The Battle of the Books

By Jonathan Swift

Edited by Jack Lynch

The text comes from A Tale of a Tub, to which is Added the Battle of the Books and the Mechanical Operation of the Spirit, ed. A. C. Guthkelch and D. Nichol Smith (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1920). The paragraph numbers and annotations are my own. A full Note on the Text is below. Please send corrections to Jack Lynch.


A
Full and True Account
OF THE
B A T T E L
Fought last F R I D A Y,
Between the
Antient and the Modern
BOOKS
IN
St. J A M E S's
LIBRARY.
L O N D O N:
Printed in the Year, MDCCX.

THE
B O O K S E L L E R
TO THE
R E A D E R.

The following Discourse, as it is unquestionably of the same Author, so it seems to have been written about the same time with the former, I mean, the year 1697, when the famous Dispute was on Foot, about Antient and Modern Learning. The Controversy took its Rise from an Essay of Sir William Temple's, upon that Subject; which was answer'd by W. Wotton, B.D. with an Appendix by Dr. Bently, endeavouring to destroy the Credit of Æsop and Phalaris, for Authors, whom Sir William Temple had in the Essay before-mentioned, highly commended. In that Appendix, the Doctor falls hard upon a new Edition of Phalaris, put out by the Hnourable Charles Boyle (now Earl of Orrery) to which, Mr. Boyle replyed at large, with great Learning and Wit; and the Doctor, voluminously, rejoyned. In this Dispute, the Town highly resented to see a Person of Sir William Temple's Character and Merits, roughly used by the two Reverend Gentlemen aforesaid, and without any manner of Provocation. At length, there appearing no End of the Quarrel, our Author tells us, that the BOOKS in St. James's Library, looking upon themselves as Parties principally concerned, took up the Controversie, and came to a decisive Battel; But, the Manuscript, by the Injury of Fortune, or Weather, being in several Places imperfect, we cannot learn to which side the Victory fell.

I must warn the Reader, to beware of applying to Persons what is here meant, only of Books in the most literal Sense. So, when Virgil is mentioned, we are not to understand the Person of a famous Poet, call'd by that Name, but only certain Sheets of Paper, bound up in Leather, containing in Print, the Works of the said Poet, and so of the rest.


THE
P R E F A C E
OF THE
A U T H O R.

Satyr is a sort of Glass, wherein Beholders do generall discover every body's Face but their Own; which is the chief Reason for that kind of Reception it meets in the World, and that so very few are offended with it. But if it should happen otherwise, the Danger is not great; and, I have learned from long Experience, never to apprehend Mischief from those Understandings, I have been able to provoke; For, Anger and Fury, though they add Strength to the Sinews of the Body, yet are found to relax those of the Mind, and to render all its Efforts feeble and impotent.

There is a Brain that will endure but one Scumming: Let the Owner gather it with Discretion, and manage his little Stock with Husbandry; but of all things, let him beware of bringing it under the Lash of his Betters; because, That will make it all bubble up into Impertinence, and he will find no new Supply: Wit, without knowledge, being a sort of Cream, which gathers in a Night to the Top, and by a skilful Hand, may be soon whipt into Froth; but once scumm'd away, what appears underneath will be fit for nothing, but to be thrown to the Hogs.


A Full and True
A C C O U N T
OF THE
BATTEL
Fought last F R I D A Y, &c.

[1] Whoever examines with due Circumspection into the *Annual Records of Time, will find it remarked that War is the child of Pride, and Pride the daughter of Riches; The former of which Assertions may be soon granted; but one cannot so easily subscribe to the latter: For Pride is nearly related to Beggary and Want, either by father or Mother, and sometimes by both; And, to speak naturally, it very seldom happens among Men to fall out, when all have enough: Invasions usually travelling from North to South, that is to say, from Poverty upon Plenty. The most antient and natural Grounds of Quarrels, are Lust and Avarice; which, tho' we may allow to be Brethren or collateral Branches of Pride, are certainly the Issues of Want. For, to speak in the Phrase of Writers upon the Politicks, we may observe in the Republick of Dogs, (which in its Original seems to be an Institution of the Many) that the whole State is ever in the profoundest Peace, after a full Meal; and, that Civil Broils arise among them, when it happens for one great Bone to be seized on by some leading Dog, who either divides it among the Few, and then it falls to an Oligarchy, or keeps it to Himself, and then it runs up to a Tyranny. The same Reasoning also, holds Place among them, in those Dissensions we behold upon a Turgescency in any of their Females. For, the Right of Possession lying in common (it being impossible to establish a Property in so delicate a Case) Jealousies and Suspicions do so abound, that the whole Commonwealth of that Street, is reduced to a manifest State of War, of every Citizen against every Citizen; till some One of more Courage, Conduct, or Fortune than the rest, seizes and enjoys the Prize; Upon which, naturally arises Plenty of Heartburning, and Envy, and Snarling against the Happy Dog. Again, if we look upon any of these Republicks engaged in a Forein War, either of Invasion or Defence, we shall find, the same Reasoning will serve, as to the Grounds and Occasions of each; and that Poverty, or Want, in some Degree or other, (whether Real, or in Opinion, which makes no Alteration in the Case) has a great Share, as well as Pride, on the part of the Aggressor.

[2] Now, whoever will please to take this Scheme, and either reduce or adapt it to an Intellectual State, or Commonwealth of Learning, will soon discover the first Ground of Disagreement between the two great Parties at this Time in Arms; and may form just Conclusions upon the Merits of either Cause. But the Issue or Events of this War are not so easie to conjecture at: For, the present Quarrel is so inflamed by the warm Heads of either Faction, and the Pretensions somewhere or other so exorbitant, as not to admit the least Overtures of Accommodation: This Quarrel first began (as I have heard it affirmed by an old Dweller in the Neighbourhood) about a small Spot of Ground, lying and being upon one of the Two tops of the Hill Parnassus; the highest and largest of which had, it seems, been time out of Mind, in quiet Possession of certain Tenants, called the Antients; And the other was held by the Moderns. But, these disliking their present Station, sent certain Ambassadors to the Antients, complaining of a great Nuisance, how the Height of that Part of Parnassus, quite spoiled the Prospect of theirs, especially towards the East; and therefore, to avoid a War, offered them the Choice of this Alternative; either that the Antients would please to remove themselves and their Effects down to the lower Summity, which the Moderns would graciously surrender to them, and advance in their Place; or else the said Antients will give leave to the Moderns to come with Shovels and Mattocks, and level the said Hill, as low as they shall think it convenient. To which the Antients made Answer: How little they expected such a Message as this, from a Colony, whom they had admitted out of their own Free Grace, to so near a Neighbourhood. That, as to their own Seat, they were Aborigines of it, and therefore, to talk with them of a Removal or Surrender, was a Language they did not understand. That, if the Height of the Hill, on their side, shortened the Prospect of the Moderns, it was a Disadvantage they could not help, but desired them to consider, whether that Injury (if it be any) were not largely recompenced by the Shade and Shelter it afforded them. That, as to levelling or digging down, it was either Folly or Ignorance to propose it, if they did, or did not know, how that side of the Hill was an entire Rock, which would break their Tools and Hearts; without any Damage to itself. That they would therefore advise the Moderns, rather to raise their own side of the Hill, than dream of pulling down that of the Antients, to the former of which, they would not only give Licence, but also largely contribute. All this was rejected by the Moderns, with much Indignation, who still insisted upon one of the two Expedients; And so this Difference broke out into a long and obstinate War, maintained on the one Part, by Resolution, and by the Courage of certain Leaders and Allies; but, on the other, by the greatness of their Number, upon all Defeats, affording continual Recruits. In this Quarrel, whole Rivulets of Ink have been exhausted, and the Virulence of both Parties enormously augmented. Now, it must be here understood, that Ink is the great missive Weapon, in all Battels of the Learned, which, conveyed thro' a sort of Engine, call'd a Quill, infinite Numbers of these are darted at the Enemy, by the Valiant on each side, with equal Skill and Violence, as if it were an Engagement of Porcupines. This malignant Liquor was compounded by the Engineer, who invented it, of two Ingredients, which are Gall and Copperas, by its Bitterness and Venom, to Suit in some Degree, as well as to Foment the Genius of the Combatants. And as the Grecians, after an Engagement, when they could not agree about the Victory, were wont to set up Trophies on both sides, the beaten Party being content to be at the same Expence, to keep it self in Countenance (A laudable and antient Custom, happily reviv'd of late in the Art of War) so the Learned, after a sharp and bloody Dispute, do on both sides hang out their Trophies too, which-ever comes by the worst. These Trophies have largely inscribed on them the Merits of the Cause; a full impartial Account of such a Battel, and how the Victory fell clearly to the Party that set them up. They are known to the World under several Names: As, Disputes, Arguments, Rejoynders, Brief Considerations, Answers, Replies, Remarks, Reflections, Objections, Confutations. For a very few Days they are fixed up all in Publick Places, either by themselves or their *Representatives, for Passengers to gaze at: From whence the chiefest and largest are removed to certain Magazines, they call Libraries, there to remain in a Quarter purposely assign'd them, and thenceforth begin to be called, Books of Controversie.

