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"The Battle of the Books" appeared in A Tale of a Tub, here shown in its fifth edition, the first to contain the illustrations that have now become famous. Swift's satire was occasioned by "the famous Dispute . . . about Antient and Modern Learning" that, as "The Bookseller to the Reader" explains,
A partisan of Temple, for whom he had worked and on whom he depended, Swift leapt into the fray with a book that, like Pope's Dunciad, has done more to destroy Bentley's reputation outside the field of classical philology than even the arrogantly combative Bentley deserved. Wotton and "his Lover B--ntl--y" meet an unhappy end:
"Going to sustain his dying Friend," Wotton "shared his Fate." Evidently, Swift viewed the wages of philology -- Bentley's philology, anyway -- as death.
|Jonathan Swift, 1667-1745. A tale of a tub. Written for the universal improvement of mankind. . . . To which is added, An account of a battel, between the antient and modern books in St. James's Library. . . . The fifth edition: with the author's apology and explanatory notes. By W. W--tt--n, B.D. and others. London: Printed for John Nutt, 1710. Teerink PR3724.T3.1710.|