As satirists of religious enthusiasm, Swift and the third Earl of Shaftesbury sometimes were confused with one another in the eighteenth century. Their politics and understandings of religion, however, made them each other’s satirical target. This essay argues that, in order to understand the partisan dialogue between Shaftesbury and Swift, it is necessary to grasp its clandestine nature. Only very close readings of the two writers’ texts unveil their hidden allusions to each other; in fact, these were part of a strategic game of rhetorical hide-and-seek. In the light of this premise, new interpretations of both Shaftesbury and Swift are being offered, showing that their intellectual duel was far more than a footnote in the struggle between Whigs and Tories. Rather, this clandestine dialogue reveals the broader lines of their political and religious battle.
Although Swift was an avid, and adversarial, reader at all times of his life, three major reading periods stand out in his career: the first when at Trinity College the young Jonathan, tired of the curricular tedium there, began to neglect his “Academical Studyes” and “turned himself to reading History and Poetry;” the second when, as Sir William Temple’s secretary at Moor Park in the latter half of the 1690s, the newly ordained clergyman “devoted eight hours a day to the prosecution of his studies,” and the third in the early 1720s when the mature Dean having embarked on the composition of Gulliver’s Travels interspersed his masterpiece with the fruits of much reading.
At Moor Park, from January 1696 to January 1697, Swift “kept an Account one Year of the Books he read.” This ‘Account,’ a total of thirty-seven titles by thirty-six authors, survives in a transcript made by the Revd John Lyon and bound in at the beginning of Lyon’s copy of John Hawkesworth’s Life of the Revd Jonathan Swift, D.D. The authors here present a list of the identified titles in a basic bibliographical format and with descriptive labels as to language, subject, and scope. They conclude that Lyon’s ‘Account,’ allegedly a transcript of Swift’s holograph, is actually an inflated list containing titles presumably not read at Moor Park in 1697/8 but added at some later stage.
In Gulliver’s Travels, Swift offered a cynical account of how history comes to be written. Yet in his own attempts at writing memoirs and history, he claimed “to write with the utmost impartiality … as a faithful historian.” Contemporaries were not so sure, Chesterfield describing Swift’s History of the Four Last Years of the Queen as “a party pamphlet, founded on the lie of the day.” One of the problems with Swift’s accounts of events was that most of the information he was relaying to his readers as factual was second-hand at best. This would appear to raise serious issues for Swift’s biographers and critics. Propagandists are under no obligation to be factually accurate, let alone tell the truth. Almost all of the evidence for his influence with the ministers originates from Swift himself. In such circumstances, it is incumbent upon biographers to acquire detailed knowledge of the primary sources for themselves rather than merely relying upon the available secondary sources for their understanding of the political and social contexts of the age in which Swift lived.
For the last thirty years of his life, in his capacity as the Dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral, Jonathan Swift lived in a small, populous, and largely independent district of Dublin. Beyond the jurisdiction of the civic and ecclesiastical authorities, the Liberty of St Patrick’s was in some part a realm unto itself, and Swift was its sovereign. His dealings with his many neighbours have, however, attracted little scholarly attention. This essay accordingly offers a literary-historical survey of the quarter and its residents. Following a brief overview of how Swift conceptualized the condition of being a neighbour, it describes the privileges of his office, the built environment of the franchise that was his charge, and the kinds of person who lodged there. The second half of the essay introduces some of the Dean’s more prominent neighbours, four individuals with whom he had disputes of various kinds. For all the provocations of those amongst whom he lived, his vis-à-vis with his neighbours can finally be seen to have been a source of considerable personal contentment.
This paper examines the varying fullness of Dublin imprints employed by printers during the period 1710-35, identifying printers with particular attention to cut printers’ ornaments, increasingly employed after 1710, typographical practices, and other sorts of evidence helpful in identifying where, when, and by whom books were printed. It reveals that Dublin printers of the period, because they often published what they printed (much more often than did London printers), usually acknowledged their work in imprints. It assesses the relative frequency of real, false, and incomplete imprints and examines the diverse motives for false and incomplete imprints. They were employed by printers and publishers for many reasons besides hiding their identities to avoid recrimination from authors, the public, and publishers as well as from church and governmental authorities. Identifying silent and hidden printers by mastering ornament stocks and typographical fingerprints provides solid information on collaboration and division within the book trade. Particular attention is given to imprints employed in controversies during 1713, 1723, and 1733 and to the practices of printer-publisher George Faulkner, whose early false and incomplete imprints are listed in an appendix.
A unique uncancelled copy of Faulkner’s 1735 edition of Swift’s poems was deliberately assembled, at some point after 1735, to preserve the texts that were to have been jettisoned or expurgated. A fresh analysis confirms that the cancellations were designed primarily to avoid re-publishing personal satire and to limit Faulkner’s exposure to prosecution or other governmental interference.