Swift’s Exploding Mountain

Newspapers of the 18th century sometimes carried the most extraordinary reports, with absolutely no commentary, presumably leaving their readers to determine whether the reports were serious or humorous. Here is a fine example of the absurd genre from 1733 that appeared in several newspapers, including the Ipswich Journal, featuring the inimitable Dean Swift.

Dublin May 19th. Last Saturday the 12th of this Instant, the Right Hon. the Earl of Orrery, the Rev. Dr. Swift, Dean of St. Patrick’s, and the Rev. Dr. Sherridan, rid from Dublin to Tallow Hill, to take a Prospect of the adjacent Country. As they were mounting a Rock, they observed a Stream running thro’ the Middle of it, which fell into a natural Bason, and was thence conveyed thro’ some subterraneous Cavities, but they could not any where discover by what secret Passage it was conveyed out again; so that they concluded the Waters were still in some Reservoir within the Bowels of the Hill, which must infallibly come to burst forth in time, and fall directly upon the City. The Doctor sent for a Milking-Pail, to compute what Quantity ran out, which held about two Gallons, and it was filled in the Space of a Minute, so that it runs in 24 Hours 2,880 Gallons; this multiplied by 365, produces 1,051,200, and shews the Quantity that runs from the Rock in a Year; so that in three Years, about the 13th Day of November, he computes that it must burst the Belly of the Mountain, and emit an Inundation which will run to all the Points of the Boyne, and greatly endanger the City of Dublin.

I wonder, did they worry in Dublin?

2 thoughts on “Swift’s Exploding Mountain

    1. dmelville2012 Post author

      What I didn’t mention, and makes the irony all the more delicious, is that the spring in question fed the well next to St. Patrick’s. I have no idea whether Swift knew that, but I wouldn’t be surprised.


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