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Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. 1989.

NUMBER: 1306
AUTHOR: Samuel Johnson (1709–84)
QUOTATION: Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.
ATTRIBUTION: SAMUEL JOHNSON.—James Boswell, Life of Johnson, entry for Friday, April 7, 1775, p. 615 (1970).

“In Dr. Johnson’s famous dictionary patriotism is defined as the last resort of a scoundrel. With all due respect to an enlightened but inferior lexicographer, I beg to submit that it is the first.”—Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary, at entry for patriotism, The Collected Writings of Ambrose Bierce, p. 323 (1946, reprinted 1973).

H. L. Mencken added this to Johnson’s dictum: “But there is something even worse: it is the first, last, and middle range of fools.”—The World, New York City, November 7, 1926, p. 3E.
SUBJECTS: Patriotism