« AnteriorContinua »
early experience of the world. He was thrown, luckily in the prime of life, into the family of a great personage, where he had the happiness of an interview with a monarch; from whence he had reasonable hopes of satisfying his towering ambition. But he found them followed by nothing but disappointment. In a course of years, honours seemed a second time to make their court to him. He came into favour with a prime minister under another reign, even when different principles prevailed from those which guided his former patron ; a rare felicity! which, however, in the event, served only to convince him that he was banished to Ireland for life, and that all hopes were cut off of his rising, even there, any higher than the Deanery. What would one of his parts and wit do in such a situation, but drop mankind as much as possible, especially the higher class of it, which to a man of humour is naturally a restraint; where, at best, as he ob serves, the only difference is, to have two candles on the table instead of one? What, I say, would such a one do but cultivate an acquaintance with those who were disappointed like himself ? what but write compliments on ladies, lampoons on men in power, sarcasms on human. nature, trifle away life between whim and resentment, just as the bile arose or subsided ? He had sense, and I believe religion, enough to keep him from vice; and, from a consciousness of his integrity, was less solicitous about the appearances of virtue, or even decency, which is often the counterfeit of it. The patriot principle, which he had imbibed in Queen Anne's reign, lurked at the bottom of his heart; which, as it was more active in those days than since, sometimes roused him to defend the church, and Ireland his asylum, against any encroachntents.- View him now in his decline. Passions decay, and the lamp of life and reason grows dim. It is the fate of many, I
may say most geniuses, who have secluded themselves from the world, to lose their senses in their old age; especially those who have worn them out in thought and application. “Providence, perhaps, has therefore ordained, that the eyes, the inlets of knowledge, should be impaired, before the understanding, the repository of it, is decayed; that the defects of the former may protract the latter. Few of us are enough sensible how much the conjugal tie, and the several connexions which follow from it, how much even domestic troubles, when surmountable, are the physic of the soul; which, at the same time that they quicken the senses, preserve them too."
Not wishing to trouble the public with any more last words of Dr. Swift; the Editor contented himself with writing in the margin of his own books such particulars as oc. curred relative either to the Dean, or to his writings; a circumstance which now enables him to supply several matters which had escaped Mr. Sheridan's observation, and to elucidate some passages which were left unexplained. Careful, however, not very materially to inter. fere with the general arrangement of Mr. Sheridan's edi. tion ; what has been superadded, though attended with no small labour, it is useless to the general reader to point out. To the critical collator, it would be superfluous.
For the first admission into the Dean's Works of the articles marked in the several Tables of Contents with an asterisk, the present Editor is responsible; and the authority on which the miscellaneous tracts are adopted is in general given.
The Epistolary Correspondence sufficiently speaks for itself, and needs no apology. Some of these are now first printed from the originals; and “ Letters written by wise men,” says an experienced writer, “are of all the works of men, in my judgment, the best."*
One advantage at least this edition possesses: a complete general Index, compiled by a Friend, whose kind attention has much facilitated the labours of the Editor.
For the critical notes the reader is almost wholly indebted to the late Mr. Sheridan. Those which are historical are selected from the former publications of Lord Oirery, Dr. Delany, Dr. Hawkesworth, Deane Swift, Esq. Bishop Warburton, Dr. Johnson, Dr. Warton, Mr. Bowyer, Dr. Birch, Mr. Faulkner, and the present Editor. GENERAL PREFACE.
* Bacon, de Augment. Scientiarum.
THE advertisement having in some degree explained the nature of the present edition; this preface shall give the history of those which have preceded it.
Swift's earliest appearance before the public as a writer was in the separate Pindaric Odes which
in the beginning of the tenth volume, and in the prefaces prefixed to the works of his friend and patron, Sir William Temple, 1692.
In 1701 he published a pamphlet of some consequence, in quarto, under the title of “ The Contests and Dissentions,” &c. which were followed, in 1704, by “ The Tale of a Tub;" and by several occasional essays
and verse between that year and 1711; when, an attempt having been made to obtrude on the public a spurious collection of his Tracts, which had now become popular, he consented that his friend John Morphew should present to the public, but still without his name, a volume of “ Miscellanies in Prose and Verse;" to which the following advertisement, undoubtedly with Dr. Swift's concurrence, was prefixed :
“ To publish the writings of persons without their consent, is a practice, generally speaking, so unfair, and has so many times proved an unsufferable injury to the credit and reputation of the authors, as well as a shameful imposition on the public, either by a scandalous insertion of spurious pieces, or an imperfect and faulty edition of such
as are genuine; that though I have been master of such of the following pieces as have never yet been printed for several months, I could never, though much importuned, prevail on myself to publish them, fearing even a possibility of doing an injury in either of those two respects to the person who is generally known to be the author of some; and, with greater reason than I am at present at liberty to give, supposed to be the author of all the other pieces which make up this collection. But as my own unwillingness to do any thing which might prove an injury to the supposed author's reputation, to whom no man pays a juster esteem, or bears a greater respect than myself, has hitherto kept me from giving the world so agreeable an entertainment as it will receive from the following papers; so the sense I had that he would really now suffer a much greater in both instances from other hands, was the occasion of my determining to do it at present : since some of the following pieces have lately appeared in print from very imperfect and uncorrect copies. Nor was the abuse like to stop here ; for these, with all the defects and imperfections they came out under, met with so much applause, and so universal à good reception from all men of wit and taste, as to prompt the booksellers, who had heard that other of these tracts were in manuscript in some gentlemen's hands, to seek by any means to procure them, which should they compass, they would without question publish in a manner as little to the author's credit and reputation as they have already done those few which unfortuDately have fallen into their possession. This being a knowu fact, I hope will be sufficient to make this publication, though without the author's consent or knowledge, very consistent with that respect I sincerely bear him; who, if it should not appear to be perfectly without fault, can with little justice complain of the wrong he