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 , Hib. 5. 735. 10
Publisher and Printer
The works of J. S, D.D, D.S.P.D. in four volumes, Vol. i., pp 1-55.
Dublin, Faulkner, George, 1735.


This Discourse is Swift’s first political tract, published mid-October 1701, and then reprinted in the Miscellanies of 1711 and 1727. There are manuscript corrections in a surviving copy of Miscellanies (1727), most of which, with some more, are incorporated here in the Works. This printing does not incorporate the paragraph on the advantages of bribery in elections, which was left out in 1711. Some of Swift’s changes refine his argument (‘the best Legislators’ for ‘the Legislators’ and ‘Ambition, their Vanity, or’ for ‘Ambition, or’) and some refine his English (‘followeth his Party’ for ‘follows the Party’; ‘Impeachment’ for ‘Impeaching’). The printing is typical of this edition: capitals for the beginning of nouns; capitals and small capitals for the beginning of paragraphs, but, under the influence of the first printing, there are also full capitals for some names, extensive use of italics, particularly for quotation, and side notes, chiefly for references.

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 forthcoming Gulliver’s Travels volume in the Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jonathan Swift, and Mary Pollard’s entry on him in her Dictionary of the Dublin Book Trade .

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, vol. iii, pp. 779-90; 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); Mary Pollard, A Dictionary of Members of the Dublin Book Trade 1550-1800 (London: The Bibliographical Society, 2000).