Literature

What Dr Johnson Really Thought about Patriotism

“Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” These words are quoted in newspaper letters, columns and blogs too numerous to mention. Writers of a leftist persuasion, when they wish to mock expressions of patriotism, national pride and love of country, often reach for Samuel Johnson’s aphorism to give a veneer of literary and cultural respectability to their jeering. I had long suspected that the Johnson quotation, if genuine, had been taken out of context. Johnson was, after all, a devout Anglican, a committed Tory, a friend and admirer of Edmund Burke, and in many respects the quintessential Englishman of…

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