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An Examination of Certain Abuses, Corruptions, and Enormities in the City of Dublin

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 September 2021

David Hayton
Affiliation:
Queen's University Belfast
Adam Rounce
Affiliation:
University of Nottingham
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Summary

Headnote

Probably composed early 1732; published c.March 1732; copy text 1732a (see Textual Account).

A mock-description of supposedly treasonous Jacobite messages encoded in the cries of street-sellers and shop-signs, examined to the point of absurdity, An Examination of Certain Abuses is one of Swift's last prose works to be based upon the ironies that can extend from a credulous narrator. It is possible that (like the Vindication of Carteret) it was directed against exaggerated anti- Jacobite rhetoric, shown, for instance, in the lordmayor of Dublin's forbidding of the wearing of white roses and similar symbols on 10 June, the Pretender's birthday (see Introduction, p. xciv).

The pamphlet's general target is theWhig use of old-fashioned shibboleths to keep Tories out of office, and to advance themselves, through the indiscriminate accusation of Jacobitism against political enemies. It is not always clear whether any persons in Ireland suffered damage to their political careers as a result of such abuse: the satire is more pertinent to England than Ireland, as some of Swift's English friends (such as Bolingbroke and the second Earl of Oxford) were in permanent political exclusion because of their Toryism.

It was published in Dublin in 1732 as An Examination of Certain Abuses, Corruptions, and Enormities in the City of Dublin. The London edition was retitled City Cries, Instrumental and Vocal: or, An Examination of Certain Abuses Corruptions, and Enormities in London andDublin. This also added three pages at the end of the pamphlet (giving another example of alleged Jacobitism, connected to London sign-posts), an addition made presumably by Swift as an acknowledgement of the different audience in England.

AN EXAMINATION OF CERTAIN ABUSES, &c.

Nothing is held more commendable in all great Cities, especially the Metropolis of a Kingdom, than what the French call the Police; by which Word is meant the Government thereof, to prevent the many Disorders occasioned by great Numbers of People and Carriages, especially thro’ narrow Streets. In this Government our famous City of Dublin is said to be very defective, and universally complained of. Many wholesome Laws have been enacted to correct these Abuses, but are ill executed; and many more are wanting, which I hope the united Wisdom of the Nation (whereof so many good Effects have already appeared this Session) will soon take into their most profound Consideration.

Type
Chapter
Information
Irish Political Writings after 1725
A Modest Proposal and Other Works
, pp. 240 - 263
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2018

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