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During the last two decades of the eighteenth century, English authors began to stress the utility of literary "pleasure" as a source of unity, refinement, and progress during a period of increasing political division. This idea of pleasure differed from the older understanding of literary pleasure as merely the vehicle of moral, religious, and philosophical truths. It differed as well from the belles-lettristic understanding of literature as a means to improve the speech and taste of ambitious individuals. While differing in many ways from recent defenses of a literary education, this rehabilitation of literary pleasure is the foundation of the nineteenth-century mission to establish English education in universities and schools.