Sunday, December 6, 2015

"I refute it thus"

Asked for "the most immortal lines by or about Dr. Johnson," a contributor offers a favorite of mine:
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, Life of Samuel Johnson)
Another from Boswell:
Hope is itself a species of happiness, and, perhaps, the chief happiness which this world affords.
And from The Idler (September 1, 1759):
The business of life is to go forwards: he who sees evil in prospect meets it in his way; but he who catches it by retrospection turns back to find it. That which is feared may sometimes be avoided, but that which is regretted today may be regretted tomorrow.