The Works of Samuel Johnson in Nine Volumes

Samuel Johnson
The Works of Samuel Johnson in
Nine Volumes - Volume IV: The
Adventurer; The Idler

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Nine Volumes
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Title: The Works of Samuel Johnson in Nine Volumes Volume IV: The
Adventurer; The Idler
Author: Samuel Johnson
Release Date: April 15, 2004 [EBook #12050]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

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The Adventurer was projected in the year 1752, by Dr. John
Hawkesworth. He was partly induced to undertake the work by his
admiration of the Rambler, which had now ceased to appear, the style
and sentiments of which evidently, from his commencement, he made
the models of his imitation.
The first number was published on the seventh of November, 1752.
The quantity and price were the same as the Rambler, and also the days
of its appearance. He was joined in his labours by Dr. Johnson in 1753,
whose first paper is dated March 3, of that year; and after its
publication Johnson applied to his friend, Dr. Joseph Warton, for his
assistance, which was afforded: and the writers then were, besides the
projector Dr. Hawkesworth, Dr. Johnson, Dr. Joseph Warton, Dr.
Bathurst, Colman, Mrs. Chapone and the Hon. Hamilton Boyle, the
accomplished son of Lord Orrery [1].
Our business, however, in the present pages, does not lie with the
Adventurer in general, but only with Dr. Johnson's contributions; which
amount to the number of twenty-nine, beginning with No. 34, and
ending with No. 138.
Much criticism has been employed in appropriating some of them, and
the carelessness of editors has overlooked several that have been
satisfactorily proved to be Johnson's own[2].
Mr. Boswell relies on internal evidence, which is unnecessary, since in
Dr. Warton's copy (and his authority on the subject will scarcely be

disputed) the following remark was found at the end: "The papers
marked T were written by Mr. S. Johnson." Mrs. Anna Williams
asserted that he dictated most of these to Dr. Bathurst, to whom he
presented the profits. The anecdote may well be believed from the
usual benevolence of Johnson and his well-known attachment to that
amiable physician, whose professional knowledge might undoubtedly
have enabled him to offer hints to Johnson in the progress of
composition. Thus we may account for the references to recondite
medical writers in No. 39, which so staggered Boswell and Malone in
pronouncing on the genuineness of this paper. Those who are familiar
with Johnson's writings can have little hesitation, we conceive, in
recognising his style, and manner, and sentiments in those papers
which are now published under his name. They may be considered as a
continuation of the Rambler. The same subjects are discussed; the
interests of literature and of literary men, the emptiness of praise and
the vanity of human wishes. The same intimate knowledge, of the town
and its manners is displayed[3]; and occasionally we are amused with
humorous delineation of adventure and of character[4].
From the greater variety of its subjects, aided, perhaps, by a growing
taste for periodical literature, the sale of the Adventurer was greater
than that of the Rambler on its first appearance. But still there were
those, who "talked of it as a catch-penny performance, carried on by a
set of needy and obscure scribblers[5]." So slowly is a national taste for
letters diffused, and so hardly do works of sterling merit, which deal
not in party-politics, nor exemplify their ethical discussions by holding
out living characters to censure or contempt, win the applause of those,
whose passions leave them no leisure for abstracted truth, and whom
virtue itself cannot please by its naked dignity. But, by such, Johnson
professed, that he had little expectation of his writings being perused.
Keeping then our main object more immediately in view, the
elucidation of Johnson's real character and motives, we cannot but
admire the prompt benevolence, with which he joined Hawkesworth in
his task, and the ready zeal, with which he embraced any opportunity of
promoting the interests of morality and virtue. "To a benevolent
disposition every state of life will afford some opportunities of
contributing to the welfare of mankind," is the characteristic opening of
his first Adventurer. And when we have admired the
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