Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Samuel Johnson, aka Doctor Johnson

English Lexicographer, Essayist, Poet, Conversationalist

"Adversity has ever been considered as the state in which a man most easily becomes acquainted with himself, being free from flatterers."

"Adversity leads us to think properly of our state, and so is most beneficial to us."

"Advice is seldom welcome. Those who need it most, like it least."

"Adversity is the state in which a man most easily becomes acquainted with himself, being especially free from admirers then."

"Affectation naturally counterfeits those excellencies which are farthest from our attainment, because knowing our defects we eagerly endeavor to supply them with artificial excellence."

"Against the head which innocence secures, insidious malice aims her darts in vain; turned backward by the powerful breath of heaven."

"Age is rarely despised but when it is contemptible."

"Affectation differs from hypocrisy in being the art of counterfeiting qualities which we might with innocence and safety be known to want. - Hypocrisy is the necessary burden of villainy; affectation, a part of the chosen trappings of folly."

"Agriculture not only gives riches to a nation, but the only riches she can call her own."

"Alcohol is the anesthesia by which we endure the operation of life."

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

"Alas! another instance of the triumph of hope over experience."

"All censure of a man's self is oblique praise. It is in order to show how much he can spare. It has all the invidiousness of self-praise, and all the reproach of falsehood."

"All intellectual improvement arises from leisure; and a leisure arises from one working for another."

"All envy is proportionate to desire; we are uneasy at the attainments of another, according as we think our own happiness would be advanced by the addition of that which he withhold from us; and therefore whatever depresses immoderate wishes, will, at the same time, set the heart free from the corrosion of envy, and exempt us from that vice which is, above most others, tormenting to ourselves, hateful to the world, and productive of mean artifices and sordid projects."

"All history was at first oral."

"All fear is painful, and when it conduces not to safety, is painful without use. - Every consideration, therefore, by which groundless terrors may be removed, adds something to human happiness."

"All history, so far as it is unsupported by contemporary evidence, is romance."

"All the arguments which are brought to represent poverty as no evil show it evidently to be a great evil."

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

"All the performances of human art, at which we look with praise or wonder, are instances of the resistless force of perseverance: it is by this that the quarry becomes a pyramid, and that distant countries are united with canals. If a man was to compare the effect of a single stroke of the pick-ax, or of one impression of the spade with the general design and last result, he would be overwhelmed by the sense of their disproportion; yet those petty operations, incessantly continued, in time surmount the greatest difficulties, and mountains are levelled, and oceans bounded, by the slender force of human beings."

"All unnecessary vows are folly, because they suppose a prescience of the future, which has not been given us."

"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."

"All wonder is the effect of novelty on ignorance."

"Allow children to be happy in their own way, for what better way will they find?"

"Always set a high value on spontaneous kindness. He whose inclination prompts him to cultivate your friendship of his own accord, will love you more than one whom you have been at pains to attach to you."

"Almost every man wastes part of his life in attempts to display qualities which he does not possess, and gain applause which he cannot keep."

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

"Among many parallels which men of imagination have drawn between the natural and moral state of the world, it has been observed that happiness as well as virtue consists in mediocrity."

"Americans are a race of convicts and ought to be thankful for anything we allow them short of hanging."

"Among other pleasing errors of young minds is the opinion of their own importance. He that has not yet remarked, how little attention his contemporaries can spare from themselves, conceives all eyes turned upon himself, and imagines everyone that approaches him to be an enemy or a follower, an admirer or a spy."

"Among the numerous stratagems by which pride endeavors to recommend folly to regard, scarcely one meets with less success than affectation, which is a perpetual disguise of the real character by false appearances."

"Among those whom I never could persuade to rank themselves with idlers, and who speak with indignation of my morning sleeps and nocturnal rambles, one passes the day in catching spiders, that he may count their eyes with a microscope; another exhibits the dust of of a marigold separated from the flower with a dexterity worthy of Leuwenhoeck himself. Some turn the wheel of electricity; some suspend rings to a load­stone, and find that what they did yesterday, they can do again today. - Some register the changes of the wind, and die fully convinced that the wind is changeable. - There are men yet more profound, who have heard that two colorless liquors may produce a color by union, and that two cold bodies will grow hot if they are mingled: they mingle them, and produce the effect expected, say it is strange, and mingle them again."

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

"An intellectual improvement arises from leisure."

"Among the calamities of wars may be justly numbered the diminution of the love of truth by the falsehoods which interest dictates and credulity encourages."

"And sure the Eternal Master found the single talent well employ'd."

"Anecdotes are the gleaming toys of history. The history of mankind is little else than a narrative of designs which have failed and hopes that have been disappointed."

"Anger is excited principally by pride."

"An Italian philosopher said that time was his estate; an estate indeed which will produce nothing without cultivation, but will always abundantly repay the labors of industry, and generally satisfy the most extensive desires, if no part of it be suffered to lie in waste by negligence, to be overrun with noxious plants, or laid out for show rather than for use."

"An old friend never can be found, and nature has provided that he cannot easily be lost."

"As I know more of mankind I expect less of them, and am ready now to call a man a good man upon easier terms than I was formerly."

"As gold which he cannot spend will make no man rich, so knowledge which he cannot apply will make no man wise."

"As any action or posture long continued will distort and disfigure the limbs; so the mind likewise is crippled and contracted by perpetual application to the same set of ideas."

"Anybody who thinks of going to bed before 12 o'clock is a scoundrel."

"Applause abates diligence."

"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."

"As love without esteem is volatile and capricious, esteem without love is languid and cold."

"As peace is the end of war, so to be idle is the ultimate purpose of the busy."

"As the faculty of writing has chiefly been a masculine endowment, the reproach of making the world miserable has always been thrown upon the women."