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Getting to Know the Doctor

December, 2016
By Anthony B. Marshall

As far as I know, I am one of only two members of the Johnson Society of Australia who are booksellers.  I strongly suspect that I am the only one who has ever felt ambivalent, even fraudulent, about his membership.  Although I am not, I think, an unclubable man, when I attended my first (and only) meeting of the society, held in the elegant upstairs chambers of Bell's Hotel in South Melbourne, I skulked in the background, feeling like an interloper, an impostor. I was the Great Sham of Literature. Why?  For one thing, at the time I had not read more than odd fragments of Dr. Johnson's writings.  For another, a lot of what I had read fairly made my blood boil.  And yet, and yet.  Something about the man, while it repelled me, also attracted me, fascinated me, sucked me in.  Enough, clearly, to make me want to join the club, pay my dues and turn up at the meeting.  Not as a saboteur or as a heckler but in good faith.  Even so, at that Johnson Society meeting I felt out of things.  I was in the society but somehow not of it.

In January this year I decided to resolve the matter. I struggled upstairs with a kilo of Boswell; I laid his Life of Dr. Johnson (in the attractive Oxford Standard Authors edition) on my bedside table and I vowed that I would give it my best shot.  I would discover for myself what (if anything) was so special about the book and (more to the purpose) what (if anything) was so special about Dr. Johnson. Perhaps The Life would finally help me understand why this man, whose major works are largely unread to-day, and whose minor works have almost entirely disappeared from view, still casts such a long shadow over literature (and bookshops) in the English-speaking world.  And why, in the present day, so remote in spirit from the eighteenth century, he still inspires such fanatical devotion in so many people, especially in people whom I happen to like and admire.  So before lights out each evening I set myself to consume the thing, reminding myself that "A man, sir, may read at any time, if he set himself doggedly to it." (And deliberately misquote, Sir, at any time when it suits him).

A few weeks, and one thousand two hundred and sixty seven pages, later, I finished The Life.  I put it aside with a feeling of loss and exhilaration. A reading which had begun as a labour of piety and curiosity ended up as an adventure, a delight and, almost, an addiction.  I was enchanted by the story of this man, who with all his faults and imperfections was during his adult life the most fervent champion of excellence in language and literature, in books and booksellers; who, as a human being was a complex bundle of contradictions and prejudices, who frequently said things he didn't really mean, who "talked for victory" and who was on the other hand capable of extraordinary acts of kindness and generosity.  The brilliance and might of his intellect (thanks to Boswell) shine out on every page. No doubt other people discover other things of equal or higher value in The Life. That is their business. But I have penetrated the mystery to my satisfaction.  I can say, with my head held high, "I am a Johnsonian now." Perhaps, unconsciously, I always was.

In Johnsonian terms, my start in life was unpropitious. I had the effrontery (or the misfortune) to be born in Edinburgh of a Scottish mother. I did my very best to redeem this early faux pas. At the age of four I escaped to England.  This was the right thing to do.  I am, I hope, the living vindication of Johnson's observation: "Much may be made of a Scotchman if he be caught young." Having Scottish blood in one's veins definitely adds piquancy to one's relationship with Johnson.  At first glance you could be forgiven for thinking that Johnson couldn't stand the Scots.  He never missed an opportunity to have a dig at them. "Sir, it is not so much to be lamented that Old England is lost, as that the Scotch have found it."  "Seeing Scotland, Madam, is only seeing a worse England."  "But, Sir, let me tell you, the noblest prospect which a Scotchman ever sees is the high road which leads him to England."  And the famous definition from the Dictionary: "Oats. A grain which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people."  A lot of this anti-Caledonianism is just a pose, the remarks tossed off for maximum effect.  In practice, Johnson mostly got on very well with Scots. Boswell himself and many of the London booksellers and publishers were Scots - and Johnson generally seems to have a high opinion of them. (The reverse was not always true, more about this later). When asked to pass judgement on a particularly dreary book by the Scottish historian William Robertson, Johnson adroitly evaded the issue: "Sir, Robertson is my friend and I won't talk of his book."  Five of the six assistants who worked for Johnson on the Dictionary project were Scottish. While he did not exactly lavish praise on them, he seems to have been reasonably pleased with their efforts, and on a personal level to have got on well with them. (When one of them fell ill, Johnson was generous with financial aid).  And Johnson's visit to mainland Scotland and the Western Isles was a great success. While he moaned occasionally about the treelessness of the landscape, the strange food and stranger lodgings, he clearly had a wonderful time. Despite his scathing ex cathedra pronouncements, he found many Scots people delightful.

It is a proud claim sometimes advanced by Scotsmen that the only man to have reduced Johnson to speechlessness was a Scot.  You will recall the scene recounted in "The Life." Boswell has just presented Johnson to the Highland laird, Lochbuy, at whose house they are to spend the night. Says Lochbuy to the Doctor: "Are you of the Johnstons of Glencro or of Ardnamurchan?" Johnson, says Boswell, gave him a significant look, but made no answer.  From this we are supposed to deduce that Johnson felt abashed or over-awed by the eminent connections of this great Highland Chieftain and sat there tongue-tied.  In my opinion, this interpretation is quite wrong.  Johnson was silent from sheer good manners.  He could easily have called the Laird a dim-wit or even a FRISP for stupidly muddling the surname Johnston (spelled with a "t") with the patronymic Johnson (no "t"). (FRISP, incidentally is a term used in the Royal Navy by English naval officers to describe Scotsmen under their commmand: it is an acronym which stands for Flaming Repulsive Ignorant Scottish Peasant - except that I am sorry to say that Flaming is a watered-down version of a much more vehement F-word.)  No, Johnson did not called Lochbuy a FRISP.  He simply bit his tongue, thereby displaying his infinitely superior breeding and good manners.  A variation of this story is worth re-telling.  In response to the question: "Are you of the Johnstons of Glencro or of Ardnamurchan?" the doctor is supposed to have replied: "Neither." "Neither?" exclaimed Lochbuy. "You must be a bastard then!"

Well, my parents were anxious to preserve me from developing into a FRISP.  Perhaps they also had in mind another of Johnson's remarks about the Scots: "Their learning is like bread in a besieged town: every man gets a little, but no man gets a full meal." So they decreed an end to my Caledonia Dreaming.  We moved from Edinburgh down to the South of England; and I was sent away to boarding school in deepest Sussex where it was hoped I would get a full loaf of learning and be turned into a proper little English gentleman.  It was at Windlesham House, at the foot of Chanctonbury Ring that I first consciously encountered Dr. Johnson. I must have been about nine or ten years old. I was stuck in the school chapel, enduring the usual dreary Sunday sermon by the usual dreary Sunday preacher.  Jesus was telling the sons of Zebedee where to cast their nets. Trying to impress them with a quick miracle. "Imagine those nets just bulging with fish," said the preacher. "And yet when you think of a net, there's not much to it, is there, when it's empty? So a net is a rather wonderful thing. This is how Dr. Johnson, who wrote a very famous Dictionary more than two hundred years ago, defined a net: Holes joined together with string."  The vicar beamed at us and we tittered politely. I thought it was a pretty good definition then, as I do now. And I thought that this Dr. Johnson must have been a pretty smart man.

"Have you heard of a famous Dictionary man called Dr. Johnson?" I asked my father. "Heard of him?" he said. "I'm probably related to him."  Thus I discovered at an early age that Samuel Johnson, like my father, was born and bred in Staffordshire.  Staffordshire has never won an award for being the most beautiful, the most distinctive or the most fashionable of the English counties. Nor is it likely to.  It has many good points but it is mainly notable for producing very large amounts of china ornaments and crockery - Staffordshire ware - and a particularly ugly and vicious breed of dog - the Staffordshire bull terrier - bred for fighting bulls and badgers and other dogs.

Lichfield, the pocket-sized cathedral city where Johnson was born and bred is situated in Staffordshire's delightful central region, which stretches westwards through Cannock Chase and on to Stafford. I think of the Lichfield area as the Cinderella of Staffordshire, the pretty little sister stuck between two mighty big ugly sisters: Stoke-on-Trent and the Potteries to the North, while to the South, down towards Birmingham, lies the Black Country, where all the conurbations seem to begin with the letter W: Walsall, Wednesbury, West Bromwich, Wolverhampton. South Staffordshire was the heartland of the industrial revolution in England, its very epicentre: the place where iron-ore and coal and lime were to be found in abundance, and where the technique of smelting iron using coal instead of charcoal was first perfected. The prosperity of Staffordshire in the nineteenth century was assured with the coming of the canals and the railways, which provided cheap and efficient transport links with the rest of England and so with the rest of the world. It is no surprise to find that Staffordshire men in the main are practical men, not dreamers or artists or philosophers. When Dr. Johnson rejected Bishop Berkeley's theory of "esse est percipi" by kicking a stone and saying "I refute it thus!"  I have to smile. This is Staffordshire pragmatism to a P.  My father comes from the same county and the same philosophical stable as Dr. Johnson.  Also, from the same political stable.  Toryism has a long and entrenched pedigree in Staffs.  You will recall Johnson's retort when Boswell expressed surprise at finding a Staffordshire Whig. "Sir, there are rascals in all counties."

