“Yr Lemmons They Say are Good”: Swift on Fruit, Provisions, and the Condition of Ireland

In: Reading Swift

Abstract

Swift’s correspondence, account books, and occasional verse are interspersed with various allusions to fruit. The Dean may be observed thanking some acquaintance for presents of fruit, applauding its fine quality. He receives invitations to dinner or country visits which promise the enjoyment of particular dainties. Now and then, he makes delighted as well as disappointed comments on the anticipated fruit harvest in his garden. His account books record purchases not only of oranges, cherries, raspberries, and raisins, but also of fruit-related groceries like sugar and brandy. Thus we obtain an impression of the various ways in which fruit was consumed and preserved given the limited options of refrigeration. Besides, references to fruit fall into a context of widespread gardening activity and also bear witness to the keen interest among the Irish landed class in gustatory novelties. Home-grown fruit also had important commercial value on domestic markets and gradually became the object of interest to those dedicated to the improvement of the country’s agricultural and economic situation.

Reading Swift

Papers from The Seventh Münster Symposium on Jonathan Swift

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