9+ quotes from The Life of Samuel Johnson by James Boswell

Quotes from The Life of Samuel Johnson

James Boswell ·  1344 pages

Rating: (2.8K votes)


“He had no settled plan of life, nor looked forward at all, but merely lived from day to day. Yet he read a great deal in a desultory manner, without any scheme of study, as chance threw books in his way, and inclination directed him through them.”
― James Boswell, quote from The Life of Samuel Johnson


“Nay, Sir, it was not the WINE that made your head ache, but the SENSE that I put into it'
'What, Sir! will sense make the head ache?'
'Yes, Sir, (with a smile,) when it is not used to it.”
― James Boswell, quote from The Life of Samuel Johnson


“Everything about his character and manners was forcible and violent; there never was any moderation; many a day did he fast, many a year did he refrain from wine; but when he did eat, it was voraciously; when he did drink wine, it was copiously. He could practise abstinence, but not temperance.”
― James Boswell, quote from The Life of Samuel Johnson


“No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.”
― James Boswell, quote from The Life of Samuel Johnson


“He made two or three peculiar observations; as when shewn the botanical garden, 'Is not EVERY garden a botanical garden?”
― James Boswell, quote from The Life of Samuel Johnson


“Sir, I have found you an argument; but I am not obliged to find you an understanding.”
― James Boswell, quote from The Life of Samuel Johnson


“His OFELLUS in the Art of Living in London, I have heard him relate, was an Irish painter, whom he knew at Birmingham, and who had practiced his own precepts of economy for several years in the British capital. He assured Johnson, who, I suppose, was then meditating to try his fortune in London, but was apprehensive of the expence, 'that thirty pounds a year was enough to enable a man to live there without being contemptible. He allowed ten pounds for cloaths and linen. He said a man might live in a garret at eighteen-pence a week; few people would inquire where he lodged; and if they did, it was easy to say, "Sir, I am to be found at such a place." By spending three-pence in a coffee-house, he might be for some hours every day in very good company; he might dine for six-pence, breakfast on bread and milk for a penny, and do without supper. On clean-shirt day he went abroad, and paid visits.”
― James Boswell, quote from The Life of Samuel Johnson


“Mr. Langton one day asked him [Samuel Johnson] how he had acquired so accurate a knowledge of Latin, in which, I believe, he was exceeded by no man of his time; he said, 'My master whipt me very well. Without that, Sir, I should have done nothing.' He told Mr. Langton, that while Hunter was flogging his boys unmercifully, he used to say, 'And this I do to save you from the gallows.' Johnson, upon all occasions, expressed his approbation of enforcing instruction by means of the rod. 'I would rather (said he) have the rod to be the general terrour to all, to make them learn, than tell a child, if you do thus, or thus, you will be more esteemed than your brothers or sisters. The rod produces an effect which terminates in itself. A child is afraid of being whipped, and gets his task, and there's an end on't; whereas, by exciting emulation and comparisons of superiority, you lay the foundation of lasting mischief; you make brothers and sisters hate each other.”
― James Boswell, quote from The Life of Samuel Johnson


“Almighty GOD, the giver of wisdom, without whose help resolutions are vain, without whose blessing study is ineffectual; enable me, if it be thy will, to attain such knowledge as may qualify me to direct the doubtful, and instruct the ignorant; to prevent wrongs and terminate contentions; and grant that I may use that knowledge which I shall attain, to thy glory and my own salvation, for JESUS CHRIST'S sake. Amen.”
― James Boswell, quote from The Life of Samuel Johnson


About the author

James Boswell
Born place: in Edinburgh, Scotland
Born date October 29, 1740
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