereby the public is little affected. But when corruptions are plain, open, and undisguised, both in their causes and effects, to the hazard of a nation's ruin, and so declared by all the principal persons and the bulk of the people, those only excepted who are gainers by those corruptions: and when such ministers are forced to fly for shelter to the throne, with a complaint of disaffection to majesty against all who durst dislike their administration: such a general disposition in the minds of men, cannot, I think, by any rules of reason, be called the "clamour of a few disaffected incendiaries," gasping[217] after power. It is the true voice of the people; which must and will at last be heard, or produce consequences that I dare not mention.

I have observed thirdly, that among all the offensive printed papers which have come to my hand, whether good or bad, the writers have taken particular pains to celebrate the virtues of our excellent King and Queen, even where these were, strictly speaking, no part of the subject: nor can it be properly objected that such a proceeding was only a blind to cover their malice towards you and your assistants; because to affront the King, Queen, or the Royal Family, as it would be directly opposite to the principles that those kind of writers have always professed, so it would destroy the very end they have in pursuit. And it is somewhat re[Pg 396]markable, that those very writers against you, and the regiment you command, are such as most distinguish themselves upon all, or upon no occasions, by their panegyrics on their prince; and, as all of them do this without favour or hire, so some of them continue the same practice under the severest prosecution by you and your janizaries.

You seem to know, or at least very strongly to conjecture, who those persons are that give you so much weekly disquiet. Will you dare to assert that any of these are Jacobites, endeavour to alienate the hearts of the people, to defame the prince, and then dethrone him (for these are your expressions) and that I am their patron, their bulwark, their hope, and their refuge? Can you think I will descend to vindicate myself against an aspersion so absurd? God be thanked, we have had many a change of ministry without changing our prince: for if it had been otherwise, perhaps revolutions might have been more frequent. Heaven forbid that the welfare of a great kingdom, and of a brave people, should be trusted with the thread of a single subject's life; for I suppose it is not yet in your view to entail the ministryship in your family. Thus I hope we may live to see different ministers and different measures, without any danger to the succession in the royal Protestant line of Hanover.

You are pleased to advance a topic, which I could never heartily approve of in any party, although they have each in their turn advanced it while they had the superiority. You tell us, "It is hard that while every private man shall have the liberty to choose what servants he pleaseth, the same privilege should be refused to a king." This assertion, crudely understood, can hardly be supported. If by servants be only meant those who are purely menial, who provide for their master's food and clothing, or for the convenience and splendour of his family, the point is not worth debating. But the bad or good choice of a chancellor, a secretary, an ambassador, a treasurer, and many other officers, is of very high consequence to the whole kingdom; so is likewise that amphibious race of courtiers between servants and ministers; such as the steward, chamberlain, treasurer of the household and the like, being all of the privy council, and some of the cabinet, who according to their talents, their principles, and their degree of favour, may be great instruments of good or[Pg 397] evil, both to the subject and the prince; so that the parallel is by no means adequate between a prince's court and a private family. And yet if an insolent footman be troublesome in the neighbourhood; if he breaks the people's windows, insults their servants, breaks into other folk's houses to pilfer what he can find, although he belong to a duke, and be a favourite in his station, yet those who are injured may, without just offence, complain to his lord, and for want of redress get a warrant to send him to the stocks, to Bridewell, or to Newgate, according to the nature and degree of his delinquencies. Thus the servants of the prince, whether menial or otherwise, if they be of his council, are subject to the enquiries and prosecutions of the great council of the nation, even as far as to capital punishment; and so must ever be in our constitution, till a minister can procure a majority even of that council to shelter him; which I am sure you will allow to be a desperate crisis under any party of the most plausible denomination.

The only instance you produce, or rather insinuate, to prove the late invectives against the King, Queen, and Royal Family, is drawn from that deduction of the English history, published in several papers by the Craftsman; wherein are shewn the bad consequences to the public, as well as to the prince, from the practices of evil ministers in most reigns, and at several periods, when the throne was filled by wise monarchs as well as by weak. This deduction, therefore, cannot reasonably give the least offence to a British king, when he shall observe that the greatest and ablest of his predecessors, by their own candour, by a particular juncture of affairs, or by the general infirmity of human nature, have sometimes put too much trust in confident, insinuating, and avaricious ministers.

Wisdom, attended by virtue and a generous nature, is not unapt to be imposed on. Thus Milton describes Uriel, "the sharpest-sighted spirit in heaven," and "regent of the sun," deceived by the dissimulation and flattery of the devil, for which the poet gives a philosophical reason, but needless here to quote.[218] Is anything more common, or more useful, [Pg 398]than to caution wise men in high stations against putting too much trust in undertaking servants, cringing flatterers, or designing friends? Since the Asiatic custom of governing by prime ministers hath prevailed in so many courts of Europe, how careful should every prince be in the choice of the person on whom so great a trust is devolved, whereon depend the safety and welfare of himself and all his subjects. Queen Elizabeth, whose administration is frequently quoted as the best pattern for English princes to follow, could not resist the artifices of the Earl of Leicester, who, although universally allowed to be the most ambitious, insolent, and corrupt person of his age, was yet her greatest, and almost her only favourite: (his religion indeed being partly puritan and partly infidel, might have better tallied with present times) yet this wise queen would never suffer the openest enemies of that overgrown lord to be sacrificed to his vengeance; nor durst he charge them with a design of introducing Popery or the Spanish pretender.

How many great families do we all know, whose masters have passed for persons of good abilities, during the whole course of their lives, and yet the greatest part of whose estates have sunk in the hands of their stewards and receivers; their revenues paid them in scanty portions, at large discount, and treble interest, though they did not know it; while the tenants were daily racked, and at the same time accused to their landlords of insolvency. Of this species are such managers, who, like honest Peter Waters, pretend to clear an estate, keep the owner penniless, and, after seven years, leave him five times more in debt, while they sink half a plum into their own pockets.

Those who think themselves concerned, may give you thanks for that gracious liberty you are pleased to allow them of "taking vengeance on the ministers, and there shooting their envenomed arrows." As to myself; I neither owe you vengeance, nor make use of such weapons: but it[Pg 399] is your weakness, or ill fortune, or perhaps the fault of your constitution, to convert wholesome remedies into poison; for you have received better and more frequent instructions than any minister of your age and country, if God had given you the grace to apply them.

I dare promise you the thanks of half the kingdom, if you will please to perform the promise you have made of suffering the Craftsman and company, or whatever other "infamous wretches and execrable villains" you mean, to take their vengeance only on your own sacred ministerial person, without bringing any of your brethren, much less the most remote branch of the Royal Family, into the debate. This generous offer I suspected from the first; because there were never heard of so many, so unnecessary, and so severe prosecutions as you have promoted during your ministry, in a kingdom where the liberty of the press is so much pretended to be allowed. But in reading a page or two, I found you thought it proper to explain away your grant; for there you tell us, that "these miscreants" (meaning the writers against you) "are to remember that the laws have abundantly less generous, less mild and merciful sentiments" than yourself, and into their secular hands the poor authors must be delivered to fines, prisons, pillories, whippings, and the gallows. Thus your promise of impunity, which began somewhat jesuitically, concludes with the mercy of a Spanish inquisitor.

If it should so happen that I am neither "abettor, patron, protector," nor "supporter" of these imaginary invectives "against the King, her Majesty, or any of the Royal Family," I desire to know what satisfaction I am to get from you, or the creature you employed in writing the libel which I am now answering? It will be no excuse to say, that I differ from you in every particular of your political reason and practise; because that will be to load the best, the soundest, and most numerous part of the kingdom with the denominations you are pleased to bestow upon me, that they are "Jacobites, wicked miscreants, infamous wretches, execrable villains, and defamers of the King, Queen, and all the Royal Family," and "guilty of high treason." You cannot know my style; but I can easily know your works, which are performed in the sight of the sun. Your good inclinations are[Pg 400] visible; but I begin to doubt the strength of your credit, even at court, that you have not power to make his Majesty believe me the person which you represent in your libel: as most infallibly you have often attempted, and in vain, because I must otherwise have found it by the marks of his royal displeasure. However, to be angry with you to whom I am indebted for the greatest obligation I could possibly receive, would be the highest ingratitude. It is to you I owe that reputation I have acquired for some years past of being a lover of my country and its constitution: to you I owe the libels and scurrilities conferred upon me by the worst of men, and consequently some degree of esteem and friendship from the best. From you I learned the skill of distinguishing between a patriot and a plunderer of his country: and from you I hope in time to acquire the knowledge of being a loyal, faithful, and useful servant to the best of princes, King George the Second; and therefore I can conclude, by your example, but with greater truth, that I am not only with humble submission and respect, but with infinite gratitude, Sir, your most obedient and most obliged servant,

W. P.[Pg 401]


Acheson, Sir Arthur, 246.

Alberoni's expedition, 207.

Allen, Joshua, Lord, his attack on Swift, 168, 169, 175, 176, 236, 237;
account of, 175.

America, emigration from Ireland to, 120.

Arachne, fable of, 21.

Ballaquer, Carteret's secretary, 242.

Bank, proposal for a national, in Ireland, 27, 31, 38, 42, 43;
subscribers to the, 49-51.

Barbou, Dr Nicholas, 69.

Barnstaple, the chief market for Irish wool, 18.

Beggars in Ireland, 70;
Proposal for giving Badges to, 323-335;
reason for the number of, 341.

Birch, Colonel John, 6.

Bishops, Swift's proposal to sell the lands of the, 252 et seq.

Bladon, Colonel, 23.

Bolingbroke, Lord, his contributions to the "Craftsman," 219, 375, 377.

Boulter, Archbishop, his scheme for lowering the gold coinage, 353;
opposed by Swift, 353, 354.

Browne, Sir John, his "Scheme of the money matters of Ireland," 66;
Swift's answer to his "Memorial," 109-116.

Burnet, William, 121.

Carteret, John, Lord, 227;
Swift's Vindication of, 229-249.

Coinage, McCulla's proposal about, 179-190;
Swift's counter-proposal, 183.

Coining, forbidden in Ireland, 88, 134.

Compton, Sir Spencer, 387.

Corn, imported into Ireland from England, 17.

"Cossing," explained, 271.

Cotter, ballad upon, 23.

"Craftsman," the, 219, 375, 397, 399.

Davenport, Colonel, 280.

Delany, Dr. Patrick, 244.

Dublin, thieves and roughs in, 56;
Examination of certain Abuses, etc, in, 263-282;
Advice to the Freemen of, in the Choice of a Member of Parliament, 311-316;
Considerations in the Choice of a Recorder of, 319, 320.

Dunkin, Rev. William, Swift's efforts in behalf of, 364, 368.

Dutton-Colt, Sir Harry, 280.

Elliston, Ebenezer, Last Speech of, 56 et seq.

Esquire, the title of, 49.

Footmen, Petition of the, 307.

French, Humphry, Lord Mayor of Dublin, 310, 311.

French army, recruited in Ireland, 218, 220.

Frogs, propagation of, in Ireland, 340.
[Pg 402]

Galway, Earl of, 235.

Grafton, Duke of, 194.

Grimston, Lord, his "Lawyer's Fortune, or Love in a Hollow Tree," 24.

Gwythers, Dr., introduces frogs into Ireland, 340.

Hanmer, Sir Thomas, 387.

Hospital for Incurables, Scheme for a, 283-303.

Hutcheson, Hartley, 234.

Injured Lady, Story of the, 97-103;
Answer to the, 107-109.

