Joseph Addison


English Essayist, Poet, Playwright and Politician

Author Quotes

Were the intention steadfastly considered, as the measure of approbation, all falsehood would soon be out of countenance; and an address in imposing upon mankind, would be as contemptible in one state of life as another. A couple of courtiers making professions of esteem, would make the same figure under breach of promise, as two knights of the post convicted of perjury. But conversation is fallen so low in point of morality, that as they say in a bargain, let the buyer look to it; so in friendship, he is the man in danger who is most apt to believe: he is the more likely to suffer in the commerce, who begins with the obligation of being the more ready to enter into it.

When a hen has laid her eggs so that she can cover them, what care does she take in turning them frequently, that all parts may partake of the vital warmth!

When I consider this cheerful state of mind in its third relation, I cannot but look upon it as a constant habitual gratitude to the great Author of nature. An inward cheerfulness is an implicit praise and thanksgiving to Providence under all its dispensations. It is a kind of acquiescence in the state wherein we are placed, and a secret approbation of the Divine Will in his conduct towards man.

When love's well-timed 'tis not a fault of love; the strong, the brave, the virtuous, and the wise, sink in the soft captivity together.

Where vice prevails, and impious men bear sway, the post of honor is a private station.

Wit is the fetching of congruity out of incongruity

Those very points in which these wise men disagreed from the bulk of the people are points in which they agreed with the received doctrines of our nature.

Thus we see how many dark and intricate motives there are to detraction and defamation, and how many malicious spies are searching into the actions of a great man, who is not always the best prepared for so narrow an inspection. For we may generally observe, that our admiration of a famous man lessens upon our nearer acquaintance with him; and that we seldom hear the description of a celebrated person, without a catalogue of some notorious weaknesses and infirmities. The reason may be, because any little slip is more conspicuous and observable in his conduct than in another?s, as it is not of apiece with the rest of his character, or because it is impossible for a man at the same time to be attentive to the more important part/parts of his life, and to keep a watchful eye over all the inconsiderable circumstances of his behavior and conversation; or because; as we have before observed, the same temper of mind which inclines us to a desire of fame, naturally betrays us into such slips and unwarinesses as are not incident to men of a contrary disposition.

To check the starts and sallies of the soul, and break off all its commerce with the tongue.

True happiness is of a retired nature, and an enemy to pomp and noise: it arises, in the first place, from the enjoyment of one?s self; and in the next, from the friendship and conversation of a few select companions; it loves shade and solitude, and naturally haunts groves and fountains, fields and meadows: in short, it feels everything it wants within itself, and receives no addition from multitudes of witnesses and spectators. On the contrary, false happiness loves to be in a crowd, and to draw the eyes of the world upon her. She does not receive any satisfaction from the applauses which she gives herself, but from the admiration which she raises in others. She flourishes in courts and palaces, theatres and assemblies, and has no existence but when she is looked upon.

We all of us complain of the shortness of time, saith Seneca, and yet have much more than we know what to do with. Our lives, says he, are spent either in doing nothing at all, or in doing nothing to the purpose, or in doing nothing that we ought to do. We are always complaining our days are few, and acting as though there would be no end of them. That noble philosopher has described our inconsistency with ourselves in this particular, by all those various turns of expression and thought which are peculiar to his writings.

We may conclude that modesty to be false and vicious which engages a man to do anything that is ill or indiscreet, or which restrains him from doing anything that is of a contrary nature.

Were you with these, my prince, you'd soon forget the pale, unripened beauties of the north.

When a man becomes familiar with his goddess, she quickly sinks into a woman.

When I have brought the Princess to my House, I shall take particular care to breed in her a due Respect for me, before I give the Reins to Love and Dalliance. To this end I shall confine her to her own Apartment, make her a short Visit, and talk but little to her. Her Women will represent to me, that she is inconsolable by reason of my Unkindness, and beg me with Tears to caress her, and let her sit down by me; but I shall still remain inexorable, and will turn my Back upon her all the first Night. Her Mother will then come and bring her Daughter to me, as I am seated upon my Sofa. The Daughter, with Tears in her Eyes, will fling herself at my Feet, and beg of me to receive her into my Favor: Then will I, to imprint in her a thorough Veneration for my Person, draw up my Legs and spurn her from me with my Foot, in such a manner that she shall fall down several Paces from

When men are easy in their circumstances, they are naturally enemies to innovations.

Whether dark presages of the night proceed from any latent power of the soul during her abstraction, or from any operation of subordinate spirits, has been a dispute.

With regard to donations always expect the most from prudent people, who keep their own accounts.

Those who believe a future state of rewards and punishments act very absurdly if they form their opinions of a man?s merit from his successes. But certainly, if I thought the whole circle of our being was included between our births and deaths, I should think a man?s good fortune the measure and standard of his real merit, since Providence would have no opportunity of rewarding his virtue and perfections, but in the present life. A virtuous unbeliever, who lies under the pressure of misfortunes, has reason to cry out, as they say Brutus did, a little before his death, ?O virtue, I have worshipped thee as a substantial good, but I find thou art an empty name.?

Thy father's merit sets thee up to view, and shows thee in the fairest point of light, to make thy virtues, or thy faults, conspicuous.

To conclude, As I am a Compound of Soul and Body, I consider myself as obliged to a double Scheme of Duties; and I think I have not fulfilled the Business of the Day when I do not thus employ the one in Labor and Exercise, as well as the other in Study and Contemplation.

True happiness... arises, in the first place, from the enjoyment of one's self.

We are always doing something for posterity, but I would fain see posterity do something for us.

We may further observe, that such a Man will be more grieved for the Loss of Fame, than be could have been pleased with the Enjoyment of it. For tho? the Presence of this imaginary Good cannot make us happy, the Absence of it may make us miserable: Because in the Enjoyment of an Object we only find that Share of Pleasure which it is capable of giving us, but in the Loss of it we do not proportion our Grief to the real Value it bears, but to the Value our Fancies and Imaginations set upon it.

What a majesty and force does one meet with in these short inscriptions: are not you amazed to see so much history gathered into so small a compass?

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English Essayist, Poet, Playwright and Politician