Staffordshire knows how to deal with rascals. The last English heretic to be burned at the stake was burned at Lichfield.  He was William Wightman of Wykeham Hall, who died in April 1612 and his crime was the denial of the doctrine of the Trinity.  I suppose he was a Dissenter or Non-Conformist of some sort. Sensible Staffordshire men of the time were High Anglicans or closet Catholics. My father was educated at Queen Mary's Grammar School in Walsall.  This school was founded in 1554 by Mary I, 'Bloody Mary' – that famous burner of heretics (if you believe all you read in Foxe's Book of Martyrs).  I am quite surprised that this grammar school, founded by a Catholic monarch, has kept its name for all this time – nearly 450 years. My father maintains that Queen Mary's is actually an older foundation than Lichfield Grammar School, where Samuel Johnson was educated. He may be right. Sadly, I have never been to Lichfield. My father's family lived in Walsall, then in Brownhills, where my uncle Peter still lives. Whenever I have visited Staffordshire in the past, Brownhills is where I have been. It is only a few miles distant from Lichfield, but it is the mucky part of Staffordshire – light years away from the elegance of the Lichfield cathedral close and the Johnson family bookshop. I shall get there one day.

Still, Staffordshire has a very fine literary heritage.  I am pleased that my father hails from an English Midlands county that can claim Dr. Johnson, David Garrick, Izaak Walton, Jerome K. Jerome and Arnold Bennett amongst its famous sons. Good solid men, these; men who made their way in life by their own efforts and talents; men who, like my Dad, pronounced "brass" and "baths" with the short a, (to rhyme with "mass" and "maths") and effortlessly made an extraordinary triphthong of the vowel sound in the name "Stoke".  Staffordshire men know the Potteries, the Five Towns and the correct local pronunciation of "Clayhanger" (which according to my father is "Clanger"). Even after many years spent in London society Dr. Johnson never quite lost his regional acccent; according to Boswell he still called punch "poonsh" and he never lost touch with Lichfield, his native city. My father was born very close to Lichfield, at a place called Shire Oak: a good solid English name for a good solid Englishman.  Staffordshire men are proud of coming from the very heart of England: it is said that if England (along with Wales) were to be balanced on its central point that point would be very close to Shire Oak. Put another way, no point in the country is further from the sea. (But it is interesting to note that Johnson was a good sailor: while Boswell panicked during storms around the Hebrides, Johnson sat them out "in philosophick tranquillity").

Of Johnson's writings I remained totally ignorant until, in my mid-teens, I entered the Classical Sixth.  An unusually inspired Latin master, whilst teaching the class Juvenal's Satires, read to us parts Johnson's poems, London and On the Vanity of Human Wishes, which were closely based, respectively, on Juvenal's Satire III and Satire X.  They seemed pretty good to me.  On the other hand, Johnson's Letter to Lord Chesterfield was outstanding.  This famous letter we were required to convert into Latin prose. "Is not a patron, my Lord, one who looks with unconcern on a man struggling for life in the water…?" became (if memory serves) "Nonne patronus, domine meus, iste qui aliquem in aqua pro vita sua luctantem sine cura conspicit …..?"  And so on. I remember my excitement when I grasped the full irony of Johnson's tone, his courage in addressing one of the aristocracy in this way, the extraordinary subversiveness of the exercise. Was it possible to challenge and even rebuke authority and superiors with words carefully chosen? It was! This was a revelatory lesson, which I stored up for future use.

