Joseph Addison

Joseph Addison Poems


The spacious firmament on high,
With all the blue ethereal sky,
And spangled heav'ns, a shining frame,
Their great original proclaim:


Our lives, discoloured with our present woes,
May still grow white and shine with happier hours.
So the pure limped stream, when foul with stains

While you, my Lord, the rural shades admire,
And from Britannia's public posts retire,
Nor longer, her ungrateful sons to please,
For their advantage sacrifice your ease;

O Liberty! thou goddess, heavenly bright,
profuse of bliss and pregnant with delight,
Eternal pleasures in thy presence reign,

When rising from the bed of death,
O’erwhelmed with guilt and fear,
I see my Maker face to face,
O how shall I appear?

How are Thy servants blest, O Lord!
How sure is their defense!
Eternal wisdom is their guide,
Their help Omnipotence.

The Lord my pasture shall prepare
And feed me with a shepherd’s care;
His presence shall my wants supply
And guard me with a watchful eye;

While haughty Gallia's dames, that pread
O'er their pale cheeks, an artful red,
Beheld this beauteous stranger there


THE spacious firmament on high,
With all the blue ethereal sky,
And spangled heavens, a shining frame,
Their great Original proclaim.

While crowds of princes your deserts proclaim,
Proud in their number to enrol your name;
While emperors to you commit their cause,
And Anna's praises crown the vast applause;

The Spacious Firmament on high,
With all the blue Ethereal Sky,
And spangled Heav'ns, a Shining Frame,
Their great Original proclaim:

The spacious firmament on high,
With all the blue ethereal sky,
And spangled heavens, a shining frame
Their great Original proclaim.

Cecilia, whose exalted hymns
With joy and wonder fill the blest,
In choirs of warbling seraphims

The Spacious Firmament on high,
With all the blue Ethereal Sky,
And spangled Heav'ns, a Shining Frame,

The Lord my pasture shall prepare
And feed me with a shepherd's care;
His presence shall my wants supply
And guard me with a watchful eye;

When all Thy mercies, O my God,
My rising soul surveys,
Transported with the view, I’m lost
In wonder, love and praise.

In the first rise and infancy of farce,
When fools were many, and when plays were scarce
The raw unpractis'd authors could, with ease,

Since, dearest Harry, you will needs request
A short account of all the Muse possest,
That, down from Chaucer's days to Dryden's Times,

Prepare the hallow'd strain, My Muse,
Thy softest sounds and sweetest numbrs chuse;
the bright Cecilia's praise rehearse,

How long, great Poet, shall thy sacred lays
Provoke our wonder, and transcend our praise?
Can eneither injuries of time, or age,

Joseph Addison Biography

Joseph Addison, "The Pleasures of the Imagination" in The Spectator, No. 416, July 2, 1712 It is possible this defect of imagination [the inability to get one's brain around the very, very large or the very, very tiny] may not be in the soul itself but as it acts in conjunction with the body. Perhaps there may not be room in the brain for such a variety of impression, or the animal spirits may be incapable of figuring them in such a manner as is necessary to excite so very large or minute ideas. However it be, we may well suppose that beings of a higher nature very much excel us in this respect, as it is probable the soul of man will be infinitely more perfect hereafter in this faculty-as well as in all the rest-insomuch that perhaps the imagination will be able to keep pace with understanding and to form in itself distinct ideas of all the different modes and quantities of space. The body and the soul are seen as distinct, though influential on each other. The soul might have the capacity to take in the "world" or the "atom" if it weren't for the body's limitations getting in the way. Perfection might come in the form of the body's decreased influence on the soul or, more interestingly, as the finer fusion of body and soul. The animal spirits must better transport feeling and accommodate sensation if the imagination is to be given free reign. Imagination becomes a component of evolution opening up the possibility of, again, nationalist or classed ideas about who can imagine what. JOSEPH ADDISON was born at Milston, Wiltshire, in 1672. He was a student at the Charter House, which he left in 1687, to enter Queen's College, Oxford. After two years he was transferred to Magdalen, where he was graduated in 1693. He distinguished himself while at college for his shyness and his scholarship. In the year of his graduation he published his Account of the Greatest English Poets. Through Dryden, to whom he addressed some complimentary verses, he was introduced to Tonson, who set him to work translating Juvenal, Persius, Virgil, and Heredotus. While he was still at Oxford, where he remained on a fellowship after his graduation, he was on the point of taking orders, but a royal pension was obtained for him, and he set forth on his travels on the Continent. He started in 1699, spent a year and a half in France, a year in Italy, and another in Switzerland, Austria, and Germany; and after a stay of some months in Holland, he returned to England toward the end of 1703. He was reduced in circumstances, and had little hope of preferment in politics, so that he was forced to join the writers in Grub Street. But, owing to a change in the tide of affairs, and to Addison's popularity after the publication of his poem, The Campaign, he was made Under Secretary of State. Meantime he was engaged in literary work, and in 1706 he produced an unsuccessful opera, Rosamond. Two years later Addison was deprived of his position as Under-Secretary, but was offered a Secretaryship in Ireland under the Lord Lieutenant. In 1711 he lost the post owing to a change of the Ministry. Steele's Tatler papers began to appear in 1709, and Addison's first contribution dates from the same year. In 1711 he and Steele brought out the first number of The Spectator, which continued until 1714. In 1713 his tragedy of Cato was performed and met with great success because rather of its political timeliness than for any dramatic power inherent in it. An unsuccessful play, The Drummer, was produced, anonymously, in 1714. During the winter of 1715-16 Addison was employed by the Whig Party to uphold its interests, and he published The Freeholder, a political paper; his reward was in all probability the position of Commissioner for Trade and Colonies. In 1716 he married the Countess of Warwick. In 1717 he was made Secretary of State. Failing in health, he resigned the position a year later. The next year he engaged in further political controversy, which resulted in a break with Steele. The following year he died. Of Addison's criticism as a whole it may be said that it represented a commonsense attitude based upon neo-classic ideals. Of his dramatic criticism proper, confined as it was almost wholly to five or six Spectator essays, there is not so much to be said. These essays were written before he had evolved the critical standards which add so materially to the value of his later contributions. However, the drama essays briefly sum up the rationalistic tendency of criticism in the early eighteenth century. Addison condemned English tragedy because it was not sufficiently moral, and he proceeded to write a dull tragedy in order to show what beautiful and stately sentiment should go into tragedy. He was rigidly classic in his denunciation of the tragi-comedy. Not until Johnson published his 156th Rambler (in 1751) was the classic spell broken.)

The Best Poem Of Joseph Addison


The spacious firmament on high,
With all the blue ethereal sky,
And spangled heav'ns, a shining frame,
Their great original proclaim:
Th' unwearied Sun, from day to day,
Does his Creator's power display,
And publishes to every land
The work of an Almighty Hand.

Soon as the evening shades prevail,
The Moon takes up the wondrous tale,
And nightly to the list'ning Earth
Repeats the story of her birth:
Whilst 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.

What though, in solemn silence, all
Move round the dark terrestrial ball?
What though nor real voice nor sound
Amid their radiant orbs be found?
In Reason's ear they all rejoice,
And utter forth a glorious voice,
For ever singing, as they shine,
'The Hand that made us is Divine.'

Joseph Addison Comments

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Joseph Addison Quotes

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.

The Fashionable World is grown free and easie; our Manners sit more loose upon us: Nothing is so modish as an agreeable Negligence. In a word, Good Breeding shows it self most, where to an ordinary Eye it appears the least.

What makes this Generation of Vermin so very Prolifick, is the indefatigable Diligence with which they apply themselves to their Business. A Man does not undergo more watchings and fatigues in a Campaign, than in the Course of a vicious Amour. As it is said of some Men, that they make their Business their Pleasure, these Sons of Darkness may be said to make their Pleasure their Business. They might conquer their corrupt Inclinations with half the Pains they are at in gratifying them.

The Mind that lies fallow but a single Day, sprouts up in Follies that are only to be killed by a constant and assiduous Culture.

The only way therefore to try a Piece of Wit, is to translate it into a different Language: If it bears the Test you may pronounce it true; but if it vanishes in the Experiment you may conclude it to have been a Punn.

Marriage enlarges the Scene of our Happiness and Miseries.

I think a Person who is thus terrifyed [sic] with the Imagination of Ghosts and Spectres much more reasonable, than one who contrary to the Reports of all Historians sacred and profane, ancient and modern, and to the Traditions of all Nations, thinks the Appearance of Spirits fabulous and groundless.

Good Nature, and Evenness of Temper, will give you an easie Companion for Life; Vertue and good Sense, an agreeable Friend; Love and Constancy, a good Wife or Husband. Where we meet one Person with all these Accomplishments, we find an Hundred without any one of them.

But to consider this Subject in its most ridiculous Lights, 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.... A Second Use which this Sort of Writings have been turned to of late Years, has been the Management of Controversy, insomuch that above half the Advertisements one meets with now-a-Days are purely Polemical.... The Third and last Use of these Writings is, to inform the World where they may be furnished with almost every Thing that is necessary for Life. If a Man has Pains in his Head, Cholicks in his Bowels, or Spots in his Clothes, he may here meet with proper Cures and Remedies.

Immortal glories in my mind revive, And in my soul a thousand passions strive, When Rome's exalted beauties I descry Magnificent in piles of ruin lie.

We envy not the warmer clime, that lies In ten degrees of more indulgent skies, Nor at the coarseness of our heaven repine, Though o'er our heads the frozen Pleiads shine: 'Tis Liberty that crowns Britannia's Isle, And makes her barren rocks and her bleak mountains smile.

With regard to donations always expect the most from prudent people, who keep their own accounts.

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

The important question is not, what will yield to man a few scattered pleasures, but what will render his life happy on the whole amount.

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.

The unjustifiable severity of a parent is loaded with this aggravation, that those whom he injures are always in his sight.

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.

I will indulge my sorrows, and give way To all the pangs and fury of despair.

The woman that deliberates is lost.

I have observed, that a Reader seldom peruses a Book with Pleasure, 'till he knows whether the Writer of it be a black or a fair Man, of a mild or cholerick Disposition, Married or a Batchelor, with other Particulars of the like nature, that conduce very much to the right understanding of an Author.

Thus I live in the World, rather as a Spectator of Mankind, than as one of the Species.

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

The greatest sweetener of human life is Friendship. To raise this to the highest pitch of enjoyment, is a secret which but few discover.

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

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

See in what peace a Christian can die.

One would wonder to hear skeptical men disputing for the reason of animals, and telling us it is only our pride and prejudices that will not allow them the use of that faculty. Reason shows itself in all occurrences of life; whereas the brute makes no discovery of such a talent, but in what immediately regards his own preservation, or the continuance of his species. 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. Take a brute out of his instinct, and you find him wholly deprived of understanding.

Our Sight is the most perfect and most delightful of all our Senses. It fills the Mind with the largest Variety of Ideas, converses with its Objects at the greatest Distance, and continues the longest in Action without being tired or satiated with its proper Enjoyments. The Sense of Feeling can indeed give us a Notion of Extension, Shape, and all other Ideas that enter at the Eye, except Colours; but at the same time it is very much straightened and confined in its Operations, to the Number, Bulk, and Distance of its particular Objects. Our Sight seems designed to supply all these Defects, and may be considered as a more delicate and diffusive kind of Touch, that spreads its self over an infinite Multitude of Bodies, comprehends the largest Figures, and brings into our reach some of the most remote Parts of the Universe.

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

The most violent appetites in all creatures are lust and hunger; the first is a perpetual call upon them to propagate their kind, the latter to preserve themselves.

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.

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.

Sunday clears away the rust of the whole week.

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.

There is not a more unhappy being than a superannuated idol.

What sculpture is to a block of marble, education is to an human soul.

Husband a lie, and trump it up in some extraordinary emergency.

If we may believe our logicians, man is distinguished from all other creatures by the faculty of laughter. He has a heart capable of mirth, and naturally disposed to it.

Our disputants put me in mind of the scuttlefish that, when he is unable to extricate himself, blackens the water about him till he becomes invisible.

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.

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

Rides in the whirlwind and directs the storm.

The unjustifiable severity of a parent is loaded with this aggravation, that those whom he injures are always in his sight.

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?

To a man of pleasure every moment appears to be lost, which partakes not of the vivacity of amusement.

In Reason's Ear they all rejoice, And utter forth a glorious Voice, For ever singing, as they shine, The Hand that made us is Divine.

The Spacious Firmament on high, With all the blue Ethereal Sky, And spangled Heav'ns, a Shining Frame, Their great Original proclaim: Th' unwearied Sun, from day to day, Does his Creator's Pow'r display, And publishes to every Land The Work of an Almighty Hand.

I shall endeavour to enliven Morality with Wit, and to temper Wit with Morality, that my Readers may, if possible, both Ways find their Account in the Speculation of the Day.

When an old Woman begins to doat [sic], and grow chargeable to a Parish, she is generally turned into a Witch, and fills the whole Country with extravagant Fancies, imaginary Distempers, and terrifying Dreams. In the mean time, the poor Wretch that is the innocent Occasion of so many Evils begins to be frighted at her self, and sometimes confesses secret Commerces and Familiarities that her Imagination forms in a delirious old Age.

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