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Full Online Book HomeNonfictionsA Tale Of A Tub - The Tale of a Tub - Section X - A Farther Digression
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A Tale Of A Tub - The Tale of a Tub - Section X - A Farther Digression Post by :ssenter Category :Nonfictions Author :Jonathan Swift Date :July 2011 Read :1841

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A Tale Of A Tub - The Tale of a Tub - Section X - A Farther Digression

The Tale of a Tub: Section X - A Farther Digression

It is an unanswerable argument of a very refined age the wonderful
civilities that have passed of late years between the nation of
authors and that of readers. There can hardly pop out a play, a
pamphlet, or a poem without a preface full of acknowledgments to the
world for the general reception and applause they have given it,
which the Lord knows where, or when, or how, or from whom it
received. In due deference to so laudable a custom, I do here
return my humble thanks to His Majesty and both Houses of
Parliament, to the Lords of the King's most honourable Privy
Council, to the reverend the Judges, to the Clergy, and Gentry, and
Yeomanry of this land; but in a more especial manner to my worthy
brethren and friends at Will's Coffee-house, and Gresham College,
and Warwick Lane, and Moorfields, and Scotland Yard, and Westminster
Hall, and Guildhall; in short, to all inhabitants and retainers
whatsoever, either in court, or church, or camp, or city, or
country, for their generosity and universal acceptance of this
divine treatise. I accept their approbation and good opinion with
extreme gratitude, and to the utmost of my poor capacity shall take
hold of all opportunities to return the obligation.

I am also happy that fate has flung me into so blessed an age for
the mutual felicity of booksellers and authors, whom I may safely
affirm to be at this day the two only satisfied parties in England.
Ask an author how his last piece has succeeded, "Why, truly he
thanks his stars the world has been very favourable, and he has not
the least reason to complain." And yet he wrote it in a week at
bits and starts, when he could steal an hour from his urgent
affairs, as it is a hundred to one you may see further in the
preface, to which he refers you, and for the rest to the bookseller.
There you go as a customer, and make the same question, "He blesses
his God the thing takes wonderful; he is just printing a second
edition, and has but three left in his shop." "You beat down the
price; sir, we shall not differ," and in hopes of your custom
another time, lets you have it as reasonable as you please; "And
pray send as many of your acquaintance as you will; I shall upon
your account furnish them all at the same rate."

Now it is not well enough considered to what accidents and occasions
the world is indebted for the greatest part of those noble writings
which hourly start up to entertain it. If it were not for a rainy
day, a drunken vigil, a fit of the spleen, a course of physic, a
sleepy Sunday, an ill run at dice, a long tailor's bill, a beggar's
purse, a factious head, a hot sun, costive diet, want of books, and
a just contempt of learning,--but for these events, I say, and some
others too long to recite (especially a prudent neglect of taking
brimstone inwardly), I doubt the number of authors and of writings
would dwindle away to a degree most woeful to behold. To confirm
this opinion, hear the words of the famous troglodyte philosopher.
"It is certain," said he, "some grains of folly are of course
annexed as part in the composition of human nature; only the choice
is left us whether we please to wear them inlaid or embossed, and we
need not go very far to seek how that is usually determined, when we
remember it is with human faculties as with liquors, the lightest
will be ever at the top."

There is in this famous island of Britain a certain paltry
scribbler, very voluminous, whose character the reader cannot wholly
be a stranger to. He deals in a pernicious kind of writings called
"Second Parts," and usually passes under the name of "The Author of
the First." I easily foresee that as soon as I lay down my pen this
nimble operator will have stole it, and treat me as inhumanly as he
has already done Dr. Blackmore, Lestrange, and many others who
shall here be nameless. I therefore fly for justice and relief into
the hands of that great rectifier of saddles and lover of mankind,
Dr. Bentley, begging he will take this enormous grievance into his
most modern consideration; and if it should so happen that the
furniture of an ass in the shape of a second part must for my sins
be clapped, by mistake, upon my back, that he will immediately
please, in the presence of the world, to lighten me of the burthen,
and take it home to his own house till the true beast thinks fit to
call for it.

In the meantime, I do here give this public notice that my
resolutions are to circumscribe within this discourse the whole
stock of matter I have been so many years providing. Since my vein
is once opened, I am content to exhaust it all at a running, for the
peculiar advantage of my dear country, and for the universal benefit
of mankind. Therefore, hospitably considering the number of my
guests, they shall have my whole entertainment at a meal, and I
scorn to set up the leavings in the cupboard. What the guests
cannot eat may be given to the poor, and the dogs under the table
may gnaw the bones {140}. This I understand for a more generous
proceeding than to turn the company's stomachs by inviting them
again to-morrow to a scurvy meal of scraps.

If the reader fairly considers the strength of what I have advanced
in the foregoing section, I am convinced it will produce a wonderful
revolution in his notions and opinions, and he will be abundantly
better prepared to receive and to relish the concluding part of this
miraculous treatise. Readers may be divided into three classes--the
superficial, the ignorant, and the learned, and I have with much
felicity fitted my pen to the genius and advantage of each. The
superficial reader will be strangely provoked to laughter, which
clears the breast and the lungs, is sovereign against the spleen,
and the most innocent of all diuretics. The ignorant reader
(between whom and the former the distinction is extremely nice) will
find himself disposed to stare, which is an admirable remedy for ill
eyes, serves to raise and enliven the spirits, and wonderfully helps
perspiration. But the reader truly learned, chiefly for whose
benefit I wake when others sleep, and sleep when others wake, will
here find sufficient matter to employ his speculations for the rest
of his life. It were much to be wished, and I do here humbly
propose for an experiment, that every prince in Christendom will
take seven of the deepest scholars in his dominions and shut them up
close for seven years in seven chambers, with a command to write
seven ample commentaries on this comprehensive discourse. I shall
venture to affirm that, whatever difference may be found in their
several conjectures, they will be all, without the least distortion,
manifestly deducible from the text. Meantime it is my earnest
request that so useful an undertaking may be entered upon (if their
Majesties please) with all convenient speed, because I have a strong
inclination before I leave the world to taste a blessing which we
mysterious writers can seldom reach till we have got into our
graves, whether it is that fame being a fruit grafted on the body,
can hardly grow and much less ripen till the stock is in the earth,
or whether she be a bird of prey, and is lured among the rest to
pursue after the scent of a carcass, or whether she conceives her
trumpet sounds best and farthest when she stands on a tomb, by the
advantage of a rising ground and the echo of a hollow vault.

It is true, indeed, the republic of dark authors, after they once
found out this excellent expedient of dying, have been peculiarly
happy in the variety as well as extent of their reputation. For
night being the universal mother of things, wise philosophers hold
all writings to be fruitful in the proportion they are dark, and
therefore the true illuminated (that is to say, the darkest of all)
have met with such numberless commentators, whose scholiastic
midwifery hath delivered them of meanings that the authors
themselves perhaps never conceived, and yet may very justly be
allowed the lawful parents of them, the words of such writers being
like seed, which, however scattered at random, when they light upon
a fruitful ground, will multiply far beyond either the hopes or
imagination of the sower.

And therefore, in order to promote so useful a work, I will here
take leave to glance a few innuendos that may be of great assistance
to those sublime spirits who shall be appointed to labour in a
universal comment upon this wonderful discourse. And first, I have
couched a very profound mystery in the number of 0's multiplied by
seven and divided by nine. Also, if a devout brother of the Rosy
Cross will pray fervently for sixty-three mornings with a lively
faith, and then transpose certain letters and syllables according to
prescription, in the second and fifth section they will certainly
reveal into a full receipt of the opus magnum. Lastly, whoever will
be at the pains to calculate the whole number of each letter in this
treatise, and sum up the difference exactly between the several
numbers, assigning the true natural cause for every such difference,
the discoveries in the product will plentifully reward his labour.
But then he must beware of Bythus and Sige, and be sure not to
forget the qualities of Acamoth; a cujus lacrymis humecta prodit
substantia, a risu lucida, a tristitia solida, et a timore mobilis,
wherein Eugenius Philalethes {142} hath committed an unpardonable
mistake.

Content of Section X - A Farther Digression (Jonathan Swift's ebook: A Tale of a Tub)

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