Like Johnson, I went on to an ancient Engish university.  And like Johnson I did a stint of teaching at a school in Leicestershire.  I lasted rather longer at Uppingham School than he did at Market Bosworth. I notice that I gave up teaching and turned to bookselling when I was twenty-eight, exactly the same age as Johnson was when he launched himself on a literary career in London. (I firmly believe that years which are multiples of seven are often significant markers or milestones in our lives),

Then, for ten years or more, nothing. Who, pray, except for academics and oddballs, reads anything by Samuel Johnson for fun?  But later when I turned bookseller, it became apparent to me that Dr. Johnson was good news.  Though local demand for Johnson in my country bookshop was slight, I soon learned that the London book trade had a hearty appetite for anything by or about the Great Cham of Literature. I did my best to snare odd bits of Johnsoniana (and allied Thraliana and Boswelliana) and keep them for (the late) Colin Frost, a London bookdealer who supplied shops and dealers further up the bibliopolic chain. No doubt many of them came to rest on the shelves or in the catalogues of the renowned Johnson specialists, J. Clarke-Hall Ltd. of Bride Court, off Fleet Street.

I had one private customer who was a Johnson collector. He was Edmund Kirby, the man who taught English to H.E. Bates at Kettering Grammar School and who encouraged him to become a writer. (Mr. Kirby, a veteran of the First World War, receives due praise in Bates's The Vanished World and he remained a life-long friend of Bates, whom he outlived).  I rarely found any Johnson item which Mr. Kirby (by then well into his nineties) didn't already possess: but he showed me great kindness, buying books he didn't really need, thrusting good books on me at nominal prices and inviting me to his house in Earls Barton to see his library. It was here that I first set eyes on the two folio volumes of the first edition of Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language (1755), and A Bibliography of Samuel Johnson by Courtney and Nicol Smith (1915). "You can have a lot of the books in here," said Mr.Kirby. "But you can't have those!" Strangely enough, I didn't much want either of them then. How things change!

Johnson would have approved of Mr. Kirby's kindness to a young bookdealer.  Johnson himself was the son of a bookseller, knew many booksellers and was on friendly, even intimate, terms with several of them: notably John Wilcox, Edward Dilly, Thomas Davies, Robert Dodsley. No doubt mutual self-interest strengthened these relationships. In eighteenth century London the booksellers were often also printers and publishers: they needed to cultivate writers, as writers needed to cultivate them. But Johnson had genuine affection for them too.  Boswell's Life of Doctor Johnson teems with episodes and incidents involving bookshops and booksellers. They make fascinating reading. May the following small sampling whet your appetite for more.

Arriving as young men in London (in 1737), one of the first things that Johnson and Garrick did was to pay a visit to John Wilcox, a bookseller in the Strand.  They borrowed five pounds from him (no mean sum in those days). Wilcox, an acquaintance of the Garrick family, handed over the money and asked Johnson how he intended to earn his living. "By my literary labours," said Johnson. Wilcox was not overly impressed ."You had better buy a porter's knot," he said, eyeing up Johnson's substantial frame. In later life, Johnson remembered this exchange with affection and said that Wilcox and he had remained very good friends. (We may infer from this that the debt was honoured!)

The actor/bookseller Thomas Davies was another of Johnson's intimates. It was in the bookshop of Thomas Davies, in Russel Street, Covent Garden, that the first meeting of Boswell and Dr. Johnson took place, when poor Scottish Bozzie received his first verbal dart from Johnson full in the face. "Mr.Johnson, (said I) I do indeed come from Scotland, but I cannot help it." "That, Sir, I find, is what a very great many of your countrymen cannot help." In Robert Dodsley's bookshop, the idea of Johnson writing an English Dictionary was first mooted. Despite Johnson's initial diffidence "("I believe I shall not undertake it") Dodsley and the other booksellers brought him round. The production of the Dictionary was a great trial to all parties. It was Andrew Millar, the bookseller in the Strand, who oversaw its printing and who took delivery of the last sheet of Johnson's copy.  Johnson asked the messenger how Millar had reacted. "Thank God I have done with him" was Millar's famous response. But Johnson (as so often) had the last word: "I am glad that he thanks God for anything." Andrew Millar was a very successful bookseller and businessman. "He has raised the price of literature, " said Johnson. This may well have been an equivocal compliment! Johnson also remarked that Millar "was so habitually and equably drunk, that his most intimate friends never perceived that he was more sober at one time than another." A drunkard Scottish bookseller? It hardly seems possible.

