Abbreviated title
A famous prediction of Merlin, the British wizard
JSA Identification Number
4_6_6
Teerink/Scouten Number
41
ESTC Number
T52771
Copy and its Location
CUL , Hib.5.735.10
Publisher and Printer
The works of J. S, D.D, D.S.P.D. in four volumes, Vol. i., pp 238-242.
Dublin, Faulkner, George, 1735.

Commentary

This Prediction was first published as a half-sheet by ‘H. Baldwin’ with an imprint dating it ‘1709’. That was followed by piratical reprints and authorized printings in the 1711 and 1727 Miscellanies. Although there are some minor corrections, much of the typography is retained from the first edition, transmitted through the reprints. We are presented with what is apparently a scholarly edition, with most of the text as notes. The poem is printed in black letter but the lemmata to the notes are now in italic. It is significant that the typographical pastiche was thought worth retaining, even in diminished form. The printing is otherwise typical of the style of the Works, with capitals for nouns, and the use of capitals and small capitals for the beginning of each paragraph giving the whole an orderly appearance.

George Faulkner (?1703-1775) was Swift’s most important publisher and editor. In his early years Swift tended to publish his major works through the London trade, but with the Drapier’s Letters (1724) Dublin publication became more important. Faulkner, who had worked for William Bowyer in London and was a polished printer, brought out the first collected edition of the Drapier’s Letters, as Fraud Detected, in 1725, and by 1732 was planning a subscription edition of Swift’s Works. The four volumes came out in 1735, and established Faulkner as Swift’s printer. Swift, at least to some extent, and his friends had collaborated in the edition. Faulkner continued to print Swift and to enlarge his edition, which by 1771 consisted of twenty volumes.

Faulkner did his best both to date Swift’s works and to elucidate them with footnotes. His pioneering work is of first importance both for Swift’s text and for explanatory notes. For further discussion of Faulkner, see the long note in the Gulliver’s Travels volume in the Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jonathan Swift, and Mary Pollard’s entry on him in her Dictionary.

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; Irvin Ehrenpeis, Swift: The Man, His Works, and the Age, 3 vols. (London: Methuen, 1962-83), vol. ii, pp. 344-5, vol. iii, pp. 779-90; Mary Pollard, A Dictionary of Members of the Dublin Book Trade 1550-1800 (London: The Bibliographical Society, 2000); Mary Pollard, ‘George Faulkner’, Swift Studies, 7 (1992), 79-96.