The Life of Samuel Johnson

Boswell, James

Oxford University, 1960

p. 52

Johnson turned 28 on 9/7/1736, and recorded this prayer in his diary: “Mayest thou, O God, enable me for Jesus Christ’s sake, to spend this day in such a manner that I may receive comfort from it at the hour of death, and in the day of judgment. Amen.”

p. 388

On lawering: Boswell wants to say that “supporting a cause you know to be wrong” is dishonest. Johnson: “You do not know it to be good or bad till the Judge determines it . . . [you are to] say all you can for your client, and then hear the Judge’s opinion.” Boswell retorts that lawyers act. They “affect warmth” when they have none. They appear to be of one opinion when they are really of another, etc. “Is there not some danger that a lawyer may put on the same mask in common life, in the intercourse with his friends.”

Johnson: “Why no, sir. Everybody knows you are paid for affecting warmth for your client. And it is, therefore, properly no dissimulation: the moment you come from the bar you resume your usual behavior. Sir, a man will no more carry the artifice of the bar into the common intercourse of society than a man who is paid for tumbling upon his hands will continue to tumble upon his hands when he should walk on his feet.”

p. 406

Johnson: a man ought not to be censured for marrying a second time. “On the contrary, were he not to marry again, it might be concluded that his first wife had given him a disgust to marriage. But 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.”