Black Hearts in Battersea by Joan Aiken

Before there were “steampunk” and “alternate history” and multiple volume fantasy series in children’s books, there was Joan Aiken’s The Wolves of Willoughby Chase sequence, made up of twelve middle grade novels “set in an imaginary period of English history which never took place: the reign of King James III, in the earlier part of the nineteenth century, when England was still sadly plagued by wolves.”

Black Hearts in Battersea is the second book in the series. Joan Aiken’s website, created by her daughter Lizza Aiken, is full of treasures, including this bibliography of the over 100 books that Ms. Aiken wrote. The Wolves sequence in order consists of:

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase
Black Hearts in Battersea
Night Birds on Nantucket
The Stolen Lake
The Cuckoo Tree
Dido and Pa
Is (Is Underground)
Cold Shoulder Road
Limbo Lodge (Dangerous Games)
Midwinter Nightingale
The Witch of Clatteringshaws
The Whispering Mountain
(prequel to the series)

Black Hearts is a great stand-alone story, but it probably makes more sense and carries more depth if you read the books in order. I’ve read The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, and reading Black Hearts made me want to go back and re-read it and then read all of the others in the series, something that not too many contemporary fantasy series can inspire me to commit to. If you like Maryrose Wood’s Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series or perhaps Leon Garfield’s atmospheric and very British historical fiction, the Wolves sequence might be just up your alley.

Many of the characters who dominate the later books in the series are introduced or developed in Black Hearts, including Simon the orphan, his good friend Sophie, and Dido Twite the ragamuffin offspring of Simon’s neglectful and suspicious landlords. The story also features ships and piracy, bombs and plots, a very useful tapestry, and a rose-colored hot air balloon.

Joan Aiken was born on September 4, 1924 in Sussex, England. She grew up in a country village with a mother who “decided that I’d learn more if she taught me herself than if I went away to school” and an American father, Conrad Aiken, who was a Pulitzer-prize winning poet and author himself. Joan’s parents divorced when she was a child, and her mother married another author, Martin Armstrong. Ms. Aiken wrote books for children and adults, and she received the Guardian Award for Children’s Fiction in 1969 and the Mystery Writers’ of America Poe Award in in 1972. She died in 2004. The last two books in the Wolves sequence were published posthumously.

Poetry Friday: September by Helen Hunt Jackson

September by Helen Hunt Jackson 1830-1885

Monarch on Seaside Goldenrod from Flickr via Wylio
© 2011 Dendroica cerulea, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

The golden-rod is yellow;
The corn is turning brown;
The trees in apple orchards
With fruit are bending down.

The gentian’s bluest fringes
Are curling in the sun;
In dusty pods the milkweed
Its hidden silk has spun.

The sedges flaunt their harvest,
In every meadow nook;
And asters by the brook-side
Make asters in the brook,

From dewy lanes at morning
The grapes’ sweet odors rise;
At noon the roads all flutter
With yellow butterflies.

september 9+9 from Flickr via Wylio
© 2010 rosmary, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

By all these lovely tokens
September days are here,
With summer’s best of weather,
And autumn’s best of cheer.

But none of all this beauty
Which floods the earth and air
Is unto me the secret
Which makes September fair.

‘Tis a thing which I remember;
To name it thrills me yet:
One day of one September
I never can forget.

I am beyond fond of September–and October and November. Several special days and celebrations in September make it a significant month for our family: three birthdays, Hobbit Day, the beginning of autumn, International Talk Like a Pirate Day, and National Punctuation Day. I do hope you’ve had a lovely September, with a day or a few days that you can never forget because you’ve made such thrilling memories with the ones you love.

Our hostess for today’s Poetry Friday Roundup is Laura Purdie Salas at Writing the World for Kids.

Happy Birthday to Frodo, Bilbo, and Drama Daughter

Today is Hobbit Day, the birthday of two of my favorite hobbits and one of my favorite actresses. My beautiful and talented Drama Daughter is 23 years old today. Bilbo was born in the year 2890 and Frodo in the year 2968 in the Third Age. I don’t know how old that would make them.

A few links in honor of the day:

I started blogging The Hobbit a couple of years ago, and I got all the way through chapter seven. Maybe I’ll take up where I left off someday.
Chapter 1, An Unexpected Party
Chapter 2, Roast Mutton.
Chapter 3, A Short Rest.
Chapter 4, Over Hill and Under Hill.
Chapter 5, Riddles in the Dark.
Chapter 6, Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Fire.
Chapter 7, Queer Lodgings.

