Samuel Johnson Quotes

Most popular Samuel Johnson Quotes

The chains of habit are generally too small to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.
β€” Samuel Johnson

habit

A jest breaks no bones.
β€” Samuel Johnson
Whatever you have, spend less.
β€” Samuel Johnson
The present hour is man's alone.
β€” Samuel Johnson
Language is the dress of thought.
β€” Samuel Johnson (Lives of the English Poets)

language

No man was ever great by imitation.
β€” Samuel Johnson
Every man is of importance to himself.
β€” Samuel Johnson

egotism

No man is a hypocrite in his pleasure.
β€” Samuel Johnson

hypocrisy

The insolence of wealth will creep out.
β€” Samuel Johnson (Life of Samuel Johnson)

wealth

The future is purchased by the present.
β€” Samuel Johnson (The Rambler)

future

The great source of pleasure is variety.
β€” Samuel Johnson

variety

He who praises everybody praises nobody.
β€” Samuel Johnson

praise

Judgment is forced upon us by experience.
β€” Samuel Johnson
It is better to live rich than to die rich.
β€” Samuel Johnson

money wealth

Knowledge is more than equivalent to force.
β€” Samuel Johnson
In all pleasure hope is a considerable part.
β€” Samuel Johnson
Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.
β€” Samuel Johnson (Life of Samuel Johnson)

patriotism

Ignorance, when it is voluntary, is criminal.
β€” Samuel Johnson (The History of Rasselas)

ignorance

It is the only sensual pleasure without vice.
β€” Samuel Johnson (European Magazine)

music

Nothing can be truly great which is not right.
β€” Samuel Johnson
The true art of memory is the art of attention.
β€” Samuel Johnson (The Idler)

Attention memory

Man has a great aversion to intellectual labor.
β€” Samuel Johnson
Men become friends by a community of pleasures.
β€” Samuel Johnson
Where there is no hope there can be no endeavor.
β€” Samuel Johnson
It matters not how a man dies, but how he lives.
β€” Samuel Johnson
Where there is no hope, there can be no endeavor.
β€” Samuel Johnson (The Rambler)

hope hopelessness

Few things are impossible to diligence and skill.
β€” Samuel Johnson

diligence

All intellectual improvement arises from leisure.
β€” Samuel Johnson
There are charms made only for distant admiration.
β€” Samuel Johnson (Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets)
Deviation from Nature is deviation from happiness.
β€” Samuel Johnson

nature

A country governed by a despot is an inverted cone.
β€” Samuel Johnson (Life of Samuel Johnson)

despotism

Employment, sir, and hardships, prevent melancholy.
β€” Samuel Johnson (Life of Samuel Johnson)

melancholy

The foundation of knowledge must be laid by reading.
β€” Samuel Johnson
A man of genius has been seldom ruined but by himself.
β€” Samuel Johnson

genius

Just praise is only a debt, but flattery is a present.
β€” Samuel Johnson (The Rambler)

flattery

Marriage is the strictest tie of perpetual friendship.
β€” Samuel Johnson
Marriage has many pains, but celibacy has no pleasures.
β€” Samuel Johnson

marriage

Promise, large promise, is the soul of an advertisement.
β€” Samuel Johnson (The Idler)

advertising

Those who do not feel pain seldom think that it is felt.
β€” Samuel Johnson (The Rambler)

pain

The chief glory of every people arises from its authors.
β€” Samuel Johnson

writers

A biographical incident; a minute passage of private life.
β€” Samuel Johnson (anecdote)

anecdote

Lexicographerβ€”A writer of dictionaries, a harmless drudge.
β€” Samuel Johnson (Dictionary of the English Language)

dictionary lexicography

Riches exclude only one inconvenience, and that is poverty.
β€” Samuel Johnson
The applause of a single human being is of great consequence.
β€” Samuel Johnson
Disease generally begins that equality which death completes.
β€” Samuel Johnson (The Rambler)

disease

Life cannot subsist in society but by reciprocal concessions.
β€” Samuel Johnson

compromise

Self-confidence is the first requisite to great undertakings.
β€” Samuel Johnson
Abstinence is as easy to me as temperance would be difficult.
β€” Samuel Johnson

abstinence

Every man's affairs, however little, are important to himself.
β€” Samuel Johnson (Life of Samuel Johnson)

self-interest

Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance.
β€” Samuel Johnson

determination perseverance

Expectation improperly indulged in must end in disappointment.
β€” Samuel Johnson (Life of Samuel Johnson)

expectation

Prejudice not founded on reason cannot be removed by argument.
β€” Samuel Johnson

