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Christianity is the highest perfection of humanity.

SAMUEL JOHNSON, letter, Aug. 13, 1766

It is wonderful that five thousand years have now elapsed since the creation of the world, and still it is undecided whether or not there has ever been an instance of the spirit of any person appearing after death. All argument is against it; but all belief is for it.

SAMUEL JOHNSON, Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson

Disappointment, when it involves neither shame nor loss, is as good as success; for it supplies as many images to the mind, and as many topics to the tongue.

SAMUEL JOHNSON, Letter to Hester Thrale, Jun. 26, 1775

Hope is itself a species of happiness, and, perhaps, the chief happiness which this world affords: but, like all other pleasures immoderately enjoyed, the excesses of hope must be expiated by pain; and expectations improperly indulged must end in disappointment.

SAMUEL JOHNSON, Letter, Jun. 8, 1762

I would rather see the portrait of a dog that I know, than all the allegorical paintings they can show me in the world.

SAMUEL JOHNSON, Johnsonian Miscellanies

If lawyers were to undertake no causes till they were sure they were just, a man might be precluded altogether from a trial of his claim, though, were it judicially examined, it might be found a very just claim.

SAMUEL JOHNSON, Journal of a Tour of the Hebrides, Aug. 15, 1773

Wine gives a man nothing. It neither gives him knowledge nor wit; it only animates a man, and enables him to bring out what a dread of the company has repressed. It only puts in motion what had been locked up in frost.

SAMUEL JOHNSON, Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson

Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.

SAMUEL JOHNSON, Boswell's Life of Dr. Johnson

Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.

SAMUEL JOHNSON, The History of Rasselas

In most ages many countries have had part of their inhabitants in a state of slavery; yet it may be doubted whether slavery can ever be supposed the natural condition of man. It is impossible not to conceive that men in their original state were equal; and very difficult to imagine how one would be subjected to another but by violent compulsion. An individual may, indeed, forfeit his liberty by a crime; but he cannot by that crime forfeit the liberty of his children.

SAMUEL JOHNSON, Life of Samuel Johnson, Sep. 23, 1777

By taking a second wife he pays the highest compliment to the first, by showing that she made him so happy as a married man, that he wishes to be so a second time.

SAMUEL JOHNSON, quoted in James Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson

The habit of looking at the best side of any event is worth far more than a thousand pounds a year.

SAMUEL JOHNSON, quoted in A Dictionary of Terms, Phrases, and Quotations

Some desire is necessary to keep life in motion, and he whose real wants are supplied must admit those of fancy.

SAMUEL JOHNSON, The History of Rasselas

Admiration begins where acquaintance ceases.

SAMUEL JOHNSON, The Rambler, Dec. 11, 1750

Such is the state of life, that none are happy but by the anticipation of change: the change itself is nothing; when we have made it, the next wish is to change again.

SAMUEL JOHNSON, The History of Rasselas

It has long been observed, that an atheist has no just reason for endeavouring conversions; and yet none harass those minds which they can influence, with more importunity of solicitation to adopt their opinions. In proportion as they doubt the truth of their own doctrines, they are desirous to gain the attestation of another understanding: and industriously labour to win a proselyte, and eagerly catch at the slightest pretence to dignify their sect with a distinguished name.

SAMUEL JOHNSON, "The Life of Sir Thomas Browne, Kt., M.D."

It is not easy to surround life with any circumstances in which youth will not be delightful.

SAMUEL JOHNSON, The Rambler, Aug. 21, 1750

Language is the dress of thought.

SAMUEL JOHNSON, Lives of the English Poets

The plaintiff and defendant in an action at law are two men ducking their heads in a bucket, and daring each other to remain longest under water.

SAMUEL JOHNSON, attributed, Day's Collacon

Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.

SAMUEL JOHNSON, The Life of Samuel Johnson

No place affords a more striking conviction of the vanity of human hopes than a public library; for who can see the wall crowded on every side by mighty volumes, the works of laborious meditation and accurate enquiry, now scarcely known but by the catalogue, and preserved only to increase the pomp of learning, without considering how many hours have been wasted in vain endeavours, how often imagination has anticipated the praises of futurity, how many statues have risen to the eye of vanity, how many ideal converts have elevated zeal, how often wit has exulted in the eternal infamy of his antagonists, and dogmatism has delighted in the gradual advances of his authority, the immutability of his decrees, and the perpetuity of his power.

SAMUEL JOHNSON, The Rambler, Mar. 23, 1751

Fly fishing may be a very pleasant amusement; but angling or float fishing I can only compare to a stick and a string, with a worm at one end and a fool at the other.


This is one of the disadvantages of wine, it makes a man mistake words for thoughts.

SAMUEL JOHNSON, The Life of Samuel Johnson

This is one of the disadvantages of wine, it makes a man mistake words for thoughts.

SAMUEL JOHNSON, The Life of Samuel Johnson

Tea's proper use is to amuse the idle, and relax the studious, and dilute the full meals of those who cannot use exercise, and will not use abstinence.


All travel has its advantages. If the passenger visits better countries, he may learn to improve his own, and if fortune carries him to worse, he may learn to enjoy it.

SAMUEL JOHNSON, A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland

Books are faithful repositories, which may be a while neglected or forgotten; but when they are opened again, will again impart their instruction.

SAMUEL JOHNSON, "Ostig in Sky", A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland

As it is necessary not to invite robbery by supineness, so it is our duty not to suppress tenderness by suspicion; it is better to suffer wrong than to do it, and happier to be sometimes cheated than not to trust.

SAMUEL JOHNSON, The Rambler, December 18, 1750

I live in the crowds of jollity, not so much to enjoy company as to shun myself.


A man ought to read just as inclination leads him; for what he reads as a task will do him little good.

SAMUEL JOHNSON, Boswell's Life of Johnson

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

SAMUEL JOHNSON, attributed, Life of Samuel Johnson

We can heat the body, we can cool it; we can give it tension or relaxation; and surely it is possible to bring it into a state in which rising from bed will not be a pain.

SAMUEL JOHNSON, Life of Samuel Johnson

What is twice read is commonly better remembered than what is transcribed.

SAMUEL JOHNSON, The Idler, No. 74

I know not why any one but a schoolboy in his declamation should whine over the Commonwealth of Rome, which grew great only by the misery of the rest of mankind. The Romans, like others, as soon as they grew rich, grew corrupt; and in their corruption sold the lives and freedoms of themselves, and of one another.

SAMUEL JOHNSON, "of memoirs of the court of Augustus", The Works of Samuel Johnson

Resentment is a union of sorrow and malignity, a combination of a passion which all endeavor to avoid, with a passion which all concur to detest.

SAMUEL JOHNSON, The Rambler, December 24, 1751

Great works are performed not by strength, but by perseverance. Yonder palace was raised by single stones, yet you see its height and spaciousness. He that shall walk with vigor three hours a day, will pass in seven years a space equal to the circumference of the globe.

SAMUEL JOHNSON, Rasselas: A Tale

He was so generally civil, that nobody thanked him for it.

SAMUEL JOHNSON, attributed, Life of Samuel Johnson

A man is very apt to complain of the ingratitude of those who have risen far above him.

SAMUEL JOHNSON, Life of Samuel Johnson

An age that melts with unperceiv'd decay,
And glides in modest innocence away.

SAMUEL JOHNSON, Vanity of Human Wishes

He who praises everybody, praises nobody.

SAMUEL JOHNSON,"Johnsoniana", The European Magazine and London Review, January 1785

All power of fancy over reason is a degree of insanity.

SAMUEL JOHNSON, Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia

Sir, if you wish to have a just notion of the magnitude of this city, you must not be satisfied with seeing its great streets and squares, but must survey the innumerable little lanes and courts. It is not in the showy evolutions of buildings, but in the multiplicity of human habitations which are crowded together, that the wonderful immensity of London consists.

SAMUEL JOHNSON, The Life of Samuel Johnson


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