Thoughts on The Silmarillion.

Maddie Chambers/Brindley’s Hand Made Hobbit Hole: Bag End.

Annie Kate reviews JRR Tolkien: The Making of a Legend by Colin Duriez.

Winsome Reviews has a lovely meditation on The Hobbit.

How to Celebrate Hobbit Day.

A little music for Hobbit Day:

And no Hobbit Day would be complete without Leonard Nimoy singing The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins:

After that, words fail.

Sunday Salon: Happy Hobbit Day

Hobbit Day is the birthday of the hobbits Bilbo and Frodo Baggins. In the books by JRR Tolkien, both Bilbo and Frodo celebrated their birthdays on September 22, but they were born in different years. Bilbo was born in the year 2890 and Frodo in the year 2968 in the Third Age.

Hobbit Day is also the birthday, in these modern times, of my very special Drama Daughter, who is celebrating no doubt, in grand style, at her college in faraway Pennsylvania. If I drank beer like the hobbits or any other kind of alcohol, I would lift a toast to Frodo and to Bilbo and to Drama Daughter. In lieu of that, I give you The Piano Guys:

Happy Hobbit Day, and Happy Birthday, Drama Daughter!

Sunday Salon: September

It’s the beginning of the –brrr months, as my husband calls them, our favorite season of the year. We’ve started school, had our disasters and reluctant bouts with self-discipline, and now it’s time to settle in, learn, and enjoy the autumn. Autumn is a lovely word, by the way, “from Old French, autumpne, or directly from the Latin, autumnus.”

I’ve done several autumnal series of posts about food over the years of this blog:

Apples: Fact, Fiction, Poetry and Recipe.

Pecans, the Nut of the Gods.

Autumn and Pumpkins

Potatoes: a Positively Ponderous Post.

You might enjoy reading about these autumn-ish foods as we head into September.

Then, there are the books of September.
Due out in September, 2013:
The Song of the Quarkbeast by Jasper Fforde. 09/03/2013 The Chronicles of Kazam, Book Two, sequel to The Last Dragonslayer.
Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein. 09/10/2013
Silence: A Christian History by Diarmaid MacCulloch. 09/12/2013
United We Spy by Ally Carter. 09/17/2013
The Book of Common Prayer: A Biography by Alan Jacobs. 09/30/2013

September Events and Books:
September, 1914. During World War I, after the Battle of the Marne, both sides reach a stalemate in northern France, and the armies face each other from trenches along a front that eventually stretches from the North Sea to the Swiss border with France. Reading about World War I.
In September 2009, Abby Johnson was called into an exam room at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Bryan, Texas to help with an ultrasound-guided abortion. What she saw in the ultrasound picture changed her mind about abortion, about the pro-life movement, and ultimately about her own relationship with a loving God. Read more in Abby’s book, Unplanned.
September 1, 1939. Germany invades Poland. Norway, Finland, Sweden, Spain and Ireland declare their neutrality. Later in September U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt announces that the U.S. will also remain neutral in the war. Mila 18 by Leon Uris tells the story of the Jewish people of Warsaw, Poland as they fought and hid from the Nazis who were determined to exterminate them.
September 7, 1977. The U.S. signs a treaty with Panama agreeing to transfer control of the Panama Canal to Panama at the end of the 20th century.
September 8, 1492. The Voyages of Christopher Columbus on the Santa Maria, Nina and Pinta begin. Pastwatch by Orson Scott Card includes both history (Christopher Columbus, native Central American cultures, and slavery) and futuristic/dystopian/utopian elements.
September 8, 1900: A deadly hurricane destroys much of the property on Galveston Island, Texas and kills between 6000 and 12000 people. The Galveston hurricane of 1900 is the deadliest natural disaster ever to strike the United States. Reading through a hurricane at Semicolon.
September 16, 1975. Papua New Guinea gains its independence from Australia. Peace Child by Don Richardson is a wonderful missionary story set in Papua New Guinea.
September 28, 1961. A military coup in Damascus, Syria effectively ends the United Arab Republic, the union between Egypt and Syria. Mitali Perkins recommends a couple of books set in Syria, in light of the present crisis in that war-torn country.

