146+ Best Samuel Johnson Quotes: Exclusive Selection

Samuel Johnson, often referred to as Dr Johnson, was an English writer who made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, playwright, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor, and lexicographer. Profoundly inspirational Samuel Johnson quotes will challenge the way you think, change the way you live and transform your whole life.

Famous Samuel Johnson Quotes

Our minds, like our bodies, are in continual flux; something is hourly lost, and something acquired… Do not suffer life to stagnate; it will grow muddy for want of motion: commit yourself again to the current of the world. – Samuel Johnson

In most ages many countries have had part of their inhabitants in a state of slavery; yet it may be doubted whether slavery can ever be supposed the natural condition of man. It is impossible not to conceive that men in their original state were equal; and very difficult to imagine how one would be subjected to another but by violent compulsion. An individual may, indeed, forfeit his liberty by a crime; but he cannot by that crime forfeit the liberty of his children. – Samuel Johnson

Exercise is labor without weariness. – Samuel Johnson

My dear friend, clear your mind of can’t. – Samuel Johnson

See nations slowly wise, and meanly just, to buried merit raise the tardy bust. – Samuel Johnson

Wealth is nothing in itself; it is not useful but when it departs from us. – Samuel Johnson

If we estimate dignity by immediate usefulness, agriculture is undoubtedly the first and noblest science. – Samuel Johnson

A man’s mind grows narrow in a narrow place. – Samuel Johnson

Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel. – Samuel Johnson

He who has so little knowledge of human nature as to seek happiness by changing anything but his own disposition will waste his life in fruitless efforts. – Samuel Johnson

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. – Samuel Johnson

To write is, indeed, no unpleasing employment, when one sentiment readily produces another, and both ideas and expressions present themselves at the first summons; but such happiness, the greatest genius does not always obtain; and common writers know it only to such a degree, as to credit its possibility. Composition is, for the most part, an effort of slow diligence and steady perseverance, to which the mind is dragged by necessity or resolution, and from which the attention is every moment starting to more delightful amusements. – Samuel Johnson

The fortitude which has encountered no dangers, that prudence which has surmounted no difficulties, that integrity which has been attacked by no temptation, can at best be considered but as gold not yet brought to the test, of which therefore the true value cannot be assigned. – Samuel Johnson

He that fails in his endeavors after wealth or power will not long retain either honesty or courage. – Samuel Johnson

There can be no friendship without confidence, and no confidence without integrity. – Samuel Johnson

Fraud and falsehood only dread examination. Truth invites it. – Samuel Johnson

It is observed of gold, by an old epigrammatist, that to have it is to be in fear, and to want it is to be in sorrow. – Samuel Johnson

Reason and truth will prevail at last – Samuel Johnson

No government power can be abused long. Mankind will not bear it…. There is a remedy in human nature against tyranny, that will keep us safe under every form of government. – Samuel Johnson

He that is already corrupt is naturally suspicious, and he that becomes suspicious will quickly become corrupt. – Samuel Johnson

Nature has given women so much power that the law has very wisely given them little. – Samuel Johnson

The majority have no other reason for their opinions than that they are the fashion. – Samuel Johnson

To fix the thoughts by writing, and subject them to frequent examinations and reviews, is the best method of enabling the mind to detect its own sophisms, and keep it on guard against the fallacies which it practices on others – Samuel Johnson

Criticism, though dignified from the earliest ages by the labours of men eminent for knowledge and sagacity, has not yet attained the certainty and stability of science. – Samuel Johnson

Women have two weapons – cosmetics and tears – Samuel Johnson

I have always said the first Whig was the Devil. – Samuel Johnson

Assertion is not argument; to contradict the statement of an opponent is not proof that you are correct. – Samuel Johnson

The world is like a grand staircase, some are going up and some are going down. – Samuel Johnson

Language is the dress of thought; every time you talk your mind is on parade. – Samuel Johnson

Some people have a foolish way of not minding, or pretending not to mind, what they eat. For my part, I mind my belly very studiously, and very carefully; for I look upon it, that he who does not mind his belly will hardly mind anything else. – Samuel Johnson

He that wishes to see his country robbed of its rights cannot be a patriot. – Samuel Johnson

