This poem begins: 'WHEN foes are o'ercome, we preserve them from slaughter, / To be Hewers of Wood, and Drawers of Water: / Now, altho' to draw Water is not very good, / Yet we all should rejoice to be Hewers of wood.' A note at the foot of this sheet states that it was 'Reprinted from the Dublin Copy'.
This poem was written in 1724 by the Dean of Saint Patrick's, better known as Jonathan Swift. Writing under the pseudonym of M.B. Drapier, Swift's poem is an attack on the British government's decision to award a contract to the Englishman, William Wood, to mint some copper halfpennies for use in Ireland - hence the list of forge-related occupations in the poem's title. It was obvious that Wood had bribed the British government to receive this contract, and there was also a fear that these new coins would destroy the monetary system in Ireland. Swift's 'Drapier Letters' are considered important because he argues the point that Ireland should control its own affairs.
Broadsides are single sheets of paper, printed on one side, to be read unfolded. They carried public information such as proclamations as well as ballads and news of the day. Cheaply available, they were sold on the streets by pedlars and chapmen. Broadsides offer a valuable insight into many aspects of the society they were published in, and the National Library of Scotland holds over 250,000 of them.
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Date of publication:
1724 shelfmark: Ry.III.c.36(149)
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