Ireland, the Test Act in, 2, 5 et seq.;
exportation of wool from, forbidden, 17, 18, 110, 111, 157, 158;
absentee landlords, 25, 69, 71, 101, 162;
Sheridan's account of the state of, 26-30;
proposal for establishing a National Bank in, 31, 38, 42, 43;
maxims controlled in, 65;
poverty of, 25, 66, 87, 89, 90, 122;
increase of rents in, 67, 163;
begging and thieving in, 70;
Short view of the State of, 83-91;
importation of cattle into England prohibited, 86, 100, 110, 221;
encouragement of the linen manufactures in, 102, 158;
luxury and extravagance among the women in, 124, 139, 198, 199, 219;
condition of the roads in, 130;
bad management of the bogs in, 131;
dishonesty of tradesmen in, 142, 147;
the National Debt of, 196;
famine in, 203;
population of, 208;
persecution of Roman Catholics in, 263.

Irish brogue, the, 346.

Irish eloquence, 361.

Irish language, proposal to abolish the, 133.

Irish peers, titles of, 349.

Japan, Account of the Court and Empire of, 382-391.

King, Archbishop, 21, 119, 136, 244, 326.

Lindsay, Robert, 259.

Linen trade in Ireland, the, 88, 102, 158.

Littleton, Sir Thomas, 7.

Lorrain, Paul, ordinary of Newgate, 34.

Macarrell, John, 310, 311.

McCulla's Project about halfpence, 179-190.

Manufactures, Irish, Proposal for the Universal use of, 17-30;
Proposal that all Ladies should appear constantly in, 193-199.
See also "Woollen Manufactures."

Mar, Earl of, 164.

Maxwell, Henry, his pamphlets in favour of a bank in Ireland, 38.

Mist, Nathaniel, 194.

National Debt, Proposal to pay off the, 251-258.

Navigation Act, the effect of, in Ireland, 66, 86.

Norton, Richard, 301.

"Orange, the squeezing of the," 275.

Penn, William, 120.

Perron, Cardinal, anecdote of, 238.

Peterborough, Lord, letter of Swift to, April 28, 1726, 154-156.

Phipps, Sir Constantine, 244.

"Pistorides" (Richard Tighe), 233, 235.

Poor, Considerations about maintaining the, 339-342.

Poyning's Law, 103, 105.

Psalmanazar, George, his Description of the Island of Formosa, 211.

Pulteney, William, the "Craftsman" founded by, 219, 375;
[Pg 403]"Answer of, to Robert Walpole," 392-400.

Quilca, life at, 74, 75-77.

Rents, raising of, in Ireland, 163.

Roads, in Ireland, condition of the, 130.

Roman Catholics, legislation against, 5;
petty persecution of, in Ireland, 263.

Rowley, Hercules, his pamphlets against the establishment of a bank in Ireland, 38.

Savoy, Duke of, 277.

Scotland, description of, 97, 98.

Scots in Sweden, 9.

Scottish colonists in Ulster, 104.

Sheridan, Dr. Thomas, 74;
his account of the state of Ireland, 26-30;
given a chaplaincy by Carteret, 232, 241;
anecdote of Carteret, related by, 232;
informed against by Tighe, 233, 242.

Stanley, Sir John, Commissioner of Customs, 197.

Stannard, Eaton, elected Recorder of Dublin, 319, 366.

Stopford, Dr. James, Bishop of Cloyne, 243.

Street cries explained, 268-270, 275-281.

Swan, Mr., 280.

Swandlingbar, origin of the name of, 347.

Swearer's Bank, the, 41.

Swift, Godwin, 347.

Swift, Jonathan, the freedom of the City of Dublin conferred on, 168;
his speech on the occasion, 169-172;
confesses the authorship of the "Drapier's Letters," 171;
born in Dublin, 267;
his opposition to Archbishop Boulter, 353, 354;
his speech on the lowering of the coin, 357;
his efforts in behalf of Mr. Dunkin, 364-368;
receives the freedom of the City of Cork, 367;
appoints Dr. Wynne Sub-dean of St. Patrick's, 370.

Temple, Sir William, his comparison of Holland and Ireland, 164.

Test Act, in Ireland, 2, 5 et seq.

Thompson, Edward, Commissioner of the Revenue in Ireland, 315.

Tickell, T., 242.

Tighe, Richard, informs against Sheridan, 74, 233, 242;
attacks Carteret, 228;
ridiculed as "Pistorides," 233, 235.

"Traulus" (Lord Allen), 176, 236.

Trees, planting of, in Ireland, 132.

Violante, Madam, 234.

Wallis, Dr., 280.

Walpole, Sir Robert, interview of Swift with, in 1726, 153;
his views on Ireland, 154;
satire on, 276;
his literary assistants, 379, 393 et seq.;
character of, 384 et seq.

Waters, Edward, Swift's printer, 171, 193.

Whitshed, Lord Chief Justice, 14, 86, 115, 129, 171, 193, 194.

Wine, proposed tax on, 196, 197.

Wool, Irish, exportation of, forbidden by law, 17, 18, 110, 111, 157, 158;
effect of the prohibition on England, 160.

Woollen manufactures, Irish people should use their own, 137 et seq.;
Observations on the case of the, 147-150.

Wynne, Rev. Dr. John, Sub-dean of St. Patrick's, 370.
[Pg 404]


[1] "Unpublished Letters of Swift," edited by Dr. Birkbeck Hill, 1899.

[2] Mr. Murray's MSS., quoted by Craik.

[3] It appeared almost impossible for Swift to see the injustice of this test clause. In reality, it had been the outcome of the legislation against the Irish Roman Catholics. In 1703 the Irish parliament had passed a bill by which it was enacted, "that all estates should be equally divided among the children of Roman Catholics, notwithstanding any settlements to the contrary, unless the persons to whom they were to descend, would qualify, by taking the oaths prescribed by government, and conform to the established church" (Crawford's "History of Ireland," 1783, vol. ii., p. 256). The bill was transmitted to England, for approval there, at a time when Anne was asking the Emperor for his indulgence towards the Protestants of his realms. This placed the Queen in an awkward position, since she could hardly expect indulgence from a Roman Catholic monarch towards Protestants when she, a Protestant monarch, was persecuting Roman Catholics. To obviate this dilemma, the Queen's ministers added a clause to the bill, "by which all persons in Ireland were rendered incapable of any employment under the crown, or, of being magistrates in any city, who, agreeably to the English test act, did not receive the sacrament as prescribed by the Church of England" (ibid.). Under this clause, of course, came all the Protestant Dissenters, including the Presbyterians "from the north." The bill so amended passed into law; but its iniquitous influence was a disgrace to the legislators of the day, and his advocacy of it, however much he was convinced of its expediency, proves Swift a shortsighted statesman wherever the enemies of the Church of England were concerned. [T. S.]

[4] Colonel John Birch (1616-1691) was of Lancashire. Swift calls him "of Herefordshire," because he had been appointed governor of the city of Hereford, after he had captured it by a stratagem, in 1654. Devotedly attached to Presbyterian principles, Birch was a man of shrewd business abilities and remarkable oratorical gifts. On the restoration of Charles II., in which he took a prominent part on account of Charles's championship of Presbyterianism, Birch held important business posts. He sat in parliament for Leominster and Penrhyn, and his plans for the rebuilding of London after the Great Fire, though they were not adopted, were yet such as would have been extremely salutary had they been accepted. Of his eloquence, Burnet says: "He was the roughest and boldest speaker in the house, and talked in the language and phrases of a carrier, but with a beauty and eloquence, that was always acceptable." The reference to the carrier is purposely made, since Birch did not hide the fact that he had once pursued that occupation. Swift was twenty-four years of age when Birch died, so that he must have been a very young man when he heard Birch make the remark he quotes. [T. S.]

[5] Sir Thomas Littleton (1647?-1710) was chosen Speaker of the English House of Commons by the junto in 1698. Onslow, in a note to Burnet's "History," speaks of the good work he did as treasurer of the navy. Macky describes him as "a stern-looked man, with a brown complexion, well shaped" (see "Characters"). At the time of Swift's writing the above letter, Littleton was member for Portsmouth. [T. S.]

[6] Viscount Molesworth, in his "Considerations for promoting the Agriculture of Ireland" (1723), pointed out, that even with the added expense of freight, it was cheaper to import corn from England, than to grow it in Ireland itself. [T. S.]

[7] Mr. Lecky points out that in England, after the Revolution, the councils were directed by commercial influence. At that time there was an important woollen industry in England which, it was feared, the growing Irish woollen manufactures would injure. The English manufacturers petitioned for their total destruction, and the House of Lords, in response to the petition, represented to the King that "the growing manufacture of cloth in Ireland, both by the cheapness of all sorts of necessaries of life, and goodness of materials for making all manner of cloth, doth invite your subjects of England, with their families and servants, to leave their habitations to settle there, to the increase of the woollen manufacture in Ireland, which makes your loyal subjects in this kingdom very apprehensive that the further growth of it may greatly prejudice the said manufacture here." The Commons went further, and suggested the advisability of discouraging the industry by hindering the exportation of wool from Ireland to other countries and limiting it to England alone. The Act of 10 and 11 Will. III. c. 10, made the suggestion law and even prohibited entirely the exportation of Irish wool anywhere. Thus, as Swift puts it, "the politic gentlemen of Ireland have depopulated vast tracts of the best land, for the feeding of sheep." See notes to later tracts in this volume on "Observations on the Woollen Manufactures" and "Letter on the Weavers." [T. S.]

[8] That Swift did not exaggerate may be gathered from the statute books, and, more immediately, from Hely Hutchinson's "Commercial Restraints of Ireland" (1779), Arthur Dobbs's "Trade and Improvement of Ireland," Lecky's "History of Ireland," vols. i. and ii., and Monck Mason's notes in his "History of St. Patrick's Cathedral," p. 320 et seq. [T. S.]

[9] Barnstaple was, at that time, the chief market in England for Irish wool. [T. S.]

[10] In 1726, Swift presented some pieces of Irish manufactured silk to the Princess of Wales and to Mrs. Howard. In sending the silk to Mrs. Howard he wrote also a letter in which he remarked: "I beg you will not tell any parliament man from whence you had that plaid; otherwise, out of malice, they will make a law to cut off all our weavers' fingers." [T. S.]

[11] This last sentence is as the original edition has it. In Faulkner's first collected edition and in the fifth volume of the "Miscellanies" (London, 1735), the following occurs in its place: "I must confess, that as to the former, I should not be sorry if they would stay at home; and for the latter, I hope, in a little time we shall have no occasion for them."

Swift knew what he was advising when he suggested that the people of Ireland should not import their goods from England. He was well aware that English manufactures were not really necessary. Sir William Petty had, a half century before, pointed out that a third of the manufactures then imported into Ireland could be produced by its own factories, another third could as easily and as cheaply be obtained from countries other than England, and "consequently, that it was scarce necessary at all for Ireland to receive any goods of England, and not convenient to receive above one-fourth part, from thence, of the whole which it needeth to import" ("Polit. Anatomy of Ireland," 1672). [T. S.]

[12] Faulkner and the "Miscellanies" (London, 1735) print, instead of, "as any prelate in Christendom," the words, "as if he had not been born among us." The Archbishop was Dr. William King, with whom Swift had had much correspondence. See "Letters" in Scott's edition (1824).

Dr. William King, who succeeded Narcissus Marsh as Archbishop of Dublin in March, 1702-3. Swift had not always been on friendly terms with King, but, at this time, they were in sympathy as to the wrongs and grievances of Ireland. King strongly supported the agitation against Wood's halfpence, but later, when he attempted to interfere with the affairs of the Deanery of St. Patrick's, Swift and he came to an open rupture. See also volume on the Drapier's Letters, in this edition. [T. S.]

