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The Vanity of Human Wishes (1749) and Two Rambler papers (1750) by Samuel Johnson

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The Augustan Reprint Society


_The Vanity of Human Wishes_


Two _Rambler_ papers

With an Introduction by
Bertrand H. Bronson

Publication Number 22
(Series VI, No. 2)

Los Angeles
William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
University of California


H. RICHARD ARCHER, _Clark Memorial Library_
RICHARD C. BOYS, _University of Michigan_
EDWARD NILES HOOKER, _University of California, Los Angeles_
H.T. SWEDENBERG, JR., _University of California, Los Angeles_


W. EARL BRITTON, _University of Michigan_
JOHN LOFTIS, _University of California, Los Angeles_


EMMETT L. AVERY, _State College of Washington_
BENJAMIN BOYCE, _University of Nebraska_
LOUIS I. BREDVOLD, _University of Michigan_
CLEANTH BROOKS, _Yale University_
JAMES L. CLIFFORD, _Columbia University_
ARTHUR FRIEDMAN, _University of Chicago_
SAMUEL H. MONK, _University of Minnesota_
ERNEST MOSSNER, _University of Texas_
JAMES SUTHERLAND, _Queen Mary College, London_


The pieces reproduced in this little volume are now beginning to bid for
notice from their third century of readers. At the time they were written,
although Johnson had already done enough miscellaneous literary work to
fill several substantial volumes, his name, far from identifying an "Age",
was virtually unknown to the general public. _The Vanity of Human Wishes_
was the first of his writings to bear his name on its face. There were
some who knew him to be the author of the vigorous satire, _London_, and
of the still more remarkable biographical study, _An Account of the Life
of Mr. Richard Savage_; and a few interested persons were aware that he
was engaged in compiling an English Dictionary, and intended to edit
Shakespeare. He was also, at the moment, attracting brief but not
over-favorable attention as the author of one of the season's new crop of
tragedies at Drury Lane. But _The Vanity of Human Wishes_ and _The
Rambler_ were a potent force in establishing Johnson's claim to a
permanent place in English letters. _The Vanity_ appeared early in
January, 1749; _The Rambler_ ran from March 20, 1749/50 to March 14, 1752.
With the exception of five numbers and two quoted letters, the periodical
was written entirely by Johnson.

As moral essays, the Ramblers deeply stirred some readers and bored
others. Young Boswell, not unduly saturnine in temperament, was profoundly
impressed by them and determined on their account to seek out the author.
Taine, a century later, discovered that he already knew by heart all they
had to teach and warned his readers away from them. Generally speaking,
they were valued as they deserved by the eighteenth century and
undervalued by the nineteenth. The first half of the twentieth has shown a
marked impulse to restore them, as a series, to a place of honor second
only to the work of Addison and Steele in the same form. Raleigh, in 1907,
paid discriminating tribute to their humanity. If read, he observed,
against a knowledge of their author's life, "the pages of _The Rambler_
are aglow with the earnestness of dear-bought conviction, and rich in
conclusions gathered not from books but from life and suffering." And
later: "We come to closer quarters with Johnson in the best pages of _The
Rambler_ than in the most brilliant of the conversations recalled by
Boswell. The hero of a hundred fights puts off his armour, and becomes a
wise and tender confessor." Latterly, the style of Johnson's essays has
been subjected to a closer scrutiny than ever before. What Taine found as
inflexible and inert as a pudding-mold is now seen to be charged with life
and movement, vibrant with light and shadow and color. More particularly,
Wimsatt has shown how intimately connected is the vocabulary of _The
Rambler_ with Johnson's reading for the Dictionary, and how, having
mastered the words of the experimental scientists of the previous century,
Johnson proceeded to put them to original uses, generating with them new
stylistic overtones in contexts now humorously precise, now
philosophically metaphorical, employing them now for purposes of irony and
satire, and again for striking directly home to the roots of morality and
religion. In a playful mood, he is never more characteristic than when he
is his own mimic, propounding with mock seriousness some preposterous
theory like that of the intellectual advantages of living in a garret:

I have discovered ... that the tenuity of a defecated air at a proper
distance from the surface of the earth accelerates the fancy, and sets
at liberty those intellectual powers which were before shackled by too
strong attraction, and unable to expand themselves under the pressure of
a gross atmosphere. I have found dullness to quicken into sentiment in a
thin ether, as water, though not very hot, boils in a receiver partly
exhausted; and heads, in appearance empty, have teemed with notions upon
rising ground, as the flaccid sides of a football would have swelled out
into stiffness and extension.

This is one side of his genius; but another, and profounder, appears in
the eloquent simplicity of such a passage as the following, against our
fears of lessening ourselves in the eyes of others:

The most useful medicines are often unpleasing to the taste. Those who
are oppressed by their own reputation will, perhaps, not be comforted by
hearing that their cares are unnecessary. But the truth is that no man
is much regarded by the rest of the world. He that considers how little
he dwells upon the condition of others, will learn how little the
attention of others is attracted to himself. While we see multitudes
passing before us, of whom, perhaps, not one appears to deserve our
notice, or excite our sympathy, we should remember that we likewise are
lost in the same throng; that the eye which happens to glance upon us is
turned in a moment on him that follows us, and that the utmost which we
can reasonably hope or fear is, to fill a vacant hour with prattle, and
be forgotten.

When we approach Johnson's poetry, the revolution of taste becomes a more
acute consideration. It seems very nearly impossible to compare or
contrast eighteenth-century poetry and that of the twentieth without
wilfully tipping the scales in one direction or the other, judgment in
this area being so much influenced by preference. But let us begin with
titles. For a start, let us take, from a recent Pulitzer Prize-winner:
"The Day's No Rounder Than Its Angles Are", and "Don't Look Now But
Mary Is Everybody"; from another distinguished current volume, these:
"The Trance", "Lost", "Meeting"; from another, "After This, Sea", "Lineman
Calling", "Meaning Motion"; and from a fourth, "Terror", "Picnic
Remembered", "Eidolon", and "Monologue at Midnight". Here are individual
assertions, suggestive of individual ways of looking at things; here
are headings that signalize particular events in the authors'
experience,--moments' monuments. Beside them, Johnson's title, "The Vanity
of Human Wishes", looks very dogged and downright.

