Dr. Samuel Johnson
Copyright Michael D. Robbins 2005


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Dr. Samuel Johnson—English Author, Critic, Lexicographer

September 18, 1709, Lichfield, England, 16:00 LMT (Considering the discrepancy between NS or OS—the major change  would be to place the Sun in Libra and the Moon in Leo, OS, or in Pisces, NS)

(Ascendant Capricorn or Aquarius; Mercury in Virgo NS and in Libra OS; Mars and Venus in Libra; Jupiter in Scorpio; Saturn in Cancer; Uranus and Pluto in Leo; Neptune in Aries; Pluto)

(The OS chart is quite different; Ascendant, Aquarius; Sun in Libra; Moon in Leo; Mercury in Libra; Mars and Venus in Scorpio; the other planets, the same)

The Virgo energy signals his sharp, critical mind, (especially if Mercury is also in Virgo) and his preoccupation with the exactitudes of the English language. Johnson used to “hold court” in a particular tavern, and his brilliant conversations and humor have been immortalized by his biographer, James Boswell.

The brilliance of the third ray is everywhere in evidence, reinforced by the exactitude of the fifth (or is it simply Virgo?) and the wit and color of the fourth. Certain pointed first ray qualities are also evident in the speech and thought. Because of his position in his “circle” of admirers and attendees, it is hard to conceive that Leo would not have been important in this chart.


A am a great friend of public amusements, they keep people from vice.

A cucumber should be well sliced, and dressed with pepper and vinegar, and then thrown out, as good for nothing.

A fly may sting a stately horse and make him wince; but one is but an insect, and the other is a horse still.

A hardened and shameless tea drinker, who has for twenty years diluted his meals with only the infusion of this fascinating plant; whose kettle scarcely has time to cool; who with tea amuses the evening, with tea solaces the midnight, and with tea welcomes the morning.

A Judge may be a farmer; but he is not to geld his own pigs. A Judge may play a little at cards for his own amusement; but he is not to play at marbles, or chuck farthing in the Piazza.

A man may be so much of everything that he is nothing of anything.

A man of genius has been seldom ruined but by himself.

A man ought to read just as inclination leads him, for what he reads as a task will do him little good.

A man seldom thinks with more earnestness of anything than he does of his dinner.

A man who exposes himself when he is intoxicated, has not the art of getting drunk.

A short letter to a distant friend is, in my opinion, an insult like that of a slight bow or cursory salutation - a proof of unwillingness to do much, even where there is a necessity of doing something.

A wise man is cured of ambition by ambition itself; his aim is so exalted that riches, office, fortune and favour cannot satisfy him.

A wise man will make haste to forgive, because he knows the true value of time, and will not suffer it to pass away in unnecessary pain.

Adversity has ever been considered the state in which a man most easily becomes acquainted with himself.

Advertisements are now so numerous that they are very negligently perused, and it is therefore become necessary to gain attention by magnificence of promises, and by eloquences sometimes sublime and sometimes pathetic.

All the arguments which are brought to represent poverty as no evil show it evidently to be a great evil.

All theory is against freedom of the will; all experience for it.

All travel has its advantages. If the passenger visits better countries, he may learn to improve his own. And if fortune carries him to worse, he may learn to enjoy it.

Allow children to be happy in their own way, for what better way will they find?

Almost all absurdity of conduct arises from the imitation of those who we cannot resemble.

Almost every man wastes part of his life attempting to display qualities which he does not possess.

Among the calamities of war may be jointly numbered the diminution of the love of truth, by the falsehoods which interest dictates and credulity encourages.

As the Spanish proverb says, "He who would bring home the wealth of the Indies, must carry the wealth of the Indies with him." So it is in travelling; a man must carry knowledge with him, if he would bring home knowledge.

At seventy-seven it is time to be in earnest.

Bachelors have consciences, married men have wives.

Being in a ship is being in a jail, with the chance of being drowned.

Between falsehood and useless truth there is little difference. As gold which he cannot spend will make no man rich, so knowledge which cannot apply will make no man wise.

Books like friends, should be few and well-chosen.

Books that you carry to the fire, and hold readily in your hand, are most useful after all.

Boswell: That, Sir, was great fortitude of mind. Johnson: No, Sir, stark insensibility.

Bounty always receives part of its value from the manner in which it is bestowed.

