Till all our hours burn clear and brave
Like candle flames in windless air;
So shall we in the rout of life
Some thought, some faith, some meaning save,
And speak it once before we go
In silence to the silent grave.
These volumes insure that there need be no silence. George Orwell’s voice rings clear.
Jeffrey Meyers, Philological Quarterly
October 1969, pp. 526-33, 549
Jeffrey Meyers (b. 1939), American author of The Wounded Spirit (1973), Painting and the Novel (1975) and Fever at the Core: The Idealist in Politics (1976). The footnotes were published with the article.
When I look back upon resolutions of improvement and amendments, which have year after year been made and broken, either by negligence, forgetfulness, vicious idleness, casual interruption, or morbid infirmity, I find that so much of my life has stolen unprofitably away, and that I can descry by retrospection scarcely a few single days properly and vigorously employed.
(Samuel Johnson, Diary, April 1775)
There has literally been not one day in which I did not feel that I was idling, that I was behind with the current job, & that my total output was miserably small. Even at the periods when I was working 10 hours a day on a book, or turning out 4 or 5 articles a week, I have never been able to get away from this neurotic feeling.
(George Orwell, Diary, early 1949)
These entries are remarkably similar in the fervor of their unjustified self-torment, and they suggest Orwell’s close resemblance to Johnson