Antiquities is a term signifying those testimonies, or authentic records of the early ages, which are transmitted to posterity by tradition.
The study of antiquities forms a very extensive science, including an historical survey of the ancient edifices, magistrates, offices, habiliments, manners, customs, ceremonies, religious institutions, etc. of the various nations of the earth. It is equally useful and interesting to the lawyer, physician, and divine.
Antiquarian science may be divided into sacred and profane, public and private, universal and particular.
The antiquities of Greece and Rome attract the curiosity of every scholar) and though including the history of the Jews, .Egyptians, Persisians Phoenicians, Carthaginians, and in short, every celebrated nation, they, by no means, contain the whole of this branch of learning. For, if to the general be added a particular acquaintance with statues, has reliefs, medals, tings, and the venerable re-* mains of ancient architecture, this aggregate information constitutes a very interesting and extensive science.
To acquire a knowledge of the works of sculpture, statuary, graving, painting, etc. which are called antiques, strict attention ought to be paid to the substance, on which the art has been practised; as wax, clay, wood, ivory, stones, marble, bronze, and every kind of metal: because, on comparing this with the subject, it frequently serves to discriminate the true from the counterfeit specimens.
Many of our great antiquaries (who are not the most skilled in designing) frequently grant the preference to the ancients, rather from prejudice than judgment. That striking peculiarity which to them appears so marvellous in the works of antiquity, is often a mere chimera : for most of the antique figures and statues are totally void expresaion, and we can only fancy their characters
We are, however, greatly in-led to the persevering exertions, and the laudable spirit of inquiry, which have lately been d d by the Royal Antiquarian Society; inasmuch as the Members of that learned and patriotic body have individually, and collectively, contributed to the acquisition of those valuable materials which are now converted to their proper use. Mr. Burgess, in his ingenious Essay "On the Study of Antiquities, " printed in 1783, justly observes, that "this study, once far removed from all the arts of elegance, is now become an attendant on the Muses, and a handmaid to History, Poetry, and Philosophy."