Dr Johnson and the Irish


As this is an Irish journal, one recalls that Johnson's doctorate came from Dublin University. The Latin diploma (1.489) mentions his egregiam scriptorum elegantiam et utilitatem, where (I assume) the utilitas refers to his massive, two-volume Dictionary of the English Language. As the dictionary, however, had appeared in 1755, and the degree was not conferred until 1765, one can hardly complain that the recognition was premature. The only comfort is that Oxford's recognition came ten years later still. We know from Arthur Murphy on p. 98 of his Essay,2 that Johnson did not come over to Dublin, but he did write a letter of thanks to the Provost and another to the historian, Dr Thomas Leland (1.518) Presumably he devised some excuse, but in fact he had no interest in the city or in Ireland's beauty-spots. Similarly, he would probably never have travelled to Scotland had it not been for Boswell's insistence.


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