Sir said Dr. Johnson - some sayings - PDF book

Sir said Dr Johnson 

Sir said Dr Johnson


This selection from the talk of Dr Johnson makes no pretence to be complete. It merely represents an attempt to arrange in a convenient form some of his most characteristic utterances on life, letters, and his contemporaries. To the few who do not know their Boswell, it will possibly be an introduction, for which they can never be sufficiently grateful; to the many, it may serve as an excuse for renewing a friendship which is probably intolerable repair already. No form of the book is more sterile than a collection of polite extracts, not excepting Charles Lamb's Backgammon Board. 

It is a species of literary dissection, or at best vivisection that no research can justify, but an anthology of Dr Johnson's talk is a different matter and needs no excuse. True the flowers are culled from Boswell, Madame Piozzi, Madame D'Arblay and other houses in which they have been preserved for the enjoyment of mankind, but the blooms are 
complete in themselves and maybe moved without suffering in the translation. The objection may be taken that in some instances this is not so, where the provocative introduction or stimulative question is given. 

The answer is simple. The choice lay between risking this obvious criticism or omitting some of Dr Johnson's most characteristic utterances, for Dr Johnson was pre-eminently a conversationalist. People who laid their minds to his were what he wanted, as he says somewhere, " We had talk enough but no conversation: there was nothing discussed." The monologue is not to his taste.

 He shone most in reply, as Dilly the bookseller says of him, " He was like a ghost who never spoke unless he was spoken to." The interchange of ideas by discussion was the conversational ideal of the great lexicographer. We all remember the sur- prise of Colonel Newcome, " who thought Dr. Johnson the greatest of men and never travelled anywhere without his works," when he heard from Warrington that Dr. Johnson talked admirably, but could not write English. Perhaps Warrington had in his mind the closing words of Macaulay's famous essay: " What a singular destiny has been that of this remarkable man. be regarded in his own age as a classic and in ours as a companion. 

To receive from his contemporaries that full homage which men of genius have in general received only from posterity. That kind of fame which is commonly the most transient is in his case the most durable. The reputation of those writings which he probably expected to be immortal is every day fading, while those peculiarities of manner and that careless table talk, the memory of which he probably thought would die with him, are likely to be remembered as long as the English language is spoken in any quarter of the globe." The accuracy of these few will question. The " Rambler " pursues a lonely journey, the " Idler" appeals not even to the industrious and when Mr Disraeli boasted in the House of Commons that he had planted the Standard of St. George on the Mountains of Rasselas, the country members could only wonder what he meant and hope it was nothing against the land. London and the vanity of human wishes still attract the student, and his lives of the poets may fairly claim to be included in the classic zone, but it is undoubtedly by his talk that Dr Johnson lives in the minds of the majority.

the book details :
  • Author: Samuel Johnson
  • Publication date: 1911

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