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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There are few things that we so unwillingly give up, even in advanced age, as the supposition that we still have the power of ingratiating ourselves with the fair sex.

Nothing flatters a man as much as the happiness of his wife; he is always proud of himself as the source of it.
Just praise is only a debt, but flattery is a present.
Fly fishing may be a very pleasant amusement; but angling or float fishing I can only compare to a stick and a string, with a worm at one end and a fool at the other.
Fear is implanted in us as a preservative from evil; but its duty, like that of other passions, is not to overbear reason, but to assist it. It should not be suffered to tyrannize
Parents and children seldom act in concert: each child endeavors to appropriate the esteem or fondness of the parents, and the parents, with yet less temptation, betray each other to their children.
To get a name can happen but to few; it is one of the few things that cannot be brought. It is the free gift of mankind, which must be deserved before it will be granted, and is at last unwillingly bestowed.
He that pursues fame with just claims, trusts his happiness to the winds; but he that endeavors after it by false merit, has to fear, not only the violence of the storm, but the leaks of his vessel.
As to the rout that is made about people who are ruined by extravagance, it is no matter to the nation that some individuals suffer. When so much general productive exertion is the consequence of luxury, the nation does not care though there are debtors; nay, they would not care though their creditors were there too.
I know not anything more pleasant, or more instructive, than to compare experience with expectation, or to register from time to time the difference between idea and reality. It is by this kind of observation that we grow daily less liable to be disappointed.
Exercise is labor without weariness.
They teach the morals of a whore, and the manners of a dancing master.
It is better that some should be unhappy than that none should be happy, which would be the case in a general state of equality.
It is not true that people are naturally equal for no two people can be together for even a half an hour without one acquiring an evident superiority over the other.
Subordination tends greatly to human happiness. Were we all upon an equality, we should have no other enjoyment than mere animal pleasure.
In lapidary inscriptions a man is not upon oath.
His scorn of the great is repeated too often to be real; no man thinks much of that which he despises.
The love of life is necessary to the vigorous prosecution of any undertaking.
A am a great friend of public amusements, they keep people from vice.
Sir, a man who cannot get to heaven in a green coat, will not find his way thither the sooner in a gray one.
Disease generally begins that equality which death completes.
No man likes to live under the eye of perpetual disapprobation.
Disappointment, when it involves neither shame nor loss, is as good as success; for it supplies as many images to the mind, and as many topics to the tongue.
Lexicographer: a writer of dictionaries, a harmless drudge, that busies himself in tracing the original, and detailing the signification of words.
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.
Dictionaries are like watches; the worst is better than none, and the best cannot be expected to be quite true.
Some desire is necessary to keep life in motion, and he whose real wants are supplied must admit those of fancy.
Life is a progress from want to want, not from enjoyment to enjoyment.
I have always considered it as treason against the great republic of human nature, to make any man's virtues the means of deceiving him.
Small debts are like small gun shot; they are rattling around us on all sides and one can scarcely escape being wounded. Large debts are like canons, they produce a loud noise, but are of little danger.
I will be conquered; I will not capitulate.
You teach your daughters the diameters of the planets and wonder when you are done that they do not delight in your company.
Criticism, as it was first instituted by Aristotle, was meant as a standard of judging well.
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.
Criticism is a study by which men grow important and formidable at very small expense. He whom nature has made weak, and idleness keeps ignorant, may yet support his vanity by the name of a critic.
There are innumerable questions to which the inquisitive mind can in this state receive no answer: Why do you and I exist? Why was this world created? Since it was to be created, why was it not created sooner?
Courage is a quality so necessary for maintaining virtue, that it is always respected, even when it is associated with vice.
Bravery has no place where it can avail nothing.
No two men can be half an hour together but one shall acquire an evident superiority over the other.
I never desire to converse with a man who has written more than he has read.
The happiest conversation is that of which nothing is distinctly remembered but a general effect of pleasing impression.
The luster of diamonds is invigorated by the interposition of darker bodies; the lights of a picture are created by the shades; the highest pleasure which nature has indulged to sensitive perception is that of rest after fatigue.
It generally happens that assurance keeps an even pace with ability.
Life cannot subsist in society but by reciprocal concessions.
Hunger is never delicate; they who are seldom gorged to the full with praise may be safely fed with gross compliments, for the appetite must be satisfied before it is disgusted.
Depend upon it that if a man talks of his misfortunes there is something in them that is not disagreeable to him.
The usual fortune of complaint is to excite contempt more than pity.
Prepare for death, if here at night you roam, and sign your will before you sup from home.
This merriment of parsons is mighty offensive.
Christianity is the highest perfection of humanity.
You are much surer that you are doing good when you pay money to those who work, as the recompense of their labor, than when you give money merely in charity.
He who waits to do a great deal of good at once, will never do anything.
It seems not more reasonable to leave the right of printing unrestrained, because writers may be afterwards censured, than it would be to sleep with doors unbolted, because by our laws we can hang a thief.
No member of society has the right to teach any doctrine contrary to what society holds to be true.
I am sorry I have not learnt to play at cards. It is very useful in life: it generates kindness, and consolidates society.
Do not accustom yourself to consider debt only as an inconvenience. You will find it a calamity.
Every other enjoyment malice may destroy; every other panegyric envy may withhold; but no human power can deprive the boaster of his own encomiums.
Surely a long life must be somewhat tedious, since we are forced to call in so many trifling things to help rid us of our time, which will never return.
Sir, you have but two topics, yourself and me. I am sick of both.
Books that you carry to the fire, and hold readily in your hand, are most useful after all.

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