CELT document E700001-010

The present miserable state of Ireland


The Present Miserable State Of Ireland

The following tract was taken by Sir Walter Scott “from a little miscellaneous 12mo volume of pamphlets, communicated by Mr. Hartsonge, relating chiefly to Irish affairs, the property at one time of Thomas Kingsbury, Esq., son of Dr. Kingsbury, who attended Swift in his last illness.” The present editor came across a similar volume while on a visit of research in Dublin, among the collection of books which belonged to the late Sir W. Gilbert, and which were being catalogued for auction by the bookseller, Mr. O'Donoghue. The little 12mo contained this tract which had, as Sir W. Scott points out, a portrait of Swift at the end, on the recto of the last leaf.

According to Sir W. Scott, the friend in Dublin to whom the letter is supposed to be addressed, was Sir Robert Walpole. If Scott be correct, and there seems little reason to doubt his conjecture, the tract must have been written in the second half of the year 1726. In the early part of that year Swift had an interview with Walpole. Our knowledge of what transpired at that interview is obtained from Swift's letter of April 28th, 1726, to Lord Peterborough; from Swift's letter to Dr. Stopford of July 20th, 1726; from Pope's letter to Swift of September 3rd, 1726; and from Swift's letter to Lady Betty Germaine of January 8th, 1731. From these letters we learn that Swift was really invited by Walpole to meet him. Swift's visit to England concerned itself mainly with the publication of Gulliver's Travels, but Sir Henry Craik thinks that Swift had other thoughts. “As regards politics,” says this biographer, “he was encouraged to hope that without loss either of honour or consistency, it was open to him to make terms with the new powers. In the end, the result proved that he either over-estimated his own capacity of surrendering his independence, or under-estimated the terms that would be exacted.” This remark would leave it open for a reader to conclude that Swift would, at a certain price, have been ready to join Walpole and his party. But the letters referred to do not in the least warrant such a conclusion. Swift's thought was for Ireland, and had he been successful with Walpole in his pleading for Ireland's cause that minister might have found an ally in Swift; but the price to be paid was not to the man. From Swift's letter to Peterborough we are at once introduced to Ireland's case, and his point of view on this was so opposed to Walpole's preconceived notions of how best to govern Ireland, as well as of his settled plans, that Swift found, as he put it, that Walpole “had conceived opinions … which I could not reconcile to the notions I had of liberty.” Not at all of his own liberty, but of that of the liberty of a nation; for, as he says (giving now the quotation in full): “I had no other design in desiring to see Sir Robert Walpole, than to represent the affairs of Ireland to him in a true light, not only without any view to myself, but to any party whatsoever ... I failed very much  p.154 in my design; for I saw that he had conceived opinions, from the example and practices of the present, and some former governors, which I could not reconcile to the notions I had of liberty.” The part given here in italics is omitted by Sir H. Craik in his quotation.

Swift saw Walpole twice — once at Walpole's invitation at a dinner at Chelsea, and a second time at his own wish, expressed though Lord Peterborough. At the first meeting nothing of politics could be broached, as the encounter was a public one. The second meeting was private and resulted in nothing. The letter to Peterborough was written by Swift the day after he had seen Walpole, and Peterborough was requested to show it to that minister. The letter is so pertinent to the subject-matter of this volume that it is printed here:

'Swift to the Earl of Peterborough.'

My Lord
Your lordship having, at my request, obtained for me an hour from Sir Robert Walpole, I accordingly attended him yesterday at eight o'clock in the morning, and had somewhat more than an hour's conversation with him. Your lordship was this day pleased to inquire what passed between that great minister and me; to which I gave you some general answers, from whence you said you could comprehend little or nothing.

I had no other design in desiring to see Sir Robert Walpole, than to represent the affairs of Ireland to him in a true light, not only without any view to myself, but to any party whatsoever: and, because I understood the affairs of that kingdom tolerably well, and observed the representations he had received were such as I could not agree to; my principal design was to set him right, not only for the service of Ireland, but likewise of England, and of his own administration.

I failed very much in my design; for I saw he had conceived opinions, from the example and practices of the present, and some former governors, which I could not reconcile to the notions I had of liberty, a possession always understood by the British nation to be the inheritance of a human creature.

