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but the waiters were all so overcome with neep, that
My mirth had been considerably abated by a severe
In the foregoing pages I have assigned the motives that induced Johnson to the institution of the club, and the writing of the Rambler; and here I may add, that his view in both was so far answered, as that the amusements they afforded him contributed, not only to relieve him from the fatigue of his great work the dictionary, but that they served to divert that melancholy, which the public now too well knows was the disease of his mind. For this morbid affection, as he was used to call it, no cause can be assigned; nor will it gratify curiosity to say, it was constitutional, or that it discovered itself in his early youth, and haunted him in his hours of recreation, and it is but a surmise that it might be a latent concomitant of that disease, which, in his infancy, had induced his mother to seek relief from the royal touch. His
own conjecture was, that he derived it from his father, of whom he was used to speak as of a man in whose temper and character melancholy was predominant. Under this persuasion, he at the age of about twenty, drew up a state of his case for the opinion of an eminent physician in Staffordshire, and from him received an answer, " that from the fymptoms
therein described, he could think nothing better • of his disorder, than that it had a tendency to in
fanity; and without great care might possibly terminate in the deprivation of his rational faculties.' The dread of fo great a calamity was one inducement with him to abstain from wine at certain periods of his life, when his fears in this respect were greatest; but it was not without some reluctance that he did it, for he has often been heard to declare, that wine was to him so great a cordial, that it required all his resolution to resist the temptations to ebriety.
It was fortunate for the public, that during a period of two years, the depression of his mind was at no time so great as to incapacitate him for sending forth a number of the Rainbler on the days on which it became due ; nor did any of the essays or discourses therein contained, either in the choice of subjects or the manner of treating them, indicate the least fymptom of drooping faculties or lassitude of spiri Nevertheless, whether the constant meditation on such topics as most frequently occur therein, had not produced in his mind a train of ideas that were now become uneasy to him, or whether, that intenseness of thought which he must have exerted, first, in the conception, and next, in the delivery of such
original and noble sentiments as these papers abound with, had not made the relaxation of his mind necessary, he thought proper to discontinue the Rambler at a time when its reputation was but in its dawn.
The paper in which this his resolution is announced, is that of March 14, 1752, which concludes the work. As he had given his readers no warning of his intention, they were unprepared for the shock, and had the mortification to receive the tidings and the blow at the same instant, with the aggravation of a sympathetic melancholy, excited by the mournful expressions with which he takes his leave. And though he affects to think the reasons for discontinuing the publication a tecret to his readers, it is but too apparent that it was written in the hours of dejection, and that the want of assistance and encouragement was not the weakest of his motives. Of the former of these two he had surely no right to complain, for he was so far from being ever known to wish for assistance, that his most intimate friends seemed to think it would have been presumption to offer it. The want of encouragement indeed might be a justifiable cause of discontent, for I have reason to think that the number of papers taken off hardly amounted to five hundred on any of the days! of publication. Nevertheless, the now circulation of the
paper was to be accounted for by other reasons than that the author was never a favourite with the public, a reflection that would have been but excufable, had his imitations of Juvenai become waste paper, or his Irene, instead of being suffered to run nine nights, been consigned to oblivion on the first; Vol. I.
for it must be considered, that the merits of the Rambler were of a kind not likely to recommend it to those who read chiefly for amusement, and of readers, this class will ever be by much the most numerous : the subjects therein discussed are chiefly the weightiest and most important, respecting more our eternal than temporal happiness; and that these were the obstacles to the progress of his paper, himself has unawares confessed in his apology for the conduct of it. 'I
have never,' says he, 'complied with temporary curiosity, nor enabled my readers to discuss the topic of the day. I have rarely exemplified my
assertions by living characters; in my papers no • man could look for censures of his enemies or praises
of himself; and they only were expected to peruse
them, whose passions left them leisure for abstracted ? truth, and whom virtue could please by its naked ! dignity.' · Towards the close of this last paper, he seems to refer to the final fentence of mankind,' with a sort of presage, that one more deliberate than that to which he was submitting might be more favourable to his labours. He little thought at this time to what length the justice of mankind would go ; that he should be a witness to the publication of the tenth edition of the Rambler, or that his heart would ever be dilated, as his friends can testify it was, with the news of its being translated into the Russian language.
Much might be said in commendation of this excellent work; but such suffrages as those here mentioned set it almost above praise. In the author's own
opinion it was less estimable than in that of his judges: some merit indeed he claims for having enriched his native language, but in terms so very elegant and modest, that they at once hold forth an exemplar, and convey an apology. 'I have laboured,' says he, to ' refine our language to grammar and purity, and
to clear it from colloquial barbarif.ns, licentious idioms, and irregular combinations. Something perhaps I have added to the elegance of its construction, and something to the harmony of its cadence. When common words were less pleasing to the ear, or less distinct in their signification, I have familiarized the terms of philosophy by applying them to popular ideas, but have rarely admitted
any word not authorized by former writers.'-- With what success these endeavours of his have been attend ed is best known to those who have made eloquence their study; and it may go far towards the stamping a lasting character of purity, elegance, and strength on the style of Johnson, to say, that fome of the moit popular orators of this country now living; have not only proposed it to themselves as a model for speaking, but for the purpose of acquiring the cadence and Aow of his periods, have actually gotten whole essays from the Rambler by heart.
The concluding paragraph of his farewel paper is so very awful, that I cannot resist the temptation to insert it, and the rather for that it seems to have been written under a persuasion, that Almighty God had been propitious to his labour, and that the solemn address to him which he had composed and offered up, on occasion of his engaging in it, had been heard, and was likely to be accepted.