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reads a stage-copy of a play, when he can pro-intellect. Johnson described him as a fellow cure the original? Who ever cut open Mrs., who had missed his only chance of immortality, Siddons's Milton? Who ever got through ten by not having been alive when the Duuciad pages of Mr. Gilpin's translation of John Bunyan's Pilgrim into modern English? Who would lose, in the confusion of a diatesseron, the peculiar charm which belongs to the narrative of the disciple whom Jesus loved? The feeling of a reader who has become intimate with any great original work, is that which Adam expressed towards his bride:

"Should God create another Eve, and I
Another rib afford, yet loss of thee
Would never from my heart."

No substitute, however exquisitely formed,
will fill the void left by the original. The
second beauty may be equal or superior to the
first; but still it is not she.

was written. Beauclerk used his name as a proverbial expression for a bore. He was the laughing-stock of the whole of that brilliant society which has owed to him the greater part of its fame. He was always laying himself at the feet of some eminent man, and begging to be spit upon and trampled upon. He was always earning some ridiculous nickname, and then binding it as a crown unto him,' -not merely in metaphor, but literally. He exhibited himself at the Shakspeare Jubilee, to all the crowd which filled Stafford-on-Avon, with a placard around his hat bearing the inscription of Corsica Boswell. In his Tour, he proclaimed to all the world, that at Edinburgh he was known by the appellation of Puoli Dos well. Servile and impertinent-shallow and pedantic--a bigot and a sot-bloated with family pride, and eternally blustering about the dignity of a born gentleman, yet stooping to be

The reasons which Mr. Croker has given for incorporating passages from Sir John Hawkins and Mrs. Thrale with the narrative of Boswell, would vindicate the adulteration of half the classical works in the language. If Pepys's Diary and Mrs. Hutchinson's Me-a talebearer, an eavesdropper, a common butt moirs had been published a hundred years ago, no human being can doubt that Mr. Hume would have made great use of those books in his History of England. But would it, on that account, be judicious in a writer of our times to publish an edition of Hume's History of England, in which large additions from Pepys and Mrs. Hutchinson should be incorporated | with the original text? Surely not. Hume's history, be its faults what they may, is now one great entire work-the production of one vigorous mind, working on such materials as were within its reach. Additions made by another hand may supply a particular deficiency, but would grievously injure the general effect. With Boswell's book the case is stronger. There is scarcely, in the whole compass of literature, a book which bears terpolation so ill. We know no production of the human mind which has so much of what may be called the race, so much of the peculiar flavour, of the soil from which it sprang. The work could never have been written, if the writer had not been precisely what he was. His character is displayed in every page, and this display of character gives a delightful interest to many passages which have no other interest.

in the taverns of London-so curious to know everybody who was talked about, that, Tory and High Churchman as he was, he manœuvred, we have been told, for an introduction to Tom Paine-so vain of the most childish distinctions, that, when he had been to court, he drove to the office where his book was being printed without changing his clothes, and summoned all the printer's devils to admire his new ruffles and sword;-such was this man: and such he was content and proud to be. Every thing which another man would have hidden-every thing, the publication of which would have made another man hang himself, was matter of gay and clamorous exultation to his weak and diseased mind. What silly things he said—what bitter retorts he provoked in--how at one place he was troubled with evil presentiments which came to nothing-how at another place, on waking from a drunken doze, he read the Prayer-book, and took a hair of the dog that had bitten him-how he went to see men hanged, and came away maudlin—how he added five hundred pounds to the fortune of one of his babies, because she was not frightened at Johnson's ugly face-how he was frightened out of his wits at sea-and how the sailors quieted him as they would have quieted a child-how tipsy he was at Lady Cork's one evening, and how much his merriment annoyed the ladies-how impertinent he was to the Duchess of Argyle, and with what stately contempt she put down his impertinence-how Colonel Macleod sneered to his face at his impudent obtrusiveness-how his father and the very wife of his bosom laughed and fretted at his fooleries

The life of Johnson is assuredly a great, a very great work. Homer is not more decidedly the first of heroic poets, Shakspeare is not more decidedly the first of dramatists, Demosthenes is not more decidedly the first of orators, than Boswell is the first of biographers. He has no second. He has distanced all his competitors so decidedly, that it is not worth while to place them. Eclipse is first, and the rest nowhere.

all these things he proclaimed to all the world, as if they had been subjects for pride and ostentatious rejoicing. All the caprices of his tem aper, all the illusions of his vanity, all the hypo chondriac whimsies, all his castles in the air, he displayed with a cool self-complacency, a perfect unconsciousness that he was making a fool of himself, to which it is impossible to find a parallel in the whole history of mankind. He has used many people ill, but assuredly he has used nobody so ill as himself.

