The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D.

by James Boswell

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"No Man But A Blockhead Ever Wrote, Except For Money"

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Context: During 1776, in one of their many conversations, Boswell and Johnson spoke briefly of a trip to Italy that Johnson was contemplating taking with some friends. Boswell notes that Dr. Johnson spoke of the trip in "a tone of animation" and expressed a wish to visit Rome, Naples, Florence, and Venice, "and as much more as we can." Boswell records that he expressed the hope that Johnson would write an account of his travels for publication. To this Johnson replied, says Boswell:

"I do not see that I could make a book upon Italy; yet I should be glad to get two hundred pounds, or five hundred pounds, by such a work." This shewed both that a journal of his Tour upon the Continent was not wholly out of his contemplation, and that he uniformly adhered to that strange opinion, which his indolent disposition made him utter: "No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money." Numerous instances to refute this will occur to all who are versed in the history of Literature.

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