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it should seem, with no other view than to 'draw a spiteful and malevolent character of almost every one of them. Mr. Dyer, whom Sir John says he loved with the affection of a brother, meets with the harshest treatment, because it was his maxim, that to live in peace with mankind, and in a temper to do good offices, was the most essential part of our duty. That notion of moral goodness gave umbrage to Sir John Hawkins, and drew down upon the memory of his friend the bitterest imputations. Mr. Dyer, however, was admired and loved through life. He was a man of literature. Johnson loved to enter with him into a discussion of metaphysical, moral, and critical subjects; in those conflicts, exercising his talents, and, according to his custom, always contending for victory. Dr. Bathurst was the person on whom Johnson fixed his affection. He hardly ever spoke of him without tears in his eyes. It was from him, who was a , native of Jamaica, that Johnson received into his service Frank", the black servant, whom, on account of his master, he valued to the and of his life. At the time of instituting the club in 1vy-lane, Johnson had projected the Rambler. The title was most probably suggested by the Wanderer; a poem which he mentions, with the warmest praise, in the Life of Savage. With the same spirit of independence with which he wished to live, it was now his pride to write. He communicated his plan to none of his friends; he desired no assistance, relying entirely on his own fund, and the protection of the Divine Being, which he implored in a solemn form of prayer, composed by himself for the occasion. Having formed a resolution to undertake a work that might be of use and honour to his country, he thought, with Milton, that this was not to be obtained “ but “ by devout prayer to that Eternat Spirit “ that can enrich with all utterance and knowledge, and send out his seraphim “ with the hallowed fire of his altar, to “ touch and purify the lips of whom he “ pleases.”
* See Gent. Mag, vol. LXXI. p. 190.
Having invoked the special protection of Heaven, and by that act of piety fortified his mind, he began the great work of the Rambler. The first number was published on Tuesday, March the aoth, 1750; and from that time.
was continued regularly every Tuesday and Saturday for the space of two years, when it finally closed on Saturday, March 14, 1752. As it began with motives of piety, so it appears that the same religious spirit glowed with unabating ardour to the last. His conclusion is: “ The Essays, professedly serious, “if I have been able to execute my own in“tentions, will be found exactly conformable “ to the precepts of Christianity, without “any accommodation to the licentiousness “ and levity of the present age. I therefore look back on this part of my work with pleasure, which no man shall diminish or
“augment. I shall never envy the honours 66
which wit and learning obtain in any other “cause, if I can be numbered among the “writers who have given ardour to virtue, “ and confidence to truth.
ber of Essays amounted to two hundred and
The whole num
eight. Addison's, in the Spectator, are more in number, but not half in point of quantity: Addison was not bound to publish on stated days; he could watch the ebb and flow of his genius, and send his paper to the press when his own taste was satisfied. Johnson's case was very different. He wrote singly and alone. In the whole progress of the work he did not receive more than ten essays. This was a scanty contribution. For the rest, the author has described his situation. “He that condemns himself to compose on “a stated day, will often bring to his task an “ attention dissipated, a memory embarrassed, “an imagination overwhelmed, a mind dis“ tracted with anxieties, a body languishing “with disease: he will labour on a barren “topic, till it is too late to change it; or, in “ the ardour of invention, diffuse his thoughts ‘ into wild exuberance, which the pressing “ hour of publication cannot suffer judgment “to examine or reduce.” Of this excellent production the number sold on each day did not amount to five hundred : of course the bookseller, who paid the author four guineas a week, did not carry on a successful trade. His generosity and perseverance deserve to be commended ; and happily when the collection appeared in volumes, were amply rewarded. Johnson lived to see his labours flourish in a tenth edition. His posterity, as an ingenious French writer has said on a similar occasion, began in his lifetime.
* - and
In the beginning of 1750, soon after the Rambler was set on foot, Johnson was induced by the arts of a vile impostor to lend his assistance, during a temporary delusion, to a fraud not to be paralleled in the annals of literature *. One LAUDER, a native of Scotland, who had been a teacher in the University of EDINBURGH, had conceived a mortal antipathy to the name and character of Milton. His reason was, because the prayer of Pamela, in Sir Philip Sidney's Arcadia, was, as he supposed, maliciously inserted by the great poet in an edition of the Eikon Basilike, in order to fix an imputation of impiety on the memory of the murdered king. Fired with resentment, and willing to reap the profits of a gross imposition, this man collected from several Latin poets, such as Masenius the Jesuit, Staphorstius a Dutch divine, Beza, and others, all such passages as bore any kind of resemblance to different places in the Paradise Lost; and these he published, from time to time, in the Gentleman's
* It has since been paralleled, in the case of the Shakspeare MSS. by a yet more vile impostor. C,