The Beasts Confession to the Priest by Jonathan Swift
Regular price $9,500.00
[Swift, Jonathan] Swift, Jonathan. The Beasts Confession to the Priest, on observing how most men mistake their own talents. By J. S. D.S.P. [London]: Dublin, printed: London, re-printed: and sold by T. Cooper,, 1738. Octavo. (211 x 135mm). Half-title and final blank. (Half-title slightly soiled, light browning to C1v and C2r.) Contemporary half calf and marbled boards (rebacked and recornered). A lovely copy.
First London edition of this rare poetic fable about the limits of self-knowledge. Five beasts, the wolf, the ass, the swine, the ape and the goat, make a disingenuous confession of their faults, but their confessions are still less self-deceptive than those of five men: the lawyer who “never squeezed a needy client”; the chaplain who claims he “Would rise by Merit to Promotion;/ Alas ! a meer Chymerick Notion”; the doctor who turns to prayers when medicine fails (“He cannot help it from his Heart/ Sometimes to act the Parson’s Part”); the statesman who believes he is a patriot (“The Nation’s Good, his Master’s glory,/ Without regard to Whig or Tory,/ Were all the Schemes he had in view”); and finally the card sharper who disassociates himself from the “Club of Cheats/ Who had contriv’d a thousand Feats”. The final line, “Beasts may degen’rate into Men” has an appended note reading “Vide Gulliver in his Account of the Houyhnhnms”. Rogers observes that “the satire on doctors, lawyers and politicians recalls Gulliver’s Travels ; whilst the Preface (assuredly Swift’s own) has links stretching right back to A Tale of a Tub.” No auction sale of any edition, aside from the present copy, has been recorded since 1980. Teerink 759. Provenance: J.O. Edwards (booklabel). (#kfk878)