Swift and the Church of Ireland

By Louis A. Landa | Go to book overview

Conclusion

OTHER observers of more sanguine disposition than Swift were no less unhappy at the low state of the Irish Establishment. Writing to William soon after the Battle of the Boyne, Queen Mary urged him to give the Church of Ireland the benefit of his special care. 'Every body agrees', she said, 'that it is the worst in Christendom.'1 In this sentiment she was merely echoing what others had reported earlier--the Earl of Clarendon, for example, Lord Lieutenant in 1686, who sent word to Canterbury that 'the state of the Church is very miserable'.2 These typical observations are of the second half of the seventeenth century when Swift's attitudes were being formed; and there is little to indicate that conditions improved sufficiently in the early eighteenth century (if indeed they were not aggravated) to bring about any change in the chorus of despair. Every Irish bishop of the day wrote eloquently of the sorry conditions in his diocese. The doleful facts, set down conscientiously year after year, need not be given in detail. The story was always the same: too many Papists and too few Protestants; a scarcity of endowed vicarages; a great lack of churches, and of those in use many 'far inferior to the Stables and Barns of our Gentry';3 glebes and parsonages seldom to be found; non-residence, the rule rather than the exception, encouraged by the landed gentry because these 'selfish men hardly sincerely desire [resident clergy], well

____________________
1
Sir John Dalrymple, Memoirs of Great Britain and Ireland ( London, 1773), ii, appendix ii. 132, 17 July 1690.
2
Quoted by W. D. Killen, Ecclesiastical History of Ireland ( London, 1875), ii. 160.
3
Wake Corresp. xiv, a report to Wake on the state of the Church of Ireland, 27 Feb. 172 4/5.

-189-

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Swift and the Church of Ireland
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • Abbreviations Used in the Notes xi
  • Introduction xiii
  • I. Priest and Prebendary 1
  • II. The Dean and His Chapter 68
  • III. Temporalities 96
  • IV. The State of the Establishment 151
  • Conclusion 189
  • Index 197
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