Johnson Rebalanced: The Happy Man, The Supportive Family, and his Social Religion

Howard D. Weinbrot

in Samuel Johnson

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199654345
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745003 | DOI:
Johnson Rebalanced: The Happy Man, The Supportive Family, and his Social Religion

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Three commonplaces of Johnsonian scholarship have been his perpetual battles with madness, the misery of his private life with his surly dependents in London, and his mingled darkness and high Anglican religious intolerance. This chapter hopes to rebalance such views so that we do not confuse the part with the whole. Namely, Johnson often was remarkably lively and happy. He regarded residents like Francis Barber, Anna Williams and others as dear friends and virtual relations whom he loved and needed. So far from being hostile to all but the established church, Johnson believed that Christians shared belief and that most differences were political rather than doctrinal. His religion of Christian love required social bonding and responsibility. This generosity of mind and spirit suggests why Arthur Murphy said that Johnson both awakens ‘a principle of gratitude’ and allows us ‘to form a posthumous friendship with him’.

Keywords: Samuel Johnson; biography; laughter; friendship; family; generosity; religion; sociability

Chapter.  5725 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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