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REVIEW OF MEMOIRS
COURT OF AUGUSTUS. .
By THOMAS BLACKWELL, J.U.D. Principal of
Marisnal-College in the University of Aberdeen.
HE first Effect which this Book has upon the
Reader is thạt of disgusting him with the Author's Vanity. He endeavours to persuade the World, that here are some new Treasures of Literature spread before his Eyes; that something is discovered, which to this happy Day had been concealed in Darkness; that by his Diligence Time had been robbed of some valuable Monument which he was on the Point of devouring; and that Naines and Facts doomed to Oblivion are now restored to Fame.
How must the unlearned Reader be surprised, when he shall be told that Mr. Blackwell has neither digged in the Ruins of any demolished City, nor found out the way to the Library of Fez; nor had a single Book in his Hands, that has not been in the Possession of every Man that was inclined to read it, for Years and Ages; and that his Book relates to a People who above all others have furVOL. III.
nished Employment to the Studious, and Amusements to the Idle; who have scarcely left behind them Coin or a Stone, which has not been examined and explained a thousand Times, and whose Dress, and Food, and Houshold Stuff it has been the Pride of Learning to understand.
A Man need not fear to incur the Imputation of vitious Diffidence or affected Humility, who should have forborn to Promise many Novelties, when he perceived such Multitudes of Writers poffefsed of the fame Materials, and intent upon the same Purpose. Mr. Blackwell knows well the Opinion of Horace, concerning those that open their Undertakings with magnificent Promises; and he knows likewise the Dictates of common Sense and common Honesty, Names of greater Authority than that of Horace, who direct that no Man should Promise what he cannot perform.
I do not mean to declare that this Volume has nothing New, or that the Labours of those who have gone before our Author, have made his Performance an useless Addition to the Burden of Literature. New Works may be constructed with old Materials, the Disposition of the Parts may shew Contrivance, the Ornaments interspersed may discover Elegance.
It is not always without good Effect that Men of proper Qualifications write in Succession on the same Subject, even when the latter add nothing to the Information given by the former; for the fame Ideas may be delivered more Intelligibly or more Delightfully by one than by another, or with Attractions that may lure Minds of a different form. No Writer pleases all, and every Writer may please fome.
. But after all, to inherit is not to acquire ; to decorate is not to make ; and the Man who had nothing to do but to read the ancient Authors, who mention the Roman Affairs, and reduce them to