The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 9/Considerations on the Choice of a Recorder

Upon the death of Mr. Stoyte, recorder of the city of Dublin, in the year 1733, several gentlemen declared themselves candidates to succeed him; upon which the dean wrote the following paper, and Eton Stannard, esq. (a gentleman of great worth and honour, and very knowing in his profession) was elected.






THE office of recorder to this city being vacant by the death of a very worthy gentleman; it is said, that five or six persons are soliciting to succeed him in the employment. I am a stranger to all their persons, and to most of their characters; which latter, I hope, will at this time be canvassed with more decency, than it sometimes happens upon the like occasions. Therefore, as I am wholly impartial, I can with more freedom deliver my thoughts how the several persons and parties concerned ought to proceed in electing a recorder for this great and ancient city.

And first, as it is a very natural, so I can by no means think it an unreasonable opinion, that the sons or near relations of aldermen, and other deserving citizens, should be duly regarded, as proper competitors for an employment in the city's disposal: provided they be equally qualified with other candidates; and provided that such employments require no more than common abilities, and common honesty. But, in the choice of a recorder, the case is entirely different. He ought to be a person of good abilities in his calling; of an unspotted character; an able practitioner; one who has occasionally merited of this city before: he ought to be of some maturity in years; a member of parliament, and likely to continue so; regular in his life; firm in his loyalty to the Hanover succession; indulgent to tender consciences; but, at the same time, a firm adherer to the established church. If he be such a one who has already sat in parliament, it ought to be inquired of what weight he was there: whether he voted on all occasions for the good of his country; and particularly for advancing the trade and freedom of this city: whether he be engaged in any faction, either national or religious: and lastly, whether he be a man of courage; not to be drawn from his duty by the frown or menaces of power, nor capable to be corrupted by allurements or bribes.—These, and many other particulars, are of infinitely more consequence, than that single circumstance of being descended by a direct or collateral line from any alderman, or distinguished citizen, dead or alive.

There is not a dealer or shopkeeper in this city of any substance, whose thriving, less or more, may not depend upon the good or ill conduct of a recorder. He is to watch every motion in parliament that may the least affect the freedom, trade, or welfare of it.

In this approaching election, the commons, as they are a numerous body, so they seem to be most concerned in point of interest; and their interest ought to be most regarded, because it altogether depends upon the true interest of the city. They have no private views; and giving their votes, as I am informed, by ballotting, they lie under no awe, or fear of disobliging competitors. It is therefore hoped that they will duly consider, which of the candidates is most likely to advance the trade of themselves and their brother citizens; to defend their liberties, both in and out of parliament, against all attempts of encroachment or oppression. And so God direct them in the choice of a recorder, who may for many years supply that important office with skill, diligence, courage, and fidelity. And let all the people say, Amen.