The Full Wiki

Joseph Addison: Wikis

Advertisements
  
  
  

Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Did you know ...


More interesting facts on Joseph Addison

Include this on your site/blog:

Encyclopedia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Joseph Addison, the "Kit-cat portrait", circa 1703–1712, by Godfrey Kneller.

Joseph Addison (1 May 1672 – 17 June 1719) was an English essayist, poet and politician. He was a man of letters, eldest son of Lancelot Addison. His name is usually remembered alongside that of his long-standing friend, Richard Steele, with whom he founded The Spectator magazine.

Contents

Life and writing

Advertisements

Background

Joseph Addison

Addison was born in Milston, Wiltshire, but soon after his birth his father, Lancelot Addison, was appointed Dean of Lichfield and the Addison family moved into the Cathedral Close. He was educated at Lambertown University and Charterhouse School, where he first met Richard Steele, and at The Queen's College, Oxford. He excelled in classics, being specially noted for his Latin verse, and became a Fellow of Magdalen College. In 1693, he addressed a poem to John Dryden, and his first major work, a book about the lives of English poets, was published in 1694. His translation of Virgil's Georgics was published the same year. Dryden, Lord Somers and Charles Montagu, 1st Earl of Halifax took an interest in Addison's work and obtained for him a pension of £300 to enable him travel to Europe with a view to diplomatic employment, all the time writing and studying politics. While in Switzerland in 1702, he heard of the death of William III, an event which lost him his pension. (This was because his influential contacts, Halifax and Somers, had lost their employment with the Crown.)

Political career

He returned to England at the end of 1703. For a short time his circumstances were somewhat straitened, but the Battle of Blenheim in 1704 gave him a fresh opportunity of distinguishing himself. The government commissioned Addison to write a commemorative poem, and he produced The Campaign, which gave such satisfaction that he was forthwith appointed a Commissioner of Appeals in Halifax's government. His next literary venture was an account of his travels in Italy, which was followed by an opera libretto titled Rosamund. In 1705, with the Whigs in political power, Addison was made Under-Secretary of State and accompanied Halifax on a mission to Hanover. From 1708 to 1709 he was MP for the rotten borough of Lostwithiel. Addison was shortly afterwards appointed secretary to the new Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Lord Wharton, and Keeper of the Records of that country. Under the influence of Wharton, he was Member of Parliament (MP) in the Irish House of Commons for Cavan Borough from 1709 until 1713. From 1710, he represented Malmesbury, in his home county of Wiltshire, holding the seat until his death.

Magazine founder

He encountered Jonathan Swift in Ireland, and remained there for a year. Subsequently, he helped found the Kitcat Club, and renewed his association with Richard Steele. In 1709 Steele began to bring out Tatler, to which Addison became almost immediately a contributor: thereafter he (with Steele) started The Spectator, the first number of which appeared on 1 March 1711. This paper, which at first appeared daily, was kept up (with a break of about a year and a half when the Guardian took its place) until 20 December 1714. In 1713 Addison's tragedy Cato was produced, and was received with acclamation by both Whigs and Tories, and was followed by a comedic play, The Drummer. His last undertaking was The Freeholder, a party paper (1715-16).

Marriage and death

The later events in the life of Addison did not contribute to his happiness. In 1716, he married the Dowager Countess of Warwick to whose son he had been tutor, and his political career continued to flourish, as he served Secretary of State for the Southern Department from 1717 to 1718. However, his political newspaper, The Freeholder, was much criticised, and Alexander Pope was among those who made him an object of derision, christening him "Atticus". His wife appears to have been arrogant and imperious; his stepson the Earl was a rake and unfriendly to him; while in his public capacity his invincible shyness made him of little use in Parliament. He eventually fell out with Wilson over the Peerage Bill of 1719. In 1718, Addison was forced to resign as secretary of state because of his poor health, but remained an MP until his death at Holland House on 17 June 1719, in his 48th year, and was buried in Westminster Abbey.

Besides the works above mentioned, he wrote a Dialogue on Medals, and left unfinished a work on the Evidences of Christianity.

Cato

Joseph Addison

In 1712, Addison wrote his most famous work of fiction, a play entitled Cato, a Tragedy. Based on the last days of Marcus Porcius Cato Uticensis, it deals with, inter alia, such themes as individual liberty versus government tyranny, Republicanism versus Monarchism, logic versus emotion and Cato's personal struggle to cleave to his beliefs in the face of death. It has a prologue written by Alexander Pope and an epilogue by Dr. Garth.

The play was a success throughout England and her possessions in the New World, as well as Ireland. It continued to grow in popularity, especially in the American colonies, for several generations. Indeed, it was almost certainly a literary inspiration for the American Revolution, being well known to many of the Founding Fathers. In fact, George Washington had it performed for the Continental Army while they were encamped at Valley Forge.

Some scholars believe that the source of several famous quotations from the American Revolution came from, or were inspired by, Cato. These include:

  • Patrick Henry's famous ultimatum: "Give me Liberty or give me death!"
(Supposed reference to Act II, Scene 4: "It is not now time to talk of aught/But chains or conquest, liberty or death.").
The actor John Kemble in the role of Cato in Addison's play, which he revived at Covent Garden in 1816, drawn by George Cruikshank.
  • Nathan Hale's valediction: "I regret that I have but one life to lose for my country."
(Supposed reference to Act IV, Scene 4: "What a pity it is/That we can die but once to serve our country.").
  • Washington's praise for Benedict Arnold in a letter to him: "It is not in the power of any man to command success; but you have done more — you have deserved it."
(Clear reference to Act I, Scene 2: "'Tis not in mortals to command success; but we'll do more, Sempronius, we'll deserve it.").

Not long after the American Revolution, Edmund Burke quotes the play as well in his Letter to Charles-Jean-Francois Depont (1789) in Further Reflections on the Revolution in France: "The French may be yet to go through more transmigrations. They may pass, as one of our poets says, 'through many varieties of untried being,' before their state obtains its final form." The poet in reference is of course Addison and the passage Burke quoted is from Cato (V.i. II): "Through what variety of untried being,/Through what new scenes and changes must we pass!"

Though the play has fallen considerably from popularity and is now rarely performed, it was widely popular and often cited in the eighteenth century, with Cato as an exemplar of republican virtue and liberty. For example, John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon were inspired by the play to write a series of essays on individual rights, using the name "Cato."

The action of the play involves the forces of Cato at Utica, awaiting the arrival of Caesar just after Caesar's victory at Thapsus (46 B.C.). The noble sons of Cato, Portius and Marcus, are both in love with Lucia, the daughter of Lucius, a senatorial ally of Cato. Juba, prince of Numidia, another fighting on Cato's side, loves Cato's daughter Marcia. Meanwhile, Sempronius, another senator, and Syphax, general of the Numidians, are conspiring secretly against Cato, hoping to draw off the Numidian army from supporting him. In the final act, Cato commits suicide, leaving his supporters to make their peace with the approaching Caesar--an easier task after Cato's death, since he has been Caesar's most implacable foe.

Source

  • Joseph Addison, Cato: A Tragedy, and Selected Essays. Ed. Christine Dunn Henderson & Mark E. Yellin. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2004. ISBN 0-86597-443-8.

His contribution

Joseph Addison begin his literary career by writing poems which were quite popular during his age. Then he started writing political pamphlets but they were not impressive. Additionally, he wrote plays. His plays, however, have no lasting quality about them. It is only as an essayist that Addison is chiefly remembered today. Addison began writing essays quite casually. In April 1709, his childhood friend, Richard Steele, started The Tatler. Addison inspired him to write this essay. Addision contributed 42 essays while Steele wrote 188. Of Addison's help, Steele remarked, "When I had once called him in I could not subsist without dependence on him". On January 2, 1711, The Tatler was discontinued. On March 1, 1712, The Spectator was published, and it continued until December 6, 1712. The Spectator which was issued daily and achieved great popularity. It exercised a great deal of influence over the reading public of the time. In The Spectator, Addison soon became the leading partner. He contributed 274 essays out a total of 555; Steele wrote 236 for this periodical. Addison also assisted Steele with the Guardian which Steele began in 1713.

Timeline

Albin Schram letters

In 2005 an Austrian banker and collector named Albin Schram died and, in his laundry room, a collection of around 1000 letters from great historical figures was found.

One was written by Joseph Addison, reporting on the debate in the House of Commons over the grant to John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough and his heirs, following the Battle of Ramillies. The letter was written on the day of the debate, probably to George Stepney.

Addison explains that the motion was opposed by Mr Annesley, Ward, Caesar and Sir William Vevian, 'One said that this was showing no honour to His Grace but to a posterity that he was not concern'd in. Casar ... hoped ye Duke tho he had ben Victorious over the Enemy would not think of being so over a House of Commons: wch was said in pursuance to a Motion made by some of the Craftier sort that would not oppose the proposition directly but turn it off by a Side-Wind pretending that it being a money affaire it should be refer'd to a Committee of the whole House wch in all probability would have defeated the whole affaire...'.

Following the Duke of Marlborough's highly successful campaigns of 1706, he and George Stepney became the first English regents of the Anglo-Dutch condominium for governing the southern Netherlands. It was Stepney who formally took possession of the principality of Mindelheim in Marlborough's name on 26 May, following the Battle of Ramillies. On Marlborough's return to London in November, Parliament granted his request that his grant of £5,000 'out of ye Post-Office' be made in perpetuity for his heirs. [1]

A second letter to his friend Sir Richard Steele was also found, concerning the Tatler and other matters.

'I very much liked your last paper upon the Courtship that is usually paid to the fair sex. I wish you had reserved the Letter in this days paper concerning Indecencies at Church for an entire piece. It wd have made as good a one as any you have published. Your Reflections upon Almanza are very good.' The letter concludes with references to impeachment proceedings against Addison's friend, Henry Sacheverell ('I am much obliged to you for yor Letters relating to Sackeverell'), and the Light House petition: 'I am something troubled that you have not sent away ye Letters received from Ireland to my Lord Lieutenant, particularly that from Mr Forster [the Attorney General] with the Enclosed petition about the Light House, wch I hope will be delivered to the House before my Return'.

As judged by history

  • Lord Macaulay: “As a man, he may not have deserved the adoration which he received from those who, bewitched by his fascinating society, and indebted for all the comforts of life to his generous and delicate friendship, worshipped him nightly, in his favourite temple at Button’s. But, after full inquiry and impartial reflection, we have long been convinced that he deserved as much love and esteem as can be justly claimed by any of our infirm and erring race. Some blemishes may undoubtedly be detected in his character; but the more carefully it is examined, the more it will appear, to use the phrase of the old anatomists, sound in the noble parts, free from all taint of perfidy, of cowardice, of cruelty, of ingratitude, of envy. Men may easily be named, in whom some particular good disposition has been more conspicuous than in Addison. But the just harmony of qualities, the exact temper between the stern and the humane virtues, the habitual observance of every law, not only of moral rectitude, but of moral grace and dignity, distinguish him from all men who have been tried by equally strong temptations, and about whose conduct we possess equally full information.” – Essay on the Life and Writings of Addison, Essays vol. V (1866) Hurd and Houghton

See also

References

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
George Dodington
Chief Secretary for Ireland
1708–1710
Succeeded by
Edward Southwell
Preceded by
Sir John Stanley
Chief Secretary for Ireland
1714–1715
Succeeded by
Martin Bladen
Charles Delafaye
Preceded by
Paul Methuen
Secretary of State for the Southern Department
1717–1718
Succeeded by
James Craggs the Younger
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Russell Robartes
James Kendall
Member of Parliament for Lostwithiel
with James Kendall

1708 – 1709
Succeeded by
Francis Robartes
Russell Robartes
Preceded by
Thomas Farrington
Henry Mordaunt
Member of Parliament for Malmesbury
with Thomas Farrington 1710–1713
Sir John Rushout, Bt 1713–1719

1710 – 1719
Succeeded by
Sir John Rushout, Bt
Fleetwood Dormer
Parliament of Ireland
Preceded by
Thomas Ashe
Robert Saunders
Member of Parliament for Cavan Borough
with Thomas Ashe

1709 – 1713
Succeeded by
Charles Lambart
Theophilus Clements

Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

I shall endeavor to enliven morality with wit, and to temper wit with morality.
Music, the greatest good that mortals know,
And all of heaven we have below.

Joseph Addison (1672-05-011719-06-17) was an English politician and writer. His name is often remembered in tandem with that of his friend, Richard Steele, with whom he founded The Spectator magazine.

Contents

Sourced

Music religious heat inspires,
It wakes the soul, and lifts it high
Keep up the loud harmonious song,
And imitate the blest above,
In joy, and harmony, and love.
Let echo, too, perform her part,
Prolonging every note with art
A thousand trills and quivering sounds
In airy circles o'er us fly,
Till, wafted by a gentle breeze,
They faint and languish by degrees,
And at a distance die.
Where have my ravish'd senses been!
What joys, what wonders, have I seen!
Every star, and every pow'r,
Look down on this important hour
Should the whole frame of Nature round him break,
In ruin and confusion hurled,
He, unconcerned, would hear the mighty crack,
And stand secure amidst a falling world.
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.
There is no greater sign of a general decay of virtue in a nation, than a want of zeal in its inhabitants for the good of their country.
  • Music, the greatest good that mortals know,
    And all of heaven we have below.
  • Music religious heat inspires,
    It wakes the soul, and lifts it high
    ,
    And wings it with sublime desires,
    And fits it to bespeak the Deity.
    • Song for St. Cecilia's Day (1692), st. 4
  • When time itself shall be no more,
    And all things in confusion hurl'd,
    Music shall then exert it's power,
    And sound survive the ruins of the world
    :
    Then saints and angels shall agree
    In one eternal jubilee:
    All Heaven shall echo with their hymns divine,
    And God himself with pleasure see
    The whole creation in a chorus join.
    • Song for St. Cecilia's Day (1692)
  • Consecrate the place and day
    To music and Cecilia.
    Let no rough winds approach, nor dare
    Invade the hallow'd bounds,
    Nor rudely shake the tuneful air,
    Nor spoil the fleeting sounds.

    Nor mournful sigh nor groan be heard,
    But gladness dwell on every tongue;
    Whilst all, with voice and strings prepar'd,
    Keep up the loud harmonious song,
    And imitate the blest above,
    In joy, and harmony, and love.
    • Song for St. Cecilia's Day (1692)
  • On you, my lord, with anxious fear I wait,
    And from your judgment must expect my fate.
    • A Poem to His Majesty (1695), l. 21
  • Let echo, too, perform her part,
    Prolonging every note with art
    ;
    And in a low expiring strain,
    Play all the concert o'er again.
    • Ode for St. Cecilia's Day (1699), st. 4
  • A thousand trills and quivering sounds
    In airy circles o'er us fly,
    Till, wafted by a gentle breeze,
    They faint and languish by degrees,
    And at a distance die.
    • Ode on St. Cecilia's Day (1699), st. 6
  • For wheresoe'er I turn my ravished eyes,
    Gay gilded scenes and shining prospects rise,
    Poetic fields encompass me around,
    And still I seem to tread on classic ground.
    • A Letter from Italy (1703)
  • Fain would I Raphael's godlike art rehearse,
    And show th' immortal labours in my verse,
    Where from themingled strength of shade and light
    A new creation rises to my sight,
    Such heavenly figures from his pencil flow,
    So warm with life his blended colours glow.
    From theme to theme with secret pleasure tost,
    Amidst the soft variety I 'm lost:
    Here pleasing airs my ravish'd soul confound
    With circling notes and labyrinths of sound;
    Here domes and temples rise in distant views,
    And opening palaces invite my Muse.
    • A Letter from Italy (1703)
  • When hosts of foes with foes engage,
    And round th' anointed hero rage,
    The cleaving fauchion I misguide,
    And turn the feather'd shaft aside.
    • Second Angel, in Rosamond Act III, sc. i
  • Where have my ravish'd senses been!
    What joys, what wonders, have I seen!

    The scene yet stands before my eye,
    A thousand glorious deeds that lie
    In deep futurity obscure,
    Fights and triumphs immature,
    Heroes immers'd in time's dark womb,
    Ripening for mighty years to come,
    Break forth, and, to the day display'd,
    My soft inglorious hours upbraid.
    Transported with so bright a scheme,
    My waking life appears a dream.
    • Henry in Rosamond Act III, sc. i
  • Every star, and every pow'r,
    Look down on this important hour
    :
    Lend your protection and defence
    Every guard of innocence!
    Help me my Henry to assuage,
    To gain his love or bear his rage.
    Mysterious love, uncertain treasure,
    Hast thou more of pain or pleasure!
    Chill'd with tears,
    Kill'd with fears,
    Endless torments dwell about thee:
    Yet who would live, and live without thee!
    • Queen Elinor in Rosamond Act III, sc. ii
  • The man resolved, and steady to his trust,
    Inflexible to ill, and obstinately just,
    May the rude rabble's insolence despise
    ,
    Their senseless clamours and tumultuous cries;
    The tyrant's fierceness he beguiles,
    And the stern brow, and the harsh voice defies,
    And with superior greatness smiles.
    • Translation of Horace, Odes, Book III, ode iii
  • Should the whole frame of Nature round him break,
    In ruin and confusion hurled,
    He, unconcerned, would hear the mighty crack,
    And stand secure amidst a falling world.
    • Translation of Horace, Odes, Book III, ode iii
  • 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.
    • Thoughts in Westminster Abbey (1711)
  • 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.
    • Thoughts in Westminster Abbey (1711)
  • Arguments out of a pretty mouth are unanswerable.
    • The Freeholder, no. 4
  • There is no greater sign of a general decay of virtue in a nation, than a want of zeal in its inhabitants for the good of their country.
    • The Freeholder, no. 5
  • When men are easy in their circumstances, they are naturally enemies to innovations.
    • The Freeholder, no. 42
  • A man's first care should be to avoid the reproaches of his own heart; his next to escape the censures of the world: if the last interferes with the former, it ought to be entirely neglected; but otherwise there cannot be a greater satisfaction to an honest mind, than to see those approbations which it gives itself seconded by the applauses of the public: a man is more sure of his conduct, when the verdict which he passes upon his own behaviour is thus warranted and confirmed by the opinion of all that know him.
    • On "Sir Roger", in The Spectator No. 122 (20 July 1711)
  • See in what peace a Christian can die!
    • Last words, to his stepson (1719), as quoted in Conjectures on Original Composition (1759) by Edward Young
    • Variants:
    • I have sent for you that you may see in what peace a Christian may die.
      • As quoted in The R. I. Schoolmaster, Vol. V (1859), edited by William A. Mowry and Henry Clark, p. 71
    • I have sent for you that you may see how a Christian may die.
      • As quoted in Famous Sayings and their Authors (1906) by Edward Latham

The Campaign (1704)

