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Page:Samuel Johnson (1911).djvu/205

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no man sits down to depreciate by design his own character.

Friendship has no tendency to secure vera- city ; for by whom can a man so much wish to be thought better than he is, as by him whose kindness he desires to gain or keep ! Even in writing to the world there is less constraint; the author is not confronted with his reader, and takes his chance of approbation among the different dispositions of mankind ; but a letter is addressed to a single mind, of which the pre- judices and partialities are known ; and must therefore please, if not by favouring them, by forbearing to oppose them.

To charge those favourable representations, which men give of their own minds, with the guilt of hypocritical falsehood, would show more severity than knowledge. The writer commonly believes himself. Almost every man's thoughts, while they are general, are right ; and most hearts are pure while tempta- tion is away. It is easy to awaken generous sentiments in privacy ; to despise death when there is no danger ; to glow with benevolence when there is nothing to be given. While such ideas are formed, they are felt ; and self- love does not suspect the gleam of virtue to be the meteor of fancy. . . .

[Pope] very frequently professes contempt of

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