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Endued with much natural sagacity, and an attentive observation of life, Mr. Strahan owed his rise to that station of opulence and respect which he attained rather to his own talents and exertion, than to any accidental occurrence of favourable or fortunate circumstances. His mind, though not deeply tinctured with learning, was not uninformed by letters. From a habit of attention to style, he had acquired a considerable portion of critical acuteness in the discernment of its beauties and defects. In one branch of writing himself excelled, I mean the epistolary, in which he not only showed the precision and clearness of business, but possessed a neatness as well as fluency of expression which I have known few letterwriters to surpass. Letter-writing was one of his favourite amusements; and among his correspondents were men of such eminence and talents as well repaid his endeavours to entertain them. One of these, as we have before mentioned, was the justly celebrated Dr. Franklin, originally a printer like Mr. Strahan, and his fellow-workman in early life in a printing. house in London, whose friendship and correspondence he continued to enjoy, notwithstanding the difference of their sentiments in political matters, which often afforded pleasantry, but never mixed any thing acrimonious in their letters. One of the latest he received from his illustrious and venerable friend contained a humorous allegory of the state of politics in Britain, drawn from the profession of printing, of which, though the doctor had quitted the exercise, he had not forgotten the terms.
There are stations of acquired greatness which ' make men proud to recal the lowness of that from which they rose. The native eminence of Franklin's mind was above concealing the humbleness of his origin. Those only who possess no intrinsic eleva
tion are afraid to sully the honours to which accident has raised them, by the recollection of that obscurity whence they sprung.
Of this recollection Mr. Strahan was rather proud than ashamed; and I have heard those who were disa posed to censure him blame it as a kind of ostentation in which he was weak enough to indulge. But methinks, “ 'tis to consider too curiously, to consider it so. There is a kind of reputation which we may laudably desire, and justly enjoy; and he who is sincere enough to forego the pride of ancestry and of birth may, without much imputation of vanity, assume the merit of his own elevation.
In that elevation, he neither triumphed over the inferiority of those he had left behind him, nor forgot the equality in which they had formerly stood. Of their inferiority he did not even remind them, by the ostentation of grandeur, or the parade of wealth. In his house there was none of that saucy train, none of that state or finery, with which the illiberal delight to confound and to dazzle those who may have formerly seen them in less enviable circumstances. No man was more mindful of, or more solicitous to oblige, the acquaintance or companions of his early days. The advice which his experience, or the assistance which his purse could afford, he was ready to communicate; and at his table in London every gentleman found an easy introduction, and every old acquaintance a cordial welcome. This was not merely a virtue of hospitality, or a duty of benevolence with him; he felt it warmly as a sentiment; and that paper in the Mirror of which I mentioned him as the author (the letter from London in the 94th number), was, I am persuaded, a genuine picture of his feelings on the recollection of those scenes in which his youth had been spent, and of those companions with which it had been associated.
Such of them as still survive him will read the above short account of his life with interest and with pleasure. For others it may not be altogether devoid of entertainment or of use. If, among the middling and busy ranks of mankind, it can afford an encouragement to the industry of those who are beginning to climb into life, or furnish a lesson of moderation to those who have attained its height; if to the first it may recommend honest industry and sober diligence; if to the latter it may suggest the ties of ancient fellowship and early connexion, which the pride of wealth or of station loses as much dignity as it foregoes satisfaction by refusing to acknowledge ; if it shall cheer one hour of despondency or discontent to the young; if it shall save one frown of disdain or of refusal to the unfortunate; the higher and more refined class of my readers will forgive the familiarity of the example, and consider, that it is not from the biography of heroes or of statesmen that instances can be drawn to prompt the conduct of the bulk of mankind, or to excite the useful though less splendid virtues of private and domestic life.
No. 30. SATURDAY, AUGUST 27, 1785.
TO THE LOUNGER.
SIR, Although a stranger to your person, I have the honour of being pretty near allied to you. When you know who I am, I flatter myself you will not think yourself disgraced by the alliance, and that you
will permit me to claim kindred with you. Of this you may be assured, I would not do it, did I not entertain a favourable opinion of you; and having nothing to ask, you may consider my desire to be ranked among your friends as a mark of approbation. Know then, sir, that the person who has now the honour to address you is a member of the Mirror Club.
Although long since dead as an author, you will readily believe that I am interested in the success of the Lounger. Persons placed in the same situations naturally feel a sympathetic sort of attachment for each other. When the Lounger was first advertised, I could not help recollecting the sensations I experienced when the publication of the Mirror was first announced in the papers; and when your introductory number appeared, I sent for it with an impatience, and a solicitude, which I should not have felt in the same degree had I not once been in a situation similar to yours.
You, sir, started with many advantages which we did not possess. The public are now taught to know, that it is possible to carry on a periodical work of this kind in Edinburgh; and that, if tolerably executed, it will be read, and will hold its place with other works of the same kind. But when we boldly gave the Mirror to the world, a very different notion prevailed. It was supposed that no such work could be conducted with any propriety on this side of the Tweed. Accordingly, the Mirror was received with the most perfect indifference in our own country; and during the publication, it was indebted for any little reputation it received in Scotland to the notice that happened to be taken of it by some persons of rank and of taste in England. Nay, sir, strange as you may think, it is certainly true, that, narrow as Edinburgh is, there were men who consider themselves
as men of letters, who never read a number of it while it was going on. But although in this and in many
other respects the Lounger may possess advantages over the Mirror, there is one particular in which I am apt to believe that we the members of the Mirror Club possessed an advantage over the author of the Lounger. You, sir, if I mistake not, conduct your work single and alone, unconnected with any person whatever. We, sir, were a society, consisting of a few friends, closely united by long habits of intimacy. Not only, therefore, is your task much more arduous than ours, but, in the way of amusement, we certainly had the advantage of
you. I can never forget the pleasure we enjoyed in meeting to read our papers in the club. There they were criticised with perfect freedom, but with the greatest good-humour. When any of us produced a paper, which, either from the style or manner of it, or from the nature of the subject, seemed inadmissible, it was condemned without hesitation, and the author, putting it in his pocket, drank a bumper to its manes. We had stated meetings to receive the communications with which we were honoured, which afforded another source of amusement. This pleasure, however, was not without alloy. We were often, from particular circumstances, obliged to reject compositions of real merit; and what perhaps was equally distressing, we were sometimes obliged to abridge or to alter the papers which we published. Might I presume to give you an advice, it would be, to use this liberty as rarely as possible. We authors know, that there is a certain complacency, not to call it vanity, which a man feels for his own compositions, which makes him unwilling to submit them to the correction of he does not know whom, or to acquiesce in an alteration made he does not know why. In justice, however, to our corre