Joseph Addison


English Essayist, Critic, Poet, Playwright, Politician and Man of Letters

Author Quotes

Quick sensitivity is inseperable from a ready understanding

When I look upon the tombs of the great, every emotion of envy dies in me; when I read the epitaphs of the beautiful, every inordinate desire goes out; when I meet with the grief of parents upon a tombstone, my heart melts with compassion; when I see the tombs of the parents themselves, I consider the vanity of grieving for those whom we must quickly follow; when I see kings lying by those who deposed them, when I consider rival wits placed side by side, or the men that divided the world with their contests and disputes, I reflect with sorrow and astonishment on the little competitions, factions, and debates of mankind. When I read the several dates of the tombs, of some that died yesterday, and some six hundred years ago, I consider that great Day when we shall all of us be contemporaries, and make our appearance together.

Young men soon give, and soon forget, affronts; old age is slow in both.

To say that authority, whether secular or religious, supplies no ground for morality is not to deny the obvious fact that it supplies a sanction.

Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.

There is nothing which we receive with so much reluctance as advice.

Their is no defense against criticism except obscurity.

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

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.

Suspicion is not less an enemy to virtue than to happiness; he that is already corrupt is naturally suspicious, and he that becomes suspicious will quickly be corrupt.

Friendships, in general, are suddenly contracted; and therefore it is no wonder they are easily dissolved.

A true critic ought to dwell upon excellencies rather than imperfections, to discover the concealed beauties of a writer, and communicate to the world such things as are worth their observation.

Knowledge is indeed that which, next to virtue, truly and essentially raises one man above another.

A man's first care should be to avoid the reproaches of his own heart; his next, to escape the censures of the world.

A person should always consider how much they have more than they want, and how much more unhappy they might be than they really are.

Human beings are perhaps never more frightening than when they are convinced beyond doubt that they are right.

We cannot be guilty of a great act of uncharitableness than to interpret the afflictions which befall our neighbors, as punishment and judgments.

Zeal is a great ease to a malicious man, by making him believe he does God service, whilst he is gratifying the bent of a perverse revengeful temper.

There is more beauty in the works of a great genius who is ignorant of all the rules of art, than in the works of a little genius, who not only knows but scrupulously observes them.

'We are always doing,' says he, something for Posterity, but I would fain see Posterity do something for us.

The ridiculous chase after imaginary pleasures cannot be sufficiently exposed, as it is the greatest source of those evils which generally undo a nation.

The soul, secured in her existence, smiles at the drawn dagger and defies its point. The stars shall fade away, the sun himself grow dim with age, and Nature sink in years; but thou shalt flourish in immortal youth, unhurt amidst the war of elements, the wrecks of matter, and the crush of worlds.

The contemplation of the divine Being, and the exercise of virtue, are in their own nature so far from excluding all gladness of heart, that they are perpetual sources of it.

The grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love; and something to hope for.

Music is the greatest good that mortals know, and all of heaven we have below.

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English Essayist, Critic, Poet, Playwright, Politician and Man of Letters