Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Summer 2001 Newsletter

Swift Marginal Marginalia

Memoirs of the Secret Services of John Macky
John Macky, Esq.
Ransom Center Collections

A nice bit of gossip is perpetuated bibliographically through Jonathan Swift's jaundiced marginalia. Memoirs of the Secret Services of John Macky, Esq., published in 1733, is a compendium of commentary on"English & Scots Nobility; Officers... and other Persons of Distinction, from the Revolution." Swift begged to differ—in writing—with almost all these assessments. He helpfully expands the Earl of Sandwich's "very ordinary parts" to "a Puppy, Very Ugly and a Fop," while the Earl of Albemarle's contribution to King William's "Diversions and Pleasures" are amplified as being "very infamous pleasures." Amanuscript note states the memoranda were transcribed from Swift's original copy "in the library of Philip Carteret Webb by John Putland Surgeon, his near relation." Additional bookplates suggest the volume belonged to at least two further owners, finally coming to rest in the Compton Mackenzie collection at the Ransom Center.

— Lisa Jones

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