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WHOEVER WISHES TO ATTAIN AN ENGLISH STYLE, FAMILIAR

BUT NOT COARSE, AND ELEGANT BUT NOT OSTENTATIOUS, MUST GIVE HIS DAYS AND NIGHTS TO THE VOLUMES OF

ADDISON-DR. JOHNSON.

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The diffusion of literature as connected with the general civilization of mankind, furnishes material for the portion of history most interesting to the philosophic inquirer: while in a national point of view every patriotic bosom is warmed by the contemplation of the ascendency of English genius among the nations of the earth. “It is not the commercial character of a people," observes D’Israeli, " which inspires veneration among mankind, nor will their military powers engage the affections of their neighbours. But a glorious succession of authors has enabled our nation to arbitrate among the nations of Europe, and to possess ourselves of their involuntary esteem by discoveries in science, by principles in philo

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VOL. I.

sophy, by truths in history, and even by the graces of fiction; and there is not a man of genius among foreigners who stands unconnected with our intellectual sovereignty.” How far Addison contributed to the formation of this national literary character may be gathered from the commendations of Boileau, and the opened interchange of literature between England and France. The providential adaptation of eminent men to the exigencies of the times in which their lot is cast has been often remarked, but not sufficiently, we think, in the case of him to whose writings this brief memoir is prefixed. Addison wrote during one of those eventful periods of a nation's history, when its future fortunes may be said to hang trembling in the balance. Whether despotism, bigotry, sensuality, and ignorance, or liberty, toleration, knowledge, and moral power, were to have the dominion among us, was the fearful question to be decided when Addison addressed himself to the task of softening the animosities, enlightening the judgment, and refining the manners of his countrymen.

The distinguishing characteristic of his writings is their moral utility. Other poets of sweeter fancy and bolder flight

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