The Works of Samuel Johnson

The Works of Samuel Johnson

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Excerpt: ...admitted to signify things so different, that, instead of assisting the understanding as vehicles of knowledge, they produce errour, dissention, and perplexity, because what is affirmed in one sense, is received in another. If this ambiguity sometimes embarrasses the most solemn controversies, and obscures the demonstrations of science, it may well be expected to infest the pompous periods of declaimers, whose purpose is often only to amuse with fallacies, and change the colours of truth and falsehood; or the musical compositions of poets, whose style is professedly figurative, and whose art is imagined to consist in distorting words from their original meaning. There are few words of which the reader believes himself better to know the import, than of POVERTY; yet, whoever studies either the poets or philosophers, will find such an account of the condition expressed by that term as his experience or observation will not easily discover to be true. Instead of the meanness, distress, complaint, anxiety, and dependance, which have hitherto been combined in his ideas of poverty, he will read of content, innocence, and cheerfulness, of health and safety, tranquillity and freedom; of pleasures not known but to men unencumbered with possessions; and of sleep that sheds his balsamick anodynes only on the cottage. Such are the blessings to be obtained by the resignation of riches, that kings might descend from their thrones, and generals retire from a triumph, only to slumber undisturbed in the elysium of poverty. If these authors do not deceive us, nothing can be more absurd than that perpetual contest for wealth which keeps the world in commotion; nor any complaints more justly censured than those which proceed from want of the gifts of fortune, which we are taught by the great masters of moral wisdom to consider as golden shackles, by which the wearer is at once disabled and adorned; as luscious poisons which may for a time please the palate, but soon...show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 90 pages
  • 189 x 246 x 5mm | 177g
  • Rarebooksclub.com
  • United States
  • English
  • black & white illustrations
  • 1236701763
  • 9781236701763