Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition

Background details and bibliographic information

The Swearer's Bank

Author: Jonathan Swift

File Description

Electronic edition compiled by Benjamin Hazard

Funded by University College, Cork and
The Higher Education Authority via the CELT Project.

2. Second draft, revised and corrected.

Extent of text: 2790 words


CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts: a project of University College Cork.
College Road, Cork, Ireland—

(2004) (2010)

Distributed by CELT online at University College, Cork, Ireland.
Text ID Number: E700001-007

Availability [RESTRICTED]

Available with prior consent of the CELT programme for purposes of academic research and teaching only.


    Editions and secondary literature
  1. An excellent bibliography covering many aspects of Jonathan Swift's Life, his writings, and criticism, compiled by Lee Jaffe, is available at
  2. J. Bowles Daly (ed.), Ireland in the days of Dean Swift, Irish tracts 1720–1734. (London 1887).
  3. Frederick Ryland (ed.), Swift's Journal to Stella, A.D. 1710–1713. (London 1897).
  4. Temple Scott (ed.), A tale of a tub, and other early works. (London 1897).
  5. Frederick Falkiner, Essays on the portraits of Swift: Swift and Stella. (London 1908).
  6. C. M. Webster, Swift's Tale of a Tub compared with Earlier Satires of the Puritans. Proceedings of the Modern Language Association 47/1 (March 1932) 171–178.
  7. Stephen L. Gwynn, The life and friendships of Dean Swift. (London 1933).
  8. Stanley Lane-Poole (ed.), Selections from the prose writings of Jonathan Swift with a preface and notes. (London 1933).
  9. Ricardo Quintana, The mind and art of Jonathan Swift. (Oxford 1936).
  10. Louis A. Landa, Swift's Economic Views and Mercantilism, English Literary History 10/4 (December 1943) 310–335.
  11. R. Wyse Jackson, Swift and his circle. (Dublin 1945).
  12. Herbert Davis, The Satire of Jonathan Swift (New York 1947).
  13. Martin Price, Swift's rhetorical art. (New York 1953).
  14. Robert C. Elliott, Swift and Dr Eachard. Proceedings of the Modern Language Association 69/5 (December 1954) 1250–1257.
  15. John Middleton Murry, Jonathan Swift: A Critical Biography. (London 1954).
  16. John Middleton Murry, Swift. (London: Published for the British Council and the National Book League 1955).
  17. Kathleen Williams, Swift and the age of compromise. (London 1959).
  18. John M. Bullitt, Jonathan Swift and the anatomy of satire: a study of satiric technique. (Harvard 1961).
  19. Harold Williams (ed.), The Correspondence of Jonathan Swift. (Oxford 1963–65).
  20. Herbert J. Davis (ed.), Jonathan Swift: essays on his satire and other studies. (New York 1964).
  21. Herbert J. Davis (ed.), Gulliver's Travels. [based on the Faulkner edition, Dublin 1735] (Oxford 1965).
  22. Herbert J. Davis (ed.), Swift: poetical works. (New York 1967).
  23. R. B. McDowell, 'Swift as a political thinker'. In: Roger Joseph McHugh and Philip Edwards, Jonathan Swift: 1667–1967, a Dublin tercentenary tribute (Dublin 1967). 176–186.
  24. Brian Vickers (ed.), The world of Jonathan Swift: essays for the tercentenary. (Oxford 1968).
  25. Kathleen Williams, Jonathan Swift. (London 1968).
  26. Morris Golden, The self observed: Swift, Johnson, Wordsworth. (Baltimore 1972.)
  27. Jane M. Snyder, The meaning of 'Musaeo contingens cuncta lepore', Lucretius 1.934, Classical World 66 (1973) 330–334.
  28. Claude Julien Rawson, Gulliver and the gentle reader: studies in Swift and our time. (London and Boston 1973).
  29. A. L. Rowse, Jonathan Swift, major prophet. (London 1975).
  30. Alexander Norman Jeffares, Jonathan Swift. (London 1976).
  31. Clive T. Probyn, Jonathan Swift: the contemporary background. (Manchester 1978).
  32. Clive T. Probyn (ed.), The art of Jonathan Swift. (London 1978).
  33. Irvin Ehrenpreis, Swift: The man, his works, and the age (three volumes). (London 1962–83).
  34. David M. Vieth (ed.), Essential articles for the study of Jonathan Swift's poetry. (Hamden 1984).
  35. James A. Downie, Jonathan Swift, political writer. (London 1985).
  36. Frederik N. Smith (ed.), The genres of Gulliver's travels. (London 1990).
  37. James Kelly, 'Jonathan Swift and the Irish Economy in the 1720s', Eighteenth-century Ireland: Iris an dá chultúr, 6 (1991) 7–36.
  38. Joseph McMinn (ed.), Swift's Irish pamphlets. (Gerrards Cross 1991).
  39. Robert Mahony, Jonathan Swift: the Irish identity. (Yale 1995).
  40. Christopher Fox, Walking Naboth's vineyards: new studies of Swift (University of Notre Dame Ward-Philips lectures in English language and literature, Vol. 13). (Notre Dame/Indiana 1995).
  41. Claude Rawson (ed.), Jonathan Swift: a collection of critical essays. (Englewood Cliffs, New Jeresey, 1995).
  42. Michael Stanley, Famous Dubliners: W. B. Yeats, James Joyce, Jonathan Swift, Wolfe Tone, Oscar Wilde, Edward Carson. (Dublin 1996).
  43. Daniel Carey, 'Swift among the freethinkers'. Eighteenth-century Ireland: Iris an dá chultúr, 12 (1997) 89–99.
  44. Victoria Glendinning, Jonathan Swift. (London 1998).
  45. Aileen Douglas; Patrick Kelly; Ian Campbell Ross, (eds.). Locating Swift: essays from Dublin on the 250th anniversary of the death of Jonathan Swift, 1667–1745. (Dublin 1998).
  46. Bruce Arnold, Swift: an illustrated life. (Dublin 1999).
  47. Nigel Wood (ed.), Jonathan Swift. (London and New York 1999).
  48. Christopher J. Fauske, Jonathan Swift and the Church of Ireland, 1710–24 (Portland/Oregon 2001).
  49. David George Boyce; Robert Eccleshall; Vincent Geoghegan (eds.), Political discourse in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Ireland. (Basingstoke and New York 2001).
  50. Ann Cline Kelly, Jonathan Swift and popular culture: myth, media and the man. (Basingstoke 2002).
  51. Dirk F. Passmann and Heinz J. Vienken, The library and reading of Jonathan Swift: a bio-bibliographical handbook. 4 vols. (Frankfurt 2003).
  52. Mark McDayter, 'The haunting of St James's Library: librarians, literature, and The Battle of the Books'. Huntington Library Quarterly, 66:1–2 (2003) 1–26.
  53. Frank T. Boyle, 'Jonathan Swift' [A companion to satire]. In: Ruben Quintero (ed.), A companion to satire (Oxford 2007) 196–211.
  54. Harry Whitaker, C. U. M. Smith and Stanley Finger (eds.), Explorations of the Brain, Mind and Medicine in the Writings of Jonathan Swift. Springer (US) 2007.
    The edition used in the digital edition
  1. The Swearer's Bank in Selections from the prose writings of Jonathan Swift with a preface and notes, Ed. Stanley Lane-Poole. , London, Kegan Paul, Trench and Co. (1933) page 205–210


