See also Success
50. Failure; Wit
"I have no more pleasure in hearing a man attempting wit and
failing, than in seeing a man trying to leap over a ditch and
tumbling into it."
"The pain of miscarriage is naturally proportionate to the desire
Johnson: Rambler #194 (January 25, 1752)
"We not only are most sensible of the last impressions, but such
is the unwillingness of mankind to admit transcendent merit, that
though it be difficult to obliterate the reproach of miscarriages
by any subsequent achievement, however illustrious, yet the
reputation raised by a long train of success may be finally
ruined by a single failure; for weakness or error will always be
remembered by that malice and envy which it gratifies."
Johnson: Rambler #207 (March 10, 1752)
1,866. Failure; Fame; Humanity; Success;
Success and miscarriage have the same effect in all conditions.
The prosperous are feared, hated, and flattered; and the
unfortunate avoided, pitied, and despised. No sooner is a book
published than the writer may judge of the opinion of the world.
If his acquaintance press around him in publick places, or salute
from the other side of the street; if invitations to dinner come
thick upon him, and those with whom he dines keep him to supper;
if the ladies turn to him when his coat is plain, and the footmen
serve him with attention and alacrity; he may be sure that his
work has been praised by some leader of literary fashions.
Of declining reputation the symptoms are not less easily
observed. If the author enters a coffee-house, he has a box to
himself; if he calls at a bookseller's, the boy turns his back;
and, what is the most fatal of all prognosticks, authors will
visit him in a morning, and talk to him hour after hour of the
malevolence of criticks, the neglect of merit, the bad taste of
the age, and the candour of posterity.
Johnson: Idler #102 (March 29, 1760)