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Page:Samuel Johnson (1911).djvu/107

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cal axioms and domestic wisdom. It was said of Euripides, that every verse was a precept ; and it may be said of Shakspeare, that from his works may be collected a system of civil and economical prudence. Yet his real power is not shown in the splendour of particular passages, but by the progress of his fable, and the tenor of his dialogue ; and he that tries to recommend him by select quotations, will suc- ceed like the pedant in Hierocles, who, when he offered his house to sale, carried a brick in his pocket as a specimen. . . .

As his personages act upon principles aris- ing from genuine passion, very little modified by particular forms, their pleasures and vexa- tions are communicable to all times and to all places ; they are natural, and therefore durable : the adventitious peculiarities of per- sonal habits are only superficial dyes, bright and pleasing for a little while, yet soon fading to a dim tinct, without any remains of former lustre ; but the discriminations of true pas- sion are the colours of nature : they pervade the whole mass, and can only perish with the body that exhibits them. The accidental com- positions of heterogeneous modes are dissolved by the chance which combined them ; but the uniform simplicity of primitive qualities neither admits increase, nor suffers decay. The sand

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