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What more appropriate proof can I give of that high respect, than the inscribing to your Lordship the lives of two illustrious Romans, whose characters, as gentlemen and as scholars, cannot fail of being particularly interesting to one, whose attainments as a man of letters are so universally known, and whose honourable deportment as a nobleman, on every occasion of his life, has evinced the princely lineage from whence he is sprung.
The peculiar propriety of this small tribute of my respect and gratitude, will, I am persuaded, be more readily acknowledged, when it is
called to mind, that your Lordship has not only equalled, but exceeded these distinguished ancients in the love of virtue, and in uniform zeal for the welfare of your country, and the genuine liberties of mankind.
I have the honour to be,
With the most respectful esteem,
Your Lordship's devoted
Esker, near Leixlip,
and humble servant,
In giving the lives of Messala Corvinus and Pomponius Atticus to the public, some apology may, perhaps, be deemed necessary. Whether the following account of Messala may be entitled to the appellation of a Life, is left to the judgment of the reader; but it appeared to me that history had preserved such a number of interesting, distinct, yet dispersed incidents of his character, as made a collection of the whole desirable.
Indeed the idea of first bringing together the scattered rays of his life, was suggested to me by a note in Gibbon's History of the Roman Empire, wherein that elegant writer has given, in his own peculiar manner, the leading features of it. However, independent of Gibbon's authority as an historian, the light in which Messala appears, when first introduced by Cicero to the notice of Brutus, is in itself sufficient to awaken posterity to the investigation of all that is known of him. In the following Memoirs of his life, I have examined carefully all the accounts given of him by ancient and modern writers; and arranged and connected them in the way I judged most suitable to the subject: and though I have not been able