[3] In these Books, is wonderfully instilled and preserved, the Spirit of each Warrier, while he is alive; and after his Death, his Soul transmigrates there, to inform them. This, at least, is the more common Opinion; But, I believe, it is with Libraries, as with other Cemeteries, where some Philosophers affirm, that a certain Spirit, which they call Brutum hominis, hovers over the Monument, till the Body is corrupted, and turns to Dust or to Worms, but then vanishes or dissolves: So, we may say, a restless Spirit haunts over every Book, till Dust or Worms have seized upon it; which to some, may happen in a few Days, but to others, later; And therefore, Books of Controversy, being of all others, haunted by the most disorderly Spirits, have always been confined in a separate Lodge from the rest; and for fear of a mutual violence against each other, it was thought Prudent by our Ancestors, to bind them to the Peace with strong Iron Chains. Of which Invention, the original Occasion was this: When the Works of Scotus first came out, they were carried to a certain great Library, and had Lodgings appointed them; But this Author was no sooner settled, than he went to visit his Master Aristotle, and there both concerted together to seize Plato by main Force, and turn him out from his antient Station among the Divines, where he had peaceably dwelt near Eight Hundred Years. The Attempt succeeded, and the two Usurpers have reigned ever since in his stead: But to maintain Quiet for the future, it was decreed, that all Polemicks of the larger Size, should be held fast with a Chain.

[4] By this Expedient, the publick Peace of Libraries, might certainly have been preserved, if a new Species of controversial Books had not arose of late Years, instinct with a most malignant Spirit, from the War above-mentioned, between the Learned, about the higher Summity of Parnassus.

[5] When these Books were first admitted into the Publick Libraries, I remember to have said upon Occasion, to several Persons concerned, how I was sure, they would create Broyls wherever they came, unless a World of Care were taken: And therefore, I advised, that the Champions of each side should be coupled together, or otherwise mixt, that like the blending of contrary Poysons, their Malignity might be employ'd among themselves. And it seems, I was neither an ill Prophet, nor an ill Counsellor; for it was nothing else but the Neglect of this Caution, which gave Occasion to the terrible Fight that happened on Friday last between the Antient and Modern Books in the King's Library. Now, because the Talk of this Battel is so fresh in every body's Mouth, and the Expectation of the Town so great to be informed in the Particulars; I, being possessed of all Qualifications requisite in an Historian, and retained by neither Party; have resolved to comply with the urgent Importunity of my Friends, by writing down a full impartial Account thereof.

[6] The Guardian of the Regal Library, a Person of great Valor, but chiefly renowned for his *Humanity, had been a fierce Champion for the Moderns, and in an Engagement upon Parnassus, had vowed, with his own Hands, to knock down two of the Antient Chiefs, who guarded a small Pass on the superior Rock; but endeavouring to climb up, was cruelly obstructed by his own unhappy Weight, and tendency towards his Center; a Quality, to which those of the Modern Party, are extreme subject; For, being lightheaded, they have in Speculation, a wonderful Agility, and conceive nothing too high for them to mount; but in reducing to Practice, discover a mighty Pressure about their Posteriors and their Heels. Having thus failed in his Design, the disappointed Champion bore a cruel Rancour to the Antients, which he resolved to gratifie, by shewing all Marks of his Favour to the Books of their Adversaries, and lodging them in the fairest Apartments; when at the same time, whatever Book had the boldness to own it self for an Advocate of the Antients, was buried alive in some obscure Corner, and threatned upon the least Displeasure, to be turned out of Doors. Besides, it so happened, that about this time, there was a strange Confusion of Place among all the Books in the Library; for which several Reasons were assigned. Some imputed it to a great heap of learned Dust, which a perverse Wind blew off from a Shelf of Moderns into the Keeper's Eyes. Others affirmed, He had a Humour to pick the Worms out of the Schoolmen, and swallow them fresh and fasting; whereof some fell upon his Spleen, and some climbed up into his Head, to the great perturbation of both. And lastly, others maintained, that by walking much in the dark about the Library, he had quite lost the Situation of it out of his Head; And therefore, in replacing his Books, he was apt to mistake, and clap Des-Cartes next to Aristotle; Poor Plato had got between Hobbes and the Seven Wise Masters, and Virgil was hemm'd in with Dryden on one side, and Withers on the other.

[7] Mean while, those Books that were Advocates for the Moderns, chose out one from among them, to make a Progress thro' the whole Library, examine the Number and Strength of their Party, and concert their Affairs. This Messenger performed all things very industriously, and brought back with him a List of their Forces, in all Fifty Thousand, consisting chiefly of light Horse, heavy-armed Foot, and Mercenaries; whereof the Foot were in general but sorrily armed, and worse clad; their Horses large, but extremely out of Case and Heart; However, some few by trading among the Antients, had furnisht themselves tolerably enough.

[8] While Things were in this Ferment; Discord grew extremely high, hot Words passed on both sides, and ill blood was plentifully bred. Here a solitary Antient, squeezed up among a whole Shelf of Moderns, offered fairly to dispute the Case, and to prove by manifest Reasons, that the Priority was due to them, from long Possession, and in regard of their Prudence, Antiquity, and above all, their great Merits toward the Moderns. But these denied the Premises, and seemed very much to wonder, how the Antients could pretend to insist upon their Antiquity, when it was so plain (if they went to that) that the Moderns were much the more *Antient of the two. As for any Obligations they owed to the Antients, they renounced them all. 'Tis true, said they, we are informed, some few of our Party have been so mean as to borrow their Subsistence from You; But the rest, infinitely the greater number (and especially, we French and English), were so far from stooping to so base an Example, that there never passed, till this very hour, six Words between us. For, our Horses were of our own breeding, our Arms of our own forging, and our Cloaths of our own cutting out and sowing. Plato was by chance upon the next Shelf, and observing those that spoke to be in the ragged Plight, mentioned a while ago; their Jades lean and foundred, their Weapons of rotten Wood, their Armour rusty, and nothing but Raggs underneath; he laugh'd loud, and in his pleasant way, swore, By G——, he believ'd them.

[9] Now, the Moderns had not proceeded in their late Negotiation, with Secrecy enough to escape the Notice of the Enemy. For, those Advocates, who had begun the Quarrel, by setting first on Foot the Dispute of Precedency, talkt so loud of coming to a Battel, that Temple happened to over-hear them, and gave immediate Intelligence to the Antients; who thereupon drew up their scattered Troops together, resolving to act upon the defensive; Upon which, several of the Moderns fled over to their Party, and among the rest, Temple himself. This Temple having been educated and long conversed among the Antients, was, of all the Moderns, their greatest Favorite, and became their greatest Champion.

[10] Things were at this Crisis, when a material Accident fell out. For, upon the highest Corner of a large Window, there dwelt a certain Spider, swollen up to the first Magnitude, by the Destruction of infinite Numbers of Flies, whose Spoils lay scattered before the Gates of his Palace, like human Bones before the Cave of some Giant. The Avenues to his Castle were guarded with Turn-pikes, and Palissadoes, all after the Modern way of Fortification. After you had passed several Courts, you came to the Center, wherein you might behold the Constable himself in his own Lodgings, which had Windows fronting to each Avenue, and Ports to sally out upon all Occasions of Prey or Defence. In this Mansion he had for some Time dwelt in Peace and Plenty, without Danger to his Person by Swallows from above, or to his Palace by Brooms from below: When it was the Pleasure of Fortune to conduct thither a wandring Bee, to whose Curiosity a broken Pane in the Glass had discovered it self; and in he went, where expatiating a while, he at last happened to alight upon one of the outward Walls of the Spider's Cittadel; which yielding to the unequal Weight, sunk down to the very Foundation. Thrice he endeavoured to force his Passage, and Thrice the Center shook. The Spider within, feeling the terrible Convulsion, supposed at first, that Nature was approaching to her final Dissolution; or else that Beelzebub with all his Legions, was come to revenge the Death of many thousands of his Subjects, whom his Enemy had slain and devoured. However, he at length valiantly resolved to issue forth, and meet his Fate. Mean while, the Bee had acquitted himself of his Toils, and posted securely at some Distance, was employed in cleansing his Wings, and disengaging them from the ragged Remnants of the Cobweb. By this time the Spider was adventured out, when beholding the Chasms, and Ruins, and Dilapidations of his Fortress, he was very near at his Wit's end, he stormed and swore like a Mad-man, and swelled till he was ready to burst. At length, casting his Eye upon the Bee, and wisely gathering Causes from Events, (for they know each other by Sight) A Plague split you, said he, for a giddy Son of a Whore; Is it you, with a Vengeance, that have made this Litter here? Could you not look before you, and be d——d? Do you think I have nothing else to do (in the Devil's Name) but to Mend and Repair after your Arse? Good words, Friend, said the Bee, (having now pruned himself, and being disposed to drole) I'll give you my Hand and Word to come near your Kennel no more; I was never in such a confounded Pickle since I was born. Sirrah, replied the Spider, if it were not for breaking an old Custom in our Family, never to stir abroad against an Enemy, I should come and teach you better Manners. I pray, have Patience, said the Bee, or you will spend your Substance, and, for ought I see, you may stand in need of it all, towards the Repair of your House. Rogue, Rogue, replied the Spider, yet, methinks, you should have more Respect to a Person, whom all the World allows to be so much your Betters. By my Troth, said the Bee, the Comparison will amount to a very good Jest, and you will do me a Favour, to let me know the Reasons, that all the World is pleased to use in so hopeful a Dispute. At this, the Spider having swelled himself into the Size and Posture of a Disputant, began his Argument in the true Spirit of Controversy, with Resolution to be heartily scurrilous and angry, to urge on his own Reasons, without the least Regard to the Answers or Objections of his Opposite; and fully predetermined in his Mind against all Conviction.

[11] Not to disparage my self, said he, by the Comparison with such a Rascal; What art thou but a Vagabond without House or Home, without Stock or Inheritance; Born to no Possession of your own, but a Pair of Wings, and a Drone-Pipe. Your Livelihood is an universal Plunder upon Nature; a Freebooter over Fields and Gardens; and for the sake of Stealing, will rob a Nettle as readily as a Violet. Whereas I am a domestick Animal, furnisht with a Native Stock within my self. This large Castle (to shew my Improvements in the Mathematicks) is all built with my own Hands, and the Materials extracted altogether out of my own Person.

[12] I am glad, answered the Bee, to hear you grant at least, that I am come honestly by my Wings and my Voice, for then, it seems, I am obliged to Heaven alone for my Flights and my Musick; and Providence would never have bestowed on me two such Gifts, without designing them for the noblest Ends. I visit, indeed, all the Flowers and Blossoms of the Field and Garden, but whatever I collect from thence, enriches my self, without the least Injury to their Beauty, their Smell, or their Taste. Now, for you and your Skill in Architecture, and other Mathematicks, I have little to say: In that Building of yours, there might, for ought I know, have been Labour and Method enough, but by woful Experience for us both, 'tis too plain, the Materials are naught, and I hope, you will henceforth take Warning, and consider Duration and matter, as well as method and Art. You, boast, indeed, of being obliged to no other Creature, but of drawing, and spinning out all from your self; That is to say, if we may judge of the Liquor in the Vessel by what issues out, You possess a good plentiful Store of Dirt and Poison in your Breast; And, tho' I would by no means, lessen or disparage your genuine Stock of either, yet, I doubt you are somewhat obliged for an Encrease of both, to a little foreign Assistance. Your inherent Portion of Dirt, does not fall of Acquisitions, by Sweepings exhaled from below: and one Insect furnishes you with a share of Poison to destroy another. So that in short, the Question comes all to this; Whether is the nobler Being of the two, That which by a lazy Contemplation of four Inches round; by an over-weening Pride, which feeding and engendering on it self, turns all into Excrement and Venom; producing nothing at last, but Fly-bane and a Cobweb: Or That, which, by an universal Range, with long Search, much Study, true Judgment, and Distinction of Things, brings home Honey and Wax.

[13] This Dispute was managed with such Eagerness, Clamor, and Warmth, that the two Parties of Books in Arms below, stood Silent a while, waiting in Suspense what would be the Issue; which was not long undetermined: For the Bee grown impatient at so much loss of Time, fled strait away to a bed of Roses, without looking for a Reply; and left the Spider like an Orator, collected in himself, and just prepared to burst out.

[14] It happened upon this Emergency, that Æsop broke silence first. He had been of late most barbarously treated by a strange Effect of the Regent's Humanity, who had tore off his Title-page, sorely defaced one half of his Leaves, and chained him fast among a Shelf of Moderns. Where soon discovering how high the Quarrel was like to proceed, He tried all his Arts, and turned himself to a thousand Forms: At length in the borrowed Shape of an Ass, the Regent mistook him for a Modern; by which means, he had Time and Opportunity to escape to the Antients, just when the Spider and the Bee were entering into their Contest; to which He gave His Attention with a world of Pleasure; and when it was ended, swore in the loudest Key, that in all his Life, he had never known two Cases so parallel and adapt to each other, as That in the Window, and this upon the Shelves. The Disputants, said he, have admirably managed the Dispute between them, have taken in the full Strength of all that is to be said on both sides, and exhausted the Substance of every Argument pro and con. It is but to adjust the Reasonings of both to the present Quarrel, then to compare and apply the Labors and Fruits of each, as the Bee has learnedly deduced them; and we shall find the Conclusion fall plain and close upon the Moderns and Us. For, pray Gentlemen, was ever any thing so Modern as the Spider in his Air, his Turns, and his Paradoxes? He argues in the Behalf of You his Brethren, and Himself, with many Boastings of his native Stock, and great Genius; that he Spins and Spits wholly from himself, and scorns to own any Obligation or Assistance from without. Then he displays to you his great Skill in Architecture, and Improvement in the Mathematicks. To all this, the Bee, as an Advocate, retained by us the Antients, thinks fit to Answer; That if one may judge of the great Genius or Inventions of the Moderns, by what they have produced, you will hardly have Countenance to bear you out in boasting of either. Erect your Schemes with as much Method and Skill as you please; yet, if the materials be nothing but Dirt, spun out of your own Entrails (the Guts of Modern Brains) the Edifice will conclude at last in a Cobweb: The Duration of which, like that of other Spiders Webs, may be imputed to their being forgotten, or neglected, or hid in a Corner. For any Thing else of Genuine, that the Moderns may pretend to, I cannot recollect; unless it be a large Vein of Wrangling and Satyr, much of a Nature and Substance with the Spider's Poison; which, however, they pretend to spit wholly out of themselves, is improved by the same Arts, by feeding upon the Insects and Vermin of the Age. As for Us, the Antients, We are content with the Bee, to pretend to Nothing of our own, beyond our Wings and our Voice: that is to say, our Flights and our Language; For the rest, whatever we have got, has been by infinite Labor, and search, and ranging thro' every Corner of Nature: The Difference is, that instead of Dirt and Poison, we have rather chose to till our Hives with Honey and Wax, thus furnishing Mankind with the two Noblest of Things, which are Sweetness and Light.

