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Joseph Addison
English poet, dramatist, essayist, and co-founder of The Spectator
(1672-1719)


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Joseph Addison

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And, pleas'd th' Almighty's orders to perform,
Rides in the whirlwind, and directs the storm.
-- The Campaign (1705)

Tis not in mortals to command success,
But we'll do more, Sempronius; we'll deserve it.
-- Cato (1713), 1

A day, an hour of virtuous liberty
Is worth a whole eternity in bondage.
-- Cato (1713), 2

Content thyself to be obscurely good.
When vice prevails and impious men hold sway,
The post of honour is a private station.
-- Cato (1713), 4

Music, the greatest good that mortals know, And all of heaven we have below.
-- "Song for St. Cecilia's Day" (1694)

Themistocles, the great Athenian general, being asked whether he would choose to marry his daughter to an indigent man of merit, or to'a worthless man of an estate, replied, that he would prefer a man without an estate, to an estate without a man.
-- The Fortune Hunter

The truth of it is, learning, like travelling, and all other methods of improvement, as it finishes good sense, so it makes a silly man ten thousand times more insufferable, by supplying variety of matter to his impertinence, and giving him an opportunity of abounding in absurdities.
-- The Man of the Town

It was said of Socrates that he brought philosophy down from heaven to inhabit among men; and I shall be ambitious to have it said of me that I have brought philosophy out of closets and libraries, schools and colleges, to dwell in clubs and assemblies, at tea-tables and in coffee-houses.
-- The Spectator (1711-1714), No. 1

A reader seldom peruses a book with pleasure until he knows whether the writer of it be a black man or a fair man, of a mild or a choleric disposition, married or a bachelor.
-- The Spectator, No. 1

Sir Roger told them, with the air of a man who would not give his judgement rashly, that much might be said on both sides.
-- The Spectator (1711-1714), No. 122

I value my garden more for being full of black-birds than of cherries, and very frankly give them fruit for their songs,
-- The Spectator (1711-1714)

A woman seldom asks for advice before she has bought her wedding dress.
-- The Spectator (1711-1714), No. 475

There is sometimes a greater judgement shown in deviating from the rules of art, than in adhering to them; and ... there is more beauty in the works of a great genius who is ignorant of all the rules of art, than in the works of a little genius, who not only knows but scrupulously observes them.
-- The Spectator (1711-1714), No. 592

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

I should think my self a very bad woman, if I had done what I do, for a farthing less.
-- The Drummer (1716)

I consider woman as a beautiful, romantic animal, that may be adorned with furs and feathers, pearls and diamonds, ores and silks.
-- Trial of the Petticoat

Arguments out of a pretty mouth are unanswerable.
-- Women and Liberty





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The selection of the above quotes and the writing of the accompanying notes was performed by the author David Paul Wagner.

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