We are not sure that there is in the whole history of the human intellect so strange phenomenon as this book. Many of the greatest men that ever lived have written biography. Boswell was one of the smallest men that ever lived; and he has beaten them all. He was, if we are to give any credit to his own account, or to the united testimony of all who knew him, a man of the meanest and feeblest

Of all confessors, Boswell is the most candid. Other men who have pretended to lay open their own hearts-Rousseau, for example, and Lord Byron-have evidently written with a constant view to effect, and are to be then most distrusted when they seem to be most sincere. There is scarcely any man who would not rather accuse himself of great crimes and of dark and tempestuous passions, than proclaim all his little vanities, and all his wild fancies. It would be easier to find a person who would avow actions like those of Cæsar Borgia or Danton, than one who would publish a day-dream like those of Alnaschar and Malvolio. Those weaknesses which most men keep covered up in the most secret places of the mind, not to be disclosed to the eye of friendship or of love, were precisely the weaknesses which Boswell paraded before all the world. He was perfectly frank, because the weakness of his understanding and the tumult of his spirit prevented him from knowing when he made himself ridiculous. His book resembles nothing so much as the conversation of the inmates of the Palace of Truth.

That such a man should have written one of Fluellen. of the best books in the world, is strange enough. But this is not all. Many persons who have conducted themselves foolishly in active life, and whose conversation has indicated no superior powers of mind, have written valuable books. Goldsmith was very just ly described by one of his contemporaries as an inspired idiot, and by another as a being, "Who wrote like an angel, and talked like poor Poll." La Fontaine was in society a mere simpleton. His blunders would not come in amiss among the stories of Hierocles. But these men attained literary eminence in spite of their weaknesses. Boswell attained it by reason of his weaknesses. If he had not been a great fool, he would never have been a great writer. Without all the qualities which made him the jest and the torment of those among whom he lived-without the officiousness, the inquisitiveness, the effrontery, the toad-eating, the insensibility to all reproof, he never could have produced so excellent a book. He was a slave, proud of his servitude; a Paul Pry, convinced that his own curiosity and garrulity were virtues; an unsafe companion, who never scru- His fame is great, and it will, we have no ed to repay the most liberal hospitality by doubt, be lasting; but it is fame of a peculiar basest violation of confidence; a mankind, and indeed marvellously resembles infawithout delicacy, without shame, without sense my. We remember no other case in which the enough to know when he was hurting the feel-world has made so great a distinction between ings of others, or when he was exposing him- a book and its author. In general, the book and self to derision; and because he was all this, he has, in an important department of literature, immeasurably surpassed such writers as Tacitus, Clarendon, Alfieri, and his own idol


Of the talents which ordinarily raise men to eminence as writers, he had absolutely none. There is not, in all his books, a single remark of his own on literature, politics, religion, or society, which is not either commonplace or absurd. His dissertations on hereditary gentility, on the slave trade, and on the entailing of landed estates, may serve as examples. To say that these passages are sophistical, would be to pay them an extravagant compliment. They have no pretence to argument or even to meaning. He has reported innumerable observations made by himself in the course of conversation. Of those observations we do not remember one which is above the intellectual capacity of a boy of fifteen. He has printed many of his own letters, and in these letters he is always ranting or twaddling. Logic, eloquence, wit, taste, all those things which are generally considered as making a book valuable, were utterly wanting to him. He had, indeed, a quick observation and a retentive memory. These qualities, if he had been a man of sense and virtue, would scarcely of themselves have sufficed to make him conspicuous; but, as he was a dunce, a parasite, and a coxcomb, they have made him immortal.

