James Boswell quotes

  • I am so fond of tea that I could write a whole dissertation on its virtues. It comforts and enlivens without the risks attendant on spirituous liquors. Gentle herb! Let the florid grape yield to thee. Thy soft influence is a more safe inspirer of social joy.
    -- James Boswell

    #Writing #Yield #Joy

  • I have discovered that we may be in some degree whatever character we choose. Besides, practice forms a man to anything....
    -- James Boswell

    #Character #Men #Practice

  • A page of my journal is like a cake of portable soup. A little may be diffused into a considerable portion.
    -- James Boswell

    #Cake #Soup #May

  • I, who have no sisters or brothers, look with some degree of innocent envy on those who may be said to be born to friends.
    -- James Boswell

    #Brother #Envy #Degrees

  • It is not every man who can be exquisitely miserable, any more than exquisitely happy.
    -- James Boswell

    #Men #Miserable

  • But what can a man see of a library being one day in it?
    -- James Boswell

    #Men #One Day #Library

  • Writing a book I have found to be like building a house. A man forms a plan, and collects materials. He thinks he has enough to raise a large and stately edifice; but after he has arranged, compacted and polished, his work turns out to be a very small performance. The authour however like the builder, knows how much labour his work has cost him; and therefore estimates it at a higher rate than other people think it deserves
    -- James Boswell

    #Book #Writing #Men

  • I argued that the chastity of women was of much more consequence than that of men, as the property and rights of families depend upon it.
    -- James Boswell

    #Family #Men #Rights

  • After I went to bed I had a curious fancy as to dreams. In sleep the doors of the mind are shut, and thoughts come jumping in at the windows. They tumble headlong, and therefore are so disorderly and strange. Sometimes they are stout and light on their feet, and then they are rational dreams.
    -- James Boswell

    #Dream #Sleep #Thinking

  • If a man is prodigal, he cannot be truly generous.
    -- James Boswell

    #Men #Generosity #Generous

  • I went to my father's at night. He spoke of poor John [Boswell's brother] with disgust. I was shocked and said, "He's your son, and God made him." He answered very harshly, "If my sons are idiots, can I help it?
    -- James Boswell

    #Brother #Father #Son

  • Those who would extirpate evil from the world know little of human nature. As well might punch be palatable without souring as existence agreeable without care.
    -- James Boswell

    #Evil #World #Care

  • When we know exactly all a man's views and how he comes to speak and act so and so, we lose any respect for him, though we may love and admire him.
    -- James Boswell

    #Men #Views #May

  • Friendship, "the wine of life," should, like a well-stocked cellar, be continually renewed.
    -- James Boswell

    #Friendship #Wine #Should

  • But the question is, whether the animals who endure such sufferings of various kinds for the service and entertainment of man, would accept existence upon the terms on which they have it.
    -- James Boswell

    #Animal #Men #Suffering

  • Boswell, when he speaks of his Life of Johnson, calls it my magnum opus, but it may more properly be called his opera, for it is truly a composition founded on a true story, in which there is a hero with a number of subordinate characters, and an alternate succession of recitative and airs of various tone and effect, all however in delightful animation.
    -- James Boswell

    #Hero #Character #Air

  • People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along? Can we get along? Can we stop making it, making it horrible for the older people and the kids? A man cannot know himself better than by attending to the feelings of his heart and to his external actions, from which he may with tolerable certainty judge "what manner of person he is." I have therefore determined to keep a daily journal.
    -- James Boswell

    #Heart #Kids #Men

  • Why should not the knowledge, the skill, the expertness, the assiduity, and the spirited hazards of trade and commerce, when crowned with success, be entitled to give those flattering distinctions by which mankind are so universally captivated? Such are the specious, but false arguments for a proposition which always will find numerous advocates, in a nation where men are every day starting up from obscurity to wealth. To refute them is needless. The general sense of mankind cries out, with irresistible force, "Un gentilhomme est toujours gentilhomme.
    -- James Boswell

    #Men #Class #Skills

  • I am sensible that my keenness of temper, and a vanity to be distinguished for the day, make me too often splash in life.... I amresolved to restrain myself and attend more to decorum.
    -- James Boswell

    #Ambition #Vanity #Manners

  • I have seen many a bear led by a man: but I never before saw a man led by a bear.
    -- James Boswell

    #Men #Saws #Bears

  • Addison writes with the ease of a gentleman. His readers fancy that a wise and accomplished companion is talking to them; so thathe insinuates his sentiments and taste into their minds by an imperceptible influence. Johnson writes like a teacher. He dictates to his readers as if from an academical chair. They attend with awe and admiration; and his precepts are impressed upon them by his commanding eloquence. Addison's style, like a light wine, pleases everybody from the first. Johnson's, like a liquor of more body, seems too strong at first, but, by degrees, is highly relished.
    -- James Boswell

