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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 No. 11, and of No. 12. Who was the author of No. 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 may read him with pleasure. His way of assuming the question in debate is extremely artful; and his Letter to Crassus is, I think, a master-piece. As these papers are supposed to have been written by several hands, the criticks will tell you, that they discover a difference in their styles and beauties; and pretend to observe, that the first Examiners abound chiefly in wit, the last in humour. Soon after their first appearance, came out a paper from the other side, called The "Whig Examiner,' written with so much fire, and in so excellent a style, as put the tories in no small pain for their favourite
hero: every one cried, "Bickerstaff must be the author;" and people were the more confirmed in this opinion upon its being so soon laid down, which seemed to show that it was only written to bind the Examiners to their good behaviour, and was never designed to be a weekly paper. The Examiners therefore have no one to combat with at present, but their friend the Medley; the author of which paper, though he seems to be a man of good sense, and expresses it luckily enough now and then, is, I think, for the most part, perfectly a stranger to fine writing. 1 presume I need not tell you, that The Examiner carries much the more sail, as it is supposed to be written by the direction, and under the eye, of some great persons who sit at the helm of affairs, and is consequently looked on as a sort of publick notice which way they are steering us. The reputed author is Dr. Swift, with the assistance sometimes of Dr. Atterbury and Mr. Prior*.
Having completed the design which first engaged him in the undertaking with. No. 45, June 7, 1711; Dr. Swift then took his leave of the town in the last paragraph of that Number; and on the same day wrote thus to Mrs. Johnson. "As for the Examiner, I have heard a whisper, that after that of this day, which tells what this Parliament have done, you will hardly find them so good. I prophecy they will be trash for the future. Methinks, in this day's Exa❤ miner, the author speaks doubtfully, as if he would write no more. Observe whether the change be discovered in Dublin, only for your own curiosity, that's all."
From this time, Swift had no farther concern with
*"Présent State of Wit," supposed to be written by Mr. Gay; see the twenty-fourth volume of this edition. N.
the publication, except by assisting in the single number of the succeeding week.
The Examiner indeed still continued to be pub→ lished; but it sunk immediately into rudeness and ill-manners, being written by some under spur-leathers* in the City, whose scurrility was encouraged (as Swift himself did not scruple to own) by the ministry themselves, who employed this paper to return the Grub-street invectives thrown out by the authors of the Medley, the Englishman, and some other detract❤ ing papers of the same stamp.
It is now no longer a secret that No. 46 was write ten by Mrs. Manley with the assistance of Dr. Swift; and that the next six numbers were also by the same hand. On the 22d of June (the day after N°. 47 was published) Swift says, Yesterday was a sad Examiner; and last week's was very indifferent ; though some scraps of the old spirit, as if he had given hints;" and on the 15th of July, "I do not like any thing in the Examiner after the 45th, except the first part of the 46th."--Mrs. Manley's last paper was N. 52, July 26; and in a letter, dated Nov. 3, 1711, Swift "The first thirteen Examiners were says, written by several hands, some good, some bad; the next three and thirty were all by one hand; that makes forty-six then the author, whoever he was, laid it down, on purpose to confound guesses; and the last six were written by a woman. The printer is going to print them in a small volume; it seems the author is too proud to have them printed by subscription, though his friends offered, they say, to make it worth 5007, to him.'
* I have instructed an under spur-leather to write so that it is taken for mine." Journal to Stella, Oct. 10, 1711. This was probably the under-strapper noticed Nov. 26, 1711, whom he elsewhere calls, a scrub instrument of mischief of mine."