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JOHN HORNE TOOKE.
FROM 1736 TO 1765.
Of the Birth and Family of Mr. Horne-His Education and early Views-He obtains the Living of New Brentford-First Journey to France.
BOSSUET remarks, in the most useful but least popular of his works *, that the study of history appertains, in a peculiar manner, to princes. Plutarch, on the other hand, has demonstrated, by his own example, that biography is adapted to all ranks and conditions of life; and this position has been amply confirmed by the testimony of our own Bacon lord Verulam, than whom, a greater authority cannot be quoted, by a reference to any age or country.
* Discours sur l'Histoire Universelle, p. 1.
It is no unpromising symptom of the present times, that the latter still continues to be a popular pursuit, and forms, at this day, a favourite amusement with almost every description of readers for we are told, by a writer whose very name is always pronounced with respect, that it was cultivated with zeal and diligence in the virtuous times of the Roman republic; but under the emperors first declined, and then fell into disuse *.
Different periods exhibit different models for this species of composition. As we approach the heroic ages, great, useful, and generous actions, constitute the chief features; while, in latter times, the splendour of birth and the pomp of fortune are generally invoked to give grace and dignity to the portrait. The ancients, as usual, seem to have been far more simple, chaste, and correct, in these particulars, than ourselves. The great biographer of Chæronea candidly confesses, that even Hercules himself was not altogether of divine extraction; he allows that the family of Themistocles was too obscure to confer distinction†; he admits, that Camillus, denominated "the second founder of Rome," was the first who brought the Furii into + Plut. in Vit. Themis.