Order is a lovely nymph, the child of Beauty and Wisdom; her attendants are Comfort, Neatness, and Activity; her abode is the valley of happiness: she is always to be found when sought for, and never appears so lovely as when contrasted with her opponent, Disorder. – Samuel Johnson

Life is but short; no time can be afforded but for the indulgence of real sorry, or contests upon questions seriously momentous. Let us not throw away any of our days upon useless resentment, or contend who shall hold out longest in stubborn malignity. It is best not to be angry; and best, in the next place, to be quickly reconciled. – Samuel Johnson

Books have always a secret influence on the understanding. – Samuel Johnson

I know not any crime so great that a man could contrive to commit as poisoning the sources of eternal truth. – Samuel Johnson

None but a fool worries about things he cannot influence. – Samuel Johnson

Knock the ‘t’ off the ‘can’t.’ – Samuel Johnson

All intellectual improvement arises from leisure. – Samuel Johnson

Guilt once harbored in the conscious breast, intimidates the brave, degrades the great. – Samuel Johnson

You can never be wise unless you love reading. – Samuel Johnson

He that travels in theory has no inconveniences. – Samuel Johnson

It is indeed certain, that whoever attempts any common topick, will find unexpected coincidences of his thoughts with those of other writers; nor can the nicest judgment always distinguish accidental similitude from artful imitation. – Samuel Johnson

Your aspirations are your possibilities. – Samuel Johnson

The task of an author is, either to teach what is not known, or to recommend known truths by his manner of adorning them; either to let new light in upon the mind, and open new scenes to the prospect, or to vary the dress and situation of common objects, so as to give them fresh grace and more powerful attractions, to spread such flowers over the regions through which the intellect has already made its progress, as may tempt it to return, and take a second view of things hastily passed over, or negligently regarded. – Samuel Johnson

We go from anticipation to anticipation, not from satisfaction to satisfaction. – Samuel Johnson

When men come to like a sea-life, they are not fit to live on land. – Samuel Johnson

Just praise is only a debt, but flattery is a present. – Samuel Johnson

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

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 beings finds nothing left him but the consciousness of innocence. – Samuel Johnson

Quotation is a good thing, there is a community of thought in it. – Samuel Johnson

Self-confidence is the first requisite to great undertakings. – Samuel Johnson

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

Kindness is in our power, even when fondness is not. – Samuel Johnson

In all pleasures hope is a considerable part. – Samuel Johnson

Hope itself is a species of happiness, and, perhaps, the chief happiness which this world affords; but, like all other pleasures immoderately enjoyed, the excesses of hope must be expiated by pain. – Samuel Johnson

Employment and hardships prevent melancholy. – Samuel Johnson

When once the forms of civility are violated, there remains little hope of return to kindness or decency. – Samuel Johnson

Life, to be worthy of a rational being, must be always in progression; we must always purpose to do more or better than in time past. – Samuel Johnson

Parents are by no means exempt from the intoxication of dominion. – Samuel Johnson

In general those parents have the most reverence who most deserve it; for he that lives well cannot be despised. – Samuel Johnson

Curiosity is one of the most permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous intellect. – Samuel Johnson

While an author is yet living, we estimate his powers by his worst performance; and when he is dead, we rate him by his best. – Samuel Johnson

In sovereignty there are no gradations. – Samuel Johnson

A person loves to review his own mind. That is the use of a diary, or journal. – Samuel Johnson

The love of life is necessary to the vigorous prosecution of any undertaking – Samuel Johnson

We are more pained by ignorance than delighted by instruction. – Samuel Johnson

Misery and shame are nearly allied. – Samuel Johnson

The really happy woman is the one who can enjoy the scenery when she has to take a detour. Happiness is not a state to arrive at, but rather a manner of traveling. – Samuel Johnson

A successful author is equally in danger of the diminution of his fame, whether he continues or ceases to write. The regard of the public is not to be kept but by tribute, and the remembrance of past service will quickly languish unless successive performances frequently revive it. Yet in every new attempt there is new hazard, and there are few who do not, at some unlucky time, injure their own characters by attempting to enlarge them. – Samuel Johnson

We have less reason to be surprised or offended when we find others differ from us in opinion, because we very often differ from ourselves. – Samuel Johnson

Courage is reckoned the greatest of all virtues; because, unless a man has that virtue, he has no – Samuel Johnson

The highest panegyric, therefore, that private virtue can receive, is the praise of servants. – Samuel Johnson

Life consists not of a series of illustrious actions or elegant enjoyments. The greater part of our time passes in compliance with necessities, in the performance of daily duties, in the removal of small inconveniences, in the procurement of petty pleasures; and we are well or ill at ease, as the main stream of life glides on smoothly, or is ruffled by small obstacles and frequent interruption. – Samuel Johnson

Poverty has, in large cities, very different appearances; it is often concealed in splendour, and often in extravagance. – Samuel Johnson

The disturbers of our happiness, in this world, are our desires, our griefs, and our fears. – Samuel Johnson

Promise, large promise, is the soul of an advertisement. – Samuel Johnson

To strive with difficulties, and to conquer them, is the highest human felicity; the next is, to strive, and deserve to conquer: but he whose life has passed without a contest, and who can boast neither success nor merit, can survey himself only as a useless filler of existence; ad if he is content with his own character, must owe his satisfaction to insensibility. – Samuel Johnson

Life affords no higher pleasure than that of surmounting difficulties, passing from one step of success to another, forming new wishes and seeing them gratified. – Samuel Johnson

There are few minds to which tyranny is not delightful. – Samuel Johnson

As the mind must govern the hands, so in every society the man of intelligence must direct the man of labor. – Samuel Johnson

No one is much pleased with a companion who does not increase, in some respect, their fondness for themselves. – Samuel Johnson

With an unquiet mind, neither exercise, nor diet, nor physick can be of much use. – Samuel Johnson

When there is no hope, there can be no endeavor. – Samuel Johnson

Power is gradually stealing away from the many to the few, because the few are more vigilant and consistent. – Samuel Johnson

The mental disease of the present generation is impatience of study, contempt of the great masters of ancient wisdom, and a disposition to rely wholly upon unassisted genius and natural sagacity. – Samuel Johnson

Judgment is forced upon us by experience – Samuel Johnson

He who praises everybody, praises nobody. – Samuel Johnson

It matters not how a man dies, but how he lives. – 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

All wonder is the effect of novelty on ignorance. – Samuel Johnson

The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good. – Samuel Johnson

The resolution of the combat is seldom equal to the vehemence of the charge. – Samuel Johnson

A man who both spends and saves money is the happiest man, because he has both enjoyments. – Samuel Johnson

The power of punishment is to silence, not to confute. – Samuel Johnson

Shakespeare never had more than 6 lines together without a fault. – Samuel Johnson

A man who has not been in Italy, is always conscious of an inferiority. – Samuel Johnson

A horse that can count to ten is a remarkable horse, not a remarkable mathematician. – Samuel Johnson

The longer we live the more we think and the higher the value we put on friendship and tenderness towards parents and friends. – Samuel Johnson

There are two types of knowledge. One is knowing a thing. The other is knowing where to find it. – Samuel Johnson

Revenge is an act of passion; vengeance of justice. Injuries are revenged; crimes are avenged. – Samuel Johnson

Love is the wisdom of the fool and the folly of the wise. – Samuel Johnson

The wise man applauds he who he thinks most virtuous; the rest of the world applauds the wealthy. – Samuel Johnson

All power of fancy over reason is a degree of madness. – Samuel Johnson

Ignorance, when it is voluntary, is criminal; and he may be properly charged with evil who refused to learn how he might prevent it. – Samuel Johnson

To buried merit rise the tardy bust. – Samuel Johnson

He that outlives a wife whom he has long loved, sees himself disjoined from the only mind that has the same hopes, and fears, and interest; from the only companion with whom he has shared much good and evil; and with whom he could set his mind at liberty, to retrace the past or anticipate the future. The continuity of being is lacerated; the settled course of sentiment and action is stopped; and life stands suspended and motionless. – Samuel Johnson

As he that lives longest lives but a little while, every man may be certain that he has no time to waste. The duties of life are commensurate to its duration; and every day brings its task, which, if neglected, is doubled on the morrow. – Samuel Johnson

Exert your talents, and distinguish yourself, and don’t think of retiring from the world, until the world will be sorry that you retire. – Samuel Johnson

Riches seldom make their owners rich. – Samuel Johnson

The first step to greatness is to be honest. – Samuel Johnson

The future is purchased by the present. – Samuel Johnson

A mere literary man is a dull man; a man who is solely a man of business is a selfish man; but when literature and commerce are united, they make a respectable man. – Samuel Johnson

Without frugality none can be rich, and with it very few would be poor. – Samuel Johnson

To neglect at any time preparation for death is to sleep on our post at a siege; to omit it in old age is to sleep at an attack. – Samuel Johnson

Deceit and falsehood, whatever conveniences they may for a time promise or produce, are, in the sum of life, obstacles to happiness. Those who profit by the cheat distrust the deceiver; and the act by which kindness was sought puts an end to confidence. – Samuel Johnson

A wise man is cured of ambition by ambition itself; his aim is so exalted that riches, office, fortune and favour cannot satisfy him. – Samuel Johnson

Laws teach us to know when we commit injury and when we suffer it. – Samuel Johnson

The synonyme of usury is ruin. – Samuel Johnson

Many of our miseries are merely comparative: we are often made unhappy, not by the presence of any real evil, but by the absence of some fictitious good; of something which is not required by any real want of nature, which has not in itself any power of gratification, and which neither reason nor fancy would have prompted us to wish, did we not see it in the possession of others. – Samuel Johnson

Almost every man wastes part of his life attempting to display qualities which he does not possess. – Samuel Johnson

Power is not sufficient evidence of truth. – Samuel Johnson

You hesitate to stab me with a word, and know not – silence is the sharper sword. – Samuel Johnson

Never trust your tongue when your heart is bitter. – Samuel Johnson

Whoever envies another confesses his superiority. – Samuel Johnson

He that will enjoy the brightness of sunshine, must quit the coolness of the shade. – Samuel Johnson

Before dinner men meet with great inequality of understanding. – Samuel Johnson

There is certainly no greater happiness than to be able to look back on a life usefully and virtuously employed, to trace our own progress in existence, by such tokens as excite neither shame nor sorrow. – Samuel Johnson

The triumph of hope over experience. – Samuel Johnson

How many may a man of diffusive conversation count among his acquaintances, whose lives have been signalized by numberless escapes; who never cross the river but in a storm, or take a journey into the country without more adventures than befel the knights-errant of ancient times in pathless forests or enchanted castles! How many must he know, to whom portents and prodigies are of daily occurrence; and for whom nature is hourly working wonders invisible to every other eye, only to supply them with subjects of conversation? – Samuel Johnson

To preserve health is a moral and religious duty: for health is the basis of all social virtues; and we can be useful no longer than while we are well. – Samuel Johnson

Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome. – Samuel Johnson

When any calamity is suffered, the first thing to be remembered is, how much has been escaped. – Samuel Johnson

A vow is a snare for sin. – Samuel Johnson

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

Pound St. Paul’s Church into atoms, and consider any single atom; it is to be sure, good for nothing; but put all these atoms together, and you have St. Paul’s Church. So it is with human felicity, which is made up of many ingredients, each of which may be shown to be very insignificant. – Samuel Johnson

I am not so lost in lexicography as to forget that words are the daughters of earth, and that things are the sons of heaven. – Samuel Johnson

He that embarks on the voyage of life will always wish to advance rather by the impulse of the wind than the strokes of the oar; and many fold in their passage; while they lie waiting for the gale. – Samuel Johnson

The natural flights of the human mind are not from pleasure to pleasure, but from hope to hope. – Samuel Johnson

Indolence is the devil’s cushion. – Samuel Johnson

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

A translator is to be like his author; it is not his business to excel him. – Samuel Johnson

How small of all that human hearts endure/That part which laws or kings can cause or cure. – Samuel Johnson

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

At seventy-seven it is time to be in earnest. – Samuel Johnson

The business of life is to go forward. – Samuel Johnson

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

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