Titles are not poems but they have a barometric function. The modern
titles cited above are evocative of a world with which, for the past
century and a half, we have been growing increasingly familiar. This air
we are accustomed to breathe: it requires no unusual effort of adjustment
from us. We readily understand that we are being invited to participate in
a private experience and, by sharing it, to help in giving it as much
universality as may be. It is by no means easy for readers of to-day to
reverse the process, to start with the general and find in it their
personal account. We are more likely to feel a resentment, or at least a
prejudice, against the writer who solicits our attention to a topic
without even the pretense of novelty.

Johnson's generation would have found it equally hard to see the matter
from our point of view, or to allow that the authors of the poems named
above were being less than impudent or at best flippant in thus brazenly
obtruding their private experience, undisguised, before the reader. We
ought, moreover, to realize that in this judgment they would have the
suffrages of all previous generations, including the greatest writers,
from classical times down to their own. It is we who are singular, not
they. Quite apart from considerations of moral right or wrong, of artistic
good or bad, it obviously, therefore, behooves us to try to cultivate a
habit of mind free from initial bias against so large a proportion of
recorded testimony.

Very early in _The Rambler_ Johnson remarks characteristically that "men
more frequently require to be reminded than informed." He believed this,
and his generation believed it, because they thought that human nature
changed little from age to age. The problems of conduct that confront the
living individual have been faced countless times by his predecessors, and
the accumulated experience of mankind has arrived at conclusions which in
the main are just and therefore helpful to-day. The most important truths
are those which have been known for a very long time. For that very reason
they tend to be ignored or slighted unless they are restated in such a way
as to arrest attention while they compel assent. Hence the best writing is
that which most successfully resolves the paradox of combining the
sharpest surprise with the widest recognition. Such an ideal is so
difficult of attainment that, inevitably, many who subscribed to it
succeeded only in unleavened platitude and others rejected it for the
easier goal of novelty.

In this most difficult class _The Vanity of Human Wishes_ has won a
respectable place. It is freighted with a double cargo, the wisdom of two
great civilizations, pagan and Christian. Although based upon Juvenal's
tenth Satire, it is so free a paraphrase as to be an original poem. The
English reader who sets it against Dryden's closer version will sense
immediately its greater weight. It is informed with Johnson's own sombre
and most deeply rooted emotional responses to the meaning of experience.
These, although emanating from a devout practising Christian and certainly
not inconsistent with Christianity, neither reflect the specific articles
of Christian doctrine nor are lightened by the happiness of Christian
faith: they are strongly infused with classical resignation.

The poem is difficult as well as weighty. At times its expression is so
condensed that the meaning must be wrestled for. Statements so packed as,
for example,

Fate wings with ev'ry wish th' afflictive dart,
Each gift of nature, and each grace of art,

do not yield their full intention to the running reader. One line,
indeed,--the eighth from the end (361)--has perhaps never been
satisfactorily explained by any commentator. (The eighteenth paragraph of
Johnson's first sermon might go far to clarify it.) But such difficulties
are worth the effort they demand, because there is always a rational and
unesoteric solution to be gained.

The work as a whole has form, is shapely, even dramatic; but it is
discontinuous and episodic in its conduct, and is most memorable in its
separate parts. No one can forget the magnificent "set pieces" of Wolsey
and Charles XII; but hardly less noteworthy are the two parallel
invocations interspersed, the one addressed to the young scholar, the
other to young beauties "of rosy lips and radiant eyes",--superb
admonitions both, each containing such felicities of grave, compacted
statement as will hardly be surpassed. The assuaging, marmoreal majesty of
the concluding lines of the poem are a final demonstration of the virtue
of this formal dignity in poetry. If it did not appear invidious, one
would like to quote by way of contrast some lines oddly parallel, but on a
pitch deliberately subdued to a less rhetorical level, from what is
indubitably one of the very greatest poems written in our own century, Mr.
Eliot's _Four Quartets_:

I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.

From _The Vanity of Human Wishes_:

Still raise for good the supplicating voice,
But leave to heav'n the measure and the choice,
Safe in his pow'r, whose eyes discern afar
The secret ambush of a specious pray'r.
Implore his aid, in his decisions rest,
Secure whate'er he gives, he gives the best....
Pour forth thy fervours for a healthful mind,
Obedient passions, and a will resign'd;
For love, which scarce collective man can fill;
For patience sov'reign o'er transmuted ill;
For faith, that panting for a happier seat,
Counts death kind Nature's signal of retreat:
These goods for man the laws of heav'n ordain,
These goods he grants, who grants the pow'r to gain;
With these celestial wisdom calms the mind,
And makes the happiness she does not find.

_The Vanity of Human Wishes_ is reproduced from a copy in the William
Andrews Clark Memorial Library; the _Rambler_ papers from copies in
possession of Professor E.N. Hooker. The lines from T.S. Eliot's _Four
Quartets_ are quoted with the permission of Harcourt, Brace and Company.

_Bertrand H. Bronson
University of California


Tenth Satire of _Juvenal_,


Printed for R. DODSLEY at Tully's Head in Pall-Mall,
and Sold by M. COOPER in Pater-noster Row.



Let[a] Observation with extensive View,
Survey Mankind, from _China_ to _Peru_;
Remark each anxious Toil, each eager Strife,
And watch the busy Scenes of crouded Life;
Then say how Hope and Fear, Desire and Hate,
O'erspread with Snares the clouded Maze of Fate,
Where wav'ring Man, betray'd by venturous Pride,
To tread the dreary Paths without a Guide;
As treach'rous Phantoms in the Mist delude,
Shuns fancied Ills, or chases airy Good.
How rarely Reason guides the stubborn Choice,
Rules the bold Hand, or prompts the suppliant Voice,
How Nations sink, by darling Schemes oppress'd,
When Vengeance listens to the Fool's Request.
Fate wings with ev'ry Wish th' afflictive Dart,
Each Gift of Nature, and each Grace of Art,
With fatal Heat impetuous Courage glows,
With fatal Sweetness Elocution flows,
Impeachment stops the Speaker's pow'rful Breath,
And restless Fire precipitates on Death.
[Footnote a: Ver. 1-11.]

