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ANTIQUITY, &>€. of the POEMS of
OSS IAN the Son of F I N G A L.
INQUIRIES into the antiquities of nations afford more pleafurc
than any real advantage to mankind. The ingenious mayibrm
fyftems of hiflory on probabilities and a few fadls ; but at a great
diftance of time, their accounts mufl be vague and uncertain. The
infancy of ftates and kingdoms is as deftitute of great events, as of
the means of tranfmitting them to pofierity. The arts of poliflied
hfe, by which alone fads can be preferved with certainty, are the
produdion of a well formed community. It is then hiflorians begin
to write, and public tranfadlions to be worthy remembrance. The
aftions of former times are left in obfcurity, or magnified by uncer-
tain traditions. Hence it is that we find fo much of the marvellous
in the origin of every nation ; pofterity being always ready to believe
any thing, however fabulous, that refiedls honour on their anccilors.
The Greeks and Romans were remarkable for this weaknefs. They
fwallowed the moft abfurd fables concerning the high antiquities of
their refpedive nations. Good hillorians, however, rofe veiy early
a amongfl

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