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1 76 SAMUEL JOHNSON

choice. He studied purity; and though per- haps all his strictures are not exact, yet it is not often that solecisms can be found; and whoever depends on his authority may gener- ally conclude himself safe. His sentences are never too much dilated or contracted ; and it will not be easy to find any embarrassment in the complication of his clauses, any inconse- quence in his connections, or abruptness in his transitions. . . .

Of Swift's general habits of thinking, if his letters can be supposed to afford any evidence, he was not a man to be either loved or envied. He seems to have wasted life in discontent, by the rage of neglected pride and the languish- ment of unsatisfied desire. He is querulous and fastidious, arrogant and malignant; he scarcely speaks of himself but with indignant lamentations, or of others but with insolent superiority when he is gay, and with angry con- tempt when he is gloomy. From the letters that passed between him and Pope it might be inferred, that they, with Arbuthnot and Gay, had engrossed all the understanding and virtue of mankind ; that their merits filled the world, or that there was no hope of more. They show the age involved in darkness, and shade the picture with sullen emulation.

When the Queen's death drove him into

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