Entries by Wayne Jones

Sam and Wayne, Friends and Followers

Friendship was one of the most important things that Sam valued in life. He complained about many things, and many things gave him pain, but he constantly reiterated the value of having friends And, as this quote illustrates, he knew that those friendships had to be tended to as well. You couldn’t just assume that […]

Sam Prays

Sam not only prayed frequently but also wrote his own prayers, sometimes tailored for a specific occasion, and sometimes simply composing something original instead of mouthing a well-known prayer, a passage from the Bible, or something like that. When he was nearly 60 (in the year 1768) he in fact transcribed many of his prayers, […]

Sam’s Signature

Thousands of letters that Sam sent during his lifetime, from his early 20s to his mid-70s, have survived to this day (and mostly, fortunately, are in the care of large academic libraries), and so his signature is a pretty familiar sight to anyone who studies, reads about, or just keeps up with all-things-Sam. Here it […]

Sam Takes a Long Trip to Scotland

Sam is 63 years old when he meets up with Boswell in Edinburgh and they both set out on what will be a three-month trip around Scotland. Specifically, the main focus of their road trip is what are generally called the Hebrides, an archipelago of about 500 islands in the Atlantic Ocean on the western […]

What Was Sam Up to as a Gen Z?

Sam was born in 1709 and so if we were to overlay our current generational alphabet diagram onto the 18th century, he would be a Gen Z. Different researchers and groups disagree on the exact demarcations between, for example, Gen Z and millennials, but everyone agrees that Generation Z folks were born about the mid-1990’s. […]

Sam’s Selfies

Not really, of course. There were no smartphones in the 18th century, and though I can’t imagine Sam taking lots of selfies even if there had been, I can certainly imagine Boswell taking all kinds of pics when he was in Sam’s company. And, frankly, given Boswell’s ceaseless examination of himself as well, I can […]

Sam and Universities

You may have heard that a philosophy prof at Portland State University in Oregon resigned September 8, and gave his reasons in an articulate and scathing open letter to the university’s provost. The letter addresses some pretty serious issues — and some pretty lacklustre responses by the university. The main issue is freedom of thought […]

Sam Johnson, Blockhead

My title refers to one of the best-known quotations from Sam, which Boswell reported in his biography: No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money. As usual in most things in life, Sam’s or anyone else’s, context is everything. If this is the only quotation that someone knows from Sam, then that person […]