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«The first wit of the age»

Essays on Swift and his Contemporaries in Honour of Hermann J. Real

Edited By Kirsten Juhas, Patrick Müller and Mascha Hansen

On the occasion of Hermann J. Real’s seventy-fifth birthday, this collection honours a scholar whose contagious curiosity has been dedicated to the study of Jonathan Swift’s life and works for the past four decades. The contributions cover multiple aspects of the Dean’s writings as well as a number of eighteenth-century contexts. They not only celebrate the Director of the Ehrenpreis Centre at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Münster, the Editor of the annual Swift Studies, and the convener of six international Münster symposia on the Dean of St Patrick’s, but they also pay homage to the mentor, colleague, and friend. At the same time, they reflect the enduring vitality of Swift studies, which it has been one of Hermann J. Real’s greatest academic achievements to promote.

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IV. POETRY

Extract

“THE DULLEST THING I EVER READ”: JONATHAN SWIFT AND THE POETICAL ASPIRATIONS OF A COUNTRY SQUIRE Dirk F. Passmann, Münster On 24 March 1712, Jonathan Swift was at the Court of Requests in Westminster Hall. The institution itself, a court of equity, had been abolished in 1641, but the room apparently had retained the name long after.1 Not far away from the House of Commons, the Speakers Chamber, the Painted Chamber and various courts, it seems to have been a favourite marketplace for solicitations, preferments, com- missions, and appeals of all sorts. Swift, at the height of his influence with the government, was himself a busy broker of this kind of business, being approached by all sorts of solicitors because of his closeness to Harley and Bolingbroke. He first met Harley here on 27 November 1710, and on frequent later occasions mentioned it in the Journal to Stella and in his letters.2 More than once he went there to look for Harley.3 On 24 February 1711, he even jokingly referred to his ‘habit’: “I think to go to-day a minister-of-state-hunting in the court of requests.”4 It was, however, not Harley he was looking for or meeting on that 24 March 1712, it was another business altogether that had led him there: I was at the Court of Requests to get some Lds to be at a Committee to morrow about a Friends Bill; & there the Duke of Beaufort gave me a Poem finely bound in Folio, printed at...

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