[b]But scarce observ'd the Knowing and the Bold,
Fall in the general Massacre of Gold;
Wide-wasting Pest! that rages unconfin'd,
And crouds with Crimes the Records of Mankind,
For Gold his Sword the Hireling Ruffian draws,
For Gold the hireling Judge distorts the Laws;
Wealth heap'd on Wealth, nor Truth nor Safety buys,
The Dangers gather as the Treasures rise.
[Footnote b: Ver. 12-22.]

Let Hist'ry tell where rival Kings command,
And dubious Title shakes the madded Land,
When Statutes glean the Refuse of the Sword,
How much more safe the Vassal than the Lord,
Low sculks the Hind beneath the Rage of Pow'r,
And leaves the _bonny Traytor_ in the _Tow'r_,
Untouch'd his Cottage, and his Slumbers found,
Tho' Confiscation's Vulturs clang around.

The needy Traveller, serene and gay,
Walks the wild Heath, and sings his Toil away.
Does Envy seize thee? crush th' upbraiding Joy,
Encrease his Riches and his Peace destroy,
New Fears in dire Vicissitude invade,
The rustling Brake alarms, and quiv'ring Shade,
Nor Light nor Darkness bring his Pain Relief,
One shews the Plunder, and one hides the Thief.

Yet[c] still the gen'ral Cry the Skies assails
And Gain and Grandeur load the tainted Gales;
Few know the toiling States man's Fear or Care,
Th' insidious Rival and the gaping Heir.
[Footnote c: Ver. 23-27.]

Once[d] more, _Democritus_, arise on Earth,
With chearful Wisdom and instructive Mirth,
See motley Life in modern Trappings dress'd,
And feed with varied Fools th' eternal Jest:
Thou who couldst laugh where Want enchain'd Caprice,
Toil crush'd Conceit, and Man was of a Piece;
Where Wealth unlov'd without a Mourner dy'd;
And scarce a Sycophant was fed by Pride;
Where ne'er was known the Form of mock Debate,
Or seen a new-made Mayor's unwieldy State;
Where change of Fav'rites made no Change of Laws,
And Senates heard before they judg'd a Cause;
How wouldst thou shake at _Britain's_ modish Tribe,
Dart the quick Taunt, and edge the piercing Gibe?
Attentive Truth and Nature to descry,
And pierce each Scene with Philosophic Eye.
To thee were solemn Toys or empty Shew,
The Robes of Pleasure and the Veils of Woe:
All aid the Farce, and all thy Mirth maintain,
Whose Joys are causeless, or whose Griefs are vain.
[Footnote d: Ver. 28-55.]

Such was the Scorn that fill'd the Sage's Mind,
Renew'd at ev'ry Glance on Humankind;
How just that Scorn ere yet thy Voice declare,
Search every State, and canvass ev'ry Pray'r.

[e]Unnumber'd Suppliants croud Preferment's Gate,
Athirst for Wealth, and burning to be great;
Delusive Fortune hears th' incessant Call,
They mount, they shine, evaporate, and fall.
On ev'ry Stage the Foes of Peace attend,
Hate dogs their Flight, and Insult mocks their End.
Love ends with Hope, the sinking Statesman's Door
Pours in the Morning Worshiper no more;
For growing Names the weekly Scribbler lies,
To growing Wealth the Dedicator flies,
From every Room descends the painted Face,
That hung the bright _Palladium_ of the Place,
And smoak'd in Kitchens, or in Auctions sold,
To better Features yields the Frame of Gold;
For now no more we trace in ev'ry Line
Heroic Worth, Benevolence Divine:
The Form distorted justifies the Fall,
And Detestation rids th' indignant Wall.
[Footnote e: Ver. 56-107.]

But will not _Britain_ hear the last Appeal,
Sign her Foes Doom, or guard her Fav'rites Zeal;
Through Freedom's Sons no more Remonstrance rings;
Degrading Nobles and controuling Kings;
Our supple Tribes repress their Patriot Throats,
And ask no Questions but the Price of Votes;
With Weekly Libels and Septennial Ale,
Their Wish is full to riot and to rail.

In full-blown Dignity, see _Wolsey_ stand,
Law in his Voice, and Fortune in his Hand:
To him the Church, the Realm, their Pow'rs consign,
Thro' him the Rays of regal Bounty shine,
Turned by his Nod the Stream of Honour flows,
His Smile alone Security bestows:
Still to new Heights his restless Wishes tow'r,
Claim leads to Claim, and Pow'r advances Pow'r;
Till Conquest unresisted ceas'd to please,
And Rights submitted, left him none to seize.
At length his Sov'reign frowns--the Train of State
Mark the keen Glance, and watch the Sign to hate.
Where-e'er he turns he meets a Stranger's Eye,
His Suppliants scorn him, and his Followers fly;
Now drops at once the Pride of aweful State,
The golden Canopy, the glitt'ring Plate,
The regal Palace, the luxurious Board,
The liv'ried Army and the menial Lord.
With Age, with Cares, with Maladies oppress'd,
He seeks the Refuge of Monastic Rest.
Grief aids Disease, remember'd Folly stings,
And his last Sighs reproach the Faith of Kings.

Speak thou, whose Thoughts at humble Peace repine,
Shall _Wolsey_'s Wealth, with _Wolsey_'s End be thine?
Or liv'st thou now, with safer Pride content,
The richest Landlord on the Banks of _Trent_?
For why did _Wolsey_ by the Steps of Fate,
On weak Foundations raise th' enormous Weight?
Why but to sink beneath Misfortune's Blow,
With louder Ruin to the Gulphs below?

What[f] gave great _Villiers_ to th' Assassin's Knife,
And fix'd Disease on _Harley_'s closing Life?
What murder'd _Wentworth_, and what exil'd _Hyde_,
By Kings protected and to Kings ally'd?
What but their Wish indulg' in Courts to shine,
And Pow'r too great to keep or to resign?
[Footnote f: Ver. 108-113.]

When[g] first the College Rolls receive his Name,
The young Enthusiast quits his Ease for Fame;
Resistless burns the Fever of Renown,
Caught from the strong Contagion of the Gown;
O'er _Bodley_'s Dome his future Labours spread,
And _Bacon_'s Mansion trembles o'er his Head;
Are these thy Views? proceed, illustrious Youth,
And Virtue guard thee to the Throne of Truth,
Yet should thy Soul indulge the gen'rous Heat,
Till captive Science yields her last Retreat;
Should Reason guide thee with her brightest Ray,
And pour on misty Doubt resistless Day;
Should no false Kindness lure to loose Delight,
Nor Praise relax, nor Difficulty fright;
Should tempting Novelty thy Cell refrain,
And Sloth's bland Opiates shed their Fumes in vain;
Should Beauty blunt on Fops her fatal Dart,
Nor claim the Triumph of a letter'd Heart;
Should no Disease thy torpid Veins invade,
Nor Melancholy's Phantoms haunt thy Shade;
Yet hope not Life from Grief or Danger free,
Nor think the Doom of Man revers'd for thee:
Deign on the passing World to turn thine Eyes,
And pause awhile from Learning to be wise;
There mark what Ills the Scholar's Life assail;
Toil, Envy, Want, the Garret, and the Jail.
See Nations slowly wise, and meanly just;
To buried Merit raise the tardy Bust.
If Dreams yet flatter, once again attend,
Hear _Lydiat_'s Life, and _Galileo_'s End.
[Footnote g: Ver. 114-132.]

Nor deem, when Learning her lost Prize bestows
The glitt'ring Eminence exempt from Foes;
See when the Vulgar 'scap'd, despis'd or aw'd,
Rebellion's vengeful Talons seize on _Laud_.
From meaner Minds, tho' smaller Fines content
The plunder'd Palace or sequester'd Rent;
Mark'd out by dangerous Parts he meets the Shock,
And fatal Learning leads him to the Block:
Around his Tomb let Art and Genius weep,
But hear his Death, ye Blockheads, hear and sleep.

The[h] festal Blazes, the triumphal Show,
The ravish'd Standard, and the captive Foe,
The Senate's Thanks, the Gazette's pompous Tale,
With Force resistless o'er the Brave prevail.
Such Bribes the rapid _Greek_ o'er _Asia_ whirl'd,
For such the steady _Romans_ shook the World;
For such in distant Lands the _Britons_ shine,
And stain with Blood the _Danube_ or the _Rhine_;
This Pow'r has Praise, that Virtue scarce can warm,
Till Fame supplies the universal Charm.
Yet Reason frowns on War's unequal Game,
Where wasted Nations raise a single Name,
And mortgag'd States their Grandsires Wreaths regret
From Age to Age in everlasting Debt;
Wreaths which at last the dear-bought Right convey
To rust on Medals, or on Stones decay.
[Footnote h: Ver. 133-146.]

On[i] what Foundation stands the Warrior's Pride?
How just his Hopes let _Swedish Charles_ decide;
A Frame of Adamant, a Soul of Fire,
No Dangers fright him, and no Labours tire;
O'er Love, o'er Force, extends his wide Domain,
Unconquer'd Lord of Pleasure and of Pain;
No Joys to him pacific Scepters yield,
War sounds the Trump, he rushes to the Field;
Behold surrounding Kings their Pow'r combine,
And One capitulate, and One resign;
Peace courts his Hand, but spread her Charms in vain;
"Think Nothing gain'd, he cries, till nought remain,
On _Moscow_'s Walls till _Gothic_ Standards fly,
And all is Mine beneath the Polar Sky."
The March begins in Military State,
And Nations on his Eye suspended wait;
Stern Famine guards the solitary Coast,
And Winter barricades the Realms of Frost;
He comes, nor Want nor Cold his Course delay;--
Hide, blushing Glory, hide _Pultowa_'s Day:
The vanquish'd Hero leaves his broken Bands,
And shews his Miseries in distant Lands;
Condemn'd a needy Supplicant to wait,
While Ladies interpose, and Slaves debate.
But did not Chance at length her Error mend?
Did no subverted Empire mark his End?
Did rival Monarchs give the fatal Wound?
Or hostile Millions press him to the Ground?
His Fall was destin'd to a barren Strand,
A petty Fortress, and a dubious Hand;
He left the Name, at which the World grew pale,
To point a Moral, or adorn a Tale.
[Footnote i: Ver. 147-167.]

All[k] Times their Scenes of pompous Woes afford,
From _Persia_'s Tyrant to _Bavaria_'s Lord.
In gay Hostility, and barb'rous Pride,
With half Mankind embattled at his Side,
Great _Xerxes_ comes to seize the certain Prey,
And starves exhausted Regions in his Way;
Attendant Flatt'ry counts his Myriads o'er,
Till counted Myriads sooth his Pride no more;
Fresh Praise is try'd till Madness fires his Mind,
The Waves he lashes, and enchains the Wind;
New Pow'rs are claim'd, new Pow'rs are still bestow'd,
Till rude Resistance lops the spreading God;
The daring _Greeks_ deride the Martial Shew,
And heap their Vallies with the gaudy Foe;
Th' insulted Sea with humbler Thoughts he gains,
A single Skiff to speed his Flight remains;
Th' incumber'd Oar scarce leaves the dreaded Coast
Through purple Billows and a floating Host.
[Footnote k: Ver. 168-187.]

The bold _Bavarian_, in a luckless Hour,
Tries the dread Summits of _Cesarean_ Pow'r,
With unexpected Legions bursts away,
And sees defenceless Realms receive his Sway;
Short Sway! fair _Austria_ spreads her mournful Charms,
The Queen, the Beauty, sets the World in Arms;
From Hill to Hill the Beacons rousing Blaze
Spreads wide the Hope of Plunder and of Praise;
The fierce _Croatian_, and the wild _Hussar_,
And all the Sons of Ravage croud the War;
The baffled Prince in Honour's flatt'ring Bloom
Of hasty Greatness finds the fatal Doom,
His Foes Derision, and his Subjects Blame,
And steals to Death from Anguish and from Shame.

Enlarge[l] my Life with Multitude of Days,
In Health, in Sickness, thus the Suppliant prays;
Hides from himself his State, and shuns to know,
That Life protracted is protracted Woe.
Time hovers o'er, impatient to destroy,
And shuts up all the Passages of Joy:
In vain their Gifts the bounteous Seasons pour,
The Fruit Autumnal, and the Vernal Flow'r,
With listless Eyes the Dotard views the Store,
He views, and wonders that they please no more;
Now pall the tastless Meats, and joyless Wines,
And Luxury with Sighs her Slave resigns.
Approach, ye Minstrels, try the soothing Strain,
And yield the tuneful Lenitives of Pain:
No Sounds alas would touch th' impervious Ear,
Though dancing Mountains witness'd _Orpheus_ near;
Nor Lute nor Lyre his feeble Pow'rs attend,
Nor sweeter Musick of a virtuous Friend,
But everlasting Dictates croud his Tongue,
Perversely grave, or positively wrong.
The still returning Tale, and ling'ring Jest,
Perplex the fawning Niece and pamper'd Guest,
While growing Hopes scarce awe the gath'ring Sneer,
And scarce a Legacy can bribe to hear;
The watchful Guests still hint the last Offence,
The Daughter's Petulance, the Son's Expence,
Improve his heady Rage with treach'rous Skill,
And mould his Passions till they make his Will.
[Footnote l: Ver. 188.-288.]

