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vil law, and even on divinity itself. The divine and the lawyer labour to little purpose, unless they can fhew that the teftimonies which they adduce, are accompanied by all the neceffary marks of authenticity. For if the rules of criticisin adopted by learned antiquaries were arbitrary, and the epochas established by them false, ancient writings would be of as little authority as fictions ; and were it impoffible to afcertain the dates or ages of documents, all their labours would be idle and fruitlefs, and their productions would really be, what ignorance has often afferted them to be, nothing bet ter than the works of mere sportive fancy: but a true connoiffeur in these ftudies, will rather agree in opinion with Mr. CASLEY, who, in his preface to the catalogue of the Royal library (p. 6.) has the following words: "I have ftudied that point jo much, and have Jo often compared manufcripts "without date, with those that happen to have a date, that I have little doubt as to that particular. And he obferves, that he can judge of "the age of a manuscript as well as the age of a man.” Mr. CASLEY however, is not fingular in this opinion: the fame has been confirmed by MABILLON, by the BENEDICTINES at Paris, and by many other writers of the most distinguished reputation. Intelligent antiquaries have in fact, fufficient lights to clear up whatever doubts may arife in their own minds, and to remove every objection, made by thofe, who depreciate the science from ignorance, or a fuperficial acquaintance with its advantages.

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The proofs of hiftory cannot be built upon a more folid foundation, than that of manufcripts and charters. Hiftorical certainty is generally founded on the evidence of one or two cotemporary writers, equally capable and credible, whose testimonies are not contradicted by fuperior authority. The authenticity of ORIGINAL inftruments, is proved by a variety of concurrent circumstances, ceremonies and formalities. When thofe documents are found fupported by fuch indubitable testimonies, we may fafely declare that they have not been forged. On the contrary, when thefe effentials are wanting, when a manufcript or charter contradicts the established cuftoms of the time in which it was pretended to have been written, or even differs from them in any material particular, it cannot poffibly be authentic.

The DIPLOMATIC SCIENCE then, treats of matters which are capable of certainty: truth and falfhood are often manifeftly diftinguished by it.



When no other refource is left, than that of chufing what is more or less probable, its decifions are then regulated by fufpicions, doubts, conjectures, and prefumptive reafons, more or lefs cogent, which it collects and eftimates with due deliberation, never advancing any thing as certain, but what is fupported by the ftrongeft proofs, and introducing what appears more or less fufpicious, with its diftinctive characters; for if the testimony of cotemporary writers is looked upon as the firmeft bulwark of hiftorical truths, because they are witneffes of facts that happened in their own days, original acts or writings, which have nothing to do with hearfay or traditional matters, where prefent events only are related, where every term is weighed with fcrupulous care and attention, and where no facts can find admittance, but fuch as have been approved by the parties, are of a certainty fuperior to every objection. Moft ancient muniments are diftinguished by these precautions, or even greater circumfpection; and are confequently preferable to the teftimony of Hiftorians.

HAVING thus ftated, and in fome measure afcertained, the utility of the DIPLOMATIC SCIENCE; the difadvantages which have arifen from the deftruction of the works of the ancients, will juftify our entering upon a short view of the irreparable loffes which mankind have thereby fuftained.

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Many events have contributed to deprive us of a great part of the literary treasures of antiquity. A very fatal blow was given to literature, by the deftruction of the Phoenician Temples, and of the Egyptian Colleges, when thofe kingdoms, and the countries adjacent, were conquered by the Perfians, about three hundred and fifty years before Chrift. OCHUS, the Perfian general, ravaged thefe countries without forty thousand Sidonians burnt themfelves with their families and riches their own houses. The Conqueror then drove NECTA NEBUS out of Egypt, and committed the like ravages in that country; afterwards he marched into Judea, where he took Jericho, and fent a great number of Jews into captivity, The Perfians had a great diflike to the religion of the Phoenicians and the Egyptians; this was one reafon for deftroying their books, of which EUSEBIUS (De Preparat. Evang.) fays, they had a great



Notwithstanding thefe loffes, PTOLEMY PHILADELPHUS, King of Egypt, who reigned about two hundred years before the Christian Æra, collected the greatest library of all antiquity, which he depofited in his palace at Alexandria, where it was burnt by CESAR's troops.

Another great lofs was occafioned by the destruction of the Pythagorean schools in Italy; when the Platonic or New Philofophy prevailed over the former. PYTHAGORAS went into Egypt, before the Perfian conquefts, where he refided twenty-two years; he was initiated into the facerdotal order, and from his fpirit of inquiry, he hath been juftly said to have acquired a great deal of Egyptian learning, which he afterwards introduced into Italy. POLYBIUS (lib. 2. p. 175) and JAMBLICHUS (in vita Pythag.) mention many circumftances, relative to these facts, quoted from authors now loft; as doth PORPHYRY, in his life of PYTHA


Learning, Philofophy, and Arts, fuffered much by the lofs of liberty in Greece; whence they were tranfplanted into Italy, under the patronage of fome of the great men of Rome; who, by their countenance and protection, not only introduced them into their own country, but even contributed to the revival of them in Greece. The love of learning and of arts amongst the Romans was too foon neglected, through the tyranny of the Emperors, and the general corruption of manners; for in the reign of DIOCLETIAN, towards the end of the third century, the arts had greatly declined, and in the course of the fourth, philofophy degenerated into fuperftition.

