THE INFIRMITIES OF GENIUS ILLUSTRATED BY REFERRING THE ANOMALIES IN THE LITERARY CHARACTER, TO THE HABITS AND CONSTITUTIONAL PECULIARITIES OF MEN OF GENIUS (Vol. I/II) – R.R. Madden, 1833.

I. THE EFFECTS OF LITERARY HABITS

It is the unfortunate tendency of literary habits to enamour the studious of the seclusion of the closet, and to render them more conversant with the philosophy and erudition of bye-gone times, than with the sentiments and feelings of their fellow-men. Their knowledge of the world is, in a great measure, derived from books, not from an acquantance with its active duties; and the consequence is that when they venture into its busy haunts, they bring with them a spirit of uncompromising independence, which arrays itself at once against every prejudice they have to encounter: such a spirit is but ill calculated to disarm the hostility of any casual opponent, or in the circle where it is exhibited <to buy golden opinions> of any <sorts of people>. If the felictious example of the poet of the drawing room [poeta de câmara] seduces them into the haunts of fashionable life, they find themselves still less in their element; the effort to support the dignity of genius in a common-place conversation costs them, perhaps, more fatigue than the composition of half a volume would occasion in their study. Or if any congenial topic engage attention, they may have the good sense to subdue their ardour, and endeavour to assume an awkward air of fashionable nonchalance; they may attempt to be agreable, they may seem to be at ease, but they are on the stilts of literary abstraction all the time, and they cannot bow them down to kiss the crimson robe of good society with graceful homage. But these are minor inconveniences that arise from long indulgence in literary habits; the graver ones are those that arise from impartial health and depressed spirits, the inevitable consequence of excessive mental application. Waywardness of temper, testiness of humour and capriciousness of conduct result from this depression; and under such circumstances the errors of genius are estimated too often by their immediate consequences, without any reference to predisposing causes. The fact is the carriage of genius is unlikely to conciliate strangers, while its faibles are calculated to weary even friends, and its very glory to make bitter rivals of its contemporaries and comrades.

Accordingly we find that its ashes are hardly cold before its failties are raked up from the tomb, and baited at the ring of biography, till the public taste is satiated with the sport. It is only when its competitors are gathered to their fathers, and the ephemeral details of trivial feuds, of petty faibles, and private scandal are buried with their authors that the conduct of genius begins to be understood, and its character to be fairly represented.”

It was nearly a quarter of a century before <the malignant principles of Milton> gave the world sufficient time to ascertain there was such a poem in existence as Paradise Lost. Only 3,000 copies of it were sold in 11 years, while 8,000 copies of a modern novel have been disposed of in as many days; but we need not go back to the age of Milton for evidence of the tardy justice that is done to genius. Ten years ago the indiscretions of Shelly had rendered his name an unmentionable one to ears polite; but there is a reaction in public opinions, and whatever were his follies, his virtues are beginning to be known, and his poetry to be justly appreciated.”

Ser um poeta na verdadeira acepção da palavra é tão desesperador quanto ser um crente genuíno. A única coisa que você pode ter certeza é da sua danação, caso alguns requisitos se manifestem neste mundo; mas da salvação, da salvação você jamais terá provas ou certezas! O poeta não ruim, mas ao menos medíocre, se tornará famoso até o dia de sua morte, sabendo que nunca será considerado um poeta atemporal. O poeta que estiver entre os melhores do seu século morrerá nessa dúvida agoniante: não fui reconhecido porque os homens ainda não estavam prontos ou realmente jamais serei sequer mencionado ou lembrado? O gênio, por mais gênio, não consegue descobrir se é gênio ou farsante. Apenas pode saber, pela falta de fama imediata, que não é um poeta comum, mas pode ser um péssimo poetastro ou, quem sabe, um grande poeta que o destino se encarregará de enterrar na obscuridade pela perda e sumiço de seus manuscritos… Ambos destinos igualmente distantes do legado de um Goethe…

Os juízes (a crítica), o Radamanto das Musas Contemporâneas, são justamente do filão dos medíocres. Não é que os juízes condenem Byron, é que nem sequer o percebem digno de julgamento; ou sequer o percebem… Quanto aos amigos íntimos, também eruditos e poetas provavelmente, eles alimentarão apenas a indústria da fofoca, pois conhecerão os defeitos do temperamento poético do falecido amigo mais do que ninguém.

