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TALE OF A TU B.
Written for the
Diu multumque defideratum.
With the AUTHOR'S APOLOGY;
By W. Wotton, B. D. and others.
F good and ill nature equally operated upon mankind, I might have faved myself the trouble of this Apology; for it is manifeft, by the reception the following discourse hath met with, that thofe who approve it, are a great majority among the men of tafte: yet there have been two or three treatises written exprefsly against it, befides many others that have flirted at it occafionally, without one syllable having been ever published in its defence, or even quotation to its advantage that I can remember, except by the polite author of a late difcourse between a Deift and a Socinian.
THEREFORE, fince the book feems calculated to live at least as long as our language and our taste admit no great alterations, I am content to convey fome apology along with it.
THE greatest part of that book was finished about thirteen years fince, 1696; which is eight years before it was published. The author was then young, his invention at the height, and his reading fresh in his head. By the affiftance of fome thinking, and much converfation, he had endeavoured to ftrip himself of as many real prejudices as he could: I fay, real ones; becaufe, under the notion of prejudices, he knew to what dangerous heights fome men have proceeded. Thus prepared, he thought the numerous and grofs corruptions in religion and learning might furnish matter for a fatire, that would be useful and diverting. He refolved to proceed in a manner, that should be altogether new; the world having been already too long naufeated with endless repetitions upon every fubject. The abuses in religion he proposed to set forth in the allegory of the coats, and
the three brothers; which was to make up the body of the discourse. Thofe in learning he chofe to introduce by way of digreffions. He was then a young gentleman much in the world, and wrote to the tafte of those who were like himself: therefore, in order to allure them, he gave a liberty to his pen, which might not fuit with maturer years, or graver characters; and which he could have eafily corrected with a very few blots, had he been mafter of his papers for a year or two before their publication.
Nor that he would have governed his judgment by the ill-placed cavils of the four, the envious, the ftupid, and the tastelefs; which he mentions with difdain. He acknowledges there are feveral youthful fallies, which, from the grave and the wife, may deserve a rebuke. But he defires to be anfwerable no farther than he is guilty; and that his faults may not be multiplied by the ignorant, the unnatural, and uncharitable applications of thofe, who have neither candour to fuppofe good meanings, nor palate to diftinguish true ones. After which he will forfeit his life, if any one opinion can be fairly deduced from that book, which is contrary to religion or morality.
WHY fhould any clergyman of our church be angry to fee the follies of fanaticifm and fuperftition expofed, tho' in the most ridiculous manner? fince that is perhaps the most probable way to cure them, or at least to hinder them from farther fpreading. Befides, tho' it was not intended for their perufal, it rallies nothing but what they preach against. It contains nothing to provoke them, by the leaft fcurrility upon their perfons or their functions. It celebrates the church of England, as the most perfect of all others in difcipline and doctrine; it advances no opinion they reject, nor condemns any they receive. If the clergy's refentments lay upon their hands, in my humble opinion, they might have found more proper objects to employ them on. Nondum tibi defuit hoftis; I mean those heavy, illiterate fcriblers, proftitute in their reputations, vicious in their lives, and ruined in their fortunes; who, to the fhame of good fenfe as well as piety, are greedily read, merely upon the ftrength of bold, falfe, impious affertions, mixed with unmannerly
anmannerly reflections upon the priesthood, and openly intended against all religion; in fhort, full of fuch principles as are kindly received, because they are levelled to remove those terrors that religion tells men will be the confequence of immoral lives. Nothing like which is to be met with in this discourse, tho' fome of them are pleafed fo freely to cenfure it. And I wish there were no other inftance of what I have too frequently obferved, that many of that Reverend body are not always very nice in diftinguishing between their enemies and their friends.
HAD the author's intentions met with a more candid interpretation from fome, whom, out of respect, he forbears to name, he might have been encouraged to an examination of books written by fome of thofe authors above described, whofe errors, ignorance, dulness, and villany he thinks he could have detected and exposed in fuch a manner, that the persons who are most conceived to be infected by them, would foon lay them afide, and be ashamed: but he has now given over thofe thoughts; fince the weightiest men in the weightieft ftations are pleafed to think it a more dangerous point, to laugh at thofe corruptions in religion, which they themselves must difapprove, than to endeavour pulling up thofe very foundations, wherein all Chriftians have agreed.
He thinks it no fair proceeding, that any perfon fhould offer determinately to fix a name upon the author of this difcourfe, who hath all along concealed himself from most of his nearest friends: yet several have gone a farther step, and pronounced another book + to have been the work of the fame hand with this; which the author directly affirms to be a thorough mistake, he having yet never fo much as read that difcourfe: a plain inftance how little truth there often is in general furmifes, or in conjectures drawn from a fimilitude of style, or way of thinking.
Alluding to Dr. Sharp the Archbishop of York's reprefentation of the Author.
+ Letter of enthufiafm, fuppofed to have been written by Col. Hunter: fee Swift's letter to him, in the laft of there volumes.