Jonathan Swift was an exceptional writer who went against the grain to call attention to the dire situation that Ireland was in. In his proposal, Swift vents his growing aggravation at the incompetence of Ireland's politicians, the hypocrisy of the wealthy, the tyranny of the English and the squalor and degradation in which he saw so many Irish people living. As to our City of Dublin, shambles may be appointed for this purpose, in the most convenient parts of it, and butchers we may be assured will not be wanting; although I rather recommend buying the children alive, and dressing them hot from the knife, as we do roasting pigs. And as to the young laborers, they are now in as hopeful a condition; they cannot get work, and consequently pine away for want of nourishment, to a degree that if at any time they are accidentally hired to common labor, they have not strength to perform it; and thus the country and themselves are happily delivered from the evils to come. But before something of that kind shall be advanced in Contradiction to my Scheme, and offering a better, I desire the Author, or Authors will be pleased maturely to consider two points. The speaker do so agree and is confident that babies should be the profit builder of Ireland but the writer however thinks otherwise. Or if, by any accident, while his wife lies in with one child, he should get a second upon the body of another woman, he might dispose of the fattest of the two, and that would help to breed up the other.
Nothing is to fully taken seriously throughout this satire. This I freely own, and 'twas indeed one principal design in offering it to the world. A very worthy person, a true lover of his country, and whose virtues I highly esteem, was lately pleased in discoursing on this matter to offer a refinement upon my scheme. For this kind of commodity will not bear exportation, and flesh being of too tender a consistence, to admit a long continuance in salt, although perhaps I could name a country, which would be glad to eat up our whole nation without it. Swift subverts this expectation by continuing the satire, naming the unexpected objection of mere population depletion. Swift probably does think that being a poor person in Ireland is worse than dying, but he disagrees with the Proposer on how to resolve that tragic problem. The number of souls in this kingdom being usually reckoned one million and a half, of these I calculate there may be about two hundred thousand couple whose wives are breeders; from which number I subtract thirty thousand couples who are able to maintain their own children, although I apprehend there cannot be so many, under the present distresses of the kingdom; but this being granted, there will remain an hundred and seventy thousand breeders.
I have too long digressed, and therefore shall return to my subject. He shows the reader he is serious about his proposal by producing facts and figures, showing he has studied the problem for a very long time. Neither indeed can I deny, that if the same use were made of several plump young girls in this town, who without one single groat to their fortunes, cannot stir abroad without a chair, and appear at a play-house and assemblies in foreign fineries which they never will pay for; the kingdom would not be the worse. This quarrel first began, as I have heard it affirmed by an old dweller in the neighbourhood, about a small spot of ground, lying and being upon one of the two tops of the hill Parnassus; the highest and largest of which had, it seems, been time out of mind in quiet possession of certain tenants, called the Ancients; and the other was held by the Moderns. His proposal, he argues, will, if implemented, do more to solve Ireland's complex social, political and economic problems than any other measure that has yet been proposed. This is an ironic request for the Proposer to make, because all the evidence suggests that he himself has never spoken to any poor Irish people, much less consulted them about his plan. Going back he also states that no one is doing anything to solve the agriculture problem.
But I am not in the least pain upon that matter, because it is very well known, that they are every day dying, and rotting, by cold and famine, and filth, and vermin, as fast as can be reasonably expected. The essay's approach has been copied many times. The boiling and brewing of children would end all the problesm. He wasn't always getting the laughs, though. A sattire definaiton is to ridcule like in ha ha, or in a serious manner. But another thing to consider is that Swift himself is from Dublin, Ireland.
The proposal was directed to the Anglo-Irish, upper class society, whom at the time were abusing, mistreating, and classifying Irish inhabitants as subhuman. . And the money will circulate among our selves, the goods being entirely of our own growth and manufacture. The mention of Psalmanazar, whose name an 18th-century reader would have certainly recognized, further exposes the Proposer as out of touch with reality. Swift accomplishes this by starting the piece highlighting the problem of starving families in Ireland, and then proposing his solution. Topinamboo, a district in Brazil.
I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricasie, or a ragoust. Swift concludes by saying first that he would welcome any other suggestions anyone may have on this question, then assuring the reader that he has no personal economic stake in this idea because he has no children and therefore could not profit by selling them to be eaten. I have no Children, by which I can propose to get a single Penny; the youngest being nine Years old, and my Wife past Child-bearing. I think it is agreed by all parties that this prodigious number of children in the arms, or on the backs, or at the heels of their mothers, and frequently of their fathers, is in the present deplorable state of the kingdom a very great additional grievance; and, therefore, whoever could find out a fair, cheap, and easy method of making these children sound, useful members of the commonwealth, would deserve so well of the public as to have his statue set up for a preserver of the nation. His use of diction relating to livestock as well as his cold, calculated tones and constant appeals to foreign authority mirror and comment upon the elite? Fourthly, The constant breeders, besides the gain of eight shillings sterling per annum by the sale of their children, will be rid of the charge of maintaining them after the first year.
It is also worth noting that this line comes late in the essay. Though the Proposer refuses to entertain the many other plans that have circulated among politicians, he proceeds to list them anyway. The English saw the Irish as a commodity, employing children at a young age and denying them their natural rights. He points out that they are unfit for any employment, being even too young to steal. First, As things now stand, how they will be able to find Food and Raiment for a hundred thousand useless Mouths and Backs. Swift makes it so reasonable and so logical by using numbers and statistics.
Originally titled as 'A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People From Being a Burthen to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick', this essay makes bizarre assertions to direct attention to the apathetic as well as abusive approach of the English towards the Irish. This kind of off-the-cuff number crunching was common in political writing of the time period. He said, that many gentlemen of this kingdom, having of late destroyed their deer, he conceived that the want of venison might be well supply'd by the bodies of young lads and maidens. It is true, a child just dropt from its dam, may be supported by her milk, for a solar year, with little other nourishment: at most not above the value of two shillings, which the mother may certainly get, or the value in scraps, by her lawful occupation of begging; and it is exactly at one year old that I propose to provide for them in such a manner, as, instead of being a charge upon their parents, or the parish, or wanting food and raiment for the rest of their lives, they shall, on the contrary, contribute to the feeding, and partly to the cloathing of many thousands. The End Jonathan Swift 1667-1745 , author and satirist, famous for Gulliver's Travels 1726 and A Modest Proposal 1729.
And as to the young labourers, they are now in almost as hopeful a condition. For this kind of commodity will not bear exportation, and flesh being of too tender a consistence, to admit a long continuance in salt, although perhaps I could name a country, which would be glad to eat up our whole nation without it. But, as to my self, having been wearied out for many years with offering vain, idle, visionary thoughts, and at length utterly despairing of success, I fortunately fell upon this proposal, which, as it is wholly new, so it hath something solid and real, of no expence and little trouble, full in our own power, and whereby we can incur no danger in disobliging England. To be clear, Swift is not saying that eating children is a reasonable solution to the problem, rather he is demonstrating the heartless and cruel attitude of the rich, while pointing out the issues he sees with the Irish government. The story is about the failure of the Irish and English to reach a solution to the problem of overpopulation and poverty of the time. Their flesh is, apparently, similar to venison deer meat , and the Irish deer population has recently been hunted to extinction.