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Quotes of the day: Samuel Johnson

Published Wednesday, September 18, 2013 @ 6:31 AM EDT
Sep 18 2013

Samuel Johnson (September 18, 1709, December 13, 1784), often referred to as Dr Johnson, was an English writer who made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer. Johnson was a devout Anglican and committed Tory, and has been described as "arguably the most distinguished man of letters in English history". He is also the subject of 'the most famous single work of biographical art in the whole of literature:' James Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


A decent provision for the poor is the true test of civilization.

A man of genius has been seldom ruined but by himself.

A man, Sir, should keep his friendship in constant repair.

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.

Almost every man wastes part of his life in attempts to display qualities which he does not possess, and to gain applause which he cannot keep.

Be not too hasty to trust, or to admire, the teachers of morality; they discourse like angels, but they live like men.

Every man has a right to utter what he thinks as truth, and every other man has a right to knock him down for it.

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.

Every man wishes to be wise, and they who cannot be wise are almost always cunning.

He is not only dull himself, he is the cause of dullness in others.

He that is happy, by whatever means, desires nothing but the continuance of happiness.

Human life is everywhere a state in which much is to be endured, and little to be enjoyed.

I am very fond of the company of ladies. I like their beauty, I like their delicacy, I like their vivacity, and I like their silence.

I have found you an argument; but I am not obliged to find you an understanding.

Ignorance, when voluntary, is criminal, and a man may be properly charged with that evil which he neglected or refused to learn how to prevent.

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

Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.

It is better to live rich than to die rich.

It is better to suffer wrong than to do it, and happier to be sometimes cheated than not to trust.

Keep always in your mind, that, with due submission to Providence, a man of genius has been seldom ruined but by himself.

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

Let me smile with the wise, and feed with the rich.

Life is a pill which none of us can bear to swallow without gilding

Life is a progress from want to want, not from enjoyment to enjoyment.

Marriage has many pains, but celibacy has no pleasures.

Marriage is the triumph of imagination over intelligence. Second marriage is the triumph of hope over experience.

Men who cannot deceive others are very often successful at deceiving themselves.

Merit is much more cheaply acknowledged than rewarded.

Much may be made of a Scotchman if he be caught young.

Nature has given women so much power that the law has wisely given them very little.

No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.

No man is a hypocrite in his pleasures.

No man will be a sailor who has contrivance enough to get himself into jail; for being in a ship is being in a jail, with the chance of being drowned.

No people can be great who have ceased to be virtuous.

Nothing at all will be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome.

Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.

Praise, like gold and diamonds, owes its value only to its scarcity.

Questioning is not the mode of conversation among gentlemen.

Sir, a woman's preaching is like a dog's walking on his hinder legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.

Sir, there is no settling the point of precedency between a louse and a flea.

Solitude is dangerous to reason, without being favorable to virtue- Remember that the solitary mortal is certainly luxurious, probably superstitious, and possibly mad.

The chains of habit are generally too small to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.

The law is the last result of human wisdom acting upon human experience for the benefit of the public.

The triumph of hope over experience. (on second marriages)

The true art of memory is the art of attention.

The true, strong, and sound mind is the mind that can embrace equally great things and small.

There can be no friendship without confidence, and no confidence without integrity.

There is less flogging in our great schools than formerly, but then less is learned there; so that what the boys get at one end they lose at the other.

We are inclined to believe those whom we do not know because they have never deceived us.

When a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.

You teach your daughters the diameters of the planets, and wonder what you have done that they do not delight in your company.

Categories: Quotes of the day, Samuel Johnson


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