Swift, Jonathan (1667–1745)
Dean of St Patrick’s Dublin, the austere Rabelais, the party pamphleteer from whom Rousseau learnt to detest politics and society, the high churchman from whom Voltaire and Lessing learnt their religion, the author of Gulliver’s Travels, Swift is a writer to whose economic views critics are often unjust. The Humble Petition of the Colliers, Cooks, Cook-maids, etc., against the use of focused rays by a supposed company instead of fires, represents that this ‘will utterly ruin... your petitioners... and trades on them depending, there being nothing left to them after the said invention but warming of cellars and dressing of suppers in the wintertime’. And ‘whereas the said’ company ‘talk of making use of the moon by night as of the sun by day, they will utterly ruin the numerous body of tallow chandlers’, and so the tallow tax will fail. The fame of Bastiat is chiefly based on his expansion of this parable in the seventh of his Sophismes Economiques (1846), of which his admirers still say ‘nothing is more brilliant, nothing more French’.