The Life of Samuel Johnson

Boswell, James

Oxford University, 1960

p. 212

Johnson used his own opinions and prejudices to define certain political terms in his monumental Dictionary. Thus, “excise”: “A hateful tax levied upon commodities, and adjudged not by the common judges of property, but wretches hired by those to whom excise is paid.” And his whimsy would show through too. Hence ‘lexicographer’: “a writer of dictionaries, a harmless drudge.”