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قراءة كتاب The Prose Works of Jonathan Swift, D.D. — Volume 10 Historical Writings

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The Prose Works of Jonathan Swift, D.D. — Volume 10
Historical Writings

The Prose Works of Jonathan Swift, D.D. — Volume 10 Historical Writings

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
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The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Prose Works of Jonathan Swift, Vol. X. by Jonathan Swift

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at

Title: The Prose Works of Jonathan Swift, Vol. X.

Author: Jonathan Swift

Release Date: July 28, 2004 [EBook #13040]

Language: English


Produced by Terry Gilliland and PG Distributed Proofreaders



[Illustration: _Jonathan Swift on the bust by Rouldiac in Trinity
College Dublin]





Of late years, that is to say, within the last thirty odd years, there has existed a certain amount of doubt as to whether or no the work known to us as "The History of the Four Last Years of the Queen," was really the product of Swift's pen. That a work of this nature had occupied Swift during his retirement at Windsor in 1713, is undoubted. That the work here reprinted from the edition given to the world in 1758, "by an anonymous editor from a copy surreptitiously taken by an anonymous friend" (to use Mr. Churton Collins's summary), is the actual work upon which Swift was engaged at Windsor, is not so certain. Let us for a moment trace the history of what is known of what Swift did write, and then we shall be in a better position to judge of the authenticity of what we have before us.

All that we know of this work is gathered from Swift's correspondence, as published by Sir Walter Scott in his edition of Swift's Works issued in 1824. The first reference there made is in a note from Dr. William King to Mrs. Whiteway, from which we gather that Swift, towards the end of the year 1736, was meditating the publication of what he had written in 1713. "As to the History," writes King, "the Dean may be assured I will take care to supply the dates that are wanting, and which can easily be done in an hour or two. The tracts, if he pleases, may be printed by way of appendix. This will be indeed less trouble than the interweaving them in the body of the history, and will do the author as much honour, and answer the purpose full as well."

This was written from Paris, under date November 9th, O.S., 1736. It can easily be gathered from this that the tracts referred to are the tracts on the same period which Swift wrote at the time in defence of the Oxford ministry. They are given in the fifth volume of this edition.

On December 7th, 1736, King was in London, and he immediately writes to Swift himself on the matter of the History. "I arrived here yesterday," he says, "and I am now ready to obey your commands. I hope you are come to a positive resolution concerning the History. You need not hesitate about the dates, or the references which are to be made to any public papers; for I can supply them without the least trouble. As well as I remember, there is but one of those public pieces which you determined should be inserted at length; I mean Sir Thomas Hanmer's Representation; this I have now by me. If you incline to publish the two tracts as an Appendix to the History, you will be pleased to see if the character given of the Earl of Oxford in the pamphlet of 1715 agrees with the character given of the same person in the History.[1] Perhaps on a review you may think proper to leave one of them quite out. You have (I think) barely mentioned the attempt of Guiscard, and the quarrel between Rechteren and Mesnager. But as these are facts which are probably now forgot or unknown, it would not be amiss if they were related at large in the notes; which may be done from the gazettes, or any other newspapers of those times. This is all I have to offer to your consideration…."

[Footnote 1: See note on page 95 of this volume.]

There is thus no doubt left as to which were the tracts referred to by
King, and as to the desire of Swift to include Sir Thomas Hanmer's
Representation—two points that are important as evidence for the
authenticity of the edition issued by Lucas in 1758.

Towards the middle of 1737, it must have become common knowledge among Swift's friends in London, that he was preparing for publication his "History of the Four Last Years of Queen Anne's Reign." Possibly King may have dropped a hint of it; possibly Swift may have written to others for information and assistance. Be that as it may, on April 7th, 1737, the Earl of Oxford (son of Swift's old friend) wrote to Swift as follows:

"… One reason of my writing to you now is, (next to my asking your forgiveness) this: I am told that you have given leave and liberty to some one or more of your friends to print a history of the last four years of Queen Anne's reign, wrote by you.

"As I am most truly sensible of your constant regard and sincere friendship for my father, even to partiality, (if I may say so,) I am very sensible of the share and part he must bear in such a history; and as I remember, when I read over that history of yours, I can recollect that there seemed to me a want of some papers to make it more complete, which was not in our power to obtain; besides there were some severe things said, which might have been very currently talked of; but now will want a proper evidence to support; for these reasons it is that I do entreat the favour of you, and make it my earnest request, that you will give your positive directions, that this history be not printed and published, until I have had an opportunity of seeing it; with a liberty of showing it to some family friends, whom I would consult upon this occasion. I beg pardon for this; I hope you will be so good as to grant my request: I do it with great deference to you. If I had the pleasure of seeing you, I would soon say something to you that would convince you I am not wrong: they are not proper for a letter as you will easily guess…."

It is evident that Swift had gone so far as to consult with Faulkner on the matter of the printing of the "History," because he was present when Oxford's letter arrived, and he tells us that Swift answered the letter immediately, and made him read the answer, the purport of which was: "That although he loved his lordship's father more than he ever did any man; yet, as a human creature, he had his faults, and therefore, as an impartial writer, he could not conceal them."

On the 4th of June, 1737, Swift wrote at length to Oxford a letter in which he details the circumstances and the reasons which moved him to write the History. The letter is important, and runs as follows:


"I had the honour of a letter from your lordship, dated April the 7th, which I was not prepared to answer until this time. Your lordship must needs have known, that the History you mention, of the Four last