Birthdays and Books:
Jim Arnosky, writer of nature and art books for children, was born September 1, 1946.
Elizabeth Borton de Trevino, whose historical fiction book I, Juan de Pareja, won the Newbery Medal in 1966, was born September 2, 1904 in Bakersfield, California. Also born on September 2nd: Poet Eugene Field and children’s humorist Lucretia Hale.
Aliki Liacouras Brandenberg was born September 3, 1929.
Children’s author Joan Aiken was born on September 4, 1924 in Sussex, England.
Lost Horizon author James Hilton was born on September 9, 1900.
Short story master O’Henry was born September 11, 1862.
On September 13th, Carol Kendall (1937), children’s fantasy writer, Else Holmelund Minarik (1920), author of the Little Bear easy readers, Roald Dahl (1916), humorist, and Mildred Taylor (1943), historical fiction writer and Newbery medalist, were all born, greatly adding to the breadth and joy of children’s literature.
Essayist and lexicographer Samuel Johnson was born September 18, 1709.
September 19th is the birthday of Arthur Rackham, illustrator, b.1867, William Golding, novelist, b.1911, Rachel Field, children’s author.
Poet T.S. Eliot was born on September 26, 1888.
September 29th is the birthday of Elizabeth Gaskell, novelist, b.1810.

A Reading List for September 24, National Punctuation Day.

Autumn is my favorite season.

Happy Birthday: Celebrating Joan Aiken

Joan Aiken was born on September 4, 1924 in Sussex, England. She grew up in a country village with a mother who “decided that I’d learn more if she taught me herself than if I went away to school” and an American father, Conrad Aiken, who was a Pulitzer-prize winning poet and author himself. Joan’s parents divorced when she was a child, and her mother married another author, Martin Armstrong. Ms. Aiken wrote books for children and adults, and she received the Guardian Award for Children’s Fiction in 1969 and the Mystery Writers’ of America Poe Award in in 1972.

Joan Aiken’s website, created by her daughter Lizza Aiken, is full of treasures, including this bibliography of the over 100 books that Ms. Aiken wrote. I knew of course about The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, her most famous book. And I knew that there were sequels to Willoughby Chase (eleven of them, actually), although I’ve never read them. I also checked out the collection of stories about the Armitage family called The Serial Garden that was published last year, but I never managed to become interested in the stories although I dipped into the book two or three times.

However, I didn’t know that Ms. Aiken was a Jane-ite before Jane Austen was cool. According to the bibliography, Joan Aiken wrote the following sequels to Austen novels:
Lady Catherine’s Necklace, a sequel to Pride and Prejudice.
The Youngest Miss Ward, a sequel to Mansfield Park.
Eliza’s Daughter, a sequel to Sense and Sensibility.
Jane Fairfax, a sequel to Emma.
Emma Watson, a completion of Austen’s unfinished novel fragment, The Watsons.

I must try one of these Austen fan fiction titles by Joan Aiken, if only to see if Ms. Aiken can pull off a feat that many have tried but few have succeeded in accomplishing. I’ve thumbed through a few of the Jane Austen wannabes out there, and even read a couple. But I’ve not been impressed. However, anyone who can write a book like The Wolves of Willoughby Chase surely has a shot at imitating Austen passably well.

Getting back to the website, you can also watch a movie about Joan Aiken and her books from the Puffin Club. I think this film was made back in the time of old 16mm films because it has that scratchy, old timey look and sound, and Ms. Aiken doesn’t look that old to me. And there are games and ecards and screensavers to download and printable bookmarks. Lots of fun fan stuff.

And here’s an interview with Ms. Aiken (before her death in 2001) at Indiebound in which she says a few of her favorite authors are “George Macdonald, E.E. Nesbit, Francis Hodgson Burnett, John Masefield, T.H. White, J.RR. Tolkien, Laurence Houseman, Walter de la Mare, Rudyard Kipling, Kastner, Peter Dickinson, Philippa Pearce, Susan Cooper, Barbara Willard, E. Weatherall (she wrote The Wide Wide World). I could go on and on.” I could agree with every author on that list. I’m especially pleased to see another fan of Barbara Willard, about whom I’ll write a post someday.

