one's fitness for one's duties. It is in home-life that Johnson places the true centre of happiness. "To be happy at home," he says, "is the ultimate result of all ambition, the end to which every enterprise and labour tends, and of which every desire prompts the prosecution."
Johnson was an expert in that very difficult part of life, the management of one's own mind. He knew, with his constitutional melancholy, what it was to be ridden by the nightmare of mental trouble. "A man so afflicted," he said, "must divert distressing thoughts, and not combat with them." Boswell. "May he not think them down, Sir?" Johnson. "No, Sir. The attempt to think them down is madness." So it is that he says, in the Rambler: "The safe and general antidote against sorrow is employment. It is commonly observed that, among soldiers and seamen, though there is much kindness, there is little grief: they see their friend fall without any of that lamentation which is indulged in security and idleness, because they have no leisure to spare from the care of themselves." He reminds us, too, that there are some troubles on which we ought to be silent. Talking of Dryden's open resentment of hostile criticism, he remarks, "The writer who thinks his works formed for duration mistakes his interest when he mentions his enemies." And elsewhere he comments on the unwise outcry of some writers whom Pope had pilloried in the Dunciad. "No man," he remarks, "sympathises with the sorrows of vanity."