prejudice

The applause of a single human being is of a great consequence.
β€” Samuel Johnson (Life of Samuel Johnson)

applause praise

Great works are performed, not by strength, but by perseverance.
β€” Samuel Johnson

perseverance

Kindness, at least actual, is in our power, but fondness is not.
β€” Samuel Johnson (Life of Samuel Johnson)

kindness

To cultivate kindness is a valuable part of the business of life.
β€” Samuel Johnson
The first years of a man's life must make provision for the last.
β€” Samuel Johnson
Moderation is commonly firm, and firmness is commonly successful.
β€” Samuel Johnson
A decent provision for the poor is the true test of civilisation.
β€” Samuel Johnson

poverty

A decent provision for the poor is the true test of civilization.
β€” Samuel Johnson
Praise like gold and diamonds owes its value only to its scarcity.
β€” Samuel Johnson
Being in a ship is being in jail, with the chance of being drowned.
β€” Samuel Johnson (Life of Samuel Johnson)

ships

One is not a wise man that will quit a certainty for an uncertainty.
β€” Samuel Johnson
The morality of an action depends upon the motive from which we act.
β€” Samuel Johnson
Praise, like gold and diamonds, owes its value only to its scarcity.
β€” Samuel Johnson (The Rambler)

praise

Life is a pill which none of us can bear to swallow without gilding.
β€” Samuel Johnson (Anecdotes of the Late Samuel Johnson)

life

Impatience of study is the mental disease of the present generation.
β€” Samuel Johnson
Life is a progress from want to want, not from enjoyment to enjoyment.
β€” Samuel Johnson (Wanting)
A fishing rod is a stick with a hook at one end and a fool at the other.
β€” Samuel Johnson

fishing

It is one of the maxims of the civil law, that definitions are hazardous.
β€” Samuel Johnson
I am a great friend to public amusements; for they keep people from vice.
β€” Samuel Johnson
Wealth is nothing in itself; it is not useful but when it departs from us.
β€” Samuel Johnson
Curiosity is, in great and generous minds, the first passion and the last.
β€” Samuel Johnson (The Rambler)

curiosity

What we hope ever to do with ease, we must learn first to do with diligence.
β€” Samuel Johnson
The true effect of genuine politeness seems to be rather ease than pleasure.
β€” Samuel Johnson
I look upon every day to be lost, in which I do not make a new acquaintance.
β€” Samuel Johnson
What I gave, that I have; what I spent, that I had; what I left that I lost.
β€” Samuel Johnson
A family is a little kingdom, torn with factions and exposed to revolutions.
β€” Samuel Johnson

family

To the strongest and quickest mind it is far easier to learn than to invent.
β€” Samuel Johnson

education

The blaze of reputation cannot be blown out, but it often dies in the socket.
β€” Samuel Johnson (Life of Samuel Johnson)

reputation

The love of life is necessary to the vigorous prosecution of any undertaking.
β€” Samuel Johnson

enthusiasm

A man who has provoked the shaft of wit cannot complain that he smart from it.
β€” Samuel Johnson
All crimes are safe, but hated poverty. This, only this, the rigid law pursues.
β€” Samuel Johnson
I live in the crowd of jollity, not so much to enjoy company as to shun myself.
β€” Samuel Johnson
Friendship may well deserve the sacrifice of pleasure, though not of conscience.
β€” Samuel Johnson (The Rambler)

friendship

Language is only the instrument of science, and words are but the signs of ideas.
β€” Samuel Johnson
Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome.
β€” Samuel Johnson

risk-taking

Gratitude is a fruit of great cultivation; you do not find it among gross people.
β€” Samuel Johnson (The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides with Samuel Johnson)

gratitude

Curiosity is one of the permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous mind.
β€” Samuel Johnson
Gaming is a mode of transferring property without producing any intermediate good.
β€” Samuel Johnson (Life of Samuel Johnson)

gambling

In all pointed sentences some degree of accuracy must be sacrificed to conciseness.
β€” Samuel Johnson

writing

The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.
β€” Samuel Johnson

habit

That which is to be loved long is to be loved with reason rather than with passion.
β€” Samuel Johnson
The two great movers of the human mind are the desire of good, and the fear of evil.
β€” Samuel Johnson
In all pointed sentences, some degree of accuracy must be sacrificed to conciseness.
β€” Samuel Johnson (The British Magazine)

accuracy conciseness

The seeds of knowledge may be planted in solitude, but must be cultivated in public.
β€” Samuel Johnson
The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.
β€” Samuel Johnson

character

Sir, I have found you an argument; but I am not obliged to find you an understanding.
β€” Samuel Johnson (Life of Samuel Johnson)

