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Samuel Johnson

Geburtstag: 18. September 1709
Todesdatum: 13. Dezember 1784

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Samuel Johnson , wegen seiner Gelehrsamkeit meist Dr. Johnson genannt , war ein englischer Gelehrter, Lexikograf, Schriftsteller, Dichter und Kritiker. Er ist nach William Shakespeare der meistzitierte englische Autor und war im 18. Jahrhundert die wichtigste Person im literarischen Leben Englands, vergleichbar mit Gottsched in Deutschland.

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Zitate Samuel Johnson

„An individual may, indeed, forfeit his liberty by a crime; but he cannot by that crime forfeit the liberty of his children.“

—  Samuel Johnson
Context: It must be agreed that in most ages many countries have had part of their inhabitants in a state of slavery; yet it may be doubted whether slavery can ever be supposed the natural condition of man. It is impossible not to conceive that men in their original state were equal; and very difficult to imagine how one would be subjected to another but by violent compulsion. An individual may, indeed, forfeit his liberty by a crime; but he cannot by that crime forfeit the liberty of his children. September 23, 1777, p. 363

„Hope is necessary in every condition.“

—  Samuel Johnson
Context: Hope is necessary in every condition. The miseries of poverty, of sickness, or captivity, would, without this comfort, be insupportable; nor does it appear that the happiest lot of terrestrial existence can set us above the want of this general blessing; or that life, when the gifts of nature and of fortune are accumulated upon it, would not still be wretched, were it not elevated and delighted by the expectation of some new possession, of some enjoyment yet behind, by which the wish shall at last be satisfied, and the heart filled up to its utmost extent. No. 67 (6 November 1750)

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„I fancy mankind may come, in time, to write all aphoristically, except in narrative“

—  Samuel Johnson
Context: I fancy mankind may come, in time, to write all aphoristically, except in narrative; grow weary of preparation, and connection, and illustration, and all those arts by which a big book is made. August 16, 1773

„That book is good in vain, which the reader throws away.“

—  Samuel Johnson
Context: It is not by comparing line with line, that the merit of great works is to be estimated, but by their general effects and ultimate result. It is easy to note a weak line, and write one more vigorous in its place; to find a happiness of expression in the original, and transplant it by force into the version: but what is given to the parts may be subducted from the whole, and the reader may be weary, though the critick may commend. Works of imagination excel by their allurement and delight; by their power of attracting and detaining the attention. That book is good in vain, which the reader throws away. He only is the master, who keeps the mind in pleasing captivity; whose pages are perused with eagerness, and in hope of new pleasure are perused again; and whose conclusion is perceived with an eye of sorrow, such as the traveller casts upon departing day. The Life of Dryden

„It ought to be deeply impressed on the minds of all who have voices in this national deliberation, that no man can deserve a seat in parliament, who is not a patriot.“

—  Samuel Johnson
Context: It ought to be deeply impressed on the minds of all who have voices in this national deliberation, that no man can deserve a seat in parliament, who is not a patriot. No other man will protect our rights: no other man can merit our confidence. A patriot is he whose publick conduct is regulated by one single motive, the love of his country; who, as an agent in parliament, has, for himself, neither hope nor fear, neither kindness nor resentment, but refers every thing to the common interest.

„Sir, what is Poetry? Why, Sir, it is much easier to say what it is not. We all know what light is: but it is not easy to tell what it is.“

—  Samuel Johnson
Context: Sir, what is Poetry? Why, Sir, it is much easier to say what it is not. We all know what light is: but it is not easy to tell what it is. Letter to James Macpherson, 20 June 1778. (Quotation used as epigram to Władysław Tatarkiewicz, "Dwa pojęcia poezji" ("Two Concepts of Poetry"), in Tatarkiewicz's book, Parerga, Warsaw, Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, 1978, pp. 20–38.)

„Learn, that the present hour alone is man's.“

—  Samuel Johnson
Context: To-morrow's action! Can that hoary wisdom, Borne down with years, still doat upon tomorrow! That fatal mistress of the young, the lazy, The coward, and the fool, condemn'd to lose A useless life in waiting for to-morrow, To gaze with longing eyes upon to-morrow, Till interposing death destroys the prospect Strange! that this general fraud from day to day Should fill the world with wretches undetected. The soldier, labouring through a winter's march, Still sees to-morrow drest in robes of triumph; Still to the lover's long-expecting arms To-morrow brings the visionary bride. But thou, too old to hear another cheat, Learn, that the present hour alone is man's. The Tragedy of Irene (1749), Act III, Sc. 2

„Patriotism is not necessarily included in rebellion. A man may hate his king, yet not love his country.“

—  Samuel Johnson
Context: Some claim a place in the list of patriots, by an acrimonious and unremitting opposition to the court. This mark is by no means infallible. Patriotism is not necessarily included in rebellion. A man may hate his king, yet not love his country.

