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THE greatest part of these Essays should be confidered as Sketches for a Periodical Paper, which was once intended for publication—they are, in confequence, upon familiar fubjects, and treated as fuch-The Four-Ages, and other Pieces (eafily diftinguished) made no part of the above defign; but though less proper for a Paper, they are more fo for a Book, which may be confidered as an addition to the THIRTY LETTERS already published by the fame Author.
Page 148, line 1, for profeffed read poffeffed.
7, for faculty read facility. 17, after into read the.
THE FOUR AGES.
THE Ancients, as Ovid elegantly shews in his Metamorphofis, held, that the different states of fociety were aptly expreffed by being termed the Golden Age, the Silver, the Brazen, and the Iron
Aurea prima fata eft Ætas, &c.
-fubiit argentea Proles
Auro deterior, fulvo pretiofior Ære, &c.
Sævior ingeniis, &c.
-de duro eft ultima ferro.
METAM. LIB. I.
They conceived that the first state of man was superior to all fucceeding states, as gold is beyond other metals; that the fecond
fecond Age had as much degenerated from the perfection of the first, as the value of filver is below gold; that the third was fo far removed from primitive excellence, as to deserve the appellation of the Brazen-Age; and that the fourth, unhappily for us, is the last state of degeneracy, and deserves no better epithet than what the cheapest and most worthlefs metal afforded. We then live in the Iron-Age.
In compliance with a custom fanctioned by fuch early antiquity, I fhall make use of the fame terms, and call the different Ages by the names of the four metals, which, if not very elegant, are expreffive enough of the meaning. But, in direct contradiction to the opinion of the ancients, and perhaps of the moderns, I fhall, in treating this fubject, invert the order, and endeavour to prove, that the first was the Iron-Age, and the last, when it shall please Heaven to fend it,