[15] 'Tis wonderful to conceive the Tumult arisen among the Books, upon the close of this long Descant of Æsop; Both Parties took the Hint, and heightened their Animosities so on a sudden, that they resolved it should come to a Battel. Immediately, the two main Bodies withdrew under their several Ensigns, to the farther Parts of the Library, and there entered into Cabals, and Consults upon the present Emergency. The Moderns were in very warm Debates upon the Choice of their Leaders, and nothing less than the Fear impending from their Enemies, could have kept them from Mutinies upon this Occasion. The Difference was greatest among the Horse, where every private Trooper pretended to the chief Command, from Tasso and Milton, to Dryden and Withers. The Light-Horse were commanded by Cowly and Despreaux. There, came the Bowmen under their valiant Leaders, Des-Cartes, Gassendi, and Hobbes, whose Strength was such, that they could shoot their Arrows beyond the Atmosphere, never to fall down again, but turn, like that of Evander into Meteors, or like the Canon-ball into Stars. Paracelsus brought a Squadron of Stink-Pot-Flingers from the snowy Mountains of Rhætia. There, came a vast Body of Dragoons, of different Nations, under the leading of Harvey, their great Aga: Part armed with Scythes, the Weapons of Death; Part with Launces and long Knives, all steept in Poison; Part shot Bullets of a most malignant Nature, and used white Powder which infallibly killed without Report. There, came several Bodies of heavy-armed Foot, all Mercenaries, under the Ensigns of Guiccardine, Davila, Polydore Virgil, Buchanan, Mariana, Cambden, and others. The Engineers were commanded by Regiomontanus and Wilkins. The rest were a confused Multitude, led by Scotus, Aquinas, and Bellarmine; of mighty Bulk and Stature, but without either Arms, Courage, or Discipline. In the last Place, came infinite Swarms of *Calones, a disorderly Rout led by Lestrange; Rogues and Raggamuffins, that follow the Camp for nothing but the Plunder; All without Coats to cover them.

[16] The Army of the Antients was much fewer in Number; Homer led the Horse, and Pindar the Light-Horse; Euclid was chief Engineer; Plato and Aristotle commanded the Bow men; Herodotus and Livy the Foot; Hippocrates the Dragoons. The Allies, led by Vossius and Temple, brought up the Rear.

[17] All things violently tending to a decisive Battel; Fame, who much frequented, and had a large Apartment formerly assigned her in the Regal Library, fled up strait to Jupiter, to whom she delivered a faithful account of all that passed between the two Parties below. (For, among the Gods, she always tells Truth.) Jove in great concern, convokes a Council in the Milky-Way. The Senate assembled, he declares the Occasion of convening them; a bloody Battel just impendent between two mighty Armies of Antient and Modern Creatures, call'd Books, wherein the Celestial Interest was but too deeply concerned. Momus, the Patron of the Moderns, made an Excellent Speech in their Favor, which was answered by Pallas the Protectress of the Antients. The Assembly was divided in their affections; when Jupiter commanded the Book of Fate to be laid before Him. Immediately were brought by Mercury, three large Volumes in Folio, containing Memoirs of all Things past, present, and to come. The Clasps were of Silver, double Gilt; the Covers, of Celestial Turky-leather, and the Paper such as here on Earth might pass almost for Vellum. Jupiter having silently read the Decree, would communicate the Import to none, but presently shut up the Book.

[18] Without the Doors of this Assembly, there attended a vast Number of light, nimble Gods, menial Servants to Jupiter: These are his ministring Instruments in all Affairs below. They travel in a Caravan, more or less together, and are fastened to each other like a Link of Gally-slaves, by a light Chain, which passes from them to Jupiter's great Toe: And yet in receiving or delivering a Message, they may never approach above the lowest Step of his Throne, where he and they whisper to each other thro' a large hollow Trunk. These Deities are call'd by mortal Men, Accidents, or Events; but the Gods call them, Second Causes. Jupiter having delivered his Message to a certain Number of these Divinities, they flew immediately down to the Pinnacle of the Regal Library, and consulting a few Minutes, entered unseen, and disposed the Parties according to their Orders.

[19] Mean while, Momus fearing the worst, and calling to mind an Antient Prophecy, which bore no very good Face to his Children the Moderns; bent his Flight to the Region of a malignant Deity, call'd Criticism. She dwelt on the Top of a snowy Mountain in Nova Zembla; there Momus found her extended in her Den, upon the Spoils of numberless Volumes half devoured. At her right Hand sat Ignorance, her Father and Husband, blind with Age; at her left, Pride her Mother, dressing her up in the Scraps of Paper herself had torn. There, was Opinion her Sister, light of Foot, hoodwinkt, and headstrong, yet giddy and perpetually turning. About her play'd her Children, Noise and Impudence, Dulness and Vanity, Positiveness, Pedantry, and Ill-Manners. The Goddess herself had Claws like a Cat: Her Head, and Ears, and Voice resembled those of an Ass; Her Teeth fallen out before; Her Eyes turned inward, as if she lookt only upon herself: Her Diet was the overflowing of her own Gall: Her Spleen was so large, as to stand prominent like a Dug of the first Rate, nor wanted Excrescencies in form of Teats, at which a Crew of ugly Monsters were greedily sucking; and, what is wonderful to conceive, the bulk of Spleen encreased faster than the Sucking could diminish it. Goddess, said Momus, can you sit idly here, while our devout Worshippers, the Moderns, are this Minute entering into a cruel Battel, and, perhaps, now lying under the Swords of their Enemies; Who then hereafter, will ever sacrifice, or build Altars to our Divinities? Haste therefore to the British Isle, and, if possible, prevent their Destruction; while I make Factions among the Gods, and gain them over to our Party.

[20] Momus having thus delivered himself, staid not for an answer, but left the Goddess to her own Resentment; Up she rose in a Rage, and as it is the Form on such Occasions, began a Soliloquy. 'Tis I (said she) who give Wisdom to Infants and Idiots; By Me, Children grow wiser than their Parents. By Me, Beaux become Politicians; and School-boys, Judges of Philosophy. By Me, Sophisters debate, and conclude upon the Depths of Knowledge; and Coffee-house Wits instinct by Me, can correct an Author's Style, and display his minutest Errors, without understanding a Syllable of his Matter or his Language. By Me, Striplings spend their Judgment, as they do their Estate, before it comes into their Hands. 'Tis I, who have deposed Wit and Knowledge from their Empire over Poetry, and advanced my self in their stead. And shall a few upstart Antients dare to oppose me? —— But, come, my aged Parents, and you, my Children dear, and thou my beauteous Sister; let us ascend my Chariot, and haste to assist our devout Moderns, who are now sacrificing to us a Hecatomb, as I perceive by that grateful Smell, which from thence reaches my Nostrils.

[21] The Goddess and her Train having mounted the Chariot, which was drawn by tame Geese, flew over infinite Regions, shedding her Influence in due Places, till at length, she arrived at her beloved Island of Britain; but in hovering over its Metropolis, what Blessings did she not let fall upon her Seminaries of Gresham and Covent-Garden? And now she reach'd the fatal Plain of St. James's Library, at what time the two Armies were upon the point to engage; where entring with all her Caravan, unseen, and landing upon a Case of Shelves, now desart, but once inhabited by a Colony of Virtuoso's she staid a while to observe the Posture of both Armies.

