Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I have missed July, so here is a very short update from Volume 1, around Dr Johnson's youth. We have already read about his remarkable talents, and how he studied at Oxford but left after one year. To begin I am quoting Dr Johnson's later comments on youth from The Rambler, before including a brief quote about his next step in life from Boswell - he was not having a very happy time at this point, but is that unusual in youth? The highs and lows are much more marked at this stage of our lives?

Youth (by Dr Johnson, from The Rambler)

In youth we have warm hopes, which are soon blasted by rashness and negligence, and great designs which are defeated by inexperience. In age, we have knowledge and prudence, without spirit to exert, or motives to prompt them; we are able to plan schemes, and regulate measures, but have not time remaining to bring them to completion.

These early sections of Life of Johnson are more a chronology than a dialogue, unlike the later volumes.

In the forlorn state of his circumstances, he accepted of an offer to be
employed as usher in the school of Market-Bosworth, in Leicestershire,
to which it appears, from one of his little fragments of a diary, that
he went on foot, on the 16th of July.--'_Julii 16. Bosvortiam pedes
petii_[255].' But it is not true, as has been erroneously related, that he
was assistant to the famous Anthony Blackwall, whose merit has been
honoured by the testimony of Bishop Hurd[256], who was his scholar; for
Mr. Blackwall died on the 8th of April, 1730[257], more than a year before
Johnson left the University[258].

This employment was very irksome to him in every respect, and he
complained grievously of it in his letters to his friend Mr. Hector, who
was now settled as a surgeon at Birmingham.