(London: Printed for J. Roberts, and W. Bickerton, 1744). 206 x 133 mm. (8 1/8 x 5 1/4"). xxxiv,  (errata, ads), xxxii, 75,  pp. FIRST EDITION.
Contemporary sprinkled calf, covers bordered with double gilt fillet, raised bands flanked by gilt rules, original brown morocco label. Front pastedown with armorial bookplate of "R E H D" engraved by and signed in the plate by G. W. Eve (see below). Joints, spine, and extremities a bit chafed and dried (though much of this successfully masked by refurbishing), covers a bit scratched and with three patches of lost patina from insect activity, one upper corner rather bumped, but the original unrestored rustic binding solid and pleasing, with no serious defect. One leaf with three-inch tear into the text (neatly repaired without loss of legibility, though with slight displacement of letters), otherwise only trivial imperfections internally, THE TEXT REMARKABLY FRESH AND CLEAN and printed within quite ample margins.
This is a (not surprisingly) amusing attempt to differentiate between wit, humor, raillery, satire, and ridicule, written (surprisingly) by an economist and customs inspector. The author begins by defining wit as "the Lustre resulting from the quick Elucidation of one Subject, by a just and unexpected Arrangement of it with another Subject." Morris differentiates humor from wit, describing the former as "any remarkable Oddity or Foible belonging to a Person in real Life," and acknowledges it gives more delight and pleasure than wit. His example here is Falstaff, the embodiment of "Jollity, Mirth, and Good-nature." Our volume ends with a letter on humor in comedy by that master of the Restoration comedy of manners, William Congreve. Corbyn Morris (1710-79) had previously written a series of pamphlets defending the policies of Prime Minister Robert Walpole, and the present work opens with a 34-page dedication to that politician which the normally forgiving DNB deems "extravagant . . . even by contemporary standards." Morris once told David Hume that he wrote "all his books for the sake of the Dedications," and these seemed to be successful instruments in advancing his career, as he was appointed secretary of customs and salt duty for Scotland before subsequently being appointed to the English board of customs. Our copy bears the bookplate of Anglican clergyman and antiquary Rashleigh Edward Hungerford Duke (1855-1932), engraved by G. W. Eve, one of the foremost bookplate designers of the day. (ST11753)
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PJP Catalog: NY21BF.046