(A Quest Club Paper by Pastor Richard G. Frazier, January 20, 1978)
President Lindy, Fellow Questors and Guests: There I was, doing research for a
seminar on grayer and meditation and writing in my own religious journal, surprised to
discover some devotional classics from the pen of Samuel Johnson, about whom I knew very
little, when Gath Stewart's request arrived for a Quest Club Paper, preferably a biography.
My response, why not Samuel Johnson, has led me on a journey from the prayers to the person
of Johnson, and I now invite you to a journey from his person to his prayers.
We often describe our time as the Age of Anxiety, the Atomic Age, the Nuclear Age,
and couple other usually pedestrian adjectives with the poor noun age. Eighteenth century
England generally and the period 1750 to 1780 specifically were known as the Age of Johnson,
and it is interesting that a time of travel and adventure, when Britain conquered Canada
and half of India, won dominion over the Pacific, sent embassies into China, and adventurers
into Africa, colonized Australia, and traded practically everywhere, bequeathing to the
^Kxtorians one of the more extensive empires ever known to man, that such an age should be
named for one who never traveled beyond the western islands of Scotland; that an age of
religious skepticism and doubt should be named for one who clung to the dogma of the Church
of England and exercised a deep religious faith; and that one of the more knowledgeable
men of the age was one with little formal education.
To those familiar with Johnson, you will not need much stretch of the imagination to
see the great bushy wig, the massive features, the awkward, lumbering walk, one cut out
of the same mold as Falstaff and Pickwick. You can see him at some eighteenth century
Quest Club dominating the conversation, discussion, and the food. You can hear him begin
an emphatic remark to Boswell "Why, sir" or even more characteristically "No, sir" and
remember something of Johnson's vigorous, reasoning intelligence, his common sense and
critical genius. You may know that as a child he was inferior in physique and superior in
ntellect, a fact seemingly impressed upon him from early days by a book-binder father
who also served as the local sheriff, and a coddling mother who entertained guests by
having young Sam perform. Indeed most biographers believe that the lodgement of a powerful
mind in a lame body and the deprivation of much formal education are the chief explanations
Members of the Quest Club authorize the Allen County Public Library to digitize and publish past, present and future Quest Club papers for dissemination on the Allen County Public Library website (Board of Directors of Quest Club, Inc., Resolution of May 2010).