[13] Faulkner and the "Miscellanies" of 1735 print this amount as "three thousand six hundred." This was the sum paid by the lord-lieutenant to the lords-justices, who represented him in the government of Ireland. The lord-lieutenant himself did not then, as the viceroy of Ireland does now, take up his residence in the country. Although in receipt of a large salary, he only came to Dublin to deliver the speeches at the openings of parliament, or on some other special occasion. [T. S.]

[14] The Dublin edition of this pamphlet has a note stating that Cotter was a gentleman of Cork who was executed for committing a rape on a Quaker. [T. S.]

[15] Said to be Colonel Bladon (1680-1746), who translated the Commentaries of Cæsar. He was a dependant of the Duke of Marlborough, to whom he dedicated this translation. [T. S.]

[16] Lord Grimston. William Luckyn, first Viscount Grimston (1683-1756), was created an Irish peer with the title Baron Dunboyne in 1719. The full title of the play to which Swift refers, is "The Lawyer's Fortune, or, Love in a Hollow Tree." It was published in 1705. Swift refers to Grimston in his verses "On Poetry, a Rhapsody." Pope, in one of his satires, calls him "booby lord." Grimston withdrew his play from circulation after the second edition, but it was reprinted in Rotterdam in 1728 and in London in 1736. Dr. Johnson told Chesterfield a story which made the Duchess of Marlborough responsible for this London reprint, which had for frontispiece the picture of an ass wearing a coronet. [T. S.]

[17] The original edition prints "ministers" instead of "chief governors." [T. S.]

[18] In 1720 Bishop Nicholson of Derry, writing to the Archbishop of Canterbury, describes the wretched condition of the towns and the country districts, and the misery of their population:

"Our trade of all kind is at a stand, insomuch as that our most eminent merchants, who used to pay bills of 1,000l. at sight, are hardly able to raise 100l. in so many days. Spindles of yarn (our daily bread) are fallen from 2s. 6d. to 15d., and everything also in proportion. Our best beef (as good as I ever ate in England) is sold under 3/4d. a pound, and all this not from any extraordinary plenty of commodities, but from a perfect dearth of money. Never did I behold even in Picardy, Westphalia, or Scotland, such dismal marks of hunger and want as appeared in the countenances of most of the poor creatures I met with on the road." (Brit. Mus. Add. MSS. 6116, quoted by Lecky.) [T. S.]

[19] The "absentee" landlord was an evil to Ireland on which much has been written. It was difficult to keep the country in order when the landed proprietors took so little interest in their possessions as to do nothing but exact rents from their tenants and spend the money so obtained in England. Two, and even three, hundred years before Swift's day "absenteeism" had been the cause of much of the rebellion in Ireland which harassed the English monarchs, who endeavoured to put a stop to the evil by confiscating the estates of such landlords. Acts were passed by Richard II. and Henry VIII. to this effect; but in later times, the statutes were ignored and not enforced, and the Irish landlord, in endeavours to obtain for himself social recognition and standing in England which, because of his Irish origin, were denied him, remained in England indulging himself in lavish expenditure and display. The consequences of this were the impoverishment of his estates and their eventual management by rack-renters. These rack-renters, whose only interest lay in squeezing money out of the impoverished tenants, became the bane of the agricultural holder.

Unfortunately, the spirit of "absenteeism" extended itself to the holders of offices in Ireland, and even the lord-lieutenant rarely took up his residence in Dublin for any time longer than necessitated by the immediate demands of his installation and speech-making, although he drew his emoluments from the Irish revenues. In the "List of Absentees" instances are given where men appointed to Irish offices would land on Saturday night, receive the sacrament on Sunday, take the oath in court on Monday morning, and be on their way back to England by Monday afternoon.

It has been calculated that out of a total rental of £1,800,000, as much as 33-1/3 per cent. was sent out of the country. [T. S.]

[20] Sheridan, in the sixth number of "The Intelligencer," contributes an account of the state of Ireland, written to the text, "O patria! O divûm domus!"

"When I travel through any part of this unhappy kingdom, and I have now by several excursions made from Dublin, gone through most counties of it, it raises two passions in my breast of a different kind; an indignation against those vile betrayers and insulters of it, who insinuate themselves into favour, by saying, it is a rich nation; and a sincere passion for the natives, who are sunk to the lowest degree of misery and poverty, whose houses are dunghills, whose victuals are the blood of their cattle, or the herbs in the field; and whose clothing, to the dishonour of God and man, is nakedness. Yet notwithstanding all the dismal appearances, it is the common phrase of our upstart race of people, who have suddenly sprang up like the dragon's teeth among us, That Ireland was never known to be so rich as it is now; by which, as I apprehend, they can only mean themselves, for they have skipped over the channel from the vantage ground of a dunghill upon no other merit, either visible or divineable, than that of not having been born among us.

"This is the modern way of planting Colonies—Et ubi solitudinem faciunt, id Imperium vocant. When those who are so unfortunate to be born here, are excluded from the meanest preferments, and deemed incapable of being entertained even as common soldiers, whose poor stipend is but four pence a day. No trade, no emoluments, no encouragement for learning among the natives, who yet by a perverse consequence are divided into factions, with as much violence and rancour, as if they had the wealth of the Indies to contend for. It puts me in mind of a fable which I read in a monkish author. He quotes for it one of the Greek mythologists that once upon a time a colony of large dogs (called the Molossi) transplanted themselves from Epirus to Ætolia, where they seized those parts of the countries, most fertile in flesh of all kinds, obliging the native dogs to retire from their best kennels, to live under ditches and bushes, but to preserve good neighbourhood and peace; and finding likewise, that the Ætolian dogs might be of some use in the low offices of life, they passed a decree, that the natives should be entitled to the short ribs, tops of back, knuckle-bones, and guts of all the game, which they were obliged by their masters to run down. This condition was accepted, and what was a little singular, while the Molossian dogs kept a good understanding among themselves, living in peace and luxury, these Ætolian curs were perpetually snarling, growling, barking and tearing at each other's throats: Nay, sometimes those of the best quality among them, were seen to quarrel with as much rancour for a rotten gut, as if it had been a fat haunch of venison. But what need we wonder at this in dogs, when the same is every day practised among men?

"Last year I travelled from Dublin to Dundalk, through a country esteemed the most fruitful part of the kingdom, and so nature intended it. But no ornaments or improvements of such a scene were visible. No habitation fit for gentlemen, no farmers' houses, few fields of corn, and almost a bare face of nature, without new plantations of any kind, only a few miserable cottages, at three or four miles' distance, and one Church in the centre between this city and Drogheda. When I arrived at this last town, the first mortifying sight was the ruins of several churches, battered down by that usurper, Cromwell, whose fanatic zeal made more desolation in a few days, than the piety of succeeding prelates or the wealth of the town have, in more than sixty years, attempted to repair.

"Perhaps the inhabitants, through a high strain of virtue, have, in imitation of the Athenians, made a solemn resolution, never to rebuild those sacred edifices, but rather leave them in ruins, as monuments, to perpetuate the detestable memory of that hellish instrument of rebellion, desolation, and murder. For the Athenians, when Mardonius had ravaged a great part of Greece, took a formal oath at the Isthmus, to lose their lives rather than their liberty, to stand by their leaders to the last, to spare the cities of such barbarians as they conquered. And what crowned all, the conclusion of their oath was, We will never repair any of the Temples, which they have burned and destroyed, lest they may appear to posterity as so many monuments of these wicked barbarians. This was a glorious resolution; and I am sorry to think, that the poverty of my countrymen will not let the world suppose, they have acted upon such a generous principle; yet upon this occasion I cannot but observe, that there is a fatality in some nations, to be fond of those who have treated them with the least humanity. Thus I have often heard the memory of Cromwell, who has depopulated, and almost wholly destroyed this miserable country, celebrated like that of a saint, and at the same time the sufferings of the royal martyr turned into ridicule, and his murder justified even from the pulpit, and all this done with an intent to gain favour, under a monarchy; which is a new strain of politics that I shall not pretend to account for.

"Examine all the eastern towns of Ireland, and you will trace this horrid instrument of destruction, in defacing of Churches, and particularly in destroying whatever was ornamental, either within or without them. We see in the several towns a very few houses scattered among the ruins of thousands, which he laid level with their streets; great numbers of castles, the country seats of gentlemen then in being, still standing in ruin, habitations for bats, daws, and owls, without the least repairs or succession of other buildings. Nor have the country churches, as far as my eye could reach, met with any better treatment from him, nine in ten of them lying among their graves and God only knows when they are to have a resurrection. When I passed from Dundalk where this cursed usurper's handy work is yet visible, I cast mine eyes around from the top of a mountain, from whence I had a wide and a waste prospect of several venerable ruins. It struck me with a melancholy, not unlike that expressed by Cicero in one of his letters which being much upon the like prospect, and concluding with a very necessary reflection on the uncertainty of things in this world, I shall here insert a translation of what he says: 'In my return from Asia, as I sailed from Ægina, towards Megara, I began to take a prospect of the several countries round me. Behind me was Ægina; before me Megara; on the right hand the Piræus; and on the left was Corinth; which towns were formerly in a most flourishing condition; now they lie prostrate and in ruin.

"'Thus I began to think with myself: Shall we who have but a trifling existence, express any resentment, when one of us either dies a natural death, or is slain, whose lives are necessarily of a short duration, when at one view I beheld the carcases of so many great cities?' What if he had seen the natives of those free republics, reduced to all the miserable consequences of a conquered people, living without the common defences against hunger and cold, rather appearing like spectres than men? I am apt to think, that seeing his fellow creatures in ruin like this, it would have put him past all patience for philosophic reflection.

"As for my own part, I confess, that the sights and occurrences which I had in this my last journey, so far transported me to a mixture of rage and compassion, that I am not able to decide, which had the greater influence upon my spirits; for this new cant, of a rich and flourishing nation, was still uppermost in my thoughts; every mile I travelled, giving me such ample demonstrations to the contrary. For this reason, I have been at the pains to render a most exact and faithful account of all the visible signs of riches, which I met with in sixty miles' riding through the most public roads, and the best part of the kingdom. First, as to trade, I met nine cars loaden with old musty, shrivelled hides; one car-load of butter; four jockeys driving eight horses, all out of case; one cow and calf driven by a man and his wife; six tattered families flitting to be shipped off to the West Indies; a colony of a hundred and fifty beggars, all repairing to people our metropolis, and by encreasing the number of hands, to encrease its wealth, upon the old maxim, that people are the riches of a nation, and therefore ten thousand mouths, with hardly ten pair of hands, or hardly any work to employ them, will infallibly make us a rich and flourishing people. Secondly, Travellers enough, but seven in ten wanting shirts and cravats; nine in ten going bare foot, and carrying their brogues and stockings in their hands; one woman in twenty having a pillion, the rest riding bare backed: Above two hundred horsemen, with four pair of boots amongst them all; seventeen saddles of leather (the rest being made of straw) and most of their garrons only shod before. I went into one of the principal farmer's houses, out of curiosity, and his whole furniture consisted of two blocks for stools, a bench on each side the fire-place made of turf, six trenchers, one bowl, a pot, six horn spoons, three noggins, three blankets, one of which served the man and maid servant; the other the master of the family, his wife and five children; a small churn, a wooden candlestick, a broken stick for a pair of tongs. In the public towns, one third of the inhabitants walking the streets bare foot; windows half built up with stone, to save the expense of glass, the broken panes up and down supplied by brown paper, few being able to afford white; in some places they were stopped with straw or hay. Another mark of our riches, are the signs at the several inns upon the road, viz. In some, a staff stuck in the thatch, with a turf at the end of it; a staff in a dunghill with a white rag wrapped about the head; a pole, where they can afford it, with a besom at the top; an oatmeal cake on a board at the window; and, at the principal inns of the road, I have observed the signs taken down and laid against the wall near the door, being taken from their post to prevent the shaking of the house down by the wind. In short, I saw not one single house, in the best town I travelled through, which had not manifest appearances of beggary and want. I could give many more instances of our wealth, but I hope these will suffice for the end I propose.

