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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What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure.

Nobody can write the life of a man but those who have eat and drunk and lived in social intercourse with him.
I have thought of a pulley to raise me gradually; but that would give me pain, as it would counteract my natural inclination. I would have something that can dissipate the inertia and give elasticity to the muscles. We can heat the body, we can cool it; we can give it tension or relaxation; and surely it is possible to bring it into a state in which rising from bed will not be a pain.
The happiest part of a man's life is what he passes lying awake in bed in the morning.
They that have grown old in a single state are generally found to be morose, fretful and captious; tenacious of their own practices and maxims; soon offended by contradiction or negligence; and impatient of any association but with those that will watch their nod, and submit themselves to unlimited authority.
No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.
No man will be a sailor who has contrivance enough to get himself into a jail; for being in a ship is being in a jail, with the chance of being drowned. A man in a jail has more room, better food and commonly better company.
Every man thinks meanly of himself for not having been a soldier, or not having been at sea.
The applause of a single human being is of great consequence.
Nothing is more common than mutual dislike, where mutual approbation is particularly expected.
Few enterprises of great labor or hazard would be undertaken if we had not the power of magnifying the advantages we expect from them.
We love to expect, and when expectation is either disappointed or gratified, we want to be again expecting.
Sir, they are a race of convicts, and ought to be thankful for anything we allow them short of hanging.
To be happy at home is the ultimate result of all ambition, the end to which every enterprise and labor tends, and of which every desire prompts the prosecution.
He that fails in his endeavors after wealth or power will not long retain either honesty or courage.
There are some sluggish men who are improved by drinking; as there are fruits that are not good until they are rotten.
A man who exposes himself when he is intoxicated, has not the art of getting drunk.
At seventy-seven it is time to be in earnest.
When I was as you are now, towering in the confidence of twenty-one, little did I suspect that I should be at forty-nine, what I now am.
The advice that is wanted is commonly not welcome and that which is not wanted, evidently an effrontery.
The trade of advertising is now so near perfection that it is not easy to propose any improvement. But as every art ought to be exercised in due subordination to the public good, I cannot but propose it as a moral question to these masters of the public ear, whether they do not sometimes play too wantonly with our passions.
Players, Sir! I look on them as no better than creatures set upon tables and joint stools to make faces and produce laughter, like dancing dogs.
Virtue is too often merely local.
The wise man applauds he who he thinks most virtuous; the rest of the world applauds the wealthy.
A vow is a snare for sin.
He is no wise man who will quit a certainty for an uncertainty.
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.
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.
A decent provision for the poor is the true test of civilization.
Men more frequently require to be reminded than informed.
To a pet nothing can be useless.
It is always observable that silence propagates itself, and that the longer talk has been suspended, the more difficult it is to find any thing to say.
Wine makes a man more pleased with himself. I do not say that it makes him more pleasing to others.
Oats—A grain which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people.
Keeping accounts, Sir, is of no use when a man is spending his own money, and has nobody to whom he is to account. You won’t eat less beef today, because you have written down what it cost yesterday.
Towering is the confidence of twenty-one.
From those bright regions of eternal day, Where now thou shin'st amongst thy fellow saints, Array'd in purer light, look down on me! In pleasing visions and delusive dreams. O! sooth my soul, and teach me how to lose thee.
The true period of human existence may be reasonably estimated as forty years.
Long-expected one and twenty Ling'ring year at last is flown; Pomp and Pleasure, Pride and Plenty, Great Sir John, are all your own.
When first the college rolls receive his name, The young enthusiast quits his ease for fame; Through all his veins the fever of renown Burns from the strong contagion of the gown. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Deign on the passing world to turn thine eyes, And pause awhile from letters, to be wise; There mark what ills the scholar's life assail, Toil, envy, want, the patron, and the jail.
He who has provoked the shaft of wit, cannot complain that he smarts from it.
A man is in general better pleased when he has a good dinner upon his table, than when his wife talks Greek.
All wonder is the effect of novelty on ignorance.
It is wonderful when a calculation is made, how little the mind is actually employed in the discharge of any profession.
That observation which is called knowledge of the world will be found much more frequently to make men cunning than good.
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.
I know not, Madam, that you have a right, upon moral principles, to make your readers suffer so much.
In all pointed sentences, some degree of accuracy must be sacrificed to conciseness.
So different are the colors of life, as we look forward to the future, or backward to the past; and so different the opinions and sentiments which this contrariety of appearance naturally produces, that the conversation of the old and young ends generally with contempt or pity on either side.
Youth enters the world with very happy prejudices in her own favor. She imagines herself not only certain of accomplishing every adventure, but of obtaining those rewards which the accomplishment may deserve. She is not easily persuaded to believe that the force of merit can be resisted by obstinacy and avarice, or its luster darkened by envy and malignity.
A gentleman who had been very unhappy in marriage, married immediately after his wife died: Johnson said, it was the triumph of hope over experience.
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.
He who praises every body, praises nobody.
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.
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.
Depend upon it, Sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.
ALMOST ALL ABSURDITY OF CONDUCT ARISES FROM THE IMITATION OF THOSE WHOM WE CANNOT RESEMBLE.
[Sunday] should be different from another day. People may walk, but not throw stones at birds. There may be relaxation, but there should be no levity.
Without frugality none can be rich, and with it very few would be poor.
The love of Retirement has, in all ages, adhered closely to those minds which have been most enlarged by knowledge, or elevated by genius. Those who enjoyed every thing generally supposed to confer happiness have been forced to seek it in the shades of privacy.