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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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.

The natural flights of the human mind are not from pleasure to pleasure, but from hope to hope.
Nothing . . . will ever be attempted, if all possible objections must be first overcome.
Great works are performed not by strength, but by perseverance.
A fly may sting a stately horse and make him wince; but one is but an insect, and the other is a horse still.
Hope is itself a species of happiness, and, perhaps, the chief happiness which this world affords: but, like all other pleasures immoderately enjoyed, the excesses of hope must be expiated by pain; and expectations improperly indulged must end in disappointment.
Whoever thinks of going to bed before twelve o clock is a scoundrel.
Revenge is the act of passion, vengeance is an act of justice.
To keep your secret is wisdom; but to expect others to keep it is folly.
Language is the dress of thought.
Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.
There can be no friendship without confidence, and no confidence without integrity.
Your manuscript is both good and original; but the parts that are good are not original, and the parts that are original are not good.
Pleasure that is obtained by unreasonable and unsuitable cost, must always end in pain.
Sir, a man may be so much of everything, that he is nothing of anything.
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.
We love to overlook the boundaries which we do not wish to pass.
The chains of habit are generally too week to be felt, until they are too strong to be broken.
Adversity is the state in which man mostly easily becomes acquainted with himself, being especially free of admirers then.
The greatest part of a writer's time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book.
Love is the wisdom of the fool and the folly of the wise.
Marriage is the best state for man in general, and every man is a worst man in proportion to the level he is unfit for marriage.
What is read twice is usually remembered more than what is once written.
The Irish are a fair people: They never speak well of one another.
I found you essay to be good and original. However, the part that was original was not good and the part that was good was not original.
He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man.
Treating your adversary with respect is giving him an advantage to which he is not entitled.
Solitude is dangerous to reason, without being favorable to virtue. Remember that the solitary mortal is certainly luxurious, probably superstitious, and possibly mad.
If you are idle, be not solitary; if you are solitary, be not idle.
No place affords a more striking conviction of the vanity of human hopes than a public library.
No one ever became great by imitation.
What we hope ever to do with ease, we must learn first to do with diligence.
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.
Curiosity is, in great and generous minds, the first passion and the last.
Curiosity is one of the permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous mind.
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.
A man ought to read just as his inclination leads him; for what he reads as a task will do him little good.
I am willing to love all mankind, except an American.
There is nothing which has yet been contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern.
The longer we live the more we think and the higher the value we put on friendship and tenderness towards parents and friends.
In traveling, a man must carry knowledge with him, if he would bring home knowledge.
Melancholy, indeed, should be diverted by every means but drinking.
He that thinks he can afford to be negligent is not far from being poor.
Pleasure is very seldom found where it is sought. Our brightest blazes are commonly kindled by unexpected sparks.
Suspicion is most often useless pain.
I am always sorry when any language is lost, because languages are the pedigrees of nations.
Man is not weak; knowledge is more than equivalent to force.
The next best thing to knowing something is knowing where to find it.
I hate mankind, for I think of myself as one of the best of them, and I know how bad I am.
Nothing is more hopeless than a scheme of merriment.
No money is better spent than what is laid out for domestic satisfaction.
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.
There are minds so impatient of inferiority that their gratitude is a species of revenge, and they return benefits, not because recompense is a pleasure, but because obligation is a pain.
The future is purchased by the present.
The most fatal disease of friendship is gradual decay, or dislike hourly increased by causes too slender for complaint, and too numerous for removal.
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 the weary pilgrimage.
He who does not mind his belly, will hardly mind anything else.
Shame arises from the fear of men, conscience from the fear of God.
Read your own compositions, and when you meet a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out.
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.
Life must be filled up, and the man who is not capable of intellectual pleasures must content himself with such as his senses can afford.
If pleasure was not followed by pain, who would forbear it?
No man is a hypocrite in his pleasures.
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.
Their learning is like bread in a besieged town: every man gets a little, but no man gets a full meal.
Turn on the prudent ant thy heedful eyes. Observe her labors, sluggard, and be wise.
I would be loath to speak ill of any person who I do not know deserves it, but I am afraid he is an attorney.
Lawyers know life practically. A bookish man should always have them to converse with.
What provokes your risibility, Sir? Have I said anything that you understand? Then I ask pardon of the rest of the company.
Language is only the instrument of science, and words are but the signs of ideas.
Labor, if it were not necessary for existence, would be indispensable for the happiness of man.
Excellence in any department can be attained only by the labor of a lifetime; it is not to be purchased at a lesser price.
Knowledge is more than equivalent to force.
Knowledge always demands increase; it is like fire, which must first be kindled by some external agent, but will afterwards always propagate itself.
Knowledge is of two kinds: We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information about it.
More knowledge may be gained of a man's real character by a short conversation with one of his servants than from a formal and studied narrative, begun with his pedigree and ended with his funeral.
I have found men to be more kind than I expected, and less just.
To act from pure benevolence is not possible for finite human beings, Human benevolence is mingled with vanity, interest, or some other motive.
