« AnteriorContinua »
fifteenth and sixteenth volumes, was induced to read, in a regular series, the whole of Dr. Swift's Correspondence. In this pursuit, he could not but be astonished to perceive that many pieces, which the Dean acknowledges as his own, were not to be found in the most expensive editions of his works.
In truth, from the volumes having been published at different periods, the smaller editions may be said to have been nearly complete, while those in which exactness might well be looked for have remained much more defective. To remedy that inconvenience, he published in 1775 the seventeenth volume; consisting of materials, which, if not entirely new to the world, were such in the editions just mentioned. From the preface to that volume a short extract shall be given:
“ The several pieces now offered to the publick are of too miscellaneous a nature to need any formal apology. Many of them are admirable ; some of them indifferent; and some, perhaps, rather below mediocrity. Yet there are few readers who would not wish (as Swift has said of Sir William Temple)' to see the first draught of any thing from this author's hand *.' And the present editor hopes to escape the imputation of reviving • libels born to die, if he expresses a wish that the less valuable parts of the whole collection were removed from the places they now possess, and (by. being classed in a separate volume) consigned to whatever fate their respective degrees of merit may deserve."
* See vol. III. p. 284.
One very material part of the last-mentioned volume consisted of Swift's “ History of the Four last Years of Queen Anne;" which, having been adopted by Mr. Sheridan, will be found in the seventh volume of this collection, introduced with some prefatory remarks by the present editor.
The following note, written by bishop Warburton, was printed with the letters of Dr. Swift, Mr. Pope, and others, concerning this history :
“ These papers some years after were brought finished by the Dean into England, with an intention to publish them. But a friend on whose judgment he relied dissuaded him from that design. He told the Dean, there were several facts he knew to be false, and that the whole was so much in the spirit of party-writing, that though it might have made a seasonable pamphlet in the time of their administration, it was a dishonour to just history. The Dean would do nothing against his friend's judgment; yet it extremely chagrined him: and he told a common friend, that since - did not approve the history, he would cast it into the fire, though it was the best work he had ever written. However, it did not undergo this fate, and is said to be yet in being." So says the right reverend Annotator. And yet it is certain, that a friend of Dr. Swift's took occasion (in sonie conversation with lord Bolingbroke at Battersea in 1750) to ask his lordship about the facts mentioned in the said work, alleging, that a great part of the materials was furnished from his lordship's papers, when secretary of state ; who replied,
in That indeed he did not recollect any thing he might object to, as concerning the matters of fact, but one; which was about the suspension of arins being mentioned there as a transaction of the queen's ministry : whereas, said he, I do assure you, I was utterly unacquainted with that measure; having advised against it, until it was fully agreed upon in concert with Dr. Swift's hero. (meaning lord Oxford), nor had I any other hand in that matter more than to ask the queen in council, after the written order for suspending all military operations was put into my hands, Madam, is it
your majesty's pleasure that this order le signed ?"-İn a letter to Mr. Pope, Jan. 10, 1721, the Dean says, “ I had indeed written some memorials of the four last years of the queen's reign, with some other informations which I received, as necessary materials to qualify, me for doing something in a place then designed me; but, as it was at the disposal of a person who had not the smallest share of steadiness or sincerity, I disdained to accept it.” The office here alluded to was in the gift of Henry Grey duke of Kent.”
Mrs. Whiteway, in a letter to Mr. Pope, May 16, 1740, says:
“ A few years ago he burnt most of his writings unprinted, except a few loose papers which are in my possession, and which I promise you (if I outlive him) shall never be made publick without your approbation. There is one Treatise in his own keeping, called Advice to Servants, very unfinished and incorrect; yet what is done of it has so much humour, that it may appear as a posthumous work. The History of the Four Last Years of Queen Aane's Haign I suppose you have seen with Dr. kiny, to whom he sent it some time ago; and, if I am rightly informed, is the only piece of his (except Gulliver') which he ever proposed making money ly, and was given to Dr. King with that design."
Encouraged by the favourable attention of the publick, the twenty-fourth volume * was brought forward in 1776, with this apology:
“ Additions to the works of an author already esteemed too voluminous, it is acknowledged, should be made with caution. The editor, howzver, with confidence relies on the merit as well is authenticity of his materials; and, if any parricular article which has been admitted should appear liable to objection, will rest his appeal on the real motive for entering on a task not unate tended with labour - a desire of preserving those scattered materials without which the works of Swift can never be completed : an event the world bas long had reason to expect from the person in every respect best qualified for such an undertaking.
Many of the Doctor's writings' (says Mr. Deane Swift, the worthy guardian of his kinsman's fame), long since printed, are not to be met with in any collection of his works ti' The pieces now presented to the reader are exactly under this predicament; and some of them, it is presumed, are part of what Mr. Swift alludes to.
“ In the state in which the Dean's writings now stand, the editor flatters himself, he shall not be censured for what is added. He does not pretend to say, that the whole ought to be adopted in a regular edition ; yet, whenever such a work shall be actually undertaken, he doubts not but the present volume will be considered as an interesting part of it f ; and at the same time will be a proper appendage to all former editions ; being strictly,
* The six volumes of Letters were at that time numbered XVIII-XXIII. † See before, p. xxxiii.
This was the case in Mr. Si eridan's edition of 1984.
what it professes to be, a Collection of Miscellanies by Dr. Swift and his most intimate friends.
“ The first part consists of several scarce tracts, originally published in that memorable period the four last years of the queen : some of which are avowedly the Dean's, though hitherto they have never appeared under his name; and others are ascribed to him, on his own authority, either as having written a part of them, or at least as have ing suggested the hints.
“ As the sound politician and indefatigable chainpion of Ireland, our author already stands unrivalled. But, when we consider him as the confidential friend of an able ministry involved in perpetual disputes *, in vain do we look among bis works for the writings which exalted him to such consequence. The Eraminers excepted, they are thinly scattered through the collection, and far inferior in number to what might naturally be expected from the pen of so ready a writer. Like Virgil's mariners,
Apparent rari nantes in gurgite vasto .!" That he was not idle in that busy period, a slight perusal of the Journal to Stella will demonstrate ; and what is here collected may be considered as a specimen of his labours.
“ It is much to be lamented indeed that he did not follow the advice given him in the year 1733 : I have long had it at heart,' says his friend Mr. Ford, “to see your works collecied, and published with care.
It is become absolutely necessary, since that jumble with Pope, &c. in three volumes,
** My letters will at least be a good bistory, to show you the sieps of uinis change," says Di. Swift to Siella, on an interesting event, Dec. 9, 1711.---And again, “My letters would be good memoirs, if I durst venture to say a thousand things that pass." March 14, 1712-13