Monday, March 13, 2017


National Differences

Jonathan Swift (1667-1745), "An Examination of Certain Abuses, Corruptions, and Enormities in the City of Dublin," Prose Works, ed. Temple Scott, Vol. VII: Historical and Political Tracts—Irish (London: George Bell and Sons, 1905), pp. 267-282 (at 270):
But, to proceed to other enormities: Every person who walks the streets, must needs observe the immense number of human excrements at the doors and steps of waste houses, and at the sides of every dead wall; for which the disaffected party have assigned a very false and malicious cause. They would have it, that these heaps were laid there privately by British fundaments, to make the world believe, that our Irish vulgar do daily eat and drink; and, consequently, that the clamour of poverty among us, must be false, proceeding only from Jacobites and Papists. They would confirm this, by pretending to observe, that a British anus being more narrowly perforated than one of our own country; and many of these excrements upon a strict view appearing copple crowned, with a point like a cone or pyramid, are easily distinguished from the Hibernian, which lie much flatter, and with less continuity. I communicated this conjecture to an eminent physician, who is well versed in such profound speculations; and at my request was pleased to make trial with each of his fingers, by thrusting them into the anus of several persons of both nations, and professed he could find no such difference between them as those ill-disposed people allege. On the contrary, he assured me, that much the greater number of narrow cavities were of Hibernian origin. This I only mention to shew how ready the Jacobites are to lay hold of any handle to express their malice against the government. I had almost forgot to add, that my friend the physician could, by smelling each finger, distinguish the Hibernian excrement from the British, and was not above twice mistaken in an hundred experiments; upon which he intends very soon to publish a learned dissertation.


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