It snow’d again almost all day. Mr. W. White, and Leonard, came, and pass’d an hour here, in the Evening. As this prevented me from writing, I studied in the 4th. Book of Horace’s Odes; but it did no good to my Eyes. The third, to Melpomene, is supposed to be one of his best, and is that which Scaliger would have preferred being the author of, rather than King of Arragon, which after all, was not I believe a very excellent way of expressing his Admiration if he had the choice of two Impossibilities, he tells us, which he should rather have.1 It is a very Vulgar manner of Expression, though more commonly made use of by lovers than Critics.
1. Joseph Justus Scaliger, the foremost Latin scholar and critic of the 16th century and editor of Greek and Latin classics (Hoefer, Nouv. biog. générale description begins Vital Records of Haverhill, Massachusetts to the End of the Year 1849, Topsfield, 1910-1911; 2 vols. description ends ). This preference is mentioned in several editions of Horace’s works owned by JQA at this time, including Philip Francis, A Poetical Translation of the Works of Horace, With the Original Text . . ., 8th edn., 4 vols., London, 1778, 2:138 ([Christian Lotter], Inventory of JQA’s Books, 6 Nov. 1784, Adams Papers).