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nals; and "Letters written by wise men," says an experienced writer, "are of all the works of men, in my judgment, the best *. One advantage at least this edition possesses a complete general Index, compiled by a Friend, whose kind attention has much facilitated the labours of the Editor.
For the critical notes the reader is almost wholly indebted to the late Mr. Sheridan. Those which are historical are selected from the former publications of lord Orrery, Dr. Delany, Dr. Hawkesworth, Deane Swift, esq. Bishop Warburton, Dr. Johnson, Dr. Warton, Mr. Bowyer, Dr. Birch, Mr. Faulkner, and the present Editor.
* Bacon, de Augment. Scientiarum.
THE Advertisement having in some degree explained the nature of the present edition; this Preface shall give the history of those which have preceded it.
SWIFT's earliest appearance before the publick as a writer was in the separate Pindaric Odes which appear in the beginning of the Tenth Volume, and in the Prefaces prefixed to the Works of his friend and patron, Sir William Temple, 1692.
In 1701 he published a pamphlet of some consequence, in quarto, under the title of "The Contests and Dissentions," &c. which were followed in 1704 by "The Tale of a Tub;" and by several occasional essays in prose and verse between that year and 1711; when, an attempt having been made to obtrude on the publick a spurious collection of his Tracts, which had now become popular; he consented that his friend John Morphew should present to the publick, but ill without his name, a volume of " Miscellanies in Prose and Verse;" to which the following Adver
tisement, undoubtedly with Dr. Swift's concurrence, was prefixed:
"To publish the writings of persons without their consent, is a practice, generally speaking, so unfair, and has so many times proved an unsufferable injury to the credit and reputation of the authors, as well as a shameful imposition on the publick, either by a scandalous insertion of spurious pieces, or an imperfect and faulty edition of such as are genuine ; that though I have been master of such of the following pieces as have never yet been printed for several months, I could never, though much importuned, prevail on myself to publish them, fearing even a possibility of doing an injury in either of those two respects to the person who is generally known to be the author of some; and, with greater reason than I am at present at liberty to give, supposed to be the author of all the other pieces which make up this collection. But as my own unwillingness to do any thing which might prove an injury to the supposed author's reputation, to whom no man pays a juster esteem or bears a greater respect than myself, has hitherto kept me from giving the world so agreeable an entertainment as it will receive from the following papers; so the sense I had that he would really now suffer a much greater in both instances from other hands, was the occasion of my determining to do it at present: since some of the following pieces have lately appeared in print from very imperfect and uncorrect copies. Nor was the abuse like to stop here; for these, with all the defects and imperfections they came out under, met with so much applause, and so universal a good reception from all men of wit and taste, as to prompt te booksellers, who had heard that other of these tracts were in manuscript in some gentlemen's hands, to seek by any means to procure
them, which should they compass, they would without question publish in a manner as little to the author's credit and reputation, as they have already done those few which unfortunately have fallen into their possession. This being a known fact, I hope: will be sufficient to make this publication, though without the author's consent or knowledge, very consistent with that respect I sincerely bear him; who, if it should not appear to be perfectly without fault, can with little justice complain of the wrong he receives by it, since it has prevented his suffering a much greater, no more than a man who is pushed down out of the way of a bullet, can with reason take as an affront, either the blow he falls by, or the dirt he rises with.
"But indeed I have very little uneasiness upon me for fear of any injury the author's credit and reputation may receive from any imperfection or uncorrectness in these following tracts; since the persons from whom I had them, and in whose handsI have reason to believe the author left them, when, his affairs called him out of this kingdom, are of so much worth themselves, and have so great a regard for the author, that I am confident they would neither do nor suffer any thing that might turn to his disadvantage. I must confess I am upon another account under some concern, which is, lest some of the following papers are such as the author perhaps would rather should not have been published at all; in which case, I should look upon myself highly obliged to ask his pardon: but even on this supposition, as there is no person named, the supposed author is at liberty to disown as much as he thinks fit of what is here published, and so can be chargeable with no more of it than he pleases to take upon himself.
"From this apology I have been making, the reader may in part be satisfied how these papers
came into my hands; and to give him a more par ticular information herein will prove little to his use, though perhaps it might somewhat gratify his curiosity, which I shall think not material any farther to do, than by assuring him, that I am not only myself sufficiently convinced that all the tracts in the following collection, excepting two, before both of which I have in the book expressed my doubtfulness, were wrote by the same hand; but several judicious persons who are well acquainted with the supposed author's writings, and not altogether strangers to his conversation, have agreed with me herein, not only for the reasons I have before hinted at, but upon this account also, that there are in every one of these pieces some particular beauties that discover this author's vein, who excels too much not to be distinguished, since in all his writings such a surprizing mixture of wit and learning, true humour and good sense, does every where appear, as sets him almost as far out of the reach of imitation, as it does beyond the power of
"The reception that these pieces will meet with from the publick, and the satisfaction they will give to all men of wit and taste, will soon decide it, whether there be any reason for the reader to suspect an imposition, or the author to apprehend an injury; the former I am fully satisfied will never be, and the latter I am sure I never intended: in confidence of which, should the author, when he sees these tracts appear, take some offence, and know where to place his resentment, I will be so free as to own, I could without much uneasiness sit down under some degree of it, since it would be no hard task to bear some displeasure from a single person, for that for which one is sure to receive the thanks of every body else."