Samuel Johnson Quotes

Whoever thinks of going to bed before twelve o'clock is a scoundrel.
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. Works, vol. 9, "Apophthegms," ed. John Hawkins (1787-1789). Quoted in Johnsonian Miscellanies, vol. 2, p. 19, ed. George Birkbeck Hill (1897).
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An ancient estate should always go to males. It is mighty foolish to let a stranger have it because he marries your daughter, and takes your name. As for an estate newly acquired by trade, you may give it, if you will, to the dog Towser, and let him keep his own name.
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. (Originally published 1791). Boswell's Life of Johnson, May 10, 1773, p. 548, Oxford University Press (1980).
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If a man does not make new acquaintance as he advances through life, he will soon find himself left alone. A man, Sir, should keep his friendship in constant repair.
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. Quoted in James Boswell, Life of Dr. Johnson, note to entry, 1755 (1791). Records Johnson's opinion "at a subsequent period of his life" to 1755.
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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. He that sinks under the fatigue of getting wealth, lulls his age with the milder business of saving it.
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. repr. in Works of Samuel Johnson, vol. 5, eds. W.J. Bate and Albrecht B. Strauss (1969). quoted in Rambler, no. 151 (London, Aug. 31, 1751).
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If you were to read Richardson for the story, your impatience would be so much fretted that you would hang yourself. But you must read him for the sentiment.
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. (Originally published 1791). Boswell's Life of Johnson, April 6, 1772, p. 480, Oxford University Press (1980).
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He who does not mind his belly, will hardly mind anything else.
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. quoted in James Boswell, Life of Dr. Johnson, entry, Aug. 5, 1763 (1791). Boswell further described Johnson's dedication to eating thus: "I never knew any man who relished good eating more than he did. When at table he was totally absorbed in the business of the moment.... To those whose sensations were delicate, this could not but be disgusting; and it was doubtless not very suitable to the character of a philosopher.... But it must be owned that Johnson, though he could be rigidly abstemious, was not a temperate man."
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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 (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. repr. in Works of Samuel Johnson, Yale Edition, vol. 4, eds. W.J. Bate and Albrecht B. Strauss (1969). quoted in Rambler (Jan. 15, 1751), no. 87.
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He [Johnson] talked of the heinousness of the crime of adultery, by which the peace of families was destroyed. He said, "Confusion of progeny constitutes the essence of the crime; and therefore a woman who breaks her marriage vows is much more criminal than a man who does it. A man, to be sure, is criminal in the sight of God: but he does not do his wife a very material injury, if he does not insult her; if, for instance, from mere wantonness of appetite, he steals privately to her chambermaid. Sir, a wife ought not greatly to resent this.... A wife should study to reclaim her husband by more attention to please him."
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. (Originally published 1791). Boswell's Life of Johnson, Spring 1768, pp. 393-94, Oxford University Press (1980).
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Read your own compositions, and when you meet with a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out.
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. Quoted in James Boswell, Life of Dr. Johnson, entry, April 30, 1773 (1791). Quoting a college tutor.
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What provokes your risibility, Sir? Have I said anything that you understand? Then I ask pardon of the rest of the company.
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. repr. In Johnsonian Miscellanies, vol. 2, p. 77, ed. George Birkbeck Hill (1897). Quoted in Richard Cumberland, Anecdotes, first published in Memoirs (1807).
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