Sir Robert Walpole was pleased to enlarge very much upon the subject of Ireland, in a manner so alien from what I conceived to be the rights and privileges of a subject of England, that I did not think proper to debate the matter with him so much as I otherwise might, because I found it would be in vain. I shall, therefore, without entering into dispute, make bold to mention to your lordship some few grievances of that kingdom, as it consists of a people who, beside a natural right of enjoying the privileges of subjects, have also a claim of merit from their extraordinary loyalty to the present king and his family.

First, That all persons born in Ireland are called and treated as Irishmen, although their fathers and grandfathers were born in England; and their predecessors having been conquerors of Ireland, it is humbly considered they ought to be on as good a foot as any subjects of Britain, according to the practice of all other nations, and particularly of the Greeks and Romans.


Secondly, That they are denied the natural liberty of exporting their manufactures to any country which is not engaged in a war with England.

Thirdly, That whereas there is a university in Ireland, founded by Queen Elizabeth, where youth are instructed with a much stricter discipline than either in Oxford or Cambridge, it lies under the greatest discouragements, by filling all the principal employments, civil and ecclesiastical, with persons from England, who have neither interest, property, acquaintance, nor alliance, in that kingdom; contrary to the practice of all other states in Europe which are governed by viceroys, at least what hath never been used without the utmost discontents of the people.

Fourthly, That several of the bishops sent over to Ireland, having been clergymen of obscure condition, and without other distinction than that of chaplains to the governors, do frequently invite over their old acquaintances or kindred, to whom they bestow the best preferment in their gift. The like may be said of the judges, who take with them one or two dependants, to whom they give their countenance; and who, consequently, without other merit, grow immediately into the chief business of their courts. The same practice is followed by all others in civil employments, if they have a cousin, a valet, or footman in their family, born in England.

Fifthly, That all civil employments, granted in reversion, are given to persons who reside in England.

The people of Ireland, who are certainly the most loyal subjects in the world, cannot but conceive that most of these hardships have been the consequence of some unfortunate representations (at least) in former times; and the whole body of the gentry feel the effects in a very sensible part, being utterly destitute of all means to make provision for their younger sons, either in the Church, the law, the revenue, or (of late) in the army; and, in the desperate condition of trade, it is equally vain to think of making them merchants. All they have left is, at the expiration of leases, to rack their tenants, which they have done to such a degree, that there is not one farmer in a hundred through the kingdom who can afford shoes or stockings to his children, or to eat flesh, or drink anything better than sour milk or water, twice in a year; so that the whole country, except the Scottish plantation in the north, is a scene of misery and desolation hardly to be matched on this side of Lapland.

The rents of Ireland are computed to about a million and a half, whereof one half million at least is spent by lords and gentlemen residing in England, and by some other articles too long to mention.

About three hundred thousand pounds more are returned thither on other accounts; and, upon the whole, those who are the best versed in that kind of knowledge agree, that England gains annually by Ireland a million at least, which even I could make appear beyond all doubt.

But, as this mighty profit would probably increase, with tolerable treatment, to half a million more, so it must of necessity sink, under the hardships that kingdom lies at present.

And whereas Sir Robert Walpole was pleased to take notice, how little the king gets by Ireland, it ought, perhaps to be considered, that the revenues and taxes, I think, amount to above four hundred thousand p.155 pounds a-year; and, reckoning the riches of Ireland, compared with England, to be as one to twelve, the king's revenues there would be equal to more than five millions here; which, considering the bad payment of rents, from such miserable creatures as most of the tenants in Ireland are, will be allowed to be as much as such a kingdom can bear.

The current coin of Ireland is reckoned, at most, but at five hundred thousand pounds; so that above four-fifths are paid every year into the exchequer.

I think it manifest, that whatever circumstances could possibly contribute to make a country poor and despicable, are all united with respect to Ireland. The nation controlled by laws to which they do not consent, disowned by their brethren and countrymen, refused the liberty not only of trading with their own manufactures, but even their native commodities, forced to seek for justice many hundred miles by sea and land, rendered in a manner incapable of serving their king and country in any employment of honour, trust, or profit; and all this without the least demerit; while the governors sent over thither can possibly have no affection to the people, further than what is instilled into them by their own justice and love of mankind, which do not always operate; and whatever they please to represent hither is never called in question.

Whether the representatives of such a people, thus distressed and laid in the dust, when they meet in a parliament, can do the public business with that cheerfulness which might be expected from free-born subjects, would be a question in any other country except that unfortunate island; the English inhabitants whereof have given more and greater examples of their loyalty and dutifulness, than can be shown in any other part of the world.

