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AD you perused the work of Vavaflor,
you would cease to wonder at your friend's taking no notice of him in his Essay on Ludicrous Composition. His book De Dictione Ludicra, which you think must abound with curious matter, is the most vapid performance you can imagine. You likeways mistake its intention. It is written to prove that the ancients either knew nothing of, or else despised, ludicrous writing; and what do
you think is the consequence he derives from this discovery which his half-learning enabled him to make? Why to be sure that we, the poor moderns, must not pretend to feast on more luxurious things than our elders; and must look on a way of writing, unknown to them, as forbidden to us. Ab lepidum caput! His book De Epigrammate is of the same stuff. The one half of it is filled with invectives, truly jesuiti. cal, against some Collector of Epigrams, because, as would appear, he did not think any 6
of Vavassor's Epigrams worthy a place in his work. However, he afterwards gives his antagonist ample revenge, by presenting us with his own epigrams, in three books; among
all which there is not one that will bear reading twice, or indeed once if one could judge of them at first sight.
Such are the works of Vavassor, who has written on subjects of elegance without taste, and on subjects of curiosity without interesting, nay, I may add, on subjects of erudition without learning.
WHAT must we think of an author whose works, instead of advancing knowlege, would confine it? whose arguments, if extended, prove, that we must not use gun - powder because unknown at the battle of Marathon ; nor printing, because Cicero does not mention it?
Yet such a writer has had his admirers among his countrymen; for, according to one of their own prophets,
Un fot trouve toujours un plus fot qui l'admire.
I ENTIRELY agree
that Bossu, and the other French critics, whom Addison followed with blind adoration, cannot be held in too sovereign contempt. How mistaken a critic that fine writer was, may merit discussion on another occasion.
S I know that Akenside's work on the
Pleasures of Imagination is deservedly one of your most favorite poems, I send you inclosed what, I have no doubt, you will set a due value on; no less than a copy of all the corrections he made with his own hand on that Poem. They were inserted in the margin of the Doctor's printed copy, which afterwards passed into the hands of a gentleman, from a friend of whom, and of my own, a very ingenious young Templar, I received them. At what time they were written I cannot pretend to say, much less to reveal the author's reasons for not giving an edition according to them. Most of them are evidently much for the better; one or two, I am afraid, for the worse. You will observe that a few of them have been adopted by the author in his proposed alteration of the Poem; as appears from the two books, and part of the third, of that alteration, published by Mr. Dyson in his edition of Akenside's
Poems, 1972, 4to. but far the greater part is unpublished; and that the most valuable, as being evidently written ere the author had taken
up the strange idea that poetry was only perfect oratory. So that I will venture to say, that an edition of The Pleasures of Imagination, adopting most of these corrections, would be the most perfect ever yet known. Read and judge.
BOOK I.. Argument. Erase the words, or wonderfulness: and
the sentence, Pleasure from novelty or wonderfulness
with its final cause.
28. for finer, read nobler....
30. for gayest, happiest, read faireft, loftieft, 44, 45. for labour court my song ; Pet, read argument invite Me,
or what the beams of marn.
In balmy, tears. burtis 106. Erase this line, That uncreated beauty which delights.