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fellurs ; but I enquired in vain ; the memorial of them was left anong men, their phice was no more to be found: And I was laughed to scorn for a clown and a pedant, without all taste and refinement, Title versed in the course of present affairs, and that knew nothing of what had passed in the best companies of court and town. So that I can only avow in general to your Ilighness, that we do abound in learning and wit; but to fix upon particulars, is a talk too flippery for my slender abilities. If I should venture in a windy day to affirm to your Highness, that there is a large Coud near the horizon, in the form of a bear ; another in the zenith, with the head of an ass; a third to the westward, with claws like a dragon ; and your Highness should in a few minutes think fit to examine the truth; it is certain, they would all be changed in figure and position ; new ones would arise; and all we could agree upon, would be, that clouds there were, but that I was grossly mistaken in the zoography and topography of them. But
your governor perhaps may still infist, and put the question, What is then become of those immense bales of paper, which must needs have been employed in such numbers of books ? Can these also be wholly annihilate, and so of a sudden, as I pretend ? What shall I say in return of so invidious an objection ? It ill befits the distance between your Highness and me, to send you for ocuiar conviction to a jakes, or an oven ; to the windows of a bawdy-house, or to a sordid lan
tern. Books, like men, their authors, have no more than one way of coming into the world; but there are ten thousand to go out of it, and return no inore.
I profess to your Highness, in the integrity of my heart, that what I am going to say is literally true this minute I am writing. What revolutions may happen before it shall be ready for your perusal, I can by no means warrant : However, I beg you to accept it as a specimen of our learning, our politeness, and our wit. I do therefore affirm, upon the word of a sincere man, that there is now actually in being, a certain poet called John Dryden, whose translation of Virgil was lately printed in a large folio, well bound, and, if diligent search were made, for auglit I kuow, is yet to be seen. There is another, called Nahun Tate, who is ready to make oath, that he has caused many reams of verse to be published, whereof both himself and his bookseller (if lawfully required) can still produce authentic copics; and therefore wonders, why the world is pleased to make such a secret of it. There is a third, known by the name of Tom Durfey, a poet of a vast comprehension, an universal genius, and most profound learning. There are also one Mr Rymer, and one Nir Dennis, most profound critics. There is a person styled Dr Bentley, who has written near a thousand pages of immense erudition, giving full and uc account of a certain squabble of wonderful importance between
himself and a bookseller *. He is a writer of infinite wit and humour; no man rallies with a better grace, and in more fprightly turns. Farther, I avow to your Highness, that with these eyes I have beheld the person of William Wotton, B.D. who has written a good sizeable volume against a friend of your governor t, (from whom, alas! he must therefore look for little favour), in a most gentlemanly style, adorned with the utmost politeness and civility ; replete with discoveries, equally valuable for their novelty and use; and embellished with traits of wit, fo poignant and so apposite, that he is a worthy yokemate to his foreinentioned friend.
Why should I go upon farther particulars, which might fill a volume with the just elogies of my contemporary brethren? I shall bequeath this piece of justice to a larger work; wherein I intend to write a character of the present set of wits in our nation. Their persons I shall defcribe particularly, and at length; their genius and understanding, in miniature.
In the mean time, I do here make bold to present your Highness with a faithful abftract drawn from the univerfal body of all arts and sciences, intended wholly for your service and instruction.
* Bentley, in his controversy with Lord Orrery, upon the genuineness of Phalaris's epistles, has given, in a preface, a long account of his dialogues with a bookseller, about the loan and restitution of a MS. Hawkes.
+ Sir William Temple.
Nor do I doubt in the least, but your Highness will peruse it as carefully, and make as confiderable improvements, as other young princes have already done, by the many volumes of late years written for a help to their studies *.
That your Highness may advance in wisdom and virtue, as well as years, and at last outshine all your royal ancestors, shall be the daily prayer of,
Most devoted, GoC.
* There were innumerable books printed for the use of the Dauphin of France. Hawkes.
The P R E F A C E.
IIE wits of the present age being so very
numerous and penetrating, it seems the grandees of church and fate begin to fall under horrible apprehensions, left these gentlemen, during the intervals of a long peace, should find leisure to pick holes in the weak fides of religion and government. To prevent which, there has been much thought employed of late, upon certaia projects for taking off the force and edge of those forinidable inquirers, from canvailing and realoning upon such delicate points. They have at length fixed upon one, which will require fome time as well as coit to perfect. Mean while, the dinger hourly increafing, by new levics of vits, all appointed (as there is reason to fear) with pen, ink, and paper, which may, at an hour's warning, be diawn out into pamphlets, and other offensive weapons, rcady for imıncdiate execution; it was judged of absolute necesity, that fome present expedient be thought on, till the main design can be brought to maturity. To this end, at a grand committes, fome days ago, this important discovery was made by a certain curious and refined obferver, That feamen have a custom, when they meet a whole, to fling him out an empty tub, by way of amusement, to vi