"It may be objected, what use it is of to display the poverty of the nation, in the manner I have done. I answer, I desire to know for what ends, and by what persons, this new opinion of our flourishing state has of late been so industriously advanced: One thing is certain, that the advancers have either already found their own account, or have been heartily promised, or at least have been entertained with hopes, by seeing such an opinion pleasing to those who have it in their power to reward.

"It is no doubt a very generous principle in any person to rejoice in the felicities of a nation, where themselves are strangers or sojourners: But if it be found that the same persons on all other occasions express a hatred and contempt of the nation and people in general, and hold it for a maxim—'That the more such a country is humbled, the more their own will rise'; it need be no longer a secret, why such an opinion, and the advantages of it are encouraged. And besides, if the bayliff reports to his master, that the ox is fat and strong, when in reality it can hardly carry its own legs, is it not natural to think, that command will be given, for a greater load to be put upon it?" [T. S.]

[21] This was a project for the establishment of a national bank for Ireland. Swift ridiculed the proposal (see p. 31), no doubt, out of suspicion of the acts of stock-jobbers and the monied interests which were enlisted on the side of the Whigs. His experience, also, of the abortive South Sea Schemes would tend to make his opposition all the stronger. But the plans for the bank were not ill-conceived, and had Swift been in calmer temper he might have seen the advantages which attached to the proposals. [T. S.]

[22] Thus in original edition. In Faulkner and the "Miscellanies" of 1735 the words are, "altogether imaginary." [T. S.]

[23] The motto round a crown piece, which was the usual price of permits. [Orig. edit.]

[24] The Dean of St. Patrick's. [F.]

[25] Paul Lorrain, who was appointed ordinary of Newgate in 1698, compiled numerous confessions and dying speeches of prisoners condemned to be hanged. A letter to Swift, from Pope and Bolingbroke, dated December, 1725, mentions him as "the great historiographer," and Steele, in the "Tatler" and "Spectator," refers to "Lorrain's Saints." Lorrain attended some famous criminals to the scaffold, including Captain Kidd and Jack Sheppard. [T. S.]

[26] The following is an account of the proceedings of both the houses of the Irish parliament upon the subject of this proposed bank.

In the year 1720, James, Earl of Abercorn, Gustavus, Viscount Boyne, Sir Ralph Gore, Bart., Oliver St. George, and Michael Ward, Esqs., in behalf of themselves and others, presented a petition to his Majesty for a charter of incorporation, whereby they might be established as a bank, under the name and title of the Bank of Ireland. They proposed to raise a fund of £500,000 to supply merchants, etc., with money at five per cent., and agreed to contribute £50,000 to the service of government in consideration of their obtaining a charter. In their petition they state, that "the raising of a million for that purpose is creating a greater fund than the nation can employ." Soon after the above-mentioned petition was lodged, a second application was made by Lord Forbes and others, who proposed raising a million for that purpose, and offered to discharge "the £50,000 national debt of that kingdom, in five years from the time they should obtain a charter." The latter application, being subsequent in point of date, was withdrawn, Lord Forbes and his friends having acquainted the Lord-lieutenant that, "rather than, by a competition, obstruct a proposal of so general advantage, they were willing to desist from their application." The former was accordingly approved of, and the King, on the 29th of July, 1721, issued letters of Privy Seal, directing that a charter of incorporation should pass the Great Seal of Ireland. ("Comm. Journ.," vol. iii, Appendix ix, page cc, etc.)

When the parliament of Ireland met, on the 12th of September following, the Duke of Grafton, lord lieutenant, in his speech from the throne, communicated the intention of his Majesty to both houses, and concluded by saying, "As this is a matter of general and national concern, his Majesty leaves it to the wisdom of Parliament to consider what advantages the public may receive by erecting a bank, and in what manner it may be settled upon a safe foundation, so as to be beneficial to the kingdom." The commons, in their address, which was voted unanimously on the 14th, expressed their gratitude for his Majesty's goodness and royal favour in directing a commission to establish a bank, and on the 21st moved for the papers to be laid before them; they even, on the 29th, agreed to the following resolution of the committee they had appointed, "that the establishment of a bank upon a solid and good foundation, under proper regulations and restrictions, will contribute to restoring of credit, and support of the trade and manufacture of the kingdom;" but, when the heads of a bill for establishing the bank came to be discussed, a strenuous opposition was raised to it. On the 9th of December Sir Thomas Taylor, chairman of the committee to whom the matter had been referred, reported "that they had gone through the first enacting paragraph, and disagreed to the same." Accordingly, the question being proposed and put, the house (after a division, wherein there appeared 150 for the question and 80 against it) voted that "they could not find any safe foundation for establishing a public bank," and resolved that an address, conformable to this resolution, should be presented to the lord-lieutenant. (Comm. Journ., vol. iii, pp. 247-289.)

The proceedings of the House of Lords resembled that of the Commons; on the 8th of November they concurred with the resolution of their committee, which was unfavourable to the establishment of a bank. A protest was, however, entered, signed by four temporal and two spiritual peers, and when an address to his Majesty, grounded on that resolution, was proposed, a long debate ensued, which occupied two days. On the 9th December a list of the subscriptions was called for, and on the 16th they resolved, that if any lord, spiritual or temporal, should attempt to obtain a charter to erect a bank, "he should be deemed a contemnor of the authority of that house, and a betrayer of the liberty of his country." They ordered, likewise, that this resolution should be presented by the chancellor to the lord lieutenant. ("Lord's Journal," vol. ii, pp. 687-720.) Monck Mason's "Hist. St. Patrick's Cathedral," p. 325, note 3. [T. S.]

[27] The title, Esquire, according to a high authority, was anciently applied "to the younger sons of nobility and their heirs in the immediate line, to the eldest sons of knights and their heirs, to the esquire of the knights and others of that rank in his Majesty's service, and to such as had eminent employment in the Commonwealth, and were not knighted, such as judges, sheriffs, and justices of the peace during their offices, and some others. But now," says Sir Edward Walker, "in the days of Charles I., the addition is so increased, that he is a very poor and inconsiderable person who writes himself less."

Accordingly, most of the signatures for shares in the projected National Bank of Ireland, were dignified with the addition of Esquire, which, added to the obscurity of the subscribers, incurs the ridicule of our author in the following treatise. [S.]

[28] Subscribers to the Bank, placed according to their order and quality, with Notes and Queries.

A true and exact account of the nobility, gentry, and traders, of the kingdom of Ireland, who, upon mature deliberation, are of opinion, that the establishing a bank upon real security, would be highly for the advantage of the trade of the said kingdom, and for increasing the current species of money in the same. Extracted from the list of the subscribers to the Bank of Ireland, published by order of the commissioners appointed to receive subscriptions.

French Baron1

N.B.: The temporal Lords of Ireland are 125, the Bishops 22. In all 147, exclusive of the aforesaid French Count.


N.B. Total of baronets and knights in Ireland uncertain; but in common computation supposed to be more than two.

Members of the House of Commons—41. One whereof reckoned before amongst the two knights.

N.B. Number of Commoners in all 300.

Esquires not Members of Parliament—37

N.B. There are at least 20 of the said 37 Esquires whose names are little known, and whose qualifications as Esqrs. are referred to the king at arms; and the said king is desired to send to the publisher hereof a true account of the whole number of such real or reputed Esqrs. as are to be found in this kingdom.


N.B. Of this number one French dean, one French curate, and one bookseller.

Officers not members of Parliament—16

N.B. Of the above number 10 French; but uncertain whether on whole or half pay, broken, or of the militia.

Widows3  whereof one qualified to be deputy-governor.
N.B. It being uncertain in what class to place the eight female subscribers, whether in that of nobility, gentry, &c. it is thought proper to insert them here betwixt the officers and traders.
  Dublin 1 a Frenchman
Aldermen of Cork 1  
  Limerick 1  
      Waterford 0  
      Drogheda 0  
      &co 0  

Merchants 29, viz. 10 French, of London 1, of Cork 1, of Belfast 1.

N.B. The place of abode of three of the said merchants, viz. of London, Cork and Belfast, being mentioned, the publisher desires to know where the rest may be wrote to, and whether they deal in wholesale or retail, viz.

Master dealers, &c. 59, cashiers 1, bankers 4, chemist 1, player 1, Popish vintner 1, bricklayer 1, chandler 1, doctors of physic 4, chirurgeons 2, pewterer 1, attorneys 4 (besides one esq. attorney before reckoned), Frenchmen 8, but whether pensioners, barbers, or markees, uncertain. As to the rest of the M——rs, the publisher of this paper, though he has used his utmost diligence, has not been able to get a satisfactory account either as to their country, trade or profession.

N.B. The total of men, women and children in Ireland, besides Frenchmen, is 2,000,000. Total of the land of Ireland acres 16,800,000. (Vide Reasons for a Bank, &c.)

Quære, How many of the said acres are in possession of 1 French baron, 1 French dean, 1 French curate, 1 French alderman, 10 French merchants, 8 Messieurs Frances, 1 esq. projector, 1 esq. attorney, 6 officers of the army, 8 women, 1 London merchant, 1 Cork merchant, 1 Belfast merchant, 18 merchants whose places of abode are not mentioned, 1 cashier, 4 bankers, 1 gentleman projector, 1 player, 1 chemist, 1 Popish vintner, 1 bricklayer, 1 chandler, 4 doctors of physic, 2 chirurgeons, 1 pewterer, 4 gentlemen attorneys, besides 28 gentleman dealers, yet unknown, ut supra?

Dublin: Printed by John Harding in Molesworth's Court, in Fishamble Street. (Reprinted from original broadside, n.d.)

[29] In the capacity of a postillion, no doubt. [T. S.]

[30] Which means that she kept an eating-house or restaurant, and became eventually a bankrupt. [T. S.]

[31] The livery of a footman. [T. S.]

[32] As a constable. [T. S.]

[33] An innkeeper. [T. S.]

[34] This paragraph is printed as given by Faulkner in ed. 1735, vol. iv. [T. S.]

[35] See note on Paul Lorrain, p. 34. It was the duty of the Ordinary of a prison to compose such dying speeches. [T. S.]

[36] His parents were Dissenters, and gave him a good education. [T. S.]

[37] Sir Henry Craik remarks on this title: "In modern language this might well have been entitled, 'The theories of political economy proved to have no application to Ireland.'" The word "controlled" is used in the now obsolete sense of "confuted." [T. S.]

[38] Sir John Browne, in his "Scheme of the Money Matters of Ireland" (Dublin, 1729), calculated that the total currency, including paper, was about £914,000, but the author of "Considerations on Seasonable Remarks" stated that the entire currency could not be more than £600,000. Browne was no reliable authority; he is the writer to whom Swift wrote a reply. See p. 122. [T. S.]

[39] See "A Short View of the State of Ireland," p. 86. [T. S.]

[40] Lecky refers to a remarkable letter written by an Irish peer in the March of 1702, and preserved in the "Southwell Correspondence" in the British Museum, in which the writer complains that the money of the country is almost gone, and the poverty of the towns so great that it was feared the Court mourning for the death of William would be the final blow. (Lecky, vol. i., p. 181, 1892 ed.). [T. S.]