[22] But here the tender Cares of a Mother began to fill her Thoughts, and move in her Breast. For, at the Head of a Troop of Modern Bow-men, she cast her Eyes upon her son W—tt—n; to whom the Fates had assigned a very short Thread. W—tt—n, a young Hero, whom an unknown Father of mortal Race, begot by stolen Embraces with this Goddess. He was the Darling of his Mother, above all her Children, and she resolved to go and comfort Him. But first, according to the good old Custom of Deities, she cast about to change her Shape; for fear the Divinity of her Countenance might dazzle his Mortal Sight, and over-charge the rest of his Senses. She therefore gathered up her Person into an Octavo Compass: Her Body grow white and arid, and split in pieces with Driness; the thick turned into Pastboard, and the thin into Paper, upon which her Parents and Children, artfully strowed a Black Juice, or Decoction of Gall and Soot, in Form of Letters; Her Head, and Voice, and Spleen, kept their primitive Form, and that which before was a cover of Skin, did still continue so. In this Guise, she march'd on towards the Moderns, undistinguishable in Shape and Dress from the Divine Bn—tl—y, W—tt—n's dearest Friend. Brave W—tt—n, said the Goddess, Why do our Troops stand idle here, to spend their present Vigour and Opportunity of this Day? Away, let us haste to the Generals, and advise to give the Onset immediately. Having spoke thus, she took the ugliest of her Monsters, full glutted from her Spleen, and flung it invisibly into his Mouth; which flying strait up into his Head, squeezed out his Eye-Balls, gave him a distorted Look, and half over-turned his Brain. Then she privately ordered two of her beloved Children, Dulness and Ill-Manners, closely to attend his Person in all Encounters. Having thus accoutred him, she vanished in a Mist, and the Hero perceived it was the Goddess, his Mother.

[23] The destined Hour of Fate, being now arrived, the Fight began; whereof, before I dare adventure to make a particular Description, I must, after the Example of other Authors, petition for a hundred Tongues, and Mouths, and Hands, and Pens; which would all be too little to perform so immense a Work. Say, Goddess, that presidest over History; who it was that first advanced in the Field of Battel. Paracelsus, at the Head of his Dragoons, observing Galen in the adverse Wing, darted his Javelin with a mighty Force, which the brave Antient received upon his Shield, the Point breaking in the second fold. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Hic pauca desunt. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * They bore the wounded Aga, on their Shields to his Chariot * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Desunt nonnulla. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

[24] Then Aristotle observing Bacon advance with a furious Mien, drew his Bow to the Head, and let fly his Arrow, which miss'd the valiant Modern, and went hizzing over his Head; but Des-Cartes it hit; The Steel Point quickly found a Defect in his Head-piece; it pierced the Leather and the Past-board, and went in at his Right Eye. The Torture of the Pain, whirled the valiant Bow-man round, till Death, like a Star of superior Influence, drew him into his own Vortex. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Ingens hiatus hic in MS. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * when Homer appeared at the Head of the Cavalry, mounted on a furious Horse, with Difficulty managed by the Rider himself, but which no other Mortal durst approach; He rode among the Enemies Ranks, and bore down all before him. Say, Goddess, whom he slew first, and whom he slew last. First, Gondibert advanced against Him, clad in heavy Armor, and mounted on a staid sober Gelding, not so famed for his Speed as his Docility in kneeling, whenever his Rider would mount or alight. He had made a Vow to Pallas, that he would never leave the Field till he had spoiled *Homer of his Armor; Madman, who had never once seen the Wearer, nor understood his Strength. Him Homer overthrew, Horse and Man to the ground, there to be trampled and choak'd in the Dirt. Then with a long Spear, he slew Denham, a stout Modern, who from his *Father's side, derived his Lineage from Apollo, but his Mother was of Mortal Race. He fell, and bit the Earth. The Celestial Part Apollo took, and made it a Star, but the Terrestrial lay wallowing upon the Ground. Then Homer slew W—sl—y with a kick of his Horse's heel; he took Perrault by mighty Force out of his Saddle, then hurl'd him at Fontenelle, with the same Blow dashing out both their Brains.

[25] On the left Wing of the Horse, Virgil appeared in shining Armour, compleatly fitted to his Body; He was mounted on a dapple grey Steed, the slowness of whose Pace, was an Effect of the highest Mettle and Vigour. He cast his Eye on the adverse Wing, with a desire to find an Object worthy of his valour, when behold, upon a sorrel Gelding of a monstrous Size, appear'd a Foe, issuing from among the thickest of the Enemy's Squadrons; But his Speed was less than his Noise; for his Horse, old and lean, spent the Dregs of his Strength in a high Trot, which tho' it made slow advances, yet caused a loud Clashing of his Armor, terrible to hear. The two Cavaliers had now approached within the Throw of a Lance, when the Stranger desired a Parley, and lifting up the Vizard of his Helmet, a Face hardly appeared from within, which after a pause, was known for that of the renowned Dryden. The brave Antient suddenly started, as one possess'd with Surprize and Disappointment together: For, the Helmet was nine times too large for the Head, which appeared Situate far in the hinder Part, even like the Lady in a Lobster, or like a Mouse under a Canopy of State, or like a shrivled Beau from within the Penthouse of a modern Perewig: And the voice was suited to the Visage, sounding weak and remote. Dryden in a long Harangue soothed up the good Antient, called him Father, and by a large deduction of Genealogies, made it plainly appear, that they were nearly related. Then he humbly proposed an Exchange of Armor, as a lasting Mark of Hospitality between them. Virgil consented (for the Goddess Diffidence came unseen, and cast a Mist before his Eyes) tho' his was of Gold, and cost a hundred Beeves, the others but of rusty Iron. However, this glittering Armor became the Modern yet worse than his Own. Then, they agreed to exchange Horses; but when it came to the Trial, Dryden was afraid, and utterly unable to mount. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Alter hiatus in MS. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Lucan appeared upon a fiery Horse, of admirable Shape, but head-strong, bearing the Rider where he list, over the Field; he made a mighty Slaughter among the Enemy's Horse; which Destruction to stop, Bl—ckm—re, a famous Modern (but one of the Mercenaries) strenuously opposed himself; and darted his Javelin, with a strong Hand, which falling short of its Mark, struck deep in the Earth. Then Lucan threw a Lance; but Æsculapius came unseen, and turn'd off the Point. Brave Modern, said Lucan, I perceive some God protects you, for never did my Arm so deceive me before; But, what Mortal can contend with a God? Therefore, let us Fight no longer, but present Gifts to each other. Lucan then bestowed on the Modern a Pair of Spurs, and Bl—ckm—re gave Lucan a Bridle. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Creech; But, the Goddess Dulness took a Cloud, formed into the shape of Horace, armed and mounted, and placed in a flying Posture before Him. Glad was the Cavalier, to begin a Combat with a flying Foe, and pursued the Image, threatning loud; till at last it led him to the peaceful Bower of his Father Ogleby, by whom he was disarmed, and assigned to his Repose.

