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Page:Samuel Johnson (1911).djvu/190

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which the pride of other authors might be gratified, or favour gained, no exchange of praise, nor solicitation of support. His great works were performed under discountenance, and in blindness ; but difficulties vanished at his touch ; he was born for whatever is ardu- ous ; and his work is not the greatest of heroic poems, only because it is not the first.


MUCH of that humour which transported the last century with merriment is lost to us, who do not know the sour solemnity, the sullen superstition, the gloomy moroseness, and the stubborn scruples of the ancient puritans ; or, if we know them, derive our information only from books, or from tradition, have never had them before our eyes, and cannot but by re- collection and study understand the lines in which they are satirized. Our grandfathers knew the picture from the life; we judge of the life by contemplating the picture.


LET no pious ear be offended if 1 advance, in opposition to many authorities, that poetical

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