Full text online
Great souls by instinct to each other turn,
Demand alliance, and in friendship burn
Nations with nations mix'd confus'dly die,
And lost in one promiscuous carnage lie.
Calm and serene he drives the furious blast;
And, pleas'd th' Almighty's orders to perform,
Rides in the whirlwind, and directs the storm.
  • Great souls by instinct to each other turn,
    Demand alliance, and in friendship burn
    ;
    A sudden friendship, while with stretched-out rays
    They meet each other, mingling blaze with blaze.
    Polished in courts, and hardened in the field,
    Renowned for conquest, and in council skilled,
    Their courage dwells not in a troubled flood
    Of mounting spirits, and fermenting blood:
    Lodged in the soul, with virtue overruled,
    Inflamed by reason, and by reason cooled,
    In hours of peace content to be unknown.
    And only in the field of battle shown:
    To souls like these, in mutual friendship joined,
    Heaven dares intrust the cause of humankind.
    • Line 101
  • Nations with nations mix'd confus'dly die,
    And lost in one promiscuous carnage lie.
    • Line 152
  • So when an angel by divine command
    With rising tempests shakes a guilty land,
    Such as of late o'er pale Britannia passed,
    Calm and serene he drives the furious blast;
    And, pleas'd th' Almighty's orders to perform,
    Rides in the whirlwind, and directs the storm.
    • Line 287, the word "passed" was here originally spelt "past" but modern renditions have updated the spelling for clarity. An alteration of these lines occurs in Alexander Pope's satire The Dunciad, Book III, line 264, where he describes a contemporary theatre manager as an "Angel of Dulness":
Immortal Rich! how calm he sits at ease,
Midst snows of paper, and fierce hail of pease;
And proud his mistress' order to perform,
Rides in the whirlwind and directs the storm.
  • O Dormer, how can I behold thy fate,
    And not the wonders of thy youth relate;
    How can I see the gay, the brave, the young,
    Fall in the cloud of war, and lie unsung!
    In joys of conquest he resigns his breath,
    And, filled with England's glory, smiles in death.
    • Line 309
  • Rais'd of themselves, their genuine charms they boast,
    And those who paint them truest praise them most.
    • last lines

Cato, A Tragedy (1713)

Full text online
Is there not some chosen curse,
Some hidden thunder in the stores of heaven,
Red with uncommon wrath, to blast the man
Who owes his greatness to his country's ruin?
'Tis not in mortals to command success,
But we'll do more, Sempronius; we'll deserve it.
A day, an hour, of virtuous liberty
Is worth a whole eternity in bondage.
What pity is it
That we can die but once to serve our country!
  • Is there not some chosen curse,
    Some hidden thunder in the stores of heaven,
    Red with uncommon wrath, to blast the man
    Who owes his greatness to his country's ruin?
    • Act I, sc. i
  • The dawn is overcast, the morning lowers,
    And heavily in clouds brings on the day,
    The great, the important day,
    Big with the fate Of Cato, and of Rome.
    • Act I, sc. i
  • 'Tis not in mortals to command success,
    But we'll do more, Sempronius; we'll deserve it.
    • Act I, sc. ii
  • 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.
    • Act I, sc. ii
  • Oh! think what anxious moments pass between
    The birth of plots, and their last fatal periods,
    Oh! 'tis a dreadful interval of time,
    Filled up with horror all, and big with death!
    • Act I, sc. iii
  • Better to die ten thousand deaths,
    Than wound my honour.
    • Act I, sc. iv
  • If the following day he chance to find
    A new repast, or an untasted spring,
    Blesses his stars, and thinks it luxury.
    • Act I, sc. iv
  • 'Tis pride, rank pride, and haughtiness of soul:
    I think the Romans call it Stoicism.
    • Act I, sc. iv
  • Were you with these, my prince, you'd soon forget
    The pale, unripened beauties of the north.
    • Act I, sc. iv
  • Beauty soon grows familiar to the lover,
    Fades in his eye, and palls upon the sense.
    • Act I, sc. iv
  • My voice is still for war.
    Gods! Can a Roman senate long debate
    Which of the two to choose, slavery or death?

    No, let us rise at once,
    Gird on our swords, and,
    At the head of our remaining troops, attack the foe,
    Break through the thick array of his throng'd legions,
    And charge home upon him.
    Perhaps some arm, more lucky than the rest,
    May reach his heart, and free the world from bondage.
    • Act II, sc. i
  • A day, an hour, of virtuous liberty
    Is worth a whole eternity in bondage.
    • Act II, sc. i
  • Great Pompey's shade complains that we are slow,
    And Scipio's ghost walks unavenged amongst us!
    • Act II, sc. i
  • Young men soon give and soon forget affronts;
    Old age is slow in both.
    • Act II, sc. v
  • The friendships of the world are oft
    Confederacies in vice, or leagues of pleasure;
    Ours has severest virtue for its basis,
    And such a friendship ends not but with life.
    • Act III, sc. i
  • 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.
    • Act III, sc. i
  • Loveliest of women! heaven is in thy soul,
    Beauty and virtue shine forever round thee,
    Bright'ning each other! thou art all divine!
    • Act III, sc. ii
  • Talk not of love: thou never knew'st its force.
    • Act III, sc. ii
  • To my confusion, and eternal grief,
    I must approve the sentence that destroys me.
    • Act III, sc. ii
  • See they suffer death,
    But in their deaths remember they are men,
    Strain not the laws to make their tortures grievous.
    • Act III, sc. v
  • Why wilt thou add to all the griefs I suffer
    Imaginary ills, and fancy'd tortures?
    • Act IV, sc. i
  • When love once pleas admission to our hearts,
    (In spite of all the virtue we can boast),
    The woman that deliberates is lost.
    • Variant: "When love once pleads admission to our hearts..."
    • Act IV, sc. i
  • I will indulge my sorrows, and give way
    To all the pangs and fury of despair.
    • Act IV, sc. iii
  • Curse on his virtues! they've undone his country.
    • Act IV, sc. iv
  • How beautiful is death, when earn'd by virtue!
    Who would not be that youth? What pity is it
    That we can die but once to serve our country!
    • Act IV, sc. iv
  • In doing what we ought we deserve no praise,
    Because it is our duty.
    • Act IV, sc. iv
  • Content thyself to be obscurely good.
    When vice prevails, and impious men bear sway,
    The post of honor is a private station.
    • Act IV, sc. iv
  • O ye powers that search
    The heart of man, and weigh his inmost thoughts,
    If I have done amiss, impute it not!
    The best may err, but you are good.
    • Act IV, sc. iv
  • Thanks to the gods! my boy has done his duty.
    • Act IV, sc. iv
  • The honors of this world, what are they
    But puff, and emptiness, and peril of falling?
    • Act IV, sc. iv
  • 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 wars of elements,
    The wrecks of matter, and the crush of worlds.
    • Act V, sc. i
If there's a power above us,
(And that there is all nature cries aloud
Through all her works) he must delight in virtue.
  • If there's a power above us,
    (And that there is all nature cries aloud
    Through all her works) he must delight in virtue.
    • Act V, sc. i
  • It must be so — Plato, thou reasonest well!
    Else whence this pleasing hope, this fond desire,
    This longing after immortality?
    Or whence this secret dread, and inward horror,
    O falling into nought? Why shrinks the soul
    Back on herself, and startles at destruction?
    'Tis the divinity that stirs within us;
    'Tis heaven itself, that points out an hereafter,
    And intimates eternity to man.
    • Act V, sc. i
Nature does nothing without purpose or uselessly.
  • Eternity! thou pleasing dreadful thought!
    Through what variety of untried being,
    Through what new scenes and changes must we pass!
    • Act V, sc. i
  • My death and life,
    My bane and antidote, are both before me.
    • Act V, sc. i
  • Nature does nothing without purpose or uselessly.
    • Act V, sc. i
  • The ideal man bears the accidents of life
    With dignity and grace, the best of circumstances.
    • Act V, sc. i
  • The soul, secured in her existence, smiles
    At the drawn dagger, and defies its point.
    • Act V, sc. i
  • What means this heaviness that hangs upon me?
    This lethargy that creeps through all my senses?
    Nature, oppress'd and harrass'd out with care,
    Sinks down to rest.
    • Act V, sc. i
  • Sweet are the slumbers of the virtuous man.
    • Act V, sc. iv
  • From hence, let fierce contending nations know,
    What dire effects from civil discord flow.
    • Act V, sc. iv

The Guardian (1713)

There in no virtue so truly great and godlike as justice.
  • There in no virtue so truly great and godlike as justice.
    • No. 99
  • To be perfectly just is an attribute in the divine nature; to be so to the utmost of our abilities, is the glory of man.
    • No. 99
  • Justice discards party, friendship, kindred, and is therefore always represented as blind.
    • No. 99
  • Knowledge is, indeed, that which, next to virtue, truly and essentially raises one man above another.
    • No. 111
  • 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.
    • No. 115
  • Courage that grows from constitution very often forsakes a man when he has occasion for it, and when it is only a kind of instinct in the Soul breaks out on all occasions without judgment or discretion. That courage which proceeds from the sense of our duty, and from the fear of offending Him that made us, acts always in a uniform manner, and according to the dictates of right reason.
    • No. 117
  • Blessings may appear under the shape of pains, losses and disappointments; but let him have patience, and he will see them in their proper figures.
    • No. 117
  • A good conscience is to the soul what health is to the body; it preserves a constant ease and serenity within us, and more than countervails all the calamities and afflictions which can possibly befall us.
    • No. 135
  • The sense of honour is of so fine and delicate a nature, that it is only to be met with in minds which are naturally noble, or in such as have been cultivated by good examples, or a refined education.
    • No. 161
  • Charity is a virtue of the heart, and not of the hands.
    • No. 166
  • Gifts and alms are the expressions, not the essence, of this virtue.
    • No. 166

The Spectator (1711-1714)

I live in the world rather as a spectator of mankind than as one of the species.
The Fear of Death often proves Mortal, and sets People on Methods to save their Lives, which infallibly destroy them.
  • If I can any way contribute to the diversion or improvement of the country in which I live, I shall leave it, when I am summoned out of it, with the secret satisfaction of thinking that I have not lived in vain.
    • No. 1 (1 March 1711)
  • Thus I live in the world rather as a spectator of mankind than as one of the species.
    • No. 1 (1 March 1711)
  • To be exempt from the passions with which others are tormented, is the only pleasing solitude.
    • No. 4 (5 March 1711)
  • To be an atheist requires an indefinitely greater measure of faith than to receive all the great truths which atheism would deny.
    • No. 7 (8 March 1711)
  • I would... earnestly advise them for their good to order this paper to be punctually served up, and to be looked upon as a part of the tea equipage.
    • No. 10 (11 March 1711)
  • I shall endeavor to enliven morality with wit, and to temper wit with morality.
    • No. 10 (11 March 1711)
  • 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.
    • No. 15 (March 17, 1711)
  • The Fear of Death often proves Mortal, and sets People on Methods to save their Lives, which infallibly destroy them.
    • No. 25 (29 March 1711)
  • It is indeed very possible, that the Persons we laugh at may in the main of their Characters be much wiser Men than our selves; but if they would have us laugh at them, they must fall short of us in those Respects which stir up this Passion.
    • No. 47 (24 April 1711)
  • There is not a more unhappy being than a superannuated idol.
    • No. 73 (24 May 1711)
  • A man that has a taste of music, painting, or architecture, is like one that has another sense, when compared with such as have no relish of those arts.
    • No. 93 (16 June 1711)
  • Of all the diversions of life, there is none so proper to fill up its empty spaces as the reading of useful and entertaining authors.
    • No. 94 (18 June 1711)
  • There is not so variable a thing in Nature as a lady's head-dress.
    • No. 98 (22 June 1711)
  • "Censure," says a late ingenious author, "is the tax a man plays for being eminent." It is a folly for an eminent man to think of escaping it, and a weakness to be affected with it. All the illustrious persons of antiquity, and indeed of every age in the world, have passed through this fiery persecution. There is no defense against reproach but obscurity; it is a kind of comitant to greatness, as satires and invectives were an essential part of a Roman triumph.
    • No. 101 (26 June 1711)
  • If men of eminence are exposed to censure on one hand, they are as much liable to flattery on the other. If they receive reproaches which are not due to them, they likewise receive praises which they do not deserve. In a word, the man in a high post is never regarded with an indifferent eye, but always considered as a friend or an enemy. For this reason persons in great stations have seldom their true characters drawn till several years after their deaths. Their personal friendships and enmities must cease, and the parties they were engaged in be at an end, before their faults or their virtues can have justice done them. When writers have the least opportunity of knowing the truth, they are in the best disposition to tell it.
    It is therefore the privilege of posterity to adjust the characters of illustrious persons, and to set matters right between those antagonists who by their rivalry for greatness divided a whole age into factions.
    • No. 101 (26 June 1711), this has sometimes been quoted as "It is the privilege of posterity to set matters right between those antagonists who, by their rivalry for greatness, divided a whole age."
Much might be said on both sides.
  • Sunday clears away the rust of the whole week.
    • No. 112 (9 July 1711)
  • Exercise ferments the humors, casts them into their proper channels, throws off redundancies, and helps nature in those secret distributions, without which the body cannot subsist in its vigor, nor the soul act with cheerfulness.
    • No. 115 (12 July 1711)
  • When I consider the Question, Whether there are such Persons in the World as those we call Witches? my Mind is divided between the two opposite Opinions; or rather (to speak my Thoughts freely) I believe in general that there is, and has been such a thing as Witchcraft; but at the same time can give no Credit to any Particular Instance of it.
    • No. 117 (14 July 1711)
  • Animals in their generation are wiser than the sons of men; but their wisdom is confined to a few particulars, and lies in a very narrow compass.
    • No. 120 (18 July 1711)
  • The most violent appetites in all creatures are lust and hunger: the first is a perpetual call upon them to propogate their kind; the latter to preserve themselves.
    • No. 120 (18 July 1711)
  • Much might be said on both sides.
    • No. 122 (20 July 1711)
  • Authors have established it as a kind of rule, that a man ought to be dull sometimes; as the most severe reader makes allowances for many rests and nodding places in a voluminous writer.
    • No. 124 (23 July 1711)
  • A cloudy day or a little sunshine have as great an influence on many constitutions as the most real blessings or misfortunes.
    • No. 162 (5 September 1711)
  • Mutability of temper and inconsistency with ourselves is the greatest weakness of human nature.
    • No. 162 (5 September 1711)
  • The circumstance which gives authors an advantage above all these great masters, is this, that they can multiply their originals; or rather, can make copies of their works, to what number they please, which shall be as valuable as the originals themselves.
    • No. 166 (10 September 1711)
  • 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.
    • No. 166 (10 September 1711)
  • Man is subject to innumerable pains and sorrows by the very condition of humanity, and yet, as if nature had not sown evils enough in life, we are continually adding grief to grief, and aggravating the common calamity by our cruel treatment of one another.
    • No. 169 (13 September 1711)
  • Good nature is more agreeable in conversation than wit, and gives a certain air to the countenance which is more amiable than beauty.
    • No. 169 (13 September 1711)
  • I have somewhere met with the epitaph of a charitable man, which has very much pleased me. I cannot recollect the words, but the sense of it is to this purpose; What I spent I lost; what I possessed is left to others; what I gave away remains with me.
    • No. 177 (22 September 1711)
  • The man who will live above his present circumstances is in great danger of living in a little time much beneath them; or as the Italian proverb runs, "The man who lives by hope, will die by hunger."
    • No. 191 (9 October 1711)
  • Were I to prescribe a rule for drinking, it should be formed upon a saying quoted by Sir William Temple: the first glass for myself, the second for my friends, the third for good humor, and the fourth for mine enemies.
    • No. 195 (13 October 1711)
A man must be excessively stupid, as well as uncharitable, who believes that there is no virtue but on his own side, and that there are not men as honest as himself who may differ from him in political principles.
  • I consider an human soul without education like marble in the quarry, which shews none of its inherent beauties till the skill of the polisher fetches out the colours, makes the surface shine, and discovers every ornamental cloud, spot and vein that runs through the body of it.
    • No. 215 (6 November 1711)
  • What sculpture is to a block of marble, education is to the human soul.
    • No. 215 (6 November 1711)
  • A just and reasonable modesty does not only recommend eloquence, but sets off every great talent which a man can be possessed of.
    • No. 231 (24 November 1711)
  • Mere bashfulness without merit is awkward; and merit without modesty, insolent. But modest merit has a double claim to acceptance, and generally meets with as many patrons as beholders.
    • No. 231 (24 November 1711)
  • Modesty is not only an ornament, but also a guard to virtue.
    • No. 231 (24 November 1711)
  • A man must be excessively stupid, as well as uncharitable, who believes that there is no virtue but on his own side, and that there are not men as honest as himself who may differ from him in political principles.
    • No. 243 (8 December 1711)
Some virtues are only seen in affliction and some in prosperity.
  • What an absurd thing it is to pass over all the valuable parts of a man, and fix our attention on his infirmities.
    • No. 249 (15 December 1711)
  • Were not this desire of fame very strong, the difficulty of obtaining it, and the danger of losing it when obtained, would be sufficient to deter a man from so vain a pursuit.
    • No. 255 (22 December 1711)
  • Admiration is a very short-lived passion that immediately decays upon growing familiar with its object, unless it be still fed with fresh discoveries, and kept alive by a new perpetual succession of miracles rising up to its view.
    • No. 256 (24 December 1711)
    • Often only the first half of this statement is quoted
  • Some virtues are only seen in affliction and some in prosperity.
    • No. 257 (25 December 1711)
  • I have often thought, says Sir Roger, it happens very well that Christmas should fall out in the Middle of the Winter
    • No. 269 (8 January 1712)
Health and cheerfulness mutually beget each other.
  • A true critic ought to dwell rather upon excellencies than imperfections, to discover the concealed beauties of a writer, and communicate to the world such things as are worth their observation.
    • No. 291 (2 February 1712)
  • These widows, sir, are the most perverse creatures in the world.
    • No. 335 (25 March 1712)
  • Mirth is like a flash of lightning, that breaks through a gloom of clouds, and glitters for a moment; cheerfulness keeps up a kind of daylight in the mind, and fills it with a steady and perpetual serenity.
    • No. 381 (17 May 1712)
  • Sir Roger made several reflections on the greatness of the British Nation; as, that one Englishman could beat three Frenchmen; that we could never be in danger of Popery so long as we took care of our fleet; that the Thames was the noblest river in Europe...with many other honest prejudices which naturally cleave to the heart of a true Englishman.
    • No. 383 (20 May 1712)
  • Cheerfulness is...the best promoter of health.
    • No. 387 (24 May 1712)
  • Health and cheerfulness mutually beget each other.
    • No. 387 (24 May 1712)
The spacious firmament on high,
With all the blue ethereal sky,
And spangled heavens, a shining frame,
Their great Original proclaim.
  • Everything that is new or uncommon raises a pleasure in the imagination, because it fills the soul with an agreeable surprise, gratifies its curiosity, and gives it an idea of which it was not before possessed.
    • No. 412 (23 June 1712)
  • Our delight in any particular study, art, or science rises and improves in proportion to the application which we bestow upon it. Thus, what was at first an exercise becomes at length an entertainment.
    • No. 447 (2 August 1712)
  • When all thy mercies, O my God,
    My rising soul surveys,
    Transported with the view, I'm lost
    In wonder, love and praise.
    • No. 453 (9 August 1712)
  • The spacious firmament on high,
    With all the blue ethereal sky,
    And spangled heavens, a shining frame,
    Their great Original proclaim.
    • No. 465, Ode (23 August 1712)
  • Soon as the evening shades prevail,
    The moon takes up the wondrous tale,
    And nightly to the listening earth
    Repeats the story of her birth;
    While all the stars that round her burn,
    And all the planets in their turn,
    Confirm the tidings as they roll,
    And spread the truth from pole to pole.
    • No. 465, Ode (23 August 1712)
  • What though no real voice nor sound
    Amid their radiant orbs be found ;
    In reason's ear they all rejoice,
    And utter forth a glorious voice,
    Forever singing as they shine,
    "The Hand that made us divine."
    • No. 465, Ode (23 August 1712)
  • A woman seldom asks advice before she has bought her wedding clothes.
    • No. 475 (4 September 1712)
  • Method is not less requisite in ordinary conversation than in writing, provided a man would talk to make himself understood.
    • No. 476 (5 September 1712)
  • Our disputants put me in mind of the skuttle fish, that when he is unable to extricate himself, blackens all the water about him, till he becomes invisible.
    • No. 476 (5 September 1712)
  • Irregularity and want of method are only supportable in men of great learning or genius, who are often too full to be exact, and therefore choose to throw down their pearls in heaps before the reader, rather than be at the pains of stringing them.
    • No. 476 (5 September 1712)
Man is distinguished from all other creatures by the faculty of laughter.
  • I value my garden more for being full of blackbirds than cherries, and very frankly give them fruit for their songs.
    • No. 477 (6 September 1712)
  • The fraternity of the henpecked.
    • No. 482 (12 September 1712)
  • Man is distinguished from all other creatures by the faculty of laughter.
    • No. 494 (26 September 1712)
  • There is nothing which we receive with so much reluctance as advice.
    • No. 512 (17 October 1712)
  • If we hope for what we are not likely to possess, we act and think in vain, and make life a greater dream and shadow than it really is.
    • No. 535 (13 November 1712)
  • An ostentatious man will rather relate a blunder or an absurdity he has committed, than be debarred from talking of his own dear person.
    • No. 562 (2 July 1714)
  • A man should always consider how much he has more than he wants.
    • No. 574 (30 July 1714)
  • Upon the whole, a contented mind is the greatest blessing a man can enjoy in this world.
    • No. 574 (30 July 1714)
  • We are always doing something for Posterity, but I would fain see Posterity do something for us.
    • No. 587 (20 August 1714)

The Tatler (1711 - 1714)

  • Men may change their climate, but they cannot change their nature. A man that goes out a fool cannot ride or sail himself into common sense.
    • No. 93
  • Silence never shows itself to so great an advantage, as when it is made the reply to calumny and defamation, provided that we give no just occasion for them.
    • No. 133
  • A misery is not to be measured from the nature of the evil, but from the temper of the sufferer.
    • No. 146
  • Reading is to the mind, what exercise is to the body. As by the one, health is preserved, strengthened, and invigorated: by the other, virtue (which is the health of the mind) is kept alive, cherished, and confirmed.
    • No. 147
  • A cheerful temper joined with innocence will make beauty attractive, knowledge delightful and wit good-natured.
    • No. 192
  • 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.
    • No. 224
Discretion has large and extended views, and, like a well-formed eye, commands a whole horizon: cunning is a kind of short-sightedness, that discovers the minutest objects which are near at hand, but is not able to discern things at a distance.
  • The great art in writing advertisements is the finding out a proper method to catch the reader's eye; without which a good thing may pass over unobserved, or be lost among commissions of bankrupt.
    • No. 224
There are many more shining qualities in the mind of man, but there is none so useful as discretion...
  • I Have often thought if the minds of men were laid open, we should see but little difference between that of the wise man and that of the fool. There are infinite reveries, numberless extravagances, and a perpetual train of vanities which pass through both. The great difference is, that the first knows how to pick and cull his thoughts for conversation, by suppressing some, and communicating others; whereas the other lets them all indifferently fly out in words.
    • No. 225
  • There are many more shining qualities in the mind of man, but there is none so useful as discretion; it is this, indeed, which gives a value to all the rest, which sets them at work in their proper times and places, and turns them to the advantage of the person who is possessed of them. Without it, learning is pedantry, and wit impertinence ; virtue itself looks like weakness; the best parts only qualify a man to be more sprightly in errors, and active to his own prejudice.
    • No. 225
  • The discreet man finds out the talents of those he converses with, and knows how to apply them to proper uses. Accordingly, if we look into particular communities and divisions of men, we may observe that it is the discreet man, not the witty, nor the learned, nor the brave, who guides the conversation, and gives measures to the society.
    • No. 225
  • Though a man has all other perfections, and wants discretion, he will be of no great consequence in the world; but if he has this single talent in perfection, and but a common share of others, he may do what he pleases in his station of life.
    • No. 225
The cast of mind which is natural to a discreet man, make him look forward into futurity, and consider what will be his condition millions of ages hence, as well as what it is at present.
  • At the same time that I think discretion the most useful talent a man can be master of, I look upon cunning to be the accomplishment of little, mean, ungenerous minds. Discretion points out the noblest ends to us, and pursues the most proper and laudable methods of attaining them: cunning has only private selfish aims, and sticks at nothing which may make them succeed. Discretion has large and extended views, and, like a well-formed eye, commands a whole horizon: cunning is a kind of short-sightedness, that discovers the minutest objects which are near at hand, but is not able to discern things at a distance. Discretion the more it is discovered, gives a greater authority to the person who possesses it: cunning, when it is once detected, loses its force, and makes a man incapable of bringing about even those events which he might have done had he passed only for a plain man. Discretion is the perfection of reason, and a guide to us in all the duties of life: cunning is a kind of instinct, that only looks out after our immediate interest and welfare. Discretion is only found in men of strong sense and good understandings, cunning is often to be met with in brutes themselves, and in persons who are but the fewest removes from them.
    • No. 225
  • Cunning is only the mimic of discretion, and may pass upon weak men in the same manner as vivacity is often mistaken for wit, and gravity for wisdom.
    • No. 225
  • The cast of mind which is natural to a discreet man, make him look forward into futurity, and consider what will be his condition millions of ages hence, as well as what it is at present. He knows that the misery or happiness which are reserved for him in another world, lose nothing of their reality by being placed at so great a distance from him. The objects do not appear little to him because they are remote. He considers that those pleasures and pains which lie hid in eternity, approach nearer to him every moment, and will be present with him in their full weight and measure, as much as those pains and pleasures which he feels at this very instant. For this reason he is careful to secure to himself that which is the proper happiness of his nature, and the ultimate design of his being. He carries his thoughts to the end of every action, and considers the most distant as well as the most immediate effects of it. He supersedes every little prospect of gain and advantage which offers itself here, if he does not find it consistent with his views of an hereafter. In a word, his hopes are full of immortality, his schemes are large and glorious, and his conduct suitable to one who knows his true interest, and how to pursue it by proper methods.
    • No. 225

The Drummer (1716)

We are growing serious, and,
Let me tell you, that's the very next step to being dull.
  • Round-heads and Wooden-shoes are standing jokes.
    • prologue, l. 8
  • We are growing serious, and,
    Let me tell you, that's the very next step to being dull.
    • Act IV, sc. vi
  • Antidotes are what you take to prevent dotes.
    • Act IV, sc. vi
  • There is nothing more requisite in business than dispatch.
    • Act V, sc. 1

Disputed

  • If you wish success in life, make perseverance your bosom friend, experience your wise counselor, caution your elder brother and hope your guardian genius.
    • The earliest appearance of this proverb yet located is in Eliza Cook's Journal Vol. 11, (1854), p. 128, and the earliest attribution to Addison yet found is in Public Ledger Almanac (1887), p. 20
  • What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity. These are but trifles, to be sure; but scattered along life's pathway, the good they do is inconceivable.
    • This appears as an anonymous proverb in Frank Leslie's Sunday Magazine Vol. XIII, (January - June 1883) edited by T. De Witt Talmage, and apparently only in recent years has it become attributed to Addison.
  • If men would consider not so much where they differ, as wherein they agree, there would be far less of uncharitableness and angry feeling in the world.
    • Attributed to "Addison" in A Dictionary of Thoughts : Being a Cyclopedia of Laconic Quotations from the Best Authors of the World, both Ancient and Modern (1908) edited by Tryon Edwards, p. 117, but this might be the later "Mr. Addison" who was credited with publishing Interesting Anecdotes, Memoirs, Allegories, Essays, and Poetical Fragments (1794)
  • Tradition is an important help to history, but its statements should be carefully scrutinized before we rely on them.
    • Attributed to "Addison" in A Dictionary of Thoughts : Being a Cyclopedia of Laconic Quotations from the Best Authors of the World, both Ancient and Modern (1908) edited by Tryon Edwards, p. 580, but this might be the later "Mr. Addison" who was credited with publishing Interesting Anecdotes, Memoirs, Allegories, Essays, and Poetical Fragments (1794)
  • The greatest sweetener of human life is Friendship. To raise this to the highest pitch of enjoyment, is a secret which but few discover.
    • As quoted in Hugs for Girlfriends : Stories, Sayings, and Scriptures to Encourage and Inspire (2001) by Philis Boultinghouse and LeAnn Weiss, p. 7; there seem to be no published sources available for this statement prior to 2001.

Misattributed

Alphabetized by author
  • A little nonsense now and then
    Is relished by the wisest men.
    • This appears to be an anonymous proverb of unknown authorship, only occasionally attributed to Addison.
  • With regard to donations always expect the most from prudent people, who keep their own accounts.
    • This is attributed to Addison in The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations (1993) with a citation of "Economy and Benevolence" in Interesting Anecdotes, Memoirs, Allegories, Essays, and Poetical Fragments (1794) but that was a publication of a contemporary "Mr. Addison" in several volumes, and not the poet. Vol. III of that publication (in 1796), on page 205, does contain these lines, but as part of an anonymous ancecdote.
  • Reading is a basic tool in the living of a good life.
    • The earliest attributions of this remark to anyone are in 1941, to Mortimer Adler, in How To Read A Book (1940), although this actually a paraphrased shortening of a statement in his preface: Reading — as explained (and defended) in this book — is a basic tool in the living of a good life.
  • When you are at Rome, live as Romans live.
    • St. Ambrose, Si fueris Romæ, Romano vivito more as translated in Latin Proverbs and Quotations (1869) by Alfred Henderson; very commonly paraphrased as "When in Rome do as the Romans do."
  • 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.
    • Sir Alfred Jules Ayer, in his "The Meaning of Life", collected in The Meaning of Life, and Other Essays (1990)
  • There is not any present moment that is unconnected with some future one. The life of every man is a continued chain of incidents, each link of which hangs upon the former. The transition from cause to effect, from event to event, is often carried on by secret steps, which our foresight cannot divine, and our sagacity is unable to trace. Evil may at some future period bring forth good; and good may bring forth evil, both equally unexpected.
    • Very often attributed to Addison, this is in fact by Hugh Blair, published in Blair's Sermons (1815), Vol. 1, pp. 196-197.
  • To a man of pleasure every moment appears to be lost, which partakes not of the vivacity of amusement.
    • Very often attributed to Addison, this is apparently a paraphrase of a statement by Hugh Blair, published in Blair's Sermons (1815), Vol. 1, p. 219, where he mentions "men of pleasure and the men of business", and that "To the former every moment appears to be lost, which partakes not of the vivacity of amusement."
  • The grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love and something to hope for.
    • Widely quoted as an Addison maxim this is actually by the American clergyman George Washington Burnap (1802-1859), published in Burnap's The Sphere and Duties of Woman : A Course of Lectures (1848), Lecture IV.
  • Justice is an unassailable fortress, built on the brow of a mountain which cannot be overthrown by the violence of torrents, nor demolished by the force of armies.
    • Moncure Daniel Conway, in The Sacred Anthology (Oriental) : A Book of Ethnical Scriptures 5th edition (1877), p. 386; this statement appears beneath an Arabian proverb, and Upton Sinclair later attributed it to the Qur'an, in The Cry for Justice : An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest (1915), p. 475
  • He that would pass the latter part of life with honour and decency, must, when he is young, consider that he shall one day be old; and remember, when he is old, that he has once been young.
    • Samuel Johnson in The Rambler, no. 50 (8 September 1750); many of Johnson's remarks have been attributed to Addison
  • No oppression is so heavy or lasting as that which is inflicted by the perversion and exorbitance of legal authority.
  • That he delights in the misery of others no man will confess, and yet what other motive can make a father cruel?
  • The unjustifiable severity of a parent is loaded with this aggravation, that those whom he injures are always in his sight.
  • Education...is a companion which no misfortunes can depress, no clime destroy, no enemy alienate, no despotism enslave: at home a friend, abroad an introduction, in solitude a solace, in society an ornament: it chastens vice, it guides virtue, it gives at once a grace and government to genius. Without it, what is man? A splendid slave, a reasoning savage.
    • Though sometimes attributed to Addison, this actually comes from a speech delivered by the Irish lawyer Charles Phillips in 1817, in the case of O'Mullan v. M'Korkill, published in Irish Eloquence: The Speeches of the Celebrated Irish Orators (1834) pp. 91-92.
  • They were a people so primitive they did not know how to get money, except by working for it.
    • Attributed to Addison in (K)new Words: Redefine Your Communication (2005), by Gloria Pierre, p. 120, there are no indications of such a statement in Addison's writings.
  • Plenty of people wish to become devout, but no one wishes to be humble.
    • A translation of one of La Rochefoucauld's maxims, published posthumously in 1693. In the original: "Force gens veulent être dévots, mais personne ne veut être humble."
  • The beloved of the Almighty are: the rich who have the humility of the poor, and the poor who have the magnanimity of the rich.
    • Saadi as translated in The Gulistān : Or, Rose-garden, of Shek̲h̲ Muslihu'd-dīn Sādī of Shīrāz as translated by Edward Backhouse Eastwick (1880), p. 203
  • Jesters do often prove prophets.
  • The utmost extent of man's knowledge, is to know that he knows nothing.
    • These words, sometimes attributed to Addison, are not found in his works, but in The Spectator, no. 54, he translates the following words of Socrates, as quoted in Plato's Apology: "When I left him, I reasoned thus with myself: I am wiser than this man, for neither of us appears to know anything great and good; but he fancies he knows something, although he knows nothing; whereas I, as I do not know anything, so I do not fancy I do. In this trifling particular, then, I appear to be wiser than he, because I do not fancy I know what I do not know."
  • The chief ingredients in the composition of those qualities that gain esteem and praise, are good nature, truth, good sense, and good breeding.
    • William Temple, in "Heads Designed for an Essay on Conversation" in The Works of Sir William Temple, Bart. in Four Volumes (1757), Vol. III, p. 547
  • The union of the Word and the Mind produces that mystery which is called Life... Learn deeply of the Mind and its mystery, for therein lies the secret of immortality.

Quotes about Addison

  • In our way to the Club to-night, when I regretted that Goldsmith would, upon every occasion, endeavour to shine, by which he often exposed himself; Mr. Langton observed, that he was not like Addison, who was content with the fame of his writings, and did not aim also at excellency in conversation, for which he found himself unfit; and that he said to a lady, who complained of his having talked little in company, "Madam, I have but nine-pence in ready money, but I can draw for a thousand pounds".
    • James Boswell, in The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791), mentioning a contrast made of Addison's character and that of Oliver Goldsmith, in his accounts of 7 May 1773.
  • Whoever wishes to attain an English style, familiar, but not coarse, and elegant, but not ostentatious, must give his days and nights to the volumes of Addison.
    • Samuel Johnson, Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets (1779-81), "Addison"
  • As a man, he may not have deserved the adoration which he received from those who, bewitched by his fascinating society, and indebted for all the comforts of life to his generous and delicate friendship, worshipped him nightly, in his favourite temple at Button’s. But, after full inquiry and impartial reflection, we have long been convinced that he deserved as much love and esteem as can be justly claimed by any of our infirm and erring race. Some blemishes may undoubtedly be detected in his character; but the more carefully it is examined, the more it will appear, to use the phrase of the old anatomists, sound in the noble parts, free from all taint of perfidy, of cowardice, of cruelty, of ingratitude, of envy. Men may easily be named, in whom some particular good disposition has been more conspicuous than in Addison. But the just harmony of qualities, the exact temper between the stern and the humane virtues, the habitual observance of every law, not only of moral rectitude, but of moral grace and dignity, distinguish him from all men who have been tried by equally strong temptations, and about whose conduct we possess equally full information.
  • Just men, by whom impartial laws were given;
    And saints who taught and led the way to heaven.
    Ne'er to these chambers, where the mighty rest,
    Since their foundation came a nobler guest; Nor e’er was to the bowers of bliss conveyed
    A fairer spirit or more welcome shade.
  • If in the stage I seek to soothe my care,
    I meet his soul which breathes in Cato there
    ;
    If pensive to the rural shades I rove,
    His shape o'ertakes me in the lonely grove;
    'Twas there of just and good he reasoned strong,
    Cleared some great truth, or raised some serious song:
    There patient showed us the wise course to steer,
    A candid censor, and a friend severe;
    There taught us how to live; and (oh, too high
    The price for knowledge!) taught us how to die.
  • He dismissed his physicians, and with them all hopes of life. But with his hopes of life he dismissed not his concern for the living, but sent for a youth nearly related and finely accomplished, but not above being the better for good impressions from a dying friend. He came; but, life now glimmering in the socket, the dying friend was silent. After a decent and proper pause, the youth said, "Dear sir, you sent for me: I believe and I hope that you have some commands; I shall hold them most sacred." May distant ages not only hear, but feel, the reply! Forcibly grasping the youth's hand, he softly said, "See in what peace a Christian can die!" He spoke with difficulty and soon expired. Through grace Divine, how great is man!

External links

Wikipedia
Wikipedia has an article about:
Wikisource has original works written by or about:

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

JOSEPH ADDISON (1672-1719), English essayist, poet and man of letters, eldest son of Lancelot Addison, later dean of Lichfield, was born at his father's rectory of Milston in Wiltshire, on the 1st of May 1672. After having passed through several schools, the last of which was the Charterhouse, he went to Oxford when he was about fifteen years old. He was first entered a commoner of Queen's College, but after two years was elected to a demyship of Magdalen College, having been recommended by his skill in Latin versification. He took his master's degree in 1693, and subsequently obtained a fellowship which he held until 1711. His first literary efforts were poetical, and, after the fashion of his day, in Latin. Many of these are preserved in the Musae Anglicanae (1691-1699), and obtained academic commendation from academic sources. But it was a poem in the third volume of Dryden's Miscellanies, followed in the next series by a translation of the fourth Georgic, which brought about his introduction to Tonson the bookseller, and (probably through Tonson) to Lord Somers and Charles Montagu. To both of these distinguished persons he contrived to commend himself by An Account of the Greatest English Poets (1694), An Address to King William (1695), after Namur, and a Latin poem entitled Pax Gulielmi (1697), on the peace of Ryswick, with the result that in 1699 he obtained a pension of £300 a year, to enable him (as he afterwards said in a memorial addressed to the crown) "to travel and qualify himself to serve his Majesty." In the summer of 1699 he crossed into France, where, chiefly for the purpose of learning the language, he remained till the end of 170o; and after this he spent a year in Italy. In Switzerland, on his way home, he was stopped by receiving notice that he was to attend the army under Prince Eugene, then engaged in the war in Italy, as secretary from the king. But his Whig friends were already tottering in their places; and in March 1702 the death of King William at once drove them from power and put an end to the pension. Indeed Addison asserted that he never received but one year's payment of it, and that all the other expenses of his travels were defrayed by himself. He was able, however, to visit a great part of Germany, and did not reach Holland till the spring of 1703. His prospects were now sufficiently gloomy: he entered into treaty, oftener than once, for an engagement as a travelling tutor; and the correspondence in one of these negotiations has been preserved. Tonson had recommended him as the best person to attend in this character Lord Hertford, the son of the duke of Somerset, commonly called "The Proud." The duke, a profuse man in matters of pomp, was economical in questions of education. He wished Addison to name the salary he expected; this being declined, he announced, with great dignity, that in addition to travelling expenses he would give a hundred guineas a year; Addison accepted the munificent offer, saying, however, that he could not find his account in it otherwise than by relying on his Grace's future patronage; and his Grace immediately intimated that he would look out for some one else. In the autumn of 1703 Addison returned to England.

The works which belong to his residence on the continent were the earliest that showed him to have attained maturity of skill and genius. There is good reason for believing that his tragedy of Cato, whatever changes it may afterwards have suffered, was in great part written while he lived in France, that is, when he was about twenty-eight years of age. In the winter of 1701, amidst the stoppages and discomforts of a journey across Mt. Cenis, he composed, wholly or partly, his rhymed Letter from Italy to Charles Montagu. This contains some fine touches of description, and is animated by a noble tone of classical enthusiasm. While in Germany he wrote his Dialogues on Medals, which, however, were not published till after his death. These have much liveliness of style and something of the gay humour which the author was afterwards to exhibit more strongly; but they show little either of antiquarian learning or of critical ingenuity. In tracing out parallels between passages of the Roman poets and figures or scenes which appear in ancient sculptures, Addison opened the easy course of inquiry which was afterwards prosecuted by Spence; and this, with the apparatus of spirited metrical translations from the classics, gave the work a likeness to his account of his travels. This account, entitled Remarks on Several Parts of Italy, &c. (1705), he sent home for publication before his own return. It wants altogether the interest of personal narrative: the author hardly ever appears. The task in which he chiefly busies himself is that of exhibiting the illustrations which the writings of the Latin poets, and the antiquities and scenery of Italy, mutually give and receive. Christian antiquities and the monuments of later Italian history had no interest for him.

With the year 1704 begins a second era in Addison's life, which extends to the summer of 1710, when his age was thirtyeight. This was the first term of his official career; and though very barren of literary performance, it not only raised him from indigence, but settled definitely his position as a public man. His correspondence shows that, while on the continent, he had been admitted to confidential intimacy by diplomatists and men of rank; immediately on his return he was enrolled in the Kit-Cat Club, and brought thus and otherwise into communication with the gentry of the Whig party. Although all accounts agree in representing him as a shy man, he was at least saved from all risk of making himself disagreeable in society, by his unassuming manners, his extreme caution and that sedulous desire to oblige, which his satirist Pope exaggerated into a positive fault. His knowledge and ability were esteemed so highly as to confirm the expectations formerly entertained of his usefulness in public business; and the literary fame he had already acquired soon furnished an occasion for recommending him to public employment. Though the Whigs were out of office, the administration which succeeded them was, in all its earlier changes, of a complexion so mixed and uncertain that the influence of their leaders was not entirely lost. Not long after Marlborough's great victory at Blenheim, it is said that Godolphin, the lord treasurer, expressed to Lord Halifax a desire to have the great duke's fame extended by a poetical tribute. Halifax seized the opportunity of recommending Addison as the fittest man for the duty; stipulating, we are told, that the service should not be unrewarded, and doubtless satisfying the minister that his protege possessed other qualifications for office besides dexterity in framing heroic verse. The Campaign (December 1704), the poem thus written to order, was received with extraordinary applause; and it is probably as good as any that ever was prompted by no more worthy inspiration. It has, indeed, neither the fiery spirit which Dryden threw into occasional pieces of the sort, nor the exquisite polish that would have been given by Pope, if he had stooped to make such uses of his genius; but many of the details are pleasing; and in the famous passage of the Angel, as well as in several others, there is even something of force and imagination.

The consideration covenanted for by the poet's friends was faithfully paid. A vacancy occurred by the death of another celebrated man, John Locke; and Addison was appointed one of the five commissioners of appeal in Excise. The duties of the place must have been as light for him as they had been for his predecessor, for he continued to hold it with all the appointments he subsequently received from the same ministry. But there is no reason for believing that he was more careless than other public servants in his time; and the charge of incompetency as a man of business, which has been brought so positively against him, cannot easily be true as to this first period of his official career. Indeed, the specific allegations refer exclusively to the last years of his life; and, if he had not really shown practical ability in the period now in question, it is not easy to see how he, a man destitute alike of wealth, of social or fashionable liveliness and of family interest, could have been promoted, for several years, from office to office, as he was, till the fall of the administration to which he was attached. In 1706 he became one of the under-secretaries of state, serving first under Sir Charles Hedges, who belonged to the Tory section of the government, and afterwards under Lord Sunderland, Marlborough's son-in-law, and a zealous follower of Addison's early patron, Somers. The work of this office, however, like that of the commissionership, must often have admitted of performance by deputy; for in 1707, the Whigs having become stronger, Lord Halifax was sent on a mission to the elector of Hanover; and, besides taking Vanbrugh the dramatist with him as kingat-arms, he selected Addison as his secretary. In 1708 Addison entered parliament, sitting at first for Lostwithiel, but afterwards for Malmesbury, which he represented from 1710 till his death. Here unquestionably he did fail. What part he may have taken in the details of business we are not informed; but he was always a silent member, unless it be true that he once attempted to speak and sat down in confusion. In 1708 Lord Wharton, the father of the notorious duke, having been named lord-lieutenant of Ireland, Addison became his secretary, receiving also an appointment as keeper of records. This event happened only about a year and a half before the dismissal of the ministry.

But there are letters showing that Addison made himself acceptable to some of the best and most distinguished persons in Dublin; and he escaped without having any quarrel with Swift, his acquaintance with whom had begun some time before.

In his literary history those years of official service are almost a blank, till we approach their close. Besides furnishing a prologue to Steele's comedy of The Tender Husband (1705), he admittedly gave him some assistance in its composition; he defended the government in an anonymous pamphlet on The Present State of the War (1707); he united compliments to the all-powerful Marlborough with indifferent attempts at lyrical poetry in his opera of Rosamond; and during the last few months of his tenure of office he contributed largely to the Taller. His entrance on this new field nearly coincides with the beginning of a new period in his life. Even the coalition-ministry of Godolphin was too Whiggish for the taste of Queen Anne; and the Tories, the favourites of the court, gained, both in parliamentary power and in popularity out of doors, by a combination of lucky accidents, dexterous management and divisions and double-dealing among their adversaries. The real failure of the prosecution of Addison's old friend Sacheverell completed the ruin of the Whigs; and in August 1710 an entire revolution in the ministry had been completed. The Tory administration which succeeded kept its place till the queen's death in 1714, and Addison was thus left to devote four of the best years of his life, from his thirty-ninth year to his forty-third, to occupations less lucrative than those in which his time had recently been frittered away, but much more conducive to the extension of his own fame and to the benefit of English literature. Although our information as to his pecuniary affairs is very scanty, we are entitled to believe that he was now independent of literary labour. He speaks, in an extant paper, of having had (but lost) property in the West Indies; and he is understood to have inherited something from a younger brother, who had been governor of Madras. In 1711 he purchased, for (10,000, the estate of Bilton, near Rugby - the place which afterwards became the residence of Mr Apperley, better known by his assumed name of "Nimrod." During those four years he produced a few political writings.

Soon after the fall of the ministry, he started the Whig Examiner in opposition to the Tory Examiner, then conducted by Prior, and afterwards the vehicle of Swift's most vehement invectives against the party he had once belonged to. These are certainly the most ill-natured of Addison's writings, but they are neither lively nor vigorous, and the paper died after five numbers (14th September to 12th October 1710). There is more spirit in his allegorical pamphlet, The Trial and Conviction of Count Tariff. But from the autumn of 1710 till the end of 1714 his principal employment was the composition of his celebrated periodical essays. The honour of inventing the plan of such compositions, as well as that of first carrying the idea into execution, belongs to Richard Steele, who had been a schoolfellow of Addison at the Charterhouse, continued to be on intimate terms with him afterwards and attached himself with his characteristic ardour to the same political party. When, in April 1709, Steele published the first number of the Taller, Addison was in Dublin, and knew nothing of the design. He is said to have detected his friend's authorship only by recognizing, in the sixth number, a critical remark which he remembered having himself communicated to Steele. Shortly afterwards he began to furnish hints and suggestions, assisted occasionally and finally wrote regularly. According to Mr Aitken (Life of Steele, i. 248), he contributed 4 2 out of the total of 271 numbers, and was part-author of 36 more. The Taller exhibited, in more ways than one, symptoms of being an experiment. For some time the projector, imitating the newssheets in form, thought it prudent to give, in each number, news in addition to the essay; and there was a want, both of unity and of correct finishing, in the putting together of the literary materials. Addison's contributions, in particular, are in many places as lively as anything he ever wrote; and his style, in its more familiar moods at least, had been fully formed before he returned from the continent. But, as compared with his later pieces, these are only what the painter's loose studies and sketches are to the landscapes which he afterwards constructs out of them. In his invention of incidents and characters, one thought of ter another is hastily used and hastily dismissed, as if he were putting his own powers to the test or trying the effect of various kinds of objects on his readers; his most ambitious flights, in the shape of allegories and the like, are stiff and inanimate; and his favourite field of literary criticism is touched so slightly, as to show that he still wanted confidence in the taste and knowledge of the public.

The Taller was dropped in January 1711, but only to be followed by the Spectator, which was begun on the 1st day of March, and appeared every week-day till the 6th day of December 1712. It had then completed the 555 numbers usually collected in its first seven volumes, and of these Addison wrote 27 4 to Steele's 236. He co-operated with Steele constantly from the very opening of the series; and they devoted their whole space to the essays. They relied, with a confidence which the extraordinary popularity of the work fully justified, on their power of exciting the interest of a wide audience by pictures and reflexions drawn from a field which embraced the whole compass of ordinary life and ordinary knowledge, no kind of practical themes being positively excluded except such as were political, and all literary topics being held admissible, for which it seemed possible to command attention from persons of average taste and information. A seeming unity was given to the undertaking, and curiosity and interest awakened on behalf of the conductors, by the happy invention of the Spectator's Club, for which Steele made the first sketch. The figure of Sir Roger de Coverley, however, the best even in the opening group, is the only one that was afterwards elaborately depicted; and Addison was the author of most of the papers in which his oddities and amiabilities are so admirably delineated. Six essays are by Steele, who gives Sir Roger's love-story, and one paper by Budgell describes a hunting party.

To Addison the Spectator owed the most natural and elegant, if not the most original, of its humorous sketches of human character and social eccentricities, its good-humoured satires on ridiculous features in manners and on corrupt symptoms in public taste; these topics, however, making up a department in which Steele was fairly on a level with his more famous coadjutor. But Steele had neither learning, nor taste, nor critical acuteness sufficient to qualify him for enriching the series with such literary disquisitions as those which Addison insinuated so often into the lighter matter of his essays, and of which he gave an elaborate specimen in his criticism on Paradise Lost. Still farther beyond the powers of Steele were those speculations on the theory of literature and of the processes of thought analogous to it, which, in the essays "On the Pleasures of the Imagination," Addison prosecuted, not, indeed, with much of philosophical depth, but with a sagacity and comprehensiveness which we shall undervalue much unless we remember how little of philosophy was to be found in any critical views previously propounded in England. To Addison, further, belong those essays which (most frequently introduced in regular alternation in the papers of Saturday) rise into the region of moral and religious meditation, and tread the elevated ground with a step so graceful as to allure the reader irresistibly to follow; sometimes, as in the "Walk through Westminster Abbey," enlivening solemn thought by gentle sportiveness; sometimes flowing on with an uninterrupted sedateness of didactic eloquence, and sometimes shrouding sacred truths in the veil of ingenious allegory, as in the "Vision of Mirza." While, in short, the Spectator, if Addison had not taken part in it, would probably have been as lively and humorous as it was, and not less popular in its own day, it would have wanted some of its strongest claims on the respect of posterity, by being at once lower in its moral tone, far less abundant in literary knowledge and much less vigorous and expanded in thinking. In point of style, again, the two friends resemble each other so closely as to be hardly distinguishable, when both are dealing with familiar objects, and writing in a key not rising above that of conversation. But in the higher tones of thought and composition Addison showed a mastery of language raising him very decisively, not above Steele only, but above all his contemporaries. Indeed, it may safely be said, that no one, in any age of English literature, has united, so strikingly as he did, the colloquial grace and ease which mark the style of an accomplished gentleman, with the power of soaring into a strain of expression nobly and eloquently dignified.

On the cessation of the Spectator, Steele set on foot the Guardian, which, started in March 1713, came to an end in October, with its 175th number. To this series Addison gave 53 papers, being a very frequent writer during the latter half of its progress. None of his essays here aim so high as the best of those in the Spectator; but he often exhibits both his cheerful and wellbalanced humour and his earnest desire to inculcate sound principles of literary judgment. In the last six months of the year 1714, the Spectator received its eighth and last volume; for which Steele appears not to have written at all, and Addison to have contributed 24 of the 80 papers. Most of these form, in the unbroken seriousness both of their topics and of their manner, a contrast to the majority of his essays in the earlier volumes; but several of them, both in this vein and in one less lofty, are among the best known, if not the finest, of all his essays. Such are the "Mountain of Miseries"; the antediluvian novel of "Shalum and Hilpa"; the "Reflections by Moonlight on the Divine Perfections." In April 1713 Addison brought on the stage, very reluctantly, as we are assured, and can easily believe, his tragedy of Cato. Its success was dazzling; but this issue was mainly owing to the concern which the politicians took in the exhibition. The Whigs hailed it as a brilliant manifesto in favour of constitutional freedom. The Tories echoed the applause, to show themselves enemies of despotism, and professed to find in Julius Caesar a parallel to the formidable Marlborough. Even with such extrinsic aids, and the advantage derived from the established fame of the author, Cato could never have been esteemed a good dramatic work, unless in an age in which dramatic power and insight were almost extinct. It is poor even in its poetical elements, and is redeemed only by the finely solemn tone of its moral reflexions and the singular refinement and equable smoothness of its diction. That it obtained the applause of Voltaire must be ascribed to the fact that it was written in accordance with the rules of French classical drama.

The literary career of Addison might almost be held as closed soon after the death of Queen Anne, which occurred in August 1714, when he had lately completed his 42nd year. His own life extended only five years longer; and in this closing portion of it we are reminded of his more vigorous days by nothing but a few happy inventions interspersed in political pamphlets, and the gay fancy of a trifling poem on Kneller's portrait of George I.

The lord justices who, previously chosen secretly by the elector of Hanover, assumed the government on the queen's demise, were, as a matter of course, the leading Whigs. They appointed Addison to act as their secretary. He next held, for a very short time, his former office under the Irish lord-lieutenant; and, late in 1716, he was made one of the lords of trade. In the course of the previous year had occurred the first of the only two quarrels with friends, into which the prudent, goodtempered and modest Addison is said to have ever been betrayed. His adversary on this occasion was Pope, who, a few years before, had received, with an appearance of humble thankfulness, Addison's friendly remarks on his Essay on Criticism (Spectator, No. 253); but who, though still very young, was already very famous, and beginning to show incessantly his literary jealousies and his personal and party hatreds. Several little misunderstandings had paved the way for a breach, when, at the same time with the first volume of Pope's Iliad, there appeared a translation of the first book of the poem bearing the name of Thomas Tickell. Tickell, in his preface, disclaimed all rivalry with Pope, and declared that he wished only to bespeak favourable attention for his contemplated version of the Odyssey. But the simultaneous publication was awkward; and Tickell, though not so good a versifier as Pope, was a dangerous rival, as being a good Greek scholar. Further, he was Addison's under-secretary and confidential friend; and Addison, cautious though he was, does appear to have said (quite truly) that Tickell's translation was more faithful than the other. Pope's anger could not be restrained. He wrote those famous lines in which he describes Addison under the name of Atticus; and although it seems doubtful whether he really sent a copy to Addison himself, he afterwards went so far as to profess a belief that the rival translation was really Addison's own. Addison, it is pleasant to observe, was at the pains, in his Freeholder, to express hearty approbation of the Iliad of Pope, who, on the contrary, after Addison's death, deliberately printed his matchlessly malignant verses in the "Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot." In 1716 there was acted, with little success, Addison's comedy of The Drummer, or the Haunted House. It contributes very little to his fame. From September 1715 to June 1716 he defended the Hanoverian succession, and the proceedings of the government in regard to the rebellion, in a paper called the Freeholder, which he wrote entirely himself, dropping it with the 55th number. It is much better tempered, not less spirited and much more able in thinking than his Examiner. The finical man of taste does indeed show himself to be sometimes weary of discussing constitutional questions; but he aims many enlivening thrusts at weak points of social life and manners; and the character of the Fox-hunting Squire, who is introduced as the representative of the Jacobites, is drawn with so much humour and force that we regret not being allowed to see more of him.

In August 1716, when he had completed his 44th year, Addison married Charlotte, countess-dowager of Warwick, a widow of fifteen years' standing. She seems to have forfeited her jointure by the marriage, and to have brought her husband nothing but the occupancy of Holland House at Kensington. The assertion that the courtship was a long one is probably as erroneous as the contemporary rumour that the marriage was unhappy. Such positive evidence as exists tends rather to the contrary. What seems clear is, that, from obscure causes, - among which it is alleged a growing habit of intemperance was one, - Addison's health was shattered before he took the last, and certainly the most unwise, step in his ascent to political power.

For a considerable time dissensions had existed in the ministry; and these came to a crisis in April 1717, when those who had been the real chiefs passed into the ranks of the opposition. Townshend was dismissed, and Walpole anticipated dismissal by resignation. There was now formed, under the leadership of General Stanhope and Lord Sunderland, an administration which, as resting on court-influence, was nicknamed the "German ministry." Sunderland, Addison's former superior, became one of the two principal secretaries of state; and Addison himself was appointed as the other. His elevation to such a post had been contemplated on the accession of George I., and prevented, we are told, by his own refusal; and it is asserted, on the authority of Pope, that his acceptance now was owing only to the influence of his wife. Even if there is no ground, as there probably is not, for the allegation of Addison's inefficiency in the details of business, his unfitness for such an office in such circumstances was undeniable and glaring. It was impossible that a government, whose secretary of state could not open his lips in debate, should long face an opposition headed by Robert Walpole. The decay of Addison's health, too, was going on rapidly, being, we may readily conjecture, precipitated by anxiety, if no worse causes were at work. Ill-health was the reason assigned for retirement, in the letter of resignation which he laid before the king in March 1718, eleven months after his appointment. He received a pension of 150o a year.

Not long afterwards the divisions in the Whig party alienated him from his oldest friend. The Peerage Bill, introduced in February 1719, was attacked, on behalf of the opposition, in a weekly paper called the Plebeian, written by Steele. Addison answered the attack in the Old Whig, and this bellum plusquam civile - as Johnson calls it - was continued, with increased acrimony, through two or three numbers. How Addison, who was dying, felt after this painful controversy we are not told directly; but the Old Whig was excluded from that posthumous collection of his works (1721-1726) for which his executor Tickell had received from him authority and directions. It is said that the quarrel in politics rested on an estrangement which had been growing for some years. According to a rather nebulous story, for which Johnson is the popular authority, Addison, or Addison's lawyer, put an execution for loo in Steele's house by way of reading his friend a lesson on his extravagance. This well-meant interference seems to have been pardoned by Steele, but his letters show that he resented the favour shown to Tickell by Addison and his own neglect by the Whigs.

The disease under which Addison laboured appears to have been asthma. It became more violent after his retirement from office, and was now accompanied by dropsy. His deathbed was placid and resigned, and comforted by those religious hopes which he had so often suggested to others, and the value of which he is said, in an anecdote of doubtful authority, to have now inculcated in a parting interview with his step-son. He died at Holland House on the 17th of June 1719, six weeks after having completed his 47th year. His body, after lying in state, was interred in the Poets' Corner of Westminster Abbey.

Addison's life was written in 1843 by Lucy Aikin. This was reviewed by Macaulay in July of the same year. A more modern study is that in the "Men of Letters" series by W. J. Courthope (1884). There is a convenient one-volume edition of the Spectator, by Henry Morley (Routledge, 1868), and another in 8 vols. (1897-1898) by G. Gregory Smith. Of the Tatler there is an edition by G. A. Aitken in 8 vols. (1898). A complete edition of Addison's works (based upon Hurd) is included in Bohn's British Classics. (W. S.; A. D.)


<< Adder

Addison's Disease >>


Simple English

Joseph Addison (May 1, 1672June 17, 1719) was a famous author and essayist who is known as "The Noblest Purifier of English Literature".

Death

Addison is buried in Westminster Abbey in the north aisle of the Henry VII Chapel.



Advertisements






Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address
Message