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PREFACE.

THE following Work originally contained the substance of a course of Lectures, which the Author occasionally read to his Pupils. The fatisfaction they expressed in hearing them, encouraged him to hope, that they would not prove unacceptable to ihofe readers for whofe ufe they were made public. He has not been disappointed in his expectation; and the favourable reception which his work has met with, has induced him to revise the whole, and

to make some considerable improvements in the · present edition. The List of Books has been par

ticularly attended to; and he has endeavoured to make it more comprehensive from a defire to sketch such a prospect of the best publications, as may be pleasing to every enquirer into useful and entertaining Literature.

To lay claim to originality of subject in fuch a Work as this, in order to recommend it to notice, would prove the unfitnefs of the writer for the tafk he has undertaken, and be a prefumptuous and vain attempt to impofe upon the good fenfe of his readers. His pretenfions to public regard must in a great measure depend, not on the novelty of his

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materials, but upon his judgment in selecting, and his skill in compreffing within a moderate compass, the substance of larger and more voluminous. works; and upon the manner in which he has clothed old ideas in a new dress. Upon all his. subjects, he has endeavoured to reflect light from every quarter which his reading and observation. have afforded to him.

In the former Editions, it was his earnest en. deavour to make due acknowledgments for the aslistance he derived from various sources. His. obligations have been increased in the course of preparing the present Edition for the press; and the labour of his researches has been considerably abridged, by the information obtained from the Encyclopædia Britannica, Imison's Elements of the Arts, Robertson's History of America, and, Tytlers Elements of General History. The use he has made of theie cxcellent works is the best proof of his opinion of their merit.

We happily live at a time when we may congratulate the rising generation on the new establishments made for the advancement of knowledge, and the additional means adopted for the diffusion of a taste for literature and science. The Academy instituted at Marlow for Military Students, that now building at Hertford, for those who are defigned for the civil service in India, and the New College about to be erected at Cambridge, promise to answer the excellent purposes of their

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refpe&tive founders. The Royal Institution in London engages the fair and the fashionable in the cause of polite Literature and Science; and the high reputation it has acquired, has promoted a fimilar eftablithment in another part of the Metropolis. Thus the talents and the attainments of eminent Professors are called into action; their labours are adapted to the peculiar profefsion for which young men are intended, and the curiosity of the public at large is gratified to a degree unprecedented in former times, by the diffusion of various kinds of knowledge. . . .

It is the boast of the enemies of Great Britain, that they give encouragement to Science in the midst of War. Poffeffed of such anıple means of information as our celebrated Univerfities and Schools afford us, aided by recent establishments, it fhould be our ambition to emulate them in the cultivation of the mind, and to convince them, by the exertion of our intellectual powers in the cause of Learning and Science, that we have a claim to pre-eminence in the republic of letters, similar to that we have oftablished to the empire of the ocean. wisi..

Whatever progress may have been made in the · course of the last century, in any branches of

Literature, Science, and the polite Arts, we may be affured, that the untutored, mind can receive little satisfaction or improvement from them; it imust be furnished with preparatory, information upon the respeclive fubjets; hence arises the

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. utility of Elementary Works; the seeds of learning must be first fown before flowers can expand, and fruit can ripen and be gathered. ..

Tliat no work of man can be free from imperfection and error, is a truth which the author would not repeat, if his experience did not fully convince him, that it is applicable in a peculiar degree to publications of this kind. He must, therefore, make his appeal to the candour of the public, with the faithful declaration that he has rendered his Work as correct and complete as his professional avocations and precarious health have allowed. He wishes those who may complain of his want of brevity, to consider the great extent of every one of the subjects he has undertaken to treat; and those -who, from a predilection for some particular topic, may wish for a fuller view of it, are requested to recollect, that he professes to state principles only, Cand not to give complete fysiems of Science, or to particularise long details of History; and he trufts he may affert, with no less confidence than truth, that it will not be easy to find such a variety of information, contained within the same number of pages, in any work of the price in our Language.

The motive which prompted him to undertake this Work, still continues to stimulate him in every stage of its progress--an ardent defire to extend i ureful instruction beyond the narrow profeffional sphere in which he moves. If he should excite

curiosity,

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