Samuel Johnson Quotes

When men come to like a sea-life, they are not fit to live on land.
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. Quoted in James Boswell, Life of Samuel Johnson, March 18, 1776 (1791).
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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.
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. letter, Dec. 31, 1783, to Hester Thrale. The Letters of Samuel Johnson, vol. 3, no. 922, ed. R.W. Chapman (1952).
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His virtues walked their narrow round, Nor made a pause, nor left a void; And sure the Eternal Master found The single talent well employed.
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British writer. On the Death of Dr. Robert Levet, a Practiser in Physic (l. 25-28). . . The Complete English Poems [Samuel Johnson]. J. D. Fleeman, ed. (1971) Penguin Books.
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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 (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. Quoted in James Boswell, Life of Samuel Johnson, July 14, 1763 (1791). Johnson was replying to Boswell's fear that, should he keep a journal (as Johnson proposed), he would put into it too many little incidents.
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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 (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. letter, Sept. 21, 1773, to Hester Thrale. The Letters of Samuel Johnson, vol. 1, no. 326, ed. R.W. Chapman (1952). Johnson added, "I can now look back upon threescore and four years, in which little has been done, and little has been enjoyed, a life diversified by misery, spent part in the sluggishness of penury, and part under the violence of pain, in gloomy discontent, or importunate distress."
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Condemned to Hope's delusive mine, As on we toil from day to day, By sudden blasts or slow decline Our social comforts drop away.
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British writer. On the Death of Dr. Robert Levet, a Practiser in Physic (l. 1-4). . . The Complete English Poems [Samuel Johnson]. J. D. Fleeman, ed. (1971) Penguin Books.
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Subordination tends greatly to human happiness. Were we all upon an equality, we should have no other enjoyment than mere animal pleasure.
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. Quoted in James Boswell, Life of Samuel Johnson (1791).
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The wretched have no compassion, they can do good only from strong principles of duty.
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. Letter, April 14, 1781, to Hester Thrale. The Letters of Samuel Johnson, vol. 2, no. 724, ed. R.W. Chapman (1952).
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The work of a correct and regular writer is a garden accurately formed and diligently planted, varied with shades, and scented with flowers; the composition of Shakespeare is a forest, in which oaks extend their branches, and pines tower in the air, interspersed sometimes with weeds and brambles, and sometimes giving shelter to myrtles and to roses; filling the eye with awful pomp and gratifying the mind with endless diversity. Other poets display cabinets of precious rarities, minutely finished, wrought into shape, and polished into brightness. Shakespeare opens a mine which contains gold and diamonds in unexhaustible plenty, though clouded by incrustations, debased by impurities, and mingled with a mass of meaner minerals.
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. Plays of William Shakespeare, preface (1765).
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Sir, they are a race of convicts, and ought to be thankful for anything we allow them short of hanging.
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. Quoted in James Boswell, Life of Samuel Johnson, March 21, 1776 (1791).
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