Friday, August 27, 2010

Literary Characters

Walter Scott had James Boswell's example of a journal before he started his own.  Scott was, of course, very familiar with the characters of the Boswell/Johnson circles.  The begining of today's entry comes from Boswell's "Life of Johnson", in which Johnson writes to Boswell of Hester Thrale's interest in his journal.

'TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.



'DEAR SIR,--I am returned from the annual ramble into the middle counties. Having seen nothing I had not seen before, I have nothing to relate. Time has left that part of the island few antiquities; and commerce has left the people no singularities. I was glad to go abroad, and, perhaps, glad to come home; which is, in other words, I was, I am afraid, weary of being at home, and weary of being abroad. Is not this the state of life? But, if we confess this weariness, let us not lament it, for all the wise and all the good say, that we may cure it. . . .
'Mrs. Thrale was so entertained with your Journal,* that she almost read herself blind. She has a great regard for you... I am, Sir, your affectionate humble servant,

'SAM. JOHNSON.'

'London, Aug. 27, 1775.'
 
The second part of today's entry comes from Scott's Journal, in which he references Mrs. Thrale:
 
November 18 (1826)...Dr. Burney was at Streatham soon after the publication (of Mad. D'Arblay's Evelina), where he found Mrs. Thrale recovering from her confinement, low at the moment, and out of spirits. While they were talking together, Johnson, who sat beside in a kind of reverie, suddenly broke out, "You should read this new work, madam—you should read Evelina; every one says it is excellent, and they are right." The delighted father obtained a commission from Mrs. Thrale to purchase his daughter's work, and retired the happiest of men. Mad. D'Arblay said she was wild with joy at this decisive evidence of her literary success, and that she could only give vent to her rapture by dancing and skipping round a mulberry-tree in the garden. She was very young at this time. I trust I shall see this lady again. She has simple and apparently amiable manners, with quick feelings.

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