Your most humble Servant,
He loves your Spectators mightily.
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No. 476. Friday, September 5, 1712. Addison.
Among my Daily-Papers which I bestow on the Publick, there are some which are written with Regularity and Method, and others that run out into the Wildness of those Compositions which go by the Names of Essays. As for the first, I have the whole Scheme of the Discourse in my Mind before I set Pen to Paper. In the other kind of Writing, it is sufficient that I have several Thoughts on a Subject, without troubling my self to range them in such order, that they may seem to grow out of one another, and be disposed under the proper Heads. Seneca and Montaigne are Patterns for Writing in this last kind, as Tully and Aristotle excel in the other. When I read an Author of Genius who writes without Method, I fancy myself in a Wood that abounds with a great many noble Objects, rising among one another in the greatest Confusion and Disorder. When I read a methodical Discourse, I am in a regular Plantation, and can place my self in its several Centres, so as to take a view of all the Lines and Walks that are struck from them. You may ramble in the one a whole Day together, and every Moment discover something or other that is new to you; but when you have done, you will have but a confused imperfect Notion of the Place: In the other, your Eye commands the whole Prospect, and gives you such an Idea of it, as is not easily worn out of the Memory.
Irregularity and want of Method are only supportable in Men of great Learning or Genius, who are often too full to be exact, and therefore chuse to throw down their Pearls in Heaps before the Reader, rather than be at the Pains of stringing them.