Preaching Patriotism

Dean Swift is said to have jocularly remarked, that he never preached

but twice in his life, and then they were not sermons, but pamphlets.

Being asked, upon what subject? he replied, they were against Wood's

halfpence. One of these sermons has been preserved, and is from this

text, As we have the opportunity, let us do good to all men. Its

object was to show the great want of public spirit in Ireland, and to

enforce the necessity of practising that virtue. I confess, said he,

it was chiefly the consideration of the great danger we are in, which

engaged me to discourse to you on this subject, to exhort you to a love

of your country, and a public spirit, when all you have is at stake; to

prefer the interest of your prince and your fellow subjects before that

of one destructive impostor, and a few of his adherents.

Perhaps it may be thought by some, that this way of discoursing is not

so proper from the pulpit; but surely when an open attempt is made, and

far carried on, to make a great kingdom one large poor-house; to deprive

us of all means to excite hospitality or charity; to turn our cities and

churches into ruins; to make this country a desert for wild beasts and

robbers; to destroy all arts and sciences, all trades and manufactures,

and the very tillage of the ground, only to enrich one obscure

ill-designing projector, and his followers; it is time for the pastor

to cry out that the wolf is getting into his flock, to warn them to

stand together, and all to consult the common safety. And God be praised

for his infinite goodness, in raising such a spirit of union among us at

least in this point, in the midst of all our former divisions; which

union, if it continues, will in all probability defeat the pernicious

design of this pestilent enemy to the nation.

It will scarcely be credited, that this dreadful description, when

stripped of its exaggerations, meant no more than that Ireland might

lose about six thousand a year during Wood's patent for coining


Paddy And The Parson Public Absurdities In Ireland facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail