The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 13/From Jonathan Swift to Benjamin Motte - 1


DUBLIN, MAY 25, 1736.

I LATELY received a long letter from Mr. Faulkner, grievously complaining upon several articles of the ill treatment he hath met with from you[1], and of the many advantageous offers he hath made you, with none of which you thought fit to comply. I am not qualified to judge in the fact, having heard but one side; only one thing I know, that the cruel oppressions of this kingdom by England are not to be born. You send what books you please hither, and the booksellers here can send nothing to you that is written here. As this is absolute oppression, if I were a bookseller in this town, I would use all the safe means to reprint London books, and run them to any town in England, that I could, because, whoever offends not the laws of God, or the country he lives in, commits no sin. It was the fault of you and other booksellers who printed any thing supposed to be mine, that you did not agree with each other to print them together, if you thought they would sell to any advantage. I believe I told you long ago, that Mr. Faulkner came to me, and told me his intention to print every thing that my friends told him they thought to be mine, and that I was discontented at it; but when he urged, that some other bookseller would do it, and that he would take the advice of my friends, and leave out what I pleased to order him, I said no more, but that I was sorry it should be done here. ——— But I am so incensed against the oppressions from England, and have so little regard to the laws they make, that I do, as a clergyman, encourage the merchants both to export wool and woollen manufactures to any country in Europe, or any where else; and conceal it from the customhouse officers, as I would hide my purse from a highwayman, if he came to rob me on the road, although England hath made a law to the contrary: and so I would encourage our booksellers here to sell your authors books printed here, and send them to all the towns in England, if I could do it with safety and profit; because (I repeat it) it is no offence against God, or the laws of the country I live in. Mr. Faulkner hath dealt so fairly with me, that I have a great opinion of his honesty, although I never dealt with him as a printer or a bookseller; but since my friends told me, those things, called mine, would certainly be printed by some hedge bookseller, I was forced to be passive in the matter. I have some things[2] which I shall leave my executors to publish after my decease, and have directed that they shall be printed in London. For, except small papers, and some treatises writ for the use of this kingdom, I always had those of any importance published in London, as you well know. For my own part, although I have no power any where, I will do the best offices I can to countenance Mr. Faulkner. For, although I was not at all pleased to have that collection printed here, yet none of my friends advised me to be angry with him; although, if they had been printed in London by you and your partners, perhaps I might have pretended to some little profit. Whoever may have the hazard or advantage of what I shall leave to be printed in London after my decease, I will leave no other copies of them here; but, if Mr. Faulkner should get the first printed copy, and reprint it here, and send his copies to England, I think he would do as right as you London booksellers, who load us with yours. If I live but a few years, I believe I shall publish some things that I think are important; but they shall be printed in London, although Mr. Faulkner were my brother. I have been very tedious in telling you my thoughts on this matter, and so I remain, sir,

Your most humble servant,

  1. Motte filed a bill in Chancery in England, against Faulkner, for printing Swift's works, to stop the sale of them there, which made the author write this letter.
  2. Directions to Servants, and the History of the last Session of Queen Anne, and of the Peace of Utrecht, both since printed.