Abbreviated title
A famous prediction of Merlin, the British wizard
JSA Identification Number
Teerink/Scouten Number
ESTC Number
Copy and its Location
CUL , Williams 387
Publisher and Printer
A famous prediction of Merlin, the British wizard; written above a thousand years ago, and relating to this present year. With explanatory notes. By T. N. Philomath, Vol. , pp .
London, Hills, Henry, 1708.


This Prediction was first published as a half-sheet by ‘H. Baldwin’ with an imprint dating it ‘1709’. This is a piracy by Henry Hills. The typography is exceptionally interesting. We are presented with what is apparently a scholarly edition, with most of the text as notes. The poem is printed in black letter. The appearance of the whole, with a woodcut and the black letter, is closer to that of the broadside and chapbook than a scholarly edition. As Harold Williams points out in his edition, various people, including Samuel Johnson, were tricked into believing it was a piece of genuine old verse and the typography was somehow regarded as original.

Henry Hills was a notorious pirate and a poor printer. In his poem to be prefixed to Bernard Lintot’s 1712 miscellany, John Gay writes of ‘Pirate Hill’s brown Sheets and scurvy Letter’.

References: The Prose Writings of Jonathan Swift, ed. Herbert Davis and others, 16 vols. (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1939-74), vol. ii, pp. 165-70, 288-9; The P oems of Jonathan Swift, ed. Harold Williams, 3 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1958), vol. i, p. 101-5; Irvin Ehrenpeis, Swift: The Man, His Works, and the Age, 3 vols. (London: Methuen, 1962-83), vol. ii, pp. 344-5, 422-4; Michael Treadwell, ‘Swift’s Relations with the London Book Trade to 1714’, in Author/Publisher Relations during the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries, ed. Robin Myers and Michael Harris (Oxford: Oxford Polytechnic Press, 1983); John Gay: Poetry and Prose, ed. Vinton Dearing and Charles Beckwith (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1974), vol. i, p. 40.