« AnteriorContinua »
the press, yet this very circumstance seems to have enhanced their value, according to an observation of lord Bolingbroke's in one of his Epistles to Swift, where he says Pliny writ his letters for the publick ; so did Seneca ; so did Balsac, Voiture, &c. Tully did not, and therefore these give us more pleasure than any which have come down to us from antiquity. When we read them, we pry into a secret which was intended to be kept from
That is a pleasure. We see Cato, and Brutus, and Pompey, and others, such as they really were, and not such as the gaping multitude of their own age took them to be, or as historians and poets have represented them to ours. That is another pleasure.'
" When we reflect that among his correspondents are to be found the celebrated names of Bolingbroke, Pope, Addison, Gay, Arbuthnot, Prior, archbishop King, Peterborow, Pulteney, Voltaire, &c. we need not wonder that the curiosity of the present times has been so highly gratified by their publication. Nor is there any doubt but that their value will continue to increase with posterity, in proportion to the distance of time, down to the latest period. And even among those correspondents of an inferior class, the letters will perhaps be found the best patterns in our language, whether of the easy, familiar, or elegant style; in which some of the ladies have distinguished themselves, particularly the duchess of Queensberry and lady Betty Germain. But Swift's own style, in his Epistles, as in every thing else, will always remain unrivalled, until some great original genius like himself shall arise.
“ In this collection nothing is more valuable, or has more highly gratified the curiosity of the publick, than his Journal to Stella ; as it lets us more into the real character of Swift than all his other writings put together. In this Journal, daily addressed to his bosom friend, every thought as it rises in his mind, and every feeling of his heart, are laid open in
all the nakedness of truth. Throughout the whole he is thinking aloud, as if he were conversing with her tête à téte; and out of this as true a portrait may be made of the peculiar features and complexion of his mind, as could be done of his external form, by any artist, to whom he might sit for his picture; and to this I have been chiefly indebted, for the proofs produced in support of his character.
“ The first thing to be done in this edition, was, to disemnbroil these works from the chaos in which they have hitherto appeared, and reduce them into some regular order under proper heads.
“ The first volume is wholly taken up with the History of his Life,
“ The second contains his Tale of a Tub, Battle of the Books, being his earliest productions, and the first of his Political Tracts written in England.
« The third and fourth contain all his other Political Tracts relative to English Affairs.
“ The fifth, his Essays on various Subjects. “ The sixth, Gulliver's Travels.
6. The seventh and eighth, all his Poetical Works, and Polite Conversation.
“ The ninth, all his Political Tracts relative to Ireland.
" The tenth, his sermons, and a variety of detached Pieces written in Ireland.
“ The eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth volumes contain the whole of his Epistolary Correspondence. As the several parcels containing these Letters had fallen into different hands, and were published at different times, they were printed without any regard to order, insomuch that the answers to numbers of the Letters
were to be sought for in different volumes. They are here digested in a regular series according to their dates. The correspondence between Mr. Pope and the Dean, not in the former edition, is here added, as published by Pope ; and the whole closed with his Journal to Stella, in an uninterrupted series.
In the sixteenth volume are thrown together all his Sketches and unfinished Pieces.
“ The seventeenth volume consists of Martinus Scriblerus, John Bull, and various other Pieces in prose and verse, published in Pope's Miscellanies. As these Pieces are admirable in themselves, and as it is well known that Swift had a great share in some of the most capital, though, according to his usual practice, he never claimed any, but let his friends Arbuthnot and Pope enjoy the whole reputation as well as profit arising from them; and as these have always made a part of Swift's Works, where only they are now to be found collected, it was thought proper to add this volume to the rest.
“ As Swift has been universally allowed to write the purest and most correct English, of any of our Authors, I thought it might be of publick benefit, to point out all grammatical errours, solecisms, or inaccuracies, that might occur in his style. For
Decipit eremplar vitiis imitabile. This I have done throughout, as occasion offered, in notes ; except in his more familiar letters, where some degree of negligence is allowable, and the use of colloquial phrases, not consistent perhaps with strict propriety, is permitted, as giving them a more natural air. Nor have I taken notice of many inaca curacies of a similar kind in his Gulliver's Travels; where he sometimes purposely makes use of phrases and expressions not strictly grammatical, in order
that the style might seem more in character, as coming from a seafaring man. The not adverting to thịs, has been the reason that several criticks, who have taken upon them to point out Swift's inaccuracies, have produced almost all their instances from Gulliver's Travels.
“ But, beside the particular passages which I have commented upon in the notes, there are some general improprieties which run through the whole body of the works, not only of our author, but of all other English writers. These have been established by long custom, and suffered to keep their posts through an unpardonable neglect of studying our own language. To point these out wherever they occurred, would have been an endless task, and occasioned a disgusting repetition; I have therefore corrected them throughout; and that the reader may judge of the propriety of so doing, I here subjoin a list of them.
“ As the living speech has never engaged our attention, the whole being employed about the written language, many barbarous words of unçouth sound are still retained, notwithstanding there are others of the same import, more pleasing to the ear. Such as Whilst *
For forward towards
toward What occasion is there for continuing the final s in. those words?
* See this barbarism corrected by Swift himself in a letter to Mr. Beach, dated April 12, 17355 printed in vol. XIX. N.
Further - farther Why is this anomaly suffered to remain, when we have the regular degrees of comparison in
Far, farther, farthest?
Beside --- besides These two words being of similar sound, are very improperly used promiscuously, the one for the other. When employed as a preposition, the word beside should always be used : when as an adverb, besides -- The first signifies -- over and above - The last, moreover. As in the following sentences. Beside (over and above) what has been advanced upon this subject, it may lead us to inquire, &c.
Besides, (moreover) what has been advanced upon this subject, may lead us to inqure, &c.
“ It is always an imperfection in a language to have the same individual word belong to different parts of speech; but when there are two words differently pronounced, and differently spelt, used promiscuously for each other, both in point of meaning, and in discharging the different Offices of preposition and adverb, it savours much of barbarism, as it is so easy to allot their peculiar province to each. When I said that the word beside should be always used as the preposition, and—besides -- as the adverb, "the choice was not made at random. In its prépositional state, it must be closely united to the following word; in its adverbial, it should always have a pause after it. Now the word beside-not loaded with the final s, is rendered more apt to run glibly into the following word : and the word besides, always preceding a pause, has, by the addition of the s, a stronger sound to rest upon.
Like-likely. “ These two words also, from a similitude of sound, though of such different meanings, are used