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investigation was acquired. The love of truth displayed itself, and the love of liberty.
Shall we then discard that, to which our ancestors owed every thing they possessed? Do we not fear lest, by removing the foundations of intellect, we should facrifice intellect itself? Do we not fear lest, by imperceptible degrecs, we should bring back the dark ages, and once again plunge our species in eternal night ?
This however, though a plausible, is not a strict and logical arguinent in favour of classical learning ; and, if unsupported by direct reasoning, ought not probably to be considered as de'ciding the controversy. The strongest direct arguments are probably as follow. They will be found to apply with the most force to the study of Latin.
The Latin authors are poffeffcd of uncommon excellence. One kind of excellence they poffefs, which is not to be found in an equal degree in the writers of any other country : an exquisite skill in the use of language; a happy selection of words; a beautiful structure of phrase; a tranfparency of style ; a precision by which they communicate the firongest sentiments in the directeft form ; in a word, every thing that relates to the most admirable polish of manner. Other writeis have taken more licentious flights, and pro
duced greater astonishment in their readers. Other writers have ventured more fearlessly into unexplored regions, and cropped those beauties which hang over the brink of the precipice of deformity. But it is the appropriate praise of the best Roman authors, that they scarcely presentus with one idle and excrescent clause, that they continually convey their meaning in the choicest words. Their lincs dwell upon our memory; their fentences have the force of maxims, every part vigorous, and seldom any thing that can be changed but for the worse. We wander in a scene where
every thing is luxuriant, yet every thing vivid, graceful and correct,
It is commonly faid, that you may read the works of foreign authors in translations. But the excellencies above enumerated are incapable of being transfused. A diffuse and voluminous author, whose merit consists chiefly in his thoughts, and little in the manner of attiring them, may be translated. But who can tranflate Horace? who endure to read the translation? Who is there, acquainted with him only through this medium, but listens with astonishment and incredulity to the encomiums he has received from the hour his poems were produced The Roman historians are the best that ever
existed, existed. The dramatic merit and the eloquence of Livy; the profound philofophy of Sallust; the rich and folemn pencil of Tacitus, all ages of the world will admire ; but no historian of any other country has ever been able to rival.
Add to this, that the best ages of Rome afford the purest models of virtue that are any where to be met with. Mankind are too apt to lose fight of all that is heroic, magnanimous and public-spirited. Modern ages have formed to themselves a virtue, rather polished, than sublime, that consists in petty courtesies, rather than in the tranquil grandeur of an elevated mind. It is by turning to Fabricius, and men like Fabricius, that we are brought to recollect what human nature is. Left to ourselves, we are apt to fink into effeminacy and apathy.
But, if such are the men with whose actions it is most our interest to familiarise ourselves, we cannot do this so successfully as by studying them in the works of their countrymen, To know them truly, we must not content ourselves with viewing them from a difiance, and reading them in abridgment. We must watch their minutest actions, we must dwell upon their every word. We must gain adınission among their confidents, and penetrate into their secret fouls. Nothing is fo vretched a wafie of time as the study of abridgments.
If it be allowable to elucidate the insufficiency of the modern writers of ancient history by instances, it inight be remarked, that Rollin takes care repeatedly to remind his reader that the virtues of the heathens were only so many specious vices, and interlards his history with an exposition of the prophecies of Daniel ; that Hooke calumniates all the greatest characters of Rome to exalt the reputation of Cæfar; and that Mitford and Gillies are at all times ready to fufpend their narrative for a panegyric upon modern despotism. No persons seein to have been more utter strangers to that republican spirit which is the fource of our noblest virtues, than those authors who have affumed to be the historiographers of the ancient republics,
A fecond argument in favour of the study of the Latin classics may be thus stated. Language is the great medium of communication among mankind. He that desires to instruct others, or to gain personal reputation, must be able to express himself with perfpicuity and propriety. Most of the misunderstandings which have existed, in sentiment or in science, may be traced to fome obscurity or looseness of expression as
their source. Add to this, that the taste of mankind is so far refined, that they will not accept an uncouth and disgufiful letfon, but require, elegance and ornament. One of the arts that tend most to the improvement of human intellect, is the art of language; and he is no true friend to his species, who would suffer them froin neglect to fall back, from their present state of advancement in this respect, into a barbarous and undisciplined jargon.
But it is perhaps impoffible to understand one language, unlcts we are acquainted with more than one.
It is by comparison only that we can enter into the philosophy of language. It is by comparison only that we separate ideas, and the words by which those ideas are ordinarily conveyed. It is by collating one language with another, that we detect all the shades of meaning through the various inficctions of words, and all the minuter degradations of sense which the same word suffers, as it thall bappen to be connected with different topics. He that is aequainted with only one language, will probably always remain in fome degree the slave of language. From the imperfcctness of his knowledge, he will feel himself at one time seduced to say the thing he did not mean, and at another time will fall into crrors of this fort without