I intended to greet the New Year here last night, first thing after our private celebrations, but I didn't get to this until tonight. And now it's already late again, and I find I don't have the book I wanted to use so that I might start the year with an appropriate quote. Typical. What have I done with all of today?!
The truth is, as the New Year came quietly in, I've been reading Samuel Johnson. Not always an easy thing to do, not, as has so often been suggested, because of Johnson's stately style, but because I have access to so little of Johnson's actual work. I have a little, two-volume edition of The Lives of the Poets, from the wonderful Oxford World Classics -- long out of print. I have an anthology from 1964 called A Johnson Reader, from the editors that did my edition of the Dictionary, or who, rather, excerpted entertaining bits therefrom. Both the Reader & the Dictionary are likewise out of print. But reading Peter Martin's Samuel Johnson: A Biography, and finding a reference to an essay from The Rambler, #134 on procrastination, I naturally wanted that particular essay -- but I don't own it.
The anecdote from the biography told of how Johnson wrote this essay, amusingly enough, "hastily" at a friend's house, the boy from the press standing by, waiting for copy.
How could I not want that essay, written under those circumstances?
Well, it's not in any book I own, because I've never been able to find, or afford the kind of Samuel Johnson books I want. I've looked at the Yale edition of The Rambler online, but a full run of all nine volumes sells for, at least, seven hundred and fifty dollars! I'm about to spend eight hundred dollars repairing my car. I think that that will have to come first. (When, oh when, well I ever get an edition of the complete Rambler of my own?! I'm greedy for more of Sam J.)
It's getting later and later, so should I just put off my first blog of the year until the 2nd?
Finding Johnson's essay online, I find this in the first paragraph:
"...I grew every moment more irresolute, my ideas wandered from the first intention, and I rather wished to think, than thought upon any settled subject; till at last I was awakened from this dream of study by a summons from the press: the time was come for which I had been negligently purposing to provide, and, however dubious or sluggish, I was necessitated to write."