The Moors (’tis said) us’d to cast their newborn children into the sea, and only if they swam would think ’em worth their care; but mine, with more neglect, I turn into the world, for sink or swim, I have done all I design’d for’t. I have already, with as much satisfaction as Aeneas in a cloud heard Dido praise him, heard the Beaux-Criticks condemn this translation before they saw it, and with as much judgment as if they had: And after they had prophetically discover’d all the flaws in the turns of thought, the cadence of periods, and had almost brought in Epick and Drama, they supt their coffee, took snuff, and charitably concluded to send Briscoe the pye-woman to help off with his books. Well, I have nothing to say, but that these brisk gentlemen that draw without occasion, must put up without satisfaction.
After the injury of 1700 years, or better, and the several editions in Quarto, Octavo, Duodecimo, etc., with their respective notes to little purpose; for these annotators upon matters of no difficulty, are so tedious, that you can’t get rid of their enlargements without sleeping, but at any real knot are too modest to interrupt any man’s Curiosity in the untying of it. After so many years, I say, it happened upon the taking of Belgrade this author was made entire; made so because the new is suspected to be illegitimate: But it has so many features of the lawful father, that he was at least thought of when ’twas got. Now the story’s made out, the character of Lycas alter’d, and Petronius freed from the imputation of not making divine or humane justice pursue an ill-spent life.
As to the translation, the other hand, I believe, has been very careful; but if my part don’t satisfie the world, I should be glad to see my self reveng’d in a better version; and though it may prove no difficult province to improve what I have done, I shall yet have the credit of the first attempt.
If any of the fine gentlemen should be angry after they have read it, as some, to save that trouble, have before; and protest I’ve yet debauch’t Petronius, and robb’d him of his language, his only purity, I hope we shall shortly be reconciled, for I have some very pretty new songs ready for the press: If this satisfies them, I’ll venture to tell others that I have drest the meaning of the original as modestly as I could, but to have quite hid the obscaenity, I thought, were to invent, not translate.
As for the ladies, if any too-discerning antiquated hypocrite (for only such I fear) shou’d be angry with the beastly author; let the work be my advocate, where the little liberties I take, as modestly betray a broad meaning, as blushing when a man tells the story.