Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

He takes his boldness, from never having seen any such treatise in his life, nor heard of it before; and he is sure it is impoflible for two writers of diffeferent times and countries, to agree in their thoughts after such a manner, that two continued discourses shall be the same, only mutatis mutandis. Neither will he infist upon the mistake in the title. But let the answerer and his friend produce any book they please, he defies them to shew one single particular, where the judicious reader will affirm he has been obliged for the smallest hint ; giving only allowance for the accidental encountering of a single thought, which he knows may sometimes happen ; though he has never yet found it in that discourse, nor has heard it objected by any body else.

So that if ever any design was unfortunately executed, it must be that of this answerer; who, when he would have it observed that the author's wit is none of his own, is able to produce but three instances, two of them mere trifles, and all three manifestly false. If this be the way these gentlemen deal with the world in those criticisms, where we have not leisure to defeat them, their readers had need be cautious how they rely upon their credit ; and whether this proceeding can be reconciled to humanity or truth, let those who think it worth their while determine.

It is agreed, this answerer would have succeeded much better, if he had stuck wholly to his business as a commentator upon the Tale of a

Tub,

Tub, wherein it cannot be denied, that he hath been of some service to the public, and hath given very fair conjectures towards clearing up fome difficult paffages. But it is the frequent error of those men, (otherwise very commendable for their labours,) to make excursions beyond their talent and their office, by pretending to point out the beauties and the faults; which is no part of their trade, which they always fail in, which the world never expected from them, nor give them any thanks for endeavouring at. The part of Minellius, or Farnaby *, would have fallen in with his genius, and might have been serviceable to many readers, who cannot enter into the abstruser parts of that discourse. But optat ephippia bos piger : The dull, unwieldly, illshaped ox would needs put on the furniture of a horse, not considering he was born to labour, to plough the ground for the sake of superior beings; and that he has neither the shape, mettle, nor speed of that noble animal he would affect to perfonate.

It is another pattern of this answerer's fair dealing, to give us hints that the author is dead, and yet to lay the suspicion upon somebody, I know not who, in the country.

To which can only be returned, that he is absolutely mistaken in all his conjectures ; and surely conjectures are, at best, too light a pretence to allow a man to

affign

* Low commentators, who wrote notes -upon claffic authors for the use of school-boys. Hawkes,

aflign a name in public. He condemns, book, and consequently the author, of whom he is utterly ignorant ; yet at the same time fixes in print, what he thinks a disadvantageous character upon those who never deserved it. A man who receives a buffet in the dark, may be allowed to be vexed; but it is an odd kind of revenge, to go to cuffs in broad day with the first he meets, and lay the last night's injury at his door. And thus much for this discreet, candid, pious, and ingenious answerer.

How the author came to be without his papers, is a story not proper to be told, and of very little use, being a private fact, of which the reader would believe as little, or as inuch, as he thought good. He had, however, a blotted copy by him, which he intended to have written over with many alterations; and this the publishers were well aware of, having put it into the bookseller's preface, that they apprehended a surreptitious copy, which was to be altered, &c. This, though not regarded by readers, was a real truth; only the furreptitious copy was rather that which was printed; and they made all the hafte they could; which indeed was needless, the author not being at all prepared. But he has been told, the bookseller was in much pain, having given a good sum of money for the copy.

In the author's original copy, there were not so many chasms as appear in the book; and why some of them were left, he-knows not. Had the publication been trusted to him, he would

have ma..e several corrections of passages, against which nothing hath been ever objected. He would likewise have altered a few of those that seem with any reason to be excepted against ; but, to deal freely, the greatest number he should have left untouched, as never fufpecting it poffible any wrong interpretations could be made of them.

The author observes, at the end of the book there is a discourse, called, A Fragment * ; which he more wondered to see in print than all the rest; having been a most imperfect sketch, with the addition of a few loose hints, which he once lent a gentleman, who had designed a discourse on somewhat the same subject. He never thought of it afterwards ; and it was a fufficient surprise to see it pieced up together, wholly out of the method and scheme he had intended; for it was the ground-work of a much larger discourse, and he was sorry to observe the materials fo foolishly employed.

There is one farther objection made by those who have answered this book, as well as by some others, That Peter is frequently made to repeat oaths and curses. Every reader observes, it was necessary to know that Peter did swear and curse. The oaths are not printed out, but only supposed; and the idea of an oath is not immoral, like the idea of a profane or immodest speech. A man may laugh at the Popish folly of curfing

people * This Fragment begins vol. ii. of this edition of the author's works, under the title of A Discourse concerning the mechanical Operation of the Spirit.

people to hell, and imagine them swearing, with. lie out any crime ; but lewd words, or dangerous opinions, though printed by halves, fill the read. er's mind with ill ideas ; and of these the author cannot be accused. For the judicious reader will find, that the feverest strokes of fatire in his book, are levelled against the modern custom of employing wit upon those topics ; of which there is a remarkable instance in fect. 7. parag. 7. as well as in several others, though perhaps once or

kh twice expressed in too free a manner, excufeable only for the reasons already alledged. Some overtures have been made, by a third hand, to the bookseller, for the author's altering those passages which he thought might require it. But it seems the bookseller will not hear of

any

such thing, being apprehenfive it might spoil the fale of the book.

The author cannot conclude this apology, without making this one reflection, That as wit is the noblest and most useful gift of human nature, so humour is the most agreeable ; and I where these two enter far into the composition of any work, they will render it always acceptable to the world. Now the greater part of those, who have no share or taste of either, but by their pride, pedantry, and ill manners, lay themselves bare to the lashes of both, think the blow is weak, because they are insensible ; and where wit hath any mixture of raillery, it is but calling it banter, and the work is done. This polite word of theirs was first borrowed from the

bullies

« AnteriorContinuar »