Study Guide

The Vanity of Human Wishes Stanza 7

By Samuel Johnson

Stanza 7

Lines 69-72

Such was the scorn that fill'd the sage's mind,
Renew'd at every glance on human kind.
How just that scorn, ere yet thy voice declare,
Search every state, and canvass ev'ry prayer.

  • Democritus was full of scorn for people and for humankind generally. (He sounds like a great dude.)
  • The speaker says that Democritus' scorn is justified, given that if we look any "state," and consider what people pray and wish for, we would see that they deserve scorn. (The speaker uses the word "state" in an ambiguous way here, since it can refer to an actual country or a mental "state.")

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