Unnumber'd Maladies each Joint invade,
Lay Siege to Life and press the dire Blockade;
But unextinguish'd Av'rice still remains,
And dreaded Losses aggravate his Pains;
He turns, with anxious Heart and cripled Hands,
His Bonds of Debt, and Mortgages of Lands;
Or views his Coffers with suspicious Eyes,
Unlocks his Gold, and counts it till he dies.

But grant, the Virtues of a temp'rate Prime
Bless with an Age exempt from Scorn or Crime;
An Age that melts in unperceiv'd Decay,
And glides in modest Innocence away;
Whose peaceful Day Benevolence endears,
Whose Night congratulating Conscience cheers;
The gen'ral Fav'rite as the gen'ral Friend:
Such Age there is, and who could wish its End?

Yet ev'n on this her Load Misfortune flings,
To press the weary Minutes flagging Wings:
New Sorrow rises as the Day returns,
A Sister sickens, or a Daughter mourns.
Now Kindred Merit fills the fable Bier,
Now lacerated Friendship claims a Tear.
Year chases Year, Decay pursues Decay,
Still drops some Joy from with'ring Life away;
New Forms arise, and diff'rent Views engage,
Superfluous lags the Vet'ran on the Stage,
Till pitying Nature signs the last Release,
And bids afflicted Worth retire to Peace.

But few there are whom Hours like these await,
Who set unclouded in the Gulphs of Fate.
From _Lydia_'s Monarch should the Search descend,
By _Solon_ caution'd to regard his End,
In Life's last Scene what Prodigies surprise,
Fears of the Brave, and Follies of the Wise?
From _Marlb'rough_'s Eyes the Streams of Dotage flow,
And _Swift_ expires a Driv'ler and a Show.

The[m] teeming Mother, anxious for her Race,
Begs for each Birth the Fortune of a Face:
Yet _Vane_ could tell what Ills from Beauty spring;
And _Sedley_ curs'd the Form that pleas'd a King.
Ye Nymphs of rosy Lips and radiant Eyes,
Whom Pleasure keeps too busy to be wise,
Whom Joys with soft Varieties invite
By Day the Frolick, and the Dance by Night,
Who frown with Vanity, who smile with Art,
And ask the latest Fashion of the Heart,
What Care, what Rules your heedless Charms shall save,
Each Nymph your Rival, and each Youth your Slave?
An envious Breast with certain Mischief glows,
And Slaves, the Maxim tells, are always Foes,
Against your Fame with Fondness Hate combines,
The Rival batters, and the Lover mines.
With distant Voice neglected Virtue calls,
Less heard, and less the faint Remonstrance falls;
Tir'd with Contempt, she quits the slipp'ry Reign,
And Pride and Prudence take her Seat in vain.
In croud at once, where none the Pass defend,
The harmless Freedom, and the private Friend.
The Guardians yield, by Force superior ply'd;
By Int'rest, Prudence; and by Flatt'ry, Pride.
Here Beauty falls betray'd, despis'd, distress'd,
And hissing Infamy proclaims the rest.
[Footnote m: Ver. 289-345.]

Where[n] then shall Hope and Fear their Objects find?
Must dull Suspence corrupt the stagnant Mind?
Must helpless Man, in Ignorance sedate,
Swim darkling down the Current of his Fate?
Must no Dislike alarm, no Wishes rise,
No Cries attempt the Mercies of the Skies?
Enquirer, cease, Petitions yet remain,
Which Heav'n may hear, nor deem Religion vain.
Still raise for Good the supplicating Voice,
But leave to Heav'n the Measure and the Choice.
Safe in his Pow'r, whose Eyes discern afar
The secret Ambush of a specious Pray'r.
Implore his Aid, in his Decisions rest,
Secure whate'er he gives, he gives the best.
Yet with the Sense of sacred Presence prest,
When strong Devotion fills thy glowing Breast,
Pour forth thy Fervours for a healthful Mind,
Obedient Passions, and a Will resign'd;
For Love, which scarce collective Man can fill;
For Patience sov'reign o'er transmuted Ill;
For Faith, that panting for a happier Seat,
Thinks Death kind Nature's Signal of Retreat:
These Goods for Man the Laws of Heav'n ordain,
These Goods he grants, who grants the Pow'r to gain;
With these celestial Wisdom calms the Mind,
And makes the Happiness she does not find.
[Footnote n: Ver. 346-366.]



NUMB. 5. Price 2 _d._

TUESDAY, _April 3, 1750_.

_To be continued on_ TUESDAYS _and_ SATURDAYS.

_Et nunc omnis Ager, nunc omnis parturit Arbos,
Nunc frondent Silvae, nunc formosissimus Annus_.

Every Man is sufficiently discontented with some Circumstances of his
present State, to suffer his Imagination to range more or less in quest of
future Happiness, and to fix upon some Point of Time, in which he shall,
by the Removal of the Inconvenience which now perplexes him, or the
Acquisition of Advantage which he at present wants, find his Condition of
Life very much improved.

When this Time, which is too often expected with great Impatience, at last
arrives, it generally comes without the Blessing for which it was desired;
but we solace ourselves with some new Prospect, and press forward again
with equal Eagerness.

It is some Advantage to a Man, in whom this Temper prevails in any great
Degree, when he turns his Hopes upon Things wholly out of his own Power,
since he forbears then to precipitate his Affairs, for the Sake of the
great Event that is to complete his Felicity, and waits for the blissful
Hour, without neglecting such Measures as are necessary to be taken in the
mean Time.

