Did Dr. Samuel Johnson Actually say this?

And if so, any one know the context?
“…I do not wish to speak ill of any man, behind his back…but the fact is, he is an attorney”
I read that Johnson was himself a lawyer, so why would he badmouth another lawyer? :eek:

From Boswell’s Life of Samuel Johnson, available at Project Gutenberg.

No, unless my memory fails me, Johnson himself was not a lawyer.

Well, lawyers badmouth other lawyers all the time, but no, Johnson wasn’t a lawyer.

Keep in mind, in Britain “attorney” has never simply meant “lawyer” as in the United States. Johnson’s biographer, Boswell, was a lawyer but an advocate/barrister, a gentleman who appeared in court. Johnson’s attorney was probably a guy who conveyed real estate, drew up lengthy wills and the like, and was easy to make fun of…

I think Johnson once looked into practising law in the English civil law courts of the time, but nothing came of it.

Oh, BTW, Johson was “Doctor” Johnson because he was awarded Doctor of Law degrees to acknowledgement his accomplishments in writing his Dictionary. This didn’t make him a practising lawyer, but may be why you thought he was one.

Yes, were you under the impression that lawyers never tell lawyer jokes? :slight_smile: