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A Jonathan Swift Autograph is Scarce and Valuable

To buy, consign or sell a Jonathan Swift autograph, please email Nate at Nate@NateDSanders.com or phone (310) 440-2982.  Thank you.

Jonathan Swift Autograph

A Jonathan Swift autograph of Gulliver’s Travels fame, is a literary rarity especially since he died way back in 1745, but we have been lucky enough to have sold for Jonathan Swift autograph letters signed.  Here they are, with prices realized:

Jonathan Swift Autograph Letter Signed — ”…Mr. Williamson dyed about 36 hours ago; He was Treasurer of Christ-church in Dublin…The Person whom I desire may have it is Mr. John Jackson…”

Scarce Jonathan Swift autograph letter signed as Dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The satirist datelines his letter from the Deanry-house in Dublin, 14 October 1736, just two years before becoming debilitated by mental illness. He writes to Lionel Sackville, 1st Duke of Dorset, in full: ”My Lord, In a former Letter to Your Grace, I taxed you with a Debt of 110 lb a year in church Livings, being by Arithmetic an Arrear of 150 lb a year which Your Grace was pleased to promise me for a Friend, and of which I onely received 40 lb a year. I often did my self the Honor of being so bold (which – is no great Honor) of telling you that a very worthy Clergyman had been long a weight upon my Shoulders to get him some addition, and that his circumstances were such that the addition I desired must consist with the small Preferment he hath already. There is now a Prebendary vacant, which will answer my Wish. One Mr. Williamson dyed about 36 hours ago; He was Treasurer of Christ-church in Dublin, the Place is worth between ninety and a hundred pounds a year, and no more; The Person whom I desire may have it is Mr John Jackson, Minister of Santry three miles from Dublin, and a Relation of the Grattans, he hath been often and earnestly recommended by me to Your Grace, and your answers have been favorable; I have added severall times that you would by such a favor oblige this whole City, and the most honest gentlemen in the Kingdom, and I hope such a consideration will have weight with you. I do therefore hope and expect that Your Grace will by the next Post, send an Order to have a Patent made out for Mr. John Jackson Vicar of Santry Rector (which ever he be) to confer on him the Treasurership of Christ-church, Dublin; and at the same time (which is now near the twentyth) that my chief Regard is to Your Grace’s honor, that you will reward a most deserving Gentleman of this Kingdom, who had the misfortune to be born in it, with one mark of Your Favor. Otherwise, I shall think it very hard, that as I am of some station, and perhaps of some little Distinction, beside the Honor of being so long known to your Grace and family, I could never have the least Power of prevayling on you to reward Merit, for which no Party will repine…Jonath: Swift”. Dean Swift and the date are handwritten on a panel to verso. 2pp. on card-style stationery measures 7.5” x 9”. Light toning, some show through and a small tear to the right edge, else near fine.  Sold for $19,103.


Jonathan Swift 1735 ALS — Calls Into Question Duration of His Mental Illness — ”…I should have…[visited longer]…if I had not been prevented by the return of an old disorder in my Head…”

Jonathan Swift autograph letter signed as Dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. In this fascinating letter, written years before his struggle with mental illness became public knowledge, the famed satirist confesses he had been experiencing symptoms and was under doctors’ care. Historical records cite 1742 as the year he was declared of unsound mind by a Commission of Lunacy, and specify 1738 as the date Swift began exhibiting dementia-like behaviors. This letter is dated 30 December 1735, addressed simply to My Lord, to whom Swift calls in a favor on behalf of a friend, one Mr. Jackson. The text reads in part: ”Your Grace fairly owes me 110 a year in the Church, which I thus prove. I desired you would bestow a Preferment…on a certain Clergyman. Your answer was, that if asked modestly; that you would not promise but would grant my Request; However, that Clergyman, for want of good intelligence, or…being not an expert King-fisher, was forced to take up with 40 a year; and I shall never trouble your Grace any more in his behalf. But, however; by plain Arithmetic it appears, that 110 remain. And this Arrear I have assigned to one Mr. John Jackson, no less than a cousin in german of the Grattans. He is Vicar of Santry, hath a small Estate near it, with two Sons, and as many Daughters, all grown up. This Gentleman hath…severall years as a Weight upon me, which I voluntarily took up on account of his Virtue, Piety, good sense, good nature, and modesty almost to a fault. Your Grace is now disposing the Debris of two great Bishopricks; among which is the Deanry of [illegible] worth between 80 and 100 a year, which will make Mr. Jackson easyer, who besides his other good Qualities is as loyal as you could wish. I cannot but think, that your Grace, to whom God hath given every amiable as well as useful Talent, and in so great a measures; is bound, when you have satisfied all the Expectations of those who have most power in your Club, to do something at the request of others who love you better, and merely upon your own [illegible] without expecting any thing for themselves. I have ventured once or twice (at most) to drop hints in favor of some very deserving gentlemen who I was assured had been recommended to you by persons of weight, but I easily found by your generall answers, that, although I have been an old Courtier, you knew how to Silence me by changing the Subject. Which made me reflect that courtiers resemble Gamesters, the latter finding new Arts unknown to the older. And I well remember a principal old Gamester, who assured me that he had lost 14000 since he left of Play, merely by dabbling with younger proficients who had found out new Refinements. My Lord; I will as a Divine, quote Scripture. Although the children’s meat must not be given to Dogs; yet the Dogs eat the Scraps that fall from the Children’s tables. This is the second Request I ever directly made your Grace. Mr. Jackson is under a necessity of living on his small estate, part whereof is his Parish about four miles from hence, where he hath built a Family-house, more expensive than he intended. He is a Clergyman of long standing, and of a most unblemished character. But the misfortune is, that he hath not one Enemy, and consequently I have none to appeal to for the truth of what I say. Pray, my Lord, be not allarmed at the word Deanry, nor imagine it a Dignity like those we have in England, for, except three or four, the rest have neither Power nor Land at Deans and Chapters. It is usually a living made up of one or more Parishes some very poor, others better endowed, but all in Tythes. Mr. Jackson can not leave his present situation, and only deserves some very moderate addition, consistent with what he holds. My Lord, I do not deceive your Grace, when I say, you will oblige great numbers of those who are most in your esteem here, by conferring this favor, or any other that will answer the same end: [3 lines in Latin] I should have waited on your Grace, and should have taken the Priviledge of staying my usual thirteen minutes if I had not been prevented by the return of an old disorder in my Head, for which I have been forced to confine my self to the Precepts of my Physicians. I am with the highest Respect / My Lord / Your Graces most obedient and most humble Servant / Jonath: Swift”. Swift willed his estate for the creation of mental health specialty center St. Patrick’s Hospital in Ireland. Runs 3pp. on card-style stationery and measures 7” x 9”. Light toning and showthrough, else near fine.  Sold for $14,351.


Satirist Jonathan Swift’s Very Witty Autograph Letter Signed — ”…[he] is as high a Whig and more…And yet he is a very honest Gentleman…a Doctor who kills or cures half the city…” — 1735

Incredibly scarce Jonathan Swift autograph letter signed, with humorous content on a number of issues, including various men of his Irish town. The satirist and author of ”Gulliver’s Travels” dates his letter 15 April 1735, when he served as Dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. Letter reads, ”My Lord Your Grace must remember, that some days before you left us, I commanded you to attend me to Doctor Delaney’s house, about a mile out of this Town, where you were to find Doctor Helsham the Physician. I told you they were the two worthyest gentlemen in this Kingdom in their severall Faculties. You were pleased to comply with me, called on at the Deanry and carried me thither; where you dined with apparent satisfaction. Now, this same Dr. Helsham hath orderred me to write to Your Grace in behalf of one Alderman Aldrich; who is master of the Dublin Barrack, and is as high a Whig and more at your devotion than I could perhaps wish him to be. And yet he is a very honest Gentleman, and which is more important, a near Relation of the [political family] Grattans, who, in Your Grace’s absence are governors of all Ireland, and your Vicegerents when you are here, as I have often told you. They consist of an Alderman whom you are to find Lord Mayor at Michaelmas next; of a Doctor who kills or cures half the city, of two Parsons my subjects as [illegible] who rule the other half, and of a vagrant Brother who governs the North. They are all Brethren, and your Army of twelve thousand soldiers are not able to stand against them. Now, Your Grace is to understand, that these Grattans will shickle to death for all their Cousins to the five and fiftieth degree; and consequently this same Alderman Aldrich being onely removed two degrees of Kindred and having a son as great a Whig as the Father, hath prevayled with Dr. Helsham to make me write to Your Grace, that the son of such a Father may have the Mastership of a Barrack at Kinsale, which is just vacant, His name is Michael Aldrich. Both Your Grace and I love the name for the sake of Dr. Aldrich Dean of Christ-church, although I am afraid he was a piece of a Tory, you will have several Requests this Past with the same Request, perhaps for different Persons, but you are to observe only mine, because it will come three minutes before any other. I think this is the third request I have made to Your Grace. You have granted the two first, and therefore must grant the third. For, when I knew Courts, those who had received a dozen favors, were utterly disobliged if they were denyed the thirteenth. Besides, if this be not granted the Grattans will rise in rebellion, which I tremble to think of. My Lady Eliz. Germain uses me very ill in her Letters. I want a Present from her, and desire you will please to order, that it may be a seal. Mine are too small for the fashion; and I would have a large one, worth forty shillings at least. I had a Letter from her two days ago, and design to acknowledge it soon, but [illegible] must first be dispatched, I mean the Request I have made to Your Grace, that the young Whig may have the Barrack of Kinsale worth 60 or 70 lb a year. I should be very angry as well as sorry if Your Grace would think I am capapble of deceiving you in any circumstances. I hope and pray that my Lady Dutchess may recover Health at the Bath, and, that we may see her Grace perfectly recovered when You come over. And pray God preserve and your most noble Family in Health and Happyness…Jonath: Swift”. 2pp. on card-style stationery measures 7” x 9”. Block of toning to verso panel, and repaired separation to verso along fold lines, else near fine.  Sold for $13,401.
Jonathan Swift autograph letter signed as Dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. The noted satirist and ”Gulliver’s Travels” author dates his letter 20 April 1732, shortly after he published his own obituary, ”Verses on the Death of Dr. Swift.” He writes to Lionel Sackville, the 1st Duke of Dorset: ”My Lord, I return my most humble acknowledgements to your Grace and my Lady Dutchess for your great condescention in inquiring after me at a time when you are so much-taken up in crowds and ceremony. I can make no wishes for either of you, but a good Voyage without sickness or accidents. For as to honor fortune, favor, and the like, I can onely pray for the continuance of them. That I so seldom troubled your Grace, I am sure you will approve, as a matter of Conscience in me, not to disturb your house, which in the business of some months left so few for your own leisure and diversions…Jonath Swift.” 1pp. on card-style stationery measures 6.25” x 7.75”. Toning and repaired separation to fold lines, else near fine.  Sold for $9,375.
To buy, consign or sell a Jonathan Swift autograph, please email Nate at Nate@NateDSanders.com or phone (310) 440-2982.  Thank you.

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