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..
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.





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
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