Quotes by Samuel Johnson

Get quotes of the day


How do you feel today?    I feel ...

Dr. Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) was an English critic, poet and essayist. more

Add to my favourites Get these quotes on a PDF
Sir, he was dull in company, dull in his closet, dull everywhere. He was dull in a new way, and that made many people think him great.

If your determination is fixed, I do not counsel you to despair. Few things are impossible to diligence and skill. Great works are performed not by strength, but perseverance.
He that would be superior to external influences must first become superior to his own passions.
Self-confidence is the first requisite to great undertakings.
Those who attain to any excellence commonly spend life in some single pursuit, for excellence is not often gained upon easier terms.
The wretched have no compassion, they can do good only from strong principles of duty.
There are charms made only for distance admiration.
The return of my birthday, if I remember it, fills me with thoughts which it seems to be the general care of humanity to escape.
Promise, large promise, is the soul of an advertisement.
Wickedness is always easier than virtue, for it takes a short cut to everything.
He that outlives a wife whom he has long loved, sees himself disjoined from the only mind that has the same hopes, and fears, and interest; from the only companion with whom he has shared much good and evil; and with whom he could set his mind at liberty, to retrace the past or anticipate the future. The continuity of being is lacerated; the settled course of sentiment and action is stopped; and life stands suspended and motionless.
Nature has given women so much power that the law has very wisely given them little.
It is better to suffer wrong than to do it, and happier to be sometimes cheated than not to trust.
There is nothing so much seduces reason from vigilance as the thought of passing life with an amiable woman in marriage.
Praise, like gold and diamonds, owes its value only to its scarcity.
The world will never be long without some good reason to hate the unhappy; their real faults are immediately detected, and if those are not sufficient to sink them into infamy, an additional weight of calumny will be super added.
To be idle and to be poor have always been reproaches, and therefore every man endeavors with his utmost care to hide his poverty from others, and his idleness from himself.
Sir, I have found you an argument; but I am not obliged to find you an understanding.
No government power can be abused long. Mankind will not bear it. There is a remedy in human nature against tyranny, that will keep us safe under every form of government.
Except during the nine months before he draws his first breath, no man manages his affairs as well as a tree. We are inclined to believe those whom we do not know because they have never deceived us.
Worth seeing? Yes; but not worth going to see.
As the Spanish proverb says, He who would bring home the wealth of the Indies, must carry the wealth of the Indies with him. So it is in travelling; a man must carry knowledge with him, if he would bring home knowledge.
The use of traveling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are.
He that travels in theory has no inconveniences; he has shade and sunshine at his disposal, and wherever he alights finds tables of plenty and looks of gaiety. These ideas are indulged till the day of departure arrives, the chaise is called, and the progress of happiness begins. A few miles teach him the fallacies of imagination. The road is dusty, the air is sultry, the horses are sluggish. He longs for the time of dinner that he may eat and rest. The inn is crowded, his orders are neglected, and nothing remains but that he devour in haste what the cook has spoiled, and drive on in quest of better entertainment. He finds at night a more commodious house, but the best is always worse than he expected.
When any calamity has been suffered, the first thing to be remembered is how much has been escaped.
There is nothing, Sir, too little for so little a creature as man. It is by studying little things that we attain the great art of having as little misery and as much happiness as possible.
The drama's laws, the drama's patrons give, for we that live to please, must please to live.
He that embarks on the voyage of life will always wish to advance rather by the impulse of the wind than the strokes of the oar; and many fold in their passage; while they lie waiting for the gale.
By taking a second wife he pays the highest compliment to the first, by showing that she made him so happy as a married man, that he wishes to be so a second time.
It is not from reason and prudence that people marry, but from inclination.
There is, indeed, nothing that so much seduces reason from vigilance, as the thought of passing life with an amiable woman.
Marriage has many pains, but celibacy has no pleasures.
I would advise you Sir, to study algebra, if you are not already an adept in it: your head would be less muddy, and you will leave off tormenting your neighbors about paper and packthread, while we all live together in a world that is bursting with sin and sorrow.
The true art of memory is the art of attention.
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.
The most heterogeneous ideas are yoked by violence together; nature and art are ransacked for illustrations, comparisons, and allusions; their learning instructs, and their subtlety surprises; but the reader commonly thinks his improvement dearly bought and, though he sometimes admires, is seldom pleased.
There are few minds to which tyranny is not delightful.
Do not discourage your children from hoarding, if they have a taste to it; whoever lays up his penny rather than part with it for a cake, at least is not the slave of gross appetite; and shows besides a preference always to be esteemed, of the future to the present moment.
Count on it, if a person talks of their misfortune, there is something in it that is not disagreeable to them.
That fellow seems to me to possess but one idea, and that is a wrong one.
Whatever you have spend less.
There are few ways in which a man can be more innocently employed than in getting money.
Cruel with guilt, and daring with despair, the midnight murderer bursts the faithless bar; invades the sacred hour of silent rest and leaves, unseen, a dagger in your breast.
Difficult do you call it, Sir? I wish it were impossible.
It is the only sensual pleasure without vice.
The noblest prospect which a Scotchman ever sees is the high road that leads him to England.
Much may be made of a Scotchman, if he be caught young.
The majority have no other reason for their opinions than that they are the fashion.
Pain is less subject than pleasure to careless expression.
In all evils which admits a remedy, impatience should be avoided, because it wastes the time and attention in complaints which, if properly applied, might remove the cause.
Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.
Is not a patron, my lord, one who looks with unconcern on a man struggling for life in the water, and, when he has reached ground, encumbers him with help? The notice which you have been pleased to take of my labors, had it been early, had been kind; but it has been delayed till I am indifferent, and cannot enjoy it; till I am solitary, and cannot impart it; till I am known, and do not want it.
Patron: One who countenances, supports or protects. Commonly a wretch who supports with insolence, and is paid with flattery.
Distance has the same effect on the mind as on the eye.
If I have said something to hurt a man once, I shall not get the better of this by saying many things to please him.
If he really thinks there is no distinction between vice and virtue, when he leaves our houses let us count our spoons.
A wicked fellow is the most pious when he takes to it. He'll beat you all at piety.
Piety practiced 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 splendor of beneficence.
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.
Many things difficult in design prove easy in performance.

Get Quotes of the Day

Your daily dose of thought, inspiration and motivation.