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presenting this volume to the German nation, we will not claim their approbation from the partiality they have shown to British Literature; we will not point out to them the great utility of having the most elegant tone of English conversation for their instruction in the language; wherefore should we paint the delighting image of their identifying themselves with a sphere of individuals, whose manners and customas are so deeply inged with originality and peculiarity of character; and invite them to consider John Bull entering their society in his own dress, touched off with his own high humour, and even with all his faulls, calling upon the good-natured smile of all around him? The shades of Addison, Garrick, Steele would arise in offended pride, to hear their names once more invoked to serve the office of commendation to works which have already stood the test of nations, and out-lived the hand of time: no, their worth needs no interpreter, it speaks itself too plainly.
Yet with all the riches of the British Drama before us, we have found ourselves embarrassed to present our readers with a full specimen of its treasures; and, how plentiful soever this barvest may be, there still remains a great store behind; we wait only the fiat of the public to recommence our labours.
We refrain froin entering into a detail of the many inglorious causes of the dedine of the stage these last two centuries, and will content ourselves with merely pointing it out
, as a reason for our work's containing very few pieces written since that time.
It is but natural for us to have a desire to become more familiarly acquainted with the man whose writings have tended to amuse or instruct us; and hence our wish
, not only to have free admission to his study, but also to follow him into the circle of his acquaintance, and sit with him at his fire-side surrounded by his family. It is here we can judge the human heart, and observe, if the precepts, inculcated on bis readers, have been the guide of his own actions; and whatever be the result of our examination, it must interest our feelings and be a good exercise for ourselves. We have, therefore, endeavoured to give a faithful account of the public and private life of the authors whose writings are to be found in this volume.
The opinions of the English with respect to their own authors, how much soEter they may differ from those of another nation, will answer as a point of opposition,
assist the reader in his own critique. Each piece is, therefore, preceded by Teasons
, more or less cogent, to add to or diminish its lustre; and these have been carefully selected from the writings of the greatest British critics, who may have noticed them, tempered by a few observations of our own.
The English nation has, of late years, become an object of curiosity to foreigners; and numerous has been the intelligent class of inquiring travellers, who have published their more or less true accounts of this people. How favourable soever may have been their opportunities for examining into the true spirit of the people,