But if he does really think that there is no distinction between virtue and vice, why, Sir, when he leaves our houses, let us count our spoons.

By taking a second wife he pays the highest compliment to the first, by showing that she made him so happy as a married man, that he wishes to be so a second time.

Claret is the liquor for boys; port for men; but he who aspires to be a hero must drink brandy.

Classical quotation is the parole of literary men all over the world.

Courage is the greatest of all virtues, because if you haven't courage, you may not have an opportunity to use any of the others.

Curiosity is one of the most permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous intellect.

Depend upon it that if a man talks of his misfortunes there is something in them that is not disagreeable to him; for where there is nothing but pure misery there never is any recourse to the mention of it.

Dictionaries are like watches, the worst is better than none and the best cannot be expected to go quite true.

Difficult do you call it, Sir? I wish it were impossible.

Disease generally begins that equality which death completes.

Do not suffer life to stagnate; it will grow muddy for want of motion: commit yourself again to the current of the world.

Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth, and every other man has a right to knock him down for it. Martyrdom is the test.

Every man is rich or poor according to the proportion between his desires and his enjoyments.

Every man who attacks my belief, diminishes in some degree my confidence in it, and therefore makes me uneasy; and I am angry with him who makes me uneasy.

Every other author may aspire to praise; the lexicographer can only hope to escape reproach, and even this negative recompense has been yet granted to very few.

Every other enjoyment malice may destroy; every other panegyric envy may withhold; but no human power can deprive the boaster of his own encomiums.

Everything that enlarges the sphere of human powers, that shows man he can do what he thought he could not do, is valuable.

Exercise is labor without weariness.

Extended empires are like expanded gold, exchanging solid strength for feeble splendor.

Fear is implanted in us as a preservative from evil but its duty, like that of other passions, is not to overbear reason, but to assist it. It should not be suffered to tyrannize in the imagination, to raise phantoms of horror, or to beset life with supernumerary distresses.

Few enterprises of great labor or hazard would be undertaken if we had not the power of magnifying the advantages we expect from them.

Fraud and falsehood only dread examination. Truth invites it.

From the middle of life onward, only he remains vitally alive who is ready to die with life.

Getting money is not all a man's business: to cultivate kindness is a valuable part of the business of life.

Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance.

He that embarks on the voyage of life will always wish to advance rather by the impulse of the wind than the strokes of the oar; and many fold in their passage; while they lie waiting for the gale."

He that fails in his endeavors after wealth or power will not long retain either honesty or courage.

He that pursues fame with just claims, trusts his happiness to the winds; but he that endeavors after it by false merit, has to fear, not only the violence of the storm, but the leaks of his vessel.

He that will enjoy the brightness of sunshine, must quit the coolness of the shade.

He to whom many objects of pursuit arise at the same time, will frequently hesitate between different desires till a rival has precluded him, or change his course as new attractions prevail, and harass himself without advancing.

He was dull in a new way, and that made many people think him great.

He who does not mind his belly, will hardly mind anything else.

He who has so little knowledge of human nature as to seek happiness by changing anything but his own disposition will waste his life in fruitless efforts.

He who praises everybody, praises nobody.

He who sees different ways to the same end, will, unless he watches carefully over his own conduct, lay out too much of his attention upon the comparison of probabilities and the adjustment of expedients, and pause in the choice of his road, till some accident intercepts his journey.

He who waits to do a great deal of good at once will never do anything.

Hope is itself a species of happiness, and, perhaps, the chief happiness which this world affords: but, like all other pleasures immoderately enjoyed, the excesses of hope must be expiated by pain; and expectations improperly indulged must end in disappointment.

Human life is everywhere a state in which much is to be endured, and little to be enjoyed.

Hunger is never delicate; they who are seldom gorged to the full with praise may be safely fed with gross compliments, for the appetite must be satisfied before it is disgusted.

I am aware that by many persons, it is considered in the nature of a joke to to become a candidate and to be elected as a member of the Legislature.

I am sorry I have not learnt to play at cards. It is very useful in life: it generates kindness, and consolidates society.

I can't drink a little, therefore I never touch it. Abstinance is as easy for me as tempreance would be difficult.

I deny the lawfulness of telling a lie to a sick man for fear of alarming him; you have no business with consequences you are to tell the truth.

I had done all that I could; and no man is well pleased to have his all neglected, be it ever so little.

