Abbreviated title
Polite conversation
JSA Identification Number
4_10_2
Teerink/Scouten Number
761
ESTC Number
T97412
Copy and its Location
CUL , Williams 333
Publisher and Printer
A complete collection of genteel and ingenious conversation, according to the most polite mode and method now used at court, and in the Best Companies of England. In three dialogues. By Simon Wagstaff, Esq;, Vol. , pp .
London, Motte, Benjamin Bathurst, Charles, 1738.

Commentary

This is the first edition of Polite Conversation, first published in London, through the agency of Mary Barber, in 1738, but it was also printed by George Faulkner, both as an individual book and as part of the Works, in Dublin in 1738. The differences between the Dublin and London editions are extensive, with the London edition omitting some passages. Swift read copy for the Dublin edition, but the London edition has considerable authority as it was printed from an authorized manuscript.

Benjamin Motte, Jr.’s father was a printer and a friend of Swift’s bookseller, Benjamin Tooke. He had intellectual interests and published an Abridgement of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Societ y. He died in 1710 and Motte 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, becoming a partner in the Tooke business. When Benjamin Tooke, Jr., died in May 1723, he left his bookselling business to his brother Samuel but a controlling 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 when Andrew Tooke died in 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 1726; in 1727 he bound Charles Bathurst as apprentice for the large sum of £80; 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. iv, pp. 97-201, 290-9; Irvin Ehrenpeis, Swift: The Man, His Works, and the Age, 3 vols. (London: Methuen, 1962-83), vol. iii, pp. 832, 866-9, Michael Treadwell, ‘Benjamin Motte, Jr’, 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).