Images de page

That the original copy of thefe travels was altered by the perfon, through whose hands it was conveyed to the prefs, is a fact; but the passages, of which Mr Gulliver complains in this letter, are to be found only in the first editions; for the Dean having restored the text where-ever it had been altered, fent the copy to the late Mr Motte by the hands of Mr Charles Ford. This copy has been exactly followed in every subsequent 'edition, except that printed in Ireland, by George Faulkner, the editor of which, fuppofing the Dean to be serious when he mentioned the corruption of dates, and yet finding them unaltered, thought fit to alter them himself. There is, however, scarce one of these alterations, in which he has not committed a blunder: Though, while he was thus bufy in defacing the parts that were perfect, he fuffered the accidental blemishes of others to remain. Hawkef.-See the preface to this edition.


[blocks in formation]

The author gives fome account of himself and family: His first inducements to travel. He is fhipwrecked, and fwims for his life; gets safe on shore in the country of Lilliput; is made a carried up the country.

prifoner, and

Y father had a fmall eftate in Nottinghamshire: I was the third of five fons. He fent me to Emanuel college in Cambridge at fourteen years old, where I refided three years, and applied myself close to


* These voyages are intended as a moral political romance, in which Swift seems to have exerted the strongest efforts of a fine irregular genius. But while his imagination and his wit delight, the venomous ftrokes of his fatire, although in fome places juft, are carried into fo univerfal a feverity, that not only all human actions, but human nature itself, is placed in the worft light.Perfection in every attribute is not indeed allot



[blocks in formation]

my studies; but the charge of maintaining me, although I had a very/fcanty allowance, being

too great for a narrow fortune, I was bound apprentice

[ocr errors]

ted to particular men. But, among the whole fpecies, we difcover fuch an affemblage of all the great and amiable virtues, as may convince us, that the original order of nature contains in it the greatest beauty. It is directed in a right line; but it deviates into curves and irregular motions, by various alterations and disturbing caufes. Different qualifications fhine out in different men. BACON and NEWTON (not to mention BOYLE) fhew the divine extent of the human mind: Of which Swift could not be insensible; but his disappointments rendered him fplenetic, and angry with the whole world.-Education, habit, and constitution, gave a furprising variety of characters; and, while they produce fome particular qualities, are apt to check others. Fortitude of mind feldom attends a fedentary life: Nor is the man, whose ambitious views are croffed, fcarce ever afterwards endued with benevolence of heart. The fame mind that is capable of exerting the greatest virtue, by some defect in the first steps of education, often degenerates into the greatest vice. These effects take fource from caufes almost take their mechanical. The soul, in our present situation, is blended and inclosed with corporeal fubftance; and the matter, of which our body is compofed, produces ftrange impulfes upon the mind.To correct vice, by fhewing her deformity, in oppofition to the beauty of virtue; and to amend the falfe fyftems of philofophy, by pointing out the errors, and applying falutary means to avoid them; is a noble defign, and was, I would fain flatter myself, the general intent of this hieroglyphic writer.-- Gulliver's travels are chiefly to be looked upon as an irregular effay of Swift's peculiar wit and humour. The inhabitants of Lilliput are represented, as if reflected from a concave mirror, by which every object is reduced to a defpicable minuteness. The inhabitants of Brobdingnag, by a contrary mirror, are enlarged to a fhocking deformity. In Lilliput we behold a fet of puny infects, or animalcules in human shape, ridiculously engaged in affairs of importance. In Brobdingnag the monsters of enormous fize are employed

« PrécédentContinuer »