Samuel Johnson Quotes

His Majesty enquired if he was then writing any thing. He answered, he was not, for he had pretty well told the world what he knew, and must now read to acquire more knowledge.... Johnson said, he thought he had already done his part as a writer. "I should have thought so too, (said the King,) if you had not written so well."--Johnson observed to me, upon this, that "No man could have paid a handsomer compliment; and it was fit for a King to pay. It was decisive." When asked ... whether he made any reply to this high compliment, he answered, "No, Sir. When the King had said it, it was to be so. It was not for me to bandy civilities with my Sovereign."
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. (Originally published 1791). Boswell's Life of Johnson, February 1767, p. 381, Oxford University Press (1980). Johnson's famous interview with George III.
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Players, Sir! I look on them as no better than creatures set upon tables and joint stools to make faces and produce laughter, like dancing dogs.
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. Quoted in James Boswell, Life of Dr. Johnson, entry, October [?] 1775 (1791).
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Sorrow is a kind of rust of the soul, which every new idea contributes in its passage to scour away. It is the putrefaction of stagnant life, and is remedied by exercise and motion.
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. repr. in Works of Samuel Johnson, vol. 3, eds. W.J. Bate and Albrecht B. Strauss (1969). Rambler (London, Aug. 28, 1750), no. 47.
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Sir, a woman's preaching is like a dog's walking on his hinder legs. It is not done well; but you are surprized to find it done at all.
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. (Originally published 1791). Boswell's Life of Johnson, July 30, 1763, Oxford University Press (1980). Comment on a woman preaching at a Quaker meeting.
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Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth, and every other man has a right to knock him down for it. Martyrdom is the test.
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. Quoted in James Boswell, Life of Dr. Johnson, entry, 1780 (1791). As quoted by Mr. Langton.
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Hunger is never delicate; they who are seldom gorged to the full with praise may be safely fed with gross compliments, for the appetite must be satisfied before it is disgusted.
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. repr. In Works of Samuel Johnson, vol. 5, ed. W.J. Bate and Albrecht B. Strauss (1969). Rambler (London, Jan. 21, 1752), no. 193.
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I [Boswell] ... insisted that admiration was more pleasing than judgment, as love is more pleasing than friendship. The feeling of friendship is like that of being comfortably filled with roast beef; love like being enlivened with champagne. JOHNSON. "No, Sir; admiration and love are like being intoxicated with champagne; judgment and friendship like being enlivened."
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. (Originally published 1791). Boswell's Life of Johnson, April 16, 1775, p. 624, Oxford University Press (1980).
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Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. Quoted in James Boswell, Life of Dr. Johnson, entry, April 7, 1775 (1791). Ambrose Bierce, in his entry under Patriotism in his Devil's Dictionary (1881-1906), wrote: "In Dr. Johnson's famous dictionary patriotism is defined as the last resort of a scoundrel. With all due respect to an enlightened but inferior lexicographer I beg to submit that it is the first."
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A continual feast of commendation is only to be obtained by merit or by wealth: many are therefore obliged to content themselves with single morsels, and recompense the infrequency of their enjoyment by excess and riot, whenever fortune sets the banquet before them.
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. repr. in Works of Samuel Johnson, vol. 5, eds. W.J. Bate and Albrecht B. Strauss (1969). Rambler (London, January 21, 1752), no. 193.
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Now ... that you are going to marry, do not expect more from life, than life will afford."
Samuel Johnson (1704-1784), British author, lexicographer. (Originally published 1791). Boswell's Life of Johnson, Nov. 10, 1769, p. 430, Oxford University Press (1980). Said to Boswell.
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