What Histories can be found . . . that please and instruct like the Lives of Plutarch? . . . I am of the same Opinion with that Author, who said, that if he was constrained to fling all the Books of the Antients into the Sea, PLUTARCHshould be the last drowned.
—Montesquieu, quoted by Oliver Goldsmith
Using history as a mirror I try by whatever means I can to improve my own life and to model it by the standard of all that is best in those whose lives I write. As a result I feel as though I were conversing and indeed living with them; by means of history I receive each one of them in turn, welcome and entertain them as guests and consider their stature and their qualities and select from their actions the most authoritative and the best with a view to getting to know them. What greater pleasure could one enjoy than this or what more efficacious in improving one’s own character?