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A LETTER, &c.
In accomplishing the Revolution in England, the services of the established church had been chiefly conspicuous. The dissenters had at one time (if the expression can be permitted) coquetted with James II., and shewed some disposition to accommodate themselves to his plans of arbitrary power, in order to gratify their vengeance, by enjoying the degradation, and, perhaps, the fall, of the church of England. And, although they recovered from this delusion, yet they must be considered rather as falling in with, and aiding, the general current of opinion, than as leading and directing it against the abdicated monarch. But in Ireland the case was different. The union and valour of the dissenting protestants in Ulster, gave the first positive and effectual check to the domination of Tyrconnel, for the bands of Inniskilling and Lotdonderry were chiefly levied from these zealous sectaries. Those statesmen, therefore, who desired a repeal of the Test Act, in favour of protestant dissenters, were desirous that the experiment should be first tried in Ireland, where the recent merits of the presbyterians might reasonably claim the most favourable hearing. Accordingly the whig Ministry in 1707-8 seem to have seria ously determined upon the experiment. But the Irish clergy seeing this matter, as was natural, in a very different light, determinied to resist it to their uttermost power.
Swift was at once the boldest and most zealous champion of their cause; and the following letter, in which his high church principles are avowed, with an undisguised contempt of his antagonists, may be considered as decisive of the breach between him and Godolphin's administration.
In the Miscellanies, published by Morphew, in 1711, the following advertisement, by Dr Swift, is prefixed :
“ The following letter is supposed, by some judicious persons, to be of the same author, and, if their conjectures be right, it will be of no disadvantage to him to have it revived, considering the time when it was writ, the persons then at the helm, and the designs in agitation, against which this paper so boldly appeared. I have been assured that the suspicion which the supposed author lay under for writing this letter, absolutely ruined him with the late ministry. I have taken leave to omit about a page, which was purely personal, and of no use to the subject.”
The pamphlet may be considered as having materially contributed to the loss of the bill for repeal of the Test Act, during the earl of Pembroke's viceroyalty.
The dissenters renewed their struggles upon many occasions; and Swift, while he retained his life and faculties, was always ready to oppose them. The several Tracts which he wrote upon this subject, though remote in order of time, are here printed together, as reflecting light upon each other.
A MEMBER OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS
A MEMBER OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS
WRITTEN IN 1708.
Dublin, Dec. 4, 1708.
I received your letter, wherein you tell me of the strange representations made of us on your side of the water. The instance you are pleased to mention is that of the prebyterian missionary, who, according to your phrase, has been lately persecuted at Drogheda for his religion : but it is easy to observe, how mighty industrious some people have been for three or four years past, to hand about stories of the hardships, the merits, the number, and the power of the presbyterians in Ireland; to raise formidable ideas of the dangers of
popery there, and to transmit all for England, improved by great additions, and with special care to have them inserted, with comments, in those