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A Founding Purpose



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In today’s Impromptus, I begin a series of notes on Gertrude Himmelfarb’s latest book, The People of the Book: Philosemitism in England, from Cromwell to Churchill. I quote Joseph Addison, because she does. Addison was an English writer (multipurpose) and politician. He co-founded The Spectator magazine in 1711. I’d like to quote him some more.

When launching his magazine, he said, “I shall endeavour to enliven Morality with Wit, and to temper Wit with Morality.” What a splendid statement, and aim! Right up there with standing athwart history — if history means “Forward” unto socialism and numbness — yelling Stop.

Thinking about Addison’s statement, I have this question: What would “Morality” mean today, in our society? What would be the morality in need of tempering by wit? Recycling? Speech codes? Obamacare?

Anyway . . .



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