Category Archives: Samuel Johnson

Political Convenience and Moral Right

In a Christmas letter to his future biographer, Samuel Johnson wrote: “This is the time of year in which all express their good wishes to their friends, and I send mine to you and your family. May your lives be … Continue reading

Posted in Philosophy, Samuel Johnson

Benevolent to Man, Reverent to God

In a letter written in 1777 to the bookseller Edward Dilly, the biographer Samuel Johnson said of the somewhat obscure poet Isaac Watts (1674-1748), “I would not willingly be reduced to tell of him only that he was born and … Continue reading

Posted in Literature, Religion, Samuel Johnson

Idle Solitude

“[I]n solitude we have our dreams to ourselves, and in company we agree to dream in concert. The end sought in both is forgetfulness of ourselves.”—Samuel Johnson, Idler, No. 32 Recently I had been plagued by either having too much … Continue reading

Posted in Philosophy, Samuel Johnson, Stoicism

John Bull, Philosopher

“He now appeared to me Jean Bull philosophe, and he was, for the moment, not only serious but vehement.”—James Boswell, Life of Johnson Boswell, the biographer, is describing Johnson in a fit of gourmandizing. The gargantuan writer was infamous for … Continue reading

Posted in Literature, Philosophy, Samuel Johnson

Imlac’s Political Advice

The advice in question comes not from my blogging alter-ego, but from the original Imlac of Samuel Johnson’s novel Rasselas. As the elderly sage says to the young prince in the story: “no form of government has been yet discovered, … Continue reading

Posted in Literature, Philosophy, Politics, Samuel Johnson

A Meditation on Idleness

While indulging in some much needed holiday down time I felt as though I were reliving an epoch when being offline was the norm. There has been at least some push-back against the incessantly plugged-in lifestyle, mainly as it pertains … Continue reading

Posted in Philosophy, Samuel Johnson

Some Notes on Living

The time that I have not spent recently in blogging has been devoted to an online course on Communist Russia. Taking a momentary break, and picking through my accumulated notes from recent weeks’ reading, I thought this comment by Samuel … Continue reading

Posted in Philosophy, Religion, Samuel Johnson, Stoicism

A Weekend Meditation

“Remember how long you have delayed, how often the gods have appointed the day of your redemption and you have let it pass. Now, if ever, you must realize of what kind of ordered universe you are a part, of … Continue reading

Posted in Philosophy, Religion, Samuel Johnson, Stoicism

Modern Insensibilities

“When once the forms of civility are violated, there remains little hope of return to kindness or decency.”—Samuel Johnson Recent years have seen the complete removal of filters on public discourse. Expletives grace the covers of best-selling volumes. Prominent celebrities … Continue reading

Posted in Art and Culture, Politics, Samuel Johnson

A Curmudgeon’s Tour of Scotland

Once again I invoke the “patron saint” of this blog, Samuel Johnson, who never ceases to delight me with his observations on “life and manners” as I peruse excepts from his Journey to the Western Isles of Scotland,* in which … Continue reading

Posted in Literature, Samuel Johnson