Only one London bookseller seriously aroused Johnson's wrath. This person was Thomas Osborne, by whom Johnson was employed in 1742 and 1743. Osborne had bought the library of 40,000 books belonging to Edward Harley, second Earl of Oxford, and Johnson was given the job of cataloguing them. (Here we may note that Johnson actually worked for a time as a bookseller, or at least as a bookseller's drudge).  In the words of Christopher Hibbert (in his The Personal History of Samuel Johnson London 1971) Osborne was "rude, rich and mean…as much disliked by those who worked for him as by his customers.…..One day when he was working on the Catalogus Bibliothecae Harleianae, Johnson received an unwelcome call from him. Evidently he accused Johnson of idling, of spending far too much time reading the books instead of listing them, ignoring the fact that in order to describe a volume the cataloguer must of necessity look into it. In the course of the argument, he called Johnson a liar. That was too much: Johnson picked up the heaviest book to hand, hit Osborne across the side of the head with it and knocked him to the floor." An action thoroughly applauded by all who knew the odious Osborne. Johnson's own words about the incident were: "Sir, he was impertinent to me, and I beat him" and (as an old man recollecting it) "I have beaten many a fellow but the rest had the wit to hold their tongues."

Osborne excepted, Johnson found the London booksellers to be "generous, liberal-minded men." And on occasion he went in to bat on their behalf, over matters of copyright, literary property and trade discounts. (This ground will be thoroughly covered in Kevin Hart's forthcoming book: Samuel Johnson and the Culture of Property, C.U.P. 1999). In his Letter to The Rev. Dr. Wetherell, Master of University College (March 12 1776) Johnson argues, with a good grasp of the micro-economics of bookselling, that the Oxford University Press should allow the booksellers sufficient discount to give them the incentive to circulate the important academic works published by the university. Johnson makes a particular plea on behalf of country booksellers: "With less profit than this, and more you see he cannot have, the country bookseller cannot live; for his receipts are small, and his debts sometimes bad."  This was written from the heart.

Samuel, eldest son of Michael Johnson, a Lichfield bookseller, was born in a room above the family bookshop. He would have seen at close quarters the precariousness of the country bookseller's life. To eke out his existence, his father had bookstalls at the markets in Birmingham, Uttoxeter and Ashby-de-la-Zouch.  At one point his father went bankrupt. Luckily, a London bookseller named Innys (who had a shop in St.Paul's Church-yard) came to his rescue, assisting him with cash or credit to continue his business. Samuel Johnson never forgot this generous and timely assistance. Said Johnson,: "This…I consider as an obligation on me to be grateful to his descendants." In his will he left two hundred pounds to the heirs and assigns of Mr. Innys.  A typical example of Johnson's own generosity.

Not that Johnson was altogether proud of his humble background in trade. As a boy he was acutely embarrassed by it. "Once, indeed, (said he,) I was disobedient ; I refused to attend my father to Uttoxeter-market. Pride was the source of that refusal, and the remembrance of it painful.  A few years ago, I desired to atone for this fault; I went to Uttoxeter in very bad weather, and stood for a considerable time bare-headed in the rain, on the spot where my father's stall used to stand. In contrition I stood, and I hope the penance was expiatory."

No doubt it was. As a man, Johnson was nonetheless conscious of having risen above his origins in trade. As an eminent man of letters and an Honorary Doctor of Civil Law, he considered himself superior in rank to mere booksellers. Thus Boswell: "He told Sir Joshua Reynolds, that once when he dined in a numerous company of booksellers, where the room being small, the head of the table, at which he sat, was almost close to the fire, he persevered in suffering a great deal of inconvenience from the heat, rather than quit his place, and let one of them sit above him."  Booksellers were only tradesmen, after all and this is what he had to say about trade: "Trade could not be managed by those who manage it, if it had much difficulty." So there. (But perhaps he had in mind brewing, say, rather than bookselling).  Equally, he was able to give this judgement on business: "There are few ways in which a man can be more innocently employed than in getting money." Was this a leg-pull? You never quite know with Johnson.

There is evidence that Johnson was an amateur book-binder. He may have learned the rudiments of the craft in his father's shop. Some examples of his handiwork turn up in the market from time to time. As do his books. A number of his books he left in his will as specific bequests to friends (a very pleasant gesture which more people should emulate); but after his death in 1784, the residue of his library, "though by no means handsome in its appearance" was sold by Christie's at auction for the sum of two hundred and forty-seven pounds and nine shillings. Johnson was not kind to his books. He cracked their spines, slung them around, wrote in them, blotted them, soiled them and generally abused them. Even when they did not belong to him. (Boswell comments: " But, indeed, considering the slovenly and careless manner in which books were treated by Johnson, it could not be expected that scarce and valuable editions should have been lent to him.")

No, the contents of books were what mattered to Johnson. He clearly thought (as most booksellers do) that most books should never have been published. "No place affords a more striking conviction of the vanity of human hopes than a publick library; for who can see the wall crowded on every side by mighty volumes…now scarcely known but by the catalogue….without considering how many hours have been wasted in vain endeavours." He gave good advice on reading: "A man ought to read as inclination leads him; for what he reads as a task will do him little good." As for book-collecting, he thought that collecting copies of different editions of one good book was the best approach: "Every man should try to collect a book in that manner and present it to a publick library." And on marketing: "People seldom read a book which is given to them; and few are given. The way to spread a work is to sell it at a low price. No man will send to buy a thing which costs sixpence without an intention to read it." And so on. There is hardly a topic upon the Doctor did not give memorable (if not always sound) advice. And he never let his ignorance of a subject get in the way of a good bon mot or a thundering peroration. But on books and bookselling he knew his stuff.

For this, if for nothing else, Samuel Johnson deserves attention from booksellers. On other matters, you may find, as I do, that many of his opinions are provocative, wrong-headed or downright ridiculous. He was a man of his time and his time has passed, and much nonsense with it. But for all that he is worthy of respect. Perhaps for me ( as clearly he was for Boswell) he is a sort of father-figure; an old Tory stag with whom I, a vile Whig, and an infidel, delight to lock horns. His having different or difficult or perverse beliefs and opinions makes him not bad but interesting. And like real fathers, he can sometimes prove to be annoyingly right and wise and wonderful. We do not have to agree with everything a father does or thinks in order to love and admire him.

Now I am a Johnsonian I find myself wondering, on all manner of topics, just what the great man would have thought of them. "Doctor Johnson, what do you think of my book, please?" "Sir, a bookseller writing a book is like a dog's walking on his hinder legs. It is not done well; but you are surprized to find it done at all." Ouch! "And what, Doctor, is your opinion of Australians?" "I can love all mankind, Sir, except an Australian." "And Sydney Harbour Bridge?" "Depend on it, Sir, it is worth seeing but not worth going to see." And so on. There is endless merriment and delight to be found in such games, and with Dr. Johnson generally. " (A woman came into my shop last month asking for works by Johnson done "in modern English". Modern English? How the Doctor would have roared!)  No doubt similar sport engendered the entirely spurious Johnsonian definition of a net as "Holes joined together with string".  Johnson had no hand in it. I have looked up what he actually wrote: " NET. A texture woven with large interstices or meshes. " "NETWORK. Anything reticulated or decussated, at equal distances, with interstices between the intersections."  How about that for preposterous obtuseness! Not half so good as the preacher's net of my childhood memory. But this is only to be expected. Apocryphal stories, and false attributions, cling to all celebrities.  And although they are not true, they often deserve to be.

I am told by Kevin Hart that as a counterpoise to Boswell I should now read Fanny Burney's memoirs of Johnson, which bring out the gentler, more playful side of his character.  So I shall. And after that …who knows?  There is so much to explore!  Luckily I have before me (perhaps) half a lifetime to do it in. I also have before me the noble prospect of numerous meetings of the Johnson Society, with clubable men and women, with whom now, with Boswell under my belt, I shall be able to commune without embarrassment.  (At least until they start to quiz me on "Rasselas", "The Idler" "The Rambler and "The Lives of the Poets"!)  And in this company I hope I shall get to know better another good Doctor, the other bookseller in the society, the genial Dr. Geoff Brand, of Ulverstone Books in Queenscliff.  "If a man does not make new acquaintances as he advances through life, he will soon find himself left alone. A man, Sir, should keep his friendship in constant repair." As in life, so in literature. I am highly pleased with my new literary friend. And I confidently make this prediction: that when I am tired of Dr. Johnson, I will be tired of life; for there is in Johnson all that life can afford.


Anthony Marshall, is a retired secondhand bookseller now living in Germany. He is a member of the Australian and New Zealand Association of Antiquarian Booksellers, a past member of the Provincial Booksellers Fairs Association in England, where for ten years he ran the County Bookshop in Oakham, Rutland, and former owner of Alice's Bookshop in Melbourne, Australia.  Mr. Marshall has contributed many articles to book magazines, all of which with the exception of “Book Source Magazine” are now defunct. Some of these articles reappear in his two books: “Trafficking in Old Books” (Lost Domain, Melbourne 1998) and "Fossicking for Old Books” (Bread Street Press, Melbourne 2004).