Samuel Johnson Quotations

Samuel Johnson

A cucumber should be well-sliced, dressed with pepper and vinegar, and then thrown out.

Age looks with anger on the temerity of youth, and youth with contempt on the scrupulosity of age.

Almost all absurdity of conduct arises from the imitation of those whom we cannot resemble.

Almost every man wastes part of his life in attempts to display qualities which he does not possess.

As a madman is apt to think himself grown suddenly great, so he that grows suddenly great is apt to borrow a little from the madman.

Be not too hasty to trust or admire the teachers of morality; they discourse like angels, but they live like men.

Conjecture as to things useful, is good; but conjecture as to what it would be useless to know, is very idle.

Dictionaries are like watches. The worst is better than none; the best cannot be expected to go quite true.

Do not accustom yourself to use big words for little matters.

Don't think of retiring from the world until the world will be sorry that you retire. I hate a fellow whom pride or cowardice or laziness drives into a corner, and who does nothing when he is there but sit and growl. Let him come out as I do, and bark.

Few things are impossible to diligence and skill. Great works are performed not by strength, but perseverance.

God Himself... does not propose to judge a man until his life is over. Why should you and I?

Go into the street and give one man a lecture on morality and another a shilling, and see which will respect you most.

He is not only dull himself, he is the cause of dullness in others.

He is no wise man who will quit a certainty for an uncertainty.

He that accepts protection, stipulates obedience.

He who praises everybody, praises nobody.

He who waits to do a great deal of good at once, will never do anything.

I am willing to love all mankind, except an American.

I do not care to speak ill of any man behind his back but I believe that man is an attorney.

If a man does not make new acquaintances as he advances through life, he will soon find himself alone. A man should keep his friendships in constant repair.

If the abuse be enormous, nature will rise up, and claiming her original rights, overturn a corrupt political system.

It is better that some should be unhappy than that none should be happy, which would be the case in a general state of equality.

It is better to suffer wrong than to do it, and happier to be sometimes cheated than not to trust.

Kindness is in our power, even when fondness is not.

Let me smile with the wise, and feed with the rich.

Life cannot subsist in society but by reciprocal concessions.

Marriage has many pains, but celibacy has no pleasures.

Money and time are the heaviest burdens in life: and among mortals, those who are most unhappy are the ones who have more than they need.

Nature has given women so much power that the law has very wisely given them little.

No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money.

Nothing is ended with honor which does not conclude better than it began.

Nothing is more common than for men to make partial and absurd distinctions between vices of equal enormity, and to observe some of the divine commands with great scrupulousness, while they violate others, equally important, without any concern, or the least apparent consciousness of guilt. Alas, it is only wisdom which perceives this tragedy.

Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must be first overcome.

Of all noises, I think music is the least disagreeable.

One of the disadvantages of wine is that it makes a man mistake words for thoughts.

Pity is not natural to man. Children and savages are always cruel. Pity is acquired and improved by the cultivation of reason. We may have uneasy sensations from seeing a creature in distress, without pity; but we have not pity unless we wish to relieve him.

Prudence is an attitude that keeps life safe, but does not often make it happy.

Prudence operates on life in the same manner as rule of composition; it produces vigilance rather than elevation; rather prevents loss than procures advantage; and often miscarriages, but seldom reaches either power or honor.

Resolve not to be poor: whatever you have, spend less.

Self-confidence is the first requisite to great undertakings.

Sherry is dull, naturally dull; but it must have taken him a great deal of pains to become what we now see him. Such an excess of stupidity, sir, is not in Nature. (on Thomas Sheridan)

Sir, they are a race of convicts and ought to be grateful for anything we allow them short of hanging. (on Americans)

Such seems to be the disposition of man, that whatever makes a distinction produces rivalry.-- Samuel Johnson

The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.

The future is purchased by the present.

The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.

The truth is that 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.

The two most engaging powers of an author are to make new things familiar, and familiar things new.

The usual fortune of complaint is to excite contempt more than pity.

To keep your secret is wisdom; but to expect others to keep it is folly.

Truth is, indeed, not often welcome for its own sake; it is generally unpleasing, because contrary to our wishes and opposite to our practice; and, as our attention naturally follows our interest, we hear unwillingly what we are afraid to know, and soon forget what we have no inclination to impress upon our memories.

We are inclined to believe those whom we do not know because they have never deceived us.

We love to expect, and when expectation is either disappointed or gratified, we want to be again expecting.

We not only do what we approve, but there is danger lest in time we come to approve what we do, though for no other reason but that we do it.

Were it not for imagination, a man would be as happy in the arms of a chambermaid as a duchess.

What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure.

When a man says he had pleasure with a woman he does not mean conversation.

When speculation has done its worse, two and two still make four.

Without economy none can be rich, and with it few will be poor.

Your manuscript is both good and original; but the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good.