Here at Locus Magazine is another interview in which Ms. Aiken disses C.S. Lewis and Narnia. (“My children loved them, but I always thought they were repulsive books, the ‘Narnia’ books. I can’t stand that awful lion!”) Oh, well, no one is perfect.

For today, Happy Birthday to Joan Aiken!

Happy Birthday: Celebrating Elizabeth Borton de Trevino

Elizabeth Borton de Trevino, whose historical fiction book I, Juan de Pareja, won the Newbery Medal in 1966, was born on this date in 1904 in Bakersfield, California. She died at the age of 97 on December 2, 2001.

Ms. Borton de Trevino was not Hispanic, but she married a Mexican man and moved with him to his home, Monterrey, Mexico, then to Mexico City, and finally to Cuernavaca. The couple had two sons, and one of the sons, Luis, inspired his mother to write I, Juan de Pareja by telling her the story of the slave of a seventeenth century Spanish artist.

I, Juan de Pareja tells the fictionalized story of Spanish painter Diego Velasquez and his slave and protege, Juanico. Juan posed for one of Velasquez’s most famous paintings, and Velasquez taught Juan to paint even though it was against the law for a slave to learn a profession in seventeenth century Spain. The story itself moves rather slowly and covers a great many years in the life of Velasquez and Juan de Pareja. As the relationship between the two men grows, Velasquez comes to see Juan de Pareja as a friend and an equal instead of a lowly and inferior slave.

Review clips:
Shelley at Book Clutter: “While this was an interesting and somewhat educational children’s novel, I certainly didn’t find it to be a page-turner. I had a hard time imagining a child finding it at all engaging, and thought it was peculiar that the main character is an adult for a very large portion of the book.”

One Librarian’s Book Reviews: “I thought this story was beautiful and terrible. It showed the kinds of extremes slaves felt (at least in Spain) experiencing sometimes the good and sometimes the horrible.”

Sandy at The Newbery Project: “Although I like historical fiction, I’m afraid I was often bored by Juan de Pareja’s narrative, and I frequently wondered just how probable the story was.”

Linda at The Newbery Project: “The writing in this book flowed flawlessly so it was pleasant to read, and it took me only a few days to get through it. That’s fast, as I’m normally a slow reader who gets through one chapter per night if I’m lucky. But I, Juan de Pareja fascinated me and at times I couldn’t put it down despite being tired.”

There you have it–a fine example of mixed reviews. This book might very well be a hard sell for the TV generation, but for that very reason, I considered it a valuable part of our curriculum last year when we were studying Renaissance history. However, I read the book aloud to my children because I knew that they would complain about the slow pace if I required them to read it to themselves. Juanico is a sympathetic character, and the story of how he became a painter and a friend and encourager to the great Velasquez is worth the time and effort, especially for those interested in art and the history of art. Of course, when reading the book it is recommended that you look online to find and view some of the paintings mentioned in the story.

Elizabeth Borton de Trevino wrote three volumes of autobiographical memoir: My Heart Lies South: The Story of my Mexican Marriage, Where the Heart Is, and The Hearthstone of My Heart. I’d like to add at least the first of these to my TBR list. It seems an especially appropriate selection for September, Hispanic Heritage Month.

Elizabeth Borton de Trevino on her family’s reading of Kristin Lavransdattir by Sigrid Undset (good book, by the way):

I got hold of the book first. I sat in a corner with that novel and could not do anything but wash and dress mechnically, eat what was put in my hand, sleep reluctantly, and read, for two weeks. Next, my sister seized the book and she was tended, as I had been, and relieved of every household task and duty until, sighing, she turned the last page. Then my mother said, “All right, girls, take over. It’s my turn.” And she never moved or spoke to a soul until she had finished it. My father did not care. He was rereading, for the tenth enchanted time, the African journals of Frederick Courteney Selous, the great English hunter, and while we were in medieval Norway, he had been far away in darkest Africa, with all the wild forest around him. That is the kind of family we were.

Thanks to Peter Sieruta at Collecting Children’s Books for the quotation.