Suicide might, indeed, have well had its horrors for that bard, who was even a more sensitive man than <the melancholy Cowley>, when he was informed that one of his best-natured friends was only waiting for the opportunity to write his life.”

The Pythoness, we are told, was but a pitiable object when removed from the inspiration of the tripod, and the man of genius is, perhaps, no less divested of the attributes of his greatness when he is taken from his study, or followed in crowded circles.”

MAGNYFIYNG MALYGNYTI MYRROR: “But when biography is made the vehicle, not only of private scandal, but of that minor malignity of truth, which holds, as it were, a magnifying mirror to every naked imperfection of humanity, which possibly had never been discovered had no friendship been violated, no confidence been abused, and no errors exaggerated by the medium through which they have been viewed, it ceases to be a legitimate inquiry into private character or public conduct, and no infamy is comparable to that of magnifying the faults, or libelling the fame of the illustrious dead.”

Blame not the world for such curiosity about its great ones; this comes of the world’s old-established necessity to worship. – Blame it not, pity it rather with a certain loving respect. Nevertheless, the last stage of human perversion, it has been said, is when sympathy corrupts itself into envy, and the indestructible interest we take in men’s doings has become a joy over their faults and misfortunes; this is the last and lowest stage – lower than this we cannot go. In a word, that species of biography which is written for contemporaries, and not for posterity, is worse than worthless. It would be well for the memory of many recent authors if their injudicious friends had made a simple obituary serve the purpose of a history.”

It is rarely the lot of the wayward child of genius to have a Currie for his historian”

It is greatly to be regretted that eminent medical men are not often to be met with literary attainments as well as professional ability for undertakings of this kind [biography a dead poet].”

MISANTHROPHY: “It is not amongst the Harveys, the Hunters, or the Heberdens of our country, or indeed amongst the enlightened physicians of any other, that we must look for the disciples of a gloomy misanthropy.”

In spite of all the Rochefoucaults, who have libelled humanity –, in spite of all the cynics, who have snarled at its character, our tendency is to love mankind.” “It is to the practical and thorough knowledge of human nature which the physician attains by the exercise of his art that the active benevolence and general liberality which peculiarly distinguishes the medical profession is mainly to be attributed.”

The literary man who indulges in habits prejudicial to his health, cannot be supposed ignorant of the effects that must arise from excessive application; and who can say he is guiltless of the infirmities he drags upon him?”

The studious man sets out with stealing an hour or two from his ordinary repose: sometimes perhaps more; and finished by devoting whole nights to his pursuits. But this night-work leads to exhaustion, and the universal sense of sinking in every organ that accompanies it suggests the use of stimulants, most probably wine {!}; alcohol, however, in some shape or other. And what is the result? – why, the existence that is passed in a constant circle of excitement and exhaustion is shortened, or rendered miserable by such alternations; and the victim becomes accessory to his own sufferings.”

if the proteiform symptoms of dyspepsia at last make their appearance, and the innumerable anomalous sufferings which, under the name of nervous and stomachic ailments, derange the viscera, and rack the joints of the invalid; if by constant application the blood is continually determined to the brain, and the caliber of the vessels enlarged to the extent of causing pressure or effusion in that vital organ; in any case, if the mischief there is allowed to proceed slowly and steadily, perhaps for years (as in the case of Swift), giving rise to a long train of nervous miseries – to hypochondria in its gloomiest form, or mania in its wildest mood, or paralysis in the expressionless aspect of fatuity [arrogância] (that frequent termination of the literary career); who can deny that the sufferer has, in a great measure, drawn the evil on himself, but who will not admit that his infirmities of mind and body are entitled to indulgence and compassion?”

Misled by fancy’s meteor ray,

By passion driven,

But yet the light that led astray,

Was light from heaven.”

Burns

II. ADVANTAGES OF LITERARY PURSUITS

A distinction has been made between literary men and men of letters; the former title has been given to authors, the latter to the general scholar and lover of science. In these volumes the term literary is applied to all persons who make books the business of their lives, or who are addicted to studious habits; and our observations apply to those who think too much on any subject, whether that subject be connected with legal, polemical or medical erudition.”

