"Curiosity Is One Of The Permanent And Certain Characteristics Of A Vigorous Intellect"

Context: In this issue of the Rambler, Dr. Johnson explains that curiosity operates first of all on the simple principle of acquiring new knowledge. It is only later that the knowledge may be put to some practical use. He cites as an example stargazers of centuries ago who, "delighted with the splendour of the nocturnal skies," wondered in what fashion the stars moved in the heavens. Their curiosity led them to trace out the movements of the stars, but they did not foresee then "the use of their discoveries to the facilitation of commerce or the mensuration of time." Such curiosity is "the thirst of the soul; it . . . makes us taste every thing with joy, . . . by which it may be quenched." The essay begins:

Curiosity is one of the permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous intellect. Every advance into knowledge opens new prospects, and produces new incitements to further progress. All the attainments possible in our present state are evidently inadequate to our capacities of enjoyment; . . . the gratification of one desire encourages another. . . .