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THE FIRST EDITION.
NOTHING has more engaged the attention of lite
rary men since the revival of learning, than to trace, from ancient monuments, the institutions and laws, the religion, the manners, and customs of the Romans, under the general name of Roman Antiquities. This branch of knowledge is not only curious in itself, but absolutely necessary for understanding the Classics, and for reading with advantage the history of that celebrated people. It is particularly requisite for such as prosecute the study of the civil law.
Scarcely on any subject have more books been written, and many of them by persons of distinguished abilities; but they are for the most part too voluminous to be generally useful. Hence a number of abridgments have been published; of which those of Kennet and Nieuport are esteemed the best. The latter is, on the whole, better adapted than the former to illustrate the Classics; but being written in Latin, and abounding with difficult phrases, is not fitted for the use of younger students. Besides, it contains nothing concerning the laws of the Romans, or the buildings of the city, which are justly reckoned among the most valuable parts in Kennet.
On these accounts, near twenty years ago, the Compiler of the following pages thought of framing from both, chiefly from Nieuport, a compendium for his own use, with an intention to print it, if he should meet with no book on the subject to his mind. But he soon perceived, that on several important points he could not derive from either the satisfaction he wished. He therefore had recourse to other sources of information, and chiefly to the Classics themselves. To enumerate the various authors he has consulted would be tedious and useless. It is sufficient to say, that he has borrowed with freedom, from all hands, whatever he judged fit for his purpose. He has been chiefly indebted to Manutius, Brissonius, and Middleton, on the senate; to Pignorius, on slaves; to Sigonius and Grucchius, Manutius, Huber, Gravina, Merula, and Heineccius, on the assemblies of the people, the rights of citizens, the laws and judicial proceedings; to Lipsius, on the magistrates, the art of war, shows of the circus, and gladiators; to Sheffer, on naval affairs and carriages; to Ferrarius, on the Roman dress; to Kirchmannus, on funerals; to Arbuthnot, on coins; to Dickson, on agriculture; to Donatus, on the city; to Turnebus, Abrahamus, Rosinus, Salmasius, Hottomomannus, Grævius, and Gronovius, Montfaucon, Pitiscus, Ernesti, and particularly to Gesner, in different parts of the work.
After making considerable progress in this undertaking, the compiler found the execution so difficult, that he would have willingly dropt it, could he have found any thing on the subject to answer his views. Accordingly, when Mr. Lempriere did him the favour to communicate his design of publishing that useful work the Classical Dictionary, he used the freedom to suggest to him the propriety of intermingling with his plan, a description of Roman Antiquities. But being informed by that gentleman, that this was impracticable, and meeting with no book which joined the explanation of words and things together, he resolved to
execute his original intention. It is now above three years since he began printing. This delay has been occasioned partly by the difficulty of the work, and making various alterations and additions; partly, also, by a solicitude to receive the remarks of some gentlemen of learning and taste, on whose judgment he could rely, who have been so obliging as to read over, with critical attention, the sheets as they were printed.
After finishing what relates to the laws and judicial proceedings, the Compiler proposed publishing that part by itself, with a kind of syllabus of the other parts subjoined; that he might have leisure to reprint, with improvements, a Summary of Geography and History, which he composed a few years ago for the use of scholars. But after giving an account of the deities and religious rites in his cursory manner, and without quoting authorities, he was induced by the advice of friends to relinquish that design, and to postpone other objects, till he should bring the present performance to a conclusion. Although he has all along studied brevity as much as regard to perspicuity would admit, the book has swelled to a much greater size than at first he imagined.
The labour he has undergone can be conceived by those only who have been conversant in such studies. But he will think his pains well bestowed, if his work answer the end intended, -to facilitate the acquisition of classical learning. He has done every thing in hist power to render it useful. He has endeavoured to give a just view of the constitution of the Roman government, and to point out the principal causes of the various changes which it underwent. This part, it is hoped, will be found calculated to impress on the minds of youth just sentiments of government in general; by showing, on the one hand, the pernicious effects of aristocratic domination; and, on the other, the still more hurtful consequences of democratical licentiousness, and oligarchic tyranny.
But it is needless to point out what has been attempted in particular parts; as it has been the Compiler's great aim throughout the whole, to convey as much useful information as possible, within the limits he has prescribed to himself. Although very few things are advanced without classical authority, yet in so extensive a field, and amidst such diversity of opinions, he, no doubt, may have fallen into mistakes. These he shall esteem it the highest favour to have pointed out to him; and he earnestly entreats the assistance of the encouragers of learning to enable him to render his work more useful. He has submitted his plan to the best judges, and it has uniformly met with their approbation.
It may perhaps be thought, that in some places he has quoted too many authorities. But he is con
fident no one will think so, who takes the trouble to examine them. This he esteems the most valuable part of the book. It has at least been the most laborious. A work of this kind, he imagines, if properly executed, might be made to serve as a key to all the classics, and in some degree supersede the use of large annotations and commentaries on the different authors; which, when the same customs are alluded to, will generally be found to contain little else but a repetition of the same things.
As the work is not divided into books and chapters, the table of Contents, it is hoped, will supply that deficiency.
The Compiler has now in a great measure completed, what above twenty years ago he conceived to be wanting in the common plan of education in this country. His first attempt was to connect the study of Latin grammar with that of the English; which was approved of by some of the first literary characters then in the kingdom. It is sufficient to mention Mr. Harris and Dr. Lowth. He has since contrived, by a new and natural arrangement, to include in the same book a vocabulary, not only of the simple and