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Here is a paragraph from Richard Addison

Thus I live in the World, rather as a Spectator of Mankind, than as one of the Species; by which means I have made my self a Speculative Statesman, Soldier, Merchant, and Artizan, without ever medling with any Practical Part in Life. I am very well versed in the Theory of an Husband, or a Father, and can discern the Errors in the Oeconomy, Business, and Diversion of others, better than those who are engaged in them; as Standers-by discover Blots, which are apt to escape those who are in the Game. I never espoused any Party with Violence, and am resolved to observe an exact Neutrality between the Whigs and Tories , unless I shall be forcd to declare myself by the Hostilities of either side. In short, I have acted in all the parts of my Life as a Looker-on, which is the Character I intend to preserve in this Paper.

There are so many wonderful things about this quotation Addison in the first number of The Spectator March 1711

Consider

Thus I live in the World,

rather as a Spectator of Mankind,

than as one of the Species;

The “rather” sets an anticipated contrast. Contemporary style is for the immediate comparison. We would “rather than”, but here Addison breaks the contrast into two balanced clauses with an anticipation of the contrast. Notice also that the “s” of “species” recounts the “s” of “spectator”. The contrast begins with spectator and ends with species. The rhythm, sense, and sound all work together.

He gets the added benefit of “spectator” being the name of the paper for which Addison was writing.

Notice how he continues with the alliteration on the “s”

by which means

I have made my self

a Speculative Statesman,

Soldier,

This is a matter of taste and I cannot think of any certain rule, because he stops after self, speculative (which harkens back to spectator), statesman, and soldier. There is a ambiguity in the sense, because what is a spectator soldier – a speculative statesman is anyone of the bores on social media shouting an opinion without any real authority.

Notice what he does here with the sounds:

Merchant,

and Artizan,

without ever medling with any Practical Part in Life.

The m of merchant and meddling, artisan and any, which creates a patterned echo.

The “and” before artisan draws the list to a close.

The final life then breaks up the proceeding patterns of sound

With the Practical Part in Life.”

The concept is silly in their is no spectator merchant or soldier or artisan – unless he never acts.

We now come to the professional pundit:

I am very well versed in the Theory of an Husband, or a Father, and can discern the Errors in the Oeconomy, Business, and Diversion of others,

He does nothing but knows what is wrong with everything. This is the status of the internet: because he does not merely observe, but he also knows why everyone who is leading an actual life is doing the wrong thing.

The charm of Addison’s point of view is that it is ironic and detached without being unkind. In fact in this lovely prose, he is teasing only himself.

Thus there is a patterned irony: he is posing as a gadfly who is weirdly without the ability to see his own deficiency as he promises to critique others.

But the entire the standing is a pose which the real author is mocking.

This playful position itself comes in an essay where he is promising to tell the truth about his status as an author. The essay begins with the promise

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. To gratify this Curiosity, which is so natural to a Reader, I design this Paper, and my next, as Prefatory Discourses to my following Writings, and shall give some Account in them of the several persons that are engaged in this Work. As the chief trouble of Compiling, Digesting, and Correcting will fall to my Share, I must do myself the Justice to open the Work with my own History.