Vol. 10: McMinn, Joseph.

Type: Article

McMinn, Joseph. ‘In State Opinions Alamode: Swift and the Frontispiece to Thomas Burnett’s Essays (1714)’, Eighteenth-century Ireland/Iris an dá chultúr, Vol. 10 (1995), pp 120-126..

This article gives an account of a small octavo volume entitled Essays Divine, Moral and Political which was supposed to have been written by Jonathan Swift in 1714 — the year in which the Tories fell from power and Swift took up residence at the Deanery of St. Patrick’s. The volume is in fact a product of political vengeance, probably written by one of Swift’s Whig opponents, Thomas Burnet. One of the most interesting features of the volume is the frontispiece, an engraving which shows Swift on horseback, leaving buildings which are said to represent Swift’s Deanery in Dublin. McMinn analyses the scene depicted in the engraving and its relevance to the Essays. While evidence suggests that the picture is fictitious, having no actual connection to Swift’s Deanery or to Dublin, he concludes that the images are meant to represent Swift as a man “on the run…disturbed by alarming political news: this is the most plausible link between the Whig witch-hunt of the period and the image of Swift departing from his new home”.