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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