Samuel Johnson Quotes

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Samuel Johnson

Samuel Johnson c. 1772,
painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds
Born 18 September 1709 (1709-09-18)
(O.S. 7 September)
Lichfield, Staffordshire, England
Died 13 December 1784 (1784-12-14) (aged 75)
London, England
Occupation Essayist, lexicographer, biographer, poet
Language English
Alma mater Pembroke College, Oxford
(no degree)
Spouse Elizabeth Porter (née Jervis)

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.
Samuel Johnson
Adversity has ever been considered the state in which a man most easily becomes acquainted with himself.
Samuel Johnson
We are inclined to believe those whom we do not know because they have never deceived us.
Samuel Johnson
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.
Samuel Johnson
Whoever thinks of going to bed before twelve o'clock is a scoundrel.
The natural flights of the human mind are not from pleasure to pleasure, but from hope to hope.
Samuel Johnson
Paradise Lost is a book that, once put down, is very hard to pick up again.
Samuel Johnson
Bounty always receives part of its value from the manner in which it is bestowed.
Samuel Johnson
From the middle of life onward, only he remains vitally alive who is ready to die with life.
Samuel Johnson
It is more from carelessness about truth than from intentionally lying that there is so much falsehood in the world.
Samuel Johnson
Of the blessings set before you make your choice, and be content.
If a man does not make new acquaintances as he advances through life, he will soon find himself left alone. A man, sir, should keep his friendship in a constant repair.
Samuel Johnson
Man alone is born crying, lives complaining, and dies disappointed.
Allow children to be happy in their own way, for what better way will they find?
Samuel Johnson
When making your choice in life, do not neglect to live.
There are goods so opposed that we cannot seize both, but, by too much prudence, may pass between them at too great a distance to reach either.
Samuel Johnson
Without frugality none can be rich, and with it very few would be poor.
A man seldom thinks with more earnestness of anything than he does of his dinner.
Samuel Johnson
A man is in general better pleased when he has a good dinner upon his table, than when his wife talks Greek.
Samuel Johnson
When a man says he had pleasure with a woman he does not mean conversation.
Samuel Johnson
Words are but the signs of ideas.
Human life is everywhere a state in which much is to be endured, and little to be enjoyed.
Samuel Johnson
By seeing London, I have seen as much of life as the world can show.
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.
Samuel Johnson
Worth seeing? Yes; but not worth going to see.
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.
Samuel Johnson
Prepare for death, if here at night you roam, and sign your will before you sup from home.
Samuel Johnson
Wine gives a man nothing… it only puts in motion what had been locked up in frost.
Samuel Johnson
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.
Samuel Johnson
The feeling of friendship is like that of being comfortably filled with roast beef; love, like being enlivened with champagne.
Samuel Johnson
I have found men to be more kind than I expected, and less just.
Were it not for imagination a man would be as happy in arms of a chambermaid as of a duchess.
Samuel Johnson
All theory is against freedom of the will; all experience for it.
When any calamity has been suffered the first thing to be remembered is, how much has been escaped.
Samuel Johnson
Promise, large promise, is the soul of an advertisement.
The world is like a grand staircase, some are going up and some are going down.
Samuel Johnson
He that fails in his endeavors after wealth or power will not long retain either honesty or courage.
Samuel Johnson
You teach your daughters the diameters of the planets and wonder when you are done that they do not delight in your company.
Samuel Johnson
If pleasure was not followed by pain, who would forbear it?
Let me smile with the wise, and feed with the rich.
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.
Samuel Johnson
Adversity leads us to think properly of our state, and so is most beneficial to us.
Samuel Johnson
Everything that enlarges the sphere of human powers, that shows man he can do what he thought he could not do, is valuable.
Samuel Johnson
No money is better spent than what is laid out for domestic satisfaction.
Almost every man wastes part of his life attempting to display qualities which he does not possess.
Samuel Johnson
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.
Samuel Johnson
Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance.
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.
Samuel Johnson
The use of travelling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are.
Samuel Johnson
We love to expect, and when expectation is either disappointed or gratified, we want to be again expecting.
Samuel Johnson
You find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.
Samuel Johnson
Self-confidence is the first requisite to great undertakings.
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.
Samuel Johnson
Bachelors have consciences, married men have wives.
The future is purchased by the present.
All travel has its advantages. If the passenger visits better countries, he may learn to improve his own. And if fortune carries him to worse, he may learn to enjoy it.
Samuel Johnson
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.
Samuel Johnson
Love is the wisdom of the fool and the folly of the wise.
No place affords a more striking conviction of the vanity of human hopes than a public library.
Samuel Johnson
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.
Samuel Johnson
All the arguments which are brought to represent poverty as no evil show it evidently to be a great evil.
Samuel Johnson
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.
Samuel Johnson
A fly, Sir, may sting a stately horse and make him wince; but, one is but an insect, and the other is a horse still.
