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But since it hath otherwise fallen out, we think we have sufficiently paid for our want of prudence; and determine for the future to be less communicative : or rather, having done with such amusements, we are resolved to give up, what we cannot fairly disown, to the severity of critics, the malice of personal enemies, and the indulgence of friends.
We are sorry for the satire interspersed in some of these pieces upon a few people, from whom the highest provocations have been received, and who, by their conduct since, have shewn, that they have not yet forgiven us the wrong they did. It is a very unlucky circumstance, to be obliged to retaliate the injuries of such authors, whose works are so soon forgotten, that we are in danger already of appearing the first aggreffors. It is to be lamented, that Virgil let pass a line, which told pofterity he had two enemies, called Bavius and Mævius. The wisest way is, not once to name them, but (as the madman advised the gentleman, who told him he wore a sword to kill his enemies) to let them alone, and they would die of themselves. And according to this rule, we have acted throughout all those writings, which we designed for the press : but in these, the publication whereof was not owing to our folly, but that of others, the oniission of the names was not in our power. At the worst, we can only give them that liberty now for something, which they have so many years exercised for nothing, of railing
and scribbling against us.
And it is fome commendation, that we have not done it all this while, but avoided publickly to characterize any person, without long experience. Nonum prematur in annum, is a good rule for all writers, but chiefly for writers of characters ; because it may happen to those, who vent praise or censure too precipitately, as it did to an eminent English poet, who celebrated young nobleman for erecting Dryden's monument upon a promise, which his Lordship forgot, till it was done by another.
In regard to two persons only, we wish our raillery, though ever so tender, or resentment, though ever so just, had not been indulged. We speak of Sir John Vanburgh, who was a man of wit, and honour, and of Mr. Addifon, whose name deserves all respect from every lover of learning
We cannot deny (and perhaps most writers of our kind have been in the same circumstances) that in several parts of our lives, and according to the dispositions we were in, we have written fome things, which we may with never to have thought
Some sallies of levity ought to be imputed to youth, (supposed in charity, as it was in truth, to be the time in which we wrote them ;) others to the gaiety of our minds at certain junctures common to all men. The publishing of these, which we cannot disown, and without our confent, is, I think, a greater injury, than that of a. fcribing to us the most stupid productions, which we can wholly deny.
This has been usually practised in other countries after a man's decease; which, in a great measure, accounts for the manifeft inequality found in the works of the best authors; the collectors only considering, that so many more sheets raise the price of the book, and the greater fame a writer is in poffeffion of, the more of such trash he may bear to have tacked to him. Thus, it is apparently the editor's interest to insert what the author's judgment bad rejected ; and care is always taken to intersperse these additions in such a manner, that scarce any book of consequence can be bought without purchasing something unworthy of the author along with it.
But in our own country, it is still worse : thofe very booksellers, who have supported themselves upon an author's fame while he lived, have done their utmost, after his death, to leffen it by such practices : even a man's last will is not secure from being exposed in print; whereby his most particular regards, and even his dying tendernefses are laid open. It has been humoroufly faid, that fome have fished the very jakes for papers. left there by men of wit: but it is no jest to affirm, that the cabinets of the fick, and the closets of the dead, have been broke open and ransacked to publish our private letters, and divulge to all mankind the most secret fentiments and intercourse of friendship. Nay, thefe fellows are arrived to that height of impudence, that when an author has publickly disowned a fpurious piece, T3
they have disputed his own name with him in printed advertisements; which has been practifed to Mr. Congreve and Mr. Prior.
We are therefore compelled, in respect to truth, to submit to a very great hardship; to own such pieces as, in our stricter judgments, we would have supprefied for ever : we are obliged to confess, that this whule collection, in a manner, confists of what we not only thought unlikely to reach the future, but unworthy even of the present age; not our studies, but our follies ; not our works, but our idlenesses,
Some comfort, however, it is, that all of them are innocent, and most of them, flight as they are, had yet a moral tendency, either to foften the virulence of parties against each other, or to laugh out of countenance some vice or folly of the time ; or to discredit the impofitions of quacks, and false pretenders to science, or to humble the arrogance of the ill-natured and envious ; in a word, to lefen the vanity, and promote the goodhumour of mankind,
Such as they are, we must in truth confess, they are ours, and others should in justice believe, they are all that are ours. If any thing else has been printed, in which we really had any hand, it is either intolerably imperfect, or loaded with fpurious additions; fometimes even with infertions of mens names, which we never meant, and for whom we have an esteem and respecte. Even those pieces, in which we are least injured,
have never before been printed from the true copies, or with any tolerable degree of correctness. We declare, that this collection contains every piece, which in the idlest humour we have written; not only such as came under our correction, but many others, which, however unfinished, are not now in our power to suppress. Whatsoever was in our own poffeffion at the publishing hereof, or of which no copy was gone abroad, we have actually destroyed, to prevent all possibility of the like treatment.
The volumes likewise will contain all the papers, wherein we have casually had any share ; particularly those written in conjunction with our friends, Dr. Arbuthnot and Mr. Gay; and lastly, all of this sort composed fingly by either of those hands. The reader is therefore desired to do the fame justice to these our friends, as to us; and to be assured, that all the things, called our miscellanies, (except the works of Alexander Pope, published by B. Lintot, in quarto and folio, in 1717; those of Mr. Gay, by J. Tonson, in quarto, in 1720 ; and as many of these miscellanies as have been formerly printed by Benj. Tooke) are absolutely fpurious, and, without our consent, imposed upon the public.
Twickenham, May 27, 1727