Given Johnson's intense concern throughout his life with problems of human morality, it is not surprising, in an age when such writers as Defoe, Swift, Pope, Goldsmith, and Burke were highly politically conscious, to find Johnson turning his pen as frequently to matters of public as of private morality.
A full list of writings by Johnson with significant political content would include such pieces as his poem London, a number of his sermons, and essays in The Idler and elsewhere. This volume presents a collection of writings with a political emphasis which do not readily fall into one or another of these categories: his early anti-Walpolian pamphlets Marmor Norfolciense and A Complete Vindication of the Licensers of the Stage, and various journalistic squibs; a competent abridgment of the debate on the offer of the Crown to Oliver Cromwell; the long series of articles on the Seven Years' War and related matters, such as the notorious trial and execution of Admiral Byng; the four pamphlets of the 1770s-The False Alarm, Thoughts on...Falkland's Islands, The Patriot, and Taxation No Tyranny.
Full annotation sets the events dealt with in their historical background and provides a continuous narrative of Johnson's "political biography." A substantial introduction attempts an analysis of Johnson's political attitudes.
Donald J. Greene is Leo S. Bing Professor of English at the University of Southern California.