Johnson's 1755 Dictionary is highly suggestive in its implicit aversion to the idea of enthusiasm, defining it thus:
1. A vain belief of private revelation; a vain confidence of divine favour or communication.If anything, Johnson is even more severe on the practitioner than on the concept, defining an enthuasist as:
2. Heat of imagination; violence of passion; confidence of opinion.
3. Elevation of fancy; exaltation of ideas.
1. One who vainly imagines a private revelation; one who has a vain confidence of his intercourse with God.In, as it were, burying his third definition beneath the others, Johnson implies that such exaltation is spurious, ungrounded in reality. His dismissive "hot imagination" might similarly be taken as a synonymn for the "ardour" so conspicuously shared and honored by the protagonists of the novel. Quite clearly, the repeated use of "vain" and "vainly" is intended by Johnson to remind us of their substantive, which is "vanity."
2. One of a hot imagination, or violent passions.
3. One of elevated fancy, or exalted ideas.