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Sept y=e= 7=th= 1776 My dear Friend
   In this bustling busy World it is not easy to think what one should write, impossible to recollect what one has written. I believe that I told you, in my last letter, I had been at l'Academie francoise on S=t= Louis day. Discourses [\on subjects of ??? DELETED\] are read by the Academicians relative to y=e= subject on which the Poets are to deliver their verses to be judged by the Academy, who bestows the prize on him whose work is most approved. I know my dear Sylph will be impatient to be informed of what the Poets produced, & the Academicians said. For tho you are superior to the ordinary objects of female curiosity, you inherit, in full force, our general Mothers vehement desire to pluck the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. From ye dapper in douze, to the Pumpkin in Folio, nothing comes amiss to you. However, if what I collected for you among the French (\Beaux exprits\) should want flavour & piquancy, dont blame entirely the Academy where it grew, nor
your humble servant who gatherd it, but remember, that not being forbidden, it cannot have the zest, nor the odour, nor the savour of Eve's
   The Academicians were seated around a table, behind them rows upon rows, sat, or stood, the Audience, or more properly speaking the Spectators, for in what Country are there not more who go to see Publick Orations than to hear them? Le [\Chevalier de/] Chastelux (whose name I have before mentiond to you, but guided by my ear mispelt) open'd the Session in a very ingenious & elegant manner. Two Rival bards presented their translations of the parting of Hector & Andromache at the Scean Gate, when little Astyanax was affrighted at the plumes on his Father's Helmet In these happier days an Heir apparent of family & fashion w=d= have been so familiarized to feathers by Mama's cap, he w=d= not shrink at the Crest of the Gorgon bearing the most belligerent quills of the Porcupine. However I only remark to you (\en passant\) for the honour of the Age, that the sons of Ancient Heroes were not so well trained as the Daughters of our Heroines. What
Modern Miss would not [\have/] seiz'd the plumed Helmet & boldy put it on? Of what are [\our/] boys afraid or Gods ashamed? oh! it is wise in Parents to give little Misses & little Masters audacity. But to proceed to the translations that were read; one of them was by the Audience thought greatly superior to the other, but in both Hector was much polishd by his Travels in France; he did not send his Dame home to mind her Household business, and mend little Stys bibs, as to Mad=me= Andromaque, she was most loquaciously (\dolente\) like y=e= Widow in our grief (\ala mode\) then for (\Monsieur son fils\) he was nothing like the ignorant, [\raw,/] blubbering, boy in Homer. It was vastly pretty to have him so unnaturaly natural, so very simple without simplicity, & reason about the Helmet because he could not reason. If a man was to study to be naive for an hundred years he c=d= not hit it better, and so the Audience clapped exceedingly, & divided the prize between the two Poets. Had Homer himself been there he would not certainly have got one sprig of Lawrel. Old Shakespear & he must be content with the immortal Garlands with which great Nature crownd them, they are y=e= evergreens of time gather_d in her universal common field, where genius ranges untroubled; not cull'd and pick'd in the nice
parterre or hot House, where Regions & seasons are confounded & blended.   After the Poets had receivd the prize l Abbe Arnauld made a discourse on the Utility of studying & imitating the Classicks, & said much in praise of original Genius, but gave an oblique hint, that genius never bloomd North of the most Northern part of France & [\that DELETED\] that Men of Genius must not study certain barbarians; but this was done so gently, & obliquely, that one was not obliged to understand it & I w=d= not seem to do so.
