« PreviousContinue »
55. The gay widow's impatience of the growth of her
daughter. The history of miss May-pole 351
56. The necessity of complaisance. The Rambler's
grief for offending his correspondents
57. Sententious rules of frugality
58. The desire of wealth moderated by philosophy 370
59. An account of Suspirius, the human screech-owl 376
60. The dignity and usefulness of biography - 381
61. A Londoner's
RAMBL E R.
NUMB. 1. TUESDAY, March 20, 1749-50.
Cur tamen hoc libeat potius decurrere campo,
Why to expatiate in this beaten field,
THE 'HE difficulty of the first address on any new
occasion, is felt by every man in his transactions with the world, and confessed by the settled and regular forms of salutation which necessity has introduced into all languages. Judgment was wearied with the per*plexity of being forced upon choice, where there was no motive to preference; and it was found convenient that some easy method of introduction should be established, which, if it wanted the allurement of novelty, might enjoy the security of prescription, VOL. IV.
Perhaps Perhaps few authors have presented themselves before the publick, without wishing that such ceremonial modes of entrance had been anciently established, as might have freed them from those dangers which the desire of pleasing is certain to produce, and precluded the vain expedients of softening censure by apologies, or rousing attention by abruptness.
The epick writers have found the proemial part of the poem such an addition to their undertaking, that they have almost unanimously adopted the first lines of Homer, and the reader needs only be informed of the subject, to know in what manner the poem will begin.
But this solemn repetition is hitherto the peculiar distinction of heroick poetry; it has never been legally extended to the lower orders of literature, but seems to be considered as an hereditary privilege, to be enjoyed only by those who claim it from their alliance to the genius of Homer.
The rules which the injudicious use of this prerogative suggested to Horace, may indeed be applied to the direction of candidates for inferior fame; it may be proper for all to remember, that they ought not to raise expectation which it is not in their power to satisfy, and that it is more pleasing to see smoke brightening into flame, than flame sinking into smoke.
This precept has been long received, both from regard to the authority of Horace, and its conformity to the general opinion of the world; yet there have been always some, that thought it no deviation from modesty to recommend their own labours,