Abbreviated title
The history of the four last years of the Queen.
JSA Identification Number
8_4_3
Teerink/Scouten Number
809
ESTC Number
T143996
Copy and its Location
,
Publisher and Printer
The history of the four last years of the Queen. By the late Jonathan Swift, D. D. D. S. P. D. Published from the last manuscript copy, corrected and enlarged by the author’s own hand, Vol. , pp .
London, Millar, Andrew, 1758.

Commentary

Millar’s London edition of the Four Last Years is the first edition. The history of this text is exceptionally perplexed. Swift wanted to publish it, but publication was opposed by some of his friends, largely because of the conflict between the Earl of Oxford and Viscount Bolingbroke that the history necessarily touched on. Sir Harold Williams attempts to clarify the history of the manuscripts in his introduction to the volume in Herbert Davis’s edition of Swift’s prose works, but even he is not entirely successful.

A manuscript was taken to London for printing in 1737, but the project did not go ahead and the manuscript was left with Lord Orrery. Faulkner, who was keen to get his hands on the manuscript and seems to have had permission from Swift’s executors to print it, finally got it from Orrery in 1751, but he gave it to the Archbishop of Dublin, who in turn lodged it with Lord Chief Justice Singleton. In 1758 Faulkner found out that Andrew Millar in London was having an edition of the Four Last Years printed. He protested both about the London edition and the printing of a Dublin version of that edition by the Ewings. Millar seems to have come to a financial understanding with the Ewings; he was sending over his sheets for them to reprint. Faulkner then brought out his own edition, but it’s not altogether clear whether he had any access to the manuscript, or, if he had, to a complete copy of it. It seems to me not impossible that these editions were all, directly or indirectly, copied from the same manuscript, in the hand of the Dean’s verger, Kendrick, but with corrections by Swift himself, now at Windsor Castle and used by Davis as his copy text. Another manuscript, given by Swift to Martha Whiteway, was roughly collated with the received in the nineteenth century, but seems otherwise to have been unused. It has not, at the time of writing, been traced.

Andrew Millar (born 19 October 1706) was a London bookseller of the first importance. He was called by Samuel Johnson the ‘Maecenas of the age’ because of his role in raising the price of literature. In the 1740s he moved into the house that had been occupied by the elder Jacob Tonson. Here he ran an important literary business, being particularly famous for his relations with Thompson, Fielding, Hume, and Johnson.

References: The Prose Writings of Jonathan Swift, ed. Herbert Davis and others, 16 vols. (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1939-74), vol. vii, pp. xxix-167, 219-46; Irvin Ehrenpreis, Swift: The Man, His Works, and the Age, 3 vols. (London: Methuen, 1962-83), vol. ii, pp. 597-606; Carol Hall, ‘Andrew Millar’, in Dictionary of Literary Biography, vol. 154, The British Literary Book Trade, 1700- 1820, ed. James E. Bracken and Joel Silver (Detroit, MI: Gale, 1995).