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A Tale of a Tub was published in the spring of 1704, in a volume which contained also An Account of a Battel between the Antient and Modern Books in St. James's Library and A Discourse Concerning the Mechanical Operation of the Spirit. The volume was anonymous, and no part of it had hitherto been printed.
It is a question how far the author was responsible for the publication of the volume, and for the text as it appeared. From statements in the 'Apology' prefixed to the fifth edition in 1710,' in the Bookseller to the Reader', and in Swift's letter to Tooke of June 29, 1710,3 we learn that there were three copies of the manuscript of the Tale,-a 'blotted' or corrected copy which the author had by him, a copy which he had lent to a person since dead' and which came to the bookseller's hands in 1698, and a copy of 'some part' which Swift had lent to Thomas Swift, his 'little parson cousin'. The author, we are told, had intended to make another copy, with many alterations', but was forestalled by the publication of the copy procured by the bookseller.
The friend to whom the author lent the copy is said to have given it to the bookseller, and to have expunged
'certain Passages where now the Chasms appear under the Name of Desiderata';' and for this surreptitious copy' the bookseller is said to have given a good sum of money. In four different places in the Apology the author asserts that his papers were out of his control when the Tale was printed. On the other hand there is a passage in the Conclusion' of the Tale' which would suggest that the author dealt directly with the bookseller: No Man hath more nicely observed our Climate, than the Bookseller who bought the Copy of this Work.... I desired to know, considering my urgent Necessities, what he thought might be acceptable this Month'. If we took this literally we should have to hold that the author himself disposed of the copy.
These statements, and other conflicting but not irreconcilable statements about the Mechanical Operation of the Spirit, cannot fail to suggest deliberate mystification. On the whole it seems probable that the book was published through the agency of a friend, who may have exercised a certain amount of discretion-probably a very small amount-in seeing it through the press.
It was quite in keeping with Swift's methods on other occasions to provide the printer with a fair copy of the manuscript, and to keep the 'blotted' autograph. When he brought out his Letter to the October Club it was a transcript in another hand that he sent to the press, in order that he might not be known for author' A similar course was followed with Gulliver's Travels,
Tale of a Tub; and as a proof of this, it is said, there is still in being an entry made in the books of the first publisher of a certain sum paid for that work. But this entry does not say to whom it was paid.' Nothing else appears to be known of this entry.
6 Journal to Stella, Jan. 18, 1712.
which came mysteriously to the publisher from the hands of Richard Sympson', and then was altered here and there without Swift's knowledge.'
Yet it cannot be proved that the Tale of a Tub and the other pieces in the volume did not appear as the author intended. The publisher was John Nutt. Now Benjamin Tooke had published for Swift the third part of Temple's Miscellanea in 1701, and it was Tooke with whom Swift corresponded in 1710 about the fifth edition of the Tale, which still bore the name of Nutt on the title-page. Similarly Tooke arranged for the publication of Swift's Miscellanies in Prose and Verse,3 which was brought out at the end of February 1711 by John Morphew, Nutt's successor. Swift called Tooke my bookseller'; and the Journal to Stella and the Letters show that he helped Swift on occasion in matters of business. He was a man 'for whose honesty', said Swift, I will engage'. The publishing and bookselling connexion, the trust and the familiarity that began with Temple's Miscellanea continued till Tooke's death; and it was Tooke's successor, Benjamin Motte, who brought out Gulliver's Travels in 1726. Why Tooke should not have been Swift's acknowledged publisher is not clear; but that he acted as Swift's literary agent is certain. Was he already his literary agent in 1704? The assistance of a sagacious and trusty friend, himself a publisher,
See the edition by G. R. Dennis (Bell & Sons, 1914) Pp. xii ff. and xxvi ff.
2 John Nutt appears to have started publishing in 1698. He had been a printer in the Savoy, and returned to printing about 1708 see Arber's Term Catalogues, and Dunton's Life and Errors, 1705, p. 298; ed. 1818, p. 220.
3 See pp. 343, 4.
date of the publication of the Miscellanies see the advertisement in The Post Boy for February 2427, 1711.
