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The Substance of What Was Said by the Dean of St Patrick’s to the Lord Mayor and Some of the Aldermen, When His Lordship Came to Present the Said Dean With His Freedom in a Gold-Box

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 May–June 1730; published posthumously, 1765; copy text 1765a (see Textual Account); the footnotes that form part of this text were provided by the editor, Deane Swift.

This record of what Swift supposedly said when receiving the freedom of Dublin and a gold box on 27 May 1730 was presumably written soon after and was arguably not really intended for a wide audience; Ehrenpreis suggests it was only written for friends and allies (vol. III, p. 655).

After the corporation had voted to present Swift with his freedom, the dean proposed what Marmaduke Coghill called an ‘arrogant’ inscription, the terms of which gave the corporation pause, and resulted in the deferral of the presentation. The phrasing (which had probably been communicated to the corporation by Patrick Delany on Swift's behalf) would have cited the dean's ‘great zeal, unequalled abilities and distinguished munificence in asserting the rights, defending the liberties, and encouraging the manufactures of the kingdom’ and declared that he was ‘justly esteemed the most eminent patriot and greatest ornament of his native city and country’. When the mayor and aldermen eventually presented him with his gold box, there was no inscription, and, to make matters worse, a presentation had already been made to the archbishop ofDublin. Hence Swift's self-righteous outburst, and the recitation of his achievements as an Irish ‘patriot’ which would otherwise have been engraved for posterity (see Coghill to Edward Southwell, 21 Feb. 1729[/30] (Coghill Letters, pp. 91–2); Ehrenpreis, vol. III, pp. 650–5).

THE SUBSTANCE OF WHAT WAS SAID BY THE DEAN OF ST. PATRICK's TO THE LORD MAYOR AND SOME OF THE ALDERMEN, WHEN HIS LORDSHIP CAME TO PRESENT THE SAID DEAN WITH HIS FREEDOM IN A GOLD-BOX.

When his Lordship had said a few words, and presented the instrument, the Dean gently put it back, and desired first to be heard. He said, He was much obliged to his Lordship and the city for the honour theywere going to do him, and which, as he was informed, they had long intended him: That it was true this honour was mingled with a little mortification, by the delay which attended it; but which, however, he did not impute to hisLordship or the city: And that themortification was the less, because he would willingly hope the delay was founded on a mistake; for which opinion he would tell his reason.

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Irish Political Writings after 1725
A Modest Proposal and Other Works
, pp. 184 - 190
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2018

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