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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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49. "A Letter from Cork to Mr. Harding the Printer"


49. "A Letter from Cork to Mr. Harding the Printer: Upon Occasion of the Fresh Alarm of Wood's Half-pence" (Dublin Impartial News Letter, 10 October 1724).499

Mr. Harding,

I Think I have Read most of the Papers you have obliged the Publick with, on the Subject of Mr. Wood's Half-pence, and think they have all their Use, either from the Fairness of their Reasoning, or the Diversion they give; and that nothing can be plainer than the Passing them, must set the Soldiers, and Victuallers, and Ale-Drapiers of all Sorts, immediately together by the Ears; but I hope the Government will always have too Tender a Regard for the Publick Peace to hazard it in any Way for Mr. Wood or any one else, whoever they be that sit behind the Curtain; and yet there is besides all this a Consideration that is almost every Way as much to be Regarded, and which at the same Time, I do not find any of your Correspondents have mention'd, at least Sufficiently insisted on, to set the Matter in such a Light, as I take the Weight of it to deserve. And 'tis this, if Mr. Wood's Half-pence pass in the Quantities said to be stamp'd of them hereafter, all Mercers, Oilmen, Booksellers, and in short all that deal in Foreign (tho' only English) Goods, must immediately shut up Shop or be undone, for 'tis certain that no Foreign Trade can be supported but by par Value,...

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