Pagina:Baretti - Prefazioni e polemiche.djvu/340



would she have obtained his sanction to their publication, had she asked for it in time; as too many of those letters are by much too trifling, uninteresting and even contemptible for such an eye as that of the British nation; and too many, in spite of their numerous blanks, initials and abbreviations, ali easily interpreted, vex, disgust and prove considerably obnoxious not only to a great number of individuais, but even to whole families, without the compensation of their ansvvering the least good purpose; which at worst ought to be the case with any printed writing that anyway diminishes the good name of our stili living contemporaries.

It was not likely, indeed, that doctor Johnson, a supreme despiser of trifles, abhorrent from ali propagation of scandal, and inoffensive to the inoffensive, as ali his works amply testify, would have given his consent to her putting forth the two volumes, wherein, independent of the many censurable parts, a poor reader must frequently trudge on until he is weary through a hundred pages of trash and rubbish, to meet with a dozen of lines that are worth his perusal. But the cunning she has delayed her shameless bargain till after the doctor ’s demise and the two ill-favoured volumes are now brought into the world, to the no small discontent and indignation of ali the doctor ’s true friends, who, long accustomed to see him lead on the phalanx of literature, see him now riding upon a broomstick; and to the great comfort and diversion of ali the witlings and witsnappers of the Thames and of the Tweed, who behold him at last brought down from that envied summit to which the Rambler, the Lives of the poets and so many other of his works had gloriously exalted him. Take warning, take warning, ye heroes of the quill, and, upon seeing yourselves deservedly raised by the unanimous suffrages of mankind to the highest posts of literary honour, keep in mind mr. Steevens ’s philanthropic observation, nor be so unguarded as our good Johnson has been, lest, like him, you draw hereafter upon your names the sarcastic and slanderous obloquies of indefatigable dulness and unextinguishable malignity.