Open main menu

Page:Samuel Johnson (1911).djvu/207

This page needs to be proofread.


professed to write, merely for the people ; and when he pleased others, he contented himself. He spent no time in struggles to rouse latent powers ; he never attempted to make that bet- ter which was already good, nor often to mend what he must have known to be faulty. He wrote, as he tells us, with very little considera- tion ; when occasion or necessity called upon him, he poured out what the present moment happened to supply, and, when once it had passed the press, ejected it from his mind ; for when he had no pecuniary interest, he had no further solicitude.

Pope was not content to satisfy, he desired to excel ; and therefore always endeavoured to do his best ; he did not court the candour, but dared the judgment, of his reader, and expect- ing no indulgence from others, he showed none to himself. He examined lines and words with minute and punctilious observa- tion, and retouched every part with indefatig- able diligence, till he had left nothing to be forgiven. . . .

In acquired knowledge, the superiority must be allowed to Dryden, whose education was more scholastic, and who, before he became an author, had been allowed more time for study, with better means of information. His mind has a larger range, and he collects his images

�� �