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There is a popular saying that a man reveals his character and true nature in his style of writing. This could easily be said to be most true regarding the prose style of Addison. "Few English writers have revealed themselves more accurately and exactly in their writings than Addison", as Hugh Walker remarks. And according to Deighton, Addison's style is not easily imitable because to write like Addison, one has to be like Addison. Addison was a reserved, cool and 'rational' man, just and sensible. He had a benevolent attitude towards mankind but every emotion was toned to moderation by his cool judgment. He was also a refined and cultured man and this elegance and cool rationality make him different from his co-worker Steele who was more impulsive, more spontaneous, more generous, but less refined and careful. There was a simple kindness in Addison, a deep and simple piety. He was a well travelled man and knew several matters through wide reading and learning. Sober and reserved, refined and coolly rational, Addison's very character is reflected in his style of writing.

We find that Addison's style is the model of the 'middle style', as Johnson says. His style expresses the same cool sense of judgement and moderation that he advocated in life and according to which he tried to live. In his writing, the figures of speech which he employs, the manner of expressing his thoughts, Addison shows his refinement and innate elegance. His cool moderation is evident in his moralisations which are put across with conviction but without rancour of fanatic zeal. He is always moderate and shows no heat or intensity. He is eloquent but not rhetorical. His choice of words is made carefully. He was a sober and careful man in life as well as refined; he chose the words in his writngs accordingly. His choice of words reflect his sense of refinement and striving after perfection. It is said that he revised his work several times and often stopped it from the press at the last moment to alter a punctuation mark. But all this effort does not show a laborious style, for Addison's style is clear, lucid and seemingly spontaneous.

His 'urbane' temperament comes out clearly in the humour and irony which are the basic essentials of his style. It is his character which controls his humour and irony and checks it from becoming bitter or malicious. His humane disposition is seen in the manner of his satire attack: he attacks vices without hurting persons and attacks classes and never individuals. His satire is prompted by the humanitarian aim of reforming society, and reforming through gentle laughter. But his essential coolness also helped him to be more sharp in his irony than Steele, who tended to be more sentimental.

The illustrations and allusions and anecdotes show his reading and learning and his preference for making the abstract into something concrete. Addison's style is not without its demerits. As Hugh Walker remarks, "the greatest style is the expression of the highest energy, intellectual and moral", and this quality Addison did not possess. He does write on 'trite' subjects and without much originality. For this he could only produce the " middle style." This is, of course, not to detract from the service that he did to the development of English prose. Addison brought to English prose, the qualities which he possessed as a man i.e., lucidity of expression, refinement, elegance, clarity and precision, sanity and moderation of thought and emotion.*
Prose style of addison


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