It surely is not the least advantage of literary employment that it enables us to live in a state of blissful ignorance of our next-door neighbour’s fortune, faith and politics; that it produces a state of society which admits of no invasion on domestic privacy, and furnishes us with arms against ennui, which supersede the necessity of a standing army of elderly female moralists, and domestic politicians. In large cities, at least, literature occupies the ground which politics and scandal keep possession of in small ones; in the time of Tacitus, the evil was common to the communities of both:

Vitium parvis magnisque civitatibus commune

Ignorantium et invidiam.

Leisure, it seems, had no better occupation ere <the art of mutiplying manuscripts through the intervention of machinery> was discovered. But in these days of book-publishing celebrity, when the Press pours volumes on the twon with the velocity of Perkin’s steam-gun, one has hardly sufficient leisure to acquire a knowledge even of the names of those <dread counterfeits> of dead men’s thoughts, which living plagiarism is continually recasting and sending forth.”

if we delude ourselves with the idea that we exert any happy influence over our country, or our own peace, by the unceasing agitation of political questions, we have formed a mistaken notion of our duties, as well as of our recreations.” A alegria do cultivado já era pouca; aí o povo pediu pela deterioração irremediável de toda a ordem social, e nos contaminou com problemas diários evitáveis no que concernisse a nós mesmos. Gastamos excessiva energia mental apenas ansiando não perder nosso sustento, não perder nossa (exígua) liberdade de expressão artística responsável, enfim, as condições mínimas para um escritor viver. Não sobra muita para nosso próprio trabalho.

If the tea-table has ceased to be the terrible areopagus of village politics, where private reputation used formerly to be consigned to the tender mercies of maiden gentle-women and venerable matrons, whose leisure had no other occupation – it is because literature has afforded them an employment more pleasing to themselves, and less injurious to others.”

The military man is well aware that the days of Ensign Northerton are long gone by, and that it has ceased to be the fashion to shoot maledictions at literature, even through the sides of Homer.”

leisure without books is the sepulture of the living soul.” Seneca

A comunidade das letras não tem partido, não tem nação; é uma pura República, em perpétua paz; o sossego não é atrapalhado por malícia doméstica, ou por assaltos estrangeiros; as perturbações não são provocadas por gritos de facção ou animosidade pública; a falsidade é o único inimigo denunciado pelos seus habitantes; a Verdade e seu ministro, a Razão, são os únicos guias que merecem crédito.”

III. ABUSES OF LITERARY PURSUITS

the progress of crime is in a direct ratio with the pace of <the schoolmasters>”

Festus told St. Paul that much learning had made him mad (…) Machiavel forbade princes to addict themselves to learning.”

few have left their names to posterity without some appeal to future candour from the perverseness of malice of their own times.”

It is indeed so seductive a pursuit, that the wear and tear of mind and body produce no immediate weariness, and at the moment no apparent ills. But study has no sabbath, the mind of the student has no holiday (…) he works his brain as if its delicate texture was an imperishable material which no excess was capable of injuring”

other men look to their tools – a painter will wash his pencils, a smith will look to his hammer, a husbandman will mind his plough-irons, a huntsman will have a care of his hounds, a musician of his lute – scholars alone neglect that instrument which they daily use, by which they range over the world, and which, by study, is much consumed.”

IV. THE NERVOUS ENERGY

The nervous energy is so much a part and parcel of the vital principle, their union is so intimate, that whether they stand in the relation of cause and effect, or are different names only for the same essence, they cannot be separately considered.”

Nothing of it that doth fade

But doth suffer a sea change

Into something rare and strange.”

The body is allowed to have its transformations, but the mind is not worthy of a transmigration, not even to be portioned among the worms which have their being in our forms.”

V. (continuação)

On a frosty day, for one melancholy mien we observe, we meet a hundred faces, the hilarity of whose expression is due to no other cause than that which has been just named.”

O fetiche da eletricidade! Capítulo estranho da obra…

VI. INFLUENCE OF STUDIOUS HABITS ON THE DURATION OF LIFE

Every class of genius has distinct habits; all poets resemble one another, as all painters and all mathematicians. There is a conformity in the cast of their minds, and the quality of each is distinct from the other: the very faculty which fits them for one particular pursuit is just the reverse required for the other.” D’Israeli

They are not so much injured by study who only covet to know what others knew before them, and reckon it the best way to make use of other people’s madness, as Pliny says of those who do not take the trouble to build new houses, but rather buy and live in those that are built by other people.”

