Sorrow Is the Mere Rust of the Soul. Activity Will Cleanse and Brighten It

Samuel Johnson? Frances Burney? Hester Lynch Piozzi? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: The superlative English lexicographer Samuel Johnson once defined sorrow as the rust of the soul which could be scoured away by engaging with life and becoming active. Would you please help me to find a citation.

Quote Investigator: In 1750 Samuel Johnson began to publish a periodical called “The Rambler”. He penned the following passage for the August 28, 1750 issue. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

Sorrow is a kind of rust of the soul, which every new idea contributes in it’s passage to scour away. It is the putrefaction of stagnant life, and is remedied by exercise and motion.

Samuel Johnson’s friend Hester Lynch Piozzi heard a similar remark from the dictionary maker, and she repeated it within a letter she wrote in 1821. See the citation further below.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Sorrow Is the Mere Rust of the Soul. Activity Will Cleanse and Brighten It

Notes:

  1. 1785, Harrison’s Edition: The Rambler by Samuel Johnson, Volume One of Four, Issue Number 47, Issue Date: August 28, 1750, (Filler item), Quote Page 111, Column 2, Printed for Harrison and Company, London. (HathiTrust Full View) link