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A Proposal for Giving Badges to the Beggars in all the Parishes 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

Composed before 24 April 1737; published c. April–May 1737; copy text 1737a (see Textual Account).

Dated 22 April 1737, and (unusually) acknowledged on its title page by Swift, A Proposal for Giving Badges to the Beggars returns to the concerns of the unfinished Upon Giving Badges to the Poor, of 1726 (see above, pp. 1–4). For Swift's attitude towards badging, and his plan for the controlled expulsion of beggars who were not from Dublin back to their own parishes, see Introduction, pp. lxxii–lxxiv.

Swift's revisiting of the subject shows that the problem of the poor in Dublin had obviously not been solved: he accordingly begins with the problems faced by the workhouse, and expands to a description of the same questions surrounding the indigent and vagrant, and his proposed solution.

It is not immediately clear why Swift returned to the question of badging eleven years after drafting his initial scheme. The subject was very much alive, and in 1735 the Irish Parliament had passed the Cork Workhouse Act (9 Geo. II c. 25). Among contemporary publications referring to the large number of beggars in Ireland, Samuel Madden, Reflections and Resolutions Proper for the Gentlemen of Ireland … , Dublin, 1738, proposed a scheme of national workhouses (pp. 146, 154–60). (See also the anonymous Agriculture the Surest Means of National Wealth … , Dublin 1738; Jean-Franc¸ois Melon, A Political Essay upon Commerce, trans. David Bindon, Dublin, 1738, ‘Preface’, p. xiii.) Swift may also have been prompted by the publication of George Berkeley's The Querist (1735–7), with its proposal of enforced labour for the able-bodied poor, and by the death in 1735 of SirWilliam Fownes, who had explored the subject extensively (Mary Carter, ‘Swift and the Scheme for Badging Beggars in Dublin, 1726–1737’, Eighteenth-Century Life 27 (2013), 106–7).Whatever the reason behind its composition, it would be Swift's last substantial prose intervention in Irish affairs.

A PROPOSAL FOR GIVING BADGES, &c.

It hath been a general Complaint, that the Poor-House, especially since the new Constitution by Act of Parliament, hath been of no Benefit to this City, for the Ease of which it was wholly intended.

Type
Chapter
Information
Irish Political Writings after 1725
A Modest Proposal and Other Works
, pp. 305 - 320
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2018

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