Saturday, October 17, 2009

Dr Johnson on ability and evil


Many complain of neglect who never tired to attract regard. It cannot be expected that the patrons of science and virtue should be solicitous to discover excellencies, which they who possess them shade and disguise. Few have abilities so much needed by the rest of the world as to be caressed on their own terms; and he that will not condescend to recommend himself by external embellishments, must submit to the fate of just sentiment meanly expressed, and be ridiculed and forgotten before he is understood.

Dr Johnson – Notes on Macbeth.

Whatever philosophy may determine of material nature, it is certainly true of intellectual nature, that it abhors a vacuum; our minds cannot be empty; and evil will break in upon them if they are not pre-occupied with good.

Dr Johnson – Boswell: Life, ii, 140

I presume the second quotation is the source of the more commonly-known expression: Nature abhors a vacuum.
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