Quotations by Johnson, Samuel


All Crimes are safe, but hated Poverty.
This, only this, the rigid Law pursues.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
“London: A Poem,” lines 159-160 (1738)
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This mournful truth is ev’rywhere confessed —
Slow rises worth, by poverty depressed.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
“London: A Poem,” ll. 176-177 (1738)
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If I were punished for every pun I shed, there would not be left a puny shed of my punnish head.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
(Attributed)
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The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
(Attributed)
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He who praises everybody, praises nobody.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
(Attributed)

In "Johnsoniana," The European Magazine and London Review (Jan 1785). From an anecdote by George Stevens.
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A man is in general better pleased when he has a good dinner upon his table, than when his wife talks Greek.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
(Attributed)

Quoted in Sir John Hawkins, "Apophthegms, Sentiments, Opinions and Occasional Reflections" (1787-89), in George Birbeck Hill (ed.), Johnsonian Miscellanies, Vol. 2 (1897)
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It is better a man should be abused than forgotten.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
(Attributed)

Quoted in Hester Lynch Piozzi, The Anecdotes of the Late Samuel Johnson (1786).
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Abstinence is as easy to me as temperance would be difficult.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
(Attributed)

When urged by Hannah More to have some wine with dinner. Quoted in Mrs. Ellis, A Voice From the Vintage (1843).
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Adversity has ever been considered the state in which a man most easily becomes acquainted with himself, then, especially being free from flatterers.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
(Attributed)

Attributed in Tryon Edwards, A Dictionary of Thoughts (1891).
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Dictionaries are like watches; the worst is better than none, and the best cannot be expected to go quite true.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
(Attributed)

In Hester Thrale Piozzi, Anecdotes of Samuel Johnson (1786).
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Prejudice, not being founded on reason, cannot be removed by argument.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
(Spurious)
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Frequently attributed without citation, and not found in Johnson's works.  However, the phrase can be found in other contexts:

  • "This objection on the score of color is founded upon prejudice, and hence cannot be removed by argument, for prejudice is blind and listens not to reason." -- Rep. Godlove S. Orth of Indiana, speech before the House of Representatives (5 Apr 1869) on the question of admitting the Dominican Republic as a US territory.
  • "This persuasion of the power of the priest is, as we have said, a traditional prejudice; it is not founded on any reasons or proofs addressed to the understanding, and therefore it cannot be removed by argument." -- John Eliot Howard, The Island of the Saints (1855), quoting from the Achill Herald (Jun 1855).

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LEXICOGRAPHER — A writer of dictionaries, a harmless drudge.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
A Dictionary of the English Language (1755)
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Every quotation contributes something to the stability or enlargement of the language.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
A Dictionary of the English Language, Preface (1755)
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Every other author may aspire to praise; the lexicographer can only hope to escape reproach, and even this negative recompense has been yet granted to very few.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
A Dictionary of the English Language, Preface (1755)
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It is more from carelessness about truth than from intentional lying that there is so much falsehood in the world.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Dr. Johnson’s Table Talk (1807)
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I never desire to converse with a man who has written more than he has read.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Johnsonian Miscellanies, Vol. 2, “Apothegms, Sentiments, Opinions and Occasional Reflections” by Sir John Hawkins, ed. G. Hill (1897)
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If nothing may be published but what civil authority shall have previously approved, power must always be the standard of truth.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Lives of the English Poets, “Milton” (1781)
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To be of no church is dangerous. Religion, of which the rewards are distant, and which is animated only by faith and hope, will glide by degrees out of the mind unless it be invigorated and reimpressed by external ordinances, by stated calls to worship, and the salutary influence of example.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Lives of the English Poets, “Milton” (1781)
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‘Paradise Lost’ is one of the books which the reader admires and lays down, and forgets to take up again. None ever wished it longer than it is.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Lives of the English Poets, “Milton”(1781)
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Self-confidence is the first requisite to great undertakings.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Lives of the English Poets, “Pope” (1781)
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Those who attain any excellence, commonly spend life in one pursuit; for excellence is not often gained upon easier terms.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Lives of the English Poets, “Pope” (1781)
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The misery of man proceeds not from any single crush of overwhelming evil, but from small vexations continually repeated.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Lives of the English Poets, “Pope” (1781)
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This world, where much is to be done and little to be known.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Prayers and Meditations, Against Inquisitive and Perplexing Thoughts (1785)
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Every man naturally persuades himself that he can keep his resolutions, nor is he convinced of his imbecility but by length of time and frequency of experiment.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Prayers and Meditations, #1770 (1785)
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How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Taxation No Tyranny (1775)

On American demands for independence.

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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.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Taxation No Tyranny (1775)
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Power is always gradually stealing away from the many to the few because the few are more vigilant and consistent.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Adventurer, # 45 (10 Apr 1753)
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Our desires always increase with our possessions; the knowledge that something remains yet unenjoyed, impairs our enjoyment of the good before us.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Adventurer, # 67 (26 Jun 1753)
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Life affords no higher pleasure than that of surmounting difficulties, passing from one step of success to another, forming new wishes and seeing them gratified.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Adventurer, #111 (27 Nov 1753)
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Piety practised in solitude, like the flower that blooms in the desert, may give its fragrance to the winds of heaven, and delight those unbodied spirits that survey the works of God and the actions of men; but it bestows no assistance upon earthly beings, and however free from taints of impurity, yet wants the sacred splendour of beneficence.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Adventurer, #126 “Praises of Solitude”
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Composition is, for the most part, an effort of slow diligence and steady perseverance, to which the mind is dragged by necessity or resolution, and from which the attention is every moment starting to more delightful amusements.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Adventurer, #138 (2 Mar 1754)
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That what cannot be repaired is not to be regretted.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia, ch. 4 (1759)
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Nothing will ever be attempted, if all possible objections must be first overcome.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia, ch. 6 (1759)
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All skill ought to be exerted for universal good; every man has owed much to others, and ought to repay the kindness that he has received.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia, ch. 6 (1759)
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Great works are performed, not by strength, but by perseverance. Yonder palace was raised by single stones, yet you see its height and spaciousness. He that shall walk with vigor three hours a day will pass in seven years a space equal to the circumference of the globe.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia, ch. 13 (1759)
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Man is not weak; knowledge is more than equivalent to force. The master of mechanicks laughs at strength.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia, ch. 13 (1759)
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Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia, ch. 13 (1759)
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Be not too hasty to trust or to admire the teachers of morality; they discourse like angels, but they love like men.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia, ch. 18 (1759)
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I live in the crowd of jollity, not so much to enjoy company as to shun myself.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia, ch. 26 (1759)
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Marriage has many pains, but celibacy has no pleasures.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia, ch. 26 (1759)
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Marriage has many pains, but celibacy has no pleasures.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia, ch. 26 (1759)
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He that attempts to change the course of his own life very often labors in vain; and how shall we do that for others, which we are seldom able to do for ourselves?

