The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 16/Preface to the Third Part of Sir William Temple's Miscellanies






(First published in the year 1701. Our author was at that time M. A. and prebendary of St. Patrick's, Dublin.

THE two following Essays, "Of Popular Discontents," and "Of Health and Long Life," were written many years before the author's death. They were revised and corrected by himself; and were designed to have been part of a Third Miscellanea, to which some others were to have been added, if the latter part of his life had been attended with any sufficient degree of health.

For the third paper, relating to the controversy about "Ancient and Modern Learning," I cannot well inform the reader upon what occasion it was writ, having been at that time in another kingdom; but it appears never to have been finished by the author[1].

The two next papers contain the heads of two Essays intended to have been written upon the "Different Conditions of Life and Fortune," and upon "Conversation." I have directed they should be printed among the rest, because I believe there are few who will not be content to see even the first draught of any thing from this author's hand.

At the end I have added a few translations from Virgil, Horace, and Tibullus, or rather imitations, done by the author above thirty years ago; whereof the first was printed, among other Eclogues of Virgil, in the year 1679, but without any mention of the author. They were indeed not intended to have been made publick, till I was informed of several copies that were got abroad, and those very imperfect and corrupt. Therefore the reader finds them here, only to prevent him from finding them in other places very faulty, and perhaps accompanied with many spurious additions.

  1. It seems very improbable that Dr. Swift should be altogether ignorant of the famous dispute about ancient and modern learning. If he had not made this publick declaration, he would highly, and with justice, have resented the being taxed by any other with being ignorant of a passage which made so great a noise in the commonwealth of learning. At this time, however, the doctor (being generally suspected of being the author of "The Tale of a Tub," which came abroad some time before, and which he did not think fit to own) might fancy that, by his disclaiming the knowledge of the occasion on which sir William wrote the above Essay, he should weaken the suspicion of his having written "The Tale of a Tub," which last is a subsidiary defence of sir W. Temple.