Samuel Johnson

(1709 - 1784 / Lichfield / England)

Samuel Johnson Quotes

  • ''Tomorrow is an old deceiver, and his cheat never grows stale.''
    Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. Letter, May 24, 1773, to Hester Thrale. The Letters of Samuel Johnson, vol. 1, no. 311, ed. R.W. Chapman (1952).
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  • ''A quibble is to Shakespeare what luminous vapours are to the traveller: he follows it at all adventures; it is sure to lead him out of his way and sure to engulf him in the mire.''
    Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. Preface, Plays of William Shakespeare (1765).
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  • ''There is no wisdom in useless and hopeless sorrow, but there is something in it so like virtue, that he who is wholly without it cannot be loved.''
    Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. Letter, April 12, 1781, to Hester Thrale. The Letters of Samuel Johnson, vol. 2, no. 722, ed. R.W. Chapman (1952).
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  • ''The mind is refrigerated by interruption; the thoughts are diverted from the principal subject; the reader is weary, he suspects not why; and at last throws away the book, which he has too diligently studied.''
    Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. repr. In Works of Samuel Johnson, vol. 7, ed. Arthur Sherbo (1968). Preface to Shakespeare (1765). Of textual notes.
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  • ''I know not, Madam, that you have a right, upon moral principles, to make your readers suffer so much.''
    Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. Quoted in James Boswell, Life of Samuel Johnson, 1763 (1791). To Mrs. Thomas Sheridan, on publication of her novel Memoirs of Mrs. Sydney Biddulph.
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  • ''If he does really think that there is no distinction between virtue and vice, why, Sir, when he leaves our houses let us count our spoons.''
    Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. Quoted in James Boswell, Life of Samuel Johnson, July 14, 1763 (1791).
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  • ''Nature has given women so much power that the law has very wisely given them little.''
    Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. letter, Aug. 18, 1763. The Letters of Samuel Johnson, vol. 1, no. 157, ed. R.W. Chapman (1952).
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  • ''Nobody can write the life of a man but those who have eat and drunk and lived in social intercourse with him.''
    Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. Quoted in James Boswell, Life of Samuel Johnson, March 20, 1776 (1791). Johnson was referring specifically to Goldsmith's Life of Parnell. He later reiterated and qualified this statement: "They only who live with a man can write his life with any genuine exactness and discrimination; and few people who have lived with a man know what to remark about him."
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  • ''I would rather be attacked than unnoticed. For the worst thing you can do to an author is to be silent as to his works. An assault upon a town is a bad thing; but starving it is still worse.''
    Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. Quoted in James Boswell, Life of Samuel Johnson, March 26, 1779 entry (1791).
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  • ''There is no private house in which people can enjoy themselves so well as at a capital tavern.... No, Sir; there is nothing which has yet been contrived by man by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn.''
    Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. Quoted in James Boswell, Life of Samuel Johnson, March 21, 1776 (1791).
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Best Poem of Samuel Johnson

Autumn

Alas! with swift and silent pace,
Impatient time rolls on the year;
The Seasons change, and Nature's face
Now sweetly smiles, now frowns severe.

'Twas Spring, 'twas Summer, all was gay,
Now Autumn bends a cloudy brow;
The flowers of Spring are swept away,
And Summer fruits desert the bough.

The verdant leaves that play'd on high,
And wanton'd on the western breeze,
Now trod in dust neglected lie,
As Boreas strips the bending trees.

The fields that waved with golden grain,
As russet heaths are wild and bare;
Not moist with dew, but ...

Read the full of Autumn

One And Twenty

LONG-EXPECTED one and twenty
Ling'ring year at last has flown,
Pomp and pleasure, pride and plenty
Great Sir John, are all your own.

Loosen'd from the minor's tether,
Free to mortgage or to sell,
Wild as wind, and light as feather
Bid the slaves of thrift farewell.

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