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ber of essays which he wrote, is very small; and it is remarkable that those for which he had made no preparation, are as rich and as highly finished, as those for which the hints were lying by him. It is also to be observed, that the papers formed from his hints are worked up with such strength and elegance, that we almost lose sight of the hints, which become like "drops in the bucket." Indeed, in several instances, he has made a very slender use of them, so that many of them remain still unapplied*.

As the Rambler was entirely the work of one man, there was, of course, such a uniformity in its texture as very much to exclude the charm of variety; and the grave and often solemn cast of thinking, which distinguished it from other periodical papers, made it, for some time, not generally liked. So slowly did this excellent work, of which twelve editions have now issued from the press, gain upon the world at large, that even in the closing number the author says, I have never been much a favourite of the publick "."

Sir John Hawkins has selected from this little collection of materials, what he calls the "Rudiments of two of the papers of the Rambler." But he has not been able to read the manuscript distinctly. Thus he writes, p. 266, "Sailor's fate any mansion;" whereas the original is "Sailor's life my aversion." He has also transcribed the unappropriated hints on "Writers for bread," in which he deciphers these notable passages, one in Latin, “fatui non famæ,” instead of “fami non famæ;" Johnson having in his mind what Thuanus says of the learned German antiquary and linguist, Xylander, who, he tells us, lived in such poverty, that he was supposed "fami non famæ scribere ;" and another in French, “Dégenté de fate et affamé d'argent," instead of "Dégouté de fame (an old word for renommé) et affamé d'argent." The manuscript being written in an exceedingly small hand, is indeed very hard to read; but it would have been better to have left blanks than to write nonsense.-BoSWELL.

y The Ramblers certainly were little noticed at first. Smart, the poet, first mentioned them to me as excellent papers, before I had heard any one else speak of them. When I went into Norfolk, in the autumn of 1751, I found but one person, (the rev. Mr. Squires, a man of learning, and a general purchaser of new books,) who knew any thing of them. But he had been misinformed concerning the true author, for he had been told they were written by a Mr. Johnson of Canterbury, the son of a clergyman who had had a controversy with Ben'ley: and who had changed the readings of the old ballad entitled Norton Falgate," in Bentley's bold style, (meo periculo,) till not a

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Yet, very soon after its commencement, there were who felt and acknowledged its uncommon excellence. Verses in its praise appeared in the newspapers; and the editor of the Gentleman's Magazine mentions, in October, his having received several letters to the same purpose from the learned. "The Student, or Oxford and Cambridge Miscellany," in which Mr. Bonnel Thornton and Mr. Colman were the principal writers, describes it as "a work that exceeds any thing of the kind ever published in this kingdom, some of the Spectators excepted,—if indeed they may be excepted." And afterwards, May the publick favours crown his merits; and may not the English, under the auspicious reign of George the second, neglect a man, who, had he lived in the first century, would have been one of the greatest favourites of Augustus." This flattery of the monarch had no effect. It is too well known, that the second George never was an Augustus to learning or genius.


Johnson told me, with an amiable fondness, a little pleasing circumstance relative to this work. Mrs. Johnson,

single word of the original song was left. Before I left Norfolk, in the year 1760, the Ramblers were in high favour among persons of learning and good taste. Others there were, devoid of both, who said that the hard words in the Rambler were used by the author to render his Dictionary indispensably necessary,-BURNEY.

It may not be improper to correct a slight errour in the preceding note, though it does not at all affect the principal object of Dr. Burney's remark. The clergyman above alluded to, was Mr. Richard Johnson, schoolmaster at Nottingham, who in 1717 published an octavo volume in Latin, against Bentley's edition of Horace, entitled Aristarchus Anti-Bentleianus. In the middle of this Latin work (as Mr. Bindley observes to me) he has introduced four pages of English criticism, in which he ludicrously corrects, in Bentley's manner, one stanza, not of the ballad, the hero of which lived in Norton Falgate, but of a ballad celebrating the achievements of Tom Bostock; who in a seafight performed prodigies of valour. The stanza, on which this ingenious writer has exercised his wit, is as follows:

Then old Tom Bostock he fell to the work,

He pray'd like a christian, but fought like a Turk,

And cut 'em off all in a jerk,

Which nobody can deny, etc.-MALONE.

z Chalmers doubts whether Colman was a principal writer in this work. T. Warton and Smart are well known to have been chief contributors.-ED.


in whose judgement and taste he had great confidence, said to him, after a few numbers of the Rambler had come out, "I thought very well of you before; but I did not imagine you could have written any thing equal to this." Distant praise, from whatever quarter, is not so delightful as that of a wife whom a man loves and esteems. Her approbation may be said to "come home to his bosom;" and being so near, its effect is most sensible and permanent.

Mr. James Elphinston, who has since published various works, and who was ever esteemed by Johnson as a worthy man, happened to be in Scotland while the Rambler was coming out in single papers at London. With a laudable zeal at once for the improvement of his countrymen, and the reputation of his friend, he suggested, and took the charge of an edition of those essays at Edinburgh, which followed progressively the London publication".

The following letter written at this time, though not dated, will show how much pleased Johnson was with this publication, and what kindness and regard he had for Mr. Elphinston.


[No date.] "DEAR SIR,-I cannot but confess the failures of my correspondence, but hope the same regard which you express for me on every other occasion, will incline you to forgive me. I am often, very often, ill; and, when I am well, am obliged to work; and, indeed, have never much used myself to punctuality. You are, however, not to make unkind inferences, when I forbear to reply to your

a It was executed in the printing-office of Sands, Murray, and Cochran, with uncommon elegance, upon writing paper, of a duodecimo size, and with the greatest correctness: and Mr. Elphinston enriched it with translations of the mottos. When completed, it made eight handsome volumes. It is, unquestionably, the most accurate and beautiful edition of this work; and there being but a small impression, it is now become scarce, and sells at a very high price. -BOSWELL.

With respect to the correctness of this edition, the author probably derived his information from some other person, and appears to have been misinformed; for it was not accurately printed, as we learn from Mr. A. Chalmers. -J. BOSWEll.

kindness; for, be assured, I never receive a letter from you without great pleasure, and a very warm sense of your generosity and friendship, which I heartily blame myself for not cultivating with more care. In this, as in many other cases, I go wrong, in opposition to conviction; for I think scarce any temporal good equally to be desired with the regard and familiarity of worthy men. I hope we shall be some time nearer to each other, and have a more ready way of pouring out our hearts.

"I am glad that you still find encouragement to proceed in your publication, and shall beg the favour of six more volumes to add to my former six, when you can with any convenience send them me. Please to present a set, in my name, to Mr. Ruddiman", of whom, I hear, that his learning is not his highest excellence. I have transcribed the mottos, and returned them, I hope not too late, of which I think many very happily performed. Mr. Cave has put the last in the Magazine, in which I think he did well. I beg of you to write soon, and to write often, and to write long letters, which I hope in time to repay you; but you must be a patient creditor. I have, however, this of gratitude, that I think of you with regard, when I do not, perhaps, give the proofs which I ought, of being, sir,

"Your most obliged and

"most humble servant,


This year he wrote to the same gentleman another letter upon a mournful occasion.

b Mr. Thomas Ruddiman, the learned grammarian of Scotland, well known for his various excellent works, and for his accurate editions of several authors. He was also a man of a most worthy private character. His zeal for the royal house of Stuart did not render him less estimable in Dr. Johnson's eye.BOSWELL.

c If the Magazine here referred to be that for October, 1752, see Gent. Mag. vol. xxii. p. 468, then this letter belongs to a later period. If it relates to the Magazine for Sept. 1750, see Gent. Mag. vol. xx. p. 406, then it may be ascribed to the month of October in that year, and should have followed the subsequent letter.-MALONE.


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'September 25, 1750. "DEAR SIR,-You have, as I find by every kind of evidence, lost an excellent mother; and I hope you will not think me incapable of partaking of your grief. I have a mother, now eighty-two years of age, whom, therefore, I must soon lose, unless it please God that she should rather mourn for me. I read the letters in which you relate your mother's death to Mrs. Strahan, and think I do myself honour, when I tell you that I read them with tears; but tears are neither to you nor to me of any farther use, when once the tribute of nature has been paid. The business of life summons us away from useless grief, and calls us to the exercise of those virtues of which we are lamenting our deprivation. The greatest benefit which one friend can confer upon another, is to guard, and excite, and elevate his virtues. This your mother will still perform, if you diligently preserve the memory of her life, and of her death: a life, so far as I can learn, useful, wise, and innocent; and a death resigned, peaceful, and holy. I cannot forbear to mention, that neither reason nor revelation denies you to hope, that you may increase her happiness by obeying her precepts; and that she may, in her present state, look with pleasure upon every act of virtue to which her instructions or example have contributed. Whether this be more than a pleasing dream, or à just opinion of separate spirits, is indeed of no great importance to us, when we consider ourselves as acting under the eye of God; yet, surely, there is something pleasing in the belief, that our separation from those whom we love is merely corporeal; and it may be a great incitement to virtuous friendship, if it can be made probable, that that union that has received the divine approbation shall continue to eternity.

"There is one expedient by which you may, in some de

d See Preface to Rasselas. Johnson's Works, vol. i. Ed.

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