When Samuel Johnson is discussed as an essayist, his and Idler are generally the works that are considered. This is the first study to take account of the effect of Johnson's essayistic talents on the entirety of his writing. Setting forth the particular characteristics of the genre that are present in Johnson's contributions to the political controversies of his time, this analysis examines those qualities of Johnson's thought and methods that naturally led to his dependence on the essay form in polemical engagements throughout his career. In detail, Spector's study then goes on to explore the manner in which Johnson employed the essay not only in forms normally related to the genre, but in literary types ordinarily considered remote from it. The and Idler, along with Johnson's periodical essays in the Adventurer, are themselves looked at from a fresh point of view--the ways in which Johnson the professional writer, without regard for posterity, addressed the interests of the common reader of his century.