There are many impressions that are conjured when reflecting on the long life of Dr. Samuel Johnson. What tops the list is the enormity, the scale of the life lived and the productivity realized despite the equally large burdens that he carried from birth to the end. Nearly dying of early childhood diseases, the worst of which was scrofula, which scarred him around the neck and led somehow to impaired eyesight and hearing. Given the times in which he lived, seen from our point of view, we could be generous in saying it was before modern medicine; I say generous because the methodologies of a pre-microscope science were crude, barbaric and wrong. It is equally amazing that he survived the gruesome applications of the medical techniques of his day, including but not restricted to copious, nearly fatal blood letting. What is also interesting is how his unquenchable thirst for knowledge brought him into a serious study of advanced research into various treatments. Sometimes recklessly he would administer potions, concoctions, poultices and blends of various types of compounds derived from some flower, herb or other natural growth. At the end of his life, when the drug 'digitalis' had been discovered, he nearly killed himself by self application of a massive dose. He was also fearless in his puncturing of his veins to bleed himself, sometimes again taking too much blood.
Johnson was a tall man, just under 6 feet with a large torso, neck, arms and trunk. He looked from his young days somewhat odd in his body proportions but was possessed of substantial physical strength and stamina. (There were stories told of how, when angered, he could toss someone still sitting in a chair, both sent flying through the air.Read more ›
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