Jonathan Swift, Tale of A Tub [1710 Edn.]

SECT. 10 [...] In the meantime I do here give this publick Notice, that my Refolutions are, to circumscribe within this Discourse the whole Stock of Matter I have been fo many Years providing. Since my Vein is once opened, I am contect to exhauft it all at a Running, for the peculiar Advantage of my dear Country, and for the Universal Benefit of Mankind. There hofpitably confidering the Number of my Guefts, they fhall have my whole Entertainment at a meal; And I scorn to set up the Leavings in the Cupboard. What the Guefts cannot eat may be given to the Poor, and the *Dogs under the Table may gnaw the Bones; Thus I understand [202; ftn. By Dogs, the Author means common injudicious Criticks, as he explains it himself before in his Digression upon Criticks, (p.96).] for a more generous proceeding, than to turn the Company’s Stomch, by inviting them again to morrow to a fcurvy Meal of Scraps.

If the Reader fairly confiders the Strength of what I have advanced in the foregoing Section, I am convinced it will produce a wonderful Revolution in his Notions and Opinioins; And he will be abundanty better repared to receive and to relifh the concluding prt of hits miraculous Treatife. 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 ftrangely provoked to Laughter; which clears the Breaft and the Lungs, is Soverain againft the Spleen, and the moft Innocent of all Diureticks. The Ignorant Reader (between whom and the former, the Diftinction is ectreamly nice) will find himfelf difpofed to Stare; which is an admirable Remedy for ill Eyes, ferves to raife and enliven the Spirits, and wonderfully helps Pefpiration. But the Reader truly Learned, chiefly of whofe Benefit I wake, [203] when others sleep, will here find fufficient matter to employ his Speculations for the reft of his Life. It were much more to be wifht, and I do here humbly propofe for an Experiemtn, that every Prince in Chrtiftendom will take feven of the deepeft Scholars in his Dominions, and fhut them up clofe for feven years with a Command to write feven ample Commentaries on this comprehenfive Difcourfe. I shall venture to affirm, that whatever Difference may be found in their feveral Conjectures, they will be all, without the leaft Diftortion, manifestly deduceable from the Text. Meantime, it is my earneft Requeft, that fo ufeful an Undertaking may be entered upon (if their Majefties pleafe) with all convenient fpeed; becaufe I have a ftrong Inclination, before I leave the World, to taste a bleffing, whcih we myfterious Writers can feldom rach, till we have got into our Graves. Whether it is, that Fame being a Fruit grafted on the Body, can hardly grow, and much lefs ripen, till the Stock is in the Earth: Or, whether fhe be a Bird of prey, and is lured among the reft, to pursue after the Scent of a [204] Carcafs: Or, whether fhe conceiveds, her Trumpet founds beft and fartheft, when fhe ftands on a Tomb, by the Advantage of rifing Grounds, and the Echo of a hollow Vault.

’Tis true, indeed, the Republick 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 univerfal Mother of things, wife Philofophers hold all Writings to be fruitful in the Proporotion they are dark; and therefore, the *true illuminated [marg. A Name of the Rosfycrucians] (that is to fay, the Darkest of all) have met with such numberlefs Commentators, whofe Scholiastick Midwifry that deliver'd them of Meanings, that the Authors themselves, perhaps, never conceived, and yet may very justly be allowed the Lawful parents of them:* [Nothing is more frequent than for Commentators to force Interpretation, whichthe Author never meant.] The worlds of fuch Writers being like Seed, which, however scattered [205] at random, whenthey light upon a fruitful Ground, will multiply far beyond either theHopes or Imagination of the Sower.

And therefore [here proposes numerological nonsense involvintg 0’s multiplied by 7 and divided by 9; continuing:] Also, if a devout brother of the Rosy Cross will pray fervently for fixty three Mornings, with a lively Faith, and the transpofe certain Letters and syllables according to prefcription, in the fecond and fifth Section; they will cerainly reveal into a full Receit of the Opus Magnus. [&c. 206]

Copy held in Princess Grace Irish Library (Monaco) [Note: 'f' for archaic 's' passim.]

[ back ]
[ top ]