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traits of wit, fo poignant and so apposite, that he is a worthy yokemate to his forementioned friend.
Why should I go upon farther particulars, which might fill a volume with the just elogies of my contemporary brethren ? I thall bequeath this piece of justice to à larger work; wherein I intend to write a character of the present set of wits in our nation. Their persons ! shall describe particularly, and at length; their genius and understandings, in mignature.
In the mean time, I do here make bold to present your Highness with a faithful abstract drawn from the universal body of all arts and sciences, intended wholly for your
service and instruction. Nor do I doubt in the lealt, but your Highness will peruse it as carefully, and make as considerable improvements, as other young princes have already done by the many volumes, of late years, written for a help to their studies *.
That your Highness may advance in wisdom and virtue, as well as years, and at last outshine all your royal an. ceitors, shall be the daily prayer of,
* There were innumerable books printed for the use of this Dauphin of France. Hawkes.
P R E F A C E.
HE wits of the present age being so very nume
rous and penetrating, it feems the grandees of church and fate begin to fall under horrible apprehenfions, left these gentlemen, during the intervals of a long peace, should find leisure to pick holes in the weak fides of religion and government, To prevent which, there has been much thought employed of late upon certain projects for taking off the force and edge of those formidable inquirers, from canvassing and reasoning upon such delicate points. They have at length fixed upon one, which will require fonie time as well as cost to perfect. Mean while, the danger hourly increasing, by new levies of wits, all appointed (as there is reason to fear), with pen, ink, and paper, which may, at an hour's warning, be drawn out into pamphlets, and o. ther offensive weapons, ready for immediate execution ; it was judged of absolute necesfity, that fome present expedient be thought on, till the main design can be brought to maturity. To this end, at a grand conmittce, fome days ago, this important discovery was made by a certain curious and refined observer,' That feamen have a cuftom, when they meet a whale, to fling him out an empty tub by way of amusement, to divert him from laying violent hands upon the ship. This parable was immediately mythologised. The whale was interpreted to be Hobbes's Leviathan; which tosses and plays with all Schemes of religion and government, whereof a great many are hollow, and dry, and empty, and noisy, and wooden, and given to rotation. This is the Leviathan, from whence the terrible wits of our age. are said to borrow their wcapons. The fip in danger, is easily understood to be its old antitype, the commonwealth. But how to analyse the tub, was a matter of difficulty; when, after long inquiry and debate, the literal meaning was preserved : and it was decreed, that, in order to prevent these Leviathans from tolling and sporting with the commonwealth, which of itself is too apt to fluctuate, they should be diverted from that game . VOL. I. 6
by a Tale of a Tub. And my genius being conceived to lie not unhappily that way, I had the honour done me to be engaged in the performance.
This is the sole design in publishing the following treatise ; which I hope will serve for an interim of some months to employ those unquiet spirits, till the perfeeting of that great work: into the secret of which, it is reasonable the courteous reader should have some little light.
It is intended, that a large academy be erected, capable of containing nine thousand seven hundred forty and three persons; which, by modest computation, is reckoned to be pretty near the current number of wits in this island. These are to be disposed into the several schools of this academy, and there pursue those studies to which their genius most inclines them. The undertaker himself will publish his proposals with all convenient speed.; to which I shall refer the curious reader for a more particular account, mentioning at present only a few of the principal schools. There is, first, a large paderastic school, with French and Italian masters : there is, also, the spelling school, a very spacious building ; the school of looking-glasses; the school of swearing ; the fchool of critics; the school of salivation; the school of hobby-horses ; the school of poetry; the school of tops *; the school of Spleen; the school of gaming; with many others, too tedious to recount. No person to be ad
mitted member into any of these schools, without an attestation under two fufficient persons hands, certify": ing him to be a wit.
But to return: I am sufficiently instructed in the prin. cipal duty of a preface, if my genius were capable of arriving at it. Thrice have I forced my inagination to. make the tour of my invention, and thrice it has returned empty; the latter having been wholly drained by the following treatise. Not so my more successful brethren. the moderns, who will by no means let slip a preface or
* This I think the author should have omitted, it being of the very fame nature with the school of bobby-horses, if one may venture to censure one, who is so severe a censurer of others, perhaps with too little diftin&tion.
dedication, without some notable distinguishing stroke
stances of time, place, and person. Such a jest there is, that will not pass out of Covent-garden; and such a one, that is no where intelligible but at Hyde-park
Now, though it sometimes tenderly affects me, to consider, that all the towardly, passages I shall deliver in the following treatise, will grow quite out of date and relish with the first shifting of the present scene; yet I must needs subscribe to the justice of this proceed. ing; because I cannot imagine why we should be at expence to furnish- wit for fucceeding ages, when the former have made no sort of provision for ours: wherein. I speak the sentiment of the very newest, and consequently the most orthodox refiners, as well as my own. However, being extremely solicitous, that every accomplished person, who has got into the taste of wit calculated for this present month of August 1697, should descend to the very bottom of all the sublime throughout this treatise ; I hold fit to lay down this general máxim: Whatever reader delires to have a thorough comprehen
* Hor. Something extraordinary, new, and never hit upon before. : Reading prefaces, bo.
sion of an author's thoughts, cannot take a better method, than by putting himself into the circumstances and postures of life, that the writer was in upon every important passage, as it flowed from his pen : for this will introduce a parity and strict correspondence of ideas between the reader and the author. Now, to aslift the diligent reader in so delicate an affair, as far as brevity will permit, I have recollected, that the shrewedest pieces of this treatise were conceived in bed, in a garret. At other times, for a reason best known to myself, I thought fit to sharpen my invention with hunger; and, in general, the whole work was begun, continued, and ended, under a long course of phyfic, and a great want of money. Now, I do affirm, it will be abfolutely im. poslible for the candid peruser to go along with me in a great many bright passages, unless, upon the feveral dif ficulties emergent, he will please to capacitate and pre pare himself by these directions. And this I lay down as my principal poftulatum.
Because I have professed to be a most devoted fervant of all modern forms, I apprehend fome curious wit may object against me, for proceeding thus far in a preface, without declaiming, according to the custom, againft the multitude of writers, whereof the whole multitude of writers moft reasonably complain. I am just come from peruling fome hundreds of prefaces, wherein the authors do at the very beginning address the gentle reada er concerning this enormous grievance. Of thete I have preserved a few examples, and shall set them down as near as my memory has been able to retain them.
One begins thus :
For a man to set up for a writer, when the press (warms with, &c.
The tax upon paper does not lefen the number of fcriba blers, who daily pefter, &c.
When every little would be wit takes pen in hand, 'tis ir vain to enter the lifts, &c.