Mere Mortals

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There can be little doubt that the illustrious Dr. Johnson was a psychasthenic. His father could see in life nothing but gloom, though his mother seems to have been hearty and sensible enough. Therefore presumably we are entitled to say that the Great Cham’s family history was faulty. At an early age he developed some…

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There can be little doubt that the illustrious Dr. Johnson was a psychasthenic. His father could see in life nothing but gloom, though his mother seems to have been hearty and sensible enough. Therefore presumably we are entitled to say that the Great Cham’s family history was faulty. At an early age he developed some trouble that his parents diagnosed as scrofula, or tuberculous glands of the neck, but Boswell expressly hints was suspected to have been caught from a nurse. They took him to England’s kindly but not intelligent majesty, Queen Anne, who, wearing a long black hood and diamonds to impress her patients, touched him for his “grievous malady.” But she did not cure him; rather it would seem that she made him worse; for all Johnson’s frightful jerkings and grimaces, roarings and puffings, may possibly be traced back to that one moment of nervous tension when he felt himself a little boy, the observed of all observers, waiting to be touched by the sister-in-law of William the Dutchman

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