n 4 SAMUEL JOHNSON
which the want of contemporary writers often produces, only darkens single passages, and those commonly of slight importance. The general tendency of every piece may be known : and though that diligence deserves praise which leaves nothing unexamined, yet its miscarriages are not much to be lamented ; for the most useful truths are always uni- versal, and unconnected with accidents and customs.
Such is the general conspiracy of human nature against contemporary merit, that, if we had inherited from antiquity enough to afford employment for the laborious, and amusement for the idle, I know not what room would have been left for modern genius or modern industry; almost every subject would have been pre-occupied, and every style would have been fixed by a precedent from which few would have ventured to depart. Every writer would have had a rival, whose superiority was already acknowledged, and to whose fame his work would, even before it was seen, be marked out for a sacrifice.
��FEW faults of style, whether real or imagin- ary, excite the malignity of a more numerous class of readers than the use of hard words.