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia, ch. 29 (1759)
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Ignorance, when it is voluntary, is criminal.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia, ch. 30 (1759)
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Example is always more efficacious than precept.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia, ch. 30 (1759)
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Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia, ch. 41 (1759)
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Such is the state of life, that none are happy but by the anticipation of change: the change itself is nothing; when we have made it, the next wish is to change again. The world is not yet exhausted; let me see something tomorrow which I never saw before.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia, ch. 47 (1759)
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The gloomy and the resentful are always found among those who have nothing to do or who do nothing.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Idler (1 Sep 1759)
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He that applauds him who does not deserve praise, is endeavoring to deceive the public; he that hisses in malice or sport, is an oppressor and a robber.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Idler (7 Oct 1758)
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Friendship, like love, is destroyed by long absence, though it may be increased by short intermissions.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Idler #23 (23 Sep 1758)
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There is no kind of idleness by which we are so easily seduced as that which dignifies itself by the appearance of business.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Idler #48 (17 Mar 1759)
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We are inclined to believe those whom we do not know because they have never decieved us.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Idler #80 (27 Oct 1759)
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It is commonly observed, that when two Englishmen meet, their first talk is of the weather; they are in haste to tell each other, what each must already know, that it is hot or cold, bright or cloudy, windy or calm.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Idler, #11 (24 Jun 1758)
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To be idle and to be poor have always been reproaches, and therefore every man endeavours with his utmost care to hide his poverty from others, and his idleness from himself.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Idler, #17 (5 Aug 1758)
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Among the calamities of war, may be justly numbered the diminution of the love of truth, by the falsehoods which interest dictates, and credulity encourages.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Idler, #30 (11 Nov 1758)
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Prudence operates on life in the same manner as rules on composition: it produces vigilance rather than elevation, rather prevents loss than procures advantage; and often escapes miscarriages but seldom reaches either power or horror. … Prudence keeps life safe, but does not often make it happy.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Idler, #57 (19 May 1759)
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Pleasure is very seldom found where it is sought. Our brightest blazes of gladness are commonly kindled by unexpected sparks. The flowers which scatter their odours from time to time in the paths of life, grow up without culture from seeds scattered by chance.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Idler, #58 (26 May 1759)
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Merriment is always the effect of a sudden impression. The jest which is expected is already destroyed.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Idler, #58 (26 May 1759)
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It is seldom that we find either men or places such as we expect them.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Idler, #58 (26 May 1759)
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The reciprocal civility of authors is one of the most risible scenes in the farce of life.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Life of Sir Thomas Browne (1756)
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No state can be more destitute than that of a him who, when the delites of sense forsake him, has no pleasures of the mind.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Plays of William Shakespeare, “Cymbeline” (1765)
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The greatest part of mankind have no other reason for their opinions than that they are in fashion.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Plays of William Shakespeare, “Macbeth” (1765)
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He that tries to recommend [Shakespeare] by select quotations will succeed like the pedant in Hierocles, who, when he offered his house to sale, carried a brick in his pocket as a specimen.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Plays of William Shakespeare, Preface (1765)
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While an author is yet living we estimate his powers by his worst performance, and when he is dead we rate them by his best.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Plays of William Shakespeare, Preface (1765)
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Those who do not feel pain seldom think that it is felt.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Rambler (1751)
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Almost every man wastes part of his life in attempts to display qualities which he does not possess, and to gain applause which he cannot keep.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Rambler (7 Jan 1752)
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He who has so little knowledge of human nature, as to seek happiness by changing any thing but his own dispositions, will waste his life in fruitless efforts, and multiply the griefs which he purposes to remove.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Rambler # 6 (7 Apr 1750)
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The fortitude which has encountered no dangers, that prudence which has surmounted no difficulties, that integrity which has been attacked by no temptations, can at best be considered but as gold not yet brought to the test, of which therefore the true value cannot be assigned.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Rambler #150 (24 Aug 1751)
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But the truth is, that no man is much regarded by the rest of the world, except where the interest of others is involved in his fortune. The common employments or pleasures of life, love or opposition, loss or gain, keep almost every mind in perpetual agitation. If any man would consider how little he dwells upon the condition of others, he would learn how little the attention of others is attracted by himself.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Rambler #159 (24 Sep 1751)
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The mind is never satisfied with the objects immediately before it, but is always breaking away from the present moment, and losing itself in schemes of future felicity…. The natural flights of the human mind are not from pleasure to pleasure, but from hope to hope.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Rambler, # 2 (24 Mar 1750)
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Men more frequently require to be reminded than informed.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Rambler, # 2 (24 Mar 1750)
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There is nothing more dreadful to an author than neglect, compared with which reproach, hatred, and opposition are names of happiness.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Rambler, # 2 (24 Mar 1750)
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That observation which is called knowledge of the world will be found much more frequently to make men cunning than good.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Rambler, # 4 (31 Mar 1750)
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The vanity of being trusted with a secret is generally one of the chief motives to disclose it.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Rambler, # 13
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A transition from an author’s book to his conversation, is too often like an entrance into a large city, after a distant prospect. Remotely, we see nothing but spires of temples and turrets of palaces, and imagine it the residence of splendour, grandeur and magnificence; but when we have passed the gates, we find it perplexed with narrow passages, disgraced with despicable cottages, embarrassed with obstructions, and clouded with smoke.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Rambler, # 14 (5 May 1750)
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Sorrow is a kind of rust of the soul, which every new idea contributes in its passage to scour away. It is the putrefaction of stagnant life, and is remedied by exercise and motion.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Rambler, # 47 (28 Aug 1750)
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Disease generally begins that equality which death completes.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Rambler, # 48 (1 Sep 1750)
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He that would pass the latter part of life with honour and decency, must, when he is young, consider that he shall one day be old; and remember, when he is old, that he has once been young.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Rambler, # 50 (8 Sep 1750)

