Abbreviated title
A discourse of the contests and dissensions ... in Athens and Rome
JSA Identification Number
Teerink/Scouten Number
ESTC Number
Copy and its Location
CUL , Williams 303
Publisher and Printer
A discourse of the contests and dissensions between the nobles and the commons in Athens and Rome, with the consequences they had upon both those states, Vol. , pp .
London, Nutt, John, 1701.


This Discourse is Swift’s first political tract, published mid-October 1701. John Nutt was simply a distributor of pamphlets, and using his name was a way of preserving anonymity. It was very little revised in the Miscellanies of 1711 and 1727, but then extensively revised, both on a copy of the 1727 Miscellanies and for printing in 1735.

The first edition presents the fullest text of this piece. It includes a final paragraph that reflects on the advantages of bribery during elections, as opposed to relying on would-be representatives to court the people: ‘it will be safer to trust our Property and Constitution in the hands of such, who have pay’d for their Elections, than of those who have obtained them by servile Flatteries of the People’. Later editions made some mistakes in reprinting this text, which in some cases presents the more accurate version. The printing is typical of Swift’s early period: capitals for the beginning of nouns; full capitals for some names; extensive use of italics, particularly for quotation; and side notes, chiefly for references.

John Nutt ran a trade publishing or distributor’s business from 1698 but left it to run the printing house of Edward Jones in 1706; one of Jones’s journeymen, John Morphew, took over the publishing business.

References: The Prose Writings of Jonathan Swift, ed. Herbert Davis and others, 16 vols. (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1939-74), vol. i, pp. 193-236, 298-302; Irvin Ehrenpreis, Swift: The Man, His Works, and the Age, 3 vols. (London: Methuen, 1962-83), vol. ii, pp. 47-58; A Discourse of the Contests and Dissentions between the Nobles and the Commons in Athens and Rome, ed. Frank H. Ellis (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967); Michael Treadwell, ‘London Trade Publishers, 1675-1750’, Library, 6th ser. 4 (1982), 99-134.