The Letters of Jonathan Swift to Charles Ford

The Letters of Jonathan Swift to Charles Ford

The Letters of Jonathan Swift to Charles Ford

The Letters of Jonathan Swift to Charles Ford

Excerpt

This volume presents what survives of the correspondence of Jonathan Swift with Charles Ford, for many years his most trusted friend. Their intimacy has always been known, but how intimate they were is only now revealed by a series of fifty-one letters by Swift, the existence of which none of his editors or biographers would seem to have suspected. On Ford's death these letters passed, with other papers, into the possession of Sir John Hynde Cotton, his executor, and thereafter were lost to view among the papers of the Cotton family at Madingley Hall, Cambridge. Cotton's great granddaughter, Miss Philadelphia Letitia Cotton, has the credit of uncovering them and recognizing their importance, but she had no inducements to make them known beyond the circle of her friends. From her they passed to Mrs. Rowley Smith, of Shortgrove, and in time to younger members of the family who are responsible for the SYSTEMation of this volume.

We have no reason to think that the collection as Ford left it was in any way broken till 1896, when ten of the fifty-one letters were chosen at random and dispersed by auction. But as nine of these ten letters have been available through the facilities offered by their new owners--most of them are now in the Pierpont Morgan Library--and as the one letter that has not been traced is described in the sale catalogue, the collection as presented in this volume has suffered little from the dispersal. Of all the fifty-one letters only one was included in full in the great edition of Swift's Correspondence which we owe to the unflagging zeal of the late Dr. Frank Elrington Ball. It is the last letter that Swift wrote to Ford, and it had been secured in 1896 for the British Museum.

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