[41] Those of Charles II. and James II. in which, for political reasons on the part of the Crown, Ireland was peculiarly favoured. [S.]

[42] This was Dr. Nicholas Barbou, the friend of John Asgill and author of two works on trade and money. After the Great Fire of London he speculated largely in building, and greatly assisted in making city improvements. He was the founder of fire insurance in England and was active in land and bank speculations. He died in 1698, leaving a will directing that none of his debts should be paid. [T. S.]

[43] The beggars of Ireland are spoken of by Bishop Berkeley. But Arthur Dobbs, in the second part of his "Essay on Trade," published in 1731, gives a descriptive picture of the gangs who travelled over Ireland as professional paupers. In the 2,295 parishes, there was in each an average of at least ten beggars carrying on their trade the whole year round; the total number of these wandering paupers he puts down at over 34,000. Computing 30,000 of them able to work, and assuming that each beggar could earn 4d. a day in a working year of 284 days, he calculates that their idleness is a loss to the nation of £142,000. (Pp. 444-445 of Thom's reprint; Dublin, 1861) [T. S.]

[44] See Swift's terrible satire on the "Modest Proposal for preventing Children of Poor People from being a burthen." [T. S.]

[45] A small country village about seven miles from Kells. [T. S.]

[46] Esther Johnson. [T. S.]

[47] Stella's companion and Swift's housekeeper. [T. S.]

[48] See Swift's "Directions to Servants." [T. S.]

[49] By Acts 18 Charles II c. 2, and 32 Charles II c. 2, enacted in 1665 and 1680, the importation into England from Ireland of all cattle, sheep, swine, beef, pork, bacon, mutton, cheese and butter, was absolutely prohibited. The land of Ireland being largely pasture land and England being the chief and nearest market, these laws practically destroyed the farming industry. The pernicious acts were passed on complaint from English land proprietors that the competition from Irish cattle had lowered their rents in England. "In this manner," says Lecky, "the chief source of Irish prosperity was annihilated at a single blow." [T. S.]

[50] The original Navigation Act treated Ireland on an equal footing with England. The act, however, was succeeded in 1663 by that of 15 Charles II c. 7, in which it was declared that no European articles, with few exceptions, could be imported into the colonies unless they had been loaded in English-built vessels at English ports. Nor could goods be brought from English colonies except to English ports. By the Acts 22 and 23 of Charles II. c. 26 the exclusion of Ireland was confirmed, and the Acts 7 and 8 of Will. III. c. 22, passed in 1696, actually prohibited any goods whatever from being imported to Ireland direct from the English colonies. These are the reasons for Swift's remark that Ireland's ports were of no more use to Ireland's people "than a beautiful prospect to a man shut up in a dungeon."
[T. S.]

[51] See note on page 137 of vol. vi of this edition. "The Drapier's Letters." [T. S.]

[52] Lecky quotes from the MSS. in the British Museum, from a series of letters written by Bishop Nicholson, on his journey to Derry, to the Archbishop of Canterbury. The quotation illustrates the truth of Swift's remark. "Never did I behold," writes Nicholson, "even in Picardy, Westphalia, or Scotland, such dismal marks of hunger and want as appeared in the countenances of the poor creatures I met with on the road." In the "Intelligencer" (No. VI, 1728) Sheridan wrote: "The poor are sunk to the lowest degrees of misery and poverty—their houses dunghills, their victuals the blood of their cattle, or the herbs of the field." Of the condition of the country thirty years later, the most terrible of pictures is given by Burdy in his "Life of Skelton": "In 1757 a remarkable dearth prevailed in Ireland.... Mr. Skelton went out into the country to discover the real state of his poor, and travelled from cottage to cottage, over mountains, rocks, and heath.... In one cabin he found the people eating boiled prushia [a weed with a yellow flower that grows in cornfields] by itself for their breakfast, and tasted this sorry food, which seemed nauseous to him. Next morning he gave orders to have prushia gathered and boiled for his own breakfast, that he might live on the same sort of food with the poor. He ate this for one or two days; but at last his stomach turning against it, he set off immediately for Ballyshannon to buy oatmeal for them.... One day, when he was travelling in this manner through the country, he came to a lonely cottage in the mountains, where he found a poor woman lying in child-bed with a number of children about her. All she had, in her weak, helpless condition to keep herself and her children alive, was blood and sorrel boiled up together. The blood, her husband, who was a herdsman, took from the cattle of others under his care, for he had none of his own. This was a usual sort of food in that country in times of scarcity, for they bled the cows for that purpose, and thus the same cow often afforded both milk and blood.... They were obliged, when the carriers were bringing the meal to Pettigo, to guard it with their clubs, as the people of the adjacent parishes strove to take it by force, in which they sometimes succeeded, hunger making them desperate." (Burdy's Life of Skelton. "Works," vol. i, pp. lxxx-lxxxii.) [T. S.]

[53] See on this subject the agitation against Wood's halfpence in the volume dealing with "The Drapier's Letters." [T. S.]

[54] Faulkner and Scott print this word "irony," but the original edition has it as printed in the text. [T. S.]

[55] The original edition has this as "Island." Scott and the previous editors print it as in the text. Iceland is, no doubt, referred to. [T. S.]

[56] Bishop Nicholson, quoted by Lecky, speaks of the miserable hovels in which the people lived, and the almost complete absence of clothing. [T. S.]

[57] Hely Hutchinson, in his "Commercial Restraints of Ireland" (Dublin, 1779; new edit. 1888) points out that the scheme proposed by the government, and partly executed, by directing a commission under the great seal for receiving voluntary subscriptions in order to establish a bank, was a scheme to circulate paper without money. This and Wood's halfpence seem to have been the nearest approach made at the time for supplying what Swift here calls "the running cash of the nation." [T. S.]

[58] England.

[59] Scotland and Ireland.

[60] The Irish Sea.

[61] The Roman Wall.

[62] The Scottish Highlanders. [T. S]

[63] Charles I, who was delivered by the Scotch into the hands of the Parliamentary party. [T. S]

[64] See note to "A Short View of the State of Ireland." [T. S.]

[65] The King of England. [T. S.]

[66] The Lord-Lieutenant. [T. S.]

[67] The English Government filled all the important posts in Ireland with individuals sent over from England. See "Boulter's Letters" on this subject of the English rule. [T. S.]

[68] See notes to "A Short View of the State of Ireland," on the Navigation Acts and the acts against the exportation of cattle. [T. S.]

[69] The laws against woollen manufacture. [T. S.]

[70] Absentees and place-holders. [T. S.]

[71] The spirit of opposition and enmity to England, declared by the Scottish Act of Security, according to Swift's view of the relations between the countries, left no alternative but an union or a war. [S.]

[72] The Act of Union between England and Scotland. [T. S.]

[73] The reference here is to the linen manufactories of Ireland which were being encouraged by England. [T. S.]

[74] Swift here refers to the sentiment, largely predominant in Scotland, for the return of the Stuarts. [T. S.]

[75] Alliances with France. [T. S.]

[76] Alluding to the 33rd Henry VIII, providing that the King and his successors should be kings imperial of both kingdoms, on which the enemies of Irish independence founded their arguments against it. [S.] Scott cannot be correct in this note. The allusion is surely to the enactments known as Poyning's Law. See vol. vi., p. 77 (note) of this edition of Swift's works. [T. S.]

[77] Disturbances excited by the Scottish colonists in Ulster. [S.]

[78] The subjugation of Scotland by Cromwell. [S.]

[79] That is to say, to interpret Poyning's law in the spirit in which it was enacted, and give to Ireland the right to make its own laws. [T. S.]

[80] Free trade and the repeal of the Navigation Act. [T. S.]

[81] Office-holders should not be absentees. [T. S.]

[82] That the land laws of Ireland shall be free from interference by England, and the produce of the land free to be exported to any place. [T. S.]

[83] The laws prohibiting the importation of live cattle into England, and the restrictions as to the woollen industry, were the ruin of those who held land for grazing purposes. [T. S.]

[84] The Act of 10 and 11 William III., cap. 10, was the final blow to the woollen industry of Ireland. It was enacted in 1699, and prohibited the exportation of Irish wool to any other country. In the fifth letter of Hely Hutchinson's "Commercial Restraints of Ireland" (1779) will be found a full account of the passing of this Act and its consequences. [T. S.]

[85] Edward Waters and John Harding, the printers of Swift's pamphlets. See volume on "The Drapier's Letters." [T. S.]

[86] The text here given is that of the original manuscript in the Forster Collection at South Kensington, collated with that given by Deane Swift in vol. viii. of the 4to edition of 1765. [T. S.]

[87] The letter was written in reply to a letter received from Messrs. Truman and Layfield. [T. S.]

[88] Dr. William King, Archbishop of Dublin. [T. S.]

[89] Swift betrays here a lamentable knowledge of the geography of this part of America. Penn, however, may have known no better. [T. S.]

[90] William Burnet, at this time the Governor of Massachusetts, was the son of Swift's old enemy, Bishop Burnet. [T. S.]

[91] Burnet quarrelled with the Assembly of Massachusetts and New Hampshire because they would not allow him a fixed salary. The Assembly attempted to give him instead a fee on ships leaving Boston, but the English Government refused to allow this. [T. S.]

[92] The original MS. on which this text is based does not contain the passage here given in brackets. [T. S.]

[93] Swift is here supported by Arthur Dobbs, who in his "Essays on Trade," pt. ii. (1731) gives as one of the conditions prejudicial to trade, the luxury of living and extravagance in food, dress, furniture, and equipage by the Irish well-to-do. He describes it "as one of the principal sources of our national evils." His remedy was a tax on expensive dress, and rich equipage and furniture. [T. S.]

[94] The text of this tract is based on that given by Deane Swift in the eighth volume of his edition of Swift's works published in quarto in 1765. [T. S.]

[95] This refers to Whitshed. [T. S.]

[96] The Fourth. See vol. vi. of present edition. [T. S.]

[97] Some ten years after Swift wrote the above, the roads of Ireland were thought to be so good as to attract Whitefield's attention. Lecky quotes Arthur Young, who found Irish roads superior to those of England. (Lecky's "Ireland," vol. i., p. 330, 1892 ed.) [T. S.]

[98] Lecky (vol. i., pp. 333-335, 1892 edit.) gives a detailed account of the destruction of the fine woods in Ireland which occurred during the forty years that followed the Revolution. The melancholy sight of the denuded land drew the attention of a Parliamentary Commission appointed to inquire into the matter. The Act of 10 Will. III. 2, c. 12 ordered the planting of a certain number of trees in every county, "but," remarks Lecky, "it was insufficient to counteract the destruction which was due to the cupidity or the fears of the new proprietors." [T. S.]

[99] Swift always distinguished between the Irish "barbarians" and the Irish who were in reality English settlers in Ireland. Swift, for once, is in accord with the desires of the English Government, who wished to eradicate the Irish language. His friend the Archbishop of Dublin and his own college, that of Trinity, were in favour of keeping the language alive. (See Lecky's "Ireland," vol. i., pp. 331-332.) [T. S.]

[100] See Swift's "Proposal for the Universal Use of Irish Manufactures." [T. S.]

[101] See Swift's "Proposal for the Universal Use of Irish Manufactures." [T. S.]

[102] The text here given is that of Scott read by the "Miscellaneous Pieces" of 1789. The "Observations" were written, probably, in 1729. [T. S.]

[103] Monck Mason has an elaborate note on this subject ("Hist. of St. Patrick's Cathedral," pp. 320-321, ed. 1819), which is well worth reprinting here, since it is an excellent statement of facts, and is fully borne out by Hely Hutchinson's account in his "Commercial Restraints of Ireland," to which reference has already been made:

"In the year 1698 a bill was introduced into the English Parliament, grounded upon complaints, that the woollen manufacture in Ireland prejudiced the staple trade of England; the matter terminated at last in an address to the King, wherein the commons 'implored his majesty's protection and favour on this matter, and that he would make it his royal care, and enjoin all those whom he employed in Ireland, to use their utmost diligence, to hinder the exportation of wool from Ireland (except it be imported into England), and for the discouraging the woollen manufacture, and increasing the linen manufacture of Ireland.' Accordingly, on the 16th July, the King wrote a letter of instructions to the Earl of Galway, in which the following passage appears: 'The chief thing that must be tried to be prevented, is, that the Irish parliament takes no notice of what has passed in this here, and that you make effectual laws for the linen manufacture, and discourage as far as possible the woollen.'—The Earl of Galway and the other justices convened the parliament on the 27th of September; in their speech, they recommended a bill for the encouragement of the manufactures of linen and hemp, 'which,' say they, 'will be found more advantageous to this kingdom than the woollen manufacture, which, being the settled trade of England from whence all foreign markets are supplied, can never be encouraged here.' The house of commons so far concurred with the lords justices' sentiments as to say, in their address of thanks, that they would heartily endeavour to establish the linen manufacture, and to render the same useful to England, and 'we hope,' they add, 'to find such a temperament, with respect to the woollen trade here, that the same may not be injurious to England' ('Cont. Rapin's Hist.,' p. 376). 'And they did,' says Mr. Smith, 'so far come into a temperament in this case, as, hoping it would be accepted by way of compromise, to lay a high duty of ... upon all their woollen manufacture exported; under which, had England acquiesced, I am persuaded it would have been better for the kingdom in general. But the false notion of a possible monopoly, made the English deaf to all other terms of accommodation; by which means they lost the horse rather than quit the stable' ('Memoirs of Wool,' vol. ii., p. 30). The duties imposed by the Irish parliament, at this time, upon the export of manufactured wool, was four shillings on the value of twenty shillings of the old drapery, and two shillings upon the like value of the new, except friezes. But this concurrence of the people of Ireland seemed rather to heighten the jealousy between the two nations, by making the people of England imagine the manufactures of Ireland were arrived at a dangerous pitch of improvement, since they could be supposed capable of bearing so extravagant a duty: accordingly, in the next following year, the English parliament passed an Act (10-11 William III: cap. 10), that no person should export from Ireland wool or woollen goods, except to England or Wales, under high penalties, such goods to be shipped only from certain ports in Ireland, and to certain ports in England: But this was not the whole grievance; the old duties upon the import of those commodities, whether raw or manufactured, into Great Britain, were left in the same state as before, which amounted nearly to a prohibition; thus did the English, although they had not themselves any occasion for those commodities, prohibit, nevertheless, their being sent to any other nation.

"The discouragement of the woollen manufacture of Ireland, affected particularly the English settlers there, for the linen was entirely in the hands of the Scotch, who were established in Ulster, and the Irish natives had no share in either. It is stated in a pamphlet, entitled, 'A Discourse concerning Ireland, etc. in answer to the Exon and Barnstaple petitions,' printed 1697-8, that there were then, in the city and suburbs of Dublin, 12,000 English families, and throughout the nation, 50,000, who were bred to trades connected with the manufacture of wool, 'who could no more get their bread in the linen manufacture, than a London taylor by shoe-making.'

"Mr. Walter Scott says ('Life of Swift,' p. 278) that the Irish woollen manufacture produced an annual million, but this is not the fact; Mr. Dobbs in his 'Essay on the Trade of Ireland,' informs us, from the custom-house books, that in the year 1697 (which immediately preceded the year in which the address above-mentioned was transmitted to the king) the total value of Irish woollen exports, of all sorts, was only £23,614 9s. 6d., and in 1687, when they were at the highest, they did not exceed £70,521 14s. 0d. It moreover appears, that the greater part of these exports were of a sort which did not interfere with the trade of England, £56,415 16s. 0d. was in friezes, and £2,520 18s. 0d. coarse stockings, the rest consisted in serges and other stuffs of the new drapery, which affected not the trade of England generally, but only the particular interests of Exeter and its neighbourhood, and a very few other inconsiderable towns.

"But, whatever injury was intended, little prejudice was done to Ireland, except what followed immediately after the passing of this Act. It appears from Mr. Dobbs's pamphlet, that, a few years after, four times the quantity of woollen goods were shipped in each year, clandestinely, than had ever been exported, legally, before: moreover, the Irish vastly increased their manufactures for home consumption, and learned to make fine cloth from Spanish wool: it was only to England itself that any disadvantage redounded; many manufacturers who were unsettled by this measure, passed over to Germany, Spain, and to Rouen and other parts of France, 'from these beginnings they have, in many branches, so much improved the woollen manufactures of France, as to vie with the English in foreign markets.—Upon the whole, those nations may be justly said to have deprived Britain of millions since that time, instead of the thousands Ireland might possibly have made.'—What Mr. Dobbs has here asserted, relative to the removal of the manufacturers, has been confirmed by another tract, 'Letter from a Clothier a Member of Parliament,' printed in 1731, which informs us that, for some years after, the English seemed to engross all the woollen trade, 'but this appearance of benefit abated, as the foreign factories, raised on the ruin of the Irish, acquired strength': he shows too, that the importation of unmanufactured wool from Ireland to England had been gradually decreasing since that time, which was probably on account of the increase of the illicit trade to foreign parts, towards the encouragement of which the duties, or legal transportation, served to act as a bounty of 36 per cent. 'So true it is, that England can never fall into measures for unreasonably cramping the industry of the people of Ireland, without doing herself the greatest prejudice.'" (Note g, pp. 320-321).
[T. S.]

[104] The causes for absenteeism are thus noted by Lecky ("Hist. of Ireland," p. 213, vol. i., ed. 1892): "The very large part of the confiscated land was given to Englishmen who had property and duties in England, and habitually lived there. Much of it also came into the market, and as there was very little capital in Ireland, and as Catholics were forbidden to purchase land, this also passed largely into the hands of English speculators. Besides, the level of civilization was much higher in England than in Ireland. The position of a Protestant landlord, living in the midst of a degraded population, differing from him in religion and race, had but little attraction, the political situation of the country closed to an Irish gentleman nearly every avenue of honourable ambition, and owing to a long series of very evident causes, the sentiment of public duty was deplorably low. The economical condition was not checked by any considerable movement in the opposite direction, for after the suppression of the Irish manufactures but few Englishmen, except those who obtained Irish offices, came to Ireland."

The amount of the rent obtained in Ireland that was spent in England is estimated elsewhere by Swift to have been at least one-third. In 1729, Prior assessed the amount at £627,000. In the Supplement to his "List of Absentees," Prior gives eight further "articles" by which money was "yearly drawn out of the Kingdom." See the "Supplement," pp. 242-245 in Thone's "Collection of Tracts," Dublin, 1861. [T. S.]

[105] John Erskine, Earl of Mar, has elsewhere been characterized by Swift as "crooked; he seemed to me to be a gentleman of good sense and good nature." The great rebellion of 1715, for which Mar was responsible, was stirred up by him in favour of the Pretender, and succeeded so far as to bring the Chevalier to Scotland. The Duke of Argyll, however, fought his forces, and though the victory remained undecided, Mar was compelled to seek safety in France. The rebellion caused so much disturbance in every part of the British Isles that Ireland suffered greatly from bad trade. [T. S.]

[106] Joshua, Lord Allen. See note on p. 175. [T. S.]

[107] See page 60 of vol. iii. of the present edition. [T. S.]

[108] Chief Justice Whitshed. [T. S.]

[109] See page 14. [T. S.]

[110] Edward Waters. [T. S.]

[111] See pages 96, 235-6, of vol. vi. of present edition. [T. S.]

[112] The person here intimated, Joshua, Lord Allen (whom Swift elsewhere satirizes under the name of Traulus), was born in 1685. He is said to have been a weak and dissipated man; and some particulars are recorded by tradition concerning his marriage with Miss Du Pass (whose father was clerk of the secretary of state's office in James the Second's reign, and died in India in 1699), which do very little honour either to his heart or understanding.

It is reported, that being trepanned into a marriage with this lady, by a stratagem of the celebrated Lionel, Duke of Dorset, Lord Allen refused, for some time, to acknowledge her as his wife. But the lady, after living some time in close retirement, caused an advertisement to be inserted in the papers, stating the death of a brother in the East Indies, by which Miss Margaret Du Pass had succeeded to a large fortune. Accordingly, she put on mourning, and assumed an equipage conforming to her supposed change of fortune. Lord Allen's affairs being much deranged, he became now as anxious to prove the marriage with the wealthy heiress, as he had formerly been to disown the unportioned damsel; and succeeded, after such opposition as the lady judged necessary to give colour to the farce. Before the deceit was discovered, Lady Allen, by her good sense and talents, had obtained such ascendance over her husband, that they ever afterwards lived in great harmony.

Lord Allen was, at the time of giving offence to Swift, a privy-counsellor; and distinguished himself, according to Lodge, in the House of Peers, by his excellent speeches for the benefit of his country. He died at Stillorgan, 1742. [S.]

Swift did not allow Lord Allen to rest with this "advertisement." In the poem entitled "Traulus," Allen is gibbetted in some lively rhymes. He calls him a "motley fruit of mongrel seed," and traces his descent from the mother's side (she was the sister of the Earl of Kildare) as well as the father's (who was the son of Sir Joshua Allen, Lord Mayor of Dublin in 1673):

"Who could give the looby such airs?
Were they masons, were they butchers?

This was dexterous at the trowel,
That was bred to kill a cow well:
Hence the greasy clumsy mien
In his dress and figure seen;
Hence the mean and sordid soul,
Like his body rank and foul;
Hence that wild suspicious peep,
Like a rogue that steals a sheep;
Hence he learnt the butcher's guile,
How to cut your throat and smile;
Like a butcher doomed for life
In his mouth to wear a knife;
Hence he draws his daily food
From his tenants' vital blood."

[T. S.]

[113] See note on page 66 of vol. vi. of present edition. The patent to Lord Dartmouth, granting him the right to coin copper coins, provided that he should give security to redeem these coins for gold or silver on demand. John Knox obtained this patent and Colonel Moore acquired it from Knox after the Revolution. [T. S.]

[114] Of ten pence in every two shillings. [F.]

[115] But M'Culla hath still 30l. per cent. by the scheme, if they be returned. [F.]

[116] Faulkner's edition adds here: "For the benefit of defrauding the crown never occurreth to the public, but is wholly turned to the advantage of those whom the crown employeth." [T. S.]

[117] See page 89 of vol. vi. of present edition. [T. S.]

[118] 1: Faulkner's edition adds here: "it being a matter wholly out of my trade." [T. S.]

[119] See "A Proposal for the Universal Use of Irish Manufactures," p. 19. [T. S.]

[120] See Swift's letter to Archbishop King on the weavers, p. 137. [T. S.]

[121] Edward Waters. [T. S.]

[122] See note prefixed to pamphlet on p. 15. [T. S.]

[123] See notes on pp. 6, 7, 8 and 73 of vol. vi. of present edition. [T. S.]

[124] See Appendix V. in vol. vi. of present edition. [T. S.]

[125] See page 81. [T. S.]