Keats wrote several pieces before he was 15, and only reached his 25th year.”

The lady Dante celebrated in his poems under the name of Beatrice he fell in love with at the age of 10, and his enthusiasm terminated with life at 56.”

VII. PRECOCIOUS TALENTS

No common error is attended with worse consequences to the children of genius than the practice of dragging precocious talent into early notice, of encouraging its growth in the hot-bed of parental approbation, and of endeavouring to give the dawning intellect the precocious maturity of that fruit which ripens and rots almost simultaneously.”

Michelângelo e Ticiano viveram 96 anos, quase o triplo de Rafael!

Brincadeira do sortilégio: a média entre todas as profissões levantadas por Madden, com vários nomes (como Beard já nos trouxe em AMERICAN NERVOUSNESS), será a idade de minha morte: 66. Poetas, como sempre, na lanterna – mina sorte é ser polímata!

VIII. LONGEVITY OF PHILOSOPHERS, POETS AND ASTRONOMERS

(…)

IX. LONGEVITY OF JURISTS AND DRAMATISTS

Though law has occasionally to do with fiction, it is only in Ireland that it has to deal with fancy [!!]”

Though the condition of all men too busily employed is miserable, yet are they most miserable who have not leisure to mind their own affairs.” Xilander

It is an ugly custom we have brought into use of getting into a coach every foot we have to go: if we did but walk the ¼ part of the distance that we ride in a day, the evils of our sedentary habits might be greatly obviated by such exercise.”

Another unseasonable annoyance of ours, is to be interrupted in our meals by business; and Hippocrates condemns all study soon after meals, especially in those of a bad digestion.”

the latter days are the lawyer’s only holidays.”

every dramatist must be a poet, but many of the greatest poets have proved very indifferent dramatists.”

Se um gênio aparecesse, quantos anos você trocaria por livros, provado que cada livro valesse um ano de sua vida?

X. LONGEVITY OF MEDICAL AUTHORS AND MISCELLANEOUS WRITERS

He that condemns himself to compose on a stated day, will often bring to his ask an attention dissipated, a memory embarrassed, a mind distracted with anxieties, a body languishing with disease; he will labour on a barren topic till it is too late to change it; for in the ardor of invention, his thoughts become diffused into a wild exuberance which the pressing hour of publication cannot suffer judgment to examine or reduce.”

There is, indeed, no labour more destructive to health than that of periodical literature, and in no species of mental application, or even of manual employment, is the wear and tear of mind and body so early and so severely felt.

But with the novelist it is far different; they have their attention devoted, perhaps for months, to one continued subject, and that subject neither dry nor disagreeable. They have no laborious references to make to other books, they have to burthen their memories with no authorities for their opinions, nor to trouble their brain with the connexion of any lengthened chain of ratiocination.”

Scott seldom exceeded 15 pages a day, but even this for a continuance was a toilsome task, that would have broken down the health of any other constitution at a much earlier period.” “Pope boasts in one of his letters of having finished 50 lines of his Homer in one day; and it would appear to be the largest number he had accomplished.”

XI. LONGEVITY OF POLEMICAL AUTHORS – PHILOLOGISTS

But seclusion from the world, and sedentary habits, can alone enable the philologist to make his memory the store-house of the erudition of past ages, or furnish the necessary materials for that vast pyramid of classical erudition, which is based on a catacomb of ancient learning, and has its apex in a cloud that sheds no rain on the arid soil beneath it.”

Languages are but the avenues of learning, and he who devoted his attention to the formation of the pebbles that lay along the road, will have little leisure for the consideration of more important objects, whose beauty or utility arrest the attention of the general observer.”

XII. LONGEVITY OF MUSICAL COMPOSERS, SCULPTORS AND PAINTERS

Finally, we have to observe the extraordinary difference in the longevity of the musical composers and that of the artists. We find the amount of life in the list of the sculptors and painters larger (…) than in that of the votaries of Euterpe [musa].”

The term genus irritabile deserves to be transferred from the poetical to the musical tribe; for we take it that an enraged musician is a much more common spectacle than an irritated bard, and infinitely more rabid in his choler.

