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T H E Usefulness, or the Necesity rae
ther, of a work of this Nature, 1 (if it be executed with proper Judgment and Diligence) can never be disputed by such as profess any Regard for Claffic Learning, ok for those mighty and celebrated Names, who have been transmitted to us, with Honour, thro' so many Ages, as the great and venerable Founders of it. The mere Reading and Grammatical Understanding of these Writers must be dry and unaffeeting, without you are in some measure made acquainted with their Characters, their Lives, their Histories, their several Beauties and Imperfections, the Times in which they lived. A 2
Compositionse ro necessary is to tread upin
the Figure they have made in the Republic of Letters, the Sentiments and Judgment of: the Learned in all Ages upon their Works and Compositions. These, and many more. I Circumstances, are lo necessary to be known by a young Student, (who begins to tread upon Classic Ground) in order to conduct him with Pleasure and Advantage through the Course of his Studies, that without these Helps, he must walk with Doubt and Diffidence, must be led astray by falje Lights, and be deprived of many wonderful and agreeable Discoveries, which a Collection of this fort must unavoidably hold out to him.
I would have it understood, that the following Volumes are chiefly design'd for the Use and Instruction of younger Scholars, tho' perhaps they may be of real Benefit to Gentlemen, who have for some Years negleEted the Advantages of their Education, and have a mind to resume those pleasant and useful Studies, in which they formerly made a Progress at the Schools or Universities. Evegry thing contained in them is submitted, with great Deference, to the professed Masters in Classic Knowledge, who will find no greater Faults, than I hope may be atoned for by the Diligence they will see I have used in colleEting proper Materials, and the Care I have taken to dispose then in a clear and
useful Method. In short, I prefume I have in this Design come pretty near to what the Title promises, and therefore shall not plead want of Time or Abilities, the mean and common Refuge of little Authors; since those must be sorry Excuses for a Man's Writing but indifferently, which are strong Reasons why he should not have written at all.. is
· I am not aware of any notable Objektion that can be offer'd against the Method I have observed in the Digesting of this Work, tho? it intirely differs from the Scheme that has been followed by those who have gone before me. The Lives of the Grecian Poets have been written many Years ago by a very learned Hand, and lately (and at a great Distance indeed) have appear'd the Lives of the Roman Poets, attended with Remarks and Criticisms. But these Writers seem to have studied more to display their own Accomplishments, and the Quaintness of their own Skill, than to inform the young Student that wants Help ; they entertain you with their own Observations, and rest wholly upon them, without vouch saving to call to their Aid the Judgment and Senje of the inany Learned that went before them, and have acquired Immortality by their laborious Commentaries, and Disquisitions ; they overpower you with pompous and long Quota
dions, that cover above half their Paper. Bes fides that their Thoughts lie loose and scattered, and unconnected, they are generally fiat and tedious, and therefore trouble and perplex you in the Reading : This Fault I have endeavoured carefully to avoid ; the Lives, and principal Incidents that relate to these Classic Authors, you will find in a close and compact View, and the Opinion of the besi Critics upon their Writings follow after in a regular Order : With great Caution I offer any thing of my own Judgment; which I have the Modesty to think would pew vain, forward, and perhaps impertinent; among a Number of so great and undifputed Authorities.
I HIS Work must be confessed to have another Advantage fuperior to any thing that has been yet published, by the Addition of a whole Volume, containing the Lives and Characters of the Grecian and Roman Historians, and Biographers; which I am cone fident no Man will say, were ever get coba leEted together to any purpose in the English Language.
I believe I am the first that ever compiled a Work of this Nature, without a Multitude of Quotations; and fince I did not see the Neceffty of it, I was willing to avoid all Show
and Oftentation of Learning. I have indeed introduced the Translation of some few Latin and Greek Passages, which the judicious Reader will excuse, because he will see the Ufe of it. And when there is Occasion, 'tis as much Conceit and Pedantry, superstitiouf... ly to avoid citing Greek or Latin, as it is to be pompous and profufe in those Citations when there is no Occasion.