50 SAMUEL JOHNSON
served, in a private and familiar interview, that reputation which his works had procured him.
Those whom the appearance of virtue, or the evidence of genius, has tempted to a nearer knowledge of the writer in whose per- formances these may be found, have indeed had frequent reason to repent their curiosity: the bubble that sparkled before them has be- come common water at the touch ; the phan- tom of perfection has vanished when they wished to press it to their bosom. They have lost the pleasure of imagining how far humanity may be exalted, and, perhaps, felt themselves less inclined to toil up the steeps of virtue, when they observe those who seem best able to point the way, loitering below, as either afraid of the labour, or doubtful of the reward.
It has long been the custom of the oriental monarchs to hide themselves in gardens and palaces, to avoid the conversation of mankind, and to be known to their subjects only by their edicts. The same policy is no less neces- sary to him that writes, than to him that governs ; for men would not more patiently submit to be taught than commanded, by one known to have the same follies and weaknesses with themselves. A sudden intruder into the closet of an author would perhaps feel equal indignation with the officer, who having long