Jonathan Swift

Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter XXXV

Swift's career is also scarcely less known. He, too, was born in Dublin of poor parents, in 1667. Although he became a minister of the Protestant Church, and held considerable emoluments therein he had the honesty to see, and the courage to acknowledge, its many corruptions. The great lesson which he preached to Irishmen was the lesson of nationality; and, perhaps, they have yet to learn it in the sense in which he intended to teach it. No doubt, Swift, in some way, prepared the path of Burke; for, different as were their respective careers and their respective talents, they had each the same end in view.

The "Drapier" was long the idol of his countrymen, and there can be little doubt that the spirit of his writings did much to animate the patriots who followed him—Lucas, Flood, and Grattan. Lucas was undoubtedly one of the purest patriots of his time. His parents were poor farmers in the county Clare, who settled in Dublin, where Lucas was born, in 1713; and in truth patriotism seldom develops itself out of purple and fine linen. Flood, however, may be taken in exception to this inference; his father was a Chief Justice of the Irish King's Bench. When elected a member of the Irish House, his first public effort was for the freedom of his country from the atrocious imposition of Poyning's Law. Unfortunately, he and Grattan quarrelled, and their country was deprived of the immense benefits which might have accrued to it from the cordial political union of two such men.