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now, as the has much lefs beauty, than when I used to fee her once a week triumphing in the drawing-room. For; as few women (whatever they may pretend) will va lue themselves upon their minds, while they can gain admirers by their perfons, Timoclea never thought of captivating by her wit till she had no chance of making conquests by her beauty. She has feen a good deal of the world, and of the best company in it; and it is from thence the has derived whatever knowledge fhe poffeffes. You cannot, indeed, flatter her more, than by feeming to confider her as fond of reading and retire ment. But the truth is, nature formed her for the joys of fociety, and the is never so thoroughly pleased as when she has a circle round her.
IT is upon thofe occafions fhe appears to full advantage; and indeed I never knew any person who was endued with the talents for converfation to an higher degree. If I were difpofed to write the characters of the age, Timoclea is the firft perfon in the world to whofe affiftance I should apply. She has the happieft art of marking out the diftinguishing caft of her acquaintance,
that I ever met with; and I have known her, in an afternoon's converfation, paint the manners with greater delicacy of judgment and ftrength of coloring, than is to be found either in Theophrastus or Bruyere.
SHE has an inexhauftible fund of wit but if I may venture to diftinguifh, where one knows not even how to define, I fhould rather fay, it is brilliant than strong. This talent renders her the terror of all her female acquaintance; yet the never facrificed the abfent, or mortified the prefent, merely for the fake of displaying the force of her fatire: if any feel its fting, it is those only who firft provoke it. Still however it must be owned, that her refentments are frequently without just foundation, and almost always beyond measure. But tho fhe has much warmth, he has great generofity in her temper ; and with all her faults fhe is well worth your knowing.
AND now having given you this general plan of the strength and weakness of the place, I leave you to make your approaches, as you fhall fee proper. I am, &c.
LOOK upon verbal criticifm, as it is ge-" nerally exercifed, to be no better than a fort of learned legerdemain, by which the fenfe or nonfenfe of a paffage is artfully convey'd away, and fome other introduced in its ftead, as beft fuits with the purpose of the profound juggler. The differtation you recommended to my perufal, has but ferved to confirm me in thefe fentiments; for tho. I admired the ingenuity of the artift, I could not but greatly fufpect the juftness of an art, which can thus prefs any author into the fervice of any hypothefis,
I HAVE fometimes amufed myfelf with confidering the entertainment it would afford to thofe antients whofe works have had the honor to be attended by our commentators, could they rife out of their fepulchres and perufe fome of thofe curious conjectures, that have been raised upon their respective compofitions. Were Horace, for inftance, to read over only a few of thofe numberless restorers of his text, and expofitors of his meaning,
meaning, that have infefted the republic of letters; what a fund of pleasantry might he extract for a fatire on critical erudition? how many harmless words would he fee cruelly banished from their rightful poffeffions, merely because they happened to disturb fome unmerciful philologift? On the other hand he would undoubtedly fmile at that penetrating fagacity, which has discovered meanings which never entered into his thoughts, and found out concealed allufions in his most plain and artless expreffions.
ONE could not, I think, fet the general, abfurdity of critical conjectures in a stronger, light, than by applying them to fomething, parallel in our own writers. If the English, tongue should ever become a dead language,› and our beft authors be raised into the rank of claffic writers; much of the force and propriety of their expreffions, especially of, fuch as turned upon humor, or alluded to any, manners peculiar to the age, would inevitably be loft, or, at beft, would be ex-, tremely doubtful. How would it puzzle, for inftance, future commentators to explain, Swift's epigram upon our musical contests? Y 2 I ima
I imagine one might find them defcanting upon that little humorous fally of our English Rabelais, in fome fuch manner as this:
EPIGRAM on the Feuds between
Strange all this difference fhould be
NOTES of various Authors.
« Tweedle-dum and Tweedle-dee.] I am "perfuaded the poet gave it Twiddle-drum "and Twiddle-key. To twiddle fignifies to "make a certain ridiculous motion with "the fingers: what word therefore could "be more proper to express this epigram"writer's contempt of the performances of "thofe muficians, and of the folly of his
contemporaries in running into parties up"on fo abfurd an occafion? The drum was Co certain martial inftrument used in those
times; as the word key is a technical term "in mufic, importing the fundamental "note which regulates the whole compo"fition. It means alfo thofe little pieces "of wood which the fingers ftrike against