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    Samuel Johnson Quotes

    English author, critic, & lexicographer
    2 Favorites on Read Print

    Quotes by Samuel Johnson

    • A cucumber should be well-sliced, dressed with pepper and vinegar, and then thrown out.
    • A man is very apt to complain of the ingratitude of those who have risen far above him.
    • Almost all absurdity of conduct arises from the imitation of those whom we cannot resemble.
    • As I know more of mankind I expect less of them, and am ready now to call a man a good man upon easier terms than I was formerly.
    • Curiosity is one of the permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous mind.
    • Do not accustom yourself to use big words for little matters.
    • Don't think of retiring from the world until the world will be sorry that you retire. I hate a fellow whom pride or cowardice or laziness drives into a corner, and who does nothing when he is there but sit and growl. Let him come out as I do, and bark.
    • Every quotation contributes something to the stability or enlargement of the language.
    • Few things are impossible to diligence and skill. Great works are performed not by strength, but perseverance.
    • He who makes a beast of himself, gets rid of the pain of being a man.
    • Hope is itself a species of happiness, and, perhaps, the chief happiness which this world affords.
    • Hope is necessary in every condition.
    • If a man does not make new acquaintances as he advances through life, he will soon find himself alone. A man should keep his friendships in constant repair.
    • If you are idle, be not solitary; if you are solitary be not idle.
    • In order that all men may be taught to speak truth, it is necessary that all likewise should learn to hear it.
    • Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.
    • It is better to live rich than to die rich.
    • It is better to suffer wrong than to do it, and happier to be sometimes cheated than not to trust.
    • Love is the wisdom of the fool and the folly of the wise.
    • Men have been wise in many different modes; but they have always laughed the same way.
    • Of all noises, I think music is the least disagreeable.
    • Of all the griefs that harass the distrest, Sure the most bitter is a scornful jest.
    • People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed.
    • Praise, like gold and diamonds, owes its value only to its scarcity.
    • Self-confidence is the first requisite to great undertakings.
    • Silence propagates itself, and the longer talk has been suspended, the more difficult it is to find anything to say.
    • Such seems to be the disposition of man, that whatever makes a distinction produces rivalry.
    • The world is not yet exhaused; let me see something tomorrow which I never saw before.
    • There are, in every age, new errors to be rectified and new prejudices to be opposed.
    • We are inclined to believe those whom we do not know because they have never deceived us.
    • What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure.
    • When once a man has made celebrity necessary to his happiness, he has put it in the power of the weakest and most timorous malignity, if not to take away his satisfaction, at least to withhold it. His enemies may indulge their pride by airy negligence and gratify their malice by quiet neutrality.
    • While grief is fresh, every attempt to divert only irritates. You must wait till it be digested, and then amusement will dissipate the remains of it.
    • Wine makes a man more pleased with himself; I do not say that it makes him more pleasing to others.
    • You teach your daughters the diameters of the planets and wonder when you are done that they do not delight in your company.
    • A man may be so much of everything that he is nothing of anything.
      (attributed)
    • Your manuscript is both good and original, but the part that is good is not original and the part that is original is not good.
      (attributed)
    • The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.
      (attributed; also attributed to Ann Landers)
    • Classical quotation is the parole of literary men all over the world.
      as quoted in Boswell's Life of Johnson (May 8th, 1781)
    • It matters not how a man dies, but how he lives. The act of dying is not of importance, it lasts so short a time.
      Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
    • No man will be a sailor who has contrivance enough to get himself into jail; for being in a ship is being in a jail, with the chance of being drowned.
      from Boswell's Life of Johnson
    • Read over your compositions, and wherever you meet with a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out.
      from Boswell's Life of Johnson
    • Men are generally idle, and ready to satisfy themselves, and intimidate the industry of others, by calling that impossible which is only difficult.
      Life of Boerhaave
    • What we hope ever to do with ease we may learn first to do with diligence.
      Lives of the Poets
    • Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information on it.
      quoted in Boswell's Life of Johnson
    • Mankind have a great aversion to intellectual labor; but even supposing knowledge to be easily attainable, more people would be content to be ignorant than would take even a little trouble to acquire it.
      quoted in Boswell's Life of Johnson
    • Patriotism having become one of our topicks, Johnson suddenly uttered, in a strong determined tone, an apophthegm, at which many will start: "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel." But let it be considered that he did not mean a real and generous love of our country, but that pretended patriotism which so many, in all ages and countries, have made a cloak of self- interest.
      quoted in Boswell's Life of Johnson
    • Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.
      quoted in Boswell's Life of Johnson
    • There is no observation more frequently made by such as employ themselves in surveying the conduct of mankind, than that marriage, though the dictate of nature, and the institution of Providence, is yet very often the cause of misery, and that those who enter into that state can seldom forbear to express their repentance, and their envy of those whom either chance or caution hath withheld from it.
      Rambler #18
    • Such is the common process of marriage. A youth and maiden exchange meeting by chance, or brought together by artifice, exchange glances, reciprocate civilities, go home, and dream of one another. Having little to divert attention, or diversify thought, they find themselves uneasy when they are apart, and therefore conclude that they shall be happy together. They marry, and discover what nothing but voluntary blindness had before concealed; they wear out life in altercations, and charge nature with cruelty.
      Rasselas
    • There will always be a part, and always a very large part of every community, that have no care but for themselves, and whose care for themselves reaches little further than impatience of immediate pain, and eagerness for the nearest good.
      Taxation No Tyranny
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