Quotes by Samuel Johnson

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

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Politics are now nothing more than means of rising in the world. With this sole view do men engage in politics, and their whole conduct proceeds upon it.

I had rather see the portrait of a dog that I know, than all the allegorical paintings they can show me in the world.
This mournful truth is everywhere confessed, slow rises worth by poverty depressed.
Poverty is often concealed in splendor, and often in extravagance. It is the task of many people to conceal their neediness from others. Consequently they support themselves by temporary means, and everyday is lost in contriving for tomorrow.
Resolve not to be poor: whatever you have, spend less. Poverty is a great enemy to human happiness; it certainly destroys liberty, and it makes some virtues impracticable, and others extremely difficult.
Nature makes us poor only when we want necessaries, but custom gives the name of poverty to the want of superfluities.
It is the great privilege of poverty to be happy and yet unenvied, to be healthy with physic, secure without a guard, and to obtain from the bounty of nature what the great and wealthy are compelled to procure by the help of art.
He who praises everybody, praises nobody.
The real satisfaction which praise can afford, is when what is repeated aloud agrees with the whispers of conscience, by showing us that we have not endeavored to deserve well in vain.
A continual feast of commendation is only to be obtained by merit or by wealth: many are therefore obliged to content themselves with single morsels, and recompense the infrequency of their enjoyment by excess and riot, whenever fortune sets the banquet before them.
A man who is good enough to go to heaven is not good enough to be a clergyman.
Go into the street, and give one man a lecture on morality, and another a shilling, and see which will respect you most.
Prejudice not being funded on reason cannot be removed by argument.
Pride is seldom delicate; it will please itself with very mean advantages.
He may justly be numbered among the benefactors of mankind, who contracts the great rules of life into short sentences, that may early be impressed on the memory, and taught by frequent recollection to occur habitually to the mind.
Prudence operates on life in the same manner as rule of composition; it produces vigilance rather than elevation; rather prevents loss than procures advantage; and often miscarriages, but seldom reaches either power or honor.
Prudence is an attitude that keeps life safe, but does not often make it happy.
Ah! Sir, a boy's being flogged is not so severe as a man's having the hiss of the world against him.
Questioning is not the mode of conversation among gentlemen.
Classical quotation is the parole of literary men all over the world.
He is a benefactor of mankind who contracts the great rules of life into short sentences, that may be easily impressed on the memory, and so recur habitually to the mind.
Every quotation contributes something to the stability or enlargement of the language.
Surely life, if it be not long, is tedious, since we are forced to call in the assistance of so many trifles to rid us of our time, of that time which never can return.
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.
Why, Sir, most schemes of political improvement are very laughable things.
The blaze of reputation cannot be blown out, but it often dies in the socket; a very few names may be considered as perpetual lamps that shine unconsumed.
Attention and respect give pleasure, however late, or however useless. But they are not useless, when they are late, it is reasonable to rejoice, as the day declines, to find that it has been spent with the approbation of mankind.
A mere literary man is a dull man; a man who is solely a man of business is a selfish man; but when literature and commerce are united, they make a respectable man.
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 drive into a corner, and who does nothing when he is there but sit and growl. Let him come out as I do, and bark.
What ever the motive for the insult, it is always best to overlook it; for folly doesn't deserve resentment, and malice is punished by neglect.
And then, Sir, there is this consideration, that if the abuse be enormous, nature will rise up, and claiming her original rights, overturn a corrupt political system.
Some people wave their dogmatic thinking until their own reason is entangled.
It is better to live rich, than to die rich.
One cause, which is not always observed, of the insufficiency of riches, is that they very seldom make their owner rich.
It is wonderful to think how men of very large estates not only spend their yearly income, but are often actually in want of money. It is clear, they have not value for what they spend.
There mark what ills the scholar's life assail, toil, envy, want, and patron.
I am not able to instruct you. I can only tell that I have chosen wrong. I have passed my time in study without experience; in the attainment of sciences which can, for the most part, be but remotely useful to mankind. I have purchased knowledge at the expense of all the common comforts of life: I have missed the endearing elegance of female friendship, and the happy commerce of domestic tenderness.
When men come to like a sea-life, they are not fit to live on land.
Where secrecy or mystery begins, vice or roguery is not far off.
The vanity of being known to be trusted with a secret is generally one of the chief motives to disclose it.
Security will produce danger.
That kind of life is most happy which affords us most opportunities of gaining our own esteem.
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.
The highest panegyric, therefore, that private virtue can receive, is the praise of servants.
Life will not bear refinement. You must do as other people do.
Nay, Madam, when you are declaiming, declaim; and when you are calculating, calculate.
Truth, Sir, is a cow which will yield such people no more milk, and so they are gone to milk the bull.
If a man could say nothing against a character but what he can prove, history could not be written.
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.
There is no wisdom in useless and hopeless sorrow, but there is something in it so like virtue, that he who is wholly without it cannot be loved.
Sorrow is the rust of the soul and activity will cleanse and brighten it.
When speculation has done its worst, two and two still make four.
Round numbers are always false.
It was his peculiar happiness that he scarcely ever found a stranger whom he did not leave a friend; but it must likewise be added, that he had not often a friend long without obliging him to become a stranger.
The mind is refrigerated by interruption; the thoughts are diverted from the principal subject; the reader is weary, he suspects not why; and at last throws away the book, which he has too diligently studied.
He that is already corrupt is naturally suspicious, and he that becomes suspicious will quickly become corrupt.
Its proper use is to amuse the idle, and relax the studious, and dilute the full meals of those who cannot use exercise, and will not use abstinence.
A short letter to a distant friend is, in my opinion, an insult like that of a slight bow or cursory salutation -- a proof of unwillingness to do much, even where there is a necessity of doing something.
In a man's letters you know, Madam, his soul lies naked, his letters are only the mirror of his breast, whatever passes within him is shown undisguised in its natural process. Nothing is inverted, nothing distorted, you see systems in their elements, you discover actions in their motives.
Money and time are the heaviest burdens of life, and the unhappiest of all mortals are those who have more of either than they know how to use.