The occurrences of common life: Samuel Johnson, Practical Science and Industry in the Midlands
Image: 18th Century Birmingham trade token (n.d.). H Biggs halfpenny with a bust of Dr Samuel Johnson and three lions rampant. Though the artistic quality of the image is poor, the token displays Johnson’s importance and connects him with the economic and technological activity of the Midlands which he described, supported and celebrated in his writings.
This study evaluates Johnson’s positive attitude to science. It provides evidence of his enquiring intellect through quotations from his letters, diaries, the Dictionary and his essays. Johnson was exceptionally fond of London, but not enough recognition has been given to his bond with the Midlands. Extracts from Johnson’s recorded travels in the region throw light on his desire to learn through observation and personal experience and his keen interest in practical science and industry.Next in this section »
Continue browsing this sectionThe occurrences of common life: Samuel Johnson, Practical Science and Industry in the Midlands Johnson: Observation and Enquiry Johnson and Science Johnson, the Natural World and Industry Johnson, Bridges and John Gwynn Johnson and Practical Improvement: Iron Johnson and the Midlands Landscape Johnson and Derby Porcelain Johnson and Silk Production in Derby Johnson in Birmingham Johnson, John Wyatt and Lewis Paul: Improvements to Cotton Spinning Johnson, the Society of Arts and the Transformation of the Cotton Industry Johnson and John Baskerville Johnson, John Taylor and Henry Clay Johnson and Matthew Boulton Johnson: “a longer stay”
Sources and Further Reading
Boswell, James, The Life of Johnson, ed. G B Hill, rev. L F Powell, 6 vols. (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1934; rept. 1971).
Chapman, R W (ed), The Letters of Samuel Johnson, with Mrs Thrale’s Genuine Letters to
Him, 3 vols. (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1952).
Hill, G B (ed), The Letters of Samuel Johnson, 2 vols. (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1892).
Hill, G B (ed), Lives of the English Poets, 3 vols. (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1905).
Johnson, Samuel, A Dictionary of the English Language, 2 vols. (1755). First Edition.
Johnson, Samuel, A Dictionary of the English Language, 2 vols. (1773). Fourth edition.
Quotations from both editions are taken from the CD-ROM edition of A Dictionary of the English Language, ed. Anne McDermott (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1996).
Middendorf, John (ed), The Yale Edition of the Works of Samuel Johnson (New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1958- ). Vol. I Diaries, Prayers, and Annals; Vol. II The Idler and The Adventure; Vol. IV The Rambler; Vol. XV A Voyage to Abyssinia; Vol. XVI Rasselas and Other Tales.
Murphy, Arthur (ed), The Works of Samuel Johnson, 9 vols. (London, 1825).
Redford, Bruce (ed), The Letters of Samuel Johnson, 5 vols. (Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1993).