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Page:Samuel Johnson (1911).djvu/73

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observed in general, that no trade had ever reached the excellence to which it is now im- proved, had its professors looked upon it with the eyes of indifferent spectators ; the advances, from the first rude essays, must have been made by men who valued themselves for per- formances, for which scarce any other would be persuaded to esteem them.

It is pleasing to contemplate a manufacture rising gradually from its first mean state by the successive labours of innumerable minds; to consider the first hollow trunk of an oak, in which, perhaps, the shepherd could scarce venture to cross a brook swelled with a shower, enlarged at last into a ship of war, attacking fortresses, terrifying nations, setting storms and billows at defiance, and visiting the re- motest parts of the globe. And it might con- tribute to dispose us to a kinder regard for the labours of one another, if we were to con- sider from what unpromising beginnings the most useful productions of art have probably arisen. Who, when he saw the first sand or ashes, by a casual intenseness of heat, melted into a metalline form, rugged with excres- cences, and clouded with impurities, would have imagined, that in this shapeless lump lay concealed so many conveniences of life, as would in time constitute a great part of the

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