Those parts of his book which, considered abstractedly, are most utterly worthless, are delightful when we read them as illustrations of the character of the writer. Bad in themselves, they are good dramatically, like the nonsense of Justice Shallow, the clipped EngIch of Dr. Caius, or the misplaced consonants

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the author are considered as one. To admire
the book is to admire the author. The case of
Boswell is an exception, we think the only ex-
ception, to this rule. His work is universally
allowed to be interesting, instructive, eminent-
ly original; yet it has brought him nothing but
contempt. All the world reads it, all the world
delights in it; yet we do not remember ever to
have read or even to have heard any expres-
sion of respect and admiration for the man to
whom we owe so much instruction and amuse-
ment. While edition after edition of his book
was coming forth, his son, as Mr. Croker tells
us, was ashamed of it, and hated to hear it
mentioned. This feeling was natural and rea-
sonable. Sir Alexander saw, that in proportion
to the celebrity of the work was the degradation
of the author. The very editors of this unfor-
tunate gentleman's books have forgotten their
allegiance, and, like those Puritan casuists
who took arms by the authority of the king
against his person, have attacked the writer
while doing homage to the writings. Mr. Cro-
ker, for example, has published two thousand
five hundred notes on the Life of Johnson, and
yet scarcely ever mentions the biographer,
whose performance he has taken such pains
to illustrate, without some expression of con-

An ill-natured man Boswell certainly was
not. Yet the malignity of the most malignant
satirist could scarcely cut deeper than his
thoughtless loquacity.
Having himself na
sensibility to derision and contempt, he took is
for granted that all others were equally callous
He was not ashamed to exhibit himself to the
whole world as a common spy, a common tat-
tler, a humble companion without the excuse
of poverty, to tell a hundred stories of his ow

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pertness and folly, and of the insults which! his pertness and folly brought upon him. It was natural that he should show little discretion in cases in which the feelings or the honour of others might be concerned. No man, surely, ever published such stories respecting persons whom he professed to love and revere. He would infallibly have made his hero as contemptible as he has made himself, had not this hero really possessed some moral and intellectual qualities of a very high order. The best proof that Johnson was really an extraor-as dinary man, is, that his character, instead of being degraded, has, on the whole, been decidedly raised by a work in which all his vices and weaknesses are exposed more unsparingly than they ever were exposed by Churchill or by Kenrick.

Johnson came up to London precisely at the time when the condition of a man of letters was most miserable and degraded. It was a dark night between two sunny days. The age of Mæcenases had passed away. The age of general curiosity and intelligence had not arrived. The number of readers is at present so great, that a popular author may subsist in comfort and opulence on the profits of his works. In the reigns of William the Third, of Anne, and of George the First, even such men Congreve and Addison would scarcely have been able to live like gentlemen by the mere sale of their writings. But the deficiency of the natural demand for literature was, at the close of the seventeenth and at the beginning by artificial encouragement, by a vast system of the eighteenth century, more than made up Johnson grown old, Johnson in the fulness of bounties and premiums. There was, perof his fame and in the enjoyment of a compe-haps, never a time at which the rewards of tent fortune, is better known to us than any literary merit were so splendid-at which men other man in history. Every thing about him, who could write well found such easy admithis coat, his wig, his figure, his face, his scro-tance into the most distinguished society and fula, his St. Vitus's dance, his rolling walk, his to the highest honours of the state. The chiefs blinking eye, the outward signs which too of both the great parties into which the kingclearly marked his approbation of his dinner, dom was divided patronised literature with his insatiable appetite for fish-sauce and veal-emulous munificence. Congreve, when he had pie with plums, his inextinguishable thirst for tea, his trick of touching the posts as he walked, his mysterious practice of treasuring up scraps of orange-peel, his morning slumbers, his midnight disputations, his contortions, his mutterings, his gruntings, his puffings, his vigorous, acute, and ready eloquence, his sarcastic wit, his vehemence, his insolence, his fits of tempestuous rage, his queer inmates, old Mr. Levett and blind Mrs. Williams, the cat Hodge and the negro Frank-all are as familiar to us as the objects by which we have been surrounded from childhood. But we have no minute information respecting those years of Johnson's life during which his character and his manners became immutably fixed. We know him not as he was known to the men of his own generation, but as he was known to men whose father he might have been. That celebrated club of which he was the most distinguished member contained few persons who could remember a time when his fame was not fully established and his habits completely formed. He had made himself a name in literature while Reynolds and the Wartons were still boys. He was about twenty years older than Burke, Goldsmith, and Gerard Hamilton; about thirty years older than Gibbon, Beauelerk, and Langton; and about forty years older than Lord Stowell, Sir William Jones, and Windham. Boswell and Mrs. Thrale, the two writers from whom we derive most of our knowledge respecting him, never saw him till long after he was fifty years old, till most of his great works had become classical, and till the pension bestowed on him by Lord Bute had placed him above poverty. Of those eminent men who were his most intimate associates towards the close of his life, the only one, as far as we remember, who knew him during the first ten or twelve years of his residence in the capital, was David Garrick; and it does not appear that, during those years, David Garrick saw much of his fellow-townsman.

