Hypertext Exercise from Jonathan Swift, A Tale of a
Since this text is by the original author, it should be
preserved exactly. It's acceptable to change the style of
footnotes: Swift uses asterisks (*) and daggers (+). Everything
else should be preserved exaclty.
THE last Engine of Orators, is the *Stage-Itinerant,
erected with much Sagacity, +sub Jove pluvio, in triviis &
quadriviis. It is the great Seminary of the two former, and
its Orators are sometimes preferred to the One, and sometimes to
the Other, in proportion to their Deservings, there being a
strict and perpetual intercourse between all three.
FROM this accurate Deduction it is manifest, that for obtaining
Attention in Publick, there is of necessity required a
superior Position of Place. But, altho' this Point be
generally granted, yet the Cause is little agreed in; and it
seems to me, that very few Philosophers have fallen into a true,
natural Solution of this Phænomenon. The deepest
Account, and the most fairly digested of any I have yet met with,
is this, That Air being a heavy Body, and therefore (according to
the system of **Epicurus) continually descending, must
needs be more so, when loaden and pressed down by Words; which
are also Bodies of much Weight and Gravity, as it is manifest
from those deep Impressions they make and leave upon us;
and therefore must be delivered from a due Altitude, or else they
will neither carry a good Aim, nor fall down with a sufficient
++ Corpoream quoque enim vocem constare fatendum est,
Et sonitum, quoniam possunt impellere Sensus.
Lucr. Lib. 4.
Like the text above, these notes are by the author, and must
be preserved exactly, though again, you can change the numbering
* Is the Mountebank's Stage, whose Orators the Author
determines either to the Gallows or a
+ In the open Air, and in Streets where the greatest Resort
** Lucret. Lib. 2. [marginal note]
++ 'Tis certain then, that Voice that thus can wound
Is all Material; Body every Sound.
These notes are my own: you're free to modify them in any way
you see fit. Your job is to provide as much information as may
be useful to the reader, without interfering with the reading
- Jonathan Swift: Swift
(1667-1745), Irish clergyman, writer, and poet, best known for Gulliver's
Travels (1726) and A Modest
Proposal (1729). A Tale of a
Tub, the great work of Swift's early career, first
appeared anonymously in 1704, though it was written around 1696
- Engine: The Oxford English Dictionary offers
several senses that may be relevant:
- 2.a. Skill in contriving,
ingenuity; also, in bad sense, artfulness, cunning, trickery.
- b. In OF. phrase mal engin evil machination: see
MALENGIN. Also in similar sense, false, malicious
- 3. An instance or a product of ingenuity; an artifice,
contrivance, device, plot; and in bad sense, a snare, wile; ...
also, in weaker sense, an appliance, means.
- 4. A mechanical contrivance, machine, implement, tool.
- 5. spec. a. A machine or instrument used in warfare.
- b. An "engine of torture"; esp. the rack.
- Mountebank: A charlatan, trickster, or medical quack
who travels from town to town.
- Triviis & quadriviis: The trivium
(grammar, logic, and rhetoric) and the quadrivium
(geometry, astronomy, arithemtic, and music) made up the ancient
liberal arts, the basis of early education.
- Seminary: A place of religious study, here used
figuratively or ironically.
- Sometimes: In the first four editions, the first
occurrence read "sometimes"; in the fifth edition, "sometime."
- Intercourse: Communication.
- From this accurate Deduction it is manifest: Swift
ironically uses the language of science and philosophy here to
make an absurd point sound reasonable. Compare the tone of the
projector in A Modest Proposal.
- Philosophers: In the eighteenth century, when Swift
wrote, a "philosopher" could refer to what we'd call a scientist.
- True, natural Solution: Ironic. Of course Swift's
solution is false and unnatural, as in A Modest Proposal.
- Digested: Processed, abbreviated, abridged.
- Air being a heavy body: Ancient philosophers argued
over whether air had mass.
- Epicurus: Epicurus (341
B.C.-270 B.C.), Greek ethical philosopher. His Peri
physeos (On Nature), which now survives only in
fragments. His philosophy became newly fashionable in the
seventeenth century and influenced Pierre Gassendi (1592-1655), a
French philosopher and scientist.
- Lucret. Lib. 2: From book two of De
rerum natura (On the Nature of Things), an ancient
Roman philosophical poem by the poet and philosopher Titus
Lucretius Carus. The work, based on Epicurus' Peri
physeos, argues that everything in existence is material --
(c. 460 B.C.-c. 370 B.C.) and Epicurus, Lucretius is known as an
arguing that every phenomenon in the universe is made up of
"atoms" (though of course he long predated the discovery of
modern atoms). Dates for Lucretius are uncertain; he was
probably born between 99 and 95 B.C., and died between 55 and 51
- Corpoream ... Sensus: from Lucretius, De
Rerum Natura, 4:526-27: "For we must confess that voice and
sound also are bodily, since they can strike upon the sense."
Swift slightly misquotes the original: "Corpoream vocem quoque
enim constare fatendumst/ et sonitum, quoniam possunt inpellere
- Weight and Gravity: Principia Mathematica, by
Isaac Newton (c. 1642-1727), appeared in 1687, and spelled
out the laws of gravitation.
- Impressions: Swift intentionally confuses the
literal and metaphorical senses of the word for comic effect,
suggesting the "impressions" made on us by words are equivalent
to the "impressions" left by one material object on another.
- Conventicle: A meeting of "Dissenters," members of
Protestant religions opposed to the Church of England. The
Occasional Conformity Act (1711) offers this legal definition:
"Present at any Conventicle Assembly or Meeting ... for the
Exercise of Religion in other Manner than according to the
Liturgy and Practice of the Church of England ... at which
Conventicle Assembly or Meeting there shall be Ten Persons or
more assembled together over and besides those of the same
Houshold" (10 Anne c. 6).
- Wound ... Sound: The words rhymed in Swift's
- The translation Swift uses in the note was published by
Thomas Creech (1659-1700): T. Lucretius Carus the Epicurean
Philospher [sic], His six books De natura rerum done into English
verse, with notes (Oxford, L. Lichfield, 1682).
Note the different kinds of information we have to present, and
Your task is to organize this information in the way that makes
it most useful to a reader. Bring to bear all your knowledge of
HTML, and be prepared to describe the things you'd like to
do but can't because of the limitations of HTML.
- The original text.
- Textual variants, where different "original" texts have
- The author's notes (both footnotes and a marginal note).
- A modern editor's commentary, including:
- Explanatory notes, both on Swift's text and on Swift's notes.
Our edition may also require the notes to refer to one another.
- Definitions, both short ("intercourse") and long ("engine").
- Biographical information on relevant authors and
- Dates, both of people's lives and of books' publications.
- Links to related external information.