'Dr. Johnson and Mr. Wilkes talked of the contested passage in Horace's "Art of Poetry", "[italics] Difficile est proprie communia dicere.[end italics]' Mr. Wilkes according to my note, gave the interpretation thus; "It is difficult to speak with propriety of common things; as, if a poet had to speak of Queen Caroline drinking tea, he must endeavour to avoid the vulgarity of cups and saucers". But upon reading my note, he tells me that he meant to say, that "the word [italics]communia [end italics], being a Roman law term, signifies here things [italics]communis juris [end italics], that is to say, what have never yet been treated by any body; and this appears clearly from what followed,
Rectius Iliacum carmen deducis in actus
Quam si proferres ignota indictaque primus." [end italics]
"You will easier make a tragedy out of the Iliad than on any subject not handled before".'