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Jonathan Swift’s Allies

The Wood’s Halfpence Controversy in Ireland, 1724–1725. Second revised and augmented edition


Edited By Sabine Baltes-Ellermann

The patent for coining copper money granted by King George I to the English manufacturer William Wood aroused nationwide protest in Ireland. It led to the publication of Jonathan Swift’s «Drapier’s Letters», in which the Dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, attacked both the patent and England’s Irish policy. But this is not the whole story. This annotated edition contains more than 100 pamphlets, declarations, poems, and songs that were published during the dispute. Most of the reproduced texts are extremely rare and have hitherto lain dormant in various libraries. They illustrate that the protest was in fact carried on by the Irish population at large, who regarded the coinage scheme as a severe intrusion into the nation’s circulating cash which threatened to ruin the country’s economy.

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26. Remarks upon the Report of the Committee of the Lords of his Majesty's Most Honourable Privy-Council


For 100 Pound of Silver Money in England is equal to 108 l. 6 s. 8 d. in Ireland, and 100 Pound of Gold in England produces 109 l. 10 s. 6 d. in Ireland, so that the disproportioned Value of the Gold Coin in Ireland, to the Silver Coin, is 1 l. 3 s. 10 d. on an 100 Pound English, which is a Difference great enough to have the Effects we see on the Current Cash of the Nation; and this Consideration alone will make it plain to every Capacity, how necessary it is that there should always be an Equality of Value, preserved between the different Sorts of Coin that constitute the Current Cash of every Nation.

That this Disproportion between the value of Gold and Silver is Obstructive of Trade, is evident from Experience; and I believe it will readily be allowed, that the Consequences wou'd prove yet more fatal, if the Disproportion be created between the Coins of those Metals, and Tokens made of Copper, or any other Metal of inferior Value: And this Mischief will be increased in proportion to the Difference between the Imaginary and Real Value of the Coins, compar'd with those of other Countries.

For let us give what Name we will to our Coin, and let us raise it to ever so high an Imaginary Estimation, it is most certain the real Value of it is not, by that Means, encreased; but that it will always...

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