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Some indulgence, however, must be claimed from the candour of the publick, 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 publick-spirited Maxims of Marcus Antoninus.
He was a philosopher from his youth; and coming: to the govern
ment 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
ployed attended, as they hitherto have been, with equal success.
PREF A C E.
A SLIGHT VIEW OF THE STOIC
HE diffusion of science amongst THE
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 noveis. for the amusement, and school-boys moB
ral 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 philofopher, 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