arguments

It is advantageous to an author, that his book should be attacked as well as praised.
β€” Samuel Johnson (Life of Samuel Johnson)

authors

It is a man's own fault, it is from want of use, if one's mind grows torpid in old age.
β€” Samuel Johnson
Knowledge is more than equivalent to force.  The master of mechanics laughs at strength.
β€” Samuel Johnson (Rasselas)

knowledge

We are inclined to believe those whom we do not know because they have never deceived us.
β€” Samuel Johnson

beliefs

Men are wise in proportion, not to their experience, but to their capacity for experience.
β€” Samuel Johnson

experience

We are inclined to believe those whom we do not know, because they have never deceived us.
β€” Samuel Johnson (The Idler)

deceit

A man who both spends and saves money is the happiest man, because he has both enjoyments.
β€” Samuel Johnson

wealth

As love without esteem is capricious and volatile, esteem without love is languid and cold.
β€” Samuel Johnson
Almost all absurdity of conduct arises from the imitation of those whom we cannot resemble.
β€” Samuel Johnson (The Rambler)
Curiosity is one of the most permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous intellect.
β€” Samuel Johnson

curiosity

I am always sorry when any language is lost, because languages are the pedigrees of nations.
β€” Samuel Johnson (Tour to the Hebrides)

language

Almost all absurdity of conduct arises from the imitation of those whom we can not resemble.
β€” Samuel Johnson
If a man talks of his misfortunes there is something in them that is not disagreeable to him.
β€” Samuel Johnson (Life of Samuel Johnson)

misfortune

The true, strong, and sound mind is the mind that can embrace equally great things and small.
β€” Samuel Johnson

intelligence

The natural flights of the human mind are not from pleasure to pleasure but from hope to hope.
β€” Samuel Johnson

hope

Claret is the liquor for boys, port for men; but he who aspires to be a hero must drink brandy.
β€” Samuel Johnson
The natural flights of the human mind are not from pleasure to pleasure, but from hope to hope.
β€” Samuel Johnson
No place affords a more striking conviction of the vanity of human hopes than a public library.
β€” Samuel Johnson (The Rambler)

libraries vanity

Hope is itself a species of happiness, and, perhaps, the chief happiness which this world affords.
β€” Samuel Johnson (Life of Samuel Johnson)

happiness hope

It is better to suffer wrong than to do it, and happier to be sometimes cheated than not to trust.
β€” Samuel Johnson (The Rambler)

trust

That kind of life is most happy which affords us most opportunities of gaining our own self-esteem.
β€” Samuel Johnson
A man that would be superior to external influences must first become superior to his own passions.
β€” Samuel Johnson
If a man could say nothing against a character but what he can prove, history could not be written.
β€” Samuel Johnson

history

The law is the last result of human wisdom acting upon human experience for the benefit of the public.
β€” Samuel Johnson
Were it not for imagination, Sir, a man would be as happy in the arms of a chambermaid as of a duchess.
β€” Samuel Johnson (Life of Samuel Johnson)

imagination

A transition from an author's book to his conversation is too often like an entrance into a large city.
β€” Samuel Johnson (The Rambler)

authors

Friendship, like love, is destroyed by long absence, though it may be increased by short intermissions.
β€” Samuel Johnson (The Idler)

absence friendship

Essay.  A loose sally of the mind; an irregular indigested piece; not a regular and orderly composition.
β€” Samuel Johnson (Dictionary of the English Language)

essays

Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it.
β€” Samuel Johnson

knowledge

Good breeding consists in having no particular mark of any profession, but a general elegance of manners.
β€” Samuel Johnson
When once the forms of civility are violated, there remains little hope of return to kindness or decency.
β€” Samuel Johnson (The Rambler)
Almost every man wastes part of his life in attempts to display qualifications which he does not possess.
β€” Samuel Johnson
Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.
β€” Samuel Johnson (The History of Rasselas)

integrity knowledge

Adversity has ever been considered as the state in which a man most easily becomes acquainted with himself.
β€” Samuel Johnson (The Rambler)

adversity

The vanity of being known to be entrusted with a secret is generally one of the chief motives to disclose it.
β€” Samuel Johnson

secrets

In order that all men may be taught to speak truth, it is necessary that all likewise should learn to hear it.
β€” Samuel Johnson

listening

Nobody can write the life of a man, but those who have eat and drunk and lived in social intercourse with him.
β€” Samuel Johnson

biography

Dictionaries are like watches: the worst is better than none, and the best cannot be expected to go quite true.
β€” Samuel Johnson

