To which is subjoined, a Dissertation on the Irish Colonies established in Britain, with some remarks on Mr. MacPherson’s translation of Fingal and Temora. With map of Ireland in the time of Ptolemy; letterpress Scottish alphabet; table of succession of Scottish monarchs. Dublin: Printed by G. Faulkner in Parliament-street, 1766. pp. xx, , 290, 65. Includes errata. ‘A dissertation on the first migrations, and final settlement of the Scots in North-Britain …’ has separate titlepage, pagination and register. Signed presentation copy from the publisher George Faulkner “To my very worthy and / esteemed friend / Mr. George Cannon / from / his very much obliged / most obedient, and / most humble Servant / George Faulkner / May 18, / 1766′. Armorial bookplate of Tardy on front pastedown. Ex libris Milltown Park Trust, with bookplate and stamps. Contemporary full catspaw calf, title in gilt on red morocco label on spine, small paper label on upper cover. A very good copy.
ESTC N8915. Lough Fea p. 216.
The author, a member of the Belanagare family, was a distinguished Irish scholar and antiquary. He was born in 1710 at Kilmactranny, Sligo; taught to read and write by a Franciscan friar, who knew no English. A great collector of Irish manuscripts, he wrote many treatises on history and on the politics of his day. He corresponded with Dr. Johnson, assisted O’Curry, Vallancey, and Brooke. John O’Donovan styled him: “this patriotic and venerable gentleman … who understood the Irish language well”. In 1796 his grandson published the first and only volume of his Memoirs of the Life and Writings of the late Charles O’Conor of Belanagare [see following item].
George Faulkner, the son of a respectable Dublin Victualler, was born in 1699, and after having received the rudiments of education from Dr. Lloyd, the most eminent schoolmaster of his day in Ireland, he was apprenticed to Thomas Hume, a printer, in Essex Street. On completion of his apprenticeship he opened a bookselling and printing establishment at the corner of Christ-Church-Lane, in Skinner’s Row in partnership with James Hoey. There in 1724, they commenced a newspaper called the Dublin Journal. Having dissolved partnership with Hoey, George Faulkner removed in 1730 to Essex Street where the Journal continued to be published and his connection with Jonathan Swift soon brought him into repute. Swift in a letter to Alderman Barber in 1735, described Faulkner as the “Printer most in vogue, and a great undertaker, perhaps too great a one”. An accidental injury, received during a visit to London, necessitated the amputation of one of Faulkner’s legs, his artificial limb became an object of ridicule among the Dublin wits, who styled him a man with one leg in the grave, and scoffed at his ‘wooden understanding’. With his publication of the works of Jonathan Swift, Sir Walter Scott observed “Faulkner was the first who had the honour of giving to the world a collected and uniform edition of the works of this distinguished English classic.”
Matthew O’Conor observed that George Faulkner was one of the many proselytes to the Catholic cause by the publications of this work by Charles O’Conor; “Faulkner”, he adds, “became a very zealous and active advocate for the relaxation of the Penal Code. He applied to Charles O’Conor to collect fifty guineas among the Catholics, as a retainer for Dr. Johnson, the ablest writer of his time. In his extensive intercourse with men in power, he never failed to impress the iniquity of the Code. Faulkner’s name”, Matthew concludes: “deserves to be handed down to posterity as the first Protestant who stretched his hand to the prostrate Catholic, recognised him as a fellow christian and a brother, and endeavoured to raise him to the rank of a subject and a freeman”.
Faulkner is described as a man “something under the middle size, but, when sitting, looked tolerably lusty, his body being rather large; his features were manly, his countenance pleasing though grave … and in his youth he was strong and active”. George O’Keeffe tells us that George Faulkner was “a fat little man, with a large well-powdered wig and brown clothes”, and adds: “One day, passing through Parliament-street, Dublin, George Faulkner, the printer, was standing at his own shop-door; I was induced to stare in at a bust on the counter. He observed me, and, by the portfolio under my arm, knew I was a pupil at the Royal Academy. I remained in fixed attention, when he kindly invited me in to look at the bust, saying it was the head of his friend and patron Dean Swift”. The bust was presented, in 1776 by Thomas Todd Faulkner, to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where it now stands over Swift’s monument.
Notwithstanding his unrestrained indulgence in luxurious living, ‘the Prince of Dublin Printers’ lived to an advanced age; his death on the 30th August, 1775, was caused by a distemper, contracted while dining with some friends at a tavern in the suburbs of the city. Having left no children, Faulkner’s property devolved to his nephew, Thomas Todd, who assumed his uncle’s surname, obtained the appointment of Printer to the City, and continued to carry on the publishing establishment till his death in 1793.