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Dr. Samuel Johnson's Quotations

Dr. Samuel Johnson's Quotations

Samuel Johnson, who was often referred to as Dr. Johnson, was an English writer who made many valuable contributions to literature as a poet, critic, editor, and in many more roles. He was one of the most influential contributors to Modern English Language. This article lists some of his famous quotes.
Penlighten Staff
1. "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel."

2. "He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man."

3. "Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it."

4. "Sir, a woman's preaching is like a dog's walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all."

5. "No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money."

6. "A man may write at any time, if he will set himself doggedly to it."

7. "A decent provision for the poor is the true test of civilization."

8. "No people can be great who have ceased to be virtuous."

9. "Much may be made of a Scotchman, if he be caught young."

10. "A man, Sir, should keep his friendship in constant repair."

11. "No man will be a sailor who has contrivance enough to get himself into jail; for being in a ship is being in a jail, with the chance of being drowned."

12. "Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully."

13. "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford."

14. "Sir, if you wish to have a just notion of the magnitude of this city (London), 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."

15. "The law is the last result of human wisdom acting upon human experience for the benefit of the public."

16. "We must either outlive our friends you know, or our friends must outlive us; and I see no man that would hesitate about the choice."

17. "Exercise!! I never heard that he used any: he might, for aught I know, walk to the alehouse; but I believe he was always carried home again."

18. "Life is a pill which none of us can bear to swallow without gilding."

19. "Keep always in your mind, that, with due submission to Providence, a man of genius has been seldom ruined but by himself."

20. "When a man writes from his own mind, he writes very rapidly. The greatest part of a writer's time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book."

21. "Human experience, which is constantly contradicting theory, is the great test of truth. A system, built upon the discoveries of a great many minds, is always of more strength, than what is produced by the mere workings of any one mind, which, of itself, can do very little. There is not so poor a book in the world that would not be a prodigious effort were it wrought out entirely by a single mind, without the aid of prior investigators."

22. "The task of an author is, either to teach what is not known, or to recommend known truths by his manner of adorning them; either to let new light in upon the mind, and open new scenes to the prospect, or to vary the dress and situation of common objects, so as to give them fresh grace and more powerful attractions, to spread such flowers over the regions through which the intellect has already made its progress, as may tempt it to return, and take a second view of things hastily passed over, or negligently regarded."

23. "It is not difficult to conceive, however, that for many reasons a man writes much better than he lives. For without entering into refined speculations, it may be shown much easier to design than to perform. A man proposes his schemes of life in a state of abstraction and disengagement, exempt from the enticements of hope, the solicitations of affection, the importunities of appetite, or the depressions of fear; and is in the same state with him that teaches upon land the art of navigation, to whom the sea is always smooth, and the wind always prosperous."

24. "A transition from an author's book to his conversation is too often like an entrance into a large city, after a distant prospect. Remotely, we see nothing but spires of temples and turrets of palaces, and imagine it the residence of splendor, grandeur, and magnificence; but when we have passed the gates, we find it perplexed with narrow passages, disgraced with despicable cottages, embarrassed with obstructions, and clouded with smoke."

25. "Sir, I have found you an argument; but I am not obliged to find you an understanding."