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and analyse it: a person of integrity and innocence submits reluctantly his cause to the care of an ignorant pettifogger, and the verdict of a temerarious jury. That man will not write paltry tales, who can write any thing better; and he who can write nothing better will write nothing good. Anecdote is but a small part of the materials from which the careful historian collects a character : he who is able to rear the edifice will not employ himself in compounding the morDIALOGUE III.
SWIFT, A BOOKSELLER, AND MERCURY.
To enjoy in future the company of a gentleman, whose consequential character in the literary line I have long made up my mind upon, is a pleasure which I set great store by, though obtained by the loss of my existence.
Pray, friend, where did you learn your English ?
I was born and bred in London, and of such marked regularity in my line of conduct, that no man could charge me with a single act of incivism, or any thing that went to the disorganization of the society of which I was a member. I served an apprenticeship to a tiptop bookseller; and have often heard the most learned authors discuss points of literature : I have seen them, Sir, for hours on their legs, and going into a variety of
matter., The deuce is in it, if I do not speak English of the very newest and best pattern.
In what part of the town did your learned authors find kennels and dunghills to wade into in the way you mention? Fleet-ditch, I am told, is now decent; and has not half that variety of filthy matter, dead cats and dogs, drowned puppies, and stinking sprats,* which it formerly had. But first of all, friend, what was your last employment in the other world?
In place of negativing your questions as inimical, though I own that at this first blush of the business they appear so, I shall be happy on the instant to meet your ideas, and narrate what you desiderate, not doubting of being well beard.
Sir, I am not deaf now, as I was in the other world; I shall hear you well enough if you speak distinctly. I ask, what trade
You mean, I suppose, in what professional line I was bred. I hinted already, that my employment was to bring forward to the view of the publick at large the ideas of the learned: in other words, I was in the ty. pographical and bookselling lines ; and am free to say, that in both lines my line of conduct was indicative of exactitude to a degree. I netted, Sir, although my expenditures were not small, so considerable a sum, that, on the demise of my wife, who resigned her existence about a year ago, I sported sables in my own gig and pair. I had in contemplation a seat in the Commons; but
* See Swift's description of a city-shower.
So; you were a bookseller. In my time, however, the idea of a learned man could have been comprehended by the large publick, or the publick at large (how did
you call it, pray ?) without the help of an interpreter. But perhaps I did not take your meaning.
Dear Sir, what unfounded ideas you bring forward! You take me up on a ground entirely different from that on which I intended to meet you. I have formerly set store by you ; having heard you held forth as one who had secured the marked approbation of many. You seem inclined to maltreat me, but have said nothing that militates against me as a professional man, or goes to substantiate any charge inimical to my character. And since you are pleased to be provocative, I am bold to say, that some of our best criticks scout and reprobate your yahoos with the most marked energy; complain, that they feel squeamish when they think of them; and have the idea that descriptions of that description can be agreeable to readers of no description. I have heard one author, whose name has long been inregistrated in the annals of literature, affirm that they are disgusting to civilization. A justice of the peace of my acquaintance committed himself
The deuce he did ! the laws as well as language of England must be greatly changed of late years. Go on, Sir, perhaps I may at last understand you.
I say, the justice committed himself, that he would prove your diction as well as imagery to be low and vulgar ; that it has nothing of the ton in it, no long sonorous phraseologies, no appearance of your being conversative in antient or foreign language; nothing, in a word, but what the common people may understand, as well as the most learned men in the kingdom.
Was there ever such a fellow! Hark you, Sir, do you know whom you speak to, or what you are speaking?