March 30, 2018

NOT THAT THERE'S EVER A BAD TIME:

Dr Johnson is an inspiring companion at Easter (Andrew Gimson, March 29, 2018, Conservative Home)

Each Easter, Dr Johnson took communion, the one time in the year he did so; remembered with affection and grief his wife, Tetty, who had died on 17 March 1752;  and examined his life over the past 12 months. He wrote prayers, made resolutions to rise early and work hard, and recorded his failure to keep those resolutions.

Dr Johnson is a man who could, if he wished, have had a high opinion of himself. His sonorous command of the English language, pious observances, moral seriousness, self-sacrificial charitable giving, high reputation as a man of letters and tremendous ability to rout opponents in conversation, could all have turned him into a conceited, self-satisfied worshipper at the temple of his own fame.

In his Prayers and Meditations, published soon after his death, the decision was taken to include the miscellaneous notes to himself which Johnson would certainly not have included. He had handed over the notebook under the impression that the prayers which it contained, composed at various times for his own use, would be published, and not the surrounding ephemera.

For he had promised Dr Adams, Master of Pembroke College, Oxford, to provide some prayers, and was now too ill to prepare these for publication himself.

Fortunately for us, everything was published. So we get the full, scorching blast of Johnson's humility, the very low view which he took of himself, as well as his profound faithfulness, expressed in the stately language of the Prayer Book, and in his religious observances. 

Posted by at March 30, 2018 4:14 AM

  

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