Johnson, who was already a well-known poet, critic, and writer, was not the first to collect a list of English terms, but his attempt was more thorough and ambitious than any that had come before. He will be remembered for his contribution to English literature. In this article, we will be discussing some of the best quotes from Samuel Johnson.
Unlike his predecessors, Johnson took a great effort to clarify not only the meaning of terms but also how they were employed in practice, usually citing the work of renowned authors. Johnson spent eight years working with six helpers in his house off Fleet Street to complete his vast compendium of the English language, which was published in April 1755 and comprised the definitions of 42,773 words.
His lexicographic achievement made him a literary legend in his own day, cementing a literary reputation that has kept “Dr. Johnson” a household name well into the twenty-first century. We have compiled a list of the 20 best quotes from Samuel Johnson below.
Check out our list of 20 best quotes from Samuel Johnson:
- “Nature has given women so much power that the law has very wisely given them little.”
- “The only end of writing is to enable the readers better to enjoy life, or better to endure it.”
- “Curiosity is, in great and generous minds, the first passion and the last.”
- “It is commonly observed, that when two Englishmen meet, their first talk is of the weather; they are in haste to tell each other, what each must already know, that it is hot or cold, bright or cloudy, windy or calm.”
- “There is nothing which has yet been contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn.”
- “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.”
- “I hate mankind, for I think myself one of the best of them, and I know how bad I am.”
- “He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man.”
- “I never desire to converse with a man who has written more than he has read.”
- “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.”
- “Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.”
- “A writer only begins a book. A reader finishes it.”
- “Liberty is, to the lowest rank of every nation, little more than the choice of working or starving.”
- “There can be no friendship without confidence and no confidence without integrity.”
- “Few things are impossible to diligence and skill. Great works are performed not by strength, but by perseverance.”
- “How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?”
- “I have, all my life long, been lying till noon; yet I tell all young men, and tell them with great sincerity, that nobody who does not rise early will ever do any good.”
- “The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.”
- “It is better to suffer wrong than to do it, and happier to be sometimes cheated than not to trust.”
- “Whoever thinks of going to bed before twelve o’clock is a scoundrel.”
Johnson is known for his wit as well as being one of Britain’s preeminent men of letters. Johnson’s dictionary notably classifies his own profession as a lexicographer as “a harmless drudge,” revealing the author’s sense of humor in several of his definitions. Some of the best quotes from Samuel Johnson are listed above.
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