Samuel Johnson
Almost all absurdity of conduct arises from the imitation of those who we cannot resemble.
Samuel Johnson
Books that you carry to the fire, and hold readily in your hand, are most useful after all.
Samuel Johnson
The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.
Samuel Johnson
There is nothing which has yet been contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern.
Samuel Johnson
There is, indeed, nothing that so much seduces reason from vigilance, as the thought of passing life with an amiable woman.
Samuel Johnson
The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.
Samuel Johnson
He who does not mind his belly, will hardly mind anything else.
You can't be in politics unless you can walk in a room and know in a minute who's for you and who's against you.
Samuel Johnson
Exercise is labor without weariness.
It is better to live rich than to die rich.
I look upon every day to be lost, in which I do not make a new acquaintance.
Samuel Johnson
Praise, like gold and diamonds, owes its value only to its scarcity.
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 a book.
Samuel Johnson
Poetry is the art of uniting pleasure with truth.
Life cannot subsist in society but by reciprocal concessions.
Few enterprises of great labor or hazard would be undertaken if we had not the power of magnifying the advantages we expect from them.
Samuel Johnson
Actions are visible, though motives are secret.
So many objections may be made to everything, that nothing can overcome them but the necessity of doing something.
Samuel Johnson
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.
Samuel Johnson
Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it.
Samuel Johnson
There are charms made only for distant admiration.
Melancholy, indeed, should be diverted by every means but drinking.
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.
Samuel Johnson
A wise man will make haste to forgive, because he knows the true value of time, and will not suffer it to pass away in unnecessary pain.
Samuel Johnson
Agriculture not only gives riches to a nation, but the only riches she can call her own.
Samuel Johnson
I had rather see the portrait of a dog that I know, than all the allegorical paintings they can show me in the world.
Samuel Johnson
The love of life is necessary to the vigorous prosecution of any undertaking.
Samuel Johnson
Life is a progress from want to want, not from enjoyment to enjoyment.
Revenge is an act of passion; vengeance of justice. Injuries are revenged; crimes are avenged.
Samuel Johnson
Courage is the greatest of all virtues, because if you haven't courage, you may not have an opportunity to use any of the others.
Samuel Johnson
Depend upon it that if a man talks of his misfortunes there is something in them that is not disagreeable to him; for where there is nothing but pure misery there never is any recourse to the mention of it.
Samuel Johnson
Leisure and curiosity might soon make great advances in useful knowledge, were they not diverted by minute emulation and laborious trifles.
Samuel Johnson
When men come to like a sea-life, they are not fit to live on land.
Love is only one of many passions.
To strive with difficulties, and to conquer them, is the highest human felicity.
Samuel Johnson
It is better that some should be unhappy rather than that none should be happy, which would be the case in a general state of equality.
Samuel Johnson
A man may be so much of everything that he is nothing of anything.
Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.
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.
Samuel Johnson
When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.
Samuel Johnson
To keep your secret is wisdom; but to expect others to keep it is folly.
Books like friends, should be few and well-chosen.
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.
Samuel Johnson
You hesitate to stab me with a word, and know not – silence is the sharper sword.
Samuel Johnson
The wretched have no compassion, they can do good only from strong principles of duty.
Samuel Johnson
Nothing flatters a man as much as the happiness of his wife; he is always proud of himself as the source of it.
Samuel Johnson
Some desire is necessary to keep life in motion, and he whose real wants are supplied must admit those of fancy.
Samuel Johnson
A man will turn over half a library to make one book.
You cannot spend money in luxury without doing good to the poor. Nay, you do more good to them by spending it in luxury, than by giving it; for by spending it in luxury, you make them exert industry, whereas by giving it, you keep them idle.
Samuel Johnson
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.
Samuel Johnson
Curiosity is one of the most permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous intellect.
Samuel Johnson
Small debts are like small shot; they are rattling on every side, and can scarcely be escaped without a wound: great debts are like cannon; of loud noise, but little danger.
Samuel Johnson
The happiest conversation is that of which nothing is distinctly remembered, but a general effect of pleasing impression.
Samuel Johnson
A man who has not been in Italy, is always conscious of an inferiority.
Treating your adversary with respect is striking soft in battle.
Your manuscript is both good and original; but the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good.
Samuel Johnson
He who praises everybody, praises nobody.
I would not give half a guinea to live under one form of government other than another. It is of no moment to the happiness of an individual.
Samuel Johnson
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.
Samuel Johnson
Kindness is in our power, even when fondness is not.
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.
Samuel Johnson
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.
Samuel Johnson
Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome.
Samuel Johnson
I will be conquered; I will not capitulate.
I never desire to converse with a man who has written more than he has read.
Samuel Johnson
What makes all doctrines plain and clear? About two hundred pounds a year. And that which was proved true before, prove false again? Two hundred more.
