Dr Robert Whan, the Keeper of Armagh Robinson Library, welcomed people to the book launch of Professor David Hayton’s latest publication, The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jonathan Swift: Irish Political Writings after 1725: A Modest Proposal and Other Works. Professor Hayton kindly chose the Library for his Irish book launch. As a member of the Library’s Management Advisory Committee, and a regular visitor to the Library, David is aware of the material which the Library holds on Jonathan Swift and on early eighteenth-century Ireland.
David Hayton is Emeritus Professor of History at Queen’s University Belfast and a Visiting Professor at Ulster University. His research covers many aspects of British and Irish history from the Restoration to the middle of the 18th century, with a concentration on political and religious themes. Speaking ahead of the launch, Professor Hayton said, “There could be few more appropriate places to launch this book than the Robinson Library, given Swift’s fondness for County Armagh, and the library’s remarkable collection of Swiftiana, comprising both printed books and manuscripts. As a patriot, Swift tended not to approve of Englishmen appointed as bishops in the eighteenth-century Church of Ireland, but he would certainly approve of the legacy left by Archbishop Robinson to the city, and to the world of scholarship.”
The launch was carried out by Professor Andrew Carpenter who was warmly welcomed back to the Library. Since his retirement from University College Dublin, Professor Carpenter has continued his main scholarly interest in poetry, written in English in Ireland between 1550 and 1830. As a recognised expert on the work of Jonathan Swift, he was an ideal person to launch this publication. Of the work, Andrew said, “This latest addition to the definitive Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jonathan Swift has been brilliantly edited by David Hayton and Adam Rounce. The thirty texts are fascinating in themselves and the bibliographical information about them is of the highest scholarly standard. The introduction and headnotes are elegant, stylish and refreshingly objective.”
With David’s help, a selection of books from the Library’s own holdings was put on display for the evening, including references to Swift the Patriot, A Modest Proposal, the cannibal theme, and Swift and the poor. In addition, David brought a halfpenny coin struck by Wood, with George I’s image on the obverse and Hibernia on the reverse to add to the display. Curator of Armagh County Museum, Mr Sean Barden, also brought a ‘Beggar’s Badge’ which had been in use in Mullabrack Parish, issued in 1741, four years after Swift published his essay encouraging the badging of the poor.
Refreshments for the event were provided by Ulster University, which was represented by Dr Frank Ferguson. This was a lovely gesture which reinforces the collaboration between Ulster University and Armagh Robinson Library.
Image credit: Ian Maginess