ceflion, circumftantial, complete,

the Romans, did not write till the

judicious, without anv mixture of time Of the feeond Cfllthaginian

the marvellous, and all fupported by allronomical obfervations, for four thoufand one hundred and fifty-two years. They recur to many more diliant ages, without indeed any precife date, but with that probability which feems to approach certainty. It is very likely that powerful nations, fuch as the lndians, the Egyptians, the Chaldeans, the Syrians, who ‘had great cities, had alfo annals.

The wandering people mull: have been the lali who wrote, having lefs means of procuring and preferving archives, having few wants, few laws, few events, being occupied with nothing but the method of procuring a preca- rious fubfiitence, and being fatis- fied with oral tradition. A hamlet had never any hillory, a wandering people ltill lefs, and a fingle city very rarely.

The hiltory of a nation cannot be written till very late; it is begun by fome fumrnary regillers, which are preferved, as far as they can be, in a temple or citadel. An unhappy war often deliroys thefe annals, and the people muft renew their labours twenty times, like ants whofe habitations are trampled upon; many ages mufi elapfe before a hiliory any way circumftantial can fucceed to thefe indigelled regifiers; and this firft hillory is conltantly mingled with marvellous errors, to fupply the place of truth that is deficient. Thus the Greeks had not their Herodotus, till the eightieth Olym- piad, upwards of a thoufand years after the epocha infcribed upon the marbles of Paros. Fabius Pieter, the molt ancient hillorian amonglt

war, about five hundred and forty years after the foundation of Rome.

Now, if thefe two nations, the molt lively upon earth, the Greeks and Romans, our maliers, lo late began their hiftory, ifour northern nations had no hiliorian before Gregory of Tours, can we fin- cerely believe that the vagabond Tartars, who lleep upon fnow, or the Troglodites, who hide them- felves in caverns, or wandering Arabian robbers, who rove upon fandy mountains, had any Thucy- dides’s, any Xenophons? Could they know any thing of their anceflors? Could they gain any knowledge before they had any cities, before they inhabited them, before they had fummoned thither all the arts of which they were deprived?

If the Samoiedes, or the Naza- mons, or the Efquimaux, fhould come and produce anteciated an- nals many centuries back, replete with altonifhing feats of arms, and a continued feries or’ prodigies, which altonilh nature, fhould not we laugh at thefe poor favages? And if fome people, fond of the marvellous, or interefted in mak- ing it credited, lhould torture their imagination to render thefe follies probable, fhoulcl we not deride their attempts? and if they {heuld add to this abfurdity the infolence of affeéiing to hold the learned in contempt, and the cruelty of per- fecuting thofe who doubted, would they not be the molt execrable of men? Let a Siamefe come and relate to me the metamorphofes of Sammonocodom, and threaten to burn me if I offer any objections,

K 4. how