I hate historic talk, and when Charles Fox said something to me once about Catiline's Conspiracy, I withdrew my attention, and thought about Tom Thumb.

I have always considered it as treason against the great republic of human nature, to make any man's virtues the means of deceiving him.

I have found men to be more kind than I expected, and less just.

I look upon every day to be lost, in which I do not make a new acquaintance.

I never desire to converse with a man who has written more than he has read.

If your determination is fixed, I do not counsel you to despair. Few things are impossible to diligence and skill. Great works are performed not by strength, but perseverance.

If, sir, men were all virtuous, I should with great alacrity teach them all to fly. But what would be the security of the good if the bad could at pleasure invade them from the sky? Against an army sailing through the clouds neither wall, nor mountains, nor seas could afford any security.

In a man's letters you know, Madam, his soul lies naked, his letters are only the mirror of his breast, whatever passes within him is shown undisguised in its natural process. Nothing is inverted, nothing distorted, you see systems in their elements, you discover actions in their motives.

Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.

It is better that some should be unhappy rather than that none should be happy, which would be the case in a general state of equality.

It is dangerous for mortal beauty, or terrestrial virtue, to be examined by too strong a light. The torch of Truth shows much that we cannot, and all that we would not, see.

It is not true that people are naturally equal for no two people can be together for even a half an hour without one acquiring an evident superiority over the other.

It is reasonable to have perfection in our eye that we may always advance toward it, though we know it can never be reached.

It is so far from being natural for a man and woman to live in a state of marriage, that we find all the motives which they have for remaining in that connection, and the restraints which civilised society imposes to prevent separation, are hardly sufficient to keep them together.

It is thus that mutual cowardice keeps us in peace. Were one half of mankind brave and one cowards, the brave would be always beating the cowards. Were all brave, they would lead a very uneasy life; all would be continually fighting; but being all cowards, we go on very well.

It matters not how a man dies, but how he lives. The act of dying is not of importance, it lasts so short a time.

Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it.

Leisure and curiosity might soon make great advances in useful knowledge, were they not diverted by minute emulation and laborious trifles.

Like an image in a dream the world is troubled by love, hatred, and other poisons. So long as the dream lasts, the image appears to be real; but on awaking it vanishes.

Love is only one of many passions.

Love is the wisdom of the fool and the folly of the wise.

Man alone is born crying, lives complaining, and dies disappointed.

Many things difficult to design prove easy to performance.

Money and time are the heaviest burdens of life, and the unhappiest of all mortals are those who have more of either than they know how to use.

Nature has given women so much power that the law has very wisely given them little.

No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money.

No man can taste the fruits of autumn while he is delighting his scent with the flowers of spring.

No man was ever great by imitation.

No money is better spent than what is laid out for domestic satisfaction.

Nothing is more hopeless than a scheme of merriment.

Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome.

Of all noises, I think music is the least disagreeable.

Our brightest blazes of gladness are commonly kindled by unexpected sparks.

Paradise Lost is a book that, once put down, is very hard to pick up again.

Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.

Self-confidence is the first requisite to great undertakings.

So many objections may be made to everything, that nothing can overcome them but the necessity of doing something.

The world is seldom what it seems; to man, who dimly sees, realities appear as dreams, and dreams realities.

The wretched have no compassion, they can do good only from strong principles of duty.

We are inclined to believe those whom we do not know because they have never deceived us.

What is easy is seldom excellent.

What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure.

Your manuscript is both good and original; but the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good.

