1798 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Samuel Johnson

Edward Gardner, "The Rambler of Johnson" Miscellanies, in Prose and Verse (1798) 1:101-02.



The Rambler ranks superior, as a periodical paper, to any other which this country has produced. If we except the peculiar and exquisite humour admirably displayed, and uniformly supported by Addison, in the portrait of Sir Roger, he cannot be placed in competition with Johnson. His acute penetration into the human mind, his intimate acquaintance with the whole circle of ethics, his keen research into general motive and principle, has never been equalled by any writer in the world: amidst such a variety of excellencies, we hesitate on which to bestow our chief admiration; it remains suspended between the strength of his understanding, and the dignified construction of his language. He moves with a solemn majesty, which beguiles languor into attention, and deprives apathy of its coldness. Strongly illuminated by the flame of a pure morality, his strokes are powerful. They are directed by the hand of wisdom, and they blaze with the irradiations of truth.