'What part of these grievances may be thought proper to be redressed by so wise and great a minister as Sir Robert Walpole, he perhaps will please to consider; especially because they have been all brought upon that kingdom since the Revolution; which, however, is a blessing annually celebrated there with the greatest zeal and sincerity.

I most humbly entreat your lordship to give this paper to Sir Robert Walpole, and desire him to read it, which he may do in a few minutes. I am, with the greatest respect, my lord,

Your lordship's most obedient and humble servant,

Scott thinks that had Swift been anxious for personal favours from Walpole he could easily have obtained them; “but the minister did not choose to gain his adherence at the expense of sacrificing the system which had hitherto guided England in her conduct towards the sister kingdom, and the patriot of Ireland was not to be won at a cheaper rate than the emancipation of his country.”

The original pamphlet bears neither date nor printer's name.

Jonathan Swift

Whole text


The present miserable state of Ireland


By the last packets I had the favour of yours, and am surprised that you should apply to a person so ill qualified as I am, for a full and impartial account of the state of our trade. I have always lived as retired as possible; I have carefully avoided the perplexed honour of city-offices; I have never minded anybody's business but my own; upon all which accounts, and several others, you might easily have found among my fellow-citizens, persons more capable to resolve the weighty questions you put to me, than I can pretend to be.

But being entirely at leisure, even at this season of the year, when I used to have scarce time sufficient to perform the necessary offices of life, I will endeavour to comply with your requests, cautioning you not implicitly to rely upon what I say, excepting what belongs to that branch of trade in which I am more immediately concerned. The Irish trade is, at present, in the most deplorable condition that can be imagined; to remedy it, the causes of its languishment must be inquired into: But as those causes (you may assure yourself) will not be removed, you may look upon it as a thing past hopes of recovery.

The first and greatest shock our trade received, was from an act passed in the reign of King William, in the Parliament of England, prohibiting the exportation of wool manufactured in Ireland. An act (as the event plainly shews) fuller of greediness than good policy; an act as beneficial to France and Spain, as it has been destructive to England and Ireland. At the passing of this fatal act, the condition  1  p.158 of our trade was glorious and flourishing, though no way interfering with the English; we made no broad-cloths above 6 shillings per yard; coarse druggets, bays and shalloons, worsted damasks, strong draught works, slight half-works, and gaudy stuffs, were the only product of our looms: these were partly consumed by the meanest of our people,  p.159 and partly sent to the northern nations, from which we had in exchange, timber, iron, hemp, flax, pitch, tar, and hard dollars. At the time the current money of Ireland was foreign silver, a man could hardly receive 100 pounds, without finding the coin of all the northern powers, and every prince of the empire among it. This money was returned into  p.160 England for fine cloths, silks, &c. for our own wear, for rents, for coals, for hardware, and all other English manufactures, and, in a great measure, supplied the London merchants with foreign silver for exportation.

The repeated clamours of the English weavers produced this act, so destructive to themselves and us. They looked with envious eyes upon our prosperity, and complained of being undersold by us in those commodities, which they themselves did not deal in. At their instances the act was passed, and we lost our profitable northern trade. Have they got it? No, surely, you have found they have ever since declined in the trade they so happily possessed; you shall find (if I am rightly informed) towns without one loom in them, which subsisted entirely upon the woollen manufactory before the passing of this unhappy bill; and I will try if I can give the true reasons for the decay of their trade, and our calamities.

Three parts in four of the inhabitants of that district of the town where I dwell were English manufacturers, whom either misfortunes in trade, little petty debts, contracted through idleness, or the pressures of a numerous family, had driven into our cheap country: These were employed in  p.161 working up our coarse wool, while the finest was sent into England. Several of these had taken the children of the native Irish apprentices to them, who being humbled by the forfeiture of upward of three millions by the Revolution, were obliged to stoop to a mechanic industry. Upon the passing of this bill, we were obliged to dismiss thousands of these people from our service. Those who had settled their affairs returned home, and overstocked England with workmen; those whose debts were unsatisfied went to France, Spain, and the Netherlands, where they met with good encouragement, whereby the natives, having got a firm footing in the trade, being acute fellows, soon became as good workmen as any we have, and supply the foreign manufactories with a constant recruit of artisans; our island lying much more under pasture than any in Europe. The foreigners (notwithstanding all the restrictions the English Parliament has bound us up with) are furnished with the greatest quantity of our choicest wool. I need not tell you, sir, that a custom-house oath is held as little sacred here as in England, or that it is common for masters of vessels to swear themselves bound for one of the English wool ports, and unload in France or Spain. By this means the trade in those parts is, in a great measure, destroyed, and we were obliged to try our hands at finer works, having only our home consumption to depend upon; and, I can assure you, we have, in several kinds of narrow goods, even exceeded the English, and I believe we shall, in a few years more, be able to equal them in broad cloths; but this you may depend upon, that scarce the tenth part of English goods are now imported, of what used to be before the famous act.

