22 SAMUEL JOHNSON
The rules which the injudicious use of this prerogative suggested to Horace, may indeed be applied to the direction of candidates for inferior fame ; it may be proper for all to re- member, that they ought not to raise expecta- tion which it is not in their power to satisfy, and that it is more pleasing to see smoke brightening into flame, than flame sinking into smoke.
This precept has been long received, both from the regard to the authority of Horace, and its conformity to the general opinion of the world ; yet there have been always some, that thought it no deviation from modesty to recommend their own labours, and imagined themselves entitled by indisputable merit to an exception from general restraints, and to elevations not allowed in common life. They, perhaps, believed, that when, like Thucydides, they bequeathed to mankind xrr/ixa Is aV, an estate for ever, it was an additional favour to inform them of its value.
It may, indeed, be no less dangerous to claim, on certain occasions, too little than too much. There is something captivating in spirit and intrepidity, to which we often yield, as to a resistless power ; nor can he reasonably expect the confidence of others, who too apparently distrusts himself.