Generally speaking, musicians are the most intolerant of men to one another, the most captious, the best humoured when flattered, and the worst tempered at all other times.”

It has been truly observed by an intelligent traveller that what the ancient poets fancied in verse, the sculptors formed in marble; what the priests invented afterwards in their cells, the painters have perpetuated on canvass.

The sublimest effort of pictorial art that can be adduced in favour of the received opinion of the inventive genius of painting is that wonderful picture of the Last Judgment, by Michael Angelo.”

Juízo final, MichelangeloJuízo final, Michelangelo (detalhe central)

XIII. THE LAST MOMENTS OF MEN OF GENIUS

What medical man has attended at the death-bed of the scholar, or the studious man, and has not found death divested of half its terrors by the dignified composure of the sufferer, and his state one of peace and serenity, compared with the abject condition of the unenlightened mind in the same extremity?”

A German entertains his fate, in his dying moments, more like a philosopher than a Frenchman. And, of all places in the world, the capital of Turkey is it, where we have seen death present the greatest terrors, and where life has been most unwillingly resigned. The Arabs, on the other hand, professing the same religion as the Turks, differ from them wholly in this respect, and meet death with greater indifference than the humbler classes of any other country, Mahomedan or Christian.”

In various epidemics in the East, we have had occasion to observe the striking difference in the conduct of both in their last moments, and especially in the expedition of Ibrahim Pasha to the Morea, when hundreds were dying daily in the camp at Suda. There the haughty Moslem went to the society of his celestial houries like a miserable slave, while the good humoured Arab went like a hero to his long last home. The difference in their moral qualities, and the mental superiority the Egyptian over the Turk, made all the distinction.

The result of the observation of many a closing scene in various climes, leads to the conclusion that death is envisaged by those with the least horror, whose lives have been least influenced by superstition or fanaticism, as well as by those who have cultivated literature and science with the most ardour.”

Let us not be led into a mistake by the convulsive throbs, the rattling in the throat, and the apparent pangs of death, which are exhibited by many persons when in a dying state. These symptoms are painful only to the spectators, and not to the dying, who are not sensible of them. The case here is the same as if one, from the dreadful contortions of a person in an epileptic fit, should form a conclusion respecting his internal feelings: from what affects us so much, he suffers nothing.”

The effect of this new stimulus of dark coloured blood in the arterial vessels appears strongly to resemble the exhilerating effects of opium, inasmuch as physical pain is lulled, the sensations soothed, and the imagination exalted. Long forgotten pleasures are recalled, old familiar faces are seen in the mind’s eye, and well remembered friends are communed with, and the imaginative power of giving a real presence to the shadowy reproductions of memory is busily employed, and a sort of delirium, or rather of mental exaltation, is the consequence, in which a rapid succession of ideas, in most instances apparently of an agreeable nature, pass through the mind, and the sense of bodily pain, to all appearance is wholly overpowered.”

Rousseau, when dying, ordered his attendants to place him before the window, that he might once more behold his garden, and bid adieu to nature.”

Petrarch was found dead in his library, leaning on a book.”

Chaucer died ballad making. His last production he entitled A Ballad, made by Geoffry Chaucer on his death-bed, lying in great anguish.”

XIV. THE IMPROVIDENCE OF LITERARY MEN

Newton, Galileo, Michael Angelo, Locke, Hume, Pope never married; neither did Bacon, Voltaire and many other illustrious men, who either distrusted their own fitness for the married state, or were afraid to stake their tranquillity on the hazard of the matrimonial die.”

FOR ALL THAT IT IS WORTHY, I.E., NOT IN THE LEAST FOR MONEY: “Camoens died in an alms-house, and 15 years afterwards had a splendid monument erected to his memory.”

When Jupiter’s daughters were all married to the gods, the Muses alone were left solitary, probably because they had no portions. Helicon was forsaken of all suitors, and Calliope only continued to be a maid, because she had no dower.”

They cannot ride a horse, which every clown can manage; salute and court a gentlewoman; carve properly at table; cringe and make congies, which every common swasher can do.”

Examine, choose, or reject the wares, but stand to your own judgment, and do not, like children, when you have purchased one thing, repine that you do not possess another, which you did not purchase. If you would be rich, you must put your heart against the Muses, and be content to feed your understanding with plain and household truths. You must keep on in one beaten track, without turning to the right hand or the left.”

