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Nullius addictus jurare in verba magistri,
Quo me cunque rapit tempestas, deferor hospes.-HOR.
BIOGRAPHICAL, HISTORICAL, AND CRITICAL
UPWARDS of thirty-seven years were elapsed since the discontinuance of the GUARDIAN, when SAMUEL JOHNSON-equally able to dare and to achieve-ventured into the track of our great Essayists, confident in his individual immensity, and nothing dismayed that it was beaten ground. The long intermediate lapse had been unrelieved but by momentary flashes of genius, which, like MILTON's light, that only served to discover the darkness, sent forth its occasional glimmerings over the mass of abortive periodicity. AMBROSE PHILIPS in the 'Freethinker,' and CHESTERFIELD and LYTTLETON in Common Sense;' AMHURST, BOLINGBROKE, and the PULTENEYS, in the 'Craftsman,' and FIELDING and RALPH in the Champion' and the True Patriot,' shone out at times through the hazy hemisphere, with a desultory and interrupted brilliance. But by far the greater portion of this interval was marked by the miscarriages of dulness, and the personalities of party writers. Impostors in literature, and pretenders to patriotism and religion, had usurped the double
empire of politics and of letters; on all sides were to be seen rabid scribblers, worthy of the Dunciad that some encountered; and the air was either thickened into a Baotian consistency, or poisoned with the exhalations of malevolence.
When, therefore, a paper so manifestly superior to all its contemporaries, as was the RAMBLER, appeared before the public, with that blended modesty and confidence which ever accompanies true talent, its advent was instantaneously perceived, and its merit universally acknowledged. Yet the general gravity of its discussions, so foreign to the frivolities which had again supervened in society, and had grown up as it were, like weeds, over the graves of STEELE and ADDISON, and an air of reprehending seriousness that too seldom condescended to be gay, occasioned it to make its way tardily into circulation, notwithstanding its uncontested excellence. The periodical sale was so inconsiderable, as seldom to exceed five hundred, and it was only upon its being collected into volumes, that any thing like an indemnity for the expenses of publication accrued to the spirited proprietor of the RAMBLER. But as it became more justly appreciated, it grew into a more extensive request; and the author lived to see ten large impressions disappear successively from the shops, and his work still enhancing in demand.
The first RAMBLER appeared on Tuesday, the 20th of March, 1750; and they