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Page:Samuel Johnson (1911).djvu/179

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frequently by what perverseness of industry they were ever found.

But wit, abstracted from its effects upon the hearer, may be more rigorously and philo- sophically considered as a kind of discordia concors; a combination of dissimilar images, or discovery of occult resemblances in things apparently unlike. Of wit, thus defined, they have more than enough. The most hetero- geneous ideas are yoked by violence together ; nature and art are ransacked for illustrations, comparisons, and allusions; their learning in- structs, and their subtlety surprises; but the reader commonly thinks his improvement dearly bought, and, though he sometimes admires, is seldom pleased.

From this account of their compositions it will be readily inferred, that they were not successful in representing or moving the affections. As they were wholly employed on something unexpected and surprising, they had no regard to that uniformity of sentiment which enables us to conceive and to excite the pains and the pleasure of other minds : they never inquired what, on any occasion, they should have said or done ; but wrote rather as beholders than partakers of human nature ; as beings looking upon good and evil, impassive and at leisure; as Epicurean deities, making

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