CONTEXT

September 18, 2011

The doctor is in

Sam Johnson's poor eyesight as depicted by his friend Sir Joshua Reynolds.

Let’s celebrate Dr. Samuel Johnson, born this date in 1709, not just because he triumphed over his Tourette’s – a condition not even known to exist in his time – or because he gave his fellow countrymen a dictionary they depended  on from the time it was published in 1755 until the Oxford Dictionary was available in 1928 or even because he was wont to say things like

“Hope is itself a species of happiness, and, perhaps, the chief happiness which this world affords.”

and

“No man is much pleased with a companion who does not increase, in some respect, his fondness for himself.”

Reynolds also painted symptoms of Johnson's illness.

No, we celebrate Dr. Johnson because he befriended a feckless young libertine who came to London once a year from his home in Scotland to enjoy the vices of the city and the virtues of Johnson and his literary friends.  Without James Boswell, we might not know much about Johnson at all and it certainly would have taken much longer for the biography to become the personal, anecdotal account of a life that it now is.

Although, a certain degree of immortality is guaranteed to a man who could invent this felicitous epigram:

“A cucumber should be well-sliced, dressed with pepper and vinegar, and then thrown out.”

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5 Comments »

  1. ah, the hapless cucumber…

    Comment by ursel — September 18, 2011 @ 9:16 am | Reply

  2. Whole bunches of erudition in this. Huzzah!

    Comment by Carol — September 18, 2011 @ 9:40 am | Reply

  3. That’s funny…had to google “felicitous epigram” but then I laughed 😉

    Comment by ninachat — September 19, 2011 @ 11:48 pm | Reply

  4. Trippy

    Comment by avery — September 26, 2011 @ 3:37 pm | Reply


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