Joseph Addison

The Spectator. Nos. 411-421 

[Addison's Table of Contents from No. 421]

This essay on the Pleasures of the Imagination having been published in separate papers, I shall conclude it with a Table of the principal Contents in each paper. 


The perfection of our sight above our other senses.
The pleasures of the imagination arise originally from sight.
The pleasures of the imagination divided under two heads. 
The pleasures of the imagination in some respects equal to those of the understanding.
The extent of the pleasures of the imagination.
The advantages a man receives from a relish of these pleasures.
In what respect they are preferable to those of the understanding. 

Three sources of all the pleasures of the imagination, in our survey of outward objects.
How what is great pleases the imagination.
How what is new pleases the imagination.
How what is beautiful in our own species pleases the imagination.
How what is beautiful in general pleases the imagination.
What other accidental causes may contribute to the heightening of these pleasures. 

Why the necessary cause of our being pleased with what is great, new, or beautiful, unknown. 
Why the final cause more known and more useful. 
The final cause of our being pleased with what is great.
The final cause of our being pleased with what is new.
The final cause of our being pleased with what is beautiful in our own species.
The final cause of our being pleased with what is beautiful in general

PAPER IV. The works of Nature more pleasant to the imagination than those of art.
The works of Nature still more pleasant, the more they resemble those of art.
The works of art more pleasant, the more they resemble those of Nature.
Our English plantations and gardens considered in the foregoing light. 

Of architecture as it affects the imagination. 
Greatness in architecture relates either to the bulk or to the manner.
Greatness of bulk in the ancient Oriental buildings.
The ancient accounts of these buildings confirmed: I. From the advantages for raising such works in the first ages of the world and in the Eastern climates; 2. From several of them which are still extant.
Instances how greatness of manner affects the imagination.
A French author's observation on this subject. Why concave and convex figures give a greatness of manner to works of architecture.
Everything that pleases the imagination in architecture either great, beautiful, or new. 

The secondary pleasures of the imagination. 
The several sources of these pleasures (statuary, painting, description, and music) compared together.
The final cause of our receiving pleasure from these several sources.
Of descriptions in particular.
The power of words over the imagination.
Why one reader more pleased with descriptions than another. 

How a whole set of ideas hang together, &c.: a natural cause assigned for it.
How to perfect the imagination of a writer: who among the ancient poets had this faculty in its greatest perfection. 
Homer excelled in imagining what is great; Virgil in imagining what is beautiful; Ovid in imagining what is new.
Our own countryman, Milton, very perfect in all three respects. 

Why anything that is unpleasant to behold pleases the imagination when well described.
Why the imagination receives a more exquisite pleasure from the description of what is great, new, or beautiful.
The pleasure still heightened, if what is described raises passion in the mind.
Disagreeable passions pleasing when raised by apt descriptions.
Why terror and grief are pleasing to the mind, when excited by descriptions.
A particular advantage the writers in poetry and fiction have to please the imagination. What liberties are allowed them. 

Of that kind of poetry which Mr. Dryden calls the fairy-way of writing.
How a poet should be qualified for it.
The pleasures of the imagination that arise from it.
In this respect, why the moderns excel the ancients.
Why the English excel the moderns.
Who the best among the English.
Of emblematical persons. 

What authors please the imagination who have nothing to do with fiction.
How history pleases the imagination.
How the authors of the new philosophy please the imagination.
The bounds and defects of the imagination.
Whether these defects are essential to the imagination. 

How those please the imagination who treat of subjects abstracted from matter, by allusions taken from it.
What allusions most pleasing to the imagination.
Great writers how faulty in this respect. 
Of the art of imagining in general.
The imagination capable of pain as well as pleasure.
In what degree the imagination is capable either of pain or pleasure.


A note on this text: Nos. 411-421 were originally a single long essay by Joseph Addison. The incomplete surviving manuscript is now at Harvard University. This table of contents was placed at the end of No. 421.
The original text contained numerous capitalizations (e.g., the word "beauty" was always capitalized). This practice has been modified  to help contemporary readers. Italics appear as in the original (including quotations, which were italicized instead of being placed in quotation marks).