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AN an age when inquiry and research have spread such rich and varied treasures before us,-when the rapid advance of general education has made the thirst for knowledge to become an almost universal passion; the young mind turns with indifference, if not with disgust, from the silly tales and legends which were prepared for the amusement of their grandsires, to **feast on angels' food." The storehouse of NATURE presents an inexhaustible variety of solid information, soul-expanding knowledge, and at the same time rational and cheerful amusement. A skilful hand alone is requisite to seize those beauties she every where presents to our notice; to select those jewels her boundless mine of phenomena contains.
ART also has been, and still is, making rapid strides toward the perfection of her powers. The moist and floating vapour is arrested in its ascent from the boiler, and taught to turn the wheel, to lift the weight, to impel the swift-sailing vessel, and enable it to outstrip the wind; and each day new wonders are achieved by this powerful and useful agent. To collect and arrange these superabundant materials, to cull the beauties glowing in the face of Nature when she smiles, or note her wild sublimities when she bursts upon our astonished senses in
all her grandest operations; to mark the admirable in ART and record her progress in this age of swift advancement in every science, has been the aim of the compiler: how far he has succeeded, must be left with a judicious public to determine.
In preparing this volume for the instruction and amusement of the young of either sex, NATURE and ART have been explored in order that their most admired objects might be selected and blended in one group of dazzling excellence.
The animal and vegetable, the mineral and fossil kingdoms have been searched for rarities; burning mountains have been climbed, the Alps and Andes ascended, caverns explored; while waterfalls, cascades, and the recesses of the deep and boundless ocean have been held in requisition to gratify the thirst of knowledge awakened in the mind of the young and inquiring reader.
The most celebrated public buildings, in all parts of the world, are not only described, but, in many instances, are at once brought before the eye in views engraved from the most elegant designs of modern travellers.
THE following work, consisting of upwards of three hundred descriptive curiosities in Nature and Art, and a variety of interesting experiments in natural philosophy, is presented to the public with great deference.
The editor is well aware, that to cull from the rich and inexhaustible storehouse of Nature only a few of her wonders, and to describe them with exact precision, is a very arduous undertaking. Dr. Johnson, speaking of this subject, says, “that if a thousand lives should be spent upon it, all its properties would not be found out." This delightful study, has, within the last century, been particularly recommended and practised by many men of science and deep learning, who, to encourage a love of the same in the minds of the rising generation, have risked their lives and fortunes to obtain specimens deserving of public notice.
To abridge from some of these learned, able, and indefatigable collectors subjects of instruction and amusement, without tiring the mind with prolixity, has been the grand object of the compiler of this volume. Rational pleasure is the theme recommended by most moralists. "To omit," says a