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THE

CANDID READER:

OR,

A MODEST, YET UNANSWERABLE APOLOGY,

POR

ALL BOOKS THAT EVER WERE, OR POSSIBLY

CAN BE WROTE.

TO

HIS MOST CRITICAL, SCIENTIFICAL,

TRULY CATHOLICAL, AND TERRAQUEOUS MAJESTY,

THE WORLD.

LEARNED AND MIGHTY SIR, Seeing the following treatise hath been penned on set purpose to vindicate thy taste against the impudent attempts of a few, who would impose their own upon thee, it cannot so properly be dedicated to any one, as to thyself. Forasmuch also, as many performances, not only such as are of little or no length or weight, but also the voluminous and heavy, relying purely on thy favour, have ventured forth into the light, and lived to see several generations of books, right valuable in themselves, rise and perish in oblivion, it is humbly hoped this little youngling of mine, which boasteth not its own merit, but presumeth on thy benevolence alone, will meet with the like kind reception from thee. If it hath thy approbation, being as modest as it is young, it shall therewith be content, and look no farther.

Those persons, who would needs take upon them to be thy teachers, and prescribe to thee in matters of taste and judgment, will lay their rods heavily on this my little infant, as well because it pleadeth in behalf of thy privileges against their encroachments, as because it delivereth itself in a style and manner not altogether authorized by them. But I hope, as it is thy advocate, so thou wilt be its sponsor and protector, more especially against the malice and craft of that black tribe, which, above all others, laboureth to abridge thy privileges, and aimeth at a tyranny over the mind and conscience. Those persons, although on many

occasions they pay thee no small court, are nevertheless, by profession, thy sworn enemies, and agreeably thereunto, some among them do most cordially, both despise and hate thee. Be thou aware of such; for albeit, they make but a small body, yet so great is the frowardness and virulence of their natures, that they force the rest, contrary to their great respect for thee, to join in the cry against thee. I expect all, which the teeth and nails of that fraternity can do, for my attachment to thy favourite author, the Lord Shaftsbury. However, bis lordship bath a competent number of hopeful young shoots, springing up, and putting forth apace even among that thicket of thorns, who in a short space of time will form a powerful party, so as greatly to increase the number of bis, and consequently, of thy props and supporters.

I suppose it is owing to the conspiracies of the aforementioned persons, that we so frequently hear thee railed at in such expressions as these. What a world is this! What will the world come to ! The world is growing every day worse and worse! The world is come to that pass,

&c. Not satisfied with these opprobrious reflections, they even proceed so far as formally to renounce thee, together with the devil, with whom, after all, they deal largely, and generally consult in matters of the last consequence; and therefore thou hast reason to comfort thyself with the hopes, that the hatred they pretend to thee, is as far from their hearts, as that which they profess against him. I am the more corroborated in this my opinion, when I hear the same persons inadvertently blabbing such expressions of love and esteem for thee as follow: If I might have the whole world for doing this, &c. I would not for the world be guilty of, &c. If I were master of the world, I would make thee mistress. Nay, I also hear many of them swearing by thee; from which, however, I should by no means conclude they worship thee, as their god, or even have a high respect for thee, did I not likewise behold them every day sacrificing to thee, not only their consciences, and characters, and souls, which are offerings of no very high estimation, but even their very pleasures and their lives.

Thy Majesty, methinks, may very well turn a contemptuous ear, to all the feigned invectives of the poor, the disappointed, the discontented, the whimsical part of mankind, seeing the wise, the wealthy, and the great, are thine own, to a man, and that with infinite devotion. It is for thy Majesty they break through all the ties of nature and humanity, plotting, sailing, fighting, swearing, cutting the throats of their friends and fathers, and sometimes their own. It is for thee they pretend religion in one age and circumstance, and it is likewise to come at thee they trample on it without scruple in another. Thou art their god, and their devotion is sincere and hearty.

The servile dissembling herd of dedicators, have by misapplication, so lamentably debauched the expressions of respect, that language can scarcely supply me with terms, both strong enough to set forth my esteem, and at the same time sufficiently delicate to enter thy Majesty's ears, averse in the highest degree to every the smallest appearance of flattery. I shall therefore (I know it will please thy Majesty) preserve an unwilling silence on a subject, which it requires the self-denial of an anchorite to abstain from. I will not say one word of thy candour and taste, as a reader, thy wisdom and justice as a governor, thy valour and conduct as a soldier, thy humanity and politeness as a companion, thy fidelity as a friend, thy generosity as the patron of merit, nor the other innumerable and illustrious virtues, that grace thy amiable character, and render thee so deservedly the admiration of all. These topics, defended by thy modesty, and exalted far above my weak ability, are reserved to be inscribed by a pen of steel, on everlasting monuments of brass and marble. It would be a profanation to lavish thy praises on frail paper, so applicable, on many occasions, to the vilest uses, more especially when lowered in value by the base and uncurrent mintage of such a mere coiner among writers, as,

May it please thy Majesty,
Thy Majesty's most humble, most obedient,
And most devoted slave and admirer,

MUNDANUS.

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