The only manufactured wares we are allowed to export, are linen cloth and linen yarn, which are marketable only in England; the rest of our commodities are wool, restrained to England, and raw hides, skins, tallow, beef, and butter. Now, these are things for which the northern nations have no occasion; we are therefore obliged, instead of carrying woollen goods to their markets, and bringing home money, to purchase their commodities.

In France, Spain, and Portugal, our wares are more valuable, though it must be owned, our fraudulent trade in wool is the best branch of our commerce; from hence we get  p.162 wines, brandy, and fruit, very cheap, and in great perfection so that though England has constrained us to be poor, they have given us leave to be merry. From these countries we bring home moydores, pistoles, and louisdores, without which we should scarce have a penny to turn upon. To England we are allowed to send nothing but linen cloth, yarn, raw hides, skins, tallow, and wool. From thence we have coals, for which we always pay ready money, India goods, English woollen and silks, tobacco, hardware, earthenware, salt, and several other commodities. Our exportations to England are very much overbalanced by our importations; so that the course of exchange is generally too high, and people choose rather to make their remittances to England in specie, than by a bill, and our nation is perpetually drained of its little running cash.

Another cause of the decay of trade, scarcity of money, and swelling of exchange, is the unnatural affectation of our gentry to reside in and about London. 2 Their rents are remitted to them, and spent there. The countryman wants employment from them; the country shopkeeper wants their custom. For this reason he can't pay his Dublin correspondent readily, nor take off a great quantity of his wares. Therefore  p.163 the Dublin merchant can't employ the artisan, nor keep up his credit in foreign markets.

I have discoursed some of these gentlemen, persons esteemed for good sense, and demanded a reason for this their so unaccountable proceeding,—expensive to them for the present, ruinous to their country, and destructive to the future value of their estates,—and find all their answers summed up under three heads, curiosity, pleasure, and loyalty to King George. The two first excuses deserve no answer; let us try the validity of the third. Would not loyalty be much better expressed by gentlemen staying in their respective countries, influencing their dependents by their examples, saving their own wealth, and letting their neighbours profit by their necessary expenses, thereby keeping them from misery, and its unavoidable consequence, discontent? Or is it better to flock to London, be lost in a crowd, kiss the King's hand, and take a view of the royal family? The seeing of the royal house may animate their zeal for it; but other advantages I know not. What employment have any of our gentlemen got by their attendance at Court, to make up to them their expenses? Why, about forty of them have been created peers, and a little less than a hundred of them baronets and knights. For these excellent advantages, thousands of our gentry have squeezed their tenants, impoverished the trader, and impaired their own fortunes!

Another great calamity, is the exorbitant raising of the rents of lands. Upon the determination of all leases made before the year 1690, a gentleman thinks he has but indifferently improved his estate if he has only doubled his rent-roll. Farms are screwed up to a rack-rent, leases granted but for a small term of years, tenants tied down to hard conditions, and discouraged from cultivating the lands they occupy to the best advantage, by the certainty they have of the rent being raised, on the expiration of their lease, proportionably to the improvements they shall make. Thus is honest industry restrained; the farmer is a slave to his landlord; 'tis well if he can cover his family with a coarse home-spun frieze. The artisan has little dealings with him; yet he is obliged to take his provisions from him at an extravagant price, otherwise the farmer cannot pay his rent.

The proprietors of lands keep great part of them in their  p.164 own hands for sheep-pasture; and there are thousands of poor wretches who think themselves blessed, if they can obtain a hut worse than the squire's dog-kennel, and an acre of ground for a potato-plantation, on condition of being as very slaves as any in America. What can be more deplorable, than to behold wretches starving in the midst of plenty!

