Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.

Samuel Johnson, aka Doctor Johnson

English Lexicographer, Essayist, Poet, Conversationalist

"To receive and to communicate assistance, constitutes the happiness of human life: man may indeed preserve his existence in solitude, but can enjoy it only in society."

"A decent provision for the poor is the true test of civilization."

"Curiosity is one of the most permanent characteristics of a vigorous intellect."

"Curiosity is the thirst of the soul."

"All theory is against the freedom of the will; all experience for it."

"Don't think of retiring from the world until the world will be sorry that you retire."

"He that hopes hereafter to look back with satisfaction upon past years, must learn to know the present value of single minutes."

"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 and multiply the grief which he proposes to remove."

"He who praises everybody praises nobody."

"He who waits to do a great deal of good at once will never do anything. Life is made up of little things. True greatness consists in being great in little things."

"Hope is necessary in every condition. The miseries of poverty, sickness, of captivity, would, without this comfort, be insupportable."

"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."

"Frugality may be termed the daughter of prudence, the sister of temperance, and the parent of liberty. Those that are extravagant will quickly become poor, and poverty will enforce dependence and invite corruption."

"Happiness is not a state to arrive at, but a manner of traveling."

"Grief is a species of idleness."

"He that feels himself alarmed by his conscience, anxious for the attainment of a better state and afflicted by the memory of his past faults, may justly conclude that the great work of repentance has begun."

"I had done all that I could; and no man is well pleased to have his all neglected, be it ever so little."

"If a person does not make new acquaintances as they advances through life, they will soon find themselves left alone. A person should keep their friendship in constant repair."

"If it rained knowledge, I'd hold out my hand; but I would not give myself the trouble to go in quest of it."

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

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

"It is a most mortifying reflection for a man to consider what he has done, compared to what he might have done."

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

"It is better… to be sometimes cheated than not to trust."

"It is our first duty to serve society, and, after we have done that, we may attend wholly to the salvation of our own souls. A youthful passion for abstracted devotion should not be encouraged."

"It matters not how a person dies, but how they live. The act of dying is not of importance, it lasts so short a time."

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

"Mutual cowardice keeps us in peace."

"No man ever yet became great by imitation."

"No man is much pleased with a companion who does not increase, in some respect, his fondness of himself."

"No mind is much employed upon the present: recollection and anticipation fill up almost all our moments."

"Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel."

"Resolve not to be poor, whatever you have, spend less. Poverty is a great enemy to human happiness, it certainly destroys liberty, and it makes some virtues impracticable, and others extremely difficult."

"Self-confidence is the first requisite to great undertakings."

"Poverty is a great enemy to human happiness; it certainly destroys liberty, and it makes some virtues impracticable and others extremely difficult."

"None but a fool worries about things they cannot influence."

"The future is purchased by the present."

"The greatest part of mankind have no other reason for their opinion than that they are in fashion."

"The mischief of flattery is not that it persuades any man that he is what he is not, but that it suppresses the influence of honest ambition, by raising an opinion that honor may be gained without the toil of merit."

"The love of money has been in all ages, one of the passions that have given great disturbances to the tranquillity of the world."

"The misery of man proceeds not from any single crush of overwhelming evil, but from small vexations continually repeated."

"'Tis better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than open one's mouth and remove all doubt."

"That kind of life is most happy which affords us most opportunities of gaining our own self-esteem… To strive with difficulties, and to conquer them, is the highest human felicity."

"The fountain of contentment must spring up in the mind. 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 and multiply the grief which he proposes to remove."

"What are all the records of history, but narratives of successive villainies, of treasons and usurpations, massacres and wars?"

"To improve the golden moment of opportunity and catch the good that is within our reach, is the great art of life."

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

"Where there is no hope, there can be no endeavor."

"Whatever enlarges hope will exalt courage."

"Whatever withdraws us from the power of our senses; whatever makes the past, the distant, or the future predominate over the present, advances us in the dignity of thinking beings."