Abbreviated title
Gulliver's Travels
JSA Identification Number
11_3_1_1
Teerink/Scouten Number
291
ESTC Number
Copy and its Location
Cambridge University Library , Williams 233
Publisher and Printer
Travels into several remote nations of the world. In four parts. By Lemuel Gulliver, first a surgeon, and then a captain of several ships, Vol. 1, pp .
London, Motte, Benjamin, 1726.

Commentary

This is really the third edition of Gulliver’s Travels, though contemporaries regarded Teerink 293 of 1727, which contains Charles Ford’s corrections, as the first new edition. Like the first and second editions, this one was printed in London for Benjamin Motte by several printers, but the printing is much more straightforward: James Bettenham printed volumes I and II; Henry Woodfall printed volume III; and William Bowyer printed volume IV.

The text follows that of the first two editions (Teerink/Scouten 289 and 290), with some new mistakes. It has no independent authority. If the text of the first edition was censored, there has been no attempt at restoration here. The edition is attractive, but of no special importance.

Benjamin Motte, Jr.’s father was a printer and a friend of Swift’s bookseller, Benjamin Tooke. He had intellectual interests, like his son, who published an Abridgement of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. Motte, Sr., died in 1710 and Motte, Jr., took over the printing business from his mother when he came of age in 1715. He became a bookseller at the end of 1723 or the beginning of 1724, when he joined the Tooke business as a partner. Benjamin Tooke, Jr., had died in May 1723, leaving his bookselling business to his brother Samuel but a financial interest to an older brother, Revd. Andrew Tooke, who was soon to become the censor of Gulliver’s Travels. Benjamin Motte joined Samuel Tooke in partnership shortly afterwards; perhaps he was helping out family friends, but it proved an expensive move. Samuel Tooke died in December 1724, leaving Motte in charge of the business, but presumably with the financial responsibility for Samuel’s share as well as his own. When Andrew Tooke died in December January 1732, Motte owed him £1,645. Motte’s financial problems with Gulliver’s Travels and the Miscellanies should be seen against this background. Motte gave up his Aldersgate printing house in 1723 or 1724; he bound Charles Bathurst as apprentice for the large sum of £80 in 1727; he took Bathurst into partnership in 1734; he died intestate in April 1738; Bathurst carried on the business until he died in 1786. All my information on Motte comes from the innovative research of Michael Treadwell.

References: The Prose Writings of Jonathan Swift, ed. Herbert Davis and others, 16 vols. (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1939-74), vol. xi; Irvin Ehrenpreis, Swift: The Man, His Works, and the Age, 3 vols. (London: Methuen, 1962-83), vol. iii, pp. 442-72, 497-508; Gulliver’s Travels, ed. Claude Rawson and Ian Higgins (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005); F. P. Lock, The Politics of Gulliver’s Travels (Oxford, 1980), pp. 66-88; F. P. Lock, ‘The Text of Gulliver’s Travels’, Modern Language Review, 76 (1981), 513-33; Michael Treadwell, ‘Benjamin Motte, Andrew Tooke and Gulliver’s Travels’, in Proceedings of the First Münster Symposium on Jonathan Swift, ed. Hermann J. Real and Heinz J. Vienken (München: Wilhelm Fink, 1985), 287-304; Michael Treadwell, ‘The Text of Gulliver’s Travels, Again’, Swift Studies, 10 (1995), 62-79; Michael Treadwell, ‘Observations on the printing of Motte’s Octavo Editions of Gulliver’s Travels’, in Reading Swift: Papers from the Third Münster Symposium on Jonathan Swift, ed. Hermann J. Real and Helgard Stöver-Leidig (München: Wilhelm Fink, 1998), 157-77.