scarcely attained his majority, was rewarded
for his first comedy with places which made
him independent for life. Smith, though his
Hippolytus and Phaedra failed, would have
been consoled with £300 a year, but for his
own folly. Rowe was not only poet-laureate,
but land-surveyor of the customs in the port
of London, clerk of the council to the Prince
of Wales, and secretary of the Presentations
to the Lord Chancellor. Hughes was secretary
to the Commissions of the Peace. Ambrose
Newton was
Philips was judge of the Prerogative Court in
Ireland. Locke was Commissioner of Appeals
and of the Board of Trade.
Master of the Mint. Stepney and Prior were
employed in embassies of high dignity and
importance. Gay, who commenced life as
apprentice to a silk-mercer, became a secre-
tary of legation at five-and-twenty. It was to
a poem on the Death of Charles II., and to the
City and Country Mouse, that Montague owed
his introduction into public life, his earldom,
his garter, and his auditorship of the Exche-
quer. Swift, but for the unconquerable preju-
dice of the queen, would have been a bishop.
Oxford, with his white staff in his hand, passed
through the crowd of his suitors to welcome
Parnell, when that ingenious writer deserted
the Whigs. Steele was a commissioner of
stamps and a member of Parliament. Arthur
Mainwaring was a commissioner of the cus-
toms and auditor of the imprest. Tickell was
secretary to the Lords Justices of Ireland. Ad-
dison was secretary of state.

This liberal patronage was brought into fashion, as it seems, by the magnificent Dorset, who alone, of all the noble versifiers in the court of Charles the Second, possessed talents for composition which would have made him eminent without the aid of a coronet. Montague owed his elevation to the favour of Dorset, and imitated through the whole course of his greatly indebted. The Tory leaders, Harley life the liberality to which he was himself so

and Bolingbroke in particular, vied with the chiefs of the Whig party in zeal for the encouragement of letters. But soon after the accession of the house of Hanover a change took place. The supreme power passed to a man who cared little for poetry or eloquence. The importance of the House of Commons was constantly on the increase. The government was under the necessity of bartering, for parliamentary support, much of that patronage which had been employed in fostering literary merit; and Walpole was by no means inclined to divert any part of the fund of corruption to purposes which he considered as idle. He had eminent talents for government and for debate; but he had paid little attention to books, and felt little respect for authors. One of the coarse jokes of his friend, Sir Charles Hanbury Williams, was far more pleasing to him than Thomson's Seasons or Richardson's Pamela. He had observed that some of the distinguished writers whom the favour of Halifax had turned into statesmen, had been mere encumbrances to their party, dawdlers in office, and mutes in Parliament. During the whole course of his administration, therefore, he scarcely patronised a single man of genius. The best writers of the age gave all their support to the opposition, and contributed to excite that discontent which, after plunging the nation | into a foolish and unjust war, overthrew the minister to make room for men less able and equally unscrupulous. The opposition could reward its eulogists with little more than promises and caresses. St. James would give nothing, Leicester-house had nothing to give.

the fate of more than one writer, who, if he had lived thirty years earlier, would have been admitted to the sittings of the Kit-Cat or the Seriblerus Club, would have sat in the Parlia ment, and would have been intrusted with embassies to the High Allies; who, if he had lived in our time, would have received from the booksellers several hundred pounds a year.

