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advance his fortunes in the Church; for although he made clear enough the shortcomings of Peter and Jack, his way of looking at life prevented his making clear the virtues of Martin, as a clergyman in the Established Church was naturally expected to do.
Swift at Laracor. For some reason not quite apparent neither The Battle of the Books nor The Tale of a Tub was published immediately. Both appeared in 1704, when Swift had returned to Ireland and begun the life of a country parson at Laracor, twenty miles from Dublin. Laracor was nominally his home from 1700 to 1710, though he spent much time in London.
The "Joke" on Partridge, During one of these visits to the metropolis Swift indulged in a typical piece of satire. Under the name of "Isaac Bickerstaff" he predicted that one Partridge, an almanac-maker, himself given to predicting, would die at a definite hour on a day some weeks off. The day after the date set, Bickerstaff (Swift) published a letter to a prominent person, stating that Partridge had fulfilled the prediction. Partridge then published a new almanac, saying, as Mark Twain once said, that the report of his death was grossly exaggerated. Bickerstaff replied that Partridge's writing another almanac was no proof at all that he was still alive, and that he was, in fact, unquestionably dead. Swift's (Bickerstaff's) victim could not thereafter get a hearing.
"An Argument against Abolishing Christianity." The same visit was made notable by An Argument against Abolishing Christianity, in which Swift assumes that the nation has unanimously determined upon abolishment. In a perfectly serious tone and in a carefully constructed and
orderly essay, he sets forth many arguments against abolishment; as, the necessity of " a nominal religion," the usefulness of one day in seven for various things that would hinder business on other days, the value of Christianity for the display of the freethinker's abilities in attacking it. The satire is directed not only at the "heretical" thinking of the day, but also at the superficial, conventional thinking of the so-called "orthodox."
The decade of Swift's
Politics; and "The Examiner." residence at Laracor was marked by the rise of political parties in England, and the increase in the power of the ministry; and Swift was seeking political favor to better his position in the Church. For some years he was a Whig ; but differing from the party on a vital principle, he left it before it lost control of government. When in November, 1710, the Tories gained control, it seemed that Swift's hour had arrived. The leaders were not slow to enlist the aid of his pen for their cause; and he wielded it vigorously for the four years (to the death of Queen Anne) they remained in power. His most useful political writing was in The Examiner, a party journal edited by him in 1710-1711. Despite the fact that The Examiner was primarily a plea for support of the ministry, Swift's numbers are not a blindly partisan plea. They show, indeed, in the opinion of Swift's latest editor" a noble spirit of wide-eyed patriotism, and a distinguished grasp of the meaning of national greatness and national integrity."
"Dean" Swift. Always ambitious, Swift had felt confident that nothing less than a bishopric would be given him for his services to the government; but no bishopric was
1 Temple Scott.
forthcoming. About a year before the downfall of the Tories the deanery of Saint Patrick's, Dublin, was tendered to him; and he accepted on the assumption that a deanery was a more comfortable place of abode than a country parsonage. It is not evident that Swift was especially successful or in any way notable in his new position; but some title, ap
parently, the public thought due him, and as "Dean" Swift he has been known ever since.
Return to Ireland. With the change in government, only Saint Patrick's and Ireland had anything to offer Swift. So to Ireland he returned in 1714; and in the country of his birth but not of his home he spent the remainder of his life. It was at the age of fifty-nine that he published the work by which he is most generally known
Gulliver's Travels, described above as a sort of universal satire.
This book narrates
The Story of "Gulliver's Travels." the experiences in four strange countries of Lemuel Gulliver, Englishman," first a surgeon, and then a captain of several ships," who had been " condemned by nature and fortune to an active and restless life." He is shipwrecked in Lilliput, where the inhabitants measure by inches instead of by feet, and where all things - buildings, animals, etc. — are in proportion. He is accidentally left on shore in Brobdingnag, the inhabitants of which measure by English feet as if they were inches, and all things, again, are in proportion. On a third voyage, after being captured by pirates and set adrift in a canoe, he lands in Laputa; and on a fourth, he is the victim of a conspiracy among his men and is landed in the country of the Houyhnhnms. Among the inhabitants of the last two countries are very repulsive beings called Struldbrugs and Yahoos; and the last two parts of the book are much less attractive in every way than the first two.
The Satire in " Gulliver's Travels." Though Swift made Gulliver's Travels a story interesting to both young and old, his object in the volume was certainly not entertainment. According to the author the book is an expression of his hatred of mankind. In the " Voyage to Lilliput " he shows how contemptible war is by showing these six-inch creatures at war. He shows how insignificant are the causes of political controversy by picturing the Lilliputians as divided on the subject of breaking eggs - whether they should be broken at the big end or the little end.
1 This name is, apparently, to be pronounced "Whinnems," in imitation of the neighing of a horse.
In the "Voyage to Brobdingnag" Gulliver (typifying, of course, humanity) excites the profound contempt of the king "The bulk of your natives," says he, " appear to me to be the most pernicious race of little odious vermin that Nature ever suffered to crawl upon the face of the earth." The king's dwarf, says Gulliver, was "of the lowest stature that was ever in that country (for I verily think he was not full thirty feet high)." How insignificant and contemptible must man be if there are found in the world such powerful beings as the Brobdingnagians, and such finely-developed beings as the Lilliputians!
Writings on Ireland: "Drapier's Letters." - Of the ten other works written after his appointment to Saint Patrick's only two need be mentioned here, both concerned with the misgovernment, ignorance, and poverty of Ireland. The first is the Drapier's Letters, essays pretending to be addressed by a tradesman to the "tradesmen, shopkeepers, farmers, and country-people in general," urging them to declare their virtual independence of England by refusing a debased currency which the mother country was trying to force upon them.
"A Modest Proposal." The other work in behalf of Ireland, showing probably the utmost extreme to which satire can go, is called: A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People in Ireland from being a Burden to their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Public. This proposal, "humbly" set forth in an absolutely cool and serious manner, is that the superfluous children be used as food. "It is not improbable," says the Dean," that some scrupulous people might be apt to censure such a practice as a little bordering on cruelty." This kind of food" will be somewhat dear," he admits; but for this very