Johnson’s method of incorporating illustrative quotations from previous authors into his Dictionary creates a ‘space of pastness,’ in which some decontextualized authors can be used by Johnson to argue or represent views in the present. The illustrations quoted in the Dictionary are de-historicized; indeed the Dictionary itself is not concerned with a history of language or diachronic development. Yet one must be cautious in assessing and using evidence from the quotations. In the case of John Milton, Johnson adjusts and re-places Milton’s ideological symbolic value, quoting him in rhetorically, usually self-reflexive ways, and reads him, in part, through the eyes and works of Alexander Pope. Finally, it has been shown that in the Preface to the Dictionary, Johnson thematizes the elusiveness of the present and its tragic overtones of regret, failure, and death. The Preface is preoccupied with time and time’s passing.