184 SAMUEL JOHNSON
powers, has wanted melody. Such a series of lines, so elaborately corrected, and so sweetly modulated, took possession of the public ear ; the vulgar was enamoured of the poem, and the learned wondered at the translation. . . .
There is a time when nations, emerging from barbarity, and falling into regular subordina- tion, gain leisure to grow wise, and feel the shame of ignorance and the craving pain of unsatisfied curiosity. To this hunger of the mind plain sense is grateful ; that which fills the void removes uneasiness, and to be free from pain for a while is pleasure ; but repletion generates fastidiousness ; a saturated intellect soon becomes luxurious, and knowledge finds no willing reception till it is recommended by artificial diction. Thus it will be found, in the progress of learning, that in all nations the first writers are simple, and that every age improves in elegance. One refinement always makes way for another; and what was ex- pedient to Virgil was necessary to Pope. . . .
The Essay [on Man] affords an egregious instance of the predominance of genius, the dazzling splendour of imagery, and the seduc- tive powers of eloquence. Never were penury of knowledge and vulgarity of sentiment so happily disguised. The reader feels his mind full, though he learns nothing ; and, when he