Monday, June 25, 2012


Ignorant and Affected Preachers

Samuel Johnson, quoted in "Anecdotes by George Steevens," Johnsonian Miscellanies, ed. George Birkbeck Hill (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1897), II, 312-329 (at 319):
'I am convinced (said he to a friend) I ought to be present at divine service more frequently than I am; but the provocations given by ignorant and affected preachers too often disturb the mental calm which otherwise would succeed to prayer. I am apt to whisper to myself on such occasions—How can this illiterate fellow dream of fixing attention, after we have been listening to the sublimest truths, conveyed in the most chaste and exalted language, throughout a Liturgy which must be regarded as the genuine offspring of piety impregnated by wisdom? Take notice, however—though I make this confession respecting myself, I do not mean to recommend the fastidiousness that led me to exchange congregational for solitary worship.'
Samuel Johnson, Life of Francis Cheynel:
When they arrived at Oxford, they began to execute their commission, by possessing themselves of the pulpits; but, if the relation of Wood is to be regarded, were heard with very little veneration. Those who had been accustomed to the preachers of Oxford, and the liturgy of the church of England, were offended at the emptiness of their discourses, which were noisy and unmeaning; at the unusual gestures, the wild distortions, and the uncouth tone with which they were delivered...

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