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vert him from laying violent hands upon the thip. This parable was immediately mythologised. The whale was interpreted to be Hobbes's Leviathan ; which tosses and plays with all schemes of religion and government, whereof a great many are hollow, and dry, and empty, and noisy, and wooden, and given to rotation. This is the Leviathan, from whence the terrible wits of our age are faid to borrow their weapons. The ship in danger, is easily understood to be its old antitype, the commonwealth. But how to analyse the tub, was a matter of difficulty; when, after long inquiry and debate, the literal meaning was preserved : And it was decreed, that, in order to prevent these Leviathans from tofing and sporting with the commonwealth, which of itself is too apt to fluctuate, they should be diverted from that game by a Tale of a Tub. And my genius being conceived to lie not unhappily that way, I had the honour done me to be engaged in the perfor
This is the sole design in publishing the following treatise ; which, I hope, will serve for an interim of some months to employ those unquist spirits, till the perfecting of that great work: Into the secret of which, it is reasonable the courteous reader should have some little light.
It is intended, that a large academy be erected, capable of containing nine thousand seven hundred forty and three persons ; which, by modest computation, is reckoned to be pretty near the
current * This I think the author should have omitted, it being of the very same nature with the school of hobby-horses, if one may venture to censure one, who is so severe a censurer of others, perhaps with too little distinction.
current number of wits in this island. These are to be disposed into the several schools of this academy, and there pursue those studies to which their genius most inclines them. The undertaker himself will publish his proposals with all convenient speed ; to which I shall refer the curious reader for a more particular account, mentioning at present only a few of the principal schools. There is, first, a large pederastic school, with French and Italian masters : There is, also, the Spelling school, a very spacious building ; the school of looking-glasses; the school of swearing ; the school of critics ; the school of salivation ; the school of hobby-horses ; the school of poetry; the fchool of tops *; the school of spleen ; the school of gaming ; and many
others too tedious to recount. No person to be admitted meniber into any of these schools, without an attestation under two fufficient persons hands, certifying him to be a wit.
But to return: I am sufficiently instructed in the principal duty of a preface, if my genius were capable of arriving at it. Thrice have I forced my imagination to make the tour of my invention, and thrice it has returned empty ; the latter having been wholly drained by the following treatise. Not so my more successful brethren
the moderns, who will by no means let slip a preface or dedication without some notable distinguishing stroke to surprise the reader at the entry, and kindle a wonderful expectation of what is to ensue. Such was that of a most ingenious poet, who, foliciting his brain for fomething new, compared himself to the hangman, and his patron to the patient. This was infigne, recens, indi&tum ore alio *. When I went through that neceffary and noble course of study t, I had the happiness to observe many such egregious touches; which I shall not injure the authors by tranfplanting ; because I have remarked, that nothing is so very tender as a modern piece of wit, and which is very apt to suffer so much in the carriage. Some things are extremely witty to-day, or fasting, or in this place, or ot eight a clock, or over a bottle, or spoke by Mr What d'y'call'm, or in a summer's morning; any of the which, by the finallest transposal or misapplication, is utterly annihilate. Thus, Wit has its walks and purlieus, out of which it may not stray the breadth of an hair, upon peril of being loft. The moderns have artfully fixed this mercury', and reduced it to the circumstances of time, place, and perfon. Such a jest there is, that will not pass out of Covent-garden ; and such a one, that is no where intelligible but at Hyde-park corner.
* Hor. Something extraordinary, new, and never hit upon before.
+ Reading prefaces, Go.
Now, though it sometimes tenderly affects me, to consider, that all the towardly paflages I shall deliver in the following treatise will grow quite out of date and relish with the first shifting of the present scene ; yet I must needs subscribe to the justice of this proceeding; because I cannot imagine why we fould be at expence to furnish wit for succeeding ages, when the former have made no sort of provision for ours; wherein I speak the sentiment of the very newest, and confequently the most orthodox refiners, as well as my own. However, being extremely folicitous, that every accomplifhed person, who has got into the taste of wit calculated for this present month of August 1697, should defcend to the very bottom of all the sublime throughout this treatise ; I hold fit to lay down this general maxim: Whatever reader desires to have a thorough comprehension of an author's thoughts, cannot take a better method, than by putting himself into the circumstances and postures of life, that the writer was in upon every important paffage, as it flowed from his pen; for this will introduce a parity and strict correspondence of ideas between the reader and the author. Now, to assist the diligent reader in fo delicate an affair, as far as brevity will permit, I have recollected, that the shrewdest pieces of this treatise were conceived in bed, in a garret. At other times, for a reason best known to myseif, I thought fit to sharpen my invention with hunger; and, in
general, the whole work was begun, continued, and ended, under a long course of physic, and a great want of noney. Now, I do affirm, it will be absolutely impossible for the candid peruser to go along with me in a great many bright passages, unless, upon the several difficulties emergent, he will please to capacitate and prepare himself by these directions. And this I lay down as my principal poftulatum.
Because I have profesied to be a most devoted servant of all modern forms, I apprehend fome curious wit may object against me, for proceeding thus far in a preface, without declaiming, according to the custom, against the multitude of writers, whereof the whole multitude of writers most reasonably complain. I am just come from perusing some hundreds of prefaces, wherein the authors do at the very beginning address the gentle reader concerning this enormous grievance. Of these I have preserved a few examples, and shall set them down as near as my memory
has been able to retain them.
One begins thus :
For a man to set up for a writer, when the press swarms with, &c.
The tax upon paper does not lefen the number of Scribblers, who daily pejter, &c.
every little would-be-wit takes pen in hand, 'tis in vain to enter the lists, &c.