"Reading Is To The Mind What Exercise Is To The Body"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Between April, 1709, and January, 1711, Joseph Addison and Richard Steele published 271 issues of a news and essay sheet called The Tatler. Steele originated the idea and was sole author of 188 numbers. Addison contributed some, and together they were responsible for 36 more. One of their collaborations was No. 147, dated March 17, 1709/1710. The double date is due to the change in calendars in England, from the Old Style Julian to the New Style Gregorian, that went into effect in 1752. Before then, the new year began on March 25. So, to reckon by present chronology, both figures are given. This issue appeared in 1710. The original purpose of The Tatler was to entertain and instruct. News items, gossip for the women, and essays on literary subjects made up the various issues that appeared three times a week. Under a motto from Ovid, issue No. 147 begins:

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. As by the one, health is preserved, strengthened, and invigorated; by the other, virtue (which is the health of the mind) is kept alive, cherished and confirmed. But as exercise becomes tedious and painful when we make use of it only as the means of health, so reading is apt to grow uneasy and burdensome, when we apply ourselves to it only for our improvement in virtue. For this reason, the virtue which we gather from a fable or an allegory, is like the health we get by hunting, as we are engaged in an agreeable pursuit that draws us on with pleasure, and makes us insensible of the fatigues that accompany it.