In this paragraph, the speaker mentions another proposal that he heard from a person he holds in high esteem as both a patriotic and virtuous individual. This man suggests that the shortage of venison in the country might be alleviated by selling the bodies of poor children between the ages...
In this paragraph, the speaker mentions another proposal that he heard from a person he holds in high esteem as both a patriotic and virtuous individual. This man suggests that the shortage of venison in the country might be alleviated by selling the bodies of poor children between the ages of 12 and 14 as a substitute form of "venison." He argues that these children are often starving to death anyway, and this sale would both raise money and save the parents or relatives the problem of having to dispose of the children's corpses after they starve. However, the speaker rejects this idea, not out of compassion, but because he believes the meat of the boys will be too tough to be tasty, and he believes the girls are so close to puberty and childbearing that they would be better put to use birthing babies to be sold a gourmet delicacies.
After dispensing with the idea on the basis of its impracticality, the speaker then comments:
Besides, it is not improbable that some scrupulous people might be apt to censure such a practice, (although indeed very unjustly) as a little bordering upon cruelty, which, I confess, hath always been with me the strongest objection against any project, how well soever intended.
Swift's essay means to show what happens to a person's moral compass when he begins to look at a certain class of people, such as the "poor," as a problem rather than as fully human beings. Once a group becomes an economic problem to be solved, it is easy to dehumanize them. Swift uses the rhetorical strategy of introducing ever more absurd levels of hyperbole or exaggeration to illustrate this. It is exaggeratedly inhumane to think of using pre-adolescent children for food, and absurd, having proposed cannibalism, to protest that "cruelty" is his "strongest objection" to any project. Swift uses hyperbole so the reader will easily grasp the gap between what the speaker proposes and any normal concept of kindness or compassion. In a bigger picture sense, Swift wants the reader to abandon the idea of having to economically justify aid to the poor rather than simply giving them the help they need.