BOOK REVIEW TOM BINGHAM: DR JOHNSON AND THE LAW and other essays on Johnson Foreword and Introduction by Robin De Wilde Inner Temple, London and Dr Johnson’s House Trust ISBN: 978-1-899284-09-2 www.innertemple.org.uk ¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬ ENLIGHTENING THE MIND… AND TOUCHING THE HEART! An appreciation by Phillip Taylor MBE and Elizabeth Taylor of Richmond Green Chambers This slender volume happily commits to print three essays by Lord Bingham delivered as lectures on Dr Johnson and the Law. Avid fans of Dr Johnson, as we are at Richmond Green Chambers, we absolutely love this book. And, of course, we are not alone. Even some three centuries after his birth, the fan base of our greatest litterateur, essayist and lexicographer grows apace worldwide – with not a fan among them, we are sure, who would not be entranced by the humanity and insight delivered by this little book. In the words of Robin de Wilde, Lord Bingham, who was regarded by his peers, as ’the perfect paragon of a judge’, gave his first address on Dr Johnson and the Law on 16th April 2008 in the upper room at Dr Johnson’s House in Gough Square, the same room where his Dictionary was compiled. It is this lecture which will have abiding fascination for contemporary legal audiences. It’s not generally known that Dr. Johnson was inordinately fond of the law and of the company of lawyers -- and if he had had the funds, would have become a lawyer himself. Nevertheless, he was greatly assisted by the young Scottish lawyer James Boswell -- who became his biographer -- in the conduct of a number of his cases. Dr Johnson’s library, when catalogued in 1785 after his death, contained an astounding array of legal volumes including 30 volumes of Acts of Parliament. The second address is a sermon given in the Temple Church on 22 July 2009 to commemorate the tercentenary of Dr Johnson’s birth. Pointing out that this date was also the bicentenary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln, Lord Bingham draws a number of interesting parallels between the lives of these two great men. Physically, intellectually, philosophically and possibly spiritually, they were almost as one. Lord Bingham’s final address on Dr. Johnson, delivered shortly before his death in September 2010, was on ‘Clubs and Clubbability’, observing that ‘the eighteenth century was the age of the club.’ The tally of clubs and associations (in England we assume) apparently grew from 100 at the beginning of the century to about 6,500 at its end. It was an aspect of his age in which Dr Johnson revelled. Clubs -- and clubbability – ‘gave him an opportunity to deploy his formidable argumentative powers,’ says Lord Bingham…and ‘offered the company of friends which he valued so highly.’ If you are a friend either of the law, or of Dr Johnson, or of literature, or all three, this book will nurture and augment that friendship. If you aren’t, read this meticulously footnoted book anyway. A little volume (you can read it in one sitting) that enlightens the mind and touches the heart is certainly one to treasure.