Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Essay: "Of Bashfulness." Samuel Johnson.

Essay: “Of Bashfulness.” Samuel Johnson.

10-second review: Don’t worry about being bashful. Nobody notices you anyhow!


“To excite opposition and inflame malevolence, is the unhappy privilege of courage made arrogant by consciousness of strength.”

“It is to suppose custom instantaneously controllable by reason and to endeavor to communicate, by precept, that which only time and habit can bestow.” [Habits cannot be changed by telling one to change them, only by time.]

“No cause more frequently produces bashfulness than too high an opinion of our own importance.” [We are made bashful because we think people notice our importance and they don’t.]

“He considers that what he shall say or do will never be forgotten….”

“But the truth is, that no man is much regarded by the rest of the world. He that considers how little he dwells upon the condition of others, will learn how little the attention of others is attracted by himself. While we see multitudes passing before us, of whom, perhaps, not one appears to deserve our notice, or excite our sympathy, we should remember, that we likewise are lost in the same throng….and that the utmost which we can reasonably hope or fear is, to fill a vacant hour with prattle, and to be forgotten.”

The Rambler. No. 139. September 24, 1751.

Great Essays. Ed. Houston Peterson. New York: Washington Square Press, Inc. 1960.

What is an essay? “They are all prefaces. A preface is nothing but a talk with the reader; and they [essays] do nothing else.” Charles Lamb.

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