   Then rose (\Mon=r=\) D'alembert to read a most blackguard abusive invective of (\Mon=r=\) de Voltaires against Shakespear, the translation of whose works he apprehended w=d= spoil y=e= taste of ye french Nation. He attributed to Shakespear many things he never said, he gatherd together many things the rudeness of the age allowd him to say, & with a few (\mauvaises plaisanteries\) seasond y=e= discourse with as much (\mauvaise foy\) he gave an account of y=e= Tragedy of Gorbuc, & represented it as ye taste of y=e= Nation in Drama tho not ten people have for these hundred years read Gorboduc. This trash of (\Monsieur\)
Voltaires answerd the great purpose of his life, to raise a momentary laugh at things that are good, & a transient scorn of Men much superior to himself, but I must do that justice to the Academy & Audience, they seem_d in general displeased at ye paper read. I was ask_d by an Academician if I w=d= answer this piece of Voltaires, & did not doubt but I could do it very well. I said M=r= l'Abbé Arnauld had done it much better than I could, in ye praises he had given to Original genius, & [\said/] y=e= benefits arising from the study of them, that I remembered 60 years [\ago/] in the same Academy, Old Homer had met with ye same treatment with Shakespear, that they now did justice to Homer, I did not doubt but they w=d= do so to Shakespear, for that great Genius's survived those who set up to be their Criticks, or more absurdly to be their Rivals. Many of the Academicians have
have declared their dislike of what was done, that it was not only unjust to Shakespear but unworthy of the Academy. M=r= D'alembert then pronounced an eloge of Destouches [\WORD DELETED\] whose Comedies are reckond next to Molieres There was a great deal of spirit & ingenuity in the eloge, & some anecdotes of Destouches that were interesting. Indeed every thing but the paper of Voltaire was very ingenious, & such as did honour to the speaker & the Assembly.  The custom of clapping every (\bon mot\) that falls from the Speaker, the Pleader, or the Preacher, will entirely ruin their eloquence. I was surprized to hear the Pleaders clapp_d in a Civil Cause, I was sorry to hear the speakers clapped in a learned assembly, but I was shock'd to hear ye Preacher clappd in the Chapel of S=t= Louis. The good man divided his discourse into parts, as soon as he had finish'd ye first part the Congregation clappd more than we do at ye play House. At ye conclusion they dismissed the Preacher
with what is thought here the greatest of all blessings, a thunder of applause. I must tell you at the same time, for I should hate to misrepresent any people, especially a people from whom I have received great civilities, & for whom I have due admiration, I was assured that ye Sermon on S=t= Louis was clappd as being a Political Affair. However ye place was consecrated (\le Bon Dieu\) was on y=e= altar, & Mass was afterwards performd. In one of the Churches ye other day the Te Deum being well perform_d was exceedingly clapped as I was assured.
   I suppose you think no Poet here deigns to string his Lyre in praise of Miss Gregorys blooming charms & my autumnal perfections to convince you we are not so neglected as you imagine I have enclosed a very pretty copy of verses of le Chevalier de Coliniere.
   I expect L=d= & Lady Hillsborough & L=d= Eglentoune to dinner & also the celebrated Diderot.
   I dined last week at {Mons=r=} de Buffons & he has promised to dine with me next week
with some other of the Academy & also (\La Comtesse\) de Marchais &c all very agreable people. I suppd with her last night & to night shall sup at (\Mad=me=\) Neckars. (\Monsieur\) de Buffons is very communicative & agreable & I have taken a great liking to (\Mons=r=\) Thomas who has wrote very well on a delicate subject Woman, but you may know him [\better/] by his eloges on many celebrated men. I have received the mirrors but le Chevalier de Luxembourg has been at Versailles ever since his return so I have not seen him yet. I do not know whether you receive my letters or not, pray mention ye dates.
   I must tell you you are a lazy correspondent you shake a few letters out upon a piece of paper & [\TEAR\] [{call{] them an answer to my long epistles. I was not very well last week but [\am/] in good health again. I continue my purpose to set out early in October for England. Remember to direct to me to Chevalier Lambert & Banqures (\a Paris\). Make my best comp=ts= & present my sincerest good wishes to M=rs= Hancock M=r= & M=rs= Dunbar Gen=l= Paoli & M=r= Evesham & give a kiss to my Godson. I am my dear Friend yours EM