In fitting out his fashionable critic, Dick Minim, with a workable stock of cliches, Dr Johnson inevitably included an element of patriotism; Minim thus saw “no reason for thinking that the vein of humour was exhausted, since we live in a country, where liberty suffers every character to spread itself to the utmost bulk, and which, therefore, produces more originals than all the rest of the world put together(1)”. Of the vast range of ideas and aspirations that had gathered around the invocation of liberty in literary contexts by 1759, these views ascribed to Minim are fairly cautious and restrained. Johnson could well have been caricaturing an earlier phase of his own career as a critic(2), and for all the satiric flavour of the portrait and all the blunt scepticism and “rough contempt” with which he generally approached patriotic claims, his Minim is not treated too harshly. In his Idler no.85, his point was not so much that the association between freedom and the “full play of predominant humours” was nonsense – it had the sanction of Sir William Temple, among others – as that the relevant kind of liberty could be found elsewhere than in Britain.