To cultivate kindness is a valuable part of the business of life.
A Judge may be a farmer; but he is not to geld his own pigs. A Judge may play a little at cards for his own amusement; but he is not to play at marbles, or chuck farthing in the Piazza.
I gleaned jests at home from obsolete farces.
It is easy to talk of sitting at home contented, when others are seeing or making shows. But not to have been where it is supposed, and seldom supposed falsely, that all would go if they could; to be able to say nothing when everyone is talking; to have no opinion when everyone is judging; to hear exclamations of rapture without power to depress; to listen to falsehoods without right to contradict, is, after all, a state of temporary inferiority, in which the mind is rather hardened by stubbornness, than supported by fortitude. If the world be worth winning let us enjoy it, if it is to be despised let us despise it by conviction. But the world is not to be despised but as it is compared with something better.
No man is much regarded by the rest of the world. He that considers how little he dwells upon the condition of others, will learn how little the attention of others is attracted by himself. While we see multitudes passing before us, of whom perhaps not one appears to deserve our notice or excites our sympathy, we should remember, that we likewise are lost in the same throng, that the eye which happens to glance upon us is turned in a moment on him that follows us, and that the utmost which we can reasonably hope or fear is to fill a vacant hour with prattle, and be forgotten.
So far is it from being true that men are naturally equal, that no two people can be half an hour together, but one shall acquire an evident superiority over the other.
I have protracted my work till most of those whom I wished to please have sunk into the grave, and success and miscarriage are empty sounds: I therefore dismiss it with frigid tranquillity, having little to fear or hope from censure or from praise.
No man was ever great by imitation.
Almost all absurdity of conduct arises from the imitation of those who we cannot resemble.
Were it not for imagination a man would be as happy in arms of a chambermaid as of a duchess.
Perhaps man is the only being that can properly be called idle.
As peace is the end of war, so to be idle is the ultimate purpose of the busy.
It is very strange, and very melancholy, that the paucity of human pleasures should persuade us ever to call hunting one of them.
I am a great friend to public amusements, for they keep the people from vice.
It is, indeed, at home that every man must be known by those who would make a just estimate either of his virtue or felicity; for smiles and embroidery are alike occasional, and the mind is often dressed for show in painted honor, and fictitious benevolence.
Great abilities are not requisite for an Historian; for in historical composition, all the greatest powers of the human mind are quiescent. He has facts ready to his hand; so there is no exercise of invention. Imagination is not required in any degree; only about as much as is used in the lowest kinds of poetry. Some penetration, accuracy, and coloring, will fit a man for the task, if he can give the application which is necessary.
Claret is the liquor for boys; port for men; but he who aspires to be a hero must drink brandy.
For who is pleased with himself.
Happiness is not a state to arrive at, rather, a manner of traveling.
We are long before we are convinced that happiness is never to be found; and each believes it possessed by others, to keep alive the hope of obtaining it for himself.
To strive with difficulties, and to conquer them, is the highest human felicity.
Sir, that all who are happy, are equally happy, is not true. A peasant and a philosopher may be equally satisfied, but not equally happy. Happiness consists in the multiplicity of agreeable consciousness.
The habit of looking on the best side of every event is worth more than a thousand pounds a years.
We are inclined to believe those whom we don not know because they have never deceived us.
Where grief is fresh, any attempt to divert it only irritates.
Avarice is generally the last passion of those lives of which the first part has been squandered in pleasure, and the second devoted to ambition. He that sinks under the fatigue of getting wealth, lulls his age with the milder business of saving it.
The superiority of some men is merely local. They are great because their associates are little.
He was dull in a new way, and that made many think him great.
I would not give half a guinea to live under one form of government rather than another. It is of no moment to the happiness of an individual.
The Supreme end of education is expert discernment in all things -- the power to tell the good from the bad, the genuine from the counterfeit, and to prefer the good and the genuine to the bad and the counterfeit.
The chief glory of every people arises from its authors.
Sir, he throws away his money without thought and without merit. I do not call a tree generous that sheds its fruit at every breeze.
Our tastes greatly alter. The lad does not care for the child's rattle, and the old man does not care for the young man's whore.
Sir, I do not call a gamester a dishonest man; but I call him an unsociable man, an unprofitable man. Gaming is a mode of transferring property without producing any intermediate good.
Tomorrow is an old deceiver, and his cheat never grows stale.
The endearing elegance of female friendship.
Never, my dear Sir, do you take it into your head that I do not love you; you may settle yourself in full confidence both of my love and my esteem; I love you as a kind man, I value you as a worthy man, and hope in time to reverence you as a man of exemplary piety.
I look upon every day to be lost, in which I do not make a new acquaintance.
If a man does not make new acquaintances as he advances through life, he will soon find himself left alone; one should keep his friendships in constant repair.
Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth, and every other man has a right to knock him down for it. Martyrdom is the test.
All theory is against freedom of the will; all experience for it.
A man seldom thinks with more earnestness of anything than he does of his dinner.
Extended empires are like expanded gold, exchanging solid strength for feeble splendor.
When a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.
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.