Humorous Quotes attributed to Samuel Johnson
1709-1784, British Author, Lexicographer, Critic
- As peace is the end of war, so to be
idle is the ultimate purpose of the busy. (Idler #1)
- 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.
- I had rather see the portrait of a dog
that I know, than all the allegorical paintings they can show me in the
- I know not, Madam, that you have a
right, upon moral principles, to make your readers suffer so much.
- I never desire to converse with a man
who has written more than he has read.
- It is better to live rich, than to die
- Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a
subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it. (Boswell's
Life of Johnson)
- Let me smile with the wise and feed with the rich.
- Marriage has many pains, but celibacy
has no pleasures. (Rasselas)
- Much may be made of a Scotchman, if he
be caught young. (Boswell's Life of Johnson)
- Nature has given women so much power
that the law has very wisely given them little. (Letter to Dr. Taylor)
- No man but a blockhead ever wrote,
except for money. (Boswell's Life of Johnson)
- No man will be a sailor who has contrivance
enough to get himself into a jail; for being in a ship is being in a jail,
with the chance of being drowned. … A man in a jail has more room, better
food and commonly better company. (Boswell's Life of Johnson)
- Nothing will ever be attempted if all
possible objections must first be overcome. (Rasselas)
- Of all noises, I think music is the least disagreeable.
- On second marriages: "The triumph
of hope over experience." (Boswell's Life of Johnson)
- Patriotism is the last refuge of a
scoundrel. (Boswell's Life of Johnson)
- Poor people's children, dear Lady, never
respect them: I did not respect my own mother, though I loved her: and one
day, when in anger she called me a puppy, I asked her if she knew what they
call a puppy's mother. (Piozzi: Anecdotes)
- 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. (Boswell's Life of Johnson)
- Sir, I have found you an argument; but I
am not obliged to find you an understanding. (Boswell's Life of Johnson)
- Sir, you have but two topics, yourself
and me. I am sick of both.
- That fellow seems to me to possess but
one idea, and that is a wrong one.
- The chains of habit are too weak to be
felt until they are too strong to be broken.
- The happiest conversation is that of
which nothing is distinctly remembered but a general effect of pleasing
- The Irish are a fair people: They never
speak well of one another. (Boswell's Life of Johnson)
- The superiority of some men is merely
local. They are great because their associates are little.
- The use of travelling is to regulate
imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see
them as they are.
- There are innumerable questions to
which the inquisitive mind can in this state receive no answer: Why do you
and I exist? Why was this world created? Since it was to be created, why was
it not created sooner?
- There are some sluggish men who are
improved by drinking; as there are fruits that are not good until they are
- There is nothing which has yet been
contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced as by a good
- Time, with all its celerity, moves
slowly to him whose whole employment is to watch its flight. (Idler #21;
September 2, 1758)
- We are inclined to believe those we do
not know, because they have never deceived us.
- Were it not for imagination, Sir, a man would
be as happy in arms of a chambermaid as of a Duchess.
- What provokes your risibility, Sir?
Have I said anything that you understand? Then I ask pardon of the rest of
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