Samuel Johnson Quotes

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.
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. repr. In Works of Samuel Johnson, vol. 7, ed. Arthur Sherbo (1968). Preface to Shakespeare (1765). Of textual notes.
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I know not, Madam, that you have a right, upon moral principles, to make your readers suffer so much.
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. Quoted in James Boswell, Life of Samuel Johnson, 1763 (1791). To Mrs. Thomas Sheridan, on publication of her novel Memoirs of Mrs. Sydney Biddulph.
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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.
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. letter, Oct. 27, 1777, to Hester Thrale. The Letters of Samuel Johnson, vol. 2, no. 559, ed. R. W. Chapman (1952). In his biography, Johnson is reported as saying, "It is now become so much the fashion to publish letters, that in order to avoid it, I put as little into mine as I can." (To which Boswell answered, "Do what you will, Sir, you cannot avoid it. Should you even write as ill as you can, your letters would be published as curiosities.").
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The drama's laws, the drama's patrons give, For we that live to please, must please to live.
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. repr. in Works of Samuel Johnson, Yale Edition, vol. 6, eds. E.L. McAdam, Jr. and G. Milne (1964). Prologue at the Opening of the Theatre in Drury Lane, l. 53-4 (1747).
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If he does really think that there is no distinction between virtue and vice, why, Sir, when he leaves our houses let us count our spoons.
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. Quoted in James Boswell, Life of Samuel Johnson, July 14, 1763 (1791).
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Nature has given women so much power that the law has very wisely given them little.
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. letter, Aug. 18, 1763. The Letters of Samuel Johnson, vol. 1, no. 157, ed. R.W. Chapman (1952).
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From Bard, to Bard, the frigid Caution crept, Till Declamation roar'd, while Passion slept.
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British writer. Prologue Spoken by Mr. Garrick (l. 31-32). . . The Complete English Poems [Samuel Johnson]. J. D. Fleeman, ed. (1971) Penguin Books.
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Nobody can write the life of a man but those who have eat and drunk and lived in social intercourse with him.
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. Quoted in James Boswell, Life of Samuel Johnson, March 20, 1776 (1791). Johnson was referring specifically to Goldsmith's Life of Parnell. He later reiterated and qualified this statement: "They only who live with a man can write his life with any genuine exactness and discrimination; and few people who have lived with a man know what to remark about him."
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There mark what ills the scholar's life assail, Toil, envy, want, the patron, and the gaol.
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. repr. in Works of Samuel Johnson, Yale Edition, vol. 6, eds. E.L. McAdam, Jr. and G. Milne (1964). The Vanity of Human Wishes, l. 159-60 (1749). In his Life of Dr. Johnson (1791), Boswell noted that the second line of Johnson's couplet had read, "Toil, envy, want, the garret, and the gaol," but had changed it "after experiencing the uneasiness which Lord Chesterfield's fallacious patronage made him feel." For further views of Chesterfield and patrons in general, see Johnson on patronage.
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When Learning's Triumph o'er her barb'rous Foes First rear'd the Stage, immortal Shakespear rose; Each Change of many-colour'd Life he drew, Exhausted Worlds, and then imagin'd new:
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British writer. Prologue Spoken by Mr. Garrick (l. 1-4). . . The Complete English Poems [Samuel Johnson]. J. D. Fleeman, ed. (1971) Penguin Books.
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