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reasonably be expected of him is, that he look well to the accuracy of his statements, and the credibility of his authorities. Under this conviction, the Writer of the present Volume felt himself at full liberty to gather, from any authentic source to which he had access, whatever was suited to his purpose, whether found among the records of antiquity, or in the works of modern authors of acknowledged reputation. In a performance of this description, which is avowedly a compilation, making no pretensions to originality, but solely to fidelity of narration, the Author presumes he will not be chargeable with an improper use of the literary labours of others, if he have, in many instances, preferred to adopt the words of the respective authors themselves, instead of investing their recorded facts with his own phraseology.
It was at first the intention of the Writer, to have appended to each lesser division of his work, a complete list of authorities, both ancient and modern; but, on reflection, it appeared to him, that these numerous references, besides occupying a considerable space, would rather look like a parade of extensive reading, than answer any
valuable purpose. confine his references either to direct quotations, or to those specific cases in which ampler information might be desired than could be given in these elementary pages.
He determined, therefore, to
It will be seen, that the Author closes his retrospect with the commencement of the eighteenth century. His principal reasons for doing so are, that the age of LOCKE and NEWTON constitutes a most remarkable æra in the history of the human mind, since these illustrious individuals may justly be accounted founders of new schools in physical and intellectual science; that, subsequently to that period, the ramifications of human knowledge have become so numerous, as to require a series of volumes for even the most cursory review; and, especially, because a variety of small elementary works already exist, in which the later improvements of science are accurately and minutely described.
The Writer of this Volume is not so presumptuous as to imagine, that the eye of criticism will not detect some inaccuracies or omissions, into which
he may have inadvertently fallen, while taking so wide a range, and touching upon so great a variety of subjects. He knows not whether it will be admitted as an apology for such imperfections in his Work, that it was written amidst the pressure of numerous important avocations; and that he could only devote to its compilation, fragments of time, snatched with difficulty from his official duties. Should such inaccuracies or omissions be found, when his volume shall have been submitted to the test of enlightened criticism, the Writer will most thankfully receive such suggestions, from whatever quarter they may proceed; and, if a future opportunity present itself, will practically express his obligations, by endeavouring to correct the former or to supply the latter.