In 1773 Johnson toured Scotland with his friend James Boswell and recorded his impressions in A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland. Johnson attempted to produce an objective account of the way of life he found in the islands, but his own prejudices and viewpoints were too strong to be kept in the background. He had hoped to find a way of life very different from that he knew, but was frequently disappointed:
"We came hither too late to see what we expected, a people of peculiar appearance, and a system of antiquated life. The clans retain little now of their original character, their ferocity of temper is softened, their military ardour is extinguished, their dignity of independence is depressed, their contempt of government subdued, and their reverence for their chiefs abated ...They are now acquainted with money, and the possibility of gain will by degrees make them industrious. Such is the effect of the late regulations, that a longer journey than to the Highlands must be taken by him whose curiosity pants for savage virtues and barbarous grandeur."
, A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland (1775) p50
It is no great surprise that Johnson left a trail of offended Highlanders in his wake; consider this passage from Boswell's journal:
"Dr Johnson got into one of his fits of railing at the Scots. He owned that they had been a very learned nation for a hundred years, from about 1550 to about 1650; but that they afforded the only one instance of a people among whom the arts of civil life did not advance in proportion with learning; that they had hardly any trade, any money, or any elegance, before the Union; that it was strange that, with all the advantages possessed by other nations, they had not any of those conveniencies and embellishments which are the fruit of industry, till they came in contact with a civilized people. 'We have taught you, (said he,) and we'll do the same in time to all barbarous nations, - to the Cherokees, - and at last to the Ouran-Outangs;' laughing with much glee ..."
James Boswell, The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides, (1785) pp347-8
Johnson constantly compared the Highlands (the unknown) with England (the known norm). In his journal he tries to give empirical evidence but makes continual subconscious distortions; he gives a descriptive account followed by a philosophical interpretation. He believed that oral traditions were dying, but it is obvious that he had little understanding of those oral traditions. He claimed, for instance, that no bard could have memorized the length of poem that they were renowned for reciting - he could not, or would not acknowledge the level of skill possessed by Gaelic bards.


Dr Samuel Johnson

(1709-1784) was born in Lichfield, Staffordshire, England, the son of a bookseller. He was a student at Oxford but was forced to leave after two years of study due to poverty. He began his literary career in London contributing to The Gentleman's Magazine as a reporter of Parliamentary debates. Among his literary works are: London (1738), The Vanity of Human Wishes (1749), The Rambler (1750), A Dictionary of the English Language (1755), Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia (1759), The Lives of the English Poets (1779-81).

Dr. (September 18, 1709–December 13, 1784), often referred to simply as Dr. Johnson, was one of England's greatest literary figures, whose witty asides are still frequently quoted in print today. He was also a lexicographer. Although best remembered as the compiler of the first comprehensive English dictionary, Dr. Johnson was more than a scholar. Born at Lichfield and educated at Lichfield Grammar School and Pembroke College, Oxford, he moved to London in 1737 with his wife, Tetty, who was twenty years his senior, and began to earn a living as a journalist and critic, whilst working on plays, poetry, and biographies. Johnson began A Dictionary of the English Language in 1747, but did not complete it until 1755. It made his name, but not his fortune. Another of his major works, the satire Rasselas (1759), was written specifically to raise money to pay for his mother's funeral. Johnson was at the centre of a literary circle which included such figures as Oliver Goldsmith, Edmund Burke, and David Garrick, and founded the Literary Club. In 1763, a young Scottish writer, James Boswell, introduced himself to Johnson. Together they toured the Western Isles of Scotland in 1773, a journey which Johnson immortalised in print. As a conservative, he was also a fierce critic of the American Revolution. In Taxation No Tyranny [1], he asked, "How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?" (External discussion: there is some disagreement as to how conservative/liberal Johnson really was. A thought provoking outline of key points can be found here.) Dr. Johnson's last great work was the ten-volume Lives of the English Poets, published between 1779 and 1781. He died in 1784 and is buried in Westminster Abbey. As well as to his output, Johnson owes his reputation to his biographer, James Boswell, who presents us with a picture of a very pious man of Tory common sense, and kindly heart, beneath a sometimes unkempt and gruff exterior. Also among Johnson's great friends were Henry Thrale and Hester Thrale. The latter's diaries and correspondence are a major source of information about Johnson. His time in Birmingham is remembered by a frieze in the city's Old Square, an area much changed from when he lived there. Birmingham Central Library has a Johnson Collection. It has around 2,000 volumes of works by him, and books and periodicals about him. It includes many of his first editions. 25 year old married Elizabeth (Tetty) Porter, age 46, at St. Werburgh's Church in Derby at the corner of Wardwick and Cheapside on July 1735. This event is re-enacted at the church every year.

