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in the winter evenings, when no society interrupted, but read or write? I have done both in a vicissitude pleasant to myself, and as my
inclination or my ideas of propriety suggested. In these employments I have found my
pass away, not only innocently, but pleasantly; and most of these lucubrations are literally what their title insinuates, the produce of the Winter. Evenings."
It has been objected to the first edition of the Winter Evenings, that it was too scholastic and dogmatic in its tone; faults which still, in some degree, adhere to the later impressions, though considerably enlarged and corrected. The style, likewise, is neither so polished nor so pleasing as that of the “ Essays;" yet these lucubrations exhibit great variety of subject, with much instruction and much entertainment, and the lite rary papers are both numerous and interesting.
37. THE LOITERER. The representation of academical life, to which this paper is principally devoted, would appear too narrow a sphere for the labours of the periodical essayist; and, indeed, had not the authors of the Loiterer occasionally deviated from their avowed plan, the sources of amusement would soon have been exhausted. Their claim to originality, however, is
in their own opinion, founded on the basis of this restrictive design, of which, in their last number, they have given the subsequent account. “ It is indeed a little remarkable," they observe, “ that though several works of this kind have been written and published at Oxford, none since the time of Terræ Filius have drawn their sources principally from academical life.
“ The Author of the Connoisseur, in a few scattered Papers, has rather pointed the way, than traced the path. ' Under this idea the present work was begun; and the original Undertakers of it discovered, or fancied that they discovered, a field open before them, as yet unbeaten by the footsteps of any of their predecessors; and it was imagined that the circles of Oxford would furnish some portraits and some scenes, the peculiar features of which, if happily caught, and accurately discriminated, might be not uninteresting to the public eye. In pursuance of this plan, our first volume is almost entirely confined to such subjects as must naturally present themselves to an inhabitant of this place. In the second, it was thought necessary, for various reasons, to enlarge the circle of our subjects, still however without losing sight of the original plan; and the whole is offered to the World, as a rough, but not entirely inaccurate
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,
90, 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, Knox'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 cuttivators, 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
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 1790. 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