when the wearer happens to be known.” He that is discovered without his own consent, may claim Some indulgence, and cannot be rigorously called to justify those sallies or frolicks which his disguise must prove him desirous to conceal. But I have been cautious lest this offense should be frequently or grossly committed; for, as one of the philosophers directs us to live with a friend, as with one that is some time to become an enemy, I have always thought it the duty of an anonymous author to write, as if he expected to be hereafter known. I am willing to flatter myself with hopes, that, by collecting these papers, I am not preparing, for my future life, either shame or repentance. That all are happily imagined, or accurately polished, that the same sentiments have not sometimes recurred, or the same expressions been too frequently repeated, I have not confidence in my abilities sufficient to warrant. 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 distracted with anxieties, a body languishing with disease: he will labour on a barren topick, 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. Whatever shall be the final sentence of mankind, I have at least endeavoured to deserve their kindness. I have laboured to refine our language to

grammatical purity, and to clear it from colloquial
barbarisms, licentious idioms, and irregular combi-
nations. 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 sig-
nification, I have familiarized the terms of philoso-
phy, by applying them to popular ideas, but have
rarely admitted any words not authorized by former
writers; for I believe that whoever knows the English
tongue in its present extent, will be able to express
his thoughts without further help from other nations.

As it has been my principal design to inculcate
wisdom or piety, I have allotted few papers to the
idle sports of imagination. Some, perhaps, may be

found, of which the highest excellence is harmless | merriment; but scarcely any man is so steadily | serious as not to complain, that the severity of dic- |: tatorial instruction has been too seldom relieved, and §


that he is driven by the sternness of the Rambler's philosophy to more cheerful and airy companions. Next to the excursions of fancy are the disquisitions of criticism, which, in my opinion, is only to be ranked among the subordinate and instrumental arts. Arbitrary decision and general exclamation I have carefully avoided, by asserting nothing without a reason, and establishing all my principles of judg| ment on unalterable and evident truth. In the pictures of life I have never been so studious of novelty or surprise, as to depart wholly from all resemblance; a fault which writers de


servedly celebrated frequently commit, that they may raise, as the occasion requires, either mirth or abhorrence. Some enlargement may be allowed to declamation, and some exaggeration to burlesque; but as they deviate farther from reality, they become less useful, because their lessons will fail of application. The mind of the reader is carried away from the contemplation of his own manner; he finds in himself no likeness to the phantom before him; and though he laughs or rages, is not reformed.

The essays professedly serious, if I have been able to execute my own intentions, 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 blame or praise of man shall diminish or augment. I shall never envy the honours which wit and learning obtainin any other cause, if I can be numbered among the writers who have given ardour to virtue, and confidence to truth.

[ocr errors][merged small]

No. 34. SATURDAY, MARCH 3, 1753 Has toties optata exegit gloria paenas. JUv. Sat. x. 187. Such fate pursues the votaries of praise. TO THE ADVENTURER. SIR, Fleet Prison, Feb. 24. O a benevolent disposition, every state of life will afford some opportunities of contributing to the welfare of mankind. Opulence and splendour are enabled to dispel the cloud of adversity, to dry up the tears of the widow and the Orphan, and to increase the felicity of all around them: their example will animate virtue, and retard the progress of vice. And evenindigence and obscurity, though without power to confer happiness, may at least prevent misery, and apprize those who are blinded by their passions, that they are on the brink of irremediable calamity. Pleased, therefore, with the thought of recovering others from that folly which has embittered my own days, I have presumed to address the ADVENTURER from the dreary mansions of wretchedness and despair, of which the gates are so wonderfully constructed, as to fly open for the reception of strangers, though they are impervious as a rock of adamant to such as are within them: Facilis descensus Averni: Noctes atque dies patet atri janua Ditis:

Sed revocare gradum, superasque evadere ad auras,
Hoc opus, hic labor est.— VIRG. AEn. vi. 126.

The gates of hell are open night and day;
Smooth the descent, and easy is the way:
But to return and view the cheerful skies;
In this the task and mighty labour lies. DRYDEN.

« 前へ次へ »