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Ironically, Jonathan Swift was born in Dublin, Ireland, to English parents, and he attended school in Dublin and Trinity College, Dublin. But, later, he moved to the home of Sir William Temple, a retired diplomat, who resided in Surrey, England. Swift had hopes of becoming a clergyman; however, his satire on excesses in religion, A Tale of a Tub, ruined his chances. Then, he benefited from changing his political allegiances from the conservative Whigs to the Tory party favored by Queen Anne. But, when the queen died, Swift's hopes again were dashed as the Whigs regained power. Embittered, Swift returned to Ireland. Then, in 1729 he wrote A Modest Proposal which champions the Irish cause for freedom.
This embitterment is certainly evinced in his scathing indictment of the cruelty of British rule in Ireland that is cloaked in his ridiculous suggestions and monstrous humor, suggestions made because England was figuratively "eating"/consuming Ireland. For, at the time there was overpopulation, extreme poverty, and an unfair balance of trade and employment.
1. Swift suggests that children of the poor Irish be divided with 20,000 reserved for breeding, one-fourth of which are male. 100,000 should be sold to the rich at the age of one year because they can be nursed for one year. The other babies can be divided into four dishes of "nutritive meat." Skins can be used for gloves and such.
2. As a solution to the superfluity of Papists [Catholics], British landlords can purchase the Irish babies for 10 shillings, which would bring a profit of 8 shillings since caring for children and purchasing the rags they wear would only cost 2 shillings. Then, too, the women would be more able to work.
3. The money for the babies will help the Irish economy. Taverns can offer the delicacies and increase their business.
4. Mothers will take better care of their children, knowing that they are profitable to the family.
5. Men will also care better for their wives; men will be more motivated to marry the women who carry their children.
6. There will be a reduction in thieves because there will be less poverty and fewer children to steal things.
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