We are apt to charge the Irish with laziness, because we seldom find them employed; but then we don't consider they have nothing to do. Sir William Temple, in his excellent remarks on the United Provinces, inquires why Holland, which has the fewest and worst ports and commodities of any nation in Europe, should abound in trade, and Ireland, which has the most and best of both, should have none? This great man attributes this surprising accident to the natural aversion man has for labour; who will not be persuaded to toil and fatigue himself for the superfluities of life throughout the week, when he may provide himself with all necessary subsistence by the labour of a day or two. But, with due submission to Sir William's profound judgment, the want of trade with us is rather owing to the cruel restraints we lie under, than to any disqualification whatsoever in our inhabitants.

I have not, sir, for these thirty years past, since I was concerned in trade, (the greatest part of which time distresses have been flowing in upon us,) ever observed them to swell so suddenly to such a height as they have done within these few months. Our present calamities are not to be represented; you can have no notion of them without beholding them. Numbers of miserable objects crowd our doors, begging us to take their wares at any price, to prevent their families from immediate starving. We cannot part with our money to them, both because we know not when we shall have vent for their goods; and, as there are no debts paid, we are afraid of reducing ourselves to their lamentable circumstances. The dismal time of trade we had during Marr's Troubles in Scotland, are looked upon as happy days when compared with the present 3


I need not tell you, sir, that this griping want, this dismal poverty, this additional woe, must be put to the accursed stocks, which have desolated our country more effectually than England. Stockjobbing was a kind of traffic we were utterly unacquainted with. We went late to the South Sea market, and bore a great share in the losses of it, without having tasted any of its profits.

If many in England have been ruined by stocks, some have been advanced. The English have a free and open trade to repair their losses; but, above all, a wise, vigilant, and uncorrupted Parliament and ministry, strenuously endeavouring to restore public trade to its former happy state. Whilst we, having lost the greatest part of our cash, without any probability of its returning, must despair of retrieving our losses by trade, and have before our eyes the dismal prospect of universal poverty and desolation.

I believe, sir, you are by this time heartily tired with this indigested letter, and are firmly persuaded of the truth of what I said in the beginning of it, that you had much better have imposed this task on some of our citizens of greater abilities. But perhaps, sir, such a letter as this may be, for the singularity of it, entertaining to you, who correspond with the politest and most learned men in Europe. But I am satisfied you will excuse its want of exactness and perspicuity, when you consider my education, my being unaccustomed to writings of this nature, and, above all, those calamitous objects which constantly surround us, sufficient to disturb the clearest imagination, and the soundest judgment.

Whatever cause I have given you, by this letter, to think worse of my sense and judgment, I fancy I have given you a manifest proof that I am, sir,

Your most obedient humble servant, J. S.

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Title (uniform): The present miserable state of Ireland

Author: Jonathan Swift

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Electronic edition compiled by: Benjamin Hazard

Funded by: University College, Cork and The Higher Education Authority via the CELT Project.

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3. Third draft, with additional bibliographic details.

Extent: 6200 words

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Publisher: CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts: a project of University College Cork.

Address: College Road, Cork, Ireland — http://www.ucc.ie/celt

Date: 2008

Date: 2010

Distributor: CELT online at University College, Cork, Ireland.

CELT document ID: E700001-010

Availability: Available with prior consent of the CELT programme for purposes of academic research and teaching only.

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Editions and secondary literature

  1. An excellent bibliography covering many aspects of Jonathan Swift's Life, his writings, and criticism, compiled by Lee Jaffe, is available at http://www.jaffebros.com/lee/gulliver/bib/index.html.
  2. J. Bowles Daly (ed.), Ireland in the days of Dean Swift, Irish tracts 1720–1734. (London 1887).
  3. Frederick Ryland (ed.), Swift's Journal to Stella, A.D. 1710–1713. (London 1897).
  4. Temple Scott (ed.), A tale of a tub, and other early works. (London 1897).
  5. Frederick Falkiner, Essays on the portraits of Swift: Swift and Stella. (London 1908).
  6. C. M. Webster, Swift's Tale of a Tub compared with Earlier Satires of the Puritans. Proceedings of the Modern Language Association 47/1 (March 1932) 171–178.
  7. Stephen L. Gwynn, The life and friendships of Dean Swift. (London 1933).
  8. Stanley Lane-Poole (ed.), Selections from the prose writings of Jonathan Swift with a preface and notes. (London 1933).
  9. Ricardo Quintana, The mind and art of Jonathan Swift. (Oxford 1936).
  10. Louis A. Landa, Swift's Economic Views and Mercantilism, English Literary History 10/4 (December 1943) 310–335.
  11. R. Wyse Jackson, Swift and his circle. (Dublin 1945).
  12. Herbert Davis, The Satire of Jonathan Swift (New York 1947).
  13. Martin Price, Swift's rhetorical art. (New York 1953).
  14. Robert C. Elliott, Swift and Dr Eachard. Proceedings of the Modern Language Association 69/5 (December 1954) 1250–1257.
  15. John Middleton Murry, Jonathan Swift: A Critical Biography. (London 1954).
  16. John Middleton Murry, Swift. (London: Published for the British Council and the National Book League 1955).
  17. Kathleen Williams, Swift and the age of compromise. (London 1959).
  18. John M. Bullitt, Jonathan Swift and the anatomy of satire: a study of satiric technique. (Harvard 1961).
  19. Harold Williams (ed.), The Correspondence of Jonathan Swift. (Oxford 1963–65).
  20. Herbert J. Davis (ed.), Jonathan Swift: essays on his satire and other studies. (New York 1964).
  21. Herbert J. Davis (ed.), Gulliver's Travels. [based on the Faulkner edition, Dublin 1735] (Oxford 1965).
  22. Herbert J. Davis (ed.), Swift: poetical works. (New York 1967).
  23. R. B. McDowell, 'Swift as a political thinker'. In: Roger Joseph McHugh and Philip Edwards, Jonathan Swift: 1667–1967, a Dublin tercentenary tribute (Dublin 1967). 176–186.
  24. Brian Vickers (ed.), The world of Jonathan Swift: essays for the tercentenary. (Oxford 1968).
  25. Kathleen Williams, Jonathan Swift. (London 1968).
  26. Morris Golden, The self observed: Swift, Johnson, Wordsworth. (Baltimore 1972.)
  27. Jane M. Snyder, The meaning of 'Musaeo contingens cuncta lepore', Lucretius 1.934, Classical World 66 (1973) 330–334.
  28. Claude Julien Rawson, Gulliver and the gentle reader: studies in Swift and our time. (London and Boston 1973).
  29. A. L. Rowse, Jonathan Swift, major prophet. (London 1975).
  30. Alexander Norman Jeffares, Jonathan Swift. (London 1976).
  31. Clive T. Probyn, Jonathan Swift: the contemporary background. (Manchester 1978).
  32. Clive T. Probyn (ed.), The art of Jonathan Swift. (London 1978).
  33. Irvin Ehrenpreis, Swift: The man, his works, and the age (three volumes). (London 1962–83).
  34. David M. Vieth (ed.), Essential articles for the study of Jonathan Swift's poetry. (Hamden 1984).
  35. James A. Downie, Jonathan Swift, political writer. (London 1985).
  36. Frederik N. Smith (ed.), The genres of Gulliver's travels. (London 1990).
  37. James Kelly, 'Jonathan Swift and the Irish Economy in the 1720s', Eighteenth-century Ireland: Iris an dá chultúr 6 (1991) 7–36.
  38. Joseph McMinn (ed.), Swift's Irish pamphlets. (Gerrards Cross 1991).
  39. Robert Mahony, Jonathan Swift: the Irish identity. (Yale 1995).
  40. Christopher Fox, Walking Naboth's vineyards: new studies of Swift (University of Notre Dame Ward-Philips lectures in English language and literature, Vol. 13). (Notre Dame/Indiana 1995).
  41. Claude Rawson (ed.), Jonathan Swift: a collection of critical essays. (Englewood Cliffs, New Jeresey, 1995).
  42. Michael Stanley, Famous Dubliners: W.B. Yeats, James Joyce, Jonathan Swift, Wolfe Tone, Oscar Wilde, Edward Carson. (Dublin 1996).
  43. Daniel Carey, 'Swift among the freethinkers'. Eighteenth-century Ireland: Iris an dá chultúr, 12 (1997) 89–99.
  44. Victoria Glendinning, Jonathan Swift. (London 1998).
  45. Aileen Douglas; Patrick Kelly; Ian Campbell Ross, (eds.). Locating Swift: essays from Dublin on the 250th anniversary of the death of Jonathan Swift, 1667–1745. (Dublin 1998).
  46. Bruce Arnold, Swift: an illustrated life. (Dublin 1999).
  47. Nigel Wood (ed.), Jonathan Swift. (London and New York 1999).
  48. Christopher J. Fauske, Jonathan Swift and the Church of Ireland, 1710–24 (Portland/Oregon 2001).
  49. David George Boyce; Robert Eccleshall; Vincent Geoghegan (eds.), Political discourse in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Ireland. (Basingstoke and New York 2001).
  50. Ann Cline Kelly, Jonathan Swift and popular culture: myth, media and the man. (Basingstoke 2002).
  51. Dirk F. Passmann and Heinz J. Vienken, The library and reading of Jonathan Swift: a bio-bibliographical handbook. 4 vols. (Frankfurt 2003).
  52. Mark McDayter, 'The haunting of St James's Library: librarians, literature, and The Battle of the Books'. Huntington Library Quarterly, 66:1–2 (2003) 1–26.
  53. Frank T. Boyle, 'Jonathan Swift' [A companion to satire]. In: Ruben Quintero (ed.), A companion to satire (Oxford 2007) 196–211.
  54. Harry Whitaker, C. U. M. Smith and Stanley Finger (eds.), Explorations of the brain, mind and medicine in the writings of Jonathan Swift. Springer (US) 2007.
  55. Leo Damrosch, Jonathan Swift: his life and his world. Lewis Walpole Series in Eighteenth-Century Culture and History. New Haven: Yale University Press [2013].

