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London. Published by J. Murray. 1824.
Executed & Printed from Stone byF.Netherclit,15 Rathbone Place.
The Greeks composed lypogrammatic works ; works in which one letter of the alphabet is omitted. A lypogrammatist is a letter-dropper. In this manner Tryphiodorus wrote his Odyssey: he had not a in his first book; nor ß in his second; and so on with the subsequent letters one after another. This Odyssey was an imitation of the lypogrammatic Iliad of Nestor. Among other works of this kind, Athenæus mentions an ode by Pindar, in which he had purposely omitted the letter S; so that this inept ingenuity appears to have been one of those literary, fashions which are sometimes encouraged even by those who should first oppose such progresses into the realms of nonsense.
There is in Latin a little prose work of Fulgentius, which the author divides into twenty
three chapters, according to the order of the twenty-three letters of the Latin alphabet. From A to 0 are still remaining. The first chapter is without A; the second without B; the third without C; and so with the rest. Du Chat, in the Ducatiana, says, there are five novels in prose of Lopes de Vega; the first without A, the second without E, the third without I, &c. Who will attempt to examine them?
The Orientalists are not without this literary folly., A Persian poet read to the celebrated Jami a gazel of his own composition, which Jami did not like: but the writer replied it was notwithstanding a very curious sonnet, for the letter Aliff was not to be found in any one of the words! Jami sarcastically replied, “ You can do a better thing yet; take away all the letters from every word you have written.” 6. To these works may be added the Ecloga de Calvis, by Hugbald the Monk. All the words of this silly work begin with a C. It is printed in Dornavius." Pugna Porcorum; all the words beginning with a P, in the Nugæ Venales. Canum cum cattis certamen; the words beginning with a C: a performance of the same kind in the same work. Gregorio Leti presented a discourse to the Academy of the Humorists at Rome, throughout which he had purposely omitted the letter R, and he entitled it the exiled R. A friend having requested a copy, as a literary
curiosity, for so he considered this idle performance, Leti, to show it was not so difficult a mata ter, replied by a copious answer of seven pages, in which he had observed the same severe ostracism against the letter R! Lord North, one of the finest gentlemen in the court of James I., has written a set of Sonnets, each of which begins with a successive letter of the alphabet. The Earl of Rivers in the reign of Edward IV. translated the Moral Proverbs of Christiana of Pisa, a poem of about two hundred lines, the greatest part of which he contrived to conclude with the letter E; an instance of his lordship’s hard application, and the bad taste of an age which, Lord Orford observes, had witticisms and whims to struggle with, as well as ignorance.
It has been well observed of these minute triflers that extreme exactness is the sublime of fools, whose labours may be well called, in the language of Dryden,
Pangs without birth, and fruitless industry."
And Martial says,
Turpe est difficiles habere nugas,
'Tis a folly to sweat o'er a difficult trifle,
I shall not dwell on the wits who composed