[126] Nathaniel Mist was the publisher of the "Weekly Journal," for which Defoe wrote many important papers. The greater part of his career as a printer was spent in trials and imprisonments for the "libels" which appeared in his journal. This was largely due to the fact that his weekly newspaper became the recognized organ of Jacobites and "High-fliers." From 1716 to 1728 he was a pretty busy man with the government, and finally was compelled to go to France to escape from prosecution. In France he joined Wharton, but his "Journal" still continued to be issued until September 21st of the year 1728, which was the date of the last issue. On the 28th of the same month, however, appeared its continuation under the title, "Fog's Weekly Journal," and this was carried on by Mist's friends. Mist died in 1737. [T. S.]

[127] See notes on pp. 158-159. [T. S.]

[128] "Observations on the Precedent List: Together with a View of the Trade of Ireland, and the Great Benefits which accrue to England thereby; with some hints for the further improvement of the same." Dublin, second edition, 1729. Reprinted in Thom's "Tracts and Treatises of Ireland," 1861, vol. ii. [T. S]

[129] A reference to Alberoni's expedition in aid of the Jacobites made several years before Swift wrote. [T. S.]

[130] Sir W. Petty gives the population of Ireland as about one million, two hundred thousand ("Pol. Arithmetic," 1699). [T. S.]

[131] This is probably a Swiftian plausibility to give an air of truth to his remarks. Certain parts of America were at that time reputed to be inhabited by cannibals. [T. S.]

[132] This anecdote is taken from the Description of the Island of Formosa by that very extraordinary impostor George Psalmanazar, who for some time passed himself for a native of that distant country. He afterwards published a retractation of his figments, with many expressions of contrition, but containing certain very natural indications of dislike to those who had detected him. The passage referred to in the text is as follows: "We also eat human flesh, which I am now convinced is a very barbarous custom, though we feed only upon our open enemies, slain or made captive in the field, or else upon malefactors legally executed; the flesh of the latter is our greatest dainty, and is four times dearer than other rare and delicious meat. We buy it of the executioner, for the bodies of all public capital offenders are his fees. As soon as the criminal is dead, he cuts the body in pieces, squeezes out the blood, and makes his house a shambles for the flesh of men and women, where all people that can afford it come and buy. I remember, about ten years ago, a tall, well-complexioned, pretty fat virgin, about nineteen years of age, and tire-woman to the queen, was found guilty of high treason, for designing to poison the king; and accordingly she was condemned to suffer the most cruel death that could be invented, and her sentence was, to be nailed to a cross, and kept alive as long as possible. The sentence was put in execution; when she fainted with the cruel torment, the hangman gave her strong liquors, &c. to revive her; the sixth day she died. Her long sufferings, youth, and good constitution, made her flesh so tender, delicious, and valuable, that the executioner sold it for above eight tallies; for there was such thronging to this inhuman market, that men of great fashion thought themselves fortunate if they could purchase a pound or two of it." Lond. 1705, p. 112. [S.]

[133] The English government had been making concessions to the Dissenters, and, of course, Swift satirically alludes here to the arguments used by the government in the steps they had taken. But the truth of the matter, Swift hints, was, that those who desired to abolish the test were more anxious for their pockets than their consciences. [T. S.]

[134] The inhabitants of a district of Brazil supposed to be savages, making the name synonymous with savage ignorance. [T. S.]


"Remove me from this land of slaves,
Where all are fools, and all are knaves,
Where every fool and knave is bought,
Yet kindly sells himself for nought."

(From Swift's note-book, written while detained at Holyhead in September, 1727.) [T. S.]

[136] All these are proposals advocated, of course, by Swift himself, in previous pamphlets and papers. [T. S.]

[137] So that there would be no danger of an objection from England that the English were suffering from Irish competition. [T. S.]

[138] This was the celebrated periodical founded by Pulteney, after he had separated himself from Walpole, to which Bolingbroke contributed his famous letters of an Occasional Writer. The journal carried on a political war against Walpole's administration, and endeavoured to bring about the establishment of a new party, to consist of Tories and the Whigs who could not agree with Walpole's methods. Caleb D'Anvers was a mere name for a Grub Street hack who was supposed to be the writer. But Walpole had no difficulty in recognizing the hand of Bolingbroke, and his reply to the first number of the Occasional Writer made Bolingbroke wince. [T. S.]

[139] The "Modest Proposal." See page 207. [T. S.]

[140] Referring to the silks, laces, and dress of the extravagant women. See pp. 139, 198, 199.
[T. S.]

[141] The chief source of income in Ireland came from the pasture lands on which cattle were bred. The cattle were imported to England. The English landlords, however, taking alarm, discovered to the Crown that this importation of Irish cattle was lowering English rents. Two Acts passed in 1665 and 1680 fully met the wishes of the landlords, and ruined absolutely the Irish cattle trade. Prevented thus from breeding cattle, the Irish turned to the breeding of sheep, and established, in a very short time, an excellent trade in wool. How England ruined this industry also may be seen from note on p. 158. [T. S.]

[142] Alluding to the facilities afforded for the recruiting of the French army in Ireland. [T. S.]

[143] The King of France. [T. S.]

[144] Buttermilk. The quotation from Virgil aptly applies to the food of the Irish peasants, who, in the words of Skelton, bled their cattle and boiled their blood with sorrel to make a food.
[T. S.]

[145] At Christ Church. See note prefixed to this tract. [T. S.]

[146] Sheridan, in his life of Swift, gives an instance of this which is quoted by Scott. Carteret had appointed Sheridan one of his domestic chaplains, and the two would often spend hours together, or, in company with Swift, exchanging talk and knowledge. When Sheridan had one of the Greek tragedies performed by the scholars of the school he kept, Carteret wished to read the play over with him before the performance. At this reading Sheridan was surprised at the ease with which his patron could translate the original, and, asking him how he came to know it so well, Carteret told him "that when he was envoy in Denmark, he had been for a long time confined to his chamber, partly by illness, and partly by the severity of the weather; and having but few books with him, he had read Sophocles over and over so often as to be almost able to repeat the whole verbatim, which impressed it ever after indelibly on his memory." [T. S.]

[147] This refers to Richard Tighe, the gentleman who informed on poor Sheridan for preaching from the text on the anniversary of King George's accession, "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." It was on this information that Sheridan lost his living. Swift never afterwards missed an opportunity to ridicule Tighe, and he has lampooned that individual in several poems. In "The Legion Club" Swift calls him Dick Fitzbaker, alluding to his descent from one of Cromwell's contractors, who supplied the army with bread. [T. S.]

[148] "The worst of times" was the expression used by the Whigs when they referred to Oxford's administration in the last four years of Queen Anne's reign. [T. S.]

[149] A famous rope-dancer of that time. [H.]

[150] A justice of the peace, who afterwards gave Swift farther provocation. It was Hutcheson who signed Faulkner's committal to prison for printing "A New Proposal for the Better Regulation and Improvement of Quadrille," a pamphlet which Swift did not write, but which had his favour. A jeering insinuation was made against the famous Sergeant Bettesworth, whom Swift had already lampooned, and Bettesworth complained to the House of Commons. Hutcheson aided Bettesworth in this prosecution, causing Swift to be roused to a strong indignation against such unconstitutional proceedings.

"Better we all were in our graves,
Than live in slavery to slaves."

These are the lines beginning one of his more trenchant lampoons against the magistrate.
[T. S.]

[151] "The beast who had kicked him" is the expression Swift uses for Tighe in writing to Sheridan in a letter on September 25th, 1725. In that letter Swift urges Sheridan to revenge, and promises him his help. [T. S.]

[152] The word is spelt "Galloway" in the original edition. The earldom of Galway became extinct in 1720. For an account of the earl, see note on p. 20 of volume v. of this edition. [T. S.]

[153] Joshua, Lord Allen. See p. 175 [T. S.]

[154] Swift's poem entitled "Traulus" was published at this price, and gives in rhyme much the same matter as is here given in prose. See p. 176. [T. S.]

[155] Lord Allen was reputed to be wrong in his head. When Swift was once asked to excuse him for his conduct on the plea that he was mad, Swift replied: "I know that he is a madman; and, if that were all, no man living could commiserate his condition more than myself; but, sir, he is a madman possessed by the devil. I renounce him." (See Scott's "Life of Swift," p. 365.) [T. S.]

[156] The reader may compare what is stated in these two paragraphs with the same opinion expressed by the author in "The Public Spirit of the Whigs." [S.]

[157] See notes on pp. 74, 232. [T. S.]

[158] See note on p. 232. [T. S.]

[159] Mr. Tickell and Mr. Ballaquer. Tickell was Addison's biographer, and a friend and correspondent of Swift. He was no mean poet, and though Pope did not care for him Swift did. Tickell was Secretary to the Lords Justices of Ireland, and Ballaquer Secretary to Carteret. [T. S.]

[160] The day of the anniversary of the accession of George I. In his "History of Solomon the Second" Swift censures his friend strongly for his indiscretion. [T. S.]

[161] The Richard Tighe afore-mentioned. [T. S.]

[162] Sheridan wrote a poem displeasing to Swift, which Swift thus animadverts on in the "History of the Second Solomon": "Having lain many years under the obloquy of a high Tory and a Jacobite, upon the present Queen's birthday, he [Dr. Sheridan] writ a song to be performed before the government and those who attended them, in praise of the Queen and King, on the common topics of her beauty, wit, family, love of England, and all other virtues, wherein the King and the royal children were sharers. It was very hard to avoid the common topics. A young collegian who had done the same job the year before, got some reputation on account of his wit. Solomon would needs vie with him, by which he lost the esteem of his old friends the Tories, and got not the least interest with the Whigs, for they are now too strong to want advocates of that kind; and, therefore, one of the lords-justices reading the verses in some company, said, 'Ah, doctor, this shall not do.' His name was at length in the title-page; and he did this without the knowledge or advice of one living soul, as he himself confesseth." [T. S.]

[163] Dr. Stopford, Bishop of Cloyne, one of Swift's intimate friends. Stopford always acknowledged that he owed his advancement entirely to Swift's kindness. He wrote an elegant Latin tribute to Swift, given by Scott in an appendix to the "Life." With Delany and others he was one of Swift's executors.

[164] Delany was a ripe scholar and much esteemed by Swift, though the latter had occasion to rebuke him for attempting to court favour with the Castle people, and for an attack on the "Intelligencer," a journal which Swift and Sheridan had started. Delany, however, was a little jealous of Sheridan's favour with the Dean. He was afterwards Chancellor of St Patrick's, and wrote a life of Swift. [T. S.]

[165] Sir Constantine Phipps, Lord Chancellor of Ireland when Queen Anne died. [Orig. Note.]

[166] Swift himself. [T. S.]

[167] Dr. William King, who died a year or so before Swift wrote. [T. S.]

[168] In 1724, two under-graduates were expelled from Trinity College for alleged insolence to the provost. Dr. Delany espoused their cause with such warmth that it drew upon him very inconvenient consequences, and he was at length obliged to give satisfaction to the college by a formal acknowledgment of his offence. [S.]

[169] A very good friend of Swift, at whose place at Gosford, in the county of Antrim, Swift would often stay for months together. The reference here is to the project for converting a large house, called Hamilton's Bawn, situated about two miles from Sir Arthur Acheson's seat, into a barrack. The project gave rise to Swift's poem, entitled, "The Grand Question Debated," given by Scott in vol. xv., p. 171. [T. S.]

[170] Most of these expressions explain themselves. "Termagants" was applied to resisters, as used in the old morality plays. "Iconoclasts," the name given to those who defaced King William's statue. "White-rosalists," given to those who wore the Stuart badge on the 10th of June, the day of the Pretender's birthday. [T. S.]

[171] By fines is meant the increase made in rents on the occasion of renewals of leases. [T. S.]

