Holograph working draft (unsigned), "Definition of Wit", 3pp, 4to, n.p., n.d.


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Holograph working draft (unsigned) of the final three pages (only) of Hazlitt's prose work, "Definition of Wit", 3 1/2pp, 4to, n.p., n.d. This section of manuscript contains the concluding three pages and the addendum from the longer work, and begins: "The motto of wit seems to be, Light come, light go. A touch is sufficient to discover what already hangs so loose as folly, like froth on the surface of the wave; & an hyperbole, an impossibility, a pun or a nickname will push an absurdity, which is close upon the verge of it, over the precipice. It is astonishing how much wit or laughter there is in the world -- it is one of the staple commodities of daily life -- and yet, being excited by what is out of the way & singular, it ought to be rare, & gravity should be the order of the day. Its constant recurrence from the most trifling & trivial causes shews that the contradiction is less to what we find things than to what we wish them to be. . . ." With page numbers ("19", "20" and "21"), cross-outs, additions and other corrections in Hazlitt's hand. Chipping and browning to edges; some soiling and general signs of wear; a few ink smudges (presumably made at the time of writing; all text still legible); remains of prior mounting paper on versos. Despite the defects noted, in good condition overall.

"Definition of Wit" was first published in book form in Literary Remains. With a Notice of his Life, by his Son, and Thoughts on his Genius and Writings, By E.L. Bulwer and Mr. Sergeant Talfourd (2 vols., 1836), and was re-printed in the "Miscellaneous" section of Collected Works of William Hazlitt edited by A.R. Waller and Arnold Glover with an Introduction by W.E. Henley, published by J.M. Dent and Co., 1904. (Item ID: 22957)

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