James Boswell Quotes

When I complained of having dined at a splendid table without hearing one sentence of conversation worthy of being remembered, he said, “Sir, there seldom is any such conversation.” Boswell: “Why then meet at table?” Johnson: “Why, to eat and drink together, and to promote kindness; and, Sir, this is better done when there is […]

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

Being asked by a young nobleman, what was become of the gallantry and military spirit of the old English nobility, (Johnson) replied, “Why, my Lord, I’ll tell you what is become of it; it is gone into the city to look for a fortune.”

Another very bad usage is Scotland is to take children to church before they can understand what the minister says. This creates a habit quite contrary to Nature, namely, a habit of listening to a man speak for half an hour without attending to a word he says.

Johnson: Why, Sir, the Presbyterians have no church, no apostolical ordination. Boswell: And do you think that absolutely essential, Sir? Johnson. Why, Sir, as it was an apostolical institution, I think it is dangerous to be without it. And, Sir, the Presbyterians have no publick worship: they have no form of prayer in which they […]

This day I was in a better frame, being Christmas Day, which has always inspired me with most agreeable feelings. I went to St. Paul’s Church and in that magnificent temple fervently adored the God of goodness and mercy, and heard a sermon by the Bishop of Oxford (John Hume) on the publishing of glad […]

“why yes, Sir, but I have had cats whom I liked better than this;” and then as if perceiving Hodge to be out of countenance, adding, “but he is a very fine cat, a very fine cat indeed.”

I said, in writing a life, a man’s peculiarities should be mentioned, because they mark his character. Johnson: “Sir, there is no doubt as to peculiarities: the question is, whether a man’s vices should be mentioned; for instance, whether it should be mentioned that Addison and Parnell drank too freely: for people will probably more […]

This forenoon I read the history of Joseph and his brethren, which melted my heart and drew tears from my eyes. It is simply and beautifully told in the Sacred Writings. It is a strange thing that the Bible is so little read. I am reading it regularly through at present. I dare say there […]

Miss Adams: “Do you think, Sir, you could make your Ramblers better?” Johnson: “Certainly I could.” Boswell: “I’ll lay a bet, Sir, you cannot.” Johnson: “But I will, Sir, if I choose. I shall make the best of them you shall pick out, better.” Boswell: “But you may add to them. I will not allow […]