« AnteriorContinuar »
An Account of a BATTLE between the An
CIENT and MODERN Books in St James's Library :
With the Author's APOLOGY; and Explanatory notes, by W. Wotton, B. D. and
Basyma cacabafa eanaa, irraumijła diarbada caëita bafebor canielanthi.
Iren. lib. I. c. 18.
- Juvatque novos decerpere flores, Insignemque meo capiti petere inde coronam, Unde prius nulli velarunt tempora musie.
The AUTHOR'S APOLOGY.
mankind, I might have saved myself the trouble of this apology ; for it is manifest, by the reception the following discourse hath met with, that those who approve it, are a great majority among the men of taste. Yet there have been two or three treatises written expressly against it, befides many others that have flirted at it occasionally, without one fyllable having been ever published in its defence, or even quotation to its advantage, that I can remember; except by the polite author of a late discourse between a Deist and a Socinian.
Therefore, since the book feems calculated to live at least as long as our language and our taste admit no great alterations, I am content to convey some apology along with it.
The greatest part of that book was finished about thirteen years since, 1696; which is eight years before it was published. The author was then young, his invention at the height, and his reading fresh in his head. By the aslistance of fome thinking, and much conversation, he had endeavoured to strip himself of as many real prejudices, as he could : I say real ones; because, under the notion of prejudices, he knew to what dangerous heights fome men have proceeded. Thus prepared, he thought the numerous and R3
gross corruptions in religion and learning might furnih matter for a satire, that would be useful and diverting. He resolved to proceed in a manner that should be altogether new, the world having been already too long naufeated with endless repetitions upon every subject. The abuses in religion he propofed to set forth in the allegory of the coats, and the three brothers; which was to make up the body of the discourse : Those in plearning he chose to introduce by way of digrefions. He was then a young gentleman much in the world; and wrote to the taste of those who were like himself : Therefore, in order to ailure thein, he gave a liberty to his pen, which might not suit with maturer years, or graver characters; and which he could have easily corrected with a very few blots, had he been master of his papers for a year or two before their publication.
Not that he would have governed his judgment by the ill-placed cavils of the four, the envious, the stupid, and the tasteless ; which he mentions with disdain. He acknowledges there are several youthful fallies, which, from the grave and the wise, may deserve a rebuke. But he desires to be answerable no farther than he is guilty ; and that his faults may not be multiplied by the ignorant, the unnatural, and uncharitable applications of thofe, who have neither candour to suppose good meanings, nor palate to distinguish true ones. After which, he will forfeit his life, if any one
opinion can be fairly deduced from that book, which is contrary to religion or morality.
Why should any clergyman of our church be angry to see the follies of fanaticism and superstition exposed, though in the most ridiculous manner ? since that is perhaps the most probable way to cure them, or at least to hinder them from farther spreading. Besides, though it was not intended for their perufal, it rallies nothing but what they preach against. It contains nothing to provoke them, by the least fcurrility upon their persons or their functions. It celebrates the church of England, as the most perfect of all others in difcipline and doctrine ; it advances no opinion they reject, nor condemns any they receive. If the clergy's resentments lay upon their hands, in my humble opinion, they might have found more proper objects to employ them on. Nondum tibi defuit hoftis; I mean those heavy, illiterate fcribblers, prostitute in their reputations, vitious in their lives, and ruined in their fortunes; who, to the shame of good sense as well as piety, are greedily read, merely upon the strength of bold, falfe, impious assertions, mixed with unmannerly reflections upon the priesthood, and openly intended against all religion ; in short, full of such principles as are kindly received, because they are levelled to remove those terrors,
that ligion tells men will be the consequence of immoral lives. Nothing like which is to be met with in this discourse, though some of them are pleased