Samuel Johnson Quote of The Week from Greg Bover

18 October, 2013

“Kindness is always in our power, even when fondness is not.”

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)


Dr. Johnson was the most important English literary figure of his age. He wrote plays, essays and poems including the perceptive “Vanity of Human Wishes,” but he was best known for his Dictionary of the English Language (1755), an almost incomprehensible feat of mainly solo scholarship, written in just nine years, and the first to feature examples, largely from Shakespeare, Dryden, and Milton, of the 114,000 words in a literary context. Johnson was also the subject of one of the most famous biographies ever written, the minutely detailed Life of Samuel Johnson, by James Boswell. It is from this biography and other descriptions of the tics and outbursts of the good Doctor that it is now thought that he suffered from Tourette’s syndrome, a condition not yet defined in his time. Johnson is also credited with the observation that “Patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels.”

One comment

  • Stayed for a family house party this summer in Auchinleck Scotland at the Boswell Estate. We played the dictionary game in the duel open fire placed library with a giant old volume of Johnsons dictionary. Boswell and Johnson visited the house many times while Boswell was writing his biography of Johnson.
    Anybody can rent this wonderful property thru the Landmark Trust UK, a preservation society of historic buildings.
    Kathy Slifer


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