London: Printed for J. Roberts near the Oxford Arms in Warwick-Lane, 1715. First Edition. 8vo: ,219,pp, with frontispiece and imprimatur leaf. Variant with price 3s/6d on title page. Period calf ruled in blind, rebacked to style, red morocco lettering piece gilt, end papers renewed. From the library of bibliophile Hugh Selbourne, M.D. (1906-1973), with his discreet ownership stamp on two pages. (In an appreciation of Shelbourne's diaries, Hilary Mantle noted in The Guardian: "His passion is for antiquarian books, and he owns them by the yard; we are not talking about first editions of Dickens, but first editions of Erasmus, 'printed Basle, 1517'. His regular beat takes him to his private consulting rooms at St John Street in the centre of Manchester, then to Shaw's, the book dealer . . .".) A handsome copy, clean and sound, with several abrasions to boards, marginal toning to some leaves, occasional spots and soiling, inoffensive ink blot to p. 195 obscuring four or five letters but not affecting sense. ESTC Citation N22063. McBurney 79. Lowndes 325 (calling it a satire on Sir Robert Walpole, ascribed to Thomas Duffet). Item #BB1503
¶ Wicked satire on statesman Robert Harley, Earl of Oxford (political power-broker and patron of Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, and Daniel Defoe), taking its title from Swift's celebrated Tale of a Tub (but not recorded by Teerink-Scouten in the list of spurious sequels to Swift's work). Probably written with the collaboration of George Duckett, it casts an account of Harley's life as an allegory of a Machiavellian scoundrel who betrays family and friends in his rise to power and practice of ruthless state craft. The vehicle for this allegory is Martin Powell (fl. 1709-29), the physically deformed showman who ran a celebrated puppet-show in Covent Garden (as shown in the frontispiece). The Tale portrays Harley as a puppet-master manipulating Swift and other hack writers in the service of the Tory faction. Though not a novel, per se, Second Tale of a Tub is seen by some as an important link between Swift's antecedent and Laurence Sterne's Tristram Shandy (Eugene Korkowskia, Studies in the Novel, Vol. 6, No. 4, pp. 470-474). N. B. With few exceptions (always identified), we only stock books in exceptional condition. All orders are packaged with care and posted promptly. Satisfaction guaranteed.