10th October 1824

A wet day have finished the life of Savage in Johnson's Lives of the Poets it is a very interesting piece of biography but the criticisms are dictated by friendship that too often forgets judgment ought to be one of the company to leave this & turn to the life of Gray what a contrast it almost makes the mind disbelieve criticism & to fancy itself led astray by even the wisest of men I never take up Johnson's Lives but I regret his beginning at the wrong end first & leaving out those beautiful minstrels of Elizabeth had he forgot that there had been such poets as Spenser Drayton Suckling &c &c but it was the booksellers' judgment that employd his pen & we know by experience that most of their judgments lye in their pockets so the Poets of Elizabeth are still in cobwebs & mystery read in the afternoon Erskine's Evidence of Revealed Religion & find in it some of the best reasoning in favour of its object I have ever read I think a doubting Christian may be set aright at a first perusal & a reasoning Deist lose doubts sufficient to be half a Christian in some of the originals & a whole one ere he get to the end.

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