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"Instead of complying with the false sentiments or vicious tastes of the age, either in mo. rality, criticism, or good-breeding, he has boldly assured them, that they were altogether in the wrong; and commanded them, with an authority which perfectly well became him, to surrender themselves to his arguments for virtue and good sense.
"It is incredible to conceive the effect his writings have had on the town; how many thousand follies they have either quite banished, or given a very great check to; how much countenance they have added to virtue and religion; how many people they have rendered happy, by shewing them it was their own fault if they were not so; and lastly, how entirely they have convinced our fops and young fellows of the value and advantages of learning.
"He has indeed rescued it out of the hands of pedants and fools, and discovered the true method of making it amiable and lovely to all mankind. In the dress he gives it, it is a most welcome guest at tea-tables and assemblies, and is relished and caressed by the merchants on Change.
"Lastly, his writings have set all our wits. and men of letters upon a new way of thinking,
of which they had little or no notion before and though we cannot yet say that any of them have come up to the beauties of the original, I think we may venture to affirm, that every one of them writes and thinks much more justly than they did some time since.'
"Of the almost immediate utility accruing to manners and literature from the circulation of the Tatler, no passages can be more decisive than those which we have quoted; and to these might be added testimonials equally strong with regard to the moral and mental operation on society of the whole body of periodical writings which issued from the school of Steele and Addison.
"The result, indeed, of the publication of the Tatler, Spectator, and Guardian, has been of the first national importance. The diffusion of private virtue and wisdom must necessarily tend to purify and enlighten the general mass; and experience in every age has proved, that the strength, the weight, and prosperity of a nation, are better founded on knowledge, morality, and sound literature, than on the unstable effects of conquest or commerce. Rational liberty, indeed, can only be supported by integrity and ability; and it is of little conse
quence to the man who feels for the honour of his species, and who knows properly to value the character of a freeman, that his country has stretched her arms over half the globe, if, at the same time, she be immersed in vice, in luxury, and sensuality, and subjected to the debasing caprice and control of tyranny.
"It is but just, therefore, to infer, that the periodical writings of Addison and of Steele have contributed more essentially to the national good, to the political influence even, and stability of the British empire, than all the efforts of her warriors, however great or glorious."
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