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But the intent of the Satire is pointed at the vanity of those who talk of their antiquity, and value themselves upon their pedigree, their ancient families, and being true-born; whereas 'tis impossible we should be true-born : and if we could, should have lost by the bargain.
These sort of people, who call themselves true-born, and tell long stories of their families, and like a nobleman of Venice, think a foreigner ought not to walk on the same side of the street with them, are own'd to be meant in this Satire. What they would infer from their long original, I know not, nor is it easy to make out whether they are the better or the worse for their ancestors: our English nation may value themselves for their wit, wealth and courage, and I believe few nations will dispute it with them; but for long originals, and ancient true-born families of English, I would advise them to wave the discourse. A true Englishman is one that deserves a character, and I have nowhere lessened him, that I know of; but as for a true-born Englishman, I confess I do not understand him.
From hence I only infer, that an Englishman, of all men, ought not to despise foreigners as such, and I think the inference is just, since what they are to day, we were yesterday, and to-morrow they will be like us. If foreigners misbehave in their several stations and employments, I have nothing to do with that; the laws are open to punish them equally with natives, and let them have no favour.
But when I see the town full of lampoons and invectives against Dutchmen, only because they are foreigners, and the king reproached and insulted by insolent pedants, and ballad-making poets, for employing foreigners, and for being a foreigner himself, I confess myself moved by it to remind our nation of their own original, thereby to let them see what a banter is put upon ourselves in it ; since speaking of Englishmen ab origine, we are really all foreigners ourselves.
I could go on to prove it is also impolitic in us to discourage foreigners; since it is easy to make it appear that the multitudes of foreign nations who have taken sanctuary here, have been the greatest additions to the wealth and strength of the nation; the essential whereof is the number of its inhabitants ; nor would this nation ever have arrived to the degree of wealth and glory it now boasts of, if the addition of foreign nations, both as to manufactures and
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arms, had not been helpful to it. This is so plain, that he who is ignorant of it, is too dull to be talked with.
The Satire therefore I must allow to be just, till I am otherwise convinced ; because nothing can be more ridiculous than to hear our people boast of that antiquity, which if it bad been true, would have left us in so much worse a condition than we are in now : whereas we ought rather to boast among our neighbours, that we are part of themselves, of the same original as they, but bettered by our cliinate, and like our language and manufactures, derived from them, and improved by us to a perfection greater than they can pretend to.
This we might have valued ourselves upon without vanity; but to disown our descent from them, talk big of our ancient families, and long originals, and stand at a distance from foreigners, like the enthusiast in religion, with a Stand off, I am more holy than thou: this is a thing so ridiculous, in a nation derived from foreigners, as we are, that I could not but attack them as I have done.
And whereas I am threatened to be called to a public account for this freedom ; and the publisher of this has been newspapered into gaol already for it; tho' I see nothing in it for which the government can be displeased; yet if at the same time those people who with an unlimited arrogance in print, every day affront the king, prescribe the parliament, and lampoon the government, may be either punished or restrained, I am content to stand and fall by the public justice of my native country, which I not sensible I have any. where injured.
Nor would I be misunderstood concerning the clergy; with whom, if I have taken any license more than becomes a Satire, I question not but those gentlemen, who are men of letters, are also men of so much candor, as to allow me a loose at the crimes of the guilty, without thinking the whole profession lashed who are innocent. I profess to have very mean thoughts of those gentlemen who have deserted their own principles, and exposed even their morals as well as loyality ; but not at all to think it affects any but such as are concerned in the fact.
Nor would I be misrepresented as to the ingratitude of the English to the king and his friends; as if I meant the English as a nation, are so. The contrary is so apparent,
that I would hope it should not be suggested of me: and, therefore when I have brought in Britannia speaking of the king, I suppose her to be the representative or mouth of the nation, as a body. But if I say we are full of such who daily affront the king, and abuse his friends; who print scurrilous pamphlets, virulent lampoons, and reproachful public banters, against both the king's person and his government; I say nothing but what is too true; and that the Satire is directed at such, I freely own; and cannot say, but I should think it very hard to be censured for this Satire, while such remain unquestioned and tacitly approved. That I can mean none but such, is plain from these few lines, page 453.
Ye heavens regard! Almighty Jove, look down,
If I have fallen rudely upon our vices, I hope none but the vicious will be angry. As for writing for interest, I disown it; I have neither place, nor pension, nor prospect; nor seek none, nor will have none: if matter of fact justifies the truth of the crimes, the Satire is just. As to the poetic liberties, I hope the crime is pardonable; I am content to be stoned, provided none will attack me but the innocent.
If my countrymen wouli take the hint, and grow better natured from my ill-natured poem as some call it; I would say this of it, that though it is far from the best Satire that ever was wrote, it would do the most good that ever Satire did.
And yet I am ready to ask pardon of some gentlemen too; who though they are Englishmen, have good nature enough to see themselves reproved, and can hear it. These are gentlemen in a true sense, that can bare to be told of their faux pas, and not abuse the reprover. To such I must say, this is no Satire; they are exceptions to the general rule; and I value my performance from their generous approbation, more than I can from any opinion I have of its worth.
The hasty errors of my verse I made my excuse for before; and since the time I have been upon it has been but little,
leisure less, I have all along strove rather to make the thoughts explicit, than the poem correct. However, I have
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mended some faults in this edition, and the rest must be placed to my account.
As to answers, banters, true English Billingsgate, I expect them till nobody will buy, and then the shop will be shut. Had I wrote it for the gain of the press, I should have been concerned at its being printed again, and again, by pirates, as they call them, and paragraph-men ; but would they but do it justice, and print it true, according to the copy, they are welcome to sell it for a penny, if they please.
The pence, indeed, is the end of their works. I will engage if nobody will buy, nobody will write: and not a patriot poet of them all, now will in defence of his native country which I have abused, they say, print an answer to it, and give it about for God's sake.
The end of satire is reformation : anul the author, though he doubt the work of conversion is at a general stop, has put his hand in the plough. I expect a storm of ill language from the fury of the town. And especially from those whose English talent it is to rail : and, without being taken for a conjuror, I may venture to foretel, that I shall be cavilled at about my mean style, rough verse, and incorrect language, things I indeed might have taken more care in. But the book is printed; and though I see soine faults, it is too late to mend them. And this is all I think needful to
say to them.
Possibly somebody may take me for a Dutchman ; in which they are mistaken: but I am one that would be glad to see Englislımen behave themselves better to strangers, and to governors also, that one might not be reproached in foreign countries for belonging to a nation that wants man
I assure you, gentlemen, strangers use us better abroad; and we can give no reason but our ill-nature for the contrary here.
Methinks an Englishman who is so proud of being called a gooil fellow, should be civil. And it cannot be denied, but we are, in many cases, and particularly to strangers, the most churlish people alive.
As to vices, who can dispute our intemperance, while an honest drunken fellow is a character in a man's praise ? All our reformations are banters, and will be so till our magistrates and gentry reform themselves, by way of example; then, and nut till then, they may be expected to punish others without blushing.
As to our ingratitude, I desire to be understood of that