Swift has been well described as Ireland’s “patriot- in-spite-of-himself.” Born into an Anglo-Irish family, he always believed his rightful place was in the English court. However, he was destined to live out his life in Ireland, his only preferment being the Dean of St. Patrick’s in Dublin. He fell out of favor with the ruling Tories by his own doing. His brilliant and most difficult satire, A Tale of a Tub (1704), was a parable of the development of Christianity. Although it was published anonymously, Swift was widely believed to be the author and Queen Anne became persuaded that he would never prove a reliable clergyman in the Church of England.
Serving as dean of St. Patrick’s involved Swift heavily in Irish politics. Political censorship in the early eighteenth century usually took the form of criminal charges against publishers and printers rather than the prosecution of authors. The aim was to deprive writers of the means to communicate their works to the public. By charging those who bought, held the copyright, transported, or published certain of Swift’s works with sedition, the government hoped to silence him.
The most egregious case of this form of censorship was directed against Swift’s Irish political pamphlets. In 1720 Swift wrote a short pamphlet entitled A Proposal for the Universal Use of Irish Manufactures. Anonymously published, the pamphlet urged the Irish to boycott English manufactured...
(The entire section is 517 words.)