Joseph Addison


English Essayist, Poet, Playwright and Politician

Author Quotes

This general Idea of a Human Body, without considering it in its Niceties of Anatomy, lets us see how absolutely necessary Labor is for the right Preservation of it. There must be frequent Motions and Agitations, to mix, digest, and separate the Juices contained in it, as well as to clear and cleanse that Infinitude of Pipes and Strainers of which it is composed, and to give their solid Parts a more firm and lasting Tone. Labor or Exercise ferments the Humors, casts them into their proper Channels, throws off Redundancies, and helps Nature in those secret Distributions, without which the Body cannot subsist in its Vigor, nor the Soul act with Cheerfulness.

possibility. We live up to our expectations, not to our possessions, and make a figure proportionable to what we may be, not what we are.

Religion prescribes to every miserable man the means of bettering his condition; nay, it shows him that the bearing of his afflictions as he ought to do, will naturally end in the removal of them.

Should the whole frame of nature round him break In ruin and confusion hurled, He, unconcerned, would hear the mighty crack, And stand secure amidst a falling world.

Sour enthusiasts affect to stigmatize the finest and most elegant authors, both ancient and modern, as dangerous to religion.

That alertness and unconcern for matters of common life a campaign or two would infallibly have given him.

The body of the law is no less encumbered with superfluous members, that are like Virgil?s army, which he tells us was so crowded, many of them had not room to use their weapons. This prodigious society of men may be divided into the litigious and peaceable. Under the first are comprehended all those who are carried down in coach-fulls to Westminster-hall every morning in term time. Martial?s description of this species of lawyers is full of humor:

The disease of jealously is so malignant that is converts all it takes into its own nourishment.

The French are open, familiar, and talkative; the Italians stiff, ceremonious, and reserved.

The honors of this world, what are they but puff, and emptiness, and peril of falling?

The Lord my pasture shall prepare, and feed me with a shepherd's care; His presence shall my wants supply, And guard me with a watchful eye.

The natural sweetness and innocence of her behavior shot me through and through, and did more execution upon me in grogram than the greatest beauty in town had ever done in brocade.

The Politician would be contented to lose three Years in his Life, could he place things in the Posture which he fancies they will stand in after such a Revolution of Time. The Lover would be glad to strike out of his Existence all the Moments that are to pass away before the happy Meeting. Thus, as fast as our Time runs, we should be very glad in most Parts of our Lives that it ran much faster than it does. Several Hours of the Day hang upon our Hands, nay we wish away whole Years: and travel through Time as through a Country filled with many wild and empty Wastes, which we would fain hurry over, that we may arrive at those several little Settlements or imaginary Points of Rest which are dispersed up and down in it.

The schoolboy counts the time till the return of the holidays; the minor longs to be of age; the lover is impatient till he is married.

The Tragi-Comedy, which is the Product of the English Theatre, is one of the most monstrous Inventions that ever entered into a Poet's Thoughts. An Author might as well think of weaving the Adventures of Aeneas and Hudibras into one Poem, as of writing such a motly [sic] Piece of Mirth and Sorrow.

The utmost extent of man?s knowledge, is to know that he knows nothing.

There are few men who are not ambitious of distinguishing themselves in the nation or country where they live, and of growing considerable with those with whom they converse. There is a kind of grandeur and respect which the meanest and most insignificant part of mankind endeavor sto procure in the little circle of their friends and acquaintance. The poorest mechanic, nay, the man who lives upon common alms, gets him his set of admirers, and delights in that superiority which he enjoys over those who are in some respects beneath him. This ambition, which is natural to the soul of man, might, methinks, receive a very happy turn, and, if it were rightly directed, contribute as much to a person?s advantage as it generally does to his uneasiness and disquiet.

There is a second kind of beauty that we find in the several products of art and nature; which does not work in the imagination with that warmth and violence as the beauty that appears in our proper species, but is apt, however, to raise in us a secret delight, and a kind of fondness for the places or objects in which we discover it. This consists either in the gaiety or variety of colors, in the symmetry and proportion of parts, in the arrangement and disposition of bodies, or in a just mixture and concurrence of all together. Among these several kinds of beauty the eye takes most delight in colors.

There is no passion that is not finely expressed in those parts of the inspired writings which are proper for divine songs and anthems.

There is nothing more certain than that every man would be a wit if he could; and notwithstanding pedants of a pretended depth and solidity are apt to decry the writings of a polite author as flash and froth, they all of them show, upon occasion, that they would spare no pains to arrive at the character of those whom they seem to despise. For this reason we often find them endeavoring at works of fancy; which cost them infinite pains in the production. The truth of it is, a man had better be a galley-slave than a wit, were one to gain that title by those elaborate trifles which have been the inventions of such authors as were often masters of great learning, but no genius.

These considerations, though they may have no influence on the multitude, ought to sink into the minds of those who are their abettors, and who, if they escape punishment here, must know that these several mischiefs will be one day laid to their charge.

This great and learned man was famous for enlivening his ordinary discourses with wit and pleasantry; and, as Erasmus tells him in an epistle dedicatory, acted in all parts of life like a second Democritus.

Poverty palls the most generous spirits; it cows industry, and casts resolution itself into despair.

Religious fear, when produced by just apprehensions of a divine power, naturally overlooks all human greatness that stands in competition with it, and extinguishes every other terror.

Silence is sometimes more significant and sublime than the most noble and most expressive eloquence, and is on many occasions the indication of a great mind.

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English Essayist, Poet, Playwright and Politician