I have long known a Person of this Temper, who indulged his Dream of
Happiness with less Hurt to himself than such chimerical Wishes commonly
produce, and adjusted his Scheme with such Address, that his Hopes were in
full bloom three parts of the Year, and in the other part never wholly
blasted. Many, perhaps, would be desirous of learning by what Means he
procured to himself such a cheap and lasting Satisfaction. It was gained
only by a constant Practice of referring the Removal of all his Uneasiness
to the Coming of the next Spring. If his Affairs were disordered, he could
regulate them in the Spring; if a Regimen was prescribed him, the Spring
was the proper Time of pursuing it; if what he wanted was at a high Price,
it would fall its Value in the Spring.

The Spring, indeed, did often come without any of these Effects; but he
was always certain that the next would be more propitious; and was never
convinced that the present Spring would fail him until the Middle of
Summer; for he always talked of the Spring as coming 'till it was past,
and when it was once past, every one agreed with him that it was coming.

By long Converse with this Man, I am, perhaps, in some Degree brought to
feel the same immoderate Pleasure in the Contemplation of this delightful
Season; but I have the Satisfaction of finding many, whom it can be no
Shame to resemble, infected with the same Enthusiasm; for there is, I
believe, scarce any Poet of Eminence, who has not left some Testimony of
his Fondness for the Flowers, the Zephyrs, and the Warblers of the Spring.
Nor has the most luxuriant Imagination been able to describe the Serenity
and Happiness of the golden Age otherwise than by giving a perpetual
Spring, as the highest Reward of uncorrupted Innocence.

There is, indeed, something inexpressibly pleasing in the annual
Renovation of the World, and the new Display of the Treasures of Nature.
The Cold and Darkness of Winter, with the naked Deformity of every Object
on which we turn our Eyes, makes us necessarily rejoice at the succeeding
Season, as well for what we have escaped, as for what we may enjoy; and
every budding Flower, which a warm Situation brings early to our View, is
considered by us as a Messenger, to inform us of the Approach of more
joyous Days.

The Spring affords to a Mind, so free from the Disturbance of Cares or
Passions as to be vacant to calm Amusements, almost every Thing that our
present State makes us capable of enjoying. The variegated Verdure of the
Fields and Woods, the Succession of grateful Odours, the Voice of Pleasure
pouring out its Notes on every Side, with the Observation of the Gladness
apparently conceived by every Animal, from the Growth of his Food, and the
Clemency of the Weather, throw over the whole Earth an Air of Gayety,
which is very significantly expressed by the Smile of Nature.

There are Men to whom these Scenes are able to give no Delight, and who
hurry away from all the Varieties of rural Beauty, to lose their Hours,
and divert their Thoughts by Cards, or publick Assemblies, a Tavern
Dinner, or the Prattle of the Day.

It may be laid down as a Position which will seldom deceive, that when a
Man cannot bear his own Company there is something wrong. He must fly from
himself, either because he feels a Tediousness in Life from the Equipoise
of an empty Mind, which, having no Tendency to one Motion more than
another but as it is impelled by some external Power, must always have
recourse to foreign Objects; or he must be afraid of the Intrusion of some
unpleasing Ideas, and, perhaps, is always struggling to escape from the
Remembrance of a Loss, the Fear of a Calamity, or some other Thought of
greater Horror.

Those, who are incapacitated to enjoy the Pleasures of Contemplation, by
their Griefs, may, very properly, apply to such Diversions, provided they
are innocent, as lay strong hold on the Attention; and those, whom Fear of
any future Calamity chains down to Misery, must endeavour to obviate the

My Considerations shall, on this Occasion, be turned on such as are
burthensome to themselves merely because they want Subjects for
Reflection, and to whom the Volume of Nature is thrown open without
affording them Pleasure or Instruction, because they never learned to read
the Characters.

A French Author has advanced this seeming Paradox, that _very few Men know
how to take a Walk_; and, indeed, it is very true, that few Men know how
to take a Walk with a Prospect of any other Pleasure, than the same
Company would have afforded them in any other Circumstances.

There are Animals that borrow their Colour from the neighbouring Body,
and, consequently, vary their Hue as they happen to change their Place. In
like manner it ought to be the Endeavour of every Man to derive his
Reflexions from the Objects about him; for it is to no purpose that he
alters his Position, if his Attention continues fixt to the same Point.
The Mind should be kept open to the Access of every new Idea, and so far
disengaged from the Predominance of particular Thoughts, as to be able to
accommodate itself to emergent Occasions, and remark every Thing that
offers itself to present Examination.

A Man that has formed this Habit of turning every new Object to his
Entertainment, finds in the Productions of Nature an inexhaustible Stock
of Materials, upon which he can employ himself, without any Temptations to
Envy or Malevolence; Faults, perhaps, seldom totally avoided by those,
whose Judgment is much exercised upon the Works of Art. He has always a
certain Prospect of discovering new Reasons for adoring the Sovereign
Author of the Universe, and probable Hopes of making some Discovery of
Benefit to others, or of Profit to himself. There is no doubt but many
Vegetables and Animals have Qualities that might be of great Use; to the
Knowledge of which there is required no great Sagacity of Penetration, or
Fatigue of Study, but only frequent Experiments, and close Attention. What
is said by the Chymists of their darling Mercury, is, perhaps, true of
every Body through the whole Creation, that, if a thousand Lives should be
spent upon it, all its Properties would not be found out.

Mankind must necessarily be diversified by various Tastes, since Life
affords and requires such multiplicity of Employments; and a Nation of
Naturalists is neither to be hoped, or desired, but it is surely not
improper to point out a fresh Amusement to those who langush in Health,
and repine in Plenty, for want of some Source of Diversion that may be
less easily exhausted, and to inform the Multitudes of both Sexes, who are
burthened with every new Day, that there are many Shews which they have
not seen.

He that enlarges his Curiosity after the Works of Nature, demonstrably
multiplies the Inlets to Happiness, and, therefore, the younger Part of my
Readers, to whom I dedicate this vernal Speculation, must excuse me for
calling upon them to make use at once of the Spring of the Year, and the
Spring of Life; to acquire, while their Minds may be yet impressed with
new Images, a Love of innocent Pleasures, and an ardour for useful
Knowledge; and to remember, that a blighted Spring makes a barren Year,
and that the vernal Flowers, however beautiful and gay, are only intended
by Nature as Preparatives to Autumnal Fruits.

Printed for J. PAYNE, and J. BOUQUET, in Pater-noster-Row;
where Letters for the RAMBLER are received, and the preceding
Numbers may be had.


