It has long been the case that the Press and the Publishing-Houses of the World have had, with some small exceptions, free licence to print whatsoe'er they will; and the fruits of this freedom have consisted of such infinite variety, that the very Distinctions have been o'erthrown, by which a Man could latterly say, such a work was a Romance, and such a work was a manifest Fiction, and such a work was a sober Discourse upon, let us say, the Evils of Novel-Reading, or the Husbandry of Owls, or the Recognition of Severall Types of Excrement. Thus freed from the unnatural boundaries of species, like unto the Man who lov'd his Hound, the Writers of our age have cast off the shackles which hitherto bound their Wit and Reason, and poured fiorth a veritable Torrent of writing, such that the gutters of Grub Street can barely support the ceaseless flow. Such is the pressure exerted on the capacity of this excellent district by this effusion of printed matter, that new Habitations and dwelling-places are even now being hastily constructed in order to accommodate the deluge; and those selfsame gutters are even now being reformed and re-sold as desirable Residencys, for of such calibre are these Moderns, so blithe are they in their new-found freedom, that they are impervious to the stench of human filth, and indeed their elegant Noses, so practised at sniffing out informations of their fellow-creatures, are so refined that they convert the noxious Odours to the sweet scent of Inspiration; and we can assume that, if their Pen do but match their Noses in elegance, then their Work will suffer not one bit for those odours. The freedom of printing is currently being carried one station further along the road to blissful, total Liberty, to whit, those heretical and unnatural Borders between Worthy and Unworthy, between Chaff and Grain, are being pulled down altogether, like a Wall which, becoming unstable, is worse than useless; rather it is a danger to Humanity, and must needs be removed. For to judge between the qualities of Books, what is't but to take on, like a Heathen Idol, the Mantle of the Creator -- to seek to separate the Sheep from the Goats before such time as Heavenly Judgement shall occur? Let us then not seek thus to separate. And does even our Lord appoint Himself an Arbiter of Good Taste in the world of books? It may then be surmised that it would be Blasphemous in extremis to appoint ourselves to this high Office, whence even Christ did shrink in sweet humility.
And yet, for all the most worthy and religious Goodness which this Freedom doth confer upon our Nation, it must be questioned whether the Dangers of such Liberty do not in fact outweigh its Blessings. For, the floodgates once being opened, all manner of Rogues, Knaves, and Blackguards may enter in. One such Scribbler comes particularly to my mind; but as the reader of Taste, to whom I address my every word, will surely not have graced the fellow's work with his discerning Eye, a few words of explanation may here be necessary. For to the attention of the Printing-Houses has lately come the writings of a gentleman -- if it be not misleading to call him such -- long deceased, yet whose poison'd pen continues, with renew'd acclaim, to spill its ink far and wide across the pages of books, even those publish'd by Gentlemen of Repute. His gall is drunk as if 'twere wine, even by those persons of the University Press at Oxford. The fellow goes by the name, assuredly an alias, of J-n-th-n Sw-ft, by which cipher the observant reader may identify the Knave. How, then, the curious may ask, has the Gentleman so offended? Why, sirs, under the guise of Fiction he has published many Satyres, most condemnatory of personages and institutions as undeserving of such, as the Catholick Church, and the leaders of Politicall Parties. Such Satyres I will hereinunder disclose, for the timely Warning of Humanity, so that Men of Taste and Persons of Quality should be not led astray by the Rogue's masqueradings.
As the Devil denies his own nature, so does Dr. Sw-ft; he claims to have
writ so elaborate and useful a Discourse without one grain of Satyr intermixt.This from his Preface to his most seditious Satire, A T-le of a T--, a work to which the wretch was quite justly ashamed to set his name in the first instance, so clearly does it reveal him to be a Deist and a Freethinker; and, worse, his knowledge of the ways of Criticks is such that none but the most innocent reader could suppose him otherwise than a Critick, a TRUE CRITIC, himself. Yet though this masquerading mountebank of a Doctor Sw-ft claims to have "intermixed" not "one grain of Satyr" in his writing, on the very next page does he employ such Satyr, such that the discerning Reader must read Dr Sw-ft's claim very much cum grano salis; he says:
satire being levelled at all is never resented for an offence by any, since every individual person makes bold to understand it of others, and very wisely removes his particular part of the burden upon the shoulders of the world, which are broad enough and able to bear it.In this I must prove the falsehood inherent herein; for, tho' not a narrow-shouldered man myself, yet I resent the above for an offence against all such of that caste. Mark how Dr Sw-ft writes, "wisely;" that is, in the satiricall mode, to say, "not wisely," or even, "foolishly." Thus does he intimate that Men, whose shoulders have the misfortune to be created narrow, are incapable of Rational Thought. And yet does the Hypocrite claim, in his optimistically-titled piece of Doggerell, "Verses on the Death of Dr Sw-ft", that
He spar'd a Hump or Crooked Nose,Well may he spare the Crookback or the Jew, villains of his own mould; yet on the innocent narrow Shoulders, the owners of which have never (to the best of my knowledge) set themselves up as any things which might be termed Beaux, -- on these shoulders must the lash fall! You would not believe how much the Satyrical lash alters the appearance of these shoulders for the worse; and thus the good Doctor is hoist by his own petard, having fail'd to correct the defect which he sought to expose and ameliorate, but rather having exacerbated it. [MS Bodley (Oxford) ends here; subsequent pages are lost]
Whose Owners set not up for Beaux.