Often misattributed to Joseph Addison
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It is not sufficiently considered how much he assumes who dares to claim the privilege of complaining; for as every man has, in his own opinion, a full share of the miseries of life, he is inclined to consider all clamorous uneasiness as a proof of impatience rather than of affliction, and to ask, what merit has this man to show, by which he has acquired a right to repine at the distributions of nature? Or, why does he imagine that exemptions should be granted him from the general condition of man? We find ourselves excited rather to captiousness than pity, and, instead of being in haste to sooth his complaints by sympathy and tenderness, we inquire whether the pain be proportionate to the lamentation; and whether, supposing the affliction real, it is not the effect of vice and folly, rather than calamity?

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Rambler, # 50 (8 Sep 1750)
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To hear complaints with patience, even when complaints are vain, is one of the duties of friendship.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Rambler, # 59 (9 Oct 1750)
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Friendship may well deserve the sacrifice of pleasure, though not of conscience.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Rambler, # 64 (27 Oct 1750)
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The highest panegyric, therefore, that private virtue can receive, is the praise of servants.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Rambler, # 68 (10 Nov 1750)
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Every whisper of infamy is industriously circulated, every hint of suspicion eagerly improved, and every failure of conduct joyfully published by those whose interest it is that the eye and voice of the public should be employed on any rather than themselves.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Rambler, # 76 (8 Dec 1750)
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It is better to suffer wrong than to do it, and happier to be sometimes cheated than not to trust.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Rambler, # 79 (18 Dec 1750)
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There are, in every age, new errors to be rectified, and new prejudices to be opposed.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Rambler, # 86 (12 Jan 1751)
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In order that all men may be taught to speak truth, it is necessary that all likewise should learn to hear it.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Rambler, # 96 (16 Feb 1751)
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Curiosity is one of the most permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous intellect.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Rambler, #103 (12 Mar 1751)
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Nothing has more retarded the advancement of learning than the disposition of vulgar minds to ridicule and vilify what they cannot comprehend.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Rambler, #117 (30 Apr 1751)
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It is very natural for young men to be vehement, acrimonious and severe. For as they seldom comprehend at once all the consequences of a position, or perceive the difficulties by which cooler and more experienced reasoners are restrained from confidence, they form their conclusions with great precipitance. Seeing nothing that can darken or embarrass the question, they expect to find their own opinion universally prevalent, and are inclined to impute uncertainty and hesitation to want of honesty, rather than of knowledge.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Rambler, #121 (14 May 1751)
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Praise, like gold and diamonds, owes its value only to its scarcity.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Rambler, #127 (6 Jun 1751)
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Almost all absurdity of conduct arises from the imitation of those whom we cannot resemble.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Rambler, #135 (2 Jul 1751)
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The mischief of flattery is not that it persuades any man that he is what he is not, but that it suppresses the influence of honest ambition, by raising an opinion that honor may be gained without the toil of merit.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Rambler, #155 (10 Sep 1751)
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Self-love is often rather arrogant than blind; it does not hide our faults from ourselves, but persuades us that they escape the notice of others.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Rambler, #155 (19 Sep 1751)
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The excellence of aphorisms consists not so much in the expression of some rare and abstruse sentiment, as in the comprehension of some obvious and useful truths in a few words. We frequently fall into error and folly, not because the true principles of actions are not not known, but because, for a time, they are not remembered; and he may, therefore, be justly numbered among the benefactors of mankind, who contracts the great rules of life into short sentences, that may be easily impressed on the memory, and taught by frequent recollection to recur habitually to the mind.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Rambler, #175 (19 Nov 1751)
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What are all the records of history, but narratives of successive villainies, of treasons and usurpations, massacres and wars?

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Rambler, #175 (19 Nov 1751)
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But, perhaps, the excellence of aphorisms consists not so much in the expression of some rare or abstruse sentiment, as in the comprehension of some obvious and useful truth in few words.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Rambler, #175 (19 Nov 1751)
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Envy … desires not so much its own happiness as another’s misery.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Rambler, #183 (Dec 1751)
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When once the forms of civility are violated, there remains little hope of return to kindness or decency.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Rambler, #50 (25 Sep 1750)
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Every old man complains of the growing depravity of the world, of the petulance and insolence of the rising generation. He recounts the decency and regularity of former times, and celebrates the discipline and sobriety of the age in which his youth was passed; a happy age which is now no more to be expected, since confusion has broken in upon the world, and thrown down all the boundaries of civility and reverence.

johnson-growing-depravity-of-the-world-wist_info-quote

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Rambler, #50 (8 Sep 1750)
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It is a mortifying reflection for any man to consider what he has done with what he might have done.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment

Quoted by Rev. Dr. Maxwell (1770), in James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791).
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Men know that women are an over-match for them, and therefore they choose the weakest or most ignorant. If they did not think so, they never could be afraid of women knowing as much as themselves.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment

In James Boswell, Tour to the Hebrides (1785).
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[Dr. John] Campbell is a good man, a pious man. I am afraid he has not been in the inside of a church for many years; but he never passes a church without
pulling off his hat. This shews that he has good principles.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (1 Jul 1763)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791).
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While grief is fresh, every attempt to divert only irritates. You must wait till grief be digested, and then amusement will dissipate the remains of it.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (10 Apr 1776)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
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Every man thinks meanly of himself for not having been a soldier, or not having been at sea.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (10 Apr 1778)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
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A man who has not been in Italy is always conscious of an inferiority.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (11 Apr 1776)

In J. Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
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Sir, there is one Mrs. Macaulay in this town, a great republican. One day when I was at her house, I put on a very grave countenance, and said to her, “Madam, I am now become a convert to your way of thinking. I am convinced that all mankind are upon an equal footing; and to give you an unquestionable proof, Madam, that I am in earnest, here is a very sensible, civil, well-behaved fellow-citizen, your footman; I desire that he may be allowed to sit down and dine with us.” I thus, Sir, shewed her the absurdity of the levelling doctrine. She has never liked me since. Sir, your levellers wish to level down as far as themselves; but they cannot bear levelling up to themselves.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (12 Jul 1763)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
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I deny the lawfulness of telling a lie to a sick man for fear of alarming him; you have no business with consequences, you are to tell the truth.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (13 Jun 1784)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
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All knowledge is of itself of some value. There is nothing so minute or inconsiderable that I would not rather know it than not.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (14 Apr 1775)
    (Source)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
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This is the happiest conversation, where there is no competition, no vanity, but a calm, quiet interchange of sentiments.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (14 Apr 1775)

