Dr Johnson by Norman Page (eds.)

By Norman Page (eds.)

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He occupied a sphere in life, an influence among the great, and a character among the learned, which enabled him to do much. His vanity was not inferior to his power; and had the talents of Johnson stooped to the prostituted language of adulation, his toil had probably been considerably alleviated by the taste, the address, the assiduity and the countenance of Chesterfield. But nothing can be conceived more diametrically opposite and irreconcileable than the tempers, the prejudices, the habits, the pursuits and the peculiarities of these contemporary wits.

In this respect, few men ever came better prepared into whatever company chance might throw him, and the love which he had to society *C. R. Leslie and Tom Taylor, Life and Times of Sir joshua Reynolds (1865); included injohnsonian Miscellanies, n, 218-28. 'THIS EXTRAORDINARY MAN' 37 gave him a facility in the practice of applying his knowledge of the matter in hand in which I believe he was never exceeded by any man. It has been frequently observed that he was a singular instance of a man who had so much distinguished himself by his writings that his conversation not only supported his character as an author, but, in the opinion of many, was superior.

When we were seated, he told me he had sent for me to drink a glass of wine with him, and to tell me, he was not angry with me for missing his lecture. This was, in fact, a most severe reprimand. ' (3) The pleasure he took in vexing the tutors and fellows has been often mentioned. , 2 who was then very young, and one of the junior * (1) Boswell's Notebook, 1776-1777, ed. R. W. Chapman (1925) p. 7; the entry is based on johnson's own account communicated to Boswell when they were at Oxford together in 1776.

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