[26] Then Pindar slew ———, and ———, and Oldham, and ——— and Afra the Amazon light of foot; Never advancing in a direct Line, but wheeling with incredible Agility and Force, he made a terrible Slaughter among the Enemy's Light-Horse. Him, when Cowley observed, his generous Heart burnt within him, and he advanced against the fierce Antient, imitating his Address, and Pace, and Career, as well as the Vigour of his Horse, and his own Skill would allow. When the two Cavaliers had approach'd within the Length of three Javelins; first Cowley threw a Lance, which miss'd Pindar, and passing into the Enemy's Ranks, fell ineffectual to the Ground. Then Pindar darted a Javelin, so large and weighty, that scarce a dozen Cavaliers, as Cavaliers are in our degenerate Days, could raise it from the Ground: yet he threw it with Ease, and it went by an unerring Hand, singing through the Air; Nor could the Modern have avoided present Death, if he had not luckily opposed the Shield that had been given him by Venus. And now both Hero's drew their Swords, but the Modern was so aghast and disordered, that he knew not where he was; his Shield dropt from his Hands; thrice he fled, and thrice he could not escape; at last he turned, and lifting up his Hands, in the Posture of a Suppliant, God-like Pindar, said he, spare my Life, and possess my Horse with these Arms; besides the Ransom which my Friends will give, when they hear I am alive, and your Prisoner. Dog, said Pindar, Let your Ransom stay with your Friends; but your Carcass shall be left for the Fowls of the Air, and the Beasts of the Field. With that, he raised his Sword, and with a mighty Stroak, cleft the wretched Modern in twain, the Sword pursuing the Blow; and one half lay panting on the Ground, to be trod in pieces by the Horses Feet, the other half was born by the frighted Steed thro' the Field. This *Venus took, wash'd it seven times in Ambrosia, then struck it thrice with a Sprig of Amarant; upon which, the Leather grew round and soft, the Leaves turned into Feathers, and being gilded before, continued gilded still; so it became a Dove and She harness'd it to her Chariot. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Hiatus valdè deflendus in MS. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

[27] Day being far spent, and the numerous Forces of the Moderns half inclining to a Retreat, there issued forth from a Squadron of their heavy armed Foot, a Captain, whose name was B—ntl—y; in Person, the most deformed of all the Moderns; Tall, but without Shape or Comeliness; Large, but without Strength or Proportion. His Armour was patch'd up of a thousand incoherent Pieces; and the Sound of it, as he march'd, was loud and dry, like that made by the Fall of a Sheet of Lead, which an Etesian Wind blows suddenly down from the Roof of some Steeple. His Helmet was of old rusty Iron, but the Vizard was Brass, which, tainted by his Breath, corrupted into Copperas, nor wanted Gall from the same Fountain; so, that whenever provoked by Anger or Labour, an atramentous Quality, of most malignant Nature, was seen to distil from his Lips. In his *right Hand he grasp'd a Flail, and (that he might never be unprovided of an offensive Weapon) a Vessel full of Ordure in his Left: Thus, compleatly arm'd, he advanc'd with a slow and heavy Pace, where the Modern Chiefs were holding a Consult upon the Sum of Things; who, as he came onwards, laugh'd to behold his crooked Leg, and hump Shoulder, which his Boot and Armour vainly endeavouring to hide were forced to comply with, and expose. The Generals made use of him for his Talent of Railing; which kept within Government, proved frequently of great Service to their Cause, but at other times did more Mischief than Good; For at the least Touch of Offence, and often without any at all, he would, like a wounded Elephant, convert it against his Leaders. Such, at this Juncture, was the Disposition of B—ntl—y, grieved to see the Enemy prevail, and dissatisfied with every Body's Conduct but his own. He humbly gave the Modern Generals to understand, that he conceived, with great Submission, they were all a Pack of Rogues, and Fools, and Sons of Whores, and d——mn'd Cowards, and confounded Loggerheads, and illiterate Whelps, and nonsensical Scoundrels; that, if himself had been constituted General, those presumptuous Dogs, the Antients, would long before, this have been beaten out of the Field. You, said he, sit here idle, but, when I, or any other valiant Modern, kill an Enemy, you are sure to seize the Spoil. But, I will not march one Foot against the Foe, till you all swear to me, that, whomever I take or kill, his Arms I shall quietly possess. B—ntl—y having spoken thus, Scaliger bestowing him a sower Look; Miscreant Prater, said he, Eloquent only in thine own eyes, thou railest without Wit, or Truth, or Discretion. The Malignity of thy Temper perverteth Nature; Thy Learning makes thee more Barbarous; thy Study of Humanity, more Inhuman; Thy Converse among Poets more groveling, miry, and dull. All arts of civilizing others, render thee rude and untractable; Courts have taught thee ill Manners, and polite conversation has finished thee a Pedant. Besides, a greater Coward burdeneth not the Army. But never despond, I pass my Word, whatever Spoil thou takest, shall certainly be thy own; though, I hope, that vile Carcass will first become a prey to Kites and Worms.

[28] B—ntl—y durst not reply; but half choaked with Spleen and Rage, withdrew, in full Resolution of performing some great Achievment. With him, for his Aid and Companion, he took his beloved W—tt—n; resolving by Policy or Surprize, to attempt some neglected Quarter of the Antients Army. They began their March over Carcasses of their slaughtered Friends; then to the Right of their own Forces: then wheeled Northward, till they came to Aldrovandus's Tomb, which they pass'd on the side of the declining Sun. And now they arrived with Fear toward the Enemy's Out-guards; looking about, if haply, they might spy the Quarters of the Wounded, or some straggling Sleepers, unarm'd and remote from the rest. As when two Mungrel-Curs, whom native Greediness, and domestick Want, provoke, and join in Partnership, though fearful, nightly to invade the Folds of some rich Grazier; They, with Tails depress'd, and lolling Tongues, creep soft and slow; mean while, the conscious Moon, now in her Zenith, on their guilty Heads, darts perpendicular Rays; Nor dare they bark, though much provok'd at her refulgent Visage, whether seen in Puddle by Reflexion, or in Sphear direct; but one surveys the Region round, while t'other scouts the Plain, if haply, to discover at distance from the Flock, some Carcass half devoured, the Refuse of gorged Wolves or ominous Ravens. So march'd this lovely, loving Pair of Friends, nor with less Fear and Circumspection; when, at a distance, they might perceive two shining Suits of Armor hanging upon an Oak, and the Owners not far off in a profound Sleep. The two Friends drew Lots, and the pursuing of this Adventure, fell to B—ntl—y; On he went, and in his Van Confusion and Amaze; while Horror and Affright brought up the Rear. As he came near; Behold two Hero's of the Antients Army, Phalaris and Æsop, lay fast asleep: B—ntl—y would fain have despatch'd them both, and stealing close, aimed his Flail at Phalaris's Breast. But, then, the Goddess Affright interposing, caught the Modern in her icy Arms, and dragg'd him from the Danger she foresaw; For both the dormant Hero's happened to turn at the same Instant, tho' soundly Sleeping, and busy in a Dream. *For Phalaris was just that Minute dreaming, how a most vile Poetaster had lampoon'd him, and how he had got him roaring in his Bull. And Æsop dream'd, that as he and the Antient Chiefs were lying on the Ground, a Wild Ass broke loose, ran about trampling and kicking, and dunging in their Faces. B—ntl—y leaving the two Hero's asleep, seized on both their Armors, and withdrew in quest of his Darling W—tt—n.

[29] He, in the mean time, had wandred long in search of some Enterprize, till at length, he arrived at a small Rivulet, that issued from a Fountain hard by, call'd in the Language of mortal Men, Helicon. Here he stopt, and, parch'd with thirst, resolved to allay it in this limpid Stream. Thrice, with profane Hands, he essay'd to raise the Water to his Lips, and thrice it slipt all thro' his Fingers. Then he stoop'd prone on his Breast, but, e'er his Mouth had kiss'd the liquid Crystal, Apollo came, and, in the Channel, held his Shield betwixt the Modern and the Fountain, so that he drew up nothing but Mud. For, altho' no Fountain on Earth can compare with the Clearness of Helicon, yet there lies at Bottom, a thick sediment of Slime and Mud; For, so Apollo begg'd of Jupiter, as a Punishment to those who durst attempt to taste it with unhallowed Lips, and for a Lesson to all, not to draw too deep, or far from the Spring.