Samuel Johnson
Life is not long, and too much of it must not pass in idle deliberation how it shall be spent.
Samuel Johnson
Classical quotation is the parole of literary men all over the world.
Getting money is not all a man's business: to cultivate kindness is a valuable part of the business of life.
Samuel Johnson
It is dangerous for mortal beauty, or terrestrial virtue, to be examined by too strong a light. The torch of Truth shows much that we cannot, and all that we would not, see.
Samuel Johnson
The happiest part of a man's life is what he passes lying awake in bed in the morning.
Samuel Johnson
To love one that is great, is almost to be great one's self.
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.
Samuel Johnson
What is easy is seldom excellent.
No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money.
He that undervalues himself will undervalue others, and he that undervalues others will oppress them.
Samuel Johnson
The advice that is wanted is commonly not welcome and that which is not wanted, evidently an effrontery.
Samuel Johnson
It is better to suffer wrong than to do it, and happier to be sometimes cheated than not to trust.
Samuel Johnson
No man can taste the fruits of autumn while he is delighting his scent with the flowers of spring.
Samuel Johnson
He who has so little knowledge of human nature as to seek happiness by changing anything but his own disposition will waste his life in fruitless efforts.
Samuel Johnson
Between falsehood and useless truth there is little difference. As gold which he cannot spend will make no man rich, so knowledge which cannot apply will make no man wise.
Samuel Johnson
Nature has given women so much power that the law has very wisely given them little.
Samuel Johnson
Disease generally begins that equality which death completes.
Power is not sufficient evidence of truth.
A wise man is cured of ambition by ambition itself; his aim is so exalted that riches, office, fortune and favour cannot satisfy him.
Samuel Johnson
What we hope ever to do with ease, we must learn first to do with diligence.
Samuel Johnson
There is no private house in which people can enjoy themselves so well as at a capital tavern… No, Sir; there is nothing which has yet been contrived by man by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn.
Samuel Johnson
There are few ways in which a man can be more innocently employed than in getting money.
Samuel Johnson
Nothing is more hopeless than a scheme of merriment.
One of the disadvantages of wine is that it makes a man mistake words for thoughts.
Samuel Johnson
The true art of memory is the art of attention.
Subordination tends greatly to human happiness. Were we all upon an equality, we should have no other enjoyment than mere animal pleasure.
Samuel Johnson
Being in a ship is being in a jail, with the chance of being drowned.
It generally happens that assurance keeps an even pace with ability.
Many things difficult to design prove easy to performance.
In order that all men may be taught to speak the truth, it is necessary that all likewise should learn to hear it.
Samuel Johnson
Nobody can write the life of a man but those who have eat and drunk and lived in social intercourse with him.
Samuel Johnson
The vanity of being known to be trusted with a secret is generally one of the chief motives to disclose it.
Samuel Johnson
Those who attain any excellence, commonly spend life in one pursuit; for excellence is not often gained upon easier terms.
Samuel Johnson
The chief glory of every people arises from its authors.
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.
Samuel Johnson
A am a great friend of public amusements, they keep people from vice.
Friendship, like love, is destroyed by long absence, though it may be increased by short intermissions.
Samuel Johnson
Dictionaries are like watches, the worst is better than none and the best cannot be expected to go quite true.
Samuel Johnson
Every man is rich or poor according to the proportion between his desires and his enjoyments.
Samuel Johnson
He that will enjoy the brightness of sunshine, must quit the coolness of the shade.
Samuel Johnson
Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.
Samuel Johnson
There are some sluggish men who are improved by drinking; as there are fruits that are not good until they are rotten.
Samuel Johnson
It is a most mortifying reflection for a man to consider what he has done, compared to what he might have done.
Samuel Johnson
No man was ever great by imitation.
The usual fortune of complaint is to excite contempt more than pity.
Where grief is fresh, any attempt to divert it only irritates.
He who waits to do a great deal of good at once will never do anything.
The world is seldom what it seems; to man, who dimly sees, realities appear as dreams, and dreams realities.
Samuel Johnson
My dear friend, clear your mind of cant.
What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure.
Read over your compositions, and when you meet a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out.
Samuel Johnson
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.
Samuel Johnson
The two offices of memory are collection and distribution.
At seventy-seven it is time to be in earnest.
When a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.
Samuel Johnson
It is reasonable to have perfection in our eye that we may always advance toward it, though we know it can never be reached.
Samuel Johnson
Of all noises, I think music is the least disagreeable.

Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance.
A man of genius has been seldom ruined but by himself.
A man ought to read just as inclination leads him, for what he reads as a task will do him little good.
Samuel Johnson
Language is the dress of thought.
Wine makes a man more pleased with himself; I do not say it makes him more pleasing to others.
Samuel Johnson
That we must all die, we always knew; I wish I had remembered it sooner.
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.
Samuel Johnson