Joseph Addison (1672–1719) from The Tatler, No. 108 (Thursday, December 15, to Saturday, December 17, 1709)

  • Lee Morrissey

Abstract

I must confess, there is nothing that more pleases me in all that I read in books, or see among mankind, than such passages as represent human nature in its proper dignity. As man is a creature made up of different extremes, he has something in him very great and very mean: a skilful artist may draw an excellent picture of him in either of these views. The finest authors of antiquity have taken him on the more advantageous side. They cultivate the natural grandeur of the soul, raise in her a generous ambition, feed her with hopes of immortality and perfection, and do all they can to widen the partition between the virtuous and the vicious, by making the difference betwixt them as great as between gods and brutes. In short, it is impossible to read a page in Plato, Tully, and a thousand other ancient moralists, without being a greater and a better man for it. On the contrary, I could never read any of our modish French authors, or those of our own country who are the imitators and admirers of that trifling nation, without being for some time out of humour with myself, and at everything about me. Their business is to depreciate human nature, and consider it under its worst appearances. They give mean interpretations and base motives to the worthiest actions: they resolve virtue and vice into constitution. In short, they endeavour to make no distinction between man and man, or between the species of men and that of brutes. As an instance of this kind of authors, among many others, let anyone examine the celebrated Rochefoucault, who is the great philosopher for administering of consolation to the idle, the envious, and worthless part of mankind. [ ... ]

Copyright information

© Lee Morrissey 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lee Morrissey

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations