ORRERY, John Earl of. Remarks on the Life and Writings of Dr. Jonathan Swift, Dean of St. Patrick’s, Dublin; In a series of Letters from John Earl of Orrery to his Son, the Honourable Hamilton Boyle. Frontispiece portrait of Dr. Swift.


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London: For A. Millar, 1752. Crown octavo. pp. [ii], 339, [10 (Index)]. Contemporary full sprinkled calf, spine professionally rebacked, preserving original maroon morocco letterpiece. Armorial bookplate of Allan Fullarton on front pastedown. Mild foxing to frontispiece and titlepage. A near fine copy.
John Boyle, Fifth Earl of Cork and Earl of Orrery (1707-1762) was educated at Christ Church, Oxford. His father, due to a family feud, left his complete library to Christ Church, specifying the reason of his son’s want of taste for literature. According to Johnson however the real reason was that the son would not allow his wife to associate with the father’s mistress. This passage in the will seems to have stimulated the son who succeeded in making his name remembered as the friend first of Swift and Pope, and afterwards of Johnson. His Remarks on the Life and Writings of Jonathan Swift are written in a stilted and affected style with an undercurrent of malice and grudging criticism. This was the subject of a bitter attack in 1754 by Dr. Patrick Delany. When the 1st Earl of Shannon died in 1764, he was succeeded by his eldest son, Richard Boyle (1728-1807), nicknamed ‘the Colossus of Castlemartyr’ and one of Ireland’s foremost Hanoverian supporters. Educated at Trinity College, Richard stood for election the moment he came of age, winning a seat as MP for Dungarvan in 1749. In 1763, the 2nd Earl of Shannon married Catherine, daughter of John Ponsonby, Speaker of the Irish House of Commons. This was one of the most remarkable weddings of the age for it united two powerful dynasties who had been bitter rivals for several decades. The long political apprenticeship under his father stood the 2nd Earl in good stead. He was not so prominent a politician as his father but his formidable influence at constituency level made him a force that every administration had to keep onside. He was also financially solvent as he inherited his father’s annual pension of £2,000 (which lasted until 1787). Always adaptable, the 2nd Earl was at the centre of Irish politics, serving as a privy councillor of Ireland for close on 40 years, and became one of the financial gurus of Grattan’s Parliament. He was First Lord of the Treasury from 1793-1804. He also led the opposition to the Dublin Castle administration from 1790-1794. He threw his whole-hearted support behind the Act of Union, knowing it would reduce his own power base significantly. As the Act did not unite the British and Irish Treasuries, he remained First Lord until the spring of 1804 when he threw his lot in with the in-coming Pitt ministry and resigned. His reward was an annual pension of £3,000 a year.

[Cat 148 Porch]


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