Swift and the Politics of Dublin, 1727-33

In: Reading Swift
Author:
D. W. Hayton Ulster University

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Abstract

Swift’s involvement in Dublin corporation politics in 1733, in publishing adjurations to common councilmen to vote for Eaton Stannard as Recorder and Humphrey French for Lord Mayor, was unprecedented. It reflects his extraordinary popularity and the status he had acquired as a political oracle. The background to these two short works has not hitherto been investigated. Evidence from the Dublin corporation records and newspaper reports as well as printed pamphlets and broadsheets shows a city in crisis. Severe economic problems, resulting in social dislocation and a breakdown in public order, combined with the corporation’s own record of incompetence, had undermined the standing of the city’s Aldermen and broken down the consensus politics of the period 1715-c.26. Factionalism within the guilds, the common council and the Court of Aldermen created a febrile atmosphere in which every municipal election was fiercely contested. Swift did not engage with these local issues, however, couching his response instead in the traditional terms of a national political discourse of patriotism and corruption.

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Reading Swift

Papers from The Seventh Münster Symposium on Jonathan Swift

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