During the last decades of the seventeenth century and the first decades of the eighteenth, transformations in the financing and organization of the military allowed England, and then Britain, to wage war abroad on an unprecedented scale. At the same time, some writers were trying to imagine and promote an idea of civil society governed by norms of a benevolent “politeness.” One function of the new culture of politeness was to reconcile readers to the massive increase in military activity. This essay will explore the process of reconciliation in the two most influential periodicals of the early eighteenth century, The Tatler and The Spectator, which are sometimes credited with a key role in the development of polite standards of taste in eighteenth-century Britain.

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