Samuel Johnson Quotes

Self-love is often rather arrogant than blind; it does not hide our faults from ourselves, but persuades us that they escape the notice of others.
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, Sept. 10, 1751), no. 155.
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I have accepted a pension as a reward which has been thought due to my literary merit; and now that I have this pension, I am the same man in every respect that I have ever been; I retain the same principles. It is true that I cannot now curse ... the House of Hanover; nor would it be decent for me to drink King James's health in the wine that King George gives me money to pay for. But, Sir, I think that the pleasure of cursing the House of Hanover, and drinking King James's health, are amply overbalanced by three hundred pounds a year.
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. (Originally published 1791). Boswell's Life of Johnson, July 14, 1763, p. 304, Oxford University Press (1980).
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Nay, Madam, when you are declaiming, declaim; and when you are calculating, calculate.
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. Quoted in James Boswell, Life of Samuel Johnson, April 26, 1776 (1791). Retort to Hester Thrale.
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No man is much regarded by the rest of the world. He that considers how little he dwells upon the condition of others, will learn how little the attention of others is attracted by himself. While we see multitudes passing before us, of whom perhaps not one appears to deserve our notice or excites our sympathy, we should remember, that we likewise are lost in the same throng, that the eye which happens to glance upon us is turned in a moment on him that follows us, and that the utmost which we can reasonably hope or fear is to fill a vacant hour with prattle, and be forgotten.
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, Sept. 24, 1751), no. 159.
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I will take no more physick, not even my opiates; for I have prayed that I may render up my soul to God unclouded.
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. (Originally published 1791). Boswell's Life of Johnson, December 1784, p. 1390, Oxford University Press (1980). Johnson's words on hearing his death was imminent.
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It matters not how a man dies, but how he lives. The act of dying is not of importance, it lasts so short a time.
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. Oct. 26, 1769. Quoted in James Boswell, Life of Samuel Johnson (1791).
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No place affords a more striking conviction of the vanity of human hopes than a public library.
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. Rambler, no. 106 (London, March 23, 1751), repr. in Works of Samuel Johnson, Yale Edition, vol. 4, eds. W.J. Bate and Albrecht B. Strauss (1969).
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The most heterogeneous ideas are yoked by violence together; nature and art are ransacked for illustrations, comparisons, and allusions; their learning instructs, and their subtlety surprises; but the reader commonly thinks his improvement dearly bought and, though he sometimes admires, is seldom pleased.
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. "Cowley," Lives of the English Poets (1779-1781). On metaphysical poets.
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He that outlives a wife whom he has long loved, sees himself disjoined from the only mind that has the same hopes, and fears, and interest; from the only companion with whom he has shared much good and evil; and with whom he could set his mind at liberty, to retrace the past or anticipate the future. The continuity of being is lacerated; the settled course of sentiment and action is stopped; and life stands suspended and motionless.
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. letter, Jan. 20, 1780. Quoted in James Boswell, Life of Samuel Johnson (1791).
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The old man trusts wholly to slow contrivance and gradual progression; the youth expects to force his way by genius, vigour, and precipitance. The old man pays regard to riches, and the youth reverences virtue. The old man defies prudence; the youth commits himself to magnanimity and chance. The young man, who intends no ill, believes that none is intended, and therefore acts with openness and candour: but his father, having suffered the injuries of fraud, is impelled to suspect, and too often allured to practice it. Age looks with anger on the temerity of youth, and youth with contempt on the scrupulosity of age.
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British critic, lexicographer. Rasselas, ch. 26 (1759).
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