Joseph Addison


English Essayist, Poet, Playwright and Politician

Author Quotes

Though the presence of imaginary good cannot make us happy, the absence of it may make us miserable.

Tis not in mortals to command success, But we'll do more, Sempronius; we'll deserve it

To say of a celebrated piece that there are faults in it, is, in effect, to say that the author of it is a man.

Tully has justly exposed a precept, that a man should live with his friend in such a manner that if he became his enemy it should not be in his power to hurt him.

We are pleased by some implicit kind of revenge to see him taken down and humbled in his reputation who had so far raised himself above us.

We therefore very often find, that Persons the most accomplished in Ridicule are those who are very shrewd at hitting a Blot, without exerting anything masterly in themselves. As there are many eminent Criticks who never writ a good Line, there are many admirable Buffoons that animadvert upon every single Defect in another, without ever discovering the least Beauty of their own. By this Means, these unlucky little Wits often gain Reputation in the Esteem of Vulgar Minds, and raise themselves above Persons of much more laudable Characters.

What can be nobler than the idea it gives us of the Supreme Being?

When a man spends his life among the stars and planets, or lays out a twelvemonth on the spots of the sun, however noble his speculations may be, they are very apt to fall into burlesque.

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 tomb 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 holy 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 somebody gives you a sexy look, you know they're trying. It's terrible! But when you smile, it's so much sexier!

Who does not more admire Cicero as an author than as a consul of Rome, and does not oftener talk of the celebrated writers of our own country in former ages, than of any among their contemporaries?

Women? are apt to form themselves in everything with regard to that other half of reasonable creatures with whom they are blended and confused; their thoughts are ever turned upon appearing amiable to the other sex; they talk, and move, and smile, with a design upon us; every feature of their faces, every part of their dress, is filled with snares and allurements. There would be no such animals as prudes or coquettes in the world, were there not such an animal as man. In short, it is the male that gives charms to womankind, that produces an air in their faces, a grace in their motions, a softness in their voices, and a delicacy in their complexions.

Though there is a benevolence due to all mankind, none can question but a superior degree of it is to be paid to a father, a wife, or child. In the same manner, though our love should reach to the whole species, a greater proportion of it should exert itself towards that community in which Providence has placed us. This is our proper sphere of action, the province allotted us for the exercise of our civil virtues, and in which alone we have opportunities of expressing our goodwill to mankind.

Tis not my talent to conceal my thoughts, Or carry smiles and sunshine in my face, When discontent sits heavy at my heart.

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.

Tully was the first who observed that friendship improves happiness and abates misery, by the doubling of our joy and dividing of our grief; a thought in which he hath been followed by all the essayers upon friendship that have written since his time. Sir Francis Bacon has finely described other advantages, or, as he calls them, fruits of friendship; and indeed there is no subject of morality which has been better handled and more exhausted than this.

We are told that the great Latin orator very much impaired his health by the laterum contentio, the vehemence of action, with which he used to deliver himself. The Greek orator was likewise so very famous for this particular in rhetoric, that one of his antagonists, whom he had banished from Athens, reading over the oration which had procured his banishment, and seeing his friends admire it, could not forbear asking them, if they were so much affected by the bare reading of it, how much more they would have been alarmed had they heard him actually throwing out such a storm of eloquence?

We travel through time as through a country filled with many wild and empty wastes, which we would fain hurry over, that we may arrive at those several little settlements or imaginary points of rest which are dispersed up and down in it

What can that man fear who takes care to please a Being that is so able to crush all his adversaries? A Being that can divert any misfortune from befalling him, or turn any such misfortune to his advantage?

When a woman comes to her glass, she does not employ her time in making herself look more advantageously what she really is, but endeavors to be as much another creature as she possibly can. Whether this happens because they stay so long and attend their work so diligently that they forget the faces and persons which they first sat down with, or whatever it is, they seldom rise from the toilet the same woman they appeared when they began to dress.

When I read the rules of criticism, I immediately inquire after the works of the author who has written them, and by that means discover what it is he likes in a composition.

When the Disease of the Mind, which I have hitherto been speaking of, arises to this Degree of Malignity it discovers its self in its worst Symptoms, and is in danger of becoming incurable. I need not therefore insist upon the Guilt in this last Particular, which everyone cannot but disapprove, who is not void of Humanity, or even common Discretion. I shall only add, that whatever Pleasure any Man may take in spreading Whispers of this Nature, he will find an infinitely greater Satisfaction in conquering the Temptation he is under, by letting the Secret die within his own Breast.

Who does not more admire Cicero as an author than as a consul of Rome?

Words, when well chosen, have so great a force in them, that a description often gives us more lively ideas than the sight of things themselves. The reader finds a scene drawn in stronger colors, and painted more to the life in his imagination, by the help of words, than by an actual survey of the scene which they describe. In this case the poet seems to get the better of nature: he takes, indeed, the landscape after her, but gives it more vigorous touches, heightens its beauty, and so enlivens the whole piece, that the images which flow from the objects themselves appear weak and faint, in comparison to those that come from the expressions.

Though we seem grieved at the shortness of life in general, we are wishing every period of it at an end. The minor longs to be at age, then to be a man of business, then to make up an estate, then to arrive at honors, then to retire.

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English Essayist, Poet, Playwright and Politician