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HE text adopted for these selections is Scott's 2nd edition, as reprinted by Messrs. Bickers, 1883-4. It is the standard text, though by no means what a perfect text of Swift should be. The 1841 2-volume edition, which was apparently based upon an independent collation of the original editions, has, however, been compared ; and, in cases of discrepancy, reference has been made to the first, or best, editions of the several works. The spelling and punctuation have been reduced to the modern system, except when (as in phrensy and a few other words) the present spelling is manifestly wrong. Objectionable words, phrases, and paragraphs, have invariably been expunged. When a whole paragraph or several sentences have been omitted, a statement to that effect is given in the notes, and the place of omission is generally indicated by dots. . . . ; but when the omission consists only of a single word, or a short phrase, no indication is given that anything has been left out; it was felt that in such cases dots would only interrupt the reading and suggest the nature of the words expunged. Footnotes and marginal references to classical authors are also omitted, as immaterial and distracting the attention. Such principles would of course be inapplicable to a critical edition of the works of Swift but, in a volume of selections, the main object is to avoid everything that interferes with the clear understanding of the writer's meaning, and that distracts the reader from the due appreciation of the style. For the notes, besides the usual sources, valuable suggestions have been made by Dr. Richard Garnett, Mr. John Ashton, Mr. J. Dykes Campbell, and by Mr. Sidney J. Low, who has contributed some of the notes on the political situation described in the Examiners and the Conduct of the Allies.


The origin of the title has been frequently debated, but beyond the fact that it was a proverbial phrase, employed by Sir Thomas More and others to denote any rambling and incoherent story, much as "a cock and bull story" is used now, very little has been elicited as to its origin. The attempt to trace the expression to an incident in Apuleius reproduced by Boccaccio (7th Day) seems a trifle far-fetched. The meaning is tolerably clearly conveyed in the lines of Bale's Comedye Concernynge Thre Lawes, 1538:

Ye saye thy folowe your lawe
And varye not a strawe
Whych is a tale of a tubbe.

Page 7. A large Cloud. Cp. Antony and Cleopatra, Act iv. Sc. 12

Ant. Sometime we see a cloud that's dragonish:
A vapour, sometime, like a bear, or lion,

A tower'd citadel, a pendent rock,
A forked mountain, or blue promontory

With trees upon 't, that nod unto the world,

And mock our eyes with air: ...

That which is now a horse, even with a thought
The rack dislimns, and makes it indistinct
As water is in water.

Page 8. Durfey or "D'Urfey," says Scott, "who stood the force of so much wit, was a playwright and song-writer. He appears to have been an inoffensive, good-humoured, thoughtless character, and was endured and laughed at by Dryden, by Steele, . . . and at length by Pope, who, in a spirit between contempt and charity, wrote a prologue for his last play," which includes these lines:

He scorn'd to borrow from the wits of yore,
But ever writ, as none e'er writ before

Though plays for honour in old time he made,
'Tis now for better reasons,-to be paid.
Believe him, he has known the world too long,
And seen the death of much immortal song.

Dennis was a trenchant critic and an inferior poet of the day, whose attacks upon Pope and upon Addison's Cato induced the former to retaliate in a pamphlet called "The Narrative of Dr. Robert Norris concerning the strange and deplorable Frenzy of Mr. John Dennis ;" and Dennis's tragedy of Appius is alluded to by the same poet in the Essay on Criticism :

But Appius reddens at each word you speak,
And stares, tremendous, with a threatening eye,
Like some fierce tyrant in old tapestry.

Page 8. The friend of your governor is Sir William Temple, Swift's patron, with whom Bentley and Wotton were then contending in the debate as to the respective merits of ancient and modern writers.

Page 9. The many volumes referred to are the well-known classical editions prepared for the use of the Dauphin, in usum Delphini.

Page 12. By ladders are here meant gallows.

Page 13. Dunton was a broken-down bookseller who published his Life and Errors, wherein he described every bookseller, printer, and stationer in London, together with the characters of seventeen bookbinders. He did not, however, draw up the collection of gallows orations suggested in the text.

The stage itinerant is the mountebank's platform, which leads, according to Swift, either to the conventicle or the gallows.

Page 15. Rotten wood: i.e., the fanatic preacher must possess inward light and a head full of maggots; and the two fates of his works are to be burnt or worm-eaten.

Hiatus in MS. A device of Swift to avoid a long disquisition, especially when it was a case of proving a paradox. So on p. 36 he puts Hic multa desiderantur, "here much is wanting;" on p. 55, Hic pauca desunt, “here a little is gone," etc. Carlyle's Sartor Resartus contains examples of a similar device.

Page 16. Gresham College was then the meeting place of

the Royal Society, and Will's coffee house in Covent Garden was the favourite rendezvous of the poets and wits of the day. Page 17. "A smaller affair-viz., about moving the earth." (Swift's note.)

[are], inserted for grammar's sake. Swift was often careless in trifles like this, and several other examples occur in the present selection: e.g., on pp. 34, 165.

Briguing: Fr. briguer; "to canvass, solicit."

Husks. A couple of lines are here omitted; and also the list of the masterpieces of Grub Street which concludes the Introduction, in which Dryden, L'Estrange, Wotton, and others, are held up to ridicule.

Page 19. Exantlation: i.e. extraction: Lat. exantlare or exanclare.

Page 20. The Egyptian Cercopithecus: this long-tailed monkey is, by the classical authors generally, associated with the worship of the ancient Egyptians. Everyone remembers Juvenal's lines, (xv. 4,)

Effigies sacri nitet aurea cercopitheci

Dimidio magicae resonant ubi Memnone chordae
Atque vetus Thebe centum jacet obruta portis.

Martial is also familiar with the animal, (xiv. 302,)
Si mihi cauda foret, cercopithecus eram.

and Pliny describes, among the monsters of Aethiopia (viii. 72, ed. Sillig), "cercopithecos, nigris capitibus, pilo asini, et dissimilis ceteris voce." Cuvier's note on this passage (in Didot's edition, 1827) is very remarkable: "non desunt in India simiae quibus longior cauda, pilus leucophaeus, facies nigra; quales entellus et malbrouk (simia faunus)." The name of "Malbrouk," or Marlborough, must have been given to this variety of ape during the great war of the Spanish succession, and Swift may have heard of it, as he did hear most things. Beyond the fact that Swift was a Whig and Marlborough a Tory at the time of the writing of the Tale of a Tub, there is indeed no reason for supposing that Swift entertained at that early date the strong antipathy he afterwards felt for the great general: but it is at least a curious and hitherto unnoticed coincidence that the liceeating long-tailed monkey of the Tub should have been known by the name of Malbrouk.

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