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A collection of thoughts and quotes by Samuel Johnson on poetry, mankind, humor, curiosity, writing, gender, literature, language, effort, evil and superiority.

57 Notable Quotations By Samuel Johnson

Quick Facts

Famous As: Writer

Born On: September 18, 1709

Died On: December 13, 1784

Born In: Lichfield, United Kingdom

Died At Age: 75

Samuel Johnson was an English poet, lexicographer, playwright, essayist, author, moralist and editor. He lived in the 18th century and is often regarded as one of the most influential writers in the history of England. Johnson attended Pembroke College at the University of Oxford but due to financial difficulties he had to drop out and he became a teacher, before becoming the editor of a magazine in London. One of his early works is ‘Life of Mr. Richard Savage’. Later, he went on to write poems which were very well received by people. Some of his well-known poems include, ‘The Vanity of Human Flesh’, ‘London’, ‘Prologue at the Opening of the Theatre in Drury Lane’ and other works like ‘Lives of the Poets’, ‘Preface to the Plays of William Shakespeare’, ‘The History of Rasselas’, ‘Prince of Abissinia’ and ‘Miscellaneous Observations on the Tragedy of Macbeth’ among many others. He was quite rightly regarded as among the finest men of letters in English history; however one of his most important contributions to the English language was ‘A Dictionary of the English Language’, which he compiled over a period of 9 years and is regarded as one of his distinguished works. We bring to you a treasure trove of quotes that have been excerpted from his novels, books, essays, poems and writings. Read on to explore a compilation of some of the best known quotes by Samuel Johnson. 

Curiosity is, in great and generous minds, the first passion and the last.

Samuel Johnson

I hate mankind, for I think myself one of the best of them, and I know how bad I am.

Samuel Johnson

Men know that women are an overmatch for them, and therefore they choose the weakest or the most ignorant. If they did not think so, they never could be afraid of women knowing as much as themselves.

Samuel Johnson

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

Samuel Johnson

A writer only begins a book. A reader finishes it.

Samuel Johnson

What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure.

Samuel Johnson

Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.

Samuel Johnson

My congratulations to you, sir. Your manuscript is both good and original; but the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good.

Samuel Johnson

Curiosity is one of the permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous intellect.

Samuel Johnson

I never desire to converse with a man who has written more than he has read.

Samuel Johnson

Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.

Samuel Johnson

There can be no friendship without confidence, and no confidence without integrity.

Samuel Johnson

Whoever thinks of going to bed before twelve o'clock is a scoundrel.

Samuel Johnson

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

Samuel Johnson

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.

Samuel Johnson

The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.

Samuel Johnson

Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.

Samuel Johnson

It is better to suffer wrong than to do it, and happier to be sometimes cheated than not to trust.

Samuel Johnson

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

Samuel Johnson

Hell is paved with good intentions.

Samuel Johnson

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.

Samuel Johnson

You raise your voice when you should reinforce your argument.

Samuel Johnson

It is necessary to hope... for hope itself is happiness.

Samuel Johnson

What we hope ever to do with ease, we must first learn to do with diligence.

Samuel Johnson

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

Samuel Johnson

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

Samuel Johnson

To keep your secret is wisdom, but to expect others to keep it is folly.

Samuel Johnson

Nothing [...] will ever be attempted, if all possible objections must be first overcome.

Samuel Johnson

Read over your compositions, and wherever you meet with a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out.

Samuel Johnson

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

Samuel Johnson

While grief is fresh, every attempt to divert only irritates. You must wait till it be digested, and then amusement will dissipate the remains of it.

Samuel Johnson

A man ought to read just as inclination leads him; for what he reads as a task will do him little good.

Samuel Johnson

Our brightest blazes of gladness are commonly kindled by unexpected sparks.

Samuel Johnson

This is one of the disadvantages of wine, it makes a man mistake words for thoughts.

Samuel Johnson

Sir, I did not count your glasses of wine, why should you number up my cups of tea?

Samuel Johnson

Justice is my being allowed to do whatever I like. Injustice is whatever prevents my doing so.

Samuel Johnson

The two most engaging powers of an author are to make new things familiar and familiar things new.

Samuel Johnson

You can never be wise unless you love reading.

Samuel Johnson

The next best thing to knowing something is knowing where to find it.

Samuel Johnson

If you are idle, be not solitary; if you are solitary be not idle.

Samuel Johnson

He who waits to do a great deal of good at once will never do anything.

Samuel Johnson

It is better to live rich than to die rich.

Samuel Johnson

Getting money is not all a man's business: to cultivate kindness is a valuable part of the business of life.

Samuel Johnson

A man who uses a great many words to express his meaning is like a bad marksman who, instead of aiming a single stone at an object, takes up a handful and throws at it in hopes he may hit.

Samuel Johnson

A man may be so much of everything that he is nothing of anything.

Samuel Johnson

We never do anything consciously for the last time without sadness of heart.

Samuel Johnson

Love is the wisdom of the fool and the folly of the wise.

Samuel Johnson

If a man does not make new acquaintances as he advances through life, he will soon find himself alone. A man should keep his friendships in constant repair.

Samuel Johnson

Men more frequently require to be reminded than informed.

Samuel Johnson

Prejudice, not being founded on reason, cannot be removed by argument.

Samuel Johnson

The only end of writing is to enable readers better to enjoy life or better to endure it.

Samuel Johnson

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.

Samuel Johnson

That we must all die, we always knew; I wish I had remembered it sooner.

Samuel Johnson

Tea's proper use is to amuse the idle, and relax the studious, and dilute the full meals of those who cannot use exercise, and will not use abstinence." (Essay on Tea, 1757.)

Samuel Johnson

In order that all men may be taught to speak truth, it is necessary that all likewise should learn to hear it.

Samuel Johnson

Mankind have a great aversion to intellectual labor; but even supposing knowledge to be easily attainable, more people would be content to be ignorant than would take even a little trouble to acquire it.

Samuel Johnson

Life is not long, and too much of it must not pass in idle deliberation how it shall be spent.

Samuel Johnson