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The sentiments of a Church-of-England man : a study of Swift's politics

By Ian Higgins


This contextualist study re-examines the contested critical\ud question of Jonathan Swift's political character. It is\ud concerned with the historical meaning of Swift's texts\ud and attempts to recover their original political impact.\ud Politically-literate contemporaries claimed to read Jacobite\ud Tory politics in Swift's texts. Rather than dismiss the\ud judgement of Swift's contemporaries, this study asks whether\ud there is anything about Swift's political writing in polemical\ud context that could have led contemporaries to construe\ud the politics of his texts as Jacobite Tory. The conclusion\ud this study reaches is that aspects of Swift's political\ud rhetoric are consonant with Tory and Jacobite polemic.\ud While contesting current conceptions of Swift as a Whig,\ud this study offers a partial revision of that scholarship\ud which describes Swift as a non-Jacobite Tory.\ud The thesis is based on an analysis of Swift's prose, poetry\ud and correspondence and contemporary (mainly printed) sources\ud books, pamphlets, poems on affairs of state and newspapers.\ud Some new or neglected polemical contexts and analogues\ud for Swift's works are suggested. Chapter 1 considers some\ud of the problems and contested issues in interpretation\ud of Swift's political biography and writing. Chapter 2\ud witnesses Swift's combination of High Church attitudes\ud with a radical political critique of Whig establishment.\ud Swift is read in juxtaposition with Jacobite Tory authors\ud such as George Granville, Lord Lansdowne. Chapter 3 relocates\ud A Tale of a Tub in historical context to reveal the satire's\ud relation to High Church Tory polemical languages. Chapter\ud 4 discusses the disaffected Tory aspect of Gulliver's\ud Travels. Chapter 5 attempts to register the complexity\ud of the textual evidence of Swift's attitude to Jacobitism.\ud Detailed attention is given to his politically-revealing\ud attitudes to the Dutch. A coda briefly describes Swift's\ud discontent with the Revolution settlement, examines this\ud Church-of-England Man's sentiments on the crucial ideological\ud issue of resistance, and suggests the importance of Hugo\ud Grotius in Swift's political thought

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