    #Wise #Teacher #Strong

  • My wife, who does not like journalizing, said it was leaving myself embowelled to posterity--a good strong figure. But I think itis rather leaving myself embalmed. It is certainly preserving myself.
    -- James Boswell

    #Strong #Thinking #Wife

  • [A]s a lady adjusts her dress before a mirror, a man adjusts his character by looking at his journal.
    -- James Boswell

    #Character #Men #Mirrors

  • My curiosity to see the melancholy spectacle of the executions was so strong that I could not resist it, although I was sensible that I would suffer much from it.... I got upon a scaffold near the fatal tree so that I could clearly see all the dismal scene.... I was most terribly shocked, and thrown into a very deep melancholy.
    -- James Boswell

    #Death #Strong #Tree

  • I make it a kind of pious rule to go to every funeral to which I am invited, both as I wish to pay a proper respect to the dead, unless their characters have been bad, and as I would wish to have the funeral of my own near relations or of myself well attended.
    -- James Boswell

    #Death #Character #Funeral

  • To abolish a status, which in all ages God has sanctioned, and man has continued, would not only be robbery to an innumerable class of our fellow-subjects; but it would be extreme cruelty to the African Savages, a portion of whom it saves from massacre, or intolerable bondage in their own country, and introduces into a much happier state of life; especially now when their passage to the West-Indies and their treatment there is humanely regulated.
    -- James Boswell

    #Country #Men #Class

  • In comparing these two writers, he [Samuel Johnson] used this expression: "that there was as great a difference between them as between a man who knew how a watch was made, and a man who could tell the hour by looking on the dial-plate." This was a short and a figurative statement of his distinction between drawing characters of nature and characters only of manners, but I cannot help being of opinion, that the neat watches of Fielding are as well constructed as the large clocks of Richardson, and that his dial plates are brighter.
    -- James Boswell

    #Character #Men #Drawing

  • We had some port, and drank damnation to the play and eternal remorse to the author.
    -- James Boswell

    #Drinking #Play #Criticism

  • In an orchard there should be enough to eat, enough to lay up, enough to be stolen, and enough to rot on the ground.
    -- James Boswell

    #Tree #Enough #Should

  • 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

    #Book #Way #Chance

  • For my own part I think no innocent species of wit or pleasantry should be suppressed: and that a good pun may be admitted among the smaller excellencies of lively conversation.
    -- James Boswell

    #Thinking #May #Innocent

  • Dr Johnson said, the inscription should have been in Latin, as every thing intended to be universal and permanent, should be.
    -- James Boswell

    #Latin #Drs #Should

  • The connection between authors, printers, and booksellers must be kept up.
    -- James Boswell

    #Connections #Printer #Booksellers

  • Wine makes a man better pleased with himself. I do not say that it makes him more pleasing to others. Sometimes it does. But the danger is, that while a man grows better pleased with himself, he may be growing less pleasing to others. Wine gives a man nothing. It neither gives him knowledge nor wit; it only animates a man, and enables him to bring out what a dread of the company has presented.
    -- James Boswell

    #Wine #Men #Giving

  • No, Sir, claret is the liquor for boys; port for men: but he who aspires to be a hero must drink brandy. In the first place brandy will do soonest for a man what drinking can do for him.
    -- James Boswell

    #Hero #Drinking #Wine

  • We often observe in lawyers, who as Quicquid agunt homines is the matter of law suits, are sometimes obliged to pick up a temporary knowledge of an art or science, of which they understood nothing till their brief was delivered, and appear to be much masters of it.
    -- James Boswell

    #Art #Science #Law

  • Buffon, who, with all his theoretical ingenuity and extraordinary eloquence, I suspect had little actual information in the science on which he wrote so admirably For instance, he tells us that the cow sheds her horns every two years; a most palpable error. ... It is wonderful that Buffon who lived so much in the country at his noble seat should have fallen into such a blunder I suppose he has confounded the cow with the deer.
    -- James Boswell

    #Country #Years #Two

  • Dr. Johnson ... sometimes employed himself in chymistry, sometimes in watering and pruning a vine, and sometimes in small experiments, at which those who may smile, should recollect that there are moments which admit of being soothed only by trifles.
    -- James Boswell

    #Pruning #May #Drs

  • The scent of Sloth tempts a smug man.
    -- James Boswell

    #Men #Sloth #Scent

  • What a curious creature is man; with what a variety of powers and faculties is he endued; yet how easily is he disturbed and put out of order.
    -- James Boswell

    #Men #Order #Psychological

  • When a man is familiar with many people he must expect many disagreeable familiarizations.
    -- James Boswell

    #Friendship #Men #People

  • If a man who is born to a fortune cannot make himself easier and freer than those who are not, he gains nothing.
    -- James Boswell

    #Freedom #Men #Liberty

  • A companion loves some agreeable qualities which a man may possess, but a friend loves the man himself.
    -- James Boswell

