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Quotations From SAMUEL JOHNSON

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  • I will be conquered; I will not capitulate.
    Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. quoted in James Boswell, Life of Dr. Johnson, entry, Nov. 1784 (1791). In his last illness.
  • What provokes your risibility, Sir? Have I said anything that you understand? Then I ask pardon of the rest of the company.
    Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. repr. In Johnsonian Miscellanies, vol. 2, p. 77, ed. George Birkbeck Hill (1897). Quoted in Richard Cumberland, Anecdotes, first published in Memoirs (1807).
  • Just praise is only a debt, but flattery is a present.
    Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. repr. in Works of Samuel Johnson, vol. 5, eds. W.J. Bate and Albrecht B. Strauss (1969). Rambler (London, Sept. 10, 1751), no. 155.
  • Virtue is too often merely local.
    Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. repr. in Works of Samuel Johnson, vol. 2, eds. W.J. Bate, John M. Bullitt and L.F. Powell (1963). The Idler, no. 53, Universal Chronicle (London, April 21, 1759).
  • Ah! Sir, a boy's being flogged is not so severe as a man's having the hiss of the world against him.
    Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. Quoted in James Boswell, Life of Samuel Johnson, July 21, 1763 (1791).

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  • You are much surer that you are doing good when you pay money to those who work, as the recompense of their labour, than when you give money merely in charity.
    Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. Quoted in James Boswell, Life of Samuel Johnson, May 1776 (1791).

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  • The return of my birthday, if I remember it, fills me with thoughts which it seems to be the general care of humanity to escape.
    Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. letter, Sept. 21, 1773, to Hester Thrale. The Letters of Samuel Johnson, vol. 1, no. 326, ed. R.W. Chapman (1952). Johnson added, "I can now look back upon threescore and four years, in which little has been done, and little has been enjoyed, a life diversified by misery, spent part in the sluggishness of penury, and part under the violence of pain, in gloomy discontent, or importunate distress."

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  • There is nothing, Sir, too little for so little a creature as man. It is by studying little things that we attain the great art of having as little misery and as much happiness as possible.
    Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. Quoted in James Boswell, Life of Samuel Johnson, July 14, 1763 (1791). Johnson was replying to Boswell's fear that, should he keep a journal (as Johnson proposed), he would put into it too many little incidents.

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  • As peace is the end of war, so to be idle is the ultimate purpose of the busy.
    Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. repr. in Works of Samuel Johnson, vol. 2, eds. W.J. Bate, John M. Bullitt, and L.F. Powell (1963). The Idler, no. 1, Universal Chronicle (London, April 15, 1758). "Perhaps man," Johnson wrote, "is the only being that can properly be called idle."

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  • When speculation has done its worst, two and two still make four.
    Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British author, lexicographer. repr. in Works of Samuel Johnson, vol. 2, eds. W.J. Bate, John M. Bullitt, and L.F. Powell (1963). "The Idler," no. 36, Universal Chronicle (London, Dec. 23, 1758).
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