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A Modest Proposal for preventing the children of poor people in
Ireland, from being a burden on their parents or country, and for
making them beneficial to the publick.

by Dr. Jonathan Swift. 1729

It is a melancholy object to those, who walk through this great
town, or travel in the country, when they see the streets, the
roads and cabbin-doors crowded with beggars of the female sex,
followed by three, four, or six children, all in rags, and
importuning every passenger for an alms. These mothers instead of
being able to work for their honest livelihood, are forced to
employ all their time in stroling to beg sustenance for their
helpless infants who, as they grow up, either turn thieves for
want of work, or leave their dear native country, to fight for
the Pretender in Spain, or sell themselves to the Barbadoes.

I think it is agreed by all parties, that this prodigious number
of children in the arms, or on the backs, or at the heels of
their mothers, and frequently of their fathers, is in the present
deplorable state of the kingdom, a very great additional
grievance; and therefore whoever could find out a fair, cheap and
easy method of making these children sound and useful members of
the common-wealth, would deserve so well of the publick, as to
have his statue set up for a preserver of the nation.
(ID 36724)

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