26 February 2023

A journey through Lent 2023
with Samuel Johnson (5)

Percy Hetherington Fitzgerald’s statue of James Boswell (1740-1795), the biographer of Samuel Johnson, in the Market Square in Lichfield (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

This morning [26 February 2023] is the First Sunday in Lent, and later this morning I hope to be present at the Parish Eucharist in Holy Trinity Church, Wolverton.

During Lent this year, I am taking time each morning to reflect on words from Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), the Lichfield lexicographer and writer who compiled the first authoritative English-language dictionary.

In the days leading up to Lent last week, I quoted from poems by John Keble and Christina Rosetti on love. Johnson wrote in the Rambler on 4 January 1752: ‘It is always necessary to be loved, but not always necessary to be reverenced.’

In his biography of Johnson, Boswell recalled the following conversation:

I regretted that I had lost much of my disposition to admire, which people generally do as they advance in life.

Johnson: ‘Sir, as a man advances in life, he gets what is better than admiration – judgement, to estimate things at their true value.’

I still insisted that admiration was more pleasing than judgment, as love is more pleasing than friendship. The feeling of friendship is like that of being comfortably filled with roast beef; love, like being enlivened with champagne.

Johnson: ‘No, Sir, admiration and love are like being intoxicated with champagne; judgement and friendship like being enlivened.’

Continued tomorrow</b>

Yesterday’s reflection

In Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton, Co Limerick, on the First Sunday in Lent two years ago

No comments: