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Swift modest proposal Context Jonathan Swift was born in Dublin in 1667 His father died before he was born leaving the family with relatively modest means Nevertheless as a member of the Anglo-Irish ruling class Swift received the best education Ireland could offer As a young man he worked as private secretary to Sir William Temple a retired Whig diplomat at Moor Park in southern England During his ten years in this position Swift took advantage of Temples vast library to round out his education and immersed himself in the politics and opinions of this prominent intellectual Swift took orders in the Anglican Church in 1694 and he was named dean of St Patricks Cathedral in Dublin in 1713 For many years he worked anxiously and unsuccessfully to secure himself a permanent appointment in England during this period he considered his life in Ireland a kind of exile Shuttling back and forth between Ireland and England with some regularity he became increasingly embroiled in English politics He also established himself in the literary circle that included Addison and Steele Later he changed both political and literary loyalties and befriended Pope Gay and Arbuthnot who would be his lifelong friends Swifts Ireland was a country that had been effectively controlled by England for nearly 500 years The Stuarts had established a Protestant governing aristocracy amid the countrys relatively poor Catholic population Denied union with England in 1707 when Scotland was granted it Ireland continued to suffer under English trade restrictions and found the authority of its own Parliament in Dublin severely limited Swift though born a member of Irelands colonial ruling class came to be known as one of the greatest of Irish patriots He however considered himself more English than Irish and his loyalty to Ireland was often ambivalent in spite of his staunch support for certain Irish causes The complicated nature of his own relationship with England may have left
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