The Works of Dr Jonathan Swift, Dean of St Patrick's, Dublin

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Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009 - 66 pages
Purchase of this book includes free trial access to where you can read more than a million books for free. This is an OCR edition with typos. Excerpt from book: LETTER Member of PARLIAMENT In IRELAND, Upon chufing a new Speaker there. Written in the Year 1708. XTOU may eafily believe I am not at all . furprifed at what you tell me, fince it is but a confirmation of my own conjecture that I fent you laft week, and made you my reproaches upon at a venture. It looks exceedmg ftrange, yet I believe it to be a great truth, that, in order to carry a point in your houfe, the two following circumilances are of great advantage: firil, to have an ill caufe ) and, fecondly, to be a minority. For both thefe circumftances are extremely apt to invite men, to make them afllduous in their attendance, watchful of opportunities, zealous for gaining over profelytes, and often fuccefs- ul i which is not to be wondered at, when. favourfavour and intereft are on the fide of their opinion. Whereas, on the contrary, a majority with a good caufe are negligent and fu- pine. They think it fufficient to declare them- lelves upon opinion in favour of their party; but, failing againft the tide of favour and preferment, they are eafily fcattered and driven back. In mort, they want a common principie to cement, and motive to fpirit them. For the bare acting upon a principle from the dictates of a good cnnfcience, or profpe6V of ierving the public, will not go very far under the prefent difpofitions of mankind. This was amply verified laft feffion of parliament, upon occafion of the money-bill, the merits of which I mall not pretend to examine. It is enough that, upon the firft news of its tranfiniffion hither, in the form it afterwards appeared, the members, upon difcourfe with their friends, feemed unanimous againft iti I mean thofe of both parties, except a few, who were looked upon as perfons ready to go any lengths prefcribed them by the court. Yet, ...

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About the author (2009)

Apparently doomed to an obscure Anglican parsonage in Laracor, Ireland, even after he had written his anonymous masterpiece, A Tale of a Tub (c.1696), Swift turned a political mission to England from the Irish Protestant clergy into an avenue to prominence as the chief propagandist for the Tory government. His exhilaration at achieving importance in his forties appears engagingly in his Journal to Stella (1710--13), addressed to Esther Johnson, a young protegee for whom Swift felt more warmth than for anyone else in his long life. At the death of Queen Anne and the fall of the Tories in 1714, Swift became dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin. In Ireland, which he considered exile from a life of power and intellectual activity in London, Swift found time to defend his oppressed compatriots, sometimes in such contraband essays as his Drapier's Letters (1724), and sometimes in such short mordant pieces as the famous A Modest Proposal (1729); and there he wrote perhaps the greatest work of his time, Gulliver's Travels (1726). Using his characteristic device of the persona (a developed and sometimes satirized narrator, such as the anonymous hack writer of A Tale of a Tub or Isaac Bickerstaff in Predictions for the Ensuing Year, who exposes an astrologer), Swift created the hero Gulliver, who in the first instance stands for the bluff, decent, average Englishman and in the second, humanity in general. Gulliver is a full and powerful vision of a human being in a world in which violent passions, intellectual pride, and external chaos can degrade him or her---to animalism, in Swift's most horrifying images---but in which humans do have scope to act, guided by the Classical-Christian tradition. Gulliver's Travels has been an immensely successful children's book (although Swift did not care much for children), so widely popular through the world for its imagination, wit, fun, freshness, vigor, and narrative skill that its hero is in many languages a common proper noun. Perhaps as a consequence, its meaning has been the subject of continuing dispute, and its author has been called everything from sentimental to mad. Swift died in Dublin and was buried next to his beloved "Stella."

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