• Born: 18 September 1709 • Birthplace: Lichfield, England
• Death: 13 December 1784
• Best Known As: Author of 1755's A Dictionary of the English Language
A towering figure of 18th century English literature, (also known as Dr. Johnson) gained fame from his conversation and wit as much as from his writings. The son of a bookseller, Johnson moved to London in the 1730s and tried to make a living as a writer. He had modest success writing poems, political essays and plays during the 1740s, but after his publication of A Dictionary of the English Language (1755) he was a national sensation. His social life for many years revolved around Henry and Hester Thrale, who hosted parties where Johnson and others -- including James Boswell -- could engage in intellectual discussions. Boswell's Life of (1791) ensured Johnson's place in history. Other works by Johnson include his essays for The Rambler (1750-52) and The Idler (1758-60), an eight-volume edition of the works of William Shakespeare (1765), and The Lives of the Poets (1779-81).
"Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel" is one of Johnson's most famous quips.
Johnson, Samuel, 1709–84, English author, b. Lichfield. The leading literary scholar and critic of his time, Johnson helped to shape and define the Augustan Age. He was equally celebrated for his brilliant and witty conversation. His rather gross appearance and manners were viewed tolerantly, if not with a certain admiration.

Early Life and Works
The son of a bookseller, Johnson excelled at school in spite of illness (he suffered the effects of scrofula throughout his life) and poverty. He entered Oxford in 1728 but was forced to leave after a year for lack of funds. He sustained himself as a bookseller and schoolmaster for the next six years, during which he continued his wide reading and published some translations. In 1735 he married Elizabeth Porter, a widow 20 years his senior, and remained devoted to her until her death in 1752.
Johnson settled in London in 1737 and began his literary career in earnest. At first he wrote primarily for Edward Cave's Gentleman's Magazine—poetry and prose on subjects literary and political. His poem “London,” published anonymously in 1738, was praised by Pope and won Johnson recognition in literary circles. His Life of Savage (1744) is a bitter portrait of corruption in London and the miseries endured by writers. Also of note are The Vanity of Human Wishes (1749) and his essays in the periodical The Rambler (1750–52).
Later Life and Works
Johnson's first work of lasting importance, and the one that permanently established his reputation in his own time, was his Dictionary of the English Language (1755), the first comprehensive lexicographical work on English ever undertaken. Rasselas, a moral romance, appeared in 1759, and The Idler, a collection of his essays, in 1761. Although Johnson enjoyed great literary acclaim, he remained close to poverty until a government pension was granted to him in 1762. The following year was marked by his meeting with James Boswell, whose famous biography presents Johnson in exhaustive and fascinating detail, often recreating his conversations verbatim.
In 1764 Johnson and Joshua Reynolds founded “The Club” (known later as The Literary Club). Its membership included Oliver Goldsmith, Edmund Burke, David Garrick, and Boswell. The brilliance of this intellectual elite was, reportedly, dazzling, and Dr. Johnson (he had received a degree in 1764) was its leading light. His witty remarks are remembered to this day. He was a master not only of the aphorism—e.g., his definition of angling as “a stick and a string, with a worm on one end and a fool on the other”—but also of the quick, unexpected retort, as when, while listening with displeasure to a violinist, he was told that the feat being performed was very difficult: “Difficult,” replied Johnson, “I wish it had been impossible!”
In 1765 Johnson met Henry and Hester Thrale, whose friendship and hospitality he enjoyed until Thrale's death and Mrs. Thrale's remarriage. In that same year Johnson's long-heralded edition of Shakespeare appeared. Its editorial principles served as a model for future editions, and its preface and critical notes are still highly valued. In the 1770s Johnson wrote a series of Tory pamphlets. His political conservatism was based upon a profound skepticism as to the perfectibility of human nature. Although personally generous and compassionate, he held that a strict social order is necessary to save humanity from itself.
In 1773 he toured the Hebrides with Boswell and published his account of the tour in 1775. Johnson's Lives of the Poets (1779–1781), his last major work, comprises ten small volumes of acute criticism, characterized, as is all of Johnson's work, by both classical values and sensitive perception. Dr. Johnson, as he is universally known, was England's first full-dress man of letters, and his mind and personality helped to create the traditions that have guided English taste and criticism.

