Imágenes de páginas

kindly offered his own affiftance gratis towards penning a dedication to himself. I desired him, however, to give a second guess. Why then, faid he, it must be I, or my Lord Sommers. From thence I went to several other wits of my acquaintance, with no small hazard and wearinefs to my perfon, from a prodigious number of dark, winding stairs; but found them all in the fame story, both of your Lordship and themselves. Now, your Lordship is to understand, that this proceeding was not of my own invention; for I have some where heard, it is a maxim, That those, to whom every body allows the second place, have an undoubted title to the first.

This infallibly convinced me, that your Lordship was the person intended by the author. But, being very unacquainted in the style and form of dedications, I employed thofe wits aforesaid, to furnish me with hints and materials towards a panegyric upon your Lordship's virtues.

In two days they brought me ten sheets of paper, filled up on every fide. They swore to me, that they had ransacked whatever could be found in the characters of Socrates, Aristides, Epaminondas, Cato, Tully, Atticus, and other hard names which I cannot now recollect. However, I have reason to believe, they imposed upon my ignorance; because, when I came to read over their collections, there was not a fyllable there, but what I and every body else knew as well as themselves. Therefore I grievously suspect a cheat ;


and that these authors of mine stole and transcribed every word from the universal


of mankind. So that I look upon myself as fifty fhillings out of pocket, to no manner of purpose.

If, by altering the title, I could make the same materials ferve for another dedication, as my betters have done), it would help to make up my loss : But I have made several persons dip here and there in those papers, and before they read three lines, they have all assured me plainly, that they cannot possibly be applied to any person befides your Lordship.

I expected, indeed, to have heard of your Lord thip's bravery at the head of an army; of your undaunted courage, in mounting a breach, or scaling a wall, or to have had your pedigree traced in a lineal descent from the house of Austria ; or of your wonderful talent at dress and dancing; or your profound knowledge in algebra, metaphysics, and the oriental tongues. But to ply the world with an old beaten story of your wit, and eloquence, and learning, and wisdom, and justice, and politeness, and candour, and evenness of temper in all scenes of life; of that great discernment in discovering, and readiness in favouring, deserving men; with forty other common topics ; I confess, I have neither conscience, nor countenance, to do it: Because there is no virtue, either of a public or a private life, which fome circumstances of your own have not often produced upon the stage of the world, and those

S 3


few, which, for want of occasions to exert them, might otherwise have paffed unseen or unobserved by your friends, your enemies * have at length brought to light.

It is true, I should be very loth, the bright example of your Lordship's virtues thould be loft to after-ages, both for their fake, and your own; but chiefly because they will be so very necessary to adorn the history of a late reignt: And that is another reason why I would forbear to make a recital of them here; because I have been told by wise men, that, as dedications have run for fome years past, a good historian will not be apt to have recourse thither, in search of characters.

There is one point, wherein I think we dedicators would do well to change our measures; I mean, instead of running on fo far upon the praise of our patron's liberality, to spend a word or two in admiring their patience. I can put no greater compliment on your Lordship’s, than by giving you fo ample an occasion to exercise it at present. Though perhaps I shall not be apt to reckon much merit to your Lordship upon that score, who having been formerly used to


* In 1701, Lord Sommers was impeached by the Commons, who, either finding their proofs defective, or for other reasons, delaved coming to a trial; and the Lords thereupon proceeded to the trial without them, and acquitted him. Hawkes.

+ K. William's; whose memory he defended in the House of Lords, against some invidious reflections of the Earl of Nottingham. Hawkes.

tedious harangues *, and sometimes to as little purpose, will be the readier to pardon this ; especially when it is offered by one, who is, with all respect and veneration,

Your Lordship’s most obedient,
and most faithful fervant,




T is now six years + since these papers came

first to my hand, which seems to have been about a twelvemonth after they were written : For the author tells us, in his preface to the first treatife, that he hath calculated it for the year 1697; and in several passages of that discourse, as well as the second, it appears they were written about that time.

As to the author, can give no manner of fatisfaction. However, I am credibly informed,


Sir John Sommers was Attorney-General ; then made' Lord Keeper of the Seals in 1692, and Lord High Chancellor and Baron of Evesham in April 1697. Hawkes.

+ The Tale of a Tub was first published in 1704. Hawkes.

that this publication is without his knowledge; for he concludes the copy is loft, having lent it to a person since dead, and being never in poffeffion of it after : So that whether the work received his last hand, or whether he intended to fill up the defective places, is like to remain a secret.

If I should go about to tell the reader, by what accident I became master of these papers, it would, in this unbelieving age, pass for little more than the cant or jargon of the trade. I therefore gladly spare both him and myself fo unnecessary a trouble. There yet remains a difficult question, Why I published them no sooner? I forbore upon two accounts: First, because I thought I had better work upon my hands; and, fecondly, because I was not without some hope of hearing from the author, and receiving his directions. But I have been lately alarmed with intelligence of a surreptitious copy t, which a certain great wit had new polished and refined, or, as our present writers express themfelves, fitted to the humour of the age ; as they have already done with great felicity, to Don Quixote, Boccalini, La Bruyere, and other authors. However, I thought it fairer dealing to offer the whole work in its naturals. If any gentleman will please to furnish me with a key, in order to explain the more difficult parts, I shall very gratefully acknowledge the favour, and print it by itself.

The See p. 200.

« AnteriorContinuar »