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And when you have done, the whole audience, far from being offended, shall return you thanks, as a deliverer of precious and useful truths. Nay farther; it is but to venture your lungs, and you may preach in Covent-Garden against foppery and fornication, and something else : against pride, and dissimulation, and bribery, at White-Hall : you may expose rapine and injustice in the inns of court chapel : and in a city pulpit, be as fierce as you please against avarice, hypocrisy, and extortion. 'Tis but a ball bandied to and fro, and every man carries a racket about him, to strike it from himself, among the rest of the company. But, on the other side, whoever should mistake the nature of things so far, as to drop but a single hint in public, how such a one starved half the fleet, and half poisoned the rest : how such a one, from a true principle of love and honour, pays no debts but for wenches and play : how such a one has got a clap, and runs out of his estate : how Paris, bribed by Juno and Venus, loth to offend either party, slept out the whole cause on the bench : or, how such an orator makes long speeches in the senate, with much thought, little sense, and to no purpose ; whoever, I say, should venture to be thus particular, must expect to be imprisoned for scandalum magnatum ; to have challenges sent him ; to be sued for defamation; and to be brought before the bar of the house.
But I forget that I am expatiating on a subject wherein I have no concern, having neither a talent nor an inclination for satire. On the other side, I am so entirely satisfied with the whole
# Horace. Spleen,
present procedure of human things, that I have been some years preparing materials towards A Panegyric upon the World; to which I intended to add a second part, entitled, A modest Defence of the Proceedings of the Rabble in all Ages. Both these I had thoughts to publish, by way of appendix to the following treatise ; but finding my common-place book fill much slower than I had reason to expect, I have chosen to defer them to another occasion. Besides, I have been unhappily prevented in that design by a certain domestic misfortune; in the particulars whereof, though it would be very seasonable, and much in the modern way, to inform the gentle reader, and would also be of great assistance towards extending this preface into the size now in vogue, which by rule ought to be large in proportion as the subsequent volume is small; yet I shall now dismiss our impatient reader from any farther attendance at the porch, and, having duly prepared his mind by a preliminary discourse, shall gladly introduce him to the sublime mysteries that ensue,
A TALE OF A TUB.*
WHOEVER has an ambition to be heard in a crowd, must press, and squeeze, and thrust, and climb, with indefatigable pains, till he has exalted himself to a certain degree of altitude above them. Now, in all assemblies, though you wedge them ever so close, we may observe this peculiar property, that over their heads there is room enough, but how to reach it is the difficult point; it being as hard to get quit of number, as of hell;
-evadere ad auras,
Hoc opus, hic labor est.T-VIRGIL. To this end, the philosopher's way in all ages, has been by erecting certain edifices in the air : but, whatever practice and reputation these kind of structures have formerly possessed, or may still continue in, not excepting even that of Socrates, when he was suspended in a basket to help contemplation,* I think, with due submission, they seem to labour under two inconveniencies. First, That the foundations being laid too high, they have been often out of sight, and ever out of hearing. Secondly, That the materials, being very transitory, have suffered much from inclemencies of air, especially in these north-west regions.
* Democritus dum ridet, philosophatur.-BENTLEY. † But to return, and view the cheerful skies;
In this the task and mighty labour lies.-DRYDEN.
Therefore, towards the just performance of this great work, there remain but three methods that I can think of; whereof the wisdom of our ancestors being highly sensible, has, to encourage all aspiring adventurers, thought fit to erect three wooden machines for the use of those orators, who desire to talk much without interruption These are, the pulpit, the ladder, and the stage itinerant. For, as to the bar, though it be compounded of the same matter, and designed for the same use, it cannot, however, be well allowed the honour of a fourth, by reason of its level or inferior situation exposing it to perpetual interruption from collaterals Neither can the bench itself, though raised to a proper eminency, put in a better claim, whatever its advocates insist on. For, if they please to look into the original design of its erection, and the circumstances or adjuncts subservient to that design, they will soon acknowledge the present practice, exactly correspondent to the primitive institution, and both to answer the etymology of the name, which, in the Phænician
* See the Clouds" of Aristophanes.
tongue is a word of great signification, importing, if literally interpreted, the place of sleep; but in common acceptation, a seat well bolstered and cushioned, for the repose of old and gouty limbs : senes ut in otia tuta recedant. Fortune being indebted to them this part of retaliation, that, as forinerly, they have long talked, while others slept; so now they may sleep as long, while others talk.
But if no other argument could occur, to exclude the bench and the bar from the list of oratorial machines, it were sufficient, that the admission of them would overthrow a number, which I was resolved to establish, whatever argument it might cost me; in imitation of that prudent method observed by many other philosophers, and great clerks, whose chief art in division, has been to grow fond of some proper mystical number, which their imaginations have rendered sacred, to a degree, that they force common reason to find room for it, in every part of nature; reducing, including, and adjusting, every genus and species within that compass, by coupling some against their wills, and banishing others at any rate. Now among all the rest, the profound number THREE is that, which has most employed my sublimest speculations, nor ever without wonderful delight, There is now in the press, and will be published next term, a panegyrical essay of mine upon this number; wherein I have, by most convincing proofs, not only reduced the senses and the elements under its banner, but brought over several deserters from its two great rivals, SEVEN and NINE.*
* The numbers seven and nine were supposed to have a certain