Project Description

CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts

Sampling Declaration

The text consists of pages 205–210 of Stanley Lane-Poole's edition.

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The text has been proof-read twice.


The electronic text represents the edited text. Editorial notes are tagged note type="auth" n="".


There are no quotations.


The editorial practice of the hard-copy editor has been retained.


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Names of persons are not tagged. Terms for cultural and social roles are not tagged. Text in languages other than English is indicated.

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Profile Description

Created: By Jonathan Swift (c. 1720)

Use of language

Language: [EN] The whole text is in English.
Language: [LA] Some text is in Latin.

Revision History

Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition: E700001-007

The Swearer's Bank: Author: Jonathan Swift



Si populus vult decipi, decipiatur.

‘To believe everything that is said by a certain set of men, and to doubt of nothing they relate, though ever so improbable,’ is a maxim that has contributed as much, for the time, to the support of Irish banks as it ever did to the Popish religion; and they are not wholly beholden to the latter for their foundation, but they have the happiness to have the same patron saint; for Ignorance, the reputed mother of the devotion of one, seems to bear the same affectionate relation to the credit of the other.

To subscribe to banks, without knowing the scheme or design of them, is not unlike to some gentlemen's signing addresses without knowing the contents of them: to engage in a bank that has neither act of parliament, charter, nor lands to support it, is like sending a ship to sea without a bottom; to expect a coach and six by the former, would be as ridiculous as to hope a return by the latter.

It was well known some time ago that our banks would be included in the bubble-bill; and it was believed


those chimeras would necessarily vanish with the first easterly wind that should inform the town of the royal assent.

It was very mortifying to several gentlemen who dreamed of nothing but easy chariots, on the arrival of the fatal packet, to slip out of them into their walking shoes. But should those banks, as it is vainly imagined, be so fortunate as to obtain a charter, and purchase lands; yet, on any run on them in a time of invasion, there would be so many starving proprietors, reviving their old pretensions to land and a bellyful, that the subscribers would be unwilling upon any call to part with their money, not knowing what might happen; so that in a rebellion, where the success was doubtful, the bank would infallibly break.