The edition used in the digital edition

‘The present miserable state of Ireland’ (1905). In: The prose works of Jonathan Swift D. D.‍ Ed. by Temple Scott. Vol. 7: Historical and political tracts—Irish. London: George Bell and Sons, pp. 153–165.

You can add this reference to your bibliographic database by copying or downloading the following:

  title 	 = {The present miserable state of Ireland},
  booktitle 	 = {The prose works of Jonathan Swift D. D.},
  editor 	 = {Temple Scott},
  address 	 = {London},
  publisher 	 = {George Bell and Sons},
  date 	 = {1905},
  volume 	 = {7: Historical and political tracts—Irish},
  pages 	 = {153–165}


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The text consists of pages 153–165 of volume 7 of Temple Scott's edition.

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Creation: By Jonathan Swift

Date: c. 1726

Language usage

  • The whole text is in English. (en)
  • Some words and phrases are in Latin. (la)

Keywords: political; prose; trade; economy; pamphlet; 18c

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  1. Monck Mason has an elaborate note on this subject (Hist. of St. Patrick's Cathedral, pp. 320–321, ed. 1819). 🢀

  2. The causes for absenteeism are thus noted by Lecky (Hist. of Ireland, p. 213, vol. i., ed. 1892): “The very large part of the confiscated land was given to Englishmen who had property and duties in England, and habitually lived there. Much of it also came into the market, and as there was very little capital in Ireland, and as Catholics were forbidden to purchase land, this also passed largely into the hands of English speculators. Besides, the level of civilization was much higher in England than in Ireland. The position of a Protestant landlord, living in the midst of a degraded population, differing from him in religion and race, had but little attraction, the political situation of the country closed to an Irish gentleman nearly every avenue of honourable ambition, and owing to a long series of very evident causes, the sentiment of public duty was deplorably low. The economical condition was not checked by any considerable movement in the opposite direction, for after the suppression of the Irish manufactures but few Englishmen, except those who obtained Irish offices, came to Ireland.” The amount of the rent obtained in Ireland that was spent in England is estimated elsewhere by Swift to have been at least one-third. In 1729, Prior assessed the amount at £627,000. In the Supplement to his “List of Absentees”, Prior gives eight further “articles” by which money was “yearly drawn out of the Kingdom.” See the “Supplement”, pp. 242–245 in Thone's Collection of Tracts, Dublin, 1861. 🢀

  3. John Erskine, Earl of Mar, has elsewhere been characterized by Swift as “crooked; he seemed to me to be a gentleman of good sense and good nature.” The great rebellion of 1715, for which Mar was responsible, was stirred up by him in favour of the Pretender, and succeeded so far as to bring the Chevalier to Scotland. The Duke of Argyll, however, fought his forces, and though the victory remained undecided, Mar was compelled to seek safety in France. The rebellion caused so much disturbance in every part of the British Isles that Ireland suffered greatly from bad trade. 🢀


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