Was it to be rich that you grew pale over the midnight lamp?”

XV. APPLICATION OF THE PRECEDING OBSERVATIONS – POPE

The most frequent disorders of literary men are dyspepsia and hypochondria, and in extreme cases the termination of these maladies is in some cerebral disorder, either mania, epilepsy or paralysis, and there we intend to notice in order of their succession in the following brief sketches of the physical infirmities of Pope, Johnson, Burns, Cowper, Byron and, lastly, Scott, in whose case the absence of the ordinary errors of genius may be ascribed in a great measure to well regulated habits, which certainly were not those of the others above mentioned.”

One patient calls his disorder spleen, another nervousness, another melancholy, another irritability: the medical nomenclature is no less prolific, but all their titles are for a single malady and <not one of them>, says Dr. James Johnson, in his admirable treatise on the Morbid Sensibility of the Stomach, <expresses the real nature of the malady, but only some of its multiform symptoms. Of all these designations, indigestion has been the most hacknied title, and it is, in my opinion, the most erroneous. The very worst forms of the disease – forms in which the body is tortured for years, and the mind ultimately wrecked, often exhibit no sign or proof of indigestion, in the ordinary sense of the word, the appetite being good, the digestion apparently complete.>”

The fact is that where pain is not the character of the disease, the attention of the patient is carried to the symptoms in organs, perhaps, the remotest from the cause; and in this particular disorder, the patient is seldom or ever sensible of pain in the actual seat of it.”

Pope wrote his compositions on the backs of letters, by which perhaps he might have saved 5 shillings in 5 years (a crime against stationary, by the way, which he shared in common with Sir Walter Scott)”

But Pope’s biting sarcasm was only aimed at his enemies. Byron little cared whether friend or foe was the victim of his spleen; those he best loved in the world were those who suffered most from the bitterness of his distempered feelings. To read those injurious lines on Rogers, that have lately appeared, and which never ought to, is to fancy the malignity of Byron greater even than Milton’s, which (we are falsely told) was sufficient to make hell grow darker at its scowl.”

censure is the tax which a man pays to the public for being eminent” Swift

This extraordinary necessity for artificial warmth was an evident indication of the deficiency of nervous energy”

XVI. JOHNSON

hypochondria is the middle state between the vapours of dyspepsia and the delusions of monomania.”

His well meaning friends see no reason why he should deem himself either sick or sorrowful, when his physician can put his finger on no one part of his frame and say: Here is a disease

It is vain to tell him his sufferings are imaginary, and must be conquered by his reason, and that the shapes of horror, and the sounds of terror, which haunt and harass him by day and night, are engendered in his brain, and are the effects of a culpable indulgence in gloomy reveries. In his better moments he himself knows that it is so, but in spite of every exertion, those reveries do come upon him” “It is worse than useless to reason with him about the absurdity of his conduct – his temper is only irritated – it is cruel to laugh at his delusions, or try to laugh him out of them – his misery is only increased by ridicule.” “Raillery, remonstrance, the best of homilies, the gravest of lectures, do not answer here”

Remédio prescrito: dieta regulada e laxantes! Ah, o Zeitgeist!

Keila (quando ter um além é o mesmo que ter dois infernos – niilismo acabado//o contrário de um salto da fé e da ética do caval(h)eiro da resignação): “They can take no rest in the night, or if they slumber, fearful dreams astonish them, their soul abhorreth all meat, and they are brought to death’s door, being bound in misery and in iron. Like Job, they curse their stars [!!!], for Job was melancholy to despair, and almost to madness. They are weary of the sun and yet afraid to die, vivere nolunt et mori nesciunt. And then, like Esop’s fishes, they leap from the frying-pan into the fire, when they hope to be eased by means of physic [Jamais tomarei esses remédios hereges – RAFAEL, ME DÁ UM ZOLPIDEM?!? COMO VC É MAU!!]; – a miserable end to the disease when ultimately left to their fate by a jury of physicians furiously disposed; and there remains no more to such persons, if that heavenly Physician, by his grace and mercy (whose aid alone avails), do not heal and help them. [!!!] One day of such grief as theirs, is 100 years: it is a plague of the sense, a convulsion of the soul, an epitome of hell: and if there be a hell upon earth it is to be found in a melancholy man’s heart! (…) All other diseases are trifles to hypochondria; it is the pith and marrow [medula e tutano] of them all!” The sickest person under the sun. But never sick enough, know what I mean?

A melancholy man is the true Prometheus, bound to Caucasus; the true Tityus, whose bowels are still devoured by a vulture.”

XVII. JOHNSON CONTINUED (Madden é uma maritaca!)

the only wonder is that a physician could be found so ignorant of the moral duties of his calling, or so reckless of the feelings of a melancholy man, as to implant the very notion in his mind which it was his business to endeavour to eradicate if already fixed there; namely, that madness was to be the termination of his disease.”

But the error is daily committed by the inexperienced, of supposing that literary men are possessed of strength of mind that may enable them to rise superior to the fears and apprehensions of the common invalid, and consequently that all reserve is to be laid aside and the real condition of such patients freely and fearlessly exhibited to their view.”

XVIII. JOHNSON CONTINUED (!!!)

Metastasio never permitted the word death to be pronounced in his presence; and Johnson was so agitated by having the subject spoken of in his hearing that on one occasion he insulted Boswell for introducing the topic; and in the words of the latter he had put <his head into the lion’s mouth a great many times with comparative safety, but at last had it bitten off>.” Se este pobre Johnson vivesse hoje e trabalhasse na CAP a mera leitura das mensagens do grupo do whatsapp com anúncios diários de morte – obituário em tempo real – seria capaz de levá-lo ao suicídio.

it was difficulty, says Sir John Hawkins, he could persuade him to execute a will, apparently as if he feared his doing so would hasten his dissolution.”

There are no people, rude or learned, among whom apparitions of the dead are not related or believed.” Johnson “This is the language of the hypochondriac, not of the moralist”

XIX. JOHNSON CONTINUED (JÁ CHEGA!! E pior que não…)

Like all hypochondriacs, he was a bad sleeper, and when sleepless he was accustomed, to use his own words, <to read in bed like a Turk> – by the way, the Turk neither reads in bed nor out of it.”

XX. JOHNSON CONTINUED (AND CONCLUDED!)

I may be cracking my jokes, and yet cursing the sun – sun, how I hate thy beams!”

he died in his perfect senses, resigned to his situation, at peace with himself and in charity with all men, in his 75th year.”

XXI. BURNS

Every quarter of a century a revolution takes place in literary taste, the old idols of its worship are displaced for newer effigies, but the ancient altars are only overthrown to be re-established at some future time, and to receive the homage which they forfeited, on account of the fickleness of their votaries, and not in consequence of any demerits of their own.”

Currie’s life of Burns still deserves to be considered one of the best specimens of biography in the English language.”

the fastidious imagination can hardly associate the idea of poetry with that of an atmosphere that is redolent of tobacco smoke and spirituous liquors.” “In the parlance of convivial gentlemen, to have a bout at the Clarendon is to exceed in the pleasures of the table; but to commit the same excess in a country ale-house is to be in a state of disgusting intoxication.”

Nor wine nor love could make me gay” Dryden

At 22 he writes to his father: the weakness of my nerves has so debilitated my mind, that I dare not review past events, nor look forward into futurity, for the least anxiety or perturbation in my head produce most unhappy effects on my whole frame.”

Inspector (espécie de vigilante sanitário) e coletor de impostos foram suas opções de carreira nas “horas vagas” da poesia – urgh! “It would have been difficult to have devised a worse occupation for the poet, or to have found a man less fitted for its duties than Burns. After occupying his farm for nearly 3 years and a half, he found it necessary to resign it, and depend on the miserable stipend of his office – about 50 pounds a year, which ultimately rose to 70.”

there is not among all the martyrologies that ever penned so rueful a narrative as the lives of the poets.”

excess in wine is not the only intemperance; but that excessive application to studious habits is another kind of intemperance no less injurious to the constitution than the former.”

wiki: “He is regarded as a pioneer of the Romantic movement, and after his death he became a great source of inspiration to the founders of both liberalism and socialism, and a cultural icon in Scotland and among the Scottish diaspora around the world. Celebration of his life and work became almost a national charismatic cult during the 19th and 20th centuries, and his influence has long been strong on Scottish literature. In 2009 he was chosen as the greatest Scot by the Scottish public in a vote run by Scottish television channel STV.”

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