Description[Jonathan Swift]. A Tale of a Tub. Written for the Universal Improvement of Mankind. Diu Multumque desideratum. To Which is Added, An Account of a Battel between the Antient and Modern Books in St James's Library, and 'A Discourse Concerning the Mechanical Operation of the Spirit' and "A Complete Key to the Tale of a Tub." London: Benjamin Tooke or Edmund Curll, 1711.
Early edition. Twentyfourmo. Blank, blank, blank, i, 1-310, blank, blank, 1-36, blank, blank. Original 18th century tooled leather with fleur-de-lis embossing and a gilt-titled black leather title plate on the spine. The binding has at some point been preserved by expert re-backing, and is rubbed in places but still very attractive. The book retains most of its original endpapers, with sundry 18th century markings, including an ownership inscription from 1774. The pages in the latter half of the volume are rather browned, but the engravings are all clean and fresh. A very good copy.
This is Swift's famous satire on religious dogmatism, written after 150 years of the sectarian turmoil which ravaged England, Scotland and his native Ireland. Swift is reported to have said of it in old age: "God, what a genius I had when I wrote that book!" Originally published in 1704, our copy is an early edition, dated 1711, and published either by Benjamin Tooke or Edmund Curll. The 'Complete Key' is dated 1714. This wonderful little book contains seven original engravings. The frontispiece shows a ship surprised by a whale, and several others appear to be set in Bedlam, the 18th century madhouse. The frontispiece to the Battle of the Books shows a full-scale cavalry battle under way in St James's Library!
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