A Modest Proposal
How we cite our quotes:
These mothers, instead of being able to work for their honest livelihood, are forced to […] beg sustenance for their helpless infants, who as they grow up, […] leave their dear native country to fight for the Pretender in Spain (1)
Swift suggests that children who grow up blaming wealthy Protestants may eventually take extreme measures. After the Glorious Revolution, when James Francis Edward Stuart was deposed from the crown, many feared a Catholic army would restore him to power.
For we are told by a grave author […] that there are more children born in Roman Catholic countries about nine months after Lent than any other season; therefore, reckoning a year after Lent, the markets will be more glutted than usual because the number of popish infants is at least three to one in the kingdom, and therefore it will have one other collateral advantage of lessening the number of papists among us. (13)
Swift ridicules Protestant fears about the number of Catholic children in Ireland.
For first, as I have already observed, it would greatly lessen the number of papists, with whom we are yearly overrun, being the principal breeders of the nation as well as our most dangerous enemies, and who stay at home on purpose with a design to deliver the kingdom to the Pretender, hoping to take their advantage by the absence of so many good Protestants, who have chosen rather to leave their country than stay at home and pay tithes against their conscience to an Episcopal curate. (20)
Get ready for some more satire. Swift suggests that poor Irish mothers are evading work for the sole purpose of creating a Catholic army.