Monday, 16 July 2007

Okay, so I'm a blockhead...

Doctor Johnson famously said, ‘No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.’

The picture, by Henry Wallis, shows Dr Johnson at Cave's the Publisher. Is the maid waiting for him to finish some last-minute revisions so she can run it to the printer’s? Or perhaps, given the fancy frock, it's a daughter of the house admiring an eminent author.

Lots of us write without being paid, though I guess most of us cherish the small hope that we will be published one day, and maybe even reap a modest profit. My writing folder is ironically entitled FAME AND FORTUNE, because I dimly remember hoping this would be the result of my efforts, in the far-off days when I knew nothing at all about it.

I have another quote from Doctor Johnson, who lived in a time lacking worldwide communications;

‘I would not give half a guinea to live under one form of Government rather than another. It is of no moment to the happiness of an individual. Sir, the danger of the abuse of power is nothing to a private man.’

Happy state of ignorance. The great man wasn’t right about everything.

I looked up these quotes on The Samuel Johnson Soundbite Page.


  1. Crud. Does this mean that being quotable doesn't necessarily translate into being right?

    That's pretty dangerous thinking there, Lexi.

  2. Faugh! I laugh in the face of danger.

    Like a boy scout, I sing and whistle under all difficulties.

    (I reserve my sulk-in-a-corner option, though, just in case).

  3. As Erle Stanley Gardner said, “It's a damn good story. If you have any comments, write them on the back of a check.”

  4. What happened to "Grrrr"? It reminded me of Arthur Dent in Hitchhikers' Guide.

  5. Well, thanks, Timber, I'm flattered. If only I were as witty a writer (though without Adams's writer's block problems, preferably).

    I decided the piece had no place in a writing blog, and enough people are ranting online without my joining in. Too much to rant about...especially in Hackney, where the Council is a bureaucratic Force for Evil.