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PREFACE TO THE EXAMINER.
ON the third of August 1710, appeared the first
number of "The Examiner," the ablest vindication of the measures of the queen and her new ministry. "About a dozen of these papers," Dr. Swift tells us, "written with much spirit and sharpness, some by secretary St. John, since lord Bolingbroke; others by Dr. Atterbury, since bishop of Rochester; and others again by Mr. Prior, Dr. Freind, &c. were published with great applause. But these gentlemen being grown weary of the work, or otherwise employed, the determination was, that I should continue it; which I did accordingly eight months. But, my style being soon discovered, and having contracted a great number of enemies, I let it fall into other hands, who held it up in some manner until her majesty's death."
The original institutors are supposed to have employed Dr. King as the publisher, or ostensible author, before they prevailed on their great champion to undertake that task. Mr. Oldmixon thought that Mr. Prior had a principal hand in the early numbers; and it is well known that he wrote No. 6, professedly against Dr. Garth. No. 8, and No. 9, were written either by Dr. Freind or Mr. St. John, or by both in conjunction. Dr. King was the author of N°. 11, and of N°. 12.
Who was the author of N°. 13,. does not appear; but it is remarkable that, when the Examiners were first collected by Mr. Barber into a volume, No. 13 was omitted; the original 14 being then marked 13; and so on to 45 inclusive, which is marked 44; and this misarrangement was of course continued by Dr. Hawkesworth and Mr. Sheridan; a circumstance the more worthy of notice, as the paper omitted is a curious defence of passive obedience, not inferior perhaps in point of sophistry to any in the whole collection.
After the thirteenth number, the undertaking was carried on wholly by Dr. Swift, who commenced a regular series of politicks with N°. 14, Nov. 2, 1710. "Get the Examiners," he says to Mrs. Johnson, "and read them. The last nine or ten are full of the reasons of the late change, and of the abuses of the last ministry; and the great men assure me they are all true. They are written by their encouragement and direction."It appears however, by a subsequent letter, Feb. 9, that "Mr. Prior was like to be insulted in the street for being supposed to be author of it; but one of the last papers," Swift adds, "cleared him. Nobody knows who it is, but those few in the secret; I suppose, the ministry and the printer."
A contemporary writer, May 3, 1711, says, The Examiner is a paper which all men, who speak without prejudice, allow to be well written. Though his subject will admit of no great variety, he is continually placing it in so many different lights, and endeavouring to inculcate the same thing by so many beautiful changes of expression, that men who are concerned in no party