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

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 407 pages of information about The Prose Works of Jonathan Swift, D.D..
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.



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.

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The Prose Works of Jonathan Swift, D.D. - Volume 07 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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