Monday, 30 April 2018

'And since 'tis a bad day...'

Here I am, hunkered down in my front parlour while the rain siles down, the North wind blows and the mercury falls to midwinter levels. The last day of April, and, for all the lush, rain-fed green out there, it feels more like December.
  Here, on the same date in 1829, amid similar weather, is Walter Scott, writing in his diary –

Dr Johnson enjoins Bozzy to leave out of his diary all notices of the weather as insignificant. It may be so to an inhabitant of Bolt Court, in Fleet Street, who need care little whether it rains or snows, except the shilling it may cost him for a Jarvie [coachman]; but when I wake and find a snow shower sweeping along, and destroying hundreds perhaps of young lambs, and famishing their mothers, I must consider it as worth noting. For my own poor share, I am as indifferent as any Grub Streeter of them all –
                  '– And since 'tis a bad day,
                   Rise up, rise up, my merry men,
                   And use it as you may.'
I have accordingly been busy. The weather did not permit me to go beyond the courtyard, for it continued cold and rainy. I have employed the day in correcting the history for Cyclopaedia, as far as page 35...

[The Cyclopaedia would be Lardner's Cabinet Cyclopaedia, an ambitious enterprise running to 133 volumes, including Scott's two-volume history of Scotland.]

And so, with Scott's example before me, I must use this bad day as I may, and get down to some work. Not, happily, a history of Scotland...

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