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A Letter From a Clergyman to his Friend, with an Account of the Travels of Captain Lemuel Gulliver   By:

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THE AUGUSTAN REPRINT SOCIETY

A LETTER FROM A Clergyman to his Friend, WITH AN ACCOUNT OF THE TRAVELS OF Captain LEMUEL GULLIVER .

(Anonymous)

(1726)

Introduction by MARTIN KALLICH

PUBLICATION NUMBER 143 WILLIAM ANDREWS CLARK MEMORIAL LIBRARY UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, LOS ANGELES 1970

GENERAL EDITORS

William E. Conway, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library George Robert Guffey, University of California, Los Angeles Maximillian E. Novak, University of California, Los Angeles

ASSOCIATE EDITOR

David S. Rodes, University of California, Los Angeles

ADVISORY EDITORS

Richard C. Boys, University of Michigan James L. Clifford, Columbia University Ralph Cohen, University of Virginia Vinton A. Dearing, University of California, Los Angeles Arthur Friedman, University of Chicago Louis A. Landa, Princeton University Earl Miner, University of California, Los Angeles Samuel H. Monk, University of Minnesota Everett T. Moore, University of California, Los Angeles Lawrence Clark Powell, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library James Sutherland, University College, London H. T. Swedenberg, Jr., University of California, Los Angeles Robert Vosper, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library

CORRESPONDING SECRETARY

Edna C. Davis, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library

EDITORIAL ASSISTANT

Roberta Medford, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library

INTRODUCTION

We have a Book lately publish'd here which hath of late taken up the whole conversation of the town. Tis said to be writ by Swift. It is called, The travells of Lemuell Gulliver in two Volumes. It hath had a very great sale. People differ vastly in their opinions of it, for some think it hath a great deal of wit, but others say, it hath none at all.

John Gay to James Dormer (22 November 1726)

As Gay's letter suggests, details concerning the contemporary reception of Gulliver's Travels exhibit two sides of Jonathan Swift's character the pleasant (that is, merry, witty, amusing) and the unpleasant (that is, sarcastic, envious, disaffected). A person with a powerful ego and astringent sense of humor, Swift must have been a delightful friend, if somewhat difficult, but also a dangerous enemy. A Letter from a Clergyman (1726), here reproduced in a facsimile of its first and only edition, is a reaction typical of those who regard Swift and the sharp edge of his satire with great suspicion and revulsion. It displays the dangerously Satanic aspect of Swift that side of his character which for some people represented the whole man since the allegedly blasphemous satire in A Tale of a Tub , published and misunderstood early in his career, critically affected, even by his own admission, his employment in the Church. It is this evil character of the author, the priest with an indecorous and politically suspect humor, that offended some contemporary readers. To them, the engraved frontispiece of Jonathan Smedley's scurrilous Gulliveriana (1728) is the proper image of the author of the Travels . It portrays Swift in a priest's vestments that barely conceal a cloven hoof.

In the following pages, we shall define the historical context of the clergyman's Letter and illuminate the nature of the literary warfare in which Swift was an energetic if not particularly cheerful antagonist when Gulliver's Travels was published late in 1726.

In another letter, Gay remarked to Swift (17 November 1726) that "The Politicians to a man agree, that it [the Travels ] is free from particular reflections"; nevertheless some "people of greater perspicuity" would "search for particular applications in every leaf." He also predicted that "we shall have keys publish'd to give light into Gulliver's design." His prediction was correct, for it was not long before four Keys , the earliest commentary in pamphlet form on the Travels , were published by a Signor Corolini, undoubtedly a pseudonym for Edmund Curll, the London printer and bookseller... Continue reading book >>




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