‘Only a fool writes for anything but money’. So said Samuel Johnson way back in the late 18th C.

 Samuel Johnson


I would venture to say that not a lot of writers have taken his advice, for there are a lot of fools writing today! Millions I would imagine. Mind you old Sam had a lot to say for most of his life. He never stopped spouting if the truth be told. Here are some more gems; The only end of writing is to enable the readers better to enjoy life, or better to endure it.  How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?  I never desire to converse with a man who has written more than he has read.  A man is in general better pleased when he has a good dinner upon his table, than when his wife talks Greek.

Of course he had a distinct advantage over today’s scribblers; he had his own ‘gofor’, James Boswell, who followed him round jotting down every utterance, all of which were subsequently publisheed in Boswell’s  Life of Samuel Johnson. As a young man Boswell had moved from Scotland to London and met Johnson for the first time in 1763. The pair became friends almost immediately. Johnson eventually nicknamed him “Bozzy”.The first conversation between Johnson and Boswell is quoted in Life of Samuel Johnson as follows:

[Boswell:] “Mr. Johnson, I do indeed come from Scotland, but I cannot help it.”
[Johnson:] “That, Sir, I find, is what a very great many of your countrymen cannot help”

Over the years, they met frequently, Boswell diligently keeping notes of their conversations in his journals, which were not published until 1791, when Johnson was already dead and Boswell himself nearing the end of his life.  Life of  Samuel Johnson has often been described as the greatest biography ever written.

James Boswell

Final quote by Johnson: ‘Paradise Lost’ is one of the books which the reader admires and lays down, and forgets to take up again. None ever wished it longer than it is’



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