4 Journal to Stella, January 16, 1712.
5 Ibid. Jan. 25, 1712. Dunton says that He's truly Honest, a Man of refin'd Sense . . . and is unblemish'd in his Reputation '. Life and Errors, 1705, p. 288; ed. 1818, p. 212.
who was given a fair copy of the manuscript and acted in accordance with the author's wishes, while the author himself remained in the background, would provide an explanation of much of the mystery in which the issue of the Tale was purposely involved.
There was much speculation about the author of the anonymous Tale. Some hinted that Sir William Temple had a hand in it.' Sacheverell thought it might be by Smalridge. Atterbury reported that at Oxford it was generally supposed to be by Edmund Smith and John Philips, though he himself suspected Swift.3 Others claimed it for Lord Somers. Others attributed it, in whole or in part, to Thomas Swift.
Only the claims made for Thomas Swift need to be stated. They were seriously urged, and gave the real author much annoyance; and for this reason the evidence for them is here set down fully :
1. The following passage is printed in John Nichols's Select Collection of Poems, 1780, vol. iv, p. *358:
One striking anecdote . . . is so remarkable, that I shall insert it here it is extracted from a letter of Dr. Charles Davenant, dated
See the quotation from Wotton's Observations, 1705, given below; also p. 297. Deane Swift in his Essay upon Jonathan Swift, 1755, p. 60, says that every section of the Tale was revised by Temple.
2 Johnson, Life of Swift.
3 Correspondence, vol. iii, pp. 203, 214. Atterbury's ignorance is interesting as it disposes of the story repeated from one writer to another that the Battle of the Books was circulated in manuscript as a reply to Wotton and Bentley. If
any one had seen such a manuscript, it would have been Atterbury. Compare H. C. Beeching, Francis Atterbury, 1909, p. 233.
4 See p. 22, note 1. Compare Addison, The Free-Holder, No. 39, May 4, 4, 1716: this extraordinary Person, out of his natural Aversion to Vain-glory, wrote several Pieces as well as performed several Actions, which he did not assume the Honour of: . . . many Works of this Nature have appeared, which every one has ascribed to him'.
Sept. 22, to his son Harry, secretary and chargé d'affairs for Q. Anne at Francfort. I desire you to deliver the inclosed to Col. Parks (aidde-camp to the Duke of Marlborough). The chief subject of it is to bespeak his kindness for my cousin Swift to be his chaplain against he has a regiment. My cousin has gained immortal honour by having had the principal hand in a book lately published, called The Tale of a Tub, which has made as much noise, and is as full of wit, as any book perhaps that has come out these last hundred years'. Nichols thought that my cousin Swift' was Jonathan Swift; but Davenant evidently meant Thomas Swift, who was his nephew, the word 'cousin' being used in the old loose sense of 'relative'.
2. Wotton refers thus to Thomas Swift in his Observations upon The Tale of a Tub1 :
The World besides will think it odd, that a Man should in a Dedication play upon that Great Man [i.e. Somers], to whom he is more obliged than to any other Man now living; for it was at Sir William Temple's Request, that my Lord Sommers, then LordKeeper of the Great-Seal of England, gave Mr. Swift2 a very good Benefice in one of the most Delicious Parts of one of the Pleasantest Counties of England. It is publicly reported that he wrote this Book: It is a Story, which you know, Sir, I neither made, nor spread; for it has been long as public as it can well be. . . . I acquit him from composing it. The Author, I believe, is dead, and it is probable that it was writ in the Year 1697, when it is said to have been written.
Thomas Swift had been presented by Somers to the Rectory of Puttenham in Surrey.. 'The Author' whom Wotton believes to be dead is Sir William Temple, who died in January 1699.3
3. In June 1710, shortly before the fifth edition appeared, Edmund Curll published A Complete Key to the Tale of a Tub. The first part of it asserted definitely that Thomas Swift wrote the main portion of the Tale,
1 See Appendix B, p. 323. 2 Wotton thought that Thomas Swift was Jonathan's brother, and distinguishes them as Mr. Swift' and Dr. Swift' (D.D. Dublin, 1701). In another passage he
says that 'a Brother of Dr. Swift's is publicly reported to have been the Editor at least, if not the Author' (p. 314).
3 See p. 312.
4 Printed in full as Appendix C.