English Language and Literature ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 5-14-1969


Swift's 1710-1714 political writings have usually been ignored by the critics. This neglect has been unfortunate because of the help these writings can give the reader in understanding more completely Swift's masterpiece, Gulliver's Travels. Certain of Swift's major con­cerns in the writings of 1710-1714, the years during which he served as public spokesman for the Harley-St. John Tory ministry under Queen Anne, appear repeatedly in the later Gulliver's Travels. Ideas which Swift formulated while he was actively involved in the workings of the national government often come under his scrutiny again in Gulliver. In order to gain a more comprehensive understanding of Swift's views on these matters, this dissertation attempts to trace his ideas on politics, government, and the nature and function of man in organized society through the writings of 1710-1714 and Gulliver's Travels.

Chapter I reviews Swift's attitudes about politics, a term by which he usually meant the organization and conduct of political parties. Swift disdained parties as such. In his 1710-1714 writings and in Gulliver, he gives many reasons for his dislike of parties, and he also points out the undesirable consequences which over-involvement in partisan affairs can effect.

Chapter II concerns Swift's ideas about the administration of the national government. Swift believed in a circumstantial theory of history; the slightest movement of a public official could have pro­found and far-reaching consequences. Therefore, Swift considered it imperative that the right kind of leaders be placed and sustained in positions of public trust. Moreover, Swift was particularly concerned with the management of government finances and with the organization and conduct of the military. his chapter examines Swift's ideas on these matters in the 1710-1714 writings and in Gulliver. The final chapter considers Swift's beliefs about the nature and function of man in organized society. For Swift, the fallen nature of man had to be disciplined by right reason and civil law if man was to live harmoniously with others of his own kind. Swift's ties with Hooker and the tradition of natural law are reviewed in this context. Swift's ideas on this subject in Gulliver are confirmed by his earlier political writings and, to some extent, by his sermons.

The study reveals that Swift's ideas on politics, government, and the nature and function of man in organized society in the 1710- 17111 writings are consistent with similar beliefs as they are expressed later in Gulliver's Travels. Swift's strong feelings about these mat­ters were not mellowed by the intervening years, and the same concerns about which he wrote so much ii the 1710-1714 years also get a lion's share of attention in Gulliver.

Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name


First Committee Member (Chair)

James Thorson

Second Committee Member

Edith Buchnan

Third Committee Member

Larue Scott Catlett

Document Type