[172] This document was copied by Sir Walter Scott from Dr. Lyon's papers. It is indorsed, "Queries for Mr. Lindsay," and "21st Nov., 1730, Mr. Lindsay's opinion concerning Mr. Gorman, in answer to my queries." Mr. Lindsay's answer was:

"I have carefully perused and considered this case, and am clearly of opinion, that the agent has not made any one answer like a man of business, but has answered very much like a true agent.

"Nov. 21, 1730. Robert Lindsay."

[173] Swift was born at No. 7, Hoey's Court, near the Castle grounds. [T. S.]

[174] A sort of sugar-cakes in the shape of hearts. [F.]

[175] A new name for a modern periwig with a long black tail, and for its owner; now in fashion, Dec. 1, 1733. [F.]

[176] Referring to the last four years of Anne's reign, when Harley was minister. The expression was a Whig one. [T. S.]

[177] "The squeezing of the orange" was literally a toast among the disaffected in the reign of William III. [S.]

[178] The author's meaning is just contrary to the literal sense in the character of Lord Oxford; while he is in truth sneering at the splendour of Houghton, and the supposed wealth of Sir Robert Walpole. [S.]

[179]The paragraph here printed in square brackets did not appear in the original Dublin edition of 1732. [T. S.]

[180] Was a gentleman of a very large estate, and left it to the poor people of England, to be distributed amongst them annually, as the Parliament of Great Britain, his executors, should think proper. [F.]

[181] 4,060,000 in 1734 and 4,600,000 in edition of 1733. To make the total agree with the division below it, the item against Richard Norton has been altered from 60,000 to 6,000. [T. S.]

[182] See note on page 269. [T. S.]

[183] See note on page 271. [T. S.]

[184] Humphry French, Lord Mayor of Dublin for the year 1732-3, was elected to succeed Alderman Samuel Burton. [F.]

[185] John Macarrell, Register of the Barracks, shortly after this date elected to the representation of Carlingford. [F.]

[186] Edward Thompson, member of parliament for York, and a Commissioner of the Revenue in Ireland. [F.]

[187] Mr. Thompson was presented with the freedom of several corporations in Ireland. [F.]

[188] Upon the death of Mr. Stoyte, Recorder of the City of Dublin, in the year 1733, several gentlemen declared themselves candidates to succeed him; upon which the Dean wrote the above paper, and Eaton Stannard, Esq. (a gentleman of great worth and honour, and very knowing in his profession) was elected [F.]

[189] Dr. William King. [T. S.]

[190] The following, from Deane Swift's edition, given by Sir Walter Scott in his edition of Swift's works, refers to this "very plain proposal." It is evidently written by Swift, and is dated, as from the Deanery House, September 26th, 1726, almost eleven years before the above tract was issued:

"Deanery-house, Sept. 26, 1726.

"The continued concourse of beggars from all parts of the kingdom to this city, having made it impossible for the several parishes to maintain their own poor, according to the ancient laws of the land, several lord mayors did apply themselves to the lord Archbishop of Dublin, that his grace would direct his clergy, and his churchwardens of the said city, to appoint badges of brass, copper, or pewter, to be worn by the poor of the several parishes. The badges to be marked with the initial letters of the name of each church, and numbered 1, 2, 3, etc., and to be well sewed and fastened on the right and left shoulder of the outward garment of each of the said poor, by which they might be distinguished. And that none of the said poor should go out of their own parish to beg alms; whereof the beadles were to take care.

"His grace the lord Archbishop, did accordingly give his directions to the clergy; which, however, have proved wholly ineffectual, by the fraud, perverseness, or pride of the said poor, several of them openly protesting 'they will never submit to wear the said badges.' And of those who received them, almost every one keep them in their pockets, or hang them in a string about their necks, or fasten them under their coats, not to be seen, by which means the whole design is eluded; so that a man may walk from one end of the town to another, without seeing one beggar regularly badged, and in such great numbers, that they are a mighty nuisance to the public, most of them being foreigners.

"It is therefore proposed, that his grace the lord Archbishop would please to call the clergy of the city together, and renew his directions and exhortations to them, to put the affair of badges effectually in practice, by such methods as his grace and they shall agree upon. And I think it would be highly necessary that some paper should be pasted up in several proper parts of the city, signifying this order, and exhorting all people to give no alms except to those poor who are regularly badged, and only while they are in the precincts of their own parishes. And if something like this were delivered by the ministers in the reading-desk two or three Lord's-days successively, it would still be of further use to put this matter upon a right foot. And that all who offend against this regulation shall be treated as vagabonds and sturdy beggars." [T. S.]

[191] Spelt now St. Warburgh's. [T. S.]

[192] About the beginning of the eighteenth century, Dr. Gwythers, a physician, and fellow of the University of Dublin, brought over with him a parcel of frogs from England to Ireland, in order to propagate their species in that kingdom, and threw them into the ditches of the University Park; but they all perished. Whereupon he sent to England for some bottles of the frog-spawn, which he threw into those ditches, by which means the species of frogs was propagated in that kingdom. However, their number was so small in the year 1720, that a frog was nowhere to be seen in Ireland, except in the neighbourhood of the University Park: but within six or seven years after, they spread thirty, forty, or fifty miles over the country; and so at last, by degrees, over the whole country. [D. S.]

[193] Swift's uncle, Godwin Swift, for whose memory he had no special regard, seems to have been concerned in this ingenious anagram and unfortunate project. [S.]

[194] This reproach has been certainly removed since the Dean flourished; for the titles of the Irish peerages of late creation have rather been in the opposite extreme, and resemble, in some instances, the appellatives in romances and novels.

Thomas O'Brien MacMahon, an Irish author, quoted by Mr. Southey in his Omniana, in a most angry pamphlet on "The Candour and Good-nature of Englishmen," has the following diverting passage, which may serve as a corollary to Swift's Tract:—"You sent out the children of your princes," says he, addressing the Irish, "and sometimes your princes in person, to enlighten this kingdom, then sitting in utter darkness, (meaning England) and how have they recompensed you? Why, after lawlessly distributing your estates, possessed for thirteen centuries or more, by your illustrious families, whose antiquity and nobility, if equalled by any nation in the world, none but the immutable God of Abraham's chosen, though, at present, wandering and afflicted people, surpasses: After, I say, seizing on your inheritances, and flinging them among their Cocks, Hens, Crows, Rooks, Daws, Wolves, Lions, Foxes, Rams, Bulls, Hoggs, and other beasts and birds of prey, or vesting them in the sweepings of their jails, their Small-woods, Do-littles, Barebones, Strangeways, Smarts, Sharps, Tarts, Sterns, Churls, and Savages; their Greens, Blacks, Browns, Greys and Whites; their Smiths, Carpenters, Brewers, Bakers, and Taylors; their Sutlers, Cutlers, Butlers, Trustlers and Jugglers; their Norths, Souths, and Wests; their Fields, Rows, Streets, and Lanes; their Toms-sons, Dicks-sons, Johns-sons, James-sons, Wills-sons, and Waters-sons; their Shorts, Longs, Lows, and Squabs; their Parks, Sacks, Tacks, and Jacks; and, to complete their ingratitude and injustice, they have transported a cargo of notorious traitors to the Divine Majesty among you, impiously calling them the Ministers of God's Word." [S.]

[195] The Tholsel, where criminals for the city were tried, and where proclamations, etc., were posted. It was invariably called the Touls'el by the lower class. [S.]

[196] This and the following piece were, according to Sir Walter Scott, found among the collection of Mr. Smith. The examples of English blunders which Scott also reprints were given by Sheridan by way of retaliation to these specimens of Irish blunders noted by Swift. [T. S.]

[197] This specimen of Irish-English, or what Swift condemned as such, is taken from an unfinished copy in the Dean's handwriting, found among Mr. Lyons's papers. [S.]

[198] See note on p. 368. [T. S.]

[199] Dunkin was one of Swift's favourites, to judge by the efforts Swift made on his behalf. Writing to Alderman Barber (17th January, 1737-38), Swift speaks of him as "a gentleman of much wit and the best English as well as Latin poet in this kingdom." Several of Dunkin's poems were printed in Scott's edition of Swift's works, but his collected works were issued in 1774. Dunkin was educated at Trinity College, Dublin. [T. S.]

[200] The "Occasional Writer's" Letters are printed in Lord Bolingbroke's Works. [N.]

[201] Sir Robert Walpole was by no means negligent of his literary assistants. But, unfortunately, like an unskilful general, he confided more in the number than the spirit or discipline of his forces. Arnall, Concanen, and Henley, were wretched auxiliaries; yet they could not complain of indifferent pay, since Arnall used to brag, that, in the course of four years, he had received from the treasury, for his political writings, the sum of £10,997 6s. 8d. [S.]

[202] The authority for considering this "Account" to be the work of Swift is Mr. Deane Swift, the editor of the edition of 1765 of Swift's works. It is included in the eighth volume of the quarto edition issued that year. Burke also seems to have had no doubt at all about the authorship. Referring to the Dean's disposition to defend Queen Anne and to ridicule her successor, he says, "it is probable that the pieces in which he does it ('Account of the Court of Japan,' and 'Directions for making a Birth-day Song') were the occasion of most of the other posthumous articles having been so long withheld from the publick." Undoubtedly, there is much in this piece that savours of Swift's method of dealing with such a subject; but that could easily be imitated by a clever reader of "Gulliver." The style, however, in which it is written is not distinctly Swift's.

At the time this tract was written (1728) the Tory party was anxiously hoping that the accession of George II. would see the downfall of Walpole. But the party was doomed to a bitter disappointment. Walpole not only maintained but added to the power he enjoyed under George I. By what means this was accomplished the writer of this piece attempts to hint. Sir Walter Scott thinks the piece was probably left imperfect, "when the crisis to which the Tories so anxiously looked forward terminated so undesirably, in the confirmation of Walpole's power." [T. S.]

[203] King George. [S.]

[204] Queen Anne. [S.]

[205] Whigs and Tories. Anagrams of Huigse and Toryes. [T. S.]

[206] Hanover. Anagrams for Deuts = Deutsch = German. [T. S.]

[207] Bremen and Lubeck. [S.]

[208] The quadruple alliance, usually accounted the most impolitic step in the reign of George I., had its rise in his anxiety for his continental dominions. [S.]

[209] Through all the reign of George I., the Whigs were in triumphant possession of the government. [S.]

[210] Sir Robert Walpole [S.]

[211] When secretary at war, Walpole received £500 from the contractors for forage; and although he alleged that it was a sum due to a third party in the contract, and only remitted through his hands, he was voted guilty of corruption, expelled the House, and sent to the Tower, by the Tory Parliament. [S.]

[212] King George II. [S.]

[213] Sir Spencer Compton, Speaker of the House of Commons. [S.]

[214] Sir Thomas Hanmer. [S.]

[215] About a million sterling. [D. S.]

[216] This piece is included here on the authority of Mr. Deane Swift, and was accepted by Sir Walter Scott on the same authority. The writing is excellent and bears every mark of Swift's hand. In the note to the "Letter to the Writer of the Occasional Paper" was included the heads of a paper which Swift suggested, found by Sir H. Craik. The present "Answer" may serve as further evidence of Sir H. Craik's suggestion that Swift may have assisted Pulteney and Bolingbroke on more than one occasion.

The present text is that of the 1768 quarto edition. [T. S.]

[217] "Gasping," 1768; "grasping," Nichols, 1801. [T. S.]


"For neither man nor angel can discern
Hypocrisy—the only evil that walks
Invisible, except to God alone,

By His permissive will, through heaven and earth,
And oft, though Wisdom wake, Suspicion sleeps
At Wisdom's gate, and to Simplicity
Resigns her charge, while Goodness thinks no ill
Where no ill seems."—

Paradise Lost, Book III., 682-689. [T. S.]