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most civilized state of society, who, by inheriting property, enjoy an exemption from personal labour adequate to the pursuit; neither among those thus privileged is it common to find many who possess the ability or inclination to improve the opportunities which opulence has bestowed, either in extending the limits of knowledge, or expatiating in the fields of imagination. To every one, however, whatever may be his rank, some portion of leisure is allotted, and it is of infinite importance to the happiness and prosperity of society that that leisure be properly employed.

In a country just rising into consequence by commercial efforts, where, with the exception of a few individuals devoted to an academical or professional life, the higher and middle classes are but little acquainted with the pleasures and advantages of literature, where to form the character of the gentleman no more grammatical knowledge is required than may be found in the common mechanic; it will be in vain that attention is called to philological enquiry or studied exhortation. On men busied in the acquirement of wealth, merely for its own sake, or revelling in the grossest sensualities, no formal display of the value of science, or thé beauty and utility of virtue, can be supposed to produce much effect. Under these circumstances it should be our endeavour not to present the solemn

disquisition or scholastic tome, but to insinuate, under the garb of entertainment, a relish for and a love of letters, and to meliorate or remove by ridicule those minuter vices and follies on which neither law nor religion has fixed. It was in this stage of society, when refinement and general knowledge had made a very partial progress, that our earliest periodical papers were written; when the chief difficulty was to induce the gay, the thoughtless, and the busy, to read even a short essay. He who would have trembled at the idea of commencing a volume, mustered courage, how ever, to peruse a single sheet, which terminating the subject discussed, and occupying no greater portion of time than could conveniently be spared during the intervals of business or dissipation, offered attractions which no publication in the general walk of literature had hitherto displayed. To allure those who were not otherwise to be acquir ed, politics were at first mingled with the miscellaneous matter, until the attention being by various means once gained, and the heart and imagination awakened, all the benevolent purposes which these admirable compositions were intended to effect, were at length happily obtained.

To introduce, therefore, and support a taste for elegant literature; to paint virtue in her most alluring form; to inculcate attention to the decen

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cies, proprieties, and minuter graces of domestic life, and to dissipate by well-turned ridicule and humour those fashionable follies and lighter shades of vice which, though apparently trivial, undermine the foundations of our happiness, form the legitimate objects of a periodical paper. That these, however, may produce their full effect, no common rate ability is demanded on the part of the author. To beauty, accuracy, and vivacity of composition, must be added strength of imagina tion and versatility of style. The tale, the allegory, the vision should relieve or clothe the dryness of didactic precept; and the pages animated by the glow of sentiment, or the brilliancy of description, should be succeeded by the smile of satire, and the pleasantries of comic painting.

Mere fancy and erudition, however exalted or however profound, will be found unequal to the production of a work such as we have now describ ed. The labour of the closet, where taste is not wanting, may indeed accumulate and display with critical acumen the beauties of a Homer or a Virgil, or may raise an original fabric, the offspring of luxuriant imagination; but in vain shall we seek for that intimacy with the human heart, that just discrimination of character, so vitally essential to the popularity and utility of a periodical paper. For these the author must have mixed in the mot¬

fey world around him, and marked with a penetrating eye the different classes and individuals of mankind, in order to select with judgment, for censure or for praise, their more prominent features, and with a view toward furnishing that dramatic form which alone can give birth to the exquisite conceptions of humour.

A series of papers thus constituted, and forming a whole, replete with wit, fancy, and instruction, has been proved by long experience not only the most useful but the most interesting and popular of publications. Each sex, every rank, and every stage of society have been alike amused and benefited by these productions. Courtesy, etiquette, and dress, as well as morals, criticism, and philosophy, have learnt to obey their dictates, and many important truths, many sage lessons for life, have, by approaching under the disguise of a trivial and fashionable topic, found their way to, and made their due impression upon, those whom no other channel could reach.

Even in the present age, when literature is to a certain degree diffused through almost every department, and when refinement nearly borders upon excess, essays constructed in the original mould still charm. Though the rudeness, the grossness, and improprieties, which called forth the wit or the invective of our early essayists, no longer exist,

there is still a most abundant crop of petty vice and folly, of vanity and affectation, which, though assuming a more polished surface, as loudly demands excision. Our manners too, though somewhat softened down and amalgamated by the progress of civilization, still bear strongly the marks of individual modification, and still furnish to the attentive and experienced observer numerous original and high-wrought characters; whilst, at the same time, the taste for cadence of period and harmony of style, for the luxuries of fiction and the elegancies of critical discussion, now so widely disseminated, presents an ample field for variety and grace. In proof of these remarks it may be ob served, that from the first appearance of the Tatler to the present day, no period has been absolutely devoid of periodical essays; and it can with equal justice be affirmed, that they form a most splendid and highly valuable branch of our national literature. The greatest masters of our language, the classical writers of their age, have exerted the noblest efforts of their genius, and afforded us the finest specimens of their composition, whilst employed in the execution of those beautiful designs, which, if considered for a moment in the light of highly-finished pictures, how vividly do they express the style and manner of their respective artists! In Addison we discern the amenity and

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