Remarks on the Life and Writings of Dr. Jonathan Swift

Remarks on the Life and Writings of Dr. Jonathan Swift

Remarks on the Life and Writings of Dr. Jonathan Swift

Remarks on the Life and Writings of Dr. Jonathan Swift

Synopsis

"In 1751, Remarks on the Life and Writings of Dr. Jonathan Swift, by John Boyle, Fifth Earl of Cork and Orrery, was published and immediately became a best-seller. Despite its importance as the earliest biographical account of Swift, it had not been closely studied by scholars except for A. C. Elias Jr., who was the first to ascertain which was the earliest printing of the work as well as Orrery's personal involvement with textual corrections. This volume is based on Elias's pioneering research and editor Joao Froes establishes the best text of the book, which had undergone several editions in London and Ireland, not all of which had been known. Froes's introduction offers a history of the composition, publication, and contemporary reception of Orrery's book, including a section that presents complete bibliographical descriptions of all the editions, their textual quality, the locations where copies of those editions can be found, their collation, and analyses of the individual editions. Also included is a section that fully describes the copies of the work extensively annotated by Orrery." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

A friend of Swift since 1732, John Boyle, fifth earl of Cork and Orrery, wrote the only book on Swift that became a best-seller in the eighteenth century, and that significantly influenced the views of later generations about Swift. Orrery's Remarks on the Life and Writings of Dr. Jonathan Swift, the earliest book-length study of Swift, also occasioned at least two books on Swift, by Patrick Delany and by Deane Swift (and probably Sheridan as well), which began the series of works on Swift, including those by the nineteenthcentury biographers who always referred, either positively or negatively, to Orrery. Paul Korshin wrote that the nineteenth-century view of Swift “owes a great deal to Orrery,” and A. C. Elias, Jr., mentioned that the Remarks “exerted a strong influence on Swift's reputation.” On the other hand, it was commonly known that Orrery had not been acquainted with Swift until late in the Dean's life (and Orrery himself admits it in the Remarks), and this had caused some damage to the appreciation of the Remarks. But, as Phillip Sun has indicated, Orrery had access to trustworthy information on Swift. in fact, as it will be seen, besides his direct contacts with Swift himself, Orrery had access to the then unpublished fragmentary autobiography Family of Swift, and relied on the testimonies of Deane Swift and Martha Whiteway, Swift's cousin and guardian.

Regarding Orrery's personal qualities, we have these words by Samuel Johnson, who personally knew Orrery: “His conversation was like his writings, neat and elegant, but without strength. He grasped at more than his abilities could reach; tried to pass for a better talker, a better writer, and a better thinker than he was.” However, not long after meeting Orrery, Swift wrote: “"Orrery" seems every way a most deserving Person, a good Scholar, with much wit, manners and modesty.” About nine months after Swift wrote those words, John Barber, Swift's friend and lord mayor of London, wrote: “My Lord Orrery's amiable qualities must make him the delight of all with you, as he is truly so with us, and when he comes over, your loss will be our gain, as the proverb says.” On 8 September 1743, William King (principal of St. Mary Hall, Oxford) delivered a speech on the occasion of Orrery's reception of the . . .

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