« AnteriorContinuar »
neither lived to publish his essay, nor to proceed farther in so useful an attempt; which is very much to be lamented, because the discovery he made, and communicated with his friends, is now universally received : Nor do I think, any of the learned will dispute that famous treatise to be a complete body of civil knowledge, and the revelation, or rather the apocalypse of all state arcana. But the progress I have made is much greater, having already finished my annotations upon several dozens ; from some of which I shall impart a few hints to the candid reader, as far as will be necessary to the conclufion at which I aim.
The first piece I have handled, is that of Tom Thumb, whose author was a Pythagorean philofopher. This dark treatise contains the whole scheme of the metemp/ychosis, deducing the progress of the soul through all her stages.
The next is Dr Faustus, penned by Artephius, an author bonæ note, and an adeptus. He published it in the nine-hundredth-eighty-fourth year of his age*. This writer proceeds wholly by reincrudation, or in the via humida: And the marriage between Fauftus and Helen does most conspicuously dilucidate the fermenting of the male and female dragon.
Whittington and his cat is the work of that mysterious Rabbi, Jehuda Hannafi; containing a defence of the Gemara of the Jerusalem Misna *, and its just preference to that of Babylon, contrary to the vulgar opinion.
* The chymists say of him in their books, that he prolonged his life to a thousand years, and then died voluntarily. Hawkeso
The Hind and Panther. This is the masterpiece of a famous writer now living t, intended for a complete abstract of fixteen thousand schoolmen, from Scotus to Bellarmin.
Tommy Pots. Another piece supposed by the fame hand, by way of supplement to the former.
The wife men of Goatham, cun appendice. This is a treatise of immenfe erudition; being the great original and fountain of those arguments, bandied about both in France and England, for a just defence of the moderns learning and wit, against the presumption, the pride, and ignorance of the ancients. This unknown author hath fo exhausted the subject, that a penetrating reader will eally discover whatever hath been written fince upon that dispute, to be little more than repetition. An abstract of this treatise hath been lately published, by a worthy member of our society I.
These notices may serve to give the learned reader an idea, as well as a taste, of what the whole work is likely to produce; wherein I have now altogether circumscribed my thoughts and
* The Gemara is the decision, explanation, or interpretation of the Jewish rabbies; and the Mifna is properly the code or body of the Jewish civil, or common law. Hawkes.
+ Viz. in 1698.
# This I suppose to be understood of Mr Wotton's discourse of antient and modern learning.
my studies; and, if I can bring it to a perfection before I die, shall reckon I have well employed the poor remains of an unfortunate life * This indeed is more than I can justly expect from a quill worn to the pith in the service of the state, in pro's and con's, upon Popish plots, and mealtubs to and exclusion-bills, and pasíve obedience, and addresses of lives and fortunes ; and prerogative, and property, and liberty of conscience, and letters to a friend: From an understanding and a conscience thread-bare and ragged with perpetual turning ; from a head broken in a hundred places by the malignants of the opposite factions and from a body spent with poxes ill cured, by trusting to bawds and surgeons, who, as it afterwards appeared, were professed enemies to me and the government, and revenged their party's quarrel upon my nose and shins. Fourscore and eleven pamphlets have I written under three reigns, and for the service of fix and thirty factions. But, finding the state has no farther occafion for me and my ink, I retire willingly to draw it out into fpeculations more becoming a philosopher ; having, to my unspeakable comfort, pafled a long life with a conscience void of offence.
* Here the author seems to personate L'Estrange, Dryden, and some others, who, after having passed their lives in vices, faction, and falsehood, have the impudence to talk of merit, and innocence, and sufferings.
+ In King Charles II.'s time, there was an account of a Presbyteridn plot, found in a tub, which then made much noise.
But to return : I am assured from the reader's candour, that the brief specimen I have given, will easily clear all the rest of our society's productions from an aspersion grown, as it is manifeft, out of envy and ignorance, That they are of little farther use or value to mankind beyond the common entertainments of their wit and their style ; for these I am sure have never yet been disputed by our keenest adversaries : In both which, as well as the more profound and mystical part, I have throughout this treatise closely followed the most applauded originals. And to render all complete, I have, with much thought and application of mind, so ordered, that the chief title prefixed to it, I mean, that under which I design it shall pass in the common conversations of court and town, is modelled exactly after the manner peculiar to our society.
I confefs to have been somewhat liberal in the business of titles t, having observed the humour of multiplying them to bear great vogue among certain writers, whom I exceedingly reverence. And indeed it seems not unreasonable, that books, the children of the brain, should have the honour to be christened with variety of names, as well as other infants of quality. Our famous Dryden has ventured to proceed a point farther, endeavouring to introduce also a multiplicity of god
if The title-page, in the original, was so torn, that it was not posible to recover several titles, which the author here speaks of.
fathers * ; which is an improvement of much more advantage, upon a very obvious account. It is a pity this admirable invention has not been better cultivated, so as to grow by this time into general imitation, when such an authority serves it for a precedent. Nor have my endeavours been wanting to second so useful an example : But it seems, there is an unhappy expence usually annexed to the calling of a godfather, which was clearly out of my head, as it is very reasonable to believe. Where the pinch lay, I cannot certainly affirm; but having employed a world of thoughts and pains to split my treatise into forty sections, and having intreated forty lords of my acquaintance, that they would do me the honour to stand, they all made it a matter of conscience, and sent me their excuses.
See Virgil translated, &c. He dedicated the different parts ef Virgil to different patrons.