[30] At the Fountain Head, W—tt—n discerned two Hero's; The one he could not distinguish, but the other was soon known for Temple, General of the Allies to the Antients. His Back was turned, and he was employ'd in Drinking large Draughts in his Helmet, from the Fountain, where he had withdrawn himself to rest from the Toils of the War. W—tt—n, observing him, with quaking Knees, and trembling Hands, spoke thus to Himself: Oh, that I could kill this Destroyer of our Army, what Renown should I purchase among the Chiefs! But to issue out against Him, Man for Man, Shield against Shield, and Launce against Launce; what Modern of us dare? For, he fights like a God, and Pallas or Apollo are ever at his Elbow. But, Oh, Mother! if what Fame reports, be true, that I am the Son of so great a Goddess, grant me to Hit Temple with this Launce, that the Stroak may send Him to Hell, and that I may return in Safety and Triumph, laden with his Spoils. The first Part of this Prayer, the Gods granted, at the Intercession of His Mother and of Momus; but the rest, by a perverse Wind sent from Fate, was scattered in the Air. Then W—tt—n grasp'd his Launce, and brandishing it thrice over his head, darted it with all his Might, the Goddess, his Mother, at the same time, adding Strength to his Arm. Away the Launce went hizzing, and reach'd even to the Belt of the averted Antient, upon which, lightly grazing, it fell to the Ground. Temple neither felt the Weapon touch him, nor heard it fall: And W—tt—n, might have escaped to his Army, with the Honor of having remitted his Launce against so great a Leader, unrevenged; But, Apollo enraged, that a Javelin, flung by the Assistance of so foul a Goddess, should pollute his Fountain, put on the shape of ——, and softly came to young Boyle, who then accompanied Temple: He pointed, first to the Launce, then to the distant Modern that flung it, and commanded the young Hero to take immediate Revenge. Boyle, clad in a suit of Armor which had been given him by all the Gods, immediately advanced against the trembling Foe, who now fled before him. As a young Lion, in the Libyan Plains, or Araby Desert, sent by his aged Sire to hunt for Prey, or Health, or Exercise; He scours along, wishing to meet some Tiger from the Mountains, or a furious Boar; If Chance, a Wild Ass, with Brayings importune, affronts his Ear, the generous Beast, though loathing to distain his Claws with Blood so vile, yet, much provok'd at the offensive Noise; which Echo, foolish nymph, like her ill judging Sex, repeats much louder, and with more Delight than Philomela's Song: He vindicates the Honor of the Forest, and hunts the noisy, long-ear'd Animal. So W—tt—n fled, so Boyle pursued. But W—tt—n heavy-arm'd, and slow of foot, began to slack his Course; when his Lover B—ntl—y appeared, returning laden with the Spoils of the two sleeping Antients. Boyle observed him well, and soon discovering the Helmet and Shield of Phalaris, his Friend, both which he had lately with his own Hands, new polish'd and gilded; Rage sparkled in His Eyes, and leaving his Pursuit after W—tt—n, he furiously rush'd on against this new Approacher. Fain would he be revenged on both; but both now fled different Ways: *And as a Woman in a little House, that gets a painful Livelihood by Spinning; if chance her Geese be scattered o'er the Common, she courses round the Plain from side to side, compelling here and there, the Stragglers to the Flock; They cackle loud, and flutter o'er the Champain. So Boyle pursued, so fled this Pair of Friends: finding at length, their Flight was vain, they bravely joyn'd, and drew themselves in Phalanx. First, B—ntl—y threw a Spear with all his Force, hoping to pierce the Enemy's Breast; But Pallas came unseen, and in the Air took off the Point, and clap'd on one of Lead, which after a dead Bang against the Enemy's Shield, fell blunted to the Ground. Then Boyle observing well his Time, took up a Launce of wondrous Length and sharpness; and as this Pair of Friends compacted stood close Side to Side, he wheel'd him to the right, and with unusual Force, darted the Weapon. B—ntl—y saw his Fate approach, and flanking down his Arms, close to his Ribs, hoping to save his Body; in went the Point, passing through Arm and Side, nor stopt, or spent its Force, till it had also pierc'd the valiant W—tt—n, who going to sustain his dying Friend, shared his Fate. As, when a skilful Cook has truss'd a Brace of Woodcocks, He, with Iron Skewer, pierces the tender Sides of both, their Legs and Wings close pinion'd to their Ribs; So was this pair of Friends transfix'd, till down they fell, joyn'd in their Lives, joyn'd in their Deaths; so closely joyn'd, that Charon would mistake them both for one, and waft them over Styx for half his Fare. Farewel, beloved, loving Pair; Few Equals have you left behind: And happy and immortal shall you be, if all my Wit and Eloquence can make you.

[31] And, now * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Desunt cætera.


Note on the Text

The text comes from A Tale of a Tub, to which is Added the Battle of the Books and the Mechanical Operation of the Spirit, ed. A. C. Guthkelch and D. Nichol Smith (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1920), which draws on the first five editions of the Battle. The paragraph numbers and annotations are my own.

Since HTML does not allow for easy marginal notes, I have reproduced most of Swift's marginal notes as endnotes; a few have been omitted.


Commentary

[Bookseller to the Reader] written about the same time with the former: The Battle of the Books was bound with Swift's Tale of a Tub.

[Bookseller to the Reader] an essay of Sir William Temple's, upon that Subject: Sir William Temple (1628-99), Swift's patron, began the most important skirmish in the English phase of the Querelle des anciens et des modernes, the dispute over whether the modern world had produced anything comparable to the excellence of antiquity. In 1690, Temple published An Essay upon the Ancient and Modern Learning; in it, he argued for the superiority of the ancients over the moderns. He singles out two ancient authors for particular praise, Aesop (writer of fables) and Phalaris (a Sicilian tyrant of the sixth century B.C.).

[Bookseller to the Reader] W. Wotton: William Wotton (1666-1726) replied to Temple in Reflections upon Ancient and Modern Learning (1694; 2d ed., enlarged, 1697; 3d ed., enlarged, 1705), asserting that the moderns excel the ancients in science andmathematics.

[Bookseller to the Reader] Dr. Bently: Richard Bentley (1662-1742), England's greatest classical scholar, contributed an appendix to the second edition of Wotton's book, Dissertations on the Epistles of Phalaris. There he demonstrates convincingly that the letters of Phalaris — which Temple had singled out as being the greatest examples of ancient literature — were in fact productions of a much later period.

[Bookseller to the Reader] Charles Boyle: Charles Boyle (1676-1731), fourth earl of Orrery, entered the fray with an edition of the Epistles of Phalaris in 1695, and responded to Bentley in Dr. Bentley's Dissertations Examin'd by the Honourable Charles Boyle, Esq. (1698).

[Bookseller to the Reader] St. James's Library: Bentley was named librarian to the Royal Library in St. James's Palacein 1693.

[1] Annual Records of Time: "Riches produceth Pride; Pride is War's Ground, &c. Vid. Ephem. de Mary Clarke; opt. Edit." (Swift's note). "Ephem. de Mary Clarke" alludes to a popular almanac, which included sententious advice like that Swift parodies. "Opt. Edit." — "the best edition" — is an ironic way of referring to cheap popular reading matter.

[2] the Hill Parnassus: Mount Parnassus is the traditional home of the Muses.

[2] Engine: Engine is a common term for a piece of military equipment.

[2] Gall and Copperas: Two chemicals used in the making of ink.

[2] Representatives: "Their Title-Pages" (Swift's note). Title pages of books and pamphlets were commonly used as posters to promote new publications.

[3] Scotus: Johannes Duns Scotus (c. 1265-1308), medieval philosopher. For later ages, Scotus came to represent the worst of Scholastic philosophy. Duns is the origin of the word dunce.

[6] The Guardian of the Regal Library: Bentley (see above, "Bookseller to the Reader").

[6] Humanity: "The Honourable Mr. Boyle, in the Preface to his Edition of Phalaris, says, he was refus'd a Manuscript by the Library-Keeper, pro solita Humanitate suâ" (Swift's note). When Bentley denied Boyle permission to examine some manuscripts in the Royal Library, Boyle took to referring ironically to his "humanity," a phrase which echoes throughout the debate.

[6] two of the Antient Chiefs: Phalaris and Aesop, whom Temple had singled out for particular praise, and whom Bentley showed to be postclassical.

[6] Schoolmen: A common term for the Scholastic philosophers of the Middle Ages, who were widely criticized in the Renaissance and eighteenth century.

[6] Des-Cartes: René Descartes (1596-1650), French mathematician and philosopher, often singled out as one of the greatest of the Moderns.

