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He can generally be relied on as an authority. I mention him among critics, not only on account of this caution, but because, owing to the subjects, arrangement, or critical allusions, of his works, taste appears to me to be their predominant quality.
In times when the mind is warped by the prevalence of theory, and every deceased author of eminence therefore is either "god or devil" with many readers of their works, it may not be useless to express a candid opinion of the relative merits of some.
P. 113. l. 13.-The Bishop of Worcester shows by his note, that he would consider the unsocial pedantry here imputed to Empedocles, as setting a very different example from the delicacy of sentiment, which, united with the peculiarity of Petrarch's situation, drove him, "fallen on evil days," into studious retirement.
P. 115. l. 8.-We may imagine that, to one who would
"Rejudge the past, and dignify disgrace,"
it might suggest another bistoric doubt, whether Empedocles, who was both a naturalist and a poet,
might not, in the former character, like many a philosopher, have ventured somewhat too near the crater of a burning mountain, than like no other person whatever, have performed the feat here recorded of him.
The literary veteran who adopted this plan of history, is among those whom the public has lost within these few years, and has with reason regretted. He may not be comparable to Johnson, whom he too freely criticizes; but however secondary the importance of some of his works, they have usually that value which always attaches to historical truth, as also what is conferred by taste, with a competent elegance of style; and upon the whole (which is not saying very little) he may well rank with his own royal and noble authors.