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To the Right Honourable
JOHN LORD SOMMER S.
Lthough the author has written a large dedication,
A to the
yet that being addressed to a prince, whom I am never likely to have the honour of being known to; a perfon, befides, as far as I can obferve, not at all regarded, or thought on by any of our present writers; and being wholly free from that flavery which bookfellers ufually lie under to the caprices of authors; I think it a wife piece of prefumption, to infcribe thefe papers to your Lordship, and to implore your Lordship's protection of them. God and your Lordship know their faults, and their merits: for, as to my own particular, I am altogether a ftranger to the matter; and though every body elfe fhould be equally ignorant, I do not fear the fale of the book, at all the worfe, upon that -fcore. Your Lordship's name on the front.in capital letters, will at any time get off one edition: neither would I defire any other help to grow an alderman, than a patent for the fole privilege of dedicating to your Lordship.
I fhould now, in right of a dedicator, give your Lordship a lift of your own virtues, and at the fame time be very unwilling to offend your modefty; but, chiefly, I fhould celebrate your liberality towards men of great parts and fmall fortunes, and give you broad hints, that I mean myfelf. And I was just going on, in the ufual method, to perufe a hundred or two of dedications, and tranfcribe an abstract, to be applied to your Lordship.; but I was diverted by a certain accident. For, upon the covers of these papers, I cafually obferved, written in large letters, the two following words, DETUR DIGNISSIMO; which, for aught I knew, might contain fome important meaning. But it unluckily fell out, that none of the authors I employ understood Latin; (though I have them often in pay, to tranflate out of that language.) I was therefore compelled to have recourse to the curate of our parifa,
parish, who Englifhed it thus, Let it be given to the worthieft. And his comment was, that the author meant his works fhould be dedicated to the fublimeft genius of the age, for wit, learning, judgment, eloquence, and wisdom. I called at a poet's chamber, (who works for my fhop) in an alley hard by, fhewed him the tranflation, and desired his opinion, who it was that the author could mean. He told me, after fome confideration, that vanity was a thing he abhorred; bur, by the description, he thought himself to be the perfon aimed at ; and, at the fame time, he very kindly offered his own affiftance gratis towards penning a dedication to himself. I defired him, however, to give a fecond guefs. Why then, faid he, it must be I, or my Lord Sommers. From thence I went to feveral other wits of my acquaintance, with no fmall hazard and wearinefs to my perfon, from a prodigious number of dark, winding ftairs; but found them all in the fame ftory, both of your Lordship and themselves. Now, your Lordship is to understand, that this proceeding was not of my own invention; for I have fome where heard, it is a maxim,That thofe to whom every body allows the fecond place, have an undoubted title to the first.
This infallibly convinced me; that your Lordship was the perfon intended by the author. But, being very unacquainted in the ftyle and form of dedications, I employed those wits aforefaid, to furnish me with hints and materials towards a panegyric upon your Lordship's virtues.
In two days they brought me ten sheets of paper, filled up on every fide. They wore to me, that they had ranfacked whatever could be found in the characters of Socrates, Ariftides, Epaminondas, Cato, Tully, Atticus, and other hard names, which I cannot now recollect. However, I have reafon to believe, they imposed upon my ignorance; because, when I came to read over their collections, there was not a fyllable there, but what I and every body elfe knew as well as themselves. Therefore I grievously fufpect a cheat; and that these authors of mine ftole and tranfcribed every word from the univerfal report of mankind. So that I look upon myself, as fifty fhillings out of pocket to no manner of purpose.
If, by altering the title, I could make the fame mate. rials ferve for another dedication, (as my betters have done), it would help to make up my lofs; but I have made feveral perfons dip here and there in thofe papers; and before they read three lines, they have all affured me plainly, that they cannot poffibly be applied to any perfon befides your Lordship.
