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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 Etas, &c.
-fubiit argentea Proles
Auro deterior, fulvo pretiofior Ære, &c.
Tertia poft illas fufcepit abenea Proles,
Sævior ingeniis, &c.

-de duro eft ultima ferro.


They conceived that the first state of man was fuperior to all fucceeding states, as gold is beyond other metals; that the B


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 deferve the appellation of the Brazen-Age; and that the fourth, unhappily for us, is the last state of degeneracy, and deferves 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 shall 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 shall, in treating this subject, 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,

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will be that of Gold-no Golden-Age having yet existed, except in the imagination of poets.

But to avoid being misunderstood, it is neceffary to premise, that the different ftates of mankind do not depend upon A. M. or A. U. C. or A. D.-for, in the first year of our æra, Italy was refined, and England barbarous; and in the eighteenth century, fome nations have attained a point of perfection unknown to all which have preceded, while others are still unenlightened and ignorant. It is not then from the age of the world, but from the age of fociety, that the dates in this effay are computed.

All works, whether of art or literature, long fince produced, are ancient, as far as time only is concerned. But if we mean to distinguish between elegant and barbarous antiquity, it is neceffary to confider in what state of fociety the works B 2


were produced. The want of this diftinction has been of great differvice to the polite arts, and given a false direction to a good principle. At the revival of the arts in Italy, architects, painters, and sculptors ftudied the remains of ancient Rome as fpecimens of their art carried in an enlightened age to the height of perfection. The Roman Antiquities then are valuable, because they are the productions of artifts who poffeffed all the knowledge of an advanced state of fociety; but the Saxon and Gothic Antiquities, tho' juftly objects of curiosity, and even of admiration, are still the remains of society in its infancy, and therefore barbarous and falfe.

Nothing is more common than finding in nations widely feparated, a refemblance of manners and customs;* from


* "Meet Highlanders near Montauban like thofe in Scotland."


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whence it is concluded, that they formerly have had fome connection, and that one has borrowed from the other as the Egyptians from the Chinese, or the reverse; nay, the English from the Eaft Indians.* The custom of marking the skin in figures was as much practised by our ancestors in Britain, as by the modern inhabitants of Otaheitee:† and Robert

* "From Tartary the Hindoo Religion probably spread over the whole earth; there are figns of it in every northern country, and in almost every fyftem of worship: in England it is obvious; Stonehenge is evidently one of the Temples of Boodh; and the arithmetic, the aftronomy, the holidays, games, &c. ancient monuments, laws, and even languages of the different nations, have the strongest marks of the fame original. The worship of the fun and fire; human and animal facrifices, &c. have apparently once been univerfal." ASIATIC RESEARCHES.

+ To which may be added, the North-American Indians, of whom Bartram fays, "their head, neck, and breaft are painted with vermillion (colour) and fome of the warriors have the skin of the breaft, and mufcular parts of the body very curiously

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