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May 30. 1792 ~

I am extreemly pleased with your vision, and you cannot easily concieve
how highly I am gratified on finding that the poor neglected and disponding
Julius is sometimes present in the airy parties of slumbering fancy. That in
sleep, as well as in wakefulness I am not forgotten. Surely it is impossible to
solicit heaven to confer greater felicity upon you, than that which arises from
a continual succession of dreams like those. I wish I wish I were so fortunate
a visionary, and that, during sleep, my soul could mingle at will, with
the beings that people the world of Allegory, but the priviledge of dreaming to
any agreable or useful purpose is denied me, and I am forced to be contented
with insipid realities or at least with those shadowy and fleeting images
which the wand of wakeful Imagination can call into existance.

The Moralityty of this Allegory is undoubtedly sublime, and in the conduct
of it, all the graces of poetry are exhibited. Prose and poetry are very far
‸ from being terms of opposite Signification, according to the common, but erronious
opinion, and a performance may justly be esteemed a poem, though not
distributed into lines or resolvable into metre, if it be pregnant with
"music, image, sentiment and thought," and that any of those requisate
‸ are wanting in this allegorical production. I shall not be easily convinced

Allegory appears to be the native region of the poet, and notwithstanding
the severity of critical prohibitions, It has hitherto, and ever will continue to
find a place in the most exalted species of poetical composition. That
Allegory is inconsistent with the nature of an Epopee, has, by many
critics been obstinately asserted though, in defence of a contrary opinion
it may be observed that of the poems of this class, one of the most
celebrated is merely allegorical, and that allegory is, in some degree,
interwoven with the texture of all the rest. There is no performance of
this kind from the Illiad to the Henriade from which it is totally
excluded. With what indignation have I heard it asserted that the
paradise lost would be more perfect, if the episode of Sin and death
and the relation of Satans chaotic journey were omitted or retrenched

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Are you, my friend, of a different opinion? If you are beware of attempting
to defend it, untill you have forgotten that Tasso ever had a being.

The earnest desire which you express to translate the introduction
to the Encyclopedia, affords me the highest satisfaction. Formerly when I
been ingaged in meditating on the scope and aim of true Ambition
on the Miracles which juvenile perseverance is able to perform, on the
just and rational employment of our time, and on the value of
Knowledge and the blandishments of literary glory, I have looked
around me, and observed, with astonishment, the general insencibility
and indifference with which those sublime objects are regarded
Youth, the season of reflexion and experience, of study and ambition,
I have observed to be so constantly wasted in useless or pernicious
Avocations that to meet with a young man burning with divine
enthusiasm for the acquisition of knowledge, the cultivation and
exertion of his powers, would have been as unexpected and surprising
as the Sight of an Elephant soberly passing along the streets of my
native City. My youth and inexperience prompted me to believe that
as I never met with any of this class, none realy existed. I consequently
entertained a sovereign contempt of the present generation and was
for a long time, accustomed to regard my companions with mingled
scorn and compassion. I am imagined myself infinitely superior to my
Juvenile Associates, not, indeed, in knowledge or abilities, but in a just
conception of the dignity of Science, and in the pure and sacred rapture
with which I beheld the splendour which environs her successful votaries
and without what exalted pleasure do I see, in the person of my friend,
one who is animated by similar emotions! to whom the images of
intellectual excellences, are grown familiar, and to whose stedfast and lofty
gaze, the glory of a Milton and a Bacon only are deemed worthy to be offered
O my friend! Is not this the road to eminence? Why should we be
discouraged or retarded in her progress, by unseasonable scruples? By
the malignant Suggestions of untoward Modesty, that deals as largely
in extenuating anticipations, and will not suffer us to ascertain by

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experience, the degree of Authority to which her dictates are justly intitled
Let perfection be the scope of your ambition, and desire to be indebted for
superior excellence rather to reflexion than to study. Select a few books
from the heap of volumes by which learned repositories are ostentatiously
incumbered, books in which the elements of knowledge are delivered,
and employ your rational faculties, in adding to the naked stock
the requisate appendages of leaves and branches, of fruit and foliage; and for
this purpose it is necessary that not only the mind but the pen should
be modelled employed, and learn, by conversing with the purest models
and by frequent and careful practice, the art of composition

Such, my dear friend, is my advice. I do not wish to appear to
you arrogant or magisterial, and to assume airs of importance unbefitting
my age and situation, yet I cannot forbear speaking in this manner, and
shall never violate sincerity or fail to act the part of a [gap] friend whatever
be the hazard of incurring the Imputation of vanity.

Nothing is more certain than that we derive from nature or from
education a propensity to by which we are directed: Whether habit cannot
overcome or change this propensity, and whether true genius be not equally
adapted to arrive at excellence in all pursuits, are questions which I shall not
attempt to investigate, because the situation of my friend leaves him at liberty
to consult his inclination, and obey the motions of this original propensity
and because in whatsoever pursuit he ingages, he cannot hope to be successfull
without a general acquaintance with every branch of human knowledge.
The relations and mutual dependance of the Sciences, is that which first
attracts the observation of the Student, and a knowledge of those relations and
dependences, appear to me absolutely indispencable to a rational enquirer
It is for this reason that I have so warmly recommended the perusal of D'alem=
=berts celebrated Introduction to the Encyclopedy. A task which may serve as the
prelude of the noblest undertakings. But the mere perusal or translation of
this performance is not sufficient. We must accompany each paragraph and
Sentence with our own reflexions, and make the work itself a text on which
we may usefully and copiously comment.

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For this purpose I propose my friend, that, when you shall have procured
the book, and are fully determined to endeavour the translation, we shall
communicate ‸ to each other, through this epistolary channel the Sentiments and
observations which shall occur to us in the progress of our undertaking. Surely
no one can be so stupid as to imagine that time thus spent is uselessly
employed; I will venture to assert that from ‸ by not other employment,
which whould occupy an equal space of time, would so great a number of
new and accurate ideas be added to your stock

After reading this essay and another by Diderot, in which all the
branches of human Knowledge are analyticaly arranged and distributed (the
"Arbre Encyclopedique") for the first time, I began to consider to what
particular pursuit I was led by predominant propensity, and at that
time concluded that grammar Rhetorick and poetry were the sciences
to which I felt the strongest attachment, and of these therefore I thought
it incumbent upon me to form some regular and Analytical System,
which should furnish the materials of reflexion, and which should serve
as my lode star my guiding luminary through the grammatical
Rhetorical and Poetical library; by which I should be able to enroll its
in its proper class and assign its proper station to every new idea with
which study or reflexion should furnish me. These resolutions I immediately
put into effect, and I flatter myself that I made no inconsiderable
progress in these arduous enterprises, in the short time (about eighteen
months) which the deity of Love would suffer me to devote to it,
but as soon as I began to riot in those intoxicating draughts which
this divinity presented to my lips, all my airy fabricks vanished
all my reveries were forgotten, and the "journal of a visionary" thrown
asside and intirely neglected.

It may be of service to relate the manner in which, in my
rural retirement — But I believe this relation must be reserved for another
opportunity. I am sorry that I cannot write as copiously as I wish, but as
my friend William is just preparing to go out I will close this letter, imperfect
as it is, only informing you that I have seen your two last letters to Wilkins

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and most highly approve of your remarks and proposals. I cannot give
you my sentiments at large at this time on the method of discussing
questions or with regard to the questions themselves.