The Corner

Great Cham

A reader supplies more Johnsoniana:

Derb —

A few more Johnson quotes that could easily relate to the current campaign.

  • Nature has given women so much power that the law has very wisely given them little.
  • We are inclined to believe those whom we do not know because they have never deceived us.
  • Language is the dress of thought; every time you talk your mind is on parade.
  • Hope is itself a species of happiness, and perhaps, the chief happiness which this world affords.
  • The natural flights of the human mind are not from pleasure to pleasure, but from hope to hope.

[Me]  The trouble with old Sam is, he’s too quotable. If you read him in early adulthood (in my case courtesy of Mona Wilson’s excellent Harvard selection, which I got for pennies at a library clearance sale, and have somehow held on to for close to forty years – may I have it buried with me, please?), and Boswell’s Life, and Mrs Thrale’s Anecdotes, then for the rest of your life pretty much anything brings a Johnson quote to mind. You have to keep swallowing them unless you want to become a Johnson bore. That man had a grasp on the human condition few have matched.

There is, of course, an anti-Johnson school. Macaulay’s essay, though affectionate overall, scored some hits; and don’t ever praise Johnson in Roger Scruton’s presence. I once did — see these scars.

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