Joseph Addison


English Essayist, Poet, Playwright and Politician

Author Quotes

Friendship improves happiness, and abates misery, by doubling our joy, and dividing our grief.

Great Pompey's shade complains that we are slow, and Scipio's ghost walks unavenged amongst us!

A cheerful temper, joined with innocence, will make beauty attractive, knowledge delightful, and wit good-natured. It will lighten sickness, poverty, and affliction, convert ignorance into an amiable simplicity, and render deformity itself agreeable.

A friendship that makes the least noise is very often the most useful; for which reason I should prefer a prudent friend to a zealous one.

A man of a polite imagination is let into a great many pleasures that the vulgar are not capable of receiving. He can converse with a picture, and find an agreeable companion in a statue. He meets with a secret refreshment in a description, and often feels a greater satisfaction in the prospect of fields and meadows than another does in the possession. It gives him, indeed, a kind of property in everything he sees, and makes the most rude uncultivated parts of nature administer to his pleasures: so that he looks upon the world as it were in another light, and discovers in it a multitude of charms that conceal themselves from the generality of mankind.

A person, therefore, who is possessed with such an habitual good intention, as that which I have been here speaking of, enters upon no single circumstance of life, without considering it as well pleasing to the great Author of his being, conformable to the dictates of reason, suitable to human nature in general, or to that particular station in which Providence has placed him. He lives in a perpetual sense of the Divine Presence, regards himself as acting, in the whole course of his existence, under the observation and inspection of that Being, who is privy to all his motions and all his thoughts, who knows his ?down-sitting and his uprising, who is about his path, and about his bed, and spieth out all his ways.? In a word, he remembers that the eye of his Judge is always upon him, and in every action he reflects that he is doing what is commanded or allowed by Him who will hereafter either reward or punish it. This was the character of those holy men of old, who, in that beautiful phrase of Scripture, are said to have ?walked with God.?

A tenacious adherence to the rights and liberties transmitted from a wise and virtuous ancestry, public spirit, and a love of one?s country, are the support and ornaments of government.

Advertisements are of great use to the vulgar. First of all, as they are instruments of ambition. A man that is by no means big enough for the Gazette, may easily creep into the advertisements; by which means we often see an apothecary in the same paper of news with a plenipotentiary, or a running footman with an ambassador.

Among innumerable arguments which might be brought against such an unreasonable proceeding, I shall only insist on one. We make it the condition of our forgiveness that we forgive others. In our very prayers we desire no more than to be treated by this kind of retaliation. The case therefore before us seems to be what they call a ?case in point;? the relation between the child and father being what comes nearest to that between a creature and its Creator. If the father is inexorable to the child who has offended, let the offence be of never so high a nature, how will he address himself to the Supreme Being, under the tender appellation of a father, and desire of him such a forgiveness as he himself refuses to grant?

An opera may be allowed to be extravagantly lavish in its decorations, as its only design is to gratify the senses and keep up an indolent attention in the audience.

Aristotle himself allows that Homer has nothing to boast of as to the unity of his fable, though at the same time that great critic and philosopher endeavored to palliate this imperfection in the Greek poet, by imputing it in some measure to the very nature of an epic poem. Some have been of opinion that the ’neid also labors in this particular, and has Episodes which may be looked upon as excrescences rather than as parts of the action.

As it is the chief concern of wise men to retrench the evils of life by the reasonings of philosophy, it is the employment of fools to multiply them by the sentiments of superstition.

Authors who have thus drawn off the spirits of their thoughts should lie still for some time, till their minds have gathered fresh strength, and, by reading, reflecting, and conversation, laid in a new stock of elegancies, sentiments, and images of nature.

Books are the legacies that a great genius leaves to mankind, which are delivered down from generation to generation, as presents to the posterity of those who are yet unborn. All other arts of perpetuating our ideas continue but a short time. Statues can last but a few thousands of years, edifices fewer, and colors still fewer than edifices. Michael Angelo, Fontana, and Raphael will hereafter be what Phidias, Vitruvius, and Apelles are at present,?the names of great statuaries, architects, and painters whose works are lost. The several arts are expressed in moldering materials. Nature sinks under them, and is not able to support the ideas which are impressed upon it.

But thou shall flourish in immortal youth, unhurt amidst the wars of elements, the wrecks of matter, and the crush of worlds.

Charity is a virtue of the heart, and not of the hands.

Conversation with men of a polite genius is another method for improving our natural taste. It is impossible for a man of the greatest parts to consider anything in its whole extent, and in all of its variety of lights. Every man, besides those general observations which are to be made upon an author, forms several reflections that are peculiar to his own manner of thinking; so that conversation will naturally furnish us with hints which we did not attend to, and make us enjoy other men?s parts and reflections as well as our own.

Encourage such innocent amusements as may disembitter the minds of men and make them mutually rejoice in the same agreeable satisfactions.

Fables were the first pieces of wit that made their appearance in the world, and have been still highly valued not only in times of the greatest simplicity, but among the most polite ages of mankind. Jotham?s fable of the trees is the oldest that is extant, and as beautiful as any which have been made since that time. Nathan?s fable of the poor man and his lamb is likewise more ancient than any that is extant, besides the above-mentioned.

Friendship is a strong and habitual inclination in two persons to promote the good and happiness of each other.

Great souls by instinct to each other turn,

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English Essayist, Poet, Playwright and Politician