Page images
PDF
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][graphic]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][graphic][graphic]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

I: into the antiquities of nations afford more pleasure than any real advantage to mankind. The ingenious may form systems of history on probabilities and a few fasts; but at a great distance of time, their accounts mruít bé vague and uncertain, The infancy of states and kingdoms is as destitute of great events, as of the means of transmitting them to posterity. The arts of polished life, by which alone fasts can be preserved with certainty, are the produstion of a well - forined

[ocr errors]

community. It is then historians begin to write, and public transactions to be worthy remeinbrance. The astions of former times are left in obscurity , or magnified by uncertain traditions. Hence it is that we find fo * much of the marvious in the origin of every nation; posterity being always ready to believe any thing · however fabulous, that reflects honour on their anceflors. The Greeks and Romans were remarkable for this weaknefs. They fwallowed the most abfurd fables concerning the high antiquities of their respective nations. Good historians , however , rofe very early amongst - them, and transınítted, with luftre, their great aĉtions to posterity. It is to them that they owe that unrivalled fame they now enjoy, while the great aĉtions of other nations are involved in fables, or loft in obscurity. The celtic nations afford a striking instance of this kind. They, though once the masters of Europe from the mouth of the river Cb (*), in Ruffia, to Cape Finisterræ , the western point of Gallicia in Spain, are very little mentioned in history. They trufled their fầnie tO tradition and the fongs of their bards, which, by the vicisītude of human affairs, are long since loft. Their ancient language is the only inonument that remains of

[merged small][ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »