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mankind may be refined from its dross, their me. mories furnished with the best notions, their judgments strengthened, and their conceptions enlarged, by which means the mind will be raised to the most perfect ideas it is capable of in this degenerate state.
But as others have laboured to carry out our thoughts, and to entertain them with all manner of delights abroad; it is the peculiar character of this author, that he has taught us (with Antoninus) to meditate upon ourselves; that he has disclosed to us greater secrets at home; self-reflection being the only way to valuable and true knowledge, which consists in that rare science of a man's self, which the moral philosopher loses in a crowd of definitions, divisions, and distinctions: the historian cannot find it amongst all his musty records, being far better acquainted with the transactions of a thousand years past, than with the present age, or with himself: the writer of fables and romances wanders from it, in following the delusions of a wild fancy, chimeras and fictions that do not only exceed the works, but also the possibility of nature. Whereas the resemblance of truth is the utmost limit of poetical liberty, which our author has very religiously observed; for he has not only placed and connected together the most amiable images of all those powers that are in our souls, but he has furnished and squared his matter like a true philosopher; that is, he has made both body and soul, colour and shadow, of his poem out of the store. house of his own mind, which gives the whole work a real and natural beauty; when that which is bor. rowed out of books (the boxes of counterfeit com