Since so many gentlemen of this town have had the courage, without any security, to appear in the same paper with a million or two; it is hoped, when they are made sensible of their safety, that they will be prevailed to trust themselves in a neat skin of parchment, with a single one.

To encourage them, the undertaker proposes the erecting of a bank on parliamentary security, and such security as no revolution or change of times can effect.

To take away all jealousy of any private view of the undertaker, he assures the world that he is now in a garret, in a very thin waistcoat, studying the public good; having given an undeniable pledge of his love to his country by pawning his coat in order to defray the expense of the press.

It is very well known that, by an act of parliament to prevent profane swearing, the person so offending, on


oath made before a magistrate, forfeits a shilling, which may be levied with little difficulty.

It is almost unnecessary to mention that this is become a pet vice among us; and though age renders us unfit for other vices, yet this, where it takes hold, never leaves us but with our speech.

So vast a revenue might be raised by the execution of this act, that I have often wondered, in a scarcity of funds, that methods have not been taken to make it serviceable to the public.

I dare venture to say, if this act was well executed in England, the revenue of it, applied to the navy, would make the English fleet a terror to all Europe.

It is computed by geographers that there are 2,000,000 in this kingdom (of Ireland), of which number there may be said to be 1,000,000 of swearing souls.

It is thought there may be 5000 gentlemen; every gentleman, taking one with another, may afford to swear an oath every day, which will yearly produce 1,825,000 oaths; which number of shillings makes the yearly sum of £91,250.

The farmers of this kingdom, who are computed to be 10,000, are able to spend yearly 500,000 oaths, which gives £25,000; and it is conjectured that, from the bulk of the people, £20,000 or £25,000 may be yearly collected.

These computations are very modest, since it is evident that there is a much greater consumption of oaths in this kingdom, and consequently a much greater sum might be yearly raised.

That it may be collected with ease and regularity, it is proposed to settle informers in great towns in proportion


to the number of inhabitants, and to have riding officers in the country; and since nothing brings a greater contempt on any profession than poverty, it is determined to settle very handsome salaries on the gentlemen that are employed by the bank, that they may, by a generosity of living, reconcile men to an office that has lain under so much scandal of late as to be undertaken by none but curates, clerks of meeting houses, and broken tradesmen . . .

It is very probable that £20,000 will be necessary to defray all expenses of servants, salaries, etc. However, there will be the clear yearly sum of £100,000, which may very justly claim a million subscription.

It is determined to layout the remaining unapplied profits, which will be very considerable, toward the erecting and maintaining of charity schools. A design so beneficial to the public, and especially to the protestant interest of this kingdom, has met with so much encouragement from several great patriots in England, that they have engaged to procure an act to secure the sole benefit of informing on this swearing act to the agents and servants of this new bank. Several of my friends pretend to demonstrate, that this bank will in time vie with the South Sea Company: they insist, that the army dispend as many oaths yearly as will produce £100,000 nett.

There are computed to be 100 pretty fellows in this town that swear fifty oaths a-head daily; some of them would think it hard to be stinted to a hundred: this very branch would produce a vast sum yearly.

The fairs of this kingdom will bring in a vast revenue; the oaths of a little Connaught one, as well as


they could be numbered by two persons, amounted to three thousand. It is true that it would be impossible to turn all of them into ready money, for a shilling is so great a duty on swearing, that if it was carefully exacted the common people might as well pretend to drink wine as to swear, and an oath would be as rare among them as a clean shirt.

A servant that I employed to accompany the militia their last muster day had scored down, in the compass of eight hours, three hundred oaths; but, as the putting of the act in execution on those days would only fill the stocks with porters, and pawn-shops with muskets and swords, and as it would be matter of great joy to papists and disaffected persons to see our militia swear themselves out of their guns and swords; it is resolved that no advantage shall be taken of any militiaman's swearing while he is under arms: nor shall any advantage be taken of any man's swearing in the Four Courts, provided he is at hearing in the exchequer; or has just paid off an attorney's bill.

The medicinal use of oaths is what the undertaker would by no means discourage, especially where it is necessary to help the lungs to throw off any distilling humour. On certificate of a course of, swearing prescribed by any physician, a permit will be given to the patient by the proper officer of the bank, paying no more than sixpence. It is expected that a scheme of so much advantage to the public will meet with more encouragement than their chimerical banks; and the undertaker hopes, that as he has spent a considerable fortune in bringing this scheme to bear, he may have the satisfaction to see it take place for the public good, though he should have the fate of most projectors, to be undone.