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No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money.
Life of Johnson (Boswell). Vol. vi. Chap. iii. 1776. Questioning is not the mode of conversation among gentlemen.
Chap. ir. 1776. A man is very apt to complain of the ingratitude of those who have risen far above him.
Ibid. All this (wealth] excludes but one evil, - poverty.
Chap. ix. 1777. Employment, sir, and hardships prevent melancholy.
Ibid. When a man is tired of London he is tired of life ; for there is in London all that life can afford.
Toid. He was so generally civil that nobody thanked him for it.
Ibid. Goldsmith, however, was a man who whatever he wrote, did it better than any other man could do.
Vol. vii. Chap. iii. 1778. Johnson said that he could repeat a complete chapter of “The Natural History of Iceland” from the Danish of Horrebow, the whole of which was exactly thus: • There are no snakes to be met with throughout the whole island.” [Chap. lxxii.]
Chap. ir. 1778. As the Spanish proverb says, “He who would bring home the wealth of the Indies must carry the wealth of the Indies with him," so it is in travelling, must carry knowledge with him if he would bring home knowledge.
Chap. v. 1778. The true, strong, and sound mind is the mind that can embrace equally great things and small. Chap. ri. 1778.
I remember a passage in Goldsmith's “Vicar of Wakefield,” which he was afterwards fool enough to expunge : "I do not love a man who is zealous for nothing.”
1 Chapter xlii. is still shorter : “ There are no owls of any kind in the whole island."
There was another fine passage too which he struck out: “When I was a young man, being anxious to distinguish myself, I was perpetually starting new propositions. But I soon gave this over; for I found that generally what was new was false."
Life of Johnson (Boswell). Vol. vii. Chap. viii. 1779. Claret is the liquor for boys, port for men; but he who aspires to be a hero must drink brandy.
Ibid. A Frenchman must be always talking, whether he knows anything of the matter or not; an Englishman is content to say nothing when he has nothing to say.
Chap. c. Of Dr. Goldsmith he said, “No man was more foolish when he had not a pen in his hand, or more wise when he had.”
Ibid. The applause of a single human being is of great consequence.
Ibid. The potentiality of growing rich beyond the dreams of avarice.1
Vol. viii. Chap. ii. Classical quotation is the parole of literary men all over the world.
Chap. iii. 1781. My friend was of opinion that when a man of rank appeared in that character (as an author], he deserved to have his merits handsomely allowed.?
Ibid. I never have sought the world; the world was not to seek me.8
Chap. v. 1783. He is not only dull himself, but the cause of dullness in others."
1 I am rich beyond the dreams of avarice. – Edward Moore: The Gamester, act i. sc. 2. 1753.
2 Usually quoted as “When a nobleman writes a book, he ought to be encouraged."
8 I have not loved the world, nor the world me. – BYRON : Childe Harold, canto ii. stanza 113.
4 See Shakespeare, page 88.
You see they'd have fitted him to a T.
Life of Johnson (Boswell). Vol. viii. Chap. ix. 1784. I have found you an argument; I am not obliged to find you an understanding.
Ibid. Who drives fat oxen should himself be fat.1
Ibid. Blown about with every wind of criticism.
Chap. X. 1784. If the man who turnips cries Cry not when his father dies, 'T is a proof that he had rather Have a turnip than his father. Johnsoniana. Piozzi, 30.
He was a very good hater.
The law is the last result of human wisdom acting upon human experience for the benefit of the public. 68.
The use of travelling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are.
Dictionaries are like watches; the worst is better than none, and the best cannot be expected to go quite true.
Books that you may carry to the fire and hold readily in your hand, are the most useful after all.
Hawkins. 197. Round numbers are always false.
As with my hatupon my head
I walk'd along the Strand,
George Steerens. 310. Abstinence is as easy to me as temperance would be difficult.
Hannah More. 467. The limbs will quiver and move after the soul is gone.
1 A parody on “Who rules o'er freemen should himself be free," from Brooke's “Gustavus Vasa,” first edition.
2 Carried about with every wind of doctrine. – Ephesians iv. 14.
Hawesworth said of Johnson, “You have a memory that would convict any author of plagiarism in any court of literature in the world.” Johnsoniana. Kearsley. 600.
His conversation does not show the minute-hand, but he strikes the hour very correctly.
604. Hunting was the labour of the savages of North America, but the amusement of the gentlemen of England.
I am very fond of the company of ladies. I like their beauty, I like their delicacy, I like their vivacity, and I like their silence.
Seward. 617. This world, where much is to be done and little to be known.
Prayers and Meditations. Against inquisitive and
perplexing Thoughts. Gratitude is a fruit of great cultivation; you do not find it among gross people.
Tour to the Hebrides. Sept. 20, 1773. A fellow that makes no figure in company, and has a mind as narrow as the neck of a vinegar-cruet.
Sept. 30, 1773. The atrocious crime of being a young man, which the honourable gentleman has with such spirit and decency charged upon me, I shall neither attempt to palliate nor deny; but content myself with wishing that I may be one of those whose follies may cease with their youth, and not of that number who are ignorant in spite of experience. Pitt's Reply to Walpole. Speech, March 6, 1741. Towering in the confidence of twenty-one.
Letter to Bennet Langton. Jan. 9, 1758. Gloomy calm of idle vacancy.
Letter to Boswell. Dec. 8, 1763. Wharton quotes Johnson as saying of Dr. Campbell, “ He is the richest author that ever grazed the common of literature.”
i This is the composition of Johnson, founded on some note or statement of the actual speech. Johnson said, “That speech I wrote in a garret, in Exeter Street.” Boswell : Life of Johnson, 1741.
LORD LYTTLETON. 1709-1773.
For his chaste Muse employ'd her heaven-taught lyre
Prologue to Thomson's Coriolanus. Women, like princes, find few real friends.
Advice to a Lady. What is your sex's earliest, latest care, Your heart's supreme ambition ? To be fair. Ibid. The lover in the husband may be lost.
How much the wife is dearer than the bride.
An Irregular Ode. None without hope e'er lov'd the brightest fair, But love can hope where reason would despair. Epigram.
Where none admire, 't is useless to excel;
Soliloquy on a Beauty in the Country.
We every bliss must gain;
EDWARD MOORE. 1712–1757.
Can't I another's face commend,
The Farmer, the Spaniel, and the Cat. Fable ix,