Imágenes de páginas

often invited by the urging and attending orator, with his last moving and standing piece of rhetoric, Sir, upon my word, we are just going to begin. Such is exactly the fate, at this time, of Prefaces, Epistles, Advertisements, Introductions, Prolegomena's, Apparatus's, To the readers. This expedient was admirable at first. Our great Dryden has long carried it as far as it would go, and with incredible success. He hath ofren said to me in confidence, that the world would have never fufpected him to be so great a poet, if he had not assured them so frequently in his prefaces, that it was impossible they could either doubt or forget it. Perhaps it may be fo : However, I much fear, his instructions have edified out of their place, and taught men to grow wifer in certain points, where he never intended they should ; For it is lamentable to behold, with what a lazy scorn many of the yawning readers of our age do now-a-days twirl over forty or fifty pages of preface and dedication, (which is the usual modern stint), as if it were so much Latin. Though it must be also allowed, on the other hand, that a very considerable number is known to proceed critics and wits, by reading nothing else. Into which two factions, I think, all prefent readers may justly be divided. Now, for myself, I profess to be of the former fort : And therefore having the modern inclination to expatiate upon the beauty of my own productions, and display the bright parts of my discourse, I thought best to do it in the


body of the work; where, as it now lies, it makes a very

considerable addition to the bulk of the volume; a circumstance by no means to be neglected by a feilful writer.

Having thus paid my due deference and acknowledgement to an established custom of our newest authors, by a long digression unfought for, and an universal cenfure unprovoked; by forcing into the light, with much pains and dexterity, my own excellencies, and other men's defaults, with great justice to myself, and candour to them; I now happily resume my subject, to the infinite fatisfaction both of the reader and the author.

[blocks in formation]

E left Lord Peter in open rupture with

his two brethren ; both for ever discarded from his house, and resigned to the wide world, with little or nothing to trust to. Which are circumstances that render them


subjects for the charity of a writer's pen to work on; scenes of misery ever affording the fairest harvest for great adventures. And in this the world may perceive the difference between the integrity of a generous author, and that of a com


mon friend. The latter is observed to adhere close in prosperity, but, on the decline of fortune, to drop suddenly off: Whereas the gene., rous author, just on the contrary, finds his hero on the dunghill, from thence by gradual steps raises him to a throne, and then immediately withdraws, expecting not so much as thanks for his pains. In imitation of which example, I have placed Lord Peter in a noble house, given him a title to wear, and money to spend. There I shall leave him for some time ; returning where common charity directs me, to the affistance of his two brothers at their lowest ebb. However, I shall by no means forget my character of an historian, to follow the truth step by step, whatever happens, or where-ever it

may The two exiles, so nearly united in fortune and interest, took a lodging together; where, at their first leifure, they began to reflect on the numberless misfortunes and vexations of their life paft; and could not tell, on the sudden, to what failure in their conduct they ought to impute them ; when, after some recollection, they called to mind the copy of their father's will, which they had so happily recovered. This was immediately produced, and a firm refolution taken between them, to alter whatever was already amiss, and reduce all their future measures to the strictest obedience prescribed therein. The main body of the will (as the reader cannot easily have forgot) consisted in certain admirable


lead me.

[ocr errors]


rules about the wearing of their coats: In the perusal whereof, the two brothers at every period duly comparing the doctrine with the practice, there was never seen a wider difference between two things ; horrible, downright transgressions of every point. Upon which they both resolved, without further delay, to fall immediately upon reducing the whole exactly after their father's model.

But here it is good to stop the hasty reader, ever impatient to see the end of an adventure, before we writers can duly prepare him for it. I am to record, that these two brothers began to be distinguished at this time by certain names. One of them desired to be called MARTIN *, and the other took the appellation of JACK . These two had lived in much friendship and agreement, under the tyranny of their brother Peter ; as it is the talent of fellow-fufferers to do; men in misfortune being like men in the dark, to whom all colours are the same. But when they came forward into the world, and began to display themselves to each other, and to the light, their complexions appeared extremely different; which the present pofture of their affairs gave them fudden opportunity to discover.

But here the fevere reader may justly tax me as a writer of short memory ; a deficiency to which a true inodern cannot but, of necessity, be a little subject: Because memory being an employVOL. I. Dd


* Martin Luther.

† John Calvin.

ment of the mind upon things past, is a faculty, for which the learned in our illustrious age

have no manner of occasion, who deal entirely with invention, and strike all things out of themselves, or at least by collision from each other; upon which account we think it highly reasonable to produce our great forgetfulness, as an argument unanswerable for our great wit. I ought, in method, to have informed the reader about fifty pages ago, of a fancy Lord Peter took, and infused into his brothers, to wear on their coats whatever trimmings came up in fashion ; never pulling off any as they went out of the mode, but keeping on all together; which amounted in time to a medley, the most antic you can possibly conceive : And this to a degree, that, upon the time of their falling out, there was hardly a thread of the original coat to be seen ; but an infinite quantity of lace, and ribbands, and fringe, and embroidery, and points ; (I mean only those tagged with silver *, for the rest fell off). Now, this material circumstance having been forgot in due place; as good fortune hath ordered, comes in very properly here, when the two brothers are just going to reform their vestures into the primitive state, prescribed by their father's will.

They both unanimously entered upon this great work, looking fometimes on their coats, and


* Points tagged with filver, or those doctrines that promote the greatness and wealth of the church, which have been therefore woven deepest in the body of Popery.

« AnteriorContinuar »