dictionary

To improve the golden moment of opportunity and catch the good that is within our reach is the great art of life.
β€” Samuel Johnson
Pleasure is very seldom found where it is sought. Our brightest blazes are commonly kindled by unexpected sparks.
β€” 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.
β€” Samuel Johnson (Life of Samuel Johnson)

critics

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.
β€” Samuel Johnson

insults

The hour of reformation is always delayed; every delay gives vice another opportunity of fortifying itself by habit.
β€” Samuel Johnson (The Rambler)

vice

No estimate is more in danger of erroneous calculation than those by which a man computes the force of his own genius.
β€” Samuel Johnson (The Rambler)

self-deception

I would rather be attacked than unnoticed. For the worst thing you can do to an author is to be silent as to his work.
β€” Samuel Johnson
Be not too hasty to trust, or to admire, the teachers of morality: they discourse like angels, but they live like men.
β€” Samuel Johnson (Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinnia)

morals

There is nothing which has yet been contrived by man by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn.
β€” Samuel Johnson (Life of Samuel Johnson)
It is by studying little things that we attain the great art of having as little misery and as much happiness as possible.
β€” Samuel Johnson
Excellence in any department can be attained only by the labor of a lifetime; it is not to be purchased at a lesser price.
β€” 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.
β€” Samuel Johnson

science

Courage is a quality so necessary for maintaining virtue, that it is always respected, even when it is associated with vice.
β€” Samuel Johnson (Life of Samuel Johnson)

courage vice & virtue

What a strange narrowness of mind now is that, to think the things we have not known are better than the things we have known.
β€” Samuel Johnson

experiences

Pleasure is very seldom found where it is sought.  Our brightest blazes of gladness are commonly kindled by unexpected sparks.
β€” Samuel Johnson (The Idler)

pleasure

I am not yet so lost in lexicography as to forget that words are the daughters of earth, and that things are the sons of heaven.
β€” Samuel Johnson (Dictionary of the English Language)

lexicography

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.
β€” Samuel Johnson

critics

He throws away his money without thought and without merit.  I do not call a tree generous that sheds its fruit at every breeze.
β€” Samuel Johnson (Life of Samuel Johnson)

generosity

The use of travelling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are.
β€” Samuel Johnson

imagination Travel

It is very strange, and very melancholy, that the paucity of human pleasures should persuade us ever to call hunting one of them.
β€” Samuel Johnson (Anecdotes of Samuel Johnson, LL.D.)

hunting

All the performances of human art, at which we look with praise or wonder, are instances of the resistless force of perseverance.
β€” Samuel Johnson

perseverance

As I know more of mankind, I expect less of them, and am ready now to call a man a good man upon easier terms that I was formerly.
β€” Samuel Johnson (Life of Samuel Johnson)

Goodness

A wise man is cured of ambition by ambition itself; his aim is so exalted that riches, office, fortune and favour cannot satisfy him.
β€” Samuel Johnson

ambition

Courage is the greatest of all the virtues. Because if you haven't courage, you may not have an opportunity to use any of the others.
β€” Samuel Johnson
The difference between coarse and refined abuse is as the difference between being bruised by a club, and wounded by a poisoned arrow.
β€” Samuel Johnson (Life of Dr. Samuel Johnson)

abuse

Hope is necessary in every condition.  The miseries of poverty, sickness, of captivity, would, without this comfort, be unsupportable.
β€” Samuel Johnson (The Rambler)

hope

A wise man is cured of ambition by ambition itself; his aim is so exalted that riches, office, fortune, and favour cannot satisfy him.
β€” Samuel Johnson

wisdom

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.
β€” Samuel Johnson

equality

Nothing has tended more to retard the advancement of science than the disposition in vulgar minds to vilify what they cannot comprehend.
β€” Samuel Johnson

science

It is, however, reasonable to have perfection in our eye; that we may always advance towards it, though we know it never can be reached.
β€” Samuel Johnson (The Adventurer)

perfection

To preserve health is a moral and religious duty, for health is the basis of all social virtues. We can no longer be useful when not well.
β€” Samuel Johnson
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.
β€” Samuel Johnson (Life of Samuel Johnson)

age

The love of retirement has, in all ages, adhered closely to those minds which have been most enlarged by knowledge, or elevated by genius.
β€” Samuel Johnson (Life of Dr. Samuel Johnson)

retirement

Friendship is seldom lasting but between equals, or where the superiority on one side is reduced by some equivalent advantage on the other.
β€” Samuel Johnson

friendship

It would add much to human happiness, if an art could be taught of forgetting all of which the remembrance is at once useless and afflictive.
β€” Samuel Johnson (The Idler)

forgetting

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.
β€” Samuel Johnson (The Rambler)

avarice

A Frenchman must be always talking, whether he knows anything of the matter or not; an Englishman is content to say nothing when he has nothing to say.
β€” Samuel Johnson

France

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.
β€” Samuel Johnson

attitude

While grief is fresh, every attempt to divert it only irritates.  You must wait till grief be digested, and then amusement will dissipate the remains of it.
β€” Samuel Johnson (Life of Samuel Johnson)

sorrow

Nobody has a right to put another under such difficulty that he must either hurt the person by telling the truth, or hurt himself by telling what is not true.
β€” Samuel Johnson

truth

Job. A low word now much in use, of which I cannot tell the etymology. (1) A low, mean lucrative busy affair. (2) Petty, piddling work: a piece of chance work.
β€” Samuel Johnson

work

Like all other pleasures immoderately enjoyed, the excesses of hope must be expiated by pain; and expectation improperly indulged in must end in disappointment.
β€” Samuel Johnson (Life of Samuel Johnson)

disappointment

Curiosity is the thirst of the soul; it inflames and torments us, and makes us taste every thing with joy, however otherwise insipid, by which it may be quenched.
β€” Samuel Johnson (The Rambler)

curiosity

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 this weary pilgrimage.
β€” Samuel Johnson

friendship

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.
β€” Samuel Johnson

hope

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 constant repair.
β€” Samuel Johnson (Life of Samuel Johnson)

friendship

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.
β€” Samuel Johnson

Travel

An old tutor of a college said to one of his pupils: "Read over your compositions and where ever you meet with a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out."
β€” Samuel Johnson (Life of Samuel Johnson)

writing advice

You may abuse a tragedy, though you cannot write one. You may scold a carpenter who has made you a bad table, though you cannot make a table. It is not your trade to make tables.
β€” Samuel Johnson (Life of Samuel Johnson)

critics

Let him that desires to see others happy, make haste to give while his gift can be enjoyed, and remember that every moment of delay takes away something from the value of his benefaction.
β€” Samuel Johnson (The Idler)

gift

In families where there is or is not poverty, there is commonly discord: if a kingdom be...a great family, a family likewise is a little kingdom, torn with factions and exposed to revolutions.
β€” Samuel Johnson (The History of Rasselas)

family

So different are the colors of life, as we look forward to the future, or backward to the past . . . that the conversation of the old and young ends generally with contempt or pity on either side.
β€” Samuel Johnson (The Rambler)

youth & age

If a sovereign oppresses his people to a great degree, they will rise and cut off his head. There is a remedy in human nature against tyranny, that will keep us safe under every form of government.
β€” Samuel Johnson (Life of Samuel Johnson)

tyranny

What is read with delight is commonly retained, because pleasure always secures attention; but the books which are consulted by occasional necessity, and perused with impatience, seldom leave any traces on the mind.
β€” Samuel Johnson (The Idler)

reading

A man finds in the productions of nature an inexhaustible stock of material on which he can employ himself, without any temptations to envy or malevolence, and has always a certain prospect of discovering new reasons for adoring the sovereign author of the universe.
β€” Samuel Johnson

nature

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.
β€” Samuel Johnson

hope mind

A hardened and shameless tea-drinker, who has for twenty years diluted his meals with only the infusion of this fascinating plant, whose kettle has scarcely time to cool; who with tea amuses the evening, with tea solaces the midnight, and with tea welcomes the morning.
β€” Samuel Johnson (The Literary Magazine)

tea

Advertisements are now so numerous that they are very negligently perused, and it is therefore become necessary to gain attention by magnificence of promises, and by eloquence sometimes sublime and sometimes pathetic. Promise, large Promise, is the soul of an Advertisement.
β€” Samuel Johnson

advertising

That fortitude which has encountered no dangers, that prudence which has surmounted no difficulties, that integrity which has been attacked by no temptation, can at best be considered but as gold not yet brought to the test, of which therefore the true value cannot be assigned.
β€” Samuel Johnson (The Rambler)

danger difficulties temptation

It is no matter what you teach them first, any more than what leg you shall put into your breeches first. Sir, you may stand disputing which is best to put in first, but in the meantime your breech is bare. Sir, while you are considering which of two things you should teach your child first, another boy has learnt them both.
β€” Samuel Johnson

education

It is the fate of those who toil at the lower employments of life, to be rather driven by the fear of evil, than attracted by the prospect of good; to be exposed to censure, without hope of praise; to be disgraced by miscarriage, or punished for neglect, where success would have been without applause, and diligence without reward. Among these unhappy mortals is the writer of dictionaries.
β€” Samuel Johnson (Dictionary of the English Language)

dictionary