Joseph Addison


English Essayist, Poet, Playwright and Politician

Author Quotes

The most skillful flattery is to let a person talk on, and be a listener.

The pleasures of the imagination are not wholly confined to such particular authors as are conversant in material objects, but are often to be met with among the polite masters of morality, criticism, and other speculations abstracted from matter, who, though they do not directly treat of the visible parts of nature, often draw from them similitudes, metaphors, and allegories. By these allusions, a truth in the understanding is, as it were, reflected by the imagination; we are able to see something like color and shape in a notion, and to discover a scheme of thoughts traced out upon matter. And here the mind receives a great deal of satisfaction, and has two of its faculties gratified at the same time, while the fancy is busy in copying after the understanding, and transcribing ideas out of the intellectual world into the material.

The Roman medals were their current money: when an action deserved to be recorded on a coin, it was stamped, and issued out of the mint.

The terms are loose and undefined; and, what less becomes a fair reasoner, he puts wrong and invidious names on everything to color a false way of arguing.

The universities of Europe, for many years, carried on their debates by syllogism, insomuch that we see the knowledge of several centuries laid out into objections and answers, and all the good sense of the age cut and minced into almost an infinitude of distinctions.

Their courage dwells not in a troubled flood

There is a great affinity between coins and poetry, and your medalist and critic are much nearer related than the world imagines.

There is no kind of exercise which I would so recommend to my readers of both sexes as this of riding, as there is none which so much conduces to health, and is every way accommodated to the body, according to the idea which I have given of it. Doctor Sydenham is very lavish in its praises; and if the English reader would see the mechanical effects of it described at length, he may find them in a book published not many years since, under the title of the Medicina Gymnastica.

There is not, in my opinion, a more pleasing and triumphant consideration in religion than this of the perpetual progress which the soul makes towards the perfection of its nature, without ever arriving at a period in it. To look upon the soul as going on from strength to strength, to consider that she is to shine forever with new accessions of glory, and brighten to all eternity; that she will be still adding virtue to virtue, and knowledge to knowledge; carries in it something wonderfully agreeable to that ambition which is natural to the mind of man. Nay, it must be a prospect pleasing to God himself, to see his creation forever beautifying in his eyes, and drawing nearer to him, by greater degrees of resemblance.

There is something unspeakably cheerful in a spot of ground which is covered with trees, that smiles amidst all the rigors of winter, and gives us a view of the most gay season in the midst of that which is the most dead and melancholy.

This art seems to have been more especially adapted to the nature of man in his prim‘val state, when he had life enough to see his productions flourish in their utmost beauty, and gradually decay with him. One who lived before the flood might have seen a wood of the tallest oaks in the acorn.

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: it makes him easy here because it can make him happy hereafter.

Should a writer single out and point his raillery at particular persons, or satirize the miserable, he might be sure of pleasing a great part of his readers, but must be a very ill man if he could please himself.

Some virtues are only seen in affliction, and some in prosperity.

Temperance gives nature her full play, and enables her to exert herself in all her force and vigor.

The beloved of the Almighty are: the rich who have the humility of the poor, and the poor who have the magnamity of the rich.

The devout man does not only believe, but feels, there is a Deity. He has actual sensations of him; his experience concurs with his reason; he sees him more and more in all his intercourses with him, and even in this life almost loses his faith in conviction.

The fraternity of the henpecked.

The harshness of reasoning is not a little softened and smoothed by the effusions of mirth and pleasantry.

The last use which I shall make of this remarkable property in human nature of being delighted with those actions to which it is accustomed, is to show how absolutely necessary it is for us to gain habits of virtue in this life, if we would enjoy the pleasures of the next. The state of bliss we call heaven will not be capable of affecting those minds which are not thus qualified for it: we must in this world gain a relish of truth and virtue, if we would be able to taste that knowledge and perfection which are to make us happy in the next. The seeds of those spiritual joys and raptures which are to rise up and flourish in the soul to all eternity must be planted in her during this her present state of probation. In short, heaven is not to be looked upon only as the reward, but as the natural effect, of a religious life.

The most violent appetites in all creatures are lust and hunger: the first is a perpetual call upon them to propagate their kind; the latter to preserve themselves.

The poet, after having mentioned the souls of those unhappy men who destroyed themselves, breaks out into a fine exclamation. ?Oh, how gladly,? says he, ?would they now endure life with all its miseries! But the Destinies forbid their return to earth, and the waters of Styx surround them with nine streams that are unpassable.? It is very remarkable that Virgil, notwithstanding self-murder was so frequent among the heathens, and had been practiced by some of the greatest men in the very age before him, hath here represented it as so heinous a crime. But in this particular he was guided by the doctrines of his great master Plato; who says on this subject, ?that a man is placed in his station of life like a soldier in his proper post, which he is not to quit, whatever may happen, until he is called off by his commander who planted him in it.?

The same female levity is no less fatal to them after marriage than before. It represents to their imaginations the faithful, prudent husband as an honest, tractable, and domestic animal; and turns their thoughts upon the fine, gay gentleman that laughs, sings, and dresses so much more agreeably.

The three first stanzas are rendered word for word with the original, not only with the same elegance, but the same short turn of expression peculiar to the Sapphic ode.

The unjust application of laudable talents, is tolerated, in the general opinion of men, not only in such cases as are here mentioned, but also in matters which concern ordinary life. If a lawyer were to be esteemed only as he uses his parts in contending for justice, and were immediately despicable when he appeared in a cause which he could not but know was an unjust one, how honorable would his character be? And how honorable is it in such among us, who follow the profession no otherwise than as laboring to protect the injured, to subdue the oppressor, to imprison the careless debtor, and do right to the painful artificer? But many of this excellent character are overlooked by the greater number; who affect covering a weak place in a client?s title, diverting the course of an enquiry, or finding a skilful refuge to palliate a falsehood: yet it is still called eloquence in the latter, though thus unjustly employed; but resolution in an assassin is according to reason quite as laudable, as knowledge and wisdom exercised in the defense of an ill cause.

Author Picture
First Name
Last Name
Birth Date
Death Date

English Essayist, Poet, Playwright and Politician