    #Real #Men #Quality

  • 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

    #Wine #Used #Made

  • What an insignificant life is this which I am now leading!
    -- James Boswell

    #Life Is #Insignificant

  • We must take our friends as they are.
    -- James Boswell

    #Reality

  • After we came out of the church, we stood talking for some time together of Bishop Berkeley's ingenious sophistry to prove the non-existence of matter, and that every thing in the universe is merely ideal. I observed, that though we are satisfied his doctrine is not true, it is impossible to refute it. I never shall forget the alacrity with which Johnson answered, striking his foot with mighty force against a large stone, till he rebounded from it, "I refute it thus."
    -- James Boswell

    #Philosophy #Feet #Talking

  • If venereal delight and the power of propagating the species were permitted only to the virtuous, it would make the world very good.
    -- James Boswell

    #Delight #World #Very Good

  • I suppose no person ever enjoyed with more relish the infusion of this fragrant leaf than did Johnson.
    -- James Boswell

    #Infusion #Leafs #Johnson

  • My definition of Man is, a Cooking Animal. The beasts have memory, judgement, and all the faculties and passions of our mind, in a certain degree; but no beast is a cook....Man alone can dress a good dish; and every man whatever is more or less a cook, in seasoning what he himself eats.
    -- James Boswell

    #Memories #Passion #Men

  • A woman's preaching is like a dog's walking on his hinter legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to see it done at all.
    -- James Boswell

    #Sarcastic #Dog #Done

  • In every place, where there is any thing worthy of observation, there should be a short printed directory for strangers.
    -- James Boswell

    #Stranger #Should #Worthy

  • As all who come into the country must obey the King, so all who come into an university must be of the Church.
    -- James Boswell

    #Country #Kings #Church

  • I fancy mankind may come, in time, to write all aphoristically.
    -- James Boswell

    #Writing #May #Fancy

  • I find I journalize too tediously. Let me try to abbreviate.
    -- James Boswell

    #Trying #Let Me

  • My mind was, as it were, strongly impregnated with the Johnsonian ether.
    -- James Boswell

    #Mind

  • I am, I flatter myself, completely a citizen of the world. In my travels through Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Corsica, France, I never felt myself from home.
    -- James Boswell

    #Home #Switzerland #Germany

  • It is wonderful that five thousand years have now elapsed since the creation of the world, and still it is undecided whether or not there has ever been an instance of the spirit of any person appearing after death. All argument is against it; but all belief is for it.
    -- James Boswell

    #Years #World #Spirit

  • My readers, who may at first be apt to consider Quotation as downright pedantry, will be surprised when I assure them, that next to the simple imitation of sounds and gestures, Quotation is the most natural and most frequent habitude of human nature. For, Quotation must not be confined to passages adduced out of authors. He who cites the opinion, or remark, or saying of another, whether it has been written or spoken, is certainly one who quotes; and this we shall find to be universally practiced.
    -- James Boswell

    #Simple #Sound #May

  • I am now to offer some thoughts upon that sameness or familiarity which we frequently find between passages in different authors without quotation. This may be one of three things either what is called Plagiarism, or Imitation, or Coincidence.
    -- James Boswell

    #Different #Three #May

  • Many infidels have maintained that Ignorance is the mother of Devotion.
    -- James Boswell

    #Mother #Ignorance #Worship

  • The pleasure of gratifying whim is very great. It is known only by those who are whimsical.
    -- James Boswell

    #Whimsical #Pleasure #Whim

  • There is indeed a strange prejudice against Quotation.
    -- James Boswell

    #Prejudice #Strange #Quotations

  • Boswell: But, Sir is it not somewhat singular that you should happen to have Cocker's Arithmetic about you on your journey? Dr. Johnson: Why, Sir if you are to have but one book with you upon a journey, let it be a book of science. When you read through a book of entertainment, you know it, and it can do no more for you; but a book of science is inexhaustible.
    -- James Boswell

    #Book #Science #Journey

  • Friendship, "the wine of life," should, like a well-stocked cellar, be continually renewed; and it is consolatory to think, that although we can seldom add what will equal the generous first growths of our youth, yet friendship becomes insensibly old in much less time than is commonly imagined, and not many years are required to make it mellow and pleasant.
    -- James Boswell

    #Wine #Thinking #Years

  • I think there is a blossom about me of something more distinguished than the generality of mankind.
    -- James Boswell

    #Thinking #Mankind #Distinguished

  • Influence must ever be in proportion to property; and it is right it should.
    -- James Boswell

    #Influence #Should #Proportion

  • Quotation is more universal and more ancient than one would perhaps believe.
    -- James Boswell

    #Believe #Ancient #Quotations

  • One must be strict even in little things.
    -- James Boswell

    #Littles #Little Things #Strict

  • Melancholy cannot be clearly proved to others, so it is better to be silent about it.
    -- James Boswell

    #Melancholy #Silent #Unhappiness