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This answerer has been pleased to find fault with about a dozen passages, which the author will not be at the trouble of defending, further than by assuring the reader, that, for the greater part, the reflecter is entirely mistaken, and forces interpretations which never once entered into the writer's head, nor will (he is sure) into that of any
reader of taste and candour; he allows two or three at most, there produced, to have been delivered unwarily : for which he desires to plead the excuse offered already, of his youth, and frankness of speech, and his papers being out of his power at the time they were published.
But this answererinsists, and says, what he chiefly dislikes, is the design : what that was, I have already told, and I believe there is not a person in England who can understand that book, that ever imagined it to be any thing else, but to expose the abuses and corruptions in learning and religion.
But it would be good to know what design this reflecter was serving, when he concludes his
pamphlet with a caution to the reader, to beware of thinking the author's wit was entirely his own: surely this must have had some allay of personal animosity at least, mixed with the design of serving the public, by so useful a discovery; and it indeed touches the author in a tender point; who insists upon it, that through the whole book he has not borrowed one single hint from any writer in the world; and he thought, of all criticisms, that would never have been one. He conceived, it was never disputed to be an original, whatever faults it might have. However, this answerer produces three instances to prove this author's wit is not his own in many places. The first is,
that the names of Peter, Martin, and Jack, are borrowed from a letter of the late duke of Buckingham. Whatever wit is contained in those three names, the author is content to give it up, and desires his readers will subtract as much as they placed upon that account; at the same time . protesting solemnly, that he never once heard of that letter, except in this passage of the answerer: so that the names were not borrowed, as he affirms, though they should happen to be the same; which however is odd enough, and what he hardly believes ; that of Jack being not quite so obvious as the other two. The second instance to show the author's wit is not his own, is Peter's banter (as he calls it in his Alsatia phrase) * upon transubstantiation, which is taken from the same duke's conference with an Irish priest, where a cork is turned into a horse. This the author confesses to have seen about ten years after his book was written, and a year or two after it was published. Nay, the answerer overthrows this himself; for he allows the Tale was written in 1697 ; and I think that pamphlet was not printed in many years after. It was necessary that corruption should have some allegory as well as the rest; and the author invented the properest he could, without inquiring what other people had written; and the commonest reader will find, there is not the least resemblance between the two stories. The third instance is in these words; “ I have been assured, that the battle in St James's Library is, mutatis mutandis, taken out of a French book, entitled, Combat des Livres, if I misremember not.” In which passage there are two clauses observable: “I have been assured ;” and,“ if I misrememher not.” I desire first to know whether, if that conjecture proves an utter falsehood, those two clauses will be a sufficient excuse for this worthy critic. The matter is a trifle; but, would he venture to pronounce at this rate upon one of greater moment? I know nothing more contemptible in a writer, than the character of a plagiary, which he here fixes at a venture; and this not for a passage, but a whole discourse, taken out from another book, only mutatis mutandis. The author is as much in the dark about this as the answerer; and will imitate him by an affirmation at random; that if there be a word of truth in this reflection, he is a paltry, imitating pedant; and the answerer is a person of wit, manners, and truth. 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 impossible for two writers, of different times and countries, to agree in their thoughts after such a manner, that two continued discourses shall be the såme, only mutatis mutandis. Neither will he insist upon the mistake in the title; but let the answerer and his friend
* Villiers. † Banter was a word to which Swift had an especial aversion.
produce any book they please, he defies them to show 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, wherein it cannot be denied that he hath been of some service to the public, and hath given very fair conjectures towards clearing up some difficult passages; * 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 gave them any thanks for endeavouring at. The part of Minellius, or Farnaby, t 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, unwieldy, ill-shaped 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
* Which have accordingly been retained in all subsequent editions.
+ Low commentators, who wrote notes upon classic authors for the use of schoolboys.
shape, mettle, nor speed of that noble animal he would affect to personate.
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 assign a name in public. He condemns a 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
little use, being a private fact; of which the reader would believe as little, or as much, 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 surreptitious copy was rather that which was printed ; and they made all the haste they could, which indeed was needless, the author not being at all prepared; but he has been told, the book. seller was in much pain, having given a good sum of money for the copy.