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The present little volume is a selection, carefully made and analytically arranged, of the most notable and valuable examples of the great lexicographer's table-talk. No apology is required for its appearance, as its intrinsic value is sufficient recommendation.




While Dr Johnson's sayings are read, let his manner be taken along with them. Let it. however, be observed, that the sayings themselves are great ; that, though he might be an ordinary composer at times, he was for the most part a Handel."-Boswell.


What we read with inclination makes a much stronger impression. If we read without inclination, half the mind is employed in fixing the attention; so there is but one-half to be employed on what we read. If a man begins to read in the middle of a book, and feels an inclination to go on, let him not quit it to go to the beginning. He may perhaps not feel again the inclination.


A ship is worse than a jail.- There is, in a jail, better air, better company,

better conveniency of every kind ; and a ship has the additional disadvantage of being in danger. When men come to like a sea-life, they are not fit to live on land. Men go to sea, before they know the unhappiness of that way of life; and when they have come to know it, they cannot escape from it, because it is then too late to choose another profession ; as indeed is generally the case with men, when they have once engaged in any particular


of life.


When a man voluntarily engages in an important controversy, he is to do all he can to lessen his antagonist, because authority from personal respect has much weight with most people, and often more than reasoning. If my antagonist writes bad language, though that miay not be essential to the question, I will attack him for his bad language. Adams: “You would not jostle a chimney-sweeper ?” Johnson: Yes, sir, if it were necessary to jostle him down.


Sir, it is of so much more consequence that truth should be told, than that individuals should not be made uneasy, that it is much better that the law dous not restrain writing freely concerning the characters of the dead. Damages will be given to a man who is calumniated in his lifetime, because he may be hurt in his worldly interest, or at least hurt in his mind : but the law does not regard that uneasiness which a man feels on having his ancestor calumniated. That is too nice. Let him deny what is said, and let the matter have a fair chance by discussion. But if a man could say nothing against a character but what he can prove, history could not be written; for a great deal is known of men of which proof cannot be brought. A minister may be notoriously known to take bribes, and yet you may not be able to prove it.


While grief is fresh, every attempt to divert only irritates. You must wait till grief be digested, and then amusement will dissipate the remains of it.


It is rarely well executed. They only who live with a man can write his life with any genuine exactness and discrimination ; and few people who have lived with a man know what to remark about him.


Why, sir, you are to consider what is the meaning of purging in the originál sense. It is to expel impurities from the human body. The mind is subject to the same imperfection. The passions are the greatest movers of human actions; but they are mixed with such impurities that it is necessary they should be purged or refined by means of terror and pity. For instance, ambition is a noble passion; but by seeing, upon the stage, that a man who is so excessively ambitious as to raise himself by injustice, is punished, we are terrified at the fatal consequences of such a passion. In the same manner a certain degree of resentment is necessary; but if we see that a man carries it too far, we pity the object of it, and are taught to moderate that passion.

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