NUMB. 60. Price 2 _d._

_To be continued on_ TUESDAYS _and_ SATURDAYS.

SATURDAY, _October_ 13, 1750.

--_Quid fit pulchrum, quid turpe, quid utile, quid non,
Plenius et melius_ Chrysippo _et_ Crantore _dicit_. HOR.

All Joy or Sorrow for the Happiness or Calamities of others is produced by
an Act of the Imagination, that realises the Event however fictitious, or
approximates it however remote, by placing us, for a Time, in the
Condition of him whose Fortune we contemplate; so that we feel, while the
Deception lasts, whatever Motions would be excited by the same Good or
Evil happening to ourselves.

Our Passions are therefore more strongly moved, in proportion as we can
more readily adopt the Pains or Pleasures proposed to our Minds, by
recognising them as once our own, or considering them as naturally
incident to our State of Life. It is not easy for the most artful Writer
to give us an Interest in Happiness or Misery, which we think ourselves
never likely to feel, and with which we have never yet been made
acquainted. Histories of the Downfall of Kingdoms, and Revolutions of
Empires are read with great Tranquillity; the imperial Tragedy pleases
common Auditors only by its Pomp of Ornament, and Grandeur of Ideas; and
the Man whose Faculties have been engrossed by Business, and whose Heart
never fluttered but at the Rise or Fall of Stocks, wonders how the
Attention can be seized, or the Affections agitated by a Tale of Love.

Those parallel Circumstances, and kindred Images to which we readily
conform our Minds, are, above all other Writings, to be found in
Narratives of the Lives of particular Persons; and there seems therefore
no Species of Writing more worthy of Cultivation than Biography, since
none can be more delightful, or more useful, none can more certainly
enchain the Heart by irresistible Interest, or more widely diffuse
Instruction to every Diversity of Condition.

The general and rapid Narratives of History, which involve a thousand
Fortunes in the Business of a Day, and complicate innumerable Incidents in
one great Transaction, afford few Lessons applicable to private Life,
which derives its Comforts and its Wretchedness from the right or wrong
Management of Things that nothing but their Frequency makes considerable,
_Parva si non fiunt quotidie_, says _Pliny_, and which can have no Place
in those Relations which never descend below the Consultation of Senates,
the Motions of Armies, and the Schemes of Conspirators.

I have often thought that there has rarely passed a Life of which a
judicious and faithful Narrative would not be useful. For, not only every
Man has in the mighty Mass of the World great Numbers in the same
Condition with himself, to whom his Mistakes and Miscarriages, Escapes and
Expedients would be of immediate and apparent Use; but there is such an
Uniformity in the Life of Man, if it be considered apart from adventitious
and separable Decorations and Disguises, that there is scarce any
Possibility of Good or Ill, but is common to Humankind. A great Part of
the Time of those who are placed at the greatest Distance by Fortune, or
by Temper, must unavoidably pass in the same Manner; and though, when the
Claims of Nature are satisfied, Caprice, and Vanity, and Accident, begin
to produce Discriminations, and Peculiarities, yet the Eye is not very
heedful, or quick, which cannot discover the same Causes still terminating
their Influence in the same Effects, though sometimes accelerated,
sometimes retarded, or perplexed by multiplied Combinations. We are all
prompted by the same Motives, all deceived by the same Fallacies, all
animated by Hope, obstructed by Danger, entangled by Desire, and seduced
by Pleasure.

It is frequently objected to Relations of particular Lives, that they are
not distinguished by any striking or wonderful Vicissitude. The Scholar
who passes his Life among his Books, the Merchant who conducted only his
own Affairs, the Priest whose Sphere of Action was not extended beyond
that of his Duty, are considered as no proper Objects of publick Regard,
however they might have excelled in their several Stations, whatever might
have been their Learning, Integrity, and Piety. But this Notion arises
from false Measures of Excellence and Dignity, and must be eradicated by
considering, that, in the Eye of uncorrupted Reason, what is of most Use
is of most Value.

It is, indeed, not improper to take honest Advantages of Prejudice, and to
gain Attention by a great Name; but the Business of the Biographer is
often to pass slightly over those Performances and Incidents, which
produce vulgar Greatness, to lead the Thoughts into domestick Privacies,
and display the minute Details of daily Life, where exterior Appendages
are cast aside, and Men excel each other only by Prudence, and by Virtue.
The Life of _Thuanus_ is, with great Propriety, said by its Author to have
been written, that it might lay open to Posterity the private and familiar
Character of that Man, _cujus Ingenium et Candorem ex ipsius Scriptis sunt
olim simper miraturi_, whose Candour and Genius his Writings will to the
End of Time preserve in Admiration.

There are many invisible Circumstances, which whether we read as Enquirers
after natural or moral Knowledge, whether we intend to enlarge our
Science, or encrease our Virtue, are more important than publick
Occurrences. Thus _Salust_, the great Master, has not forgot, in his
Account of _Catiline_, to remark that _his Walk was now quick, and again
slow_, as an Indication of a Mind revolving something with violent
Commotion. Thus the Story of _Melancthon_ affords a striking Lecture on
the Value of Time, by informing us that when he made an Appointment, he
expected not only the Hour, but the Minute to be fixed, that Life might
not run out in the Idleness of Suspense; and all the Plans and Enterprizes
of _De Wit_ are now of less Importance to the World, than that Part of his
personal Character which represents him as careful of his Health, and
negligent of his Life.

But Biography has often been allotted to Writers who seem very little
acquainted with the Nature of their Task, or very negligent about the
Performance. They rarely afford any other Account than might be collected
from publick Papers, and imagine themselves writing a Life when they
exhibit a chronological Series of Actions or Preferments; and so little
regard the Manners or Behaviour of their Heroes, that more Knowledge may
be gained of a Man's real Character, by a short Conversation with one of
his Servants, than from a formal and studied Narrative, begun with his
Pedigree, and ended with his Funeral.

If now and then they condescend to inform the World of particular Facts,
they are not always so happy as to select those which are of most
Importance. I know not well what Advantage Posterity can receive from the
only Circumstance by which _Tickell_ has distinguished _Addison_ from the
Rest of Mankind, the Irregularity of his Pulse: nor can I think myself
overpaid for the Time spent in reading the Life of _Malherb_, by being
enabled to relate, after the learned Biographer, that _Malherb_ had two
predominant Opinions; one, that the Looseness of a single Woman might
destroy all the Boast of ancient Descent; the other, that the _French_
Beggers made use very improperly and barbarously of the Phrase _noble
Gentleman_, because either Word included the Sense of both.