In James Boswell The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
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Hell is paved with good intentions.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (14 Apr 1775)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791). This is noted as a "proverbial sentence" even at that time. John Ray, in 1670, cited as a proverb, "Hell is paved with good intentions." Note that "The road to Hell ..." is not part of the quotation.
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But if he does really think that there is no distinction between virtue and vice, why, Sir, when he leaves our houses let us count our spoons.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (14 Jul 1763)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
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A man ought to read just as inclination leads him; for what he reads as a task will do him little good.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (14 Jul 1763)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
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I have, all my life long, been lying till noon; yet I tell all young men, and tell them with great sincerity, that nobody who does not rise early will ever do any good.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (14 Sep 1773)

In James Boswell, Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides (1786)
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I have, all my life long, been lying till noon; yet I tell all young men, and tell them with great sincerity, that nobody who does not rise early will ever do any good.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (14 Sep 1773)

In James Boswell, Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides (1786).
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I have, all my life long, been lying till noon; yet I tell all young men, and tell them with great sincerity, that nobody who does not rise early will ever do any good.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (14 Sep 1773)

In James Boswell, Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides (1786)
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Pleasure of itself is not a vice.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (15 Apr 1778)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
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All theory is against the freedom of the will; all experience for it.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (15 Apr 1778)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
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If lawyers were to undertake no causes till they were sure they were just, a man might be precluded altogether from a trial of his claim, though, were it judicially examined, it might be found a very just claim.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (15 Aug 1773)

In James Boswell, Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides (1786)
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A lawyer has no business with the justice or injustice of the cause which he undertakes, unless his client asks his opinion, and then he is bound to give it honestly. The justice or injustice of the cause is to be decided by the judge.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (15 Aug 1773)

In James Boswell, Tour to the Hebrides (1786)
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We cannot prove any man’s intention to be bad. You may shoot a man through the head, and say you intended to miss him; but the Judge will order you to be hanged.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (15 Feb 1766)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791).
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It is our first duty to serve society, and, after we have done that, we may attend wholly to the salvation of our own souls.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (15 Feb 1766)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
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Men hate more steadily than they love.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (15 Sep 1777)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
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It is better to live rich, than to die rich.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (17 Apr 1778)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
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Sir, I think all Christians, whether Papists or Protestants, agree in the essential articles, and that their differences are trivial, and rather political than religious.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (1763)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
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That fellow seems to me to possess but one idea, and that is a wrong one.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (1770)

Quoting Rev. Dr. Maxwell (1770), in reference to a "dull, tiresome" acquaintance.In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
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That fellow seems to me to possess but one idea, and that is a wrong one.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (1770)
    (Source)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791). Attributed by Rev. Dr. Maxwell while Boswell was out of town. Johnson was "speaking of a dull tiresome fellow, whom he chanced to meet."
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The applause of a single human being is of great consequence.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (1780)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
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Depend upon it if a man talks of his misfortunes there is something in them that is not disagreeable to him; for where there is nothing but pure misery there never is any recourse to the mention of it.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (1780)
    (Source)

In Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson, ch. 51 "1780" (1791)
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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.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (1783)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
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Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (18 Apr 1775)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
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The insolence of wealth will creep out.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (18 Apr 1778)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
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Depend upon it, Sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (19 Sep 1777)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
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If I had no duties, and no reference to futurity, I would spend my life in driving briskly in a post-chaise with a pretty woman.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (19 Sep 1777)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
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Sir, all the arguments which are brought to represent poverty as no evil, shew it to be evidently a great evil. You never find people labouring to convince you that you may live very happily upon a plentiful fortune.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (20 Jul 1768)
    (Source)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
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To let friendship die away by negligence and silence, is certainly not wise. It is voluntarily to throw away one of the greatest comforts of this weary pilgrimage.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (20 Mar 1782)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
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There is nothing which has yet been contrived by man by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (21 Mar 1776)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
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The Church does not superstitiously observe days, merely as days, but as memorials of important facts. Christmas might be kept as well upon one day of the year as another; but there should be a stated day for commemorating the birth of our Savior, because there is danger that what may be done on any day, will be neglected.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (22 Mar 1767)
    (Source)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
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Marriage is the best state for man in general; and every man is a worse man, in proportion as he is unfit for the married state.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (22 Mar 1776)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
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Talking of the danger of being mortified by rejection, when making approaches to the acquaintance of the great, I observed, “I am, however, generally for trying, ‘Nothing venture, nothing have.'” JOHNSON. “Very true, sir; but I have always been more afraid of failing, than hopeful of success.”

