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DR. SAMUEL JOHNSON.
Nullius addictus jurare in verba magistri,
PRINTED BY ROBERT CARR,
FOR SAMUEL F. BRADFORD, NO. 4, SOUTH THIRD STREET,
No. LIV. SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER, 22, 1750.
Truditur dies die,
Novæque pergunt interire lunæ ;.
Day presses on the heels of day,
To the Rambler.
I HAVE lately been called from a mingled life of business and amusement, to attend the last hours of an old friend; an office which has filled me if not with melancholy, at least with serious reflections, and turned my thoughts towards the contemplation of those objects which, though of the utmost importance, and of indubitable certainty, are generally secluded from our regard by the jollity of health, the hurry of employment, and even by the calmer diversions of study and speculation; or if they become accidental topics of conversation and argument, yet rarely sink deep into the heart, but give occasion only to some subtilties of reasoning, or elegancies of declamation, which are heard, applauded, and forgotten.
It is, indeed, not hard to conceive how a man accustomed to extend his views through a long concatenation of causes and effects, to trace things from their origin to their period, and compare means with ends, may discover the weakness of human schemes; detect the fallacies by which mortals are deluded ; show the insufficiency of wealth, honours, and power, to real happiness; and please himself and his auditors with learned lectures on the vanity of life.
But though the speculatist may see and show the folly of terrestrial hopes, fears, and desires, every hour will give proofs that he never felt it. Trace him through the day or year, and you will find him acting upon principles which he has in common with the illiterate and unenlightened, angry and pleased like the lowest of the vulgar, pursuing, with the same ardour, the same designs; grasping, with all the eagerness of transport, those riches which he knows he cannot keep; and swelling with the applause which he has gained, by proving that applause is of no value.
The only conviction that rushes upon the soul, and takes away from our appetites and passions the power of resistance, is to be found, where I have received it, at the bed of a dying friend. To enter this school of wisdom is not the peculiar privilege of geometricians; the most sublime and important precepts require no uncommon opportunities, nor laborious preparations; they are enforced without the aid of eloquence, and understood without skill in analytic science. Every tongue can utter them, and every understanding can conceive them. He that wishes in earnest to obtain just sentiments concerning his condition, and would be intimately acquainted with the world, may find instructions on every side. He that desires to enter behind the scene, which every art has been employed to decorate, and every passion labours to illuminate, and wishes to see life stript of those ornaments which make it glitter on the stage, and exposed in its natural