Happy Birthday: Celebrating Jim Arnosky

Jim Arnosky was the first writer of nature books for children that I fell in love with. Oh, I’ve gone on to enjoy others–Joanna Cole, Ruth Heller, Nic Bishop, Gail Gibbons, Anne Rockwell, Jerry Pallotta—but Mr. Arnosky was the first to catch my attention back in my elementary school librarian days. Such fine detailed pencil and pen and ink drawings! And then, in other books, beautiful, realistic paintings that look as if you could reach out and touch the animals depicted! Arnosky includes just enough information for primary age and even beginning middle school naturalists without overwhelming the newbie with too many textual details. The illustrations, however, are full of fascinating detail. If I want to introduce a certain animals or class of animals to my children, I’ll look for a book by Arnosky first (then one by Gail GIbbons, a topic for another day).

Arnosky has several series of books:
Crinkleroot’s Guides include Crinkleroot’s Guide to Knowing Animal Habitats, Crinkleroot’s Guide to Animal Tracking, Crinkleroot’s Guide to Walking in Wild Places, Crinkleroot’s Guide to Knowing the Trees, Crinkleroot’s Guide to Knowing the Birds, Crinkleroot’s Guide to Knowing Butterflies and Moths, and Crinkleroot’s Nature Almanac. Crinkleroot is a little dwarvish man with a long white beard who guides the reader through the wonders and experiences of various aspects of nature, particularly in the forest. Crinkleroot, the nature guide, first appeared in a 1988 title called I Was Born in a Tree and Raised by Bees, a title that I assume encapsulates Mr. Crinkleroot’s autobiography, even though I’ve never seen the book.

Then there are the All About books: All About Frogs, All About Lizards, All About Manatees, All About Alligators, All About Turtles, All About Sharks, etc. I count ten books in this series so far. The books are picture book length, 32 pages, and the text is appropriately preschool/primary level. The series is published by Scholastic and available in both hard cover and paperback although some of the books are out of print.

Another series is called Jim Arnosky’s Nature Notebooks, and it includes the books Shore Walker, Animal Tracker, and Bug Hunter. These are how-to books telling kids how to observe, sketch, and write about wildlife. Like a lot of other Arnosky books, these are as much about the artwork as they are about natural science. If you have a budding young naturalist with a gift for or interest in drawing what he sees, these are the books to encourage that bent. Actually, even “ungifted” children can benefit from keeping a nature journal and at least trying to sketch what they see.

Mr. Arnosky also has a series of “Video Visits,” VHS and DVD adventures in nature with Mr. Arnosky as the host.

Mr. Arnosky’s single titles are just as lovely and evocative as the series books. I especially like Crinkleroot’s 25 Mammals Every Child Should Know and Sketching Outdoors in All Seasons. The titles are self-explanatory.

In visiting Jim Arnosky’s website I found some wonderful resources. First of all you can buy Crinkleroot’s Nature Library on 2 CD’s, all of the Crinkleroot books for $95.00 plus coloring pages for 100 animals every child should know. But if you don’t have the money, you can get the boks at the library (probably) and print the coloring pages straight from the website for free. Wouldn’t the coloring pages make a lovely preschool nature curriculum? Color and read about one animal a day. Then, take a trip out into the wild or to the zoo to see how many of the animals you could see for yourself.

Mr. Arnosky also writes songs, sings and plays the guitar. I haven’t heard any of his songs, but the titles sound like fun: Manatee Morning, Rattlesnake Dance, and Big Jim and the White Legged Moose, for examples.

You can read more about Jim Arnosky, author, artist, and naturalist, in his book Whole Days Outdoors. Jim Arnosky has written and illustrated more than 90 books for children. He lives with his family on a farm in Vermont, and he’s celebrating his 64th birthday today (b.1946).

Author Fiesta: Jim Arnosky. Blogger Cay GIbson gives lots o flinks and ideas for a month-long celebration of Mr. Arnosky and his work.

Animal Tracks Unit Study.

Jim Arnosky’s WIldlife Journal website, in case you didn’t click on one of the links above.

Mr. Arnoskys new book, Man Gave names to all the Animals (from the song by Bob Dylan) is due out September 7, 2010. Has anyone seen a copy? It sounds like something we will all enjoy.

Poetry Friday: Parody

Today is the birthdate of Felicia Dorothea Hemans, born in 1793. She wrote at least one well known poem, Casabianca, based on an historical incident: “Young Casabianca, a boy about thirteen years old, son of the admiral of the Orient, remained at his post (in the Battle of the Nile), after the ship had taken fire, and all the guns had been abandoned; and perished in the explosion of the vessel, when the flames had reached the powder.”