There are, indeed, some natural Reasons why these Narratives are often
written by such as were not likely to give much Instruction or Delight,
and why most Accounts of particular Persons are barren and useless. If a
Life be delayed till all Interest and Envy are at an End, and all Motives
to Calumny or Flattery are suppressed, we may hope for Impartiality, but
must expect little Intelligence; for the Incidents which give Excellence
to Biography are of a volatile and evanescent Kind, such as soon escape
the Memory, and are rarely transmitted by Tradition. We know how few can
portray a living Acquaintance, except by his most prominent and observable
Particularities, and the grosser Features of his Mind; and it may be
easily imagined how much of this little Knowledge may be lost in imparting
it, and how soon a Succession of Copies will lose all Resemblance of the

If the Biographer writes from personal Knowledge, and makes haste to
gratify the publick Curiosity, there is Danger left his Interest, his
Fear, his Gratitude, or his Tenderness, overpower his Fidelity, and tempt
him to conceal, if not to invent. There are many who think it an Act of
Piety to hide the Faults or Failings of their Friends, even when they can
no longer suffer by their Detection; we therefore see whole Ranks of
Characters adorned with uniform Panegyrick, and not to be known from one
another, but by extrinsick and casual Circumstances. "Let me remember,
says _Hale_, when I find myself inclined to pity a Criminal, that there is
likewise a Pity due to the Country." If there is a Regard due to the
Memory of the Dead, there is yet more Respect to be paid to Knowledge, to
Virtue, and to Truth.

Printed for J. PAYNE, and J. BOUQUET, in Pater-noster-Row,
where Letters for the RAMBLER are received, and the preceding
Numbers may be had.


First Year (1946-1947)

1. Richard Blackmore's _Essay upon Wit_ (1716), and Addison's _Freeholder_
No. 45 (1716). (I, 1)

2. Samuel Cobb's _Of Poetry_ and _Discourse on Criticism_ (1707). (II, 1)

3. _Letter to A.H. Esq.; concerning the Stage_ (1698), and Richard Willis'
_Occasional Paper No. IX_ (1698). (III, 1)

4. _Essay on Wit_ (1748), together with Characters by Flecknoe, and Joseph
Warton's _Adventurer_ Nos. 127 and 133. (I, 2)

5. Samuel Wesley's _Epistle to a Friend Concerning Poetry_ (1700) and
_Essay on Heroic Poetry_ (1693). (II, 2)

6. _Representation of the Impiety and Immorality of the Stage_ (1704) and
_Some Thoughts Concerning the Stage_ (1704). (III, 2)

Second Year (1947-1948)

7. John Gay's _The Present State of Wit_ (1711); and a section on Wit from
_The English Theophrastus_ (1702). (I, 3)

8. Rapin's _De Carmine Pastorali_, translated by Creech (1684). (II, 3)

9. T. Hanmer's (?) _Some Remarks on the Tragedy of Hamlet_ (1736). (III,

10. Corbyn Morris' _Essay towards Fixing the True Standards of Wit, etc._
(1744). (I, 4)

11. Thomas Purney's _Discourse on the Pastoral_ (1717). (II, 4)

12. Essays on the Stage, selected, with an Introduction by Joseph Wood
Krutch. (III, 4)

Third Year (1948-1949)

13. Sir John Falstaff (pseud.), _The Theatre_ (1720). (IV, 1)

14. Edward Moore's _The Gamester_ (1753). (V, 1)

15. John Oldmixon's _Reflections on Dr. Swift's Letter to Harley_ (1712);
and Arthur Mainwaring's _The British Academy_ (1712). (VI, 1)

16. Nevil Payne's _Fatal Jealousy_ (1673). (V, 2)

17. Nicholas Rowe's _Some Account of the Life of Mr. William Shakespear_
(1709). (Extra Series, 1)

18. Aaron Hill's Preface to _The Creation_; and Thomas Brereton's
Preface to _Esther_. (IV, 2)

_are pleased to announce that_

_of The University of California, Los Angeles_

will become the publisher of the Augustan Reprints in May, 1949. The
editorial policy of the Society will continue unchanged. As in the past,
the editors will strive to furnish members inexpensive reprints of rare
seventeenth and eighteenth century works.

All correspondence concerning subscriptions in the United States and
Canada should be addressed to the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library,
2205 West Adams Blvd., Los Angeles 7, California. Correspondence
concerning editorial matters may be addressed to any of the general
editors. Membership fee continues $2.50 per year ($2.75 in Great Britain
and the continent). British and European subscribers should address B.H.
Blackwell, Broad Street, Oxford, England.

Publications for the fourth year (1949-1950)
(_At least six items will be printed in the main from the following list_)


John Dryden, _His Majesties Declaration Defended_ (1681)

Daniel Defoe (?), _Vindication of the Press_ (1718) _Critical Remarks on
Sir Charles Grandison, Clarissa, and Pamela_ (1754)


Thomas Southerne, _Oroonoko_ (1696)

Mrs. Centlivre, _The Busie Body_ (1709)

Charles Johnson, _Caelia_ (1733)

Charles Macklin, _Man of the World_ (1781)


Andre Dacier, _Essay on Lyric Poetry_

_Poems_ by Thomas Sprat

_Poems_ by the Earl of Dorset

Samuel Johnson, _Vanity of Human Wishes_ (1749), and one of the 1750
_Rambler_ papers.


Lewis Theobald, _Preface to Shakespeare's Works_ (1733)

A few copies of the early publications of the Society are still available
at the original rate.


H. RICHARD ARCHER, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
R.C. BOYS, University of Michigan
E.N. HOOKER, University of California, Los Angeles
H.T. SWEDENBERG, JR., University of California, Los Angeles

_William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
2205 West Adams Blvd., Los Angeles 7, California_

As MEMBERSHIP FEE I enclose for:

{The fourth year $ 2.50
{The third and fourth year 5.00
{The second, third and fourth year 7.50
{The first, second, third, and fourth year 10.00

[Add $.25 for each year if ordering from Great Britain or the continent]

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