I am not sure that I selected the correct version of this book. What I read was just a collection of letters from the Rambler and the Adventurer. I knew of Samuel Johnson and his dictionary and read Rassaleas in college, but I had no read anything else. After starting Fear and Loathing last week (and seeing Johnson's quote in the beginning), I decided to read this. I was kind of disappointed that it was just a collection of excerpts from his columns. I have not read any of Benjamin Franklin's advice columns, but I assume they would be similar. Overall, I didn't find anything profound, or especially entertaining, but they did include some useful gems. Mostly they are fabricated letters, used to highlight poor choices. Some interesting quotes are below:
"Whosoever rises above those who once please themselves with equality, will have many malevolent gazers at his eminence."
"He who does his best, however little, is always to be distinguished from him who does nothing."
"Of two objects tempting at a distance on contrary side, it is impossible to approach one buy by receding from the other; by long deliberation and dilatory projects, they may be both lost, but can never be both gained."
"Envy is almost the only vice which is practicable at all times, and in every place"
"Of the happiness and misery of our present state, part arises from our sensations, and part from our opinions; part is distributed by nature, and part is in a great measure apportioned by ourselves."
"The negative infelicity which proceeds, not from the pressure of sufferings, but the absence of enjoyments, will always yield to the remedies of reason."
"With hopes like these, he sallies jocund into life; to little purpose is he told, that the condition of humanity admits no pure and unmingled happiness"
"Whatever any man ardently desires, he very readily believes that he shall some time attain: he whose intemperance has overwhelmed him with diseases, while he languishes in the spring, expects vigour and recovery from the summer sun; and while he melts away in the summer, transfers his hopes to the frosts of winter: he that gazes upon elegance or pleasure ,which want o money hinders him frim imitating or partaking, comforts himself that the time of distress will soon be at an end, and that every day brings him nearer to a state of happiness; though he knows it has passed not only without acquisition of advantage, but perhaps without endeavours after it, in the formation of schemes that cannot be executed, and in the contemplation of prospects which cannot be approached."
"no absolute determination ever can be formed."
"Life is not the object of science: we see a little, very little; and what is beyond we only can conjecture."
"we see all this, and yet, instead of living, let year glide after year in preparations to live."