An Introduction to the History of England …

London, Printed for Richard Simpson … and Ralph Simpson … 1695

8vo., pp. [8], ‘320’ [i.e. 318], [2, advertisements]; faint damp-stain in lower margin else a very good copy in contemporary panelled calf, front joint repaired.


US $575€532

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First edition. Newly arrived in England from Trinity College, Dublin, Swift in 1689 entered upon a ten-year period as secretary to Sir William Temple at Moor Park near Farnham in Surrey. ‘Partly thanks to Swift’s support several of Temple’s important works were published in the 1690s, notably the second part of his Miscellanea ... and … his Introduction to the History of England.’ (Oxford DNB). As usual with works by Temple printed in Swift’s time, the manuscript sent to the press was in Swift’s hand, a copy of the original incorporating Temple’s corrections (Elias, pp. 4-5). Temple in turn ‘helped his young protégé with the revision of the Tale of a Tub’.

Observing the want of ‘one good or approved general History of England’, Temple published this Introduction, to the death of William the Conqueror, ‘to invite and encourage some worthy Spirit … to pursue this Attempt … I have hereby beaten through all the rough and dark Ways of this Journey, the rest lies fair and easie through a plain and open Country…. The Architect only is wanting, and not the Materials for such a Building’.

Wing T 638; A. C. Elias, Jr., Swift at Moor Park (1982).

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