[6] Hobbes: Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), English philosopher, best known for his work of political philosophy, Leviathan (1651). Another arch-modern.

[6] Seven Wise Masters: A modern tale of the seven sages.

[6] Dryden: John Dryden (1631-1700), the most influential English poet of the late seventeenth century. Although Dryden and Swift were related, Swift bitterly resented a comment Dryden is said to have made to him: "Cousin Swift, you willnever be a poet." Swift's works are filled with attacks on Dryden.

[6] Withers: George Wither (1588-1667), English poet, and often singled out for being bad.

[8] much the more Antient of the two: "According to the Modern Paradox" (Swift's note). Francis Bacon (1561-1626), an arch-modern, gave the most famous version of the paradox: "And to speak truly, Antiquitas sæculi juventus mundi [the antiquity of the ages is the youth of the world]. These times are the ancient times, when the world is ancient, and not those which we account ancient ordine retrogrado, by a computation backward from ourselves." In other words, since more years have passed, the world is more ancient in the modern age than it was in antiquity.

[11] Improvements in the Mathematicks: Many of the Moderns, including Wotton, insisted that modern mathematics self-evidently excelled that of the ancient world. Swift's attitude toward modern mathematics is evident in Gulliver's Travels, part III, in which he ridicules advances in science and technology.

[15] Tasso: Torquato Tasso (1544-95), Italian epic poet, best known for Gierusalemme liberata.

[15] Bowmen: The "bowmen" are philosophers.

[15] Gassendi: Pierre Gassendi (1592-1655), French mathematician and philosopher.

[15] Paracelsus: Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim (1493-1541), Swiss philosopher and alchemist (therefore associated with "Stink-Pot-Flingers" below).

[15] Evander: In fact it is Acestes, in Aeneid 5.525-28, who fires the arrow.

[15] Dragoons: Medical writers.

[15] Harvey: William Harvey (1578-1657), English physician, who discovered the principle of the circulation of the blood. Sir William Temple suggested that the discovery may have been inaccurate, or that the Ancients may have beaten Harvey to it.

[15] Aga: A Turkish military chief.

[15] Mercenaries: Historians.

[15] Guiccardine, Davila, Polydore Virgil, Buchanan, Mariana, Cambden, and others: All modern historians: Francesco Guicciardini (1483-1540), Italian historian, known for his Historia d'Italia (1561); Enrico Caterino Davila (1576-1631), another Italian, author of Historia della guerre civili di Francia (1630); Polydore Vergil (1470-1555), born in Italy but resident in England, author of Anglicae historiae libri xxvi (1534); George Buchanan (1506-82), Scottish poet and historian; Juan de Mariana (1537-1624), Spanish historian; and William Camden (1551-1623), English antiquarian, best known for Britannia.

[15] Regiomontanus and Wilkins: In spite of the Latin name, Regiomontanus is a modern, Johann Müller (1436-76). John Wilkins (1614-72) was one of the founders of the Royal Society.

[15] Scotus, Aquinas, and Bellarmine: For Scotus, see above, par. 3. St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-74), the greatest of the medieval philosophers and theologians. Roberto Francesco Romolo Bellarmino (1542-1621), Roman Catholic theologian.

[15] Calones: "These are Pamphlets, which are not bound or cover'd" (Swift's note).

[15] Lestrange: Sir Roger L'Estrange (1616-1704), English journalist.

[16] Pindar: Pindar, Greek lyric poet of the sixth and fifth centuries B.C.

[16] Euclid: Euclid (fourth or third century B.C.), the greatest of the ancient geometricians.

[16] Herodotus and Livy: Herodotus (sixth century B.C.), Greek historian (and the first to use the term history); Livy (59 B.C.-A.D. 17), Roman historian.

[16] Hippocrates: Hippocrates (fifth century B.C.), Greek physician and medical writer, for whom the Hippocratic Oath is named.

[16] Vossius and Temple: Isaac Vossius (1618-89), Dutch scholar, whose work Swift admired. For Temple, see above, "Bookseller to the Reader."

[17] Momus: The God of ridicule, whose name is Greek for "fault," here personified as a typically modern critic.

[20] Hecatomb: A sacrifice of a hundred oxen.

[21] Seminaries of Gresham and Covent-Garden: Gresham College was the home of the Royal Society, whose modern scientific research Swift often satirized. Covent Garden contained many coffee houses at which wits congregated.

[22] W—tt—n: For William Wotton, see above, "Bookseller to the Reader."

[22] Divine Bn—tl—y: For Bentley, see above, "Bookseller to the Reader."

[23] Galen: Galen (second century A.D.), Greek physician and medical writer.

[23] Hic pauca desunt: "Here a little is missing." Here and at several points in the work, Swift parodies editions of classical texts in which a hiatus in the manuscript leaves the text incomplete. The other phrases — "Desunt nonnulla," "Ingens hiatus hic in MS.," "Alter hiatus in MS.," "Pauca desunt," "Hiatus valdè deflendus in MS.," and "Desunt cætera" — all indicate missing text.

[24] Bacon: For Francis Bacon, see above, par. 8.

[24] his own Vortex: Descartes's philosophy described the "vortices" that constitute the universe.

[24] Gondibert: A poem by Sir William Davenant, published in 1650. Many critics had compared it to Homer, but Temple attacked it.

[24] spoiled Homer of his Armour: "Vid. Homer" (Swift's note).

[24] Denham: Sir John Denham (1615-59), best known for Cooper's Hill (1642).

[24] from his Father's side: "Sir John Denham's Poems are very Unequal, extremely Good, and very Indifferent, so that his Detractors said, he was not the real Author of Coopers-Hill" (Swift's note).

[24] W—sl—y: Samuel Wesley (1662-1735), English poet and divine, and father of John and Charles Wesley (the founders of Methodism).

[25] Perrault: Charles Perrault (1628-1703), French scholar and defender of the moderns.

[25] Fontenelle: Bernard le Bovyer de Fontenelle (1657-1757), French poet and defender of the moderns.

[25] Lucan: Lucan (A.D. 39-65), Roman epic poet, best known for Pharsalia.

[25] Blackmore: Sir Richard Blackmore (1650-1729), English epic poet.

[25] Æsculapius: Aesculapius, the Greek god of healing.

[25] Creech: Thomas Creech (1659-1700), English translator, known for his versions of Lucretius (1682) and Horace (1684).

[25] Ogleby: John Ogilby (1600-76), English poet and translator of Homer and Virgil.

[26] Oldham: John Oldham (1653-83), English poet known for his satires and Pindaric poems.

[26] Afra the Amazon: Aphra Behn (1640-89), English playwright and novelist, and the first woman to make a living on her writing. Like Oldham, she wrote Pindaric odes.

[26] Cowley: Abraham Cowley (1618-67), English poet, and one of the originators of the vogue for Pindaric imitations in the late seventeenth century.

[26] This Venus took: "I do not approve the Author's Judgment in this, for a I think Cowley's Pindaricks are much preferable to his Mistress" (Swift's note).

[27] In his right Hand he grasp'd a Flail: "The Person here spoken of, is famous for letting fly at every Body without Distinction, and using mean and foul Scurrilities" (Swift's note).

[27] Scaliger: Joseph Justus Scaliger (1540-1609), French classical scholar.

[28] Aldrovandus: Ulisse Androvandi (1522-1605), Italian natural historian.

[28] For Phalaris was just that Minute dreaming: "This is according to Homer, who tells the Dreams of those who were kill'din their Sleep" (Swift's note).

[28] roaring in his Bull: The tyrant Phalaris was said to have roasted his enemies in a large brass bull.

[30] ——: Francis Atterbury (1663-1732), Bishop of Rochester, who helped Boyle compile his Examination.

[30] And as a Woman in a little House: "This is also, after the manner of Homer; the Woman's getting a painful Livelihood by Spinning, has nothing to do with the Similitude,nor would be excusable without such an Authority" (Swift's note).