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„Truth, Sir, is a cow which will yield such people no more milk, and so they are gone to milk the bull.“

—  Samuel Johnson
Context: Hume, and other sceptical innovators, are vain men, and will gratify themselves at any expence. Truth will not afford sufficient food to their vanity; so they have betaken themselves to errour. Truth, Sir, is a cow which will yield such people no more milk, and so they are gone to milk the bull. If I could have allowed myself to gratify my vanity at the expence of truth, what fame might I have acquired. July 21, 1763, p 514 http://books.google.com/books?id=JOseAAAAMAAJ&q="Truth+Sir+is+a+cow+which+will+yield+such+people+no+more+milk+and+so+they+are+gone+to+milk+the+bull1"&pg=PA514#v=onepage

„Hope is itself a species of happiness, and, perhaps, the chief happiness which this world affords“

—  Samuel Johnson
Context: Hope is itself 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; and expectations improperly indulged must end in disappointment. If it be asked, what is the improper expectation which it is dangerous to indulge, experience will quickly answer, that it is such expectation as is dictated not by reason, but by desire; expectation raised, not by the common occurrences of life, but by the wants of the expectant; an expectation that requires the common course of things to be changed, and the general rules of action to be broken. Letter, June 8, 1762 [to an unnamed recipient], p. 103

„I will not undertake to maintain against the concurrent and unvaried testimony of all ages and of all nations. There is no people, rude or learned, among whom apparitions of the dead are not related and believed.“

—  Samuel Johnson
Context: “That the dead are seen no more,” said Imlac, “I will not undertake to maintain against the concurrent and unvaried testimony of all ages and of all nations. There is no people, rude or learned, among whom apparitions of the dead are not related and believed. This opinion, which perhaps prevails as far as human nature is diffused, could become universal only by its truth: those that never heard of one another would not have agreed in a tale which nothing but experience can make credible. That it is doubted by single cavillers can very little weaken the general evidence, and some who deny it with their tongues confess it by their fears. “Yet I do not mean to add new terrors to those which have already seized upon Pekuah. There can be no reason why spectres should haunt the Pyramid more than other places, or why they should have power or will to hurt innocence and purity. Our entrance is no violation of their privileges: we can take nothing from them; how, then, can we offend them?” Chapter 31

„Among these unhappy mortals is the writer of dictionaries, whom mankind have considered, not as the pupil, but the slave of science, the pioneer of literature, doomed only to remove rubbish and clear obstructions from the paths through which Learning and Genius press forward to conquest and glory, without bestowing a smile on the humble drudge that facilitates their progress. Every other author may aspire to praise; the lexicographer can only hope to escape reproach, and even this negative recompense has been yet granted to very few.“

—  Samuel Johnson
Context: It is the fate of those, who toil at the lower employments of life, to be rather driven by the fear of evil, than attracted by the prospect of good; to be exposed to censure, without hope of praise; to be disgraced by miscarriage, or punished for neglect, where success would have been without applause, and diligence without reward. Among these unhappy mortals is the writer of dictionaries, whom mankind have considered, not as the pupil, but the slave of science, the pioneer of literature, doomed only to remove rubbish and clear obstructions from the paths through which Learning and Genius press forward to conquest and glory, without bestowing a smile on the humble drudge that facilitates their progress. Every other author may aspire to praise; the lexicographer can only hope to escape reproach, and even this negative recompense has been yet granted to very few. Preface http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~jlynch/Texts/preface.html

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„All the performances of human art, at which we look with praise or wonder, are instances of the resistless force of perseverance: it is by this that the quarry becomes a pyramid, and that distant countries are united with canals.“

—  Samuel Johnson
Context: All the performances of human art, at which we look with praise or wonder, are instances of the resistless force of perseverance: it is by this that the quarry becomes a pyramid, and that distant countries are united with canals. If a man was to compare the effect of a single stroke of the pick-axe, or of one impression of the spade, with the general design and last result, he would be overwhelmed by the sense of their disproportion; yet those petty operations, incessantly continued, in time surmount the greatest difficulties, and mountains are levelled, and oceans bounded, by the slender force of human beings. It is therefore of the utmost importance that those, who have any intention of deviating from the beaten roads of life, and acquiring a reputation superior to names hourly swept away by time among the refuse of fame, should add to their reason, and their spirit, the power of persisting in their purposes; acquire the art of sapping what they cannot batter, and the habit of vanquishing obstinate resistance by obstinate attacks. No. 43 (14 August 1750) http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/etcbin/toccer-new2?id=Joh1Ram.sgm&images=images/modeng&data=/texts/english/modeng/parsed&tag=public&part=43&division=div1

„I hate mankind, for I think myself one of the best of them, and I know how bad I am.“

—  Samuel Johnson
Actually said by Giuseppe Baretti, February 13, 1766. The Samuel Johnson Sound Bite Page http://www.samueljohnson.com/apocryph.html#19, retrieved 24 October 2018

„He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man.“

—  Samuel Johnson
Quoted in "Anecdotes of the Revd. Percival Stockdale" (1809) in Johnsonian Miscellanies (1897), vol. II, p. 333, edited by George Birkbeck Hill; also quoted in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson, in the Avenged Sevenfold song "Bat Country", and in Kingdom S02E04.

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