The Lawyer’s Prayer

In 1765 Samuel Johnson considered taking up the study of law. In his diary he wrote:

Almighty God, the Giver of wisdom, without whose help resolutions are vain, without whose blessing study is ineffectual, enable me, if it be Thy will, to attain such knowledge as may qualify me to direct the doubtful and instruct the ignorant, to prevent wrong, and terminate contention; and grant that I may use that knowledge which I shall attain to Thy glory and my own salvation; for Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.

He seems to have given up the project, but he maintained his respect for the profession. The following year, when James Boswell mentioned that a friend had jokingly advised him against becoming a lawyer “because I should be excelled by plodding block-heads,” Johnson replied, “Why, Sir, in the formulary and statutory part of law, a plodding block-head may excel; but in the ingenious and rational part of it a plodding block-head can never excel.”