Joseph Addison


English Essayist, Poet, Playwright and Politician

Author Quotes

Round-heads and wooden-shoes are standing jokes.

Sir Roger made several reflections on the greatness of the British Nation; as, that one Englishman could beat three Frenchmen; that we could never be in danger of Popery so long as we took care of our fleet; that the Thames was the noblest river in Europe...with many other honest prejudices which naturally cleave to the heart of a true Englishman.

Sunday clears away the rust of the whole week.

That rebellion is one of the most heinous crimes which it is in the power of man to commit, may appear from several considerations. First, as it destroys the end of all government, and the benefits of civil society. Government was instituted for maintaining the peace, safety, and happiness of a people. These great ends are brought about by a general conformity and submission to that frame of laws which is established in every community, for the protection of the innocent, and the punishment of the guilty. As on the one side men are secured in the quiet possession of their lives, properties, and everything they have a right to; so on the other side, those who offer them any injury in these particulars, are subject to penalties proportioned to their respective offences. Government, therefore, mitigates the inequality of power among particular persons, and makes an innocent man, though of the lowest rank, a match for the mightiest of his fellow subjects; since he has the force of the whole community on his side, which is able to control the insolence or injustice of any private oppressor. Now rebellion disappoints all these ends and benefits of government, by raising a power in opposition to that authority which has been established among a people for their mutual welfare and defense. So that rebellion is as great an evil to society, as government itself is a blessing.

The circumstance which gives authors an advantage above all these great masters, is this, that they can multiply their originals; or rather, can make copies of their works, to what number they please, which shall be as valuable as the originals themselves.

The figures of many ancient coins rise up in a much more beautiful relief than those on the modern; the face sinking by degrees in the several declensions of the empire till, about Constantine?s time, it lies almost even with the surface of the medal.

The great number of the Jews furnishes us with a sufficient cloud of witnesses that attest the truth of the Bible.

The institution of sports was intended by all governments to turn off the thoughts of the people from busying themselves in matters of state.

The Mind that lies fallow but a single Day, sprouts up in Follies that are only to be killed by a constant and assiduous Culture.

The part of Ulysses in Homer?s Odyssey is much admired by Aristotle, as perplexing that fable with very agreeable plots and intricacies, by the many adventures in his voyage and the subtilty of his behavior.

The public is always even with an author who has not a just deference for them: the contempt is reciprocal.

The statue lies hid in a block of marble; and the art of the statuary only clears away the superfluous matter, and removes the rubbish.

The truth of it is, the sweetness and rusticity of a pastoral cannot be so well expressed in any other tongue as in the Greek, when rapidly mixed and qualified with the Doric dialect.

The wide, th? unbounded prospect, lies before me;

There are no authors I am more pleased with than those who show human nature in a variety of views, and describe the several ages of the world in their different manners. A reader cannot be more rationally entertained than by comparing the virtues and vices of his own times with those which prevailed in the times of his forefathers; and drawing a parallel in his mind between his own private character and that of other persons, whether of his own age or of the ages that went before him. The contemplation of mankind under these changeable colors is apt to shame us out of any particular vice, or animate us to any particular virtue, to make us pleased or displeased with ourselves in the most proper points, to clear our minds of prejudice and prepossession, and to rectify that narrowness of temper which inclines us to think amiss of those who differ from us.

There is more of turn than of truth in a saying of Seneca, That drunkenness does not produce but discover faults. Common experience teaches the contrary. Wine throws a man out of himself, and infuses dualities into the mind which she is a stranger to in her sober moments.

There is not a more melancholy object than a man who has his head turned with religious enthusiasm. A person that is crazed, though with pride or malice, is a sight very mortifying to human nature; but when the distemper arises from any indiscreet fervors of devotion, or too intense an application of the mind to its mistaken duties, it deserves our compassion in a more particular manner. We may, however, learn this lesson from it, that since devotion itself (which one would be apt to think could not be too warm) may disorder the mind, unless its heats are tempered with caution and prudence, we should be particularly careful to keep our reason as cool as possible, and to guard ourselves in all parts of life against the influence of passion, imagination, and constitution.

There is nothing which strengthens faith more than morality. Faith and morality naturally produce each other. A man is quickly convinced of the truth of religion who finds it is not against his interest that it should be true. The pleasure he receives at present, and the happiness which he promises himself from it hereafter, will both dispose him very powerfully to give credit to it, according to the ordinary observation, that we are easy to believe what we wish. It is very certain that a man of sound reason cannot forbear closing with religion upon an impartial observation of it; but at the same time it is as certain that faith is kept alive in us and gathers strength from practice more than from speculation.

They have grudged those contributions which have set our country at the head of all the governments of Europe.

This part of good-nature, which consists in the pardoning and overlooking of faults, is to be exercised only in doing ourselves justice in the ordinary commerce and occurrences of life.

Rais'd of themselves, their genuine charms they boast, and those who paint them truest praise them most.

See they suffer death, but in their deaths remember they are men, strain not the laws to make their tortures grievous.

Sir Roger told them, with the air of a man who would not give his judgement rashly, that much might be said on both sides.

Supposing all the great points of atheism were formed into a kind of creed, I would fain ask whether it would not require an infinite greater measure of faith than any set of articles which they so violently oppose.

That satisfaction we receive from the opinion of some pre-eminence in ourselves, when we see the absurdities of another, or when we reflect on any absurdities of our own.

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English Essayist, Poet, Playwright and Politician