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SOME ACCOUNT OF THE

LIFE, WRITINGS, AND CHARACTER,

OF

LONGINUS.

THE

HERE is no part of history more agree

able in itself, nor more improving to the mind, than the lives of those who have distinguished themselves from the herd of mankind, and set themselves up to public regard. A particular tribute of admiration is always due, and is generally paid, to the Hero, the Philosopher, and the Scholar. It requires indeed a strength of understanding and a solidity of judgment, to distinguish those actions which are truly great, from such as have only the shew and appearance of it. The noise of victories and the pomp of triumphs are apt to make deeper impressions on common minds, than the calm and even labours of men of a studious and philosophical turn, though the latter are, for the most

part

B

part, more commendable in themselves and more useful to the world. The imagination of the bulk of mankind is more alive than their judgment: hence Cæsar is more admired for the part he acted in the plains of Pharsalia, than for the recollection of his mind the night after the victory, by which he armed himself against the insolence of success, and formed resolutions of forgiving his enemies, and triumphing more by clemency and mildness, than he had before by his courage and his arms. Deeds which we can only admire, are not so fit for sedate contemplation, as those which we may also imitate. We may not be able to plan or execute a victory with the Scipios and Cæsars, but we may improve and fortify our understandings, by inspecting their scenes of study and reflection ; we may apply the contemplations of the wise to private use, so as to make our passions obedient to our reason, our reason productive of inward tranquillity, and sometimes of real and substantial advantage to all our fellow-creatures.

Such remarks as the preceding can be no improper Introduction to whatever may be collected concerning the Life of our Author. It will turn out at best but dark and imperfect,

yet

yet open into two principal views, which may prove of double use to a thoughtful and considerate reader. As a Writer of a refined and polished taste, of a sound and penetrating judgment, it will lead him to such methods of thinking, as are the innocent and embellishing amusements of life; as a Philosopher of enlarged and generous sentiments, a friend to virtue, a steady champion, and an intrepid martyr for liberty, it will teach him, that nothing can be great and glorious, which is not just and good ; and that the dignity of what we utter, and what we act, depends entirely on the dignity of our thoughts, and the inward grandeur and elevation of the soul.

Searching for the particular passages and incidents of the Life of Longinus, is like travelling now-a-days through those countries in which it was spent. We meet with nothing but continual scenes of devastation and ruin. In one place, a beautiful spot smiling through the bounty of nature, yet over-run with weeds and thorns for want of culture, presents itself to view; in another, a pile of stones lying in the same confusion in which they fell, with here and therea nodding wall; and sometimes a curious pillar still erect, excites the sorrowful remembrance of what noble edifices and how B 2

fine

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