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OF THE EMPEROR
Marcus Aurelius Antoninus.
A NEW TRANSLATION FROM THE GREEK
R. GRAVES, M. A.
RECTOR OF CLAVERTON, SOMERSET ;
AND CHAPLAIN TO THE COUNTESS
AND SOLD BY
B. CROSBY & Co., Stationer's-court,
AND ALL OTHER BOOKSELLERS.
Hon. EDWARD JAMES ELIOT, One of the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury,
and Member for Liskeard, in Cornwall.
As I am convinced the permission with which you have honoured nie, of prefixing your name, will be no small credit to this publication, I should be unhappy if the performance should do any discredit to so respectable a patron.
Some indulgence, however, must be claimed from the candour of the public, as the original of this admired work is confessedly, in some parts, extremely difficult and abstruse: for which reason also, it has not, I believe, been generally read in the present age: so that, perhaps, even you, Sir, and your young associates in the Administration, may, without knowing it, have been acting on the noble and public-spirited maxims of Marcus Antoninus.
He was a philosopher from his youth; and coming to the government of a great empire, at a very critical period, as the love of his country was his ruling principle, so he made its prosperity the chief study and employment of his whole life.
In short, Sir, it is, I think, universally agreed, that Marcus Antoninus was one of the best Sovereign Princes, and one of the most virtuous men of ancient times; and I know of but one Sovereign Prince in modern times, who can rival him in both those respects; whose efforts also for the service of his country, from the instruments employed in that service, will, I trust, be attended, as they hitherto have been, with equal
I have the honour to subscribe myself,
A SLIGHT VIEW OF THE STOIC PHILOSOPHY, &c.
The diffusion of science amongst all ranks of people, in this age, (by the means of reviews, magazines, and other periodical publications) is astonishing, and beyond all example. Hence the mechanic decides on religious controversies, and the haberdasher arraigns the conduct of statesmen: our young
ladies write novels for the amusement, and school-boys moral essays for the improvement, of their grandmothers. Nay, in conversation, these retailers of superficial knowledge often eclipse, in the opinion of the vulgar, men of profound erudition; and, in their own opinions, surpass all the sages of antiquity. The wise maxims therefore of an ancient philosopher, though of imperial rank, have but a slender chance of gaining attention in so enlightened an age; and in a country where every newspaper is fraught with apothegms, and every evening club is a Lyceum or school of philosophers. Yet, notwithstanding these disadvantages, these meditations and occasional reflections abound with so much good sense, and such original thoughts,' such virtuous principles, such benevolence and love of mankind, and such a religious regard to the comnion rights of his fellow-creatures; that a system of morality might be extracted from them, only surpassed by that of the gospel; and a system of politics not surpassed even by the refinements of modern patriotism. These maxims are not the reveries of a private recluse; but the reflexions of a statesman, a soldier, and a sovereign prince, engaged in the tumultuous scenes of life; and most of them suggested by actual situations. I do not consider such unconnected precepts, however, as forming a volume that any one will read through at a sitting; but as a “ book to lie in a parlour window,” (as Montaigne says) from which a man may pick up some useful hints while he is waiting for his dinner. A lady in private life, equally distinguished by her piety and her ingenuity, assured me, many years since, that she had received more advantage, in her youth, from the