I expected, indeed, to have heard of your Lordship's bravery at the head of an army; of your undaunted courage, in mounting a breach, or fcaling a wall; or to have had your pedigree traced in a lineal defcent from the houfe of Auftria; or of your wonderful talent at drefs and dancing; or your profound knowledge in algebra, metaphyfics, and the oriental tongues. But to ply the world with an old beaten ftory of your wit, and eloquence, and learning, and wisdom, and juftice, and politenefs, and candor, and evennefs of temper in all scenes of life; of that great difcernment in difcovering, and readinefs in favouring deferving men; with forty other common topics; I confefs, I have neither confcience, nor countenance to do it: because there is no virtue, either of a public or private life, which fome circumftances of your own have not often produced upon the lage of the world; and thofe few, which, for want of bccafions to exert them, might otherwife have paffed unfeen or unobferved by your friends, your enemies * havě ht length brought to light.
It is true, I fhould be very loth, the bright example of your Lordship's virtucs fhould be loft to after ages, both for their fake and your own; but chiefly, because they will be fo very neceffary to adorn the hiftory of a late reign and that is another reafon why I would forbear to make a recital of them here; becaufe 1 havé been told by wife men, that, as dedications have run
In 1701, Lord Sommers was impeached by the Commons, who either finding their proofs defective, or for other reafons, delayed coming to a trial; and the Lords thereupon proceeded to the trial without them, and acquitted him. Hawkef.
K. William's; whofe memory he defended in the houfe of Lords, again ft fome invidious reflections of the Earl of Nottingham. Hawkef.
for fome years paft, a good hiftorian will not be apt to have recourse thither, in search of characters.
There is one point, wherein I think we dedicators would do well to change our measures; I mean, instead of running on fo far upon the praise of our patrons liberality, to spend a word or two in admiring their patience. I can put no greater compliment on your Lordship's, than by giving you fo ample an occafion to exercise it at prefent. Though perhaps I fhall not be apt to reckon much merit to your Lordship upon that score, who having been formerly ufed to tedious harangues, and fometimes to as little purpose, will be the readier to pardon ▾ this; efpecially when it is offered by one, who is, with all refpect and veneration,
Your Lordship's most obedient,
and most faithful fervant,
Sir John Sommers was Attorney-General; then made Lord? Keeper of the Seals in 1692, and Lord High Chancellor and Baron of Evesham, in April 1697. Hawkef
The BOOKSELLER to the READER.
T is now fix years * fince thefe papers came first to I'my hand, which feems to have been about a twelve
month after they were written: for the author tells us in his preface to the first treatife, that he hath calculated it for the year 1697 and in feveral paffages of that difcourfe, as well as the fecond, it appears they were written about that time.
As to the author, I can give no manner of fatisfaction. However, I am credibly informed, that this publication is without his knowledge; for he concludes the copy is loft, having lent it to a perfon, fince dead, and being never in poffeffion of it after: fo that whether the work received his laft hand, or whether he intended to fill up the defective places, is like to remain a secret.
If I fhould go about to tell the reader, by what accident I became mafter of thefe papers, it would, in this unbelieving age, pafs for little more than the cant or jargon of the trade. I therefore gladly spare both him and myfelf fo unneceffary a trouble. There yet remains a difficult queftion, Why I published them no fooner? I forbore upon two accounts: first, because I thought I had better work upon my hands; and fecondly, because I was not without fome hope of hearing from the author, and receiving his directions. But I have been lately alarmed with intelligence of a furreptitious copy †, which a certain great wit had new polifhed and refined; or, as our prefent writers exprefs themselves, fitted to the humour of the age; as they have already done, with great felicity, to Don Quixote, Boccalini, La Bruyere, and other authors. However, I thought it fairer dealing to offer the whole work in its naturals. If any gentleman will please to furnish me with a key, in order to explain the more difficult parts, I fhall very gratefully acknowledge the favour, and print it by itfelf.
* The Tale of a Tu' was first published in 1704. Hawkes. See the Apology, p. 11.