Dean Swift

Justin McCarthy
Chapter VIII | Start of Chapter

Perhaps the most important event in her political history was the history of Dean Swift's famous work, "The Drapier's Letters." Seldom has so great a sensation been created by an expanded political pamphlet as that produced by the publication of these letters. Swift had been living in Ireland for some time, and amid all his literary occupations and romantic episodes he had always kept his attention alive to the social condition of the country of his birth. Through all his loves and hatreds, controversies and eccentricities, sudden changes of opinion and impatience of conventional rules, he was always sincere in his wish to obtain fair dealing for the people of Ireland. In 1720 he started a proposal "for the universal use of Irish manufacture in clothes and the furniture of houses," a system which he invited all true Irishmen in Ireland to put into practice. The idea has since been taken up again and again in Ireland, and has now and then given birth to a popular movement, although it has never become an article of faith or of universal practice among Irish men and women. The issue of this proposal brought on Swift's publisher at the time the distinction of a Government prosecution.