circa 1772, painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds.
Dr (September 7, 1709 Old Style/September 18 New Style 1–December 13, 1784), often referred to simply as Dr Johnson, was one of England's greatest literary figures: a critic, poet, essayist, biographer and lexicographer whose bon mots are still frequently quoted in print today.
Life and work
The son of a poor bookseller, Johnson was born in Lichfield, Staffordshire. He attended Lichfield Grammar School, and from 1728 to 1731, Pembroke College, Oxford. Though he was a formidable student, poverty forced him to leave Oxford without taking a degree. He attempted to work as a teacher and schoolmaster, but these ventures were not successful. At the age of twenty-five, he married Elizabeth "Tetty" Porter, a widow twenty-one years his senior.
In 1737, Johnson, penniless, left for London together with his former pupil David Garrick. Johnson found employment with Edward Cave, writing for The Gentleman's Magazine. For the next three decades, Johnson wrote biographies, poetry, essays, pamphlets, parliamentary reports and even prepared a catalogue for the sale of the Harleian Library. Johnson lived in poverty for much of this time. The poem "London" (1738) and the Life of Savage (1745), a biography of Johnson's friend and fellow writer Richard Savage, who had shared in Johnson's poverty and died in 1744, are important works of this period.
Johnson began on one of his most important works, A Dictionary of the English Language, in 1747. It was not completed until 1755. Although it was widely praised and enormously influential, Johnson did not profit from it much financially, since he had to bear the expenses of its long composition. At the same time he was working on his dictionary, Johnson was also writing a series of bi-weekly essays under the title The Rambler. These essays, often on moral and religious topics, tended to be more grave than the title of the series would suggest. The Rambler ran until 1752. Although not originally popular, they found a large audience once they were collected in volume form. Johnson's wife died shortly after the final number appeared.

Johnson began another essay series, The Idler, in 1758. It ran weekly for two years. The Idler essays were published in a weekly news journal, rather than as an independent publication like The Rambler. They were shorter and lighter than the Rambler essays. In 1759, Johnson published his satirical novel Rasselas, said to have been written in two weeks to pay for his mother's funeral. At some point, however, Johnson gained a reputation for being a notoriously slow writer, and poet Charles Churchill wrote of him that He for subscribers baits his hook - and takes your cash, but where's the book.[1] (http://www.fzc.dk/Boswell/People/people.php?id=17)
In 1762, Johnson was awarded a government pension of three hundred pounds a year, largely through the efforts of Thomas Sheridan and the Earl of Bute. Johnson met James Boswell, his future biographer, in 1763. Around the same time, Johnson formed "The Club", a social group that included his friends Joshua Reynolds, Edmund Burke, David Garrick and Oliver Goldsmith. By now, Johnson was a celebrated figure. He received an honorary doctorate from Trinity College, Dublin in 1765, and one from Oxford ten years later.
In 1765, he met Henry Thrale, a wealthy brewer and member of Parliament, and his wife Hester Thrale. They quickly became friends, and soon Johnson became a member of the family. He stayed with the Thrales for fifteen years until Henry's death in 1781. Hester's reminiscences of Johnson, together with her diaries and correspondence, are second only to Boswell's as a source of biographical information on Johnson.
In 1773, ten years after he met Boswell, the two set out on A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland, and two years later Johnson's account of their travels was published under that title. (Boswell's The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides was published in 1786) Their visit to the Scottish Highlands and Hebrides took place when pacification after the Jacobite Risings was crushing the Clan system and Gaelic culture which was increasingly being romanticised. Johnson proceeded to debunk claims that James Macpherson's Ossian poems were translations of ancient Celtic writings.
Johnson's final major work was the Lives of the English Poets, a project commissioned by a consortium of London booksellers. The Lives, which were critical as well as biographical studies, appeared as prefaces to selections of each poet's work.
Johnson died in 1784 and is buried in Westminster Abbey.
Large and powerfully built, Johnson had poor eyesight and was hard of hearing. His face was deeply scarred from childhood scrofula. Johnson suffered from a number of tics and larger jerky involuntary movements; symptoms described by his contemporaries suggest that Johnson may have suffered from Tourette's syndrome and possibly obsessive-compulsive disorder. He tended towards melancholia. Johnson was a compassionate man, supporting a number of poor friends under his own roof. He was a devout, conservative Anglican as well as a staunch Tory. He admitted to sympathies for the Jacobite cause but by the reign of George III he came to accept the Hanoverian Succession.

Johnson's fame is due in part to the success of Boswell's Life of Johnson. Boswell, however, met Johnson when Johnson had already achieved a degree of fame and stability; Boswell's biography puts disproportionate emphasis on the last years of Johnson's life. Consequently, Johnson has been seen more as a gruff, lovable clubman than as the struggling and poverty-stricken writer that he was for the greater part of his life.


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