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (22 Sep 1777)
    (Source)

In Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)See Heywood.
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I would rather be attacked than unnoticed. For the worst thing you can do to an author is to be silent as to his works. An assault upon a town is a bad thing; but starving it is still worse.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (26 Mar 1779)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
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A decent provision for the poor is the true test of civilization.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (26 Oct 1769)

Quoted by Rev. Dr. Maxwell. In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791).
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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.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (26 Oct 1769)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
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Wine makes a man better pleased with himself. I do not say that it makes him more pleasing to others. … This is one of the disadvantages of wine, it makes a man mistake words for thoughts.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (28 Apr 1778)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
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Wine gives a man nothing. It neither gives him knowledge nor wit; it only animates a man, and enables him to bring out what a dread of the company has repressed. It only puts in motion what had been locked up in frost.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (28 Apr 1778)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
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Every man who attacks my belief, diminishes in some degree my confidence in it, and therefore makes me uneasy; and I am angry with him who makes me uneasy.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (3 Apr 1775)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
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Every man who attacks my belief diminishes in some degree my confidence in it, and therefore makes me uneasy; and I am angry with him who makes me uneasy.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (3 Apr 1776)

Quoted in Boswell, <i>The Life of Samuel Johnson</i> (1791)

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If a madman were to come into this room with a stick in his hand, no doubt we should pity the state of his mind; but our primary consideration would be to take care of ourselves. We should knock him down first, and pity him afterwards.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (3 Apr 1776)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
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It is more from carelessness about truth than from intentional lying, that there is so much falsehood in the world.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (31 Mar 1778)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
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A jest breaks no bones.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (4 Jun 1781)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
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Courage is reckoned the greatest of all virtues; because, unless a man has that virtue, he has no security for preserving any other.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (5 Apr 1775)
    (Source)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
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No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (5 Apr 1776)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
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A cucumber should be well sliced, and dressed with pepper and vinegar, and then thrown out, as good for nothing.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (5 Oct 1773)

In James Boswell, Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides (1786). Given as a common saying among doctors.
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We stood talking for some time together of Bishop Berkeley’s ingenious sophistry to prove the non-existence of matter, and that every thing in the universe is merely ideal. I observed, that though we are satisfied his doctrine is not true, it is impossible to refute it. I shall never forget the alacrity with which Johnson answered, striking his foot with mighty force against a large stone, till he rebounded from it, “I refute it thus.”

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (6 Aug 1763)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791).
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Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (7 Apr 1775)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791):
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.
Ambrose Bierce wrote in his Devil's Dictonary, "In Dr. Johnson's famous dictionary patriotism is defined as the last resort of a scoundrel. With all due respect to an enlightened but inferior lexicographer I beg to submit that it is the first."
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Poverty is a great enemy to human happiness; it certainly destroys liberty, and it makes some virtues impracticable and others extremely difficult.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (7 Dec 1782)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
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It is a man’s own fault, it is from want of use, if his mind grows torpid in old age.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (9 Apr 1778)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
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Towering is the confidence of twenty-one.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (9 Jan 1758)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
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Idleness is a disease which must be combated; but I would not advise a rigid adherence to a particular plan of study. I myself have never persisted in any plan for two days together. A man ought to read just as inclination leads him: for what he reads as a task will do him little good. A young man should read five hours in a day, and so may acquire a great deal of knowledge.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (9 Jul 1763)
    (Source)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
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