Imágenes de páginas
[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]


THE author of these travels, Mr. Lemuel Gulliver, is my ancient and intimate friend; there is likewise some relation between us on the mother's side. About three years ago, Mr. Gulliver, growing weary of the concourse of curious people coming to him at his house in Redriff, made a small purchase of land, with a convenient house, near Newark, in Nottinghamshire, his native county, where he now lives retired, yet in good esteem among his neighbours.

Although Mr. Gulliver was born in Nottinghamshire, where his father dwelt, yet I have heard him say his family came from Oxfordshire; to confirm which, I have observed in the churchyard at Banbury, in that county, several tombs and monuments of the Gullivers.

Before he quitted Redriff he left the custody of the following papers in my hands, with the liberty to dispose of them as I should think fit. I have carefully perused them three times. The style is very plain and simple, and the only fault I find is, that the author, after the manner of travellers, is a little too circumstantial. There is an air of truth apparent through the whole; and, indeed, the author was so distinguished for his veracity, that it became a sort


of proverb among his neighbours at Redriff, when anyone affirmed a thing, to say it was as true as if Mr. Gulliver had spoken it.

By the advice of several worthy persons, to whom, with the author's permission, I communicated these papers, I now venture to send them into the world, hoping they may be, at least for some time, a better entertainment than the common scribbles about politics.

This volume would have been at least twice as large if I had not made bold to strike out innumerable passages relating to the winds and tides, as well as to the variations and bearings in the several voyages, together with the minute description of the management of the ship in the storms, in the style of sailors; likewise the account of longitudes and latitudes, wherein I have reason to apprehend that Mr. Gulliver may be a little dissatisfied; but I was resolved to fit the work, as much as possible, to the general capacity of readers. However, if my own ignorance in sea affairs shall have led me to commit some mistakes, I alone am answerable for them; and if any traveller hath a curiosity to see the whole work at large, as it came from the hand of the author, I will be ready to gratify him.

As for any farther particulars relating to the author, the reader will receive satisfaction from the first pages of the book.




I KNOW very well my juvenile readers don't trouble themselves with long prefaces and introductions when they get an amusing book into their hands, but forthwith open it at the beginning of the story, and read till they are tired. However, after first examining the pictures, and then reading the voyage to Lilliput, they may attend to me, and learn something of the very singular author, Dean Swift, who here calls himself Captain Lemuel Gulliver. Indeed, Dr. Swift is quite as interesting a person as Captain Gulliver; and although his adventures were less extraordinary, his veracity was quite as great. The air of truth which the first publisher, Richard Sympson, finds in the "Travels," is also apparent in everything the Dean said or wrote; and as we are told "truth is stranger than fiction," we rise from reading the many books

that have been written about Swift's life without being able to say whether he was good or bad, admirable or contemptible; whether, although a clergyman, he was a Christian; whether he ever was in love, although idolized by excellent and beautiful ladies, whom he professed to admire, and called by fanciful names, Stella and Vanessa; whether he had any glimmer of such things as honour and friendship, although he was charitable and what was then called "patriotic;" or whether he had the highest appreciation of taste, refinement, poetry, or wit, although he wrote so many remarkable things, and had Pope and others to praise him as if he was almost superior to humanity.

Think of Stella, after she had suffered endless anxieties, and it is said, on very good authority, a secret marriage, which never led to their living together, or, indeed, to either peace or confidence, writing on his birthday

"Long be the day that gave you birth,
Sacred to friendship, wit, and mirth;
Late dying may you cast a shred
Of your rich mantle o'er my head,

To bear with dignity my sorrow,
One day alone, then die to-morrow!"

And think of an editor speaking of him in this way: "The genius of Dr. Swift broke forth upon us in the year 1708 with such an astonishing blaze of humour, politicks, religion, patriotism, wit, and poetry, that the

« AnteriorContinuar »