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INTRODUCTION

WHEN, having refreshed our memories by a reperusal of the Essays of Addison in an earlier volume of this series, we read the delightful “lucubrations,’ as their author quaintly styles them, in the present little volume, it is but just to remember that it was Richard Steele who gave to Addison the opportunity to speak those words of wit and wisdom which have charmed many generations of English readers in the pages of the Tatler, Spectator, and Guardian. To Isaac Bickerstaff belongs, exclusively, the honour of having initiated that form of periodical literature which so admirably suited the genius of his great collaborator; and although the latter maintains more effectively and consistently a higher level of style and exhibits a greater variety of subject than does the friend who so generously acknowledged his superiority, we can say with all truth that there is many an essay from Steele's pen which more than equals Addison at his best, and many also which are possessed of a peculiar charm —the charm of spontaneity and artless enthusiasm— which we sometimes miss in the more finely wrought

and more scholarly essays of the greater writer.

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