John Opie, Samuel Johnson, National Portrait Gallery, London

“Languages are the pedigree of nations.” Samuel Johnson’s thought is noble. The more authoritatively so, in that the profound pronouncement about language is issued by the greatest of dictionary-makers. Not—it has at once to be added—the maker of the greatest dictionary, for he was a lesser great man than Johnson (not quite the same as a less great man than Johnson), being the man who gave himself and us the New, later the Oxford, English Dictionary: the indispensable James A. H. Murray. His teamwork comprehended that a...

 

A Message from the Editors

Our past successes are owed to our greatest ambassadors: our readers. Our future rests on your support, as The New Criterion Editor Roger Kimball explains. Will you help us continue to bring our incisive review of the arts and culture to the next generation of readers?

Popular Right Now