180px-AboukirThe boy stood on the burning deck
Whence all but he had fled;
The flame that lit the battle’s wreck
Shone round him o’er the dead.

Yet beautiful and bright he stood,
As born to rule the storm;
A creature of heroic blood,
A proud, though child-like form.

The flames rolled on–he would not go
Without his Father’s word;
That father, faint in death below,
His voice no longer heard.

He called aloud–’say, Father, say
If yet my task is done?’
He knew not that the chieftain lay
Unconscious of his son.

‘Speak, father!’ once again he cried,
‘If I may yet be gone!’
And but the booming shots replied,
And fast the flames rolled on.

Read the rest of the poem, including the tragic ending.

Ms. Hemans’ poem has been remembered so long mainly because of its parodists:

The_Battle_of_the_NileThe boy stood on the burning deck,
The flames ’round him did roar;
He found a bar of Ivory Soap
And washed himself ashore.

The boy stood on the burning deck
Eating peanuts by the peck;
His father called, he would not go
Because he loved those peanuts so.

The boy stood on the burning duck
A stupid thing to do
Because the duck was roasting
On the barbecue.

The boy stood on the burning deck
Playing a game of cricket,
The ball flew down his trouser leg
And hit his middle wicket.

The boy stood on the burning deck,
His heart was a all a-twitter,
He stood ’till he could stand no more,
And became a crispy critter.

Spike Milligan:
The boy stood on the burning deck
Whence all but he had fled –
The twit!

The two paintings of the Battle of the Nile are by George Arnaud or Arnold(?).

Poetry Friday is hosted today by author Susan Taylor Brown.

Semicolon Author Celebration: Samuel Johnson


Today is the birthday of lexicographer, essayist, novelist, literary critic, and eighteenth century celebrity Samuel Johnson. He was born in 1709, so next year will mark the 300th anniversary of his birth. Commonly known as Dr. Johnson, he was the subject of James Boswell’s Life of Samuel Johnson, one of the most famous biographies ever written in the English language.

More about Dr. Johnson.

Quoth Samuel Johnson:

“I never desire to converse with a man who has written more than he has read.”

“A cucumber should be well sliced, and dressed with pepper and vinegar, and then thrown out, as good for nothing.”

A lady once asked him how he came to define pastern as the knee of a horse: instead of making an elaborate defence, as she expected, he at once answered, “Ignorance, Madam, pure ignorance.”

“A man ought to read just as inclination leads him; for what he reads as a task will do him little good.”

“Read over your compositions, and wherever you meet with a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out.”

“But if he does really think that there is no distinction between virtue and vice, why, Sir, when he leaves our houses let us count our spoons.”

“I hate a fellow whom pride or cowardice or laziness drives into a corner, and who does nothing when he is there but sit and growl. Let him come out as I do, and bark.”

When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”

“I would rather be attacked than unnoticed. For the worst thing you can do to an author is to be silent as to his works.”
More quotations from Dr.Johnson.

Some of Dr. Johnson’s more creative definitions:

LEXICOGRAPHER: A writer of dictionaries, a harmless drudge.

NETWORK: Any thing reticulated or decussated, at equal distances, with interstices between the intersections.

OATS: A grain which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people.

PATRON: n. One who countenances, supports or protects. Commonly a wretch who supports with insolence, and is repaid in flattery.

Samuel Johnson, the critic:

Samuel Johnson on Lord Chesterfield: “This man I thought had been a Lord among wits; but, I find, he is only a wit among Lords!”

On Thomas Gray: “Sir, he was dull in company, dull in his closet, dull everywhere. He was dull in a new way and that made people think him great.”

On poet Christopher Smart: “Madness frequently discovers itself merely by unnecessary deviation from the usual modes of the world. My poor friend Smart showed the disturbance of his mind, by falling upon his knees, and saying his prayers in the street, or in any other unusual place. Now although, rationally speaking, it is greater madness not to pray at all, than to pray as Smart did, I am afraid there are so many who do not pray, that their understanding is not called in question.”

On John Milton: “Scarcely any man ever wrote so much and praised so few.”

Do you have something to say about Dr. Johnson, his life, or his writings? If so, please leave a link to your post in the linky or leave a comment or both.

Happy Birthday, Dr. Johnson!

Semicolon’s September: Celebrations, Links and Birthdays