Quotations by Addison, Joseph


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

Joseph Addison (1672-1719) English essayist, poet, statesman
“A Song for St. Cecilia’s Day,” l. 27 (1694)
Added on 10-Oct-11 | Last updated 10-Oct-11
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A little nonsense now and then
Is relished by the wisest men.

Joseph Addison (1672-1719) English essayist, poet, statesman
“Sir Roger on the Bench”
Added on 7-Aug-08 | Last updated 7-Aug-08
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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.

Joseph Addison (1672-1719) English essayist, poet, statesman
“Thoughts in Westminster Abbey” (1711)
Added on 3-Jul-08 | Last updated 3-Jul-08
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If men would consider not so much wherein they differ, as wherein they agree, there would be far less of uncharitableness and angry feeling in the world.

Joseph Addison (1672-1719) English essayist, poet, statesman
(Attributed)

Disputed. First attributed to "Addison" in the early 20th Century (Journal of the American Osteopathic Association (Apr 1906) and Tryon Edwards, A Dictionary of Thoughts (1908), but this may have been another man of the same last name who was credited with publishing Interesting Anecdotes, Memoirs, Allegories, Essays, and Poetical Fragments (1794).
Added on 19-Apr-13 | Last updated 19-Apr-13
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If men would consider not so much wherein they differ, as wherein they agree, there would be far less of uncharitableness and angry feeling in the world.

Joseph Addison (1672-1719) English essayist, poet, statesman
(Attributed)
    (Source)

Attributed to "Addison" in Tryon Edwards, A Dictionary of Thoughts (1908) and in a paper by A. L. Evans, "Unity in Diversity," read before the Massachusetts Osteopathic Society (17 Mar 1906), but the reference may be to a later "Mr. Addison" who published Interesting Anecdotes, Memoirs, Allegories, Essays, and Poetical Fragments (1794).
Added on 16-Sep-13 | Last updated 16-Sep-13
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The soul, secured in her existence, smiles
At the drawn dagger, and defies its point.

Joseph Addison (1672-1719) English essayist, poet, statesman
Cato, A Tragedy, Act V, sc. i (1713)
Added on 13-Jan-09 | Last updated 13-Jan-09
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Content thyself to be obscurely good.
When vice prevails, and impious men bear sway,
The post of honour is a private station.

Joseph Addison (1672-1719) English essayist, poet, statesman
Cato, Act 4, sc. 1, l. 319 (1713)
Added on 23-Aug-16 | Last updated 23-Aug-16
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‘Tis not in mortals to command success,
But we’ll do more, Sempronius; we’ll deserve it.

Joseph Addison (1672-1719) English essayist, poet, statesman
Cato, I.ii.43 (1713)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
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We are growing serious, and,
Let me tell you, that’s the very next step to being dull.

Joseph Addison (1672-1719) English essayist, poet, statesman
The Drummer, Act 4, sc. 6 (1716)
Added on 24-Jul-08 | Last updated 7-Nov-16
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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.

Joseph Addison (1672-1719) English essayist, poet, statesman
The Freeholder, ch. 5 (1716)
Added on 5-May-09 | Last updated 5-May-09
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Charity is a virtue of the heart, and not of the hands. … Gifts and alms are the expressions, not the essence, of this virtue.

Joseph Addison (1672-1719) English essayist, poet, statesman
The Guardian, #166
Added on 23-Oct-08 | Last updated 23-Oct-08
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Among those evils which befall us, there are many which have been more painful to us in the prospect than by their actual pressure.

Joseph Addison (1672-1719) English essayist, poet, statesman
The Spectator (8 Oct 1712)
Added on 25-Jun-13 | Last updated 25-Jun-13
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I have often thought, says Sir Roger, it happens very well that Christmas should fall in the Middle of winter.

Addison - Christmas - wist_info quote

Joseph Addison (1672-1719) English essayist, poet, statesman
The Spectator (Jan 1712)
Added on 24-Dec-15 | Last updated 24-Dec-15
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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.

Joseph Addison (1672-1719) English essayist, poet, statesman
The Spectator #117 (14 Jul 1711)
Added on 20-Nov-08 | Last updated 20-Nov-08
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A man’s first care should be to avoid the reproaches of his own heart; his next, to escape the censures of the world.

Joseph Addison (1672-1719) English essayist, poet, statesman
The Spectator #122 (20 Jul 1711)
Added on 4-Mar-09 | Last updated 4-Mar-09
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Good nature is more agreeable in conversation than wit, and gives a certain air to the countenance which is more amiable than beauty. It shows virtue in the fairest light, takes off in some measure from the deformity of vice, and makes even folly and impertinence supportable.

Joseph Addison (1672-1719) English essayist, poet, statesman
The Spectator #169 (13 Sep 1711)
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Admiration is a very short-lived passion, that immediately decays upon growing familiar with its object.

Joseph Addison (1672-1719) English essayist, poet, statesman
The Spectator #256 (24 Dec 1711)
Added on 8-Apr-13 | Last updated 10-Dec-14
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I have often thought, says Sir Roger, it happens very well that Christmas should fall out in the Middle of the Winter.

Joseph Addison (1672-1719) English essayist, poet, statesman
The Spectator #269 (8 Jan 1712)
Added on 11-Sep-08 | Last updated 11-Sep-08
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Good nature will always supply the absence of beauty; but beauty cannot supply the absence of good nature.

Joseph Addison (1672-1719) English essayist, poet, statesman
The Spectator #306 (6 Feb 1712)
Added on 10-Dec-14 | Last updated 10-Dec-14
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Certain it is, that there is no kind of affection so pure and angelic as that of a father to a daughter. he beholds her, both wise and without regard to her sex. In love to our wives there is desire, to our sons there is ambition; but in that to our daughters, there is something which there are no words to describe.

Joseph Addison (1672-1719) English essayist, poet, statesman
The Spectator #449 (5 Aug 1712)
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Added on 19-Sep-11 | Last updated 10-Dec-14
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There is nothing which we receive with so much reluctance as advice.

Joseph Addison (1672-1719) English essayist, poet, statesman
The Spectator #512 (17 Oct 1712)
Added on 11-Dec-08 | Last updated 11-Dec-08
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Sir Roger told them, with an air of a man who would not give his judgement rashly, that much might be said on both sides.

Sir Roger heard them both […] and after having paused some time told them, with an air of a man who would not give his judgment rashly, that much might be said on both sides.

Joseph Addison (1672-1719) English essayist, poet, statesman
The Spectator, #122 (20 Jul 1711)
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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.

Joseph Addison (1672-1719) English essayist, poet, statesman
The Spectator, #243 (8 Dec 1711)
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Cheerfulness keeps up a kind of daylight in the mind, and fills it with a steady and perpetual serenity.

Joseph Addison (1672-1719) English essayist, poet, statesman
The Spectator, #381 (17 May 1712)
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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 day-light in the mind.

Joseph Addison (1672-1719) English essayist, poet, statesman
The Spectator, #381 (17 May 1712)
Added on 30-Aug-16 | Last updated 30-Aug-16
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Our disputants put me in mind of the scuttle-fish, that when he is unable to extricate himself, blackens all the water about him, till he becomes invisible.

Joseph Addison (1672-1719) English essayist, poet, statesman
The Spectator, #476 (5 Sep 1712)
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Added on 28-Feb-19 | Last updated 28-Feb-19
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I value my garden more for being full of blackbirds than of cherries, and very frankly give them fruit for their songs.

Joseph Addison (1672-1719) English essayist, poet, statesman
The Spectator, #477 (6 Sep 1712)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
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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.

Joseph Addison (1672-1719) English essayist, poet, statesman
The Spectator, #94 (18 Jun 1711)
Added on 21-Aug-08 | Last updated 21-Aug-08
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A cheerful temper, joined with innocence will make beauty attractive, knowledge delightful, and wit good-natured.

Addison - cheerful temper - wist_info quote

Joseph Addison (1672-1719) English essayist, poet, statesman
The Tatler #192 (1 Jul 1710)
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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.

Joseph Addison (1672-1719) English essayist, poet, statesman
The Tatler, #147
Added on 17-Jul-08 | Last updated 17-Jul-08
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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.

Joseph Addison (1672-1719) English essayist, poet, statesman
Thoughts in Westminster Abbey (1711)
Added on 31-Jul-08 | Last updated 31-Jul-08
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