Monday, March 13, 2023

The Rambler’s Magazine—a not-so-polite journal

The Rambler, written largely by Samuel Johnson, a publication of the early 1750’s, is not the subject of this blog.

Neither is the magazine about which I write a journal about walkers.

Rather, The Rambler’s Magazine, was a sometimes rude and occasionally crude, satirical and Rabelaisian magazine for the man about town in the 1780’s. It was published from 1783 to 1791 and apparently very few copies are extant. 

The following sample of article titles were listed in an August 30, 2012 issue of the Non Solus Blog, a publication of The University of Illinois Library, Rare Book & Manuscript Library in article titled The Rambler’s Magazine: A Puzzlingly Popular Periodical..

    “On ogling; or, The language of the eyes” [1783 supplement]

     “Analysis of female attractions” [March 1784]

     “Female boxing match” [August 1784]

     “Kissed to death” [October 1784]

     “The history and adventures of a bedstead” [December 1784]

These articles are among the more 'tame' of the compositions. Even the illustrations are racy:

It appeared that, in 1791, the magazine's day was done. But in 1823-24 a revival was attempted. The bawdy content had been toned down and the title page reflected that:

In a three page ‘Address to the Public’, the proprietor of “The Rambler’s Magazine” argues for the respectability of his revived journal, ending:

In short, by a vigilant observation of character and manners, and a constant introduction of variety, we will try to direct the intellects of our readers to the proper study of mankind, and the zealous endeavour to please in all his eccentric humours will prove to the public that "The Rambler" is their devoted and grateful servant.

The illustrations reflected the somewhat less indelicate approach:

But the article titles still indicated a degree of salaciousness:

On a Bee Stinging the Thigh of an Old-Maid

The Witty Wanton

Comparative Merits of Misses Kimbell and Tunstall

Reasons against Marriage

Conjugal Infelicity

The two title pages and the illustrations, as well as the article titles, are a very good indicator of the changes in society in the forty years between the two publications. By 1823, propriety had become a watch word, and decorum was more and more sought. The years of Georgian license were coming to an end. And The Rambler's Magazine, in its reincarnation, did not last longer than a year. 

'Til next time,



Google Books for pdfs of The Rambler's Magazine

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