As every climate has its peculiar diseases, so every walk of life has its peculiar tempta tions. The literary character, assuredly, has always had its share of faults-vanity, jealousy. morbid sensibility. To these faults were now superadded all the faults which are commonly found in men whose livelihood is precarious, and whose principles are exposed to the trial of severe distress. All the vices of the gambler and of the beggar were blended with those of the author. The prizes in the wretched lottery of book-making were scarcely less ruinous than the blanks. If good fortune came, it came in such a manner that it was almost certain to be abused. After months of starvation and despair, a full third night, or a well-received dedication, filled the pocket of the lean, ragged, unwashed poet with guineas. He hastened to enjoy those luxuries with the images of which his mind had been haunted while sleeping amidst the cinders, and eating potatoes at the Irish ordinary in Shoe Lane. A week of taverns soon qualified him for another year of night cellars. Such was the life of Savage, of Boyce, and of a crowd of others. Sometimes blazing in gold-laced hats and waistcoats, sometimes lying in bed because their coats had gone to pieces, or wearing paper cravats beThus at the time when Johnson commenced cause their linen was in pawn; sometimes his literary career, a writer had little to hope from drinking Champagne and Tokay with Betty the patronage of powerful individuals. The Careless; sometimes standing at the window patronage of the public did not yet furnish the of an eating-house in Porridge island, to snuff means of comfortable subsistence. The prices up the scent of what they could not afford to paid by booksellers to authors were so low, taste;-they knew luxury; they knew beggary; that a man of considerable talents and unre- but they never knew comfort. These men mitting industry could do little more than pro- were irreclaimable. They looked on a regular vide for the day which was passing over him. and frugal life with the same aversion which The lean kine had eaten up the fat kine. an old gipsy or a Mohawk hunter feels for a The thin and withered ears had devoured the stationary abode, and for the restraints and good ears. The season of rich harvest was securities of civilized communities. They over, and the period of famine had begun. All were as untameable, as much wedded to their that is squalid and miserable might now be desolate freedom, as the wild ass. They could summed up in the one word-Poet. That no more be broken in to the offices of social word denoted a creature dressed like a scare- man, than the unicorn could be trained to serve crow, familiar with compters and spunging- and abide by the crib. It was well if they did houses, and perfectly qualified to decide on the not, like beasts of a still fiercer race, tear the comparative merits of the Common Side in the hands which ministered to their necessities. King's Bench prison, and of Mount Scoundrel To assist them was impossible; and the most in the Fleet. Even the poorest pitied him; benevolent of mankind at length became weary and they well might pity him. For if their of giving relief, which was dissipated with the condition was equally abject, their aspirings wildest profusion as soon as it had been rewere not equally high, nor their sense of insult ceived. If a sum was bestowed on the wretchequally acute. To lodge in a garret up four ed adventurer, such as, properly husbanded, pair of stairs, to dine in a cellar amongst foot- might have supplied him for six months, it was men out of place; to translate ten hours a day instantly spent in strange freaks of sensuality, for the wages of a ditcher; to be hunted by and before forty-eight hours had elapsed, the bailiffs from one haunt of beggary and pesti-poet was again pestering all his acquaintances lence to another, from Grub street to St. for twopence to get a plate of shin of beef at a George's Fields, and from St. George's Fields subterraneous cook-shop. If his friends gave to the alleys behind St. Martin's church; to sleep on a bulk in June, and amidst the ashes of a glasshouse in December, to die in an hospital, and to be buried in a parish vault, was

him an asylum in their houses, those houses were forthwith turned into bagnios and taverns. All order was destroyed, all business was sus pended. The most good-natured host began


to repent of his eagerness to serve a man of
genius in distress, when he heard his guest
roaring for fresh punch at five o'clock in the

A few eminent writers were more fortunate.
Pope had been raised above poverty by the
active patronage which, in his youth, both
the great political parties had extended to his
Homer. Young had received the only pension
ever bestowed, to the best of our recollection,
by Sir Robert Walpole, as the reward of mere
literary merit. One or two of the many poets
who attached themselves to the opposition,
Thomson in particular, and Mallet, obtained,
after much severe suffering, the means of sub-
sistence from their political friends. Richard-
son, like a man of sense, kept his shop, and
his shop kept him, which his novels, admirable
as they are, would scarcely have done. But
nothing could be more deplorable than the
state even of the ablest men, who at that time
depended for subsistence on their writings.
Johnson, Collins, Fielding, and Thomson were
certainly four of the most distinguished per-
sons that England produced during the eight-
eenth century. It is well known that they were
all four arrested for debt.

Into calamities and difficulties such as these
Johnson plunged in his twenty-eighth year.
From that time, till he was three or four-and-
fifty, we have little information respecting
him;-little, we mean, compared with the full
and accurate information which we possess
respecting his proceedings and habits towards
the close of his life. He emerged at length
from cocklofts and sixpenny ordinaries into
the society of the polished and the opulent.
His fame was established. A pension sufficient
for his wants had been conferred on him; and
he came forth to astonish a generation with
which he had almost as little in common as
with Frenchmen or Spaniards.

In his early years he had occasionally seen the great; but he had seen them as a beggar. He now came among them as a companion. The demand for amusement and instruction had, during the course of twenty years, been gradually increasing. The price of literary labours had risen; and those rising men of letters, with whom Johnson was henceforth to associate, were for the most part persons widely different from those who had walked about with him all night in the streets, for want of a lodging. Burke, Robertson, the Wartons, Gray, Mason, Gibbon, Adam Smith, Beattie, Sir William Jones, Goldsmith, and Churchill were the most distinguished writers of what may be called the second generation of the Johnsonian age. Of these men, Churchill was the only one in whom we can trace the stronger lineaments of that character, which, when Johnson first came up to London, was common among authors. Of the rest, scarcely any had felt the pressure of severe poverty. All had been early admitted into the most respectable society on an equal footing. They were men of quite a different species from the dependants of Curll and Osborne.

Johnson came among them the solitary specimen of a past age-the last survivor of a genuine race of Grub-street hacks; the last of 1-19

that generation cf authors whose abject misery
and whose dissolute manners had furnished
inexhaustible matter to the satirical genius of
Pope. From nature, he had received an un-
couth figure, a diseased constitution, and an
irritable temper. The manner in which the
earlier years of his manhood had been passed,
had given to his demeanour, and even to his
moral character, some peculiarities, appalling
to the civilized beings who were the compa-
nions of his old age. The perverse irregularity
of his hours, the slovenliness of his person, his
fits of strenuous exertion, interrupted by long
intervals of sluggishness; his strange absti
nence, and his equally strange voracity; his
active benevolence, contrasted with the con-
stant rudeness and the occasional ferocity of
his manners in society, made him, in the
opinion of those with whom he lived during
the last twenty years of his life, a complete
original. An original he was, undoubtedly, in
But if we possessed full in-
some respects.
formation concerning those who shared his
early hardships, we should probably find, that
what we call his singularities of manner, were,
for the most part, failings which he had in
common with the class to which he belonged.
He ate at Streatham Park as he had been used
to eat behind the screen at St. John's Gate,
when he was ashamed to show his ragged
clothes. He ate as it was natural that a man
should eat who, during a great part of his
life, had passed the morning in doubt whether
he should have food for the afternoon. The
habits of his early life had accustomed him to
He could fast;
bear privation with fortitude, but not to taste
pleasure with moderation.
but when he did not fast, he tore his dinner like
a famished wolf, with the veins swelling on his
forehead, and the perspiration running down
his cheeks. He scarcely ever took wine. But
when he drank it, he drank it greedily, and in
large tumblers. These were, in fact, mitigated
symptoms of that same moral disease, which
raged with such deadly malignity in his friends
Savage and Boyce. The roughness and vio-
lence which he showed in society were to be
expected from a man whose temper, not natu-
rally gentle, had been long tried by the bitterest
calamities-by the want of meat, of fire, and of
clothes; by the importunity of creditors, by the
insolence of booksellers, by the derision of
fools, by the insincerity of patrons, by that
bread which is the bitterest of all food, by
those stairs which are the most toilsome of
all paths, by that deferred hope which makes
the heart sick. Through all these things the
ill-dressed, coarse, ungainly pedant had strug-
gled manfully up to eminence and command.
It was natural, that, in the exercise of his
power, he should be "eo immitior, quia tolera-
verat"-that though his heart was undoubtedly
generous and humane, his demeanour in so-
ciety should be harsh and despotic. For
severe distress he had sympathy, and not only
sympathy, but munificent relief. But for the
suffering which a harsh word inflicts upon a
delicate mind, he had no pity; for it was a kind
of suffering which he could scarcely conceive.
He would carry home on his shoulders a sick
and starving girl from the streets. He turned

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