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A PRINCIPLE of gratitude must naturally be awakened in every generous mind when he peruses the pages of that distinguished class of writers, the BRITISH ESSAYISTS. At the dawn of the eighteenth century appeared this eminently useful class of literary men.-It was at this period that they began by their labours to amuse and instruct the world; and by their writings 'to bring philosophy out of closets and libraries, schools and colleges, to dwell in clubs and assemblies, at tea-tables, and in coffee-houses;'to issue from the press those precepts that have Tatler b

so eminently tended to enlighten and adorn the path of common life, and form the manners of our nation.

Of the origin of this species of writing the celebrated Dr. JOHNSON has given a sketch, which, though written in advanced life, is highly valuable for elegance of diction, and justice of remark.

6 To teach the minuter decencies and inferior duties,' says he, 'to regulate the practice of daily conversation, to correct those depravities which are rather ridiculous than criminal, and remove those grievances, which if they produce no lasting calamities, impress hourly vexation, was first attempted by Casa, in his book of Manners, and Castiglione in his Courtier; two books yet celebrated in Italy for purity and elegance, and which, if they are now less read, are neglected only because they have effected that reformation which their authors intended, and their precepts now are no longer wanted. Their usefulness to the age in which they were written is sufficiently attested by the translations which almost all the nations of Europe were in haste to obtain.

This species of instruction was continued, and perhaps advanced, by the French: among

whom LA BRUYER'S Manners of the Age, though, as BOILEAU remarked, it is written without connexion, certainly deserves great praise, for liveliness of description, and justness of observation.

'Before the TATLER and SPECTATOR, if the writers for the theatre are excepted, England had no masters of common life. No writers had yet undertaken to reform either the savageness of neglect, or the impertinence of civility; to shew when to speak, or to be silent; how to refuse, or how to comply. We had many books to teach us our more important duties, and to settle opinions in philosophy or politics: but an Arbiter elegantiarum, a judge of propriety, was yet wanting, who should survey the track of daily conversation, and free it from thorns and prickles, which teaze the passer, though they do not wound him.

'For this purpose nothing is so proper as the frequent publication of short papers, which we read not as a study, but amusement. If the subject be slight, the treatise likewise is short. The busy may find time, and the idle may find patience.

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This mode of conveying cheap and easy knowledge begun among us in the civil war,

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