Story, Value, and Becoming More Real
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Be Like Boswell

December 10, 2019

Roy Salmond


I sometimes quote Samuel Johnson while I’m producing musical artists. A lover of quotes, I delight in sharing with others the depth and breadth of his incisive and perceptive bon mots.

Dr. Johnson was a famous poet, playwright, essayist and lexicographer in 18th century Britain, widely regarded as the 2nd most quoted Englishman after William Shakespeare.

What is fascinating about Johnson is, though he was famous in his time, we probably wouldn’t know him as well if it weren’t for what is considered the most vivid biography ever published: The Life of Samuel Johnson, by James Boswell.

Johnson’s fertile mind produced quotable bites of wisdom for the ages.

“The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.” 

“Nothing so concentrates the mind as the possibility of being hanged… in the morning.”

“Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance.”

Boswell recognized Johnson’s genius and set about making it known. Right from the start, his biography commanded critical and popular acclaim that hasn’t waned in over two centuries.

Even the word ‘Boswell’ now defines ‘a person who records in detail the life of an unusually famous contemporary’.  

Samuel Johnson’s intellect and insights are uncommonly rare. 

We can’t all be Johnsons.

But we can all be Boswell’s.

What is easy is seldom excellent.

We can elevate another’s excellence.

We can encourage others in perseverance.

We can motivate another’s concentration.

We can promote other’s wisdom.

We can amplify the good in one another.

We can shine a light on others to shine.

Even those who would do us … “absolutely no good.” 

Be like Boswell.

The featured image is (c) Lancia E. Smith and used with her glad permission for The Cultivating Project. 


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  1. Mary Miller says:

    Enjoyed reading Dr. Johnson in college:) I’ve been in Christian ministry for many years now and completely agree. Few are the lead singer, minister, the fellow/gal in the spotlight. Christianity is fueled by the individuals who are secure enough in who they are in Christ to graciously allow others to shine for His glory. Excellent authors excell because of editors. May we have the grace to be Boswells, to be secure in who we are and promote others.

  2. Rebecca D. Martin says:

    A hearty Yes! And thanks for the encouragement (challenge?).

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