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sketch of the character, the manners, and the amusements of Oxford, at the close of the eighteenth century.”
The conductor of, and the chief contributor to the Loiterer, is Mr. James Austen, M. A. of St. John's College, Oxford. He was assisted, however, by a small society of friends, among whom he has mentioned the names of the Rev. W. B. Portal, and Mr. H. T. Austen. The Loiterer commenced on Saturday, January 31st, 1789, was published weekly on that day, and terminated with the sixtieth number, on March the 20th, 1790, in which year it was reprinted in two volumes octavo. It is but justice to say, that, notwithstanding its locality of plan, the Loiterer is written with a great share of ability, vivacity, and humour.
In the preceding Essay, we have given a brief account of the periodical papers which were published during a term of nearly thirty years, from the year 1760 to the year 1790; in which lapse of time thirty-seven works of this description have been ushered into the world ; and of these, six may be mentioned as possessing peculiar excellence; namely, Knor's Essays, The Mirror, The Lounger, The Observer, The Olla Podrida, and Winter Evenings.
The period that remains to be noticed, though comprehending but nineteen years, will be found still more productive in this walk of literature; which, notwithstanding the multitude of its cultivators, appears yet capable of affording both novelty and interest.
Among the host of Essays about to occupy our attention, the Reader will perceive, that two productions, the offspring of America and the East-Indies, have been admitted; these, as written in the language of Great Britain, and having been either reprinted, or circulated in this country, it was deemed advisable not to overlook.
38. The SPECULATOR. This paper, the composition of myself and of a gentleman, whose name, were I permitted to divulge it, would do honour to any branch of literature or science, was published in the year 17.90.
A number appeared every Saturday and Tuesday; the first, dated March the 27th, 1790; and the twentysixth, and last, June the 22d, 1790.
The Speculator was brought forward in an octavo volume, immediately on the conclusion of N° 26, and experienced both from the public and the critics a very favourable reception. Of the numbers attributable to myself, and which are distinguished by the initial signature N, I shall only say that, after mature revision, and considerable enlargement, they have been inserted in the “ Literary Hours.” For the papers marked S and H, I am indebted to my friend VOL, V.
and coadjutor; and of these I can, independent of my partiality for their author, declare that, as specimens of pure and nervous composition, and of sound and interesting criticism, they possess the most decided merit.
The introductory number, signed H, presents the reader with a sketch of the habits and frame of mind of the Speculator, and closes with the following account of the plan which he has adopted for the conduct of his work, and letters will be the objects of his attention. To those who, stationed amidst the bustle of the world, can watch the fleeting influence of fashion on the ever-changing scene of manners, the task is left to catch the shifting colours as they appear, and instruct the world, by faithful pictures of the nicer features of the times. Lineaments of life more broad and general, an outline more free and comprehensive of those motives which influence the characters of men, are more adapted to the pencil of a retired Speculatur. Variety will not be wanting; the precept, which is tedious in a formal essay, may acquire attractions in a tale, and the sober charms of truth be divested of their austerity by the graces of innocent fiction. Much of the plan will be literary; in this part criticism and the finer arts are meant to occupy a considerable place; and the regula
rity and dryness of discussion will occasionally be relieved, by the introduction of various pieces of original poetry. In a work of this nature novelty is ever demanded ; among the critical essays, a series will be presented to the public, which will at least have that advantage. The later periods of the polite literature of Germany, present the spectacle of a literary harvest, which, though rich and ample, had hitherto excited few labourers. As in our language no regular criticism has appeared on a subject so original as the present state of the Belles Lettres in Germany; sketches of particular parts of their more elegant literature will be attempted in the course of the present work; and some translations offered, to convey an idea, however slight, of that spirit to which description alone is seldom adequate in poetical productions."
In carrying the critical part of this scheme, therefore, into execution, seven essays, with the signatures S and H, are appropriated to the discussion of German Literature, and more particularly of the German Drama. Very spirited translations from the “ Clavigo" of Goethè, and the “ Cabal and Love" of Schiller, are introduced in Nos. 13, 20, and 21; and one entire paper, No 19, which appears to me a model of energetic composition, is devoted to the consi