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 circumstance 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.
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.
SPEECH DELIVERED BY DEAN SWIFT
TO AN ASSEMBLY OF MERCHANTS MET AT THE GUILDHALL,
TO DRAW UP A PETITION TO THE LORD LIEUTENANT
ON THE LOWERING OF COIN,
APRIL 24TH, 1736.