Learning and the Arts alfo received a most fatal blow by the destruction of the heathen temples, in the reign of CONSTANTINE. The devastations then committed, are depicted in the strongest and most lively colours by Mr. GIBBON, in the 28th chapter of his Hiftory of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. III. p. 77, & feq.

Many valuable libraries perifhed by the Barbarians of the North, who, invaded Italy in the fourth and fifth centuries, By thefe rude hands perifhed the library of PERSEUS King of Macedon, which PAULUS EMILIUS brought to Rome with its captive owner; as did alfo the noble library established for the ufe of the public, by ASININUS


POLLIO, which was collected from the fpoils of all the enemies he had fubdued, and was greatly enriched by him at a vaft expence. The libraries of CICERO and LUCULLUS met with the fame fate, and those of JULIUS CAESAR, of AUGUSTUS, VESPASIAN, and TRAJAN alfo perished, together with the magnificent library of the younger GORDIAN, founded by his preceptor SIMONICUS, which is faid by fome to have contained 60,000 volumes, and by others 80,000. The repofitory for this vaft collection is reported to have been paved with marble, and ornamented with gold; the walls were covered with glass and ivory, the armories and desks were made of ebony and cedar.

The lofs of PTOLEMY's library at Alexandria had been in some measure repaired, by the remains of that of EUMENES, King of Pergamus, which MARK ANTHONY prefented to CLEOPATRA, and by other collections, fo that a vast library remained at Alexandria, till it was taken by storm, and plundered by the Saracens in the feventh century (A. D. 642). Though the Saracens were at that time a barbarous people, yet AMRUS (or AMRU EBN AL AS), the commander of the troops who took this city, was a man of good capacity, and greatly delighted in hearing philofophical points difcuffed by learned men. JOHN the grammarian, called PHILOPONUS from his love of labour, lived in Alexandria at this time; he foon became acquainted with AMRUS, and, having acquired fome degree of his esteem, requested that the philofophical books preferved in the royal library might be restored. AMRUS wrote to OMAR, the Caliph, to know if his request might be complied with; who returned for anfwer, that if the "books he mentioned agreed in all points with the Book of GoD (the Alcoran), this last would be perfect without them, and confequently "they would be fuperfluous; but if they contained any thing repugnant to the doctrines and tenets of that book, they ought to be looked upon



as pernicious, and of courfe fhould be deftroyed." As foon as the Caliph's letter was received, AMRUS, in obedience to the command of his fovereign, difperfed the books all over the city, to heat the baths, of which there were 4000; but the number of books was fo immenfe, that they were not entirely confumed in lefs than fix months. Thus perifhed, by fanatical madnefs, the ineftimable Alexandrian library, which is faid to have contained at


that time upwards of five hundred thousand volumes; and from this period, barbarity and ignorance prevailed for feveral centuries. In Italy, and all over the Weft of Europe, learning was in a manner extinguifhed, except fome fmall remains which were preferved in Conftantinople.

In this city, the Emperor CONSTANTINE had depofited a confiderable library, which was foon after enriched by his fucceffor JULIAN, who placed the following infcription at the entrance:

Alii quidem equos amant, alii aves, alii feras; mihi vero a puerulo,
Mirum acquirendi et poffidendi libros infedit defiderium.

THEODOSIUS the younger, was very affiduous in augmenting this library, by whom, in the latter end of the fourth century, it was enlarged to one hundred thoufand volumes; above one half of which, were burnt in the fifth century by the Emperor LEO the first, fo famous for his hatred to images.

The inhabitants of Conftantinople had not loft their tafte for literature in the beginning of the thirteenth century, when that city was facked by the Crusaders, in the year 1205; the depredations then committed, are related in Mr. HARRIS'S Pofthumous Works (vol. II. p. 301), from NICETAS the Choniate, who was prefent at the facking of this place. His account of the ftatues, buftos, bronzes, manufcripts, paintings, and other exquifite remains of antiquity, which then perished, cannot be read by any lover of arts and learning without emotion.

The ravages committed by the Turks who plundered Conftantinople, in the year 1453, are related by PHILELPHUS, who was a man of learning, and was tutor to ÆNEAS SYLVIUS (afterwards Pope, under the name of Pius the Second), and was an eye-witness to what paffed at that time. This author fays, that the perfons of quality, efpecially the women, ftill preserved the Greek language uncorrupted. He obferves, that though the city had been taken before, it never fuffered fo much as at that time; and adds, that till that period, the remembrance of ancient wisdom remained


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