Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Samuel Johnson, aka Doctor Johnson

English Lexicographer, Essayist, Poet, Conversationalist

"Deviation from Nature is deviation from happiness."

"Dictionaries are like watches, the worst is better than none and the best cannot be expected to go quite true."

"Diffidence may check resolution, and obstruct performance, but it compensates its embarrassments by more important advantages. - It conciliates the proud, and softens the severe; averts envy from excellence, and censure from miscarriage."

"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."

"Discord generally operates in little things; it is inflamed ... by contrariety of taste oftener than principles."

"Disease generally begins that equality which death completes; the distinctions which set one man so much above another are very little perceived in the gloom of a sick-chamber, where it will be vain to expect entertainment from the gay, or instruction from the wise; where all human glory is obliterated, the wit is clouded, the reasoner perplexed, and the hero subdued; where the highest and brightest of mortal being finds nothing left behind him but the consciousness of innocence."

"Distance has the same effect on the mind as on the eye."

"Disease is a physical process that generally begins that equality which death completes."

"Don’t be too hasty... to trust or to admire the teachers of morality: they discourse like angels, but they live like men."

"Do not discourage your children from hoarding, if they have a taste to it; whoever lays up his penny rather than part with it for a cake, at least is not the slave of gross appetite; and shows besides a preference always to be esteemed, of the future."

"Do not accustom yourself to consider debt only as an inconvenience; you will find it a calamity."

"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 drive into a corner, and who does nothing when he is there but sit and growl. Let him come out as I do, and bark."

"Ease, a neutral state between pain and pleasure ... if it is not rising into pleasure will be falling towards pain."

"Employment and hardships prevent melancholy."

"Envy feels not its own happiness but when it may be compared with the misery of others."

"Every man deeply engaged in business, if all regard to another state be not extinguished, must have the conviction, if not the resolution of one who, being asked whether he retired from the army in disgust, answered, that he laid down his commission for no other reason, but because there ought to be some time for sober reflection between the life of a soldier and his death."

"Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth, and every other man has a right to knock him down for it. Martyrdom is the test."

"Essay: A loose sally of the mind; an irregular indigested piece; not a regular and orderly composition."

"Every man has something to do which he neglects, every man has faults to conquer which he delays to combat."

"Every man is prompted by the love of himself to imagine that he possesses some qualities superior, either in kind or degree, to those which he sees allotted to the rest of the world."

"Every man is of importance to himself."

"Every man ought to aim at eminence, not by pulling others down, but by raising himself; and enjoy the pleasures of his own superiority, whether imaginary or real, without interrupting others in the same felicity."

"Every man is rich or poor, according to the proportion between his desires and enjoyments. Of riches as of everything else, the hope is more than the enjoyment. While we consider them as the means to be used at some future time for the attainment of felicity, ardor after them secures us from weariness of ourselves; but no sooner do we sit down to enjoy our acquisitions than we find them insufficient to fill up the vacuities of life."

"Every man prefers virtue, when there is not some strong incitement to transgress its precepts."

"Every man thinks meanly of himself for not having been a soldier, or not having been at sea."

"Every man who attacks my belief diminishes in some degree my confidence in it, and therefore makes me uneasy; and I am angry with him who makes me uneasy."

"Every man wishes to be wise, and they who cannot be wise are almost always cunning."

"Every other author may aspire to praise; the lexicographer can only hope to escape reproach."

"Everything that enlarges the sphere of human powers, that shows man he can do what he thought he could not do, is valuable."

"Every period of life is obliged to borrow its happiness from time to come."

"Example is always more efficacious than precept."

"Every quotation contributes something to the stability or enlargement of the language."

"Every state of society is as luxurious as it can be. Men always take the best they can get."

"Everybody knows worse of himself than he knows of other men."

"Excellence in any department can be attained only by the labor of a lifetime; it is not to be purchased at a lesser price."

"Excise: A hateful tax levied upon commodities, and adjudged not by the common judges of property, but wretches hired by those to whom excise is paid."

"Example is more efficacious than precept."

"Exercise is labor without weariness."

"Exert your talents and distinguish yourself, and 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."

"Extended empire, like expanded gold exchanges solid strength for feeble splendor."

"Fanaticism consists of redoubling your efforts when you have forgotten your aim."

"Fanatical religion driven to a certain point is almost as bad as none at all, but not quite."

"Fate never wounds more deeply the generous heart, than when a blockhead's insult points the dart."

"Fear is implanted in us as a preservative from evil; but its duty, like that of other passions, is not to overbear reason, but to assist it. - It should not be suffered to tyrannize in the imagination, to raise phantoms of horror, or to beset life with supernumerary distresses."

"For general improvement, a man should read whatever his immediate inclination prompts him to; though if he has a science to learn, he must regularly and resolutely advance. What we read with inclination makes a stronger impression. If we read without inclination, half the mind is employed in fixing the attention, so there is but half to be employed on what we read. If a man begins to read in the middle of a book, and feels an inclination to go on, let him not quit it to go to the beginning. He may perhaps not feel again the inclination."

"Fine clothes are good only as they supply the want of other means of procuring respect."

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

"For a man seldom thinks with more earnestness of anything than he does of his dinner."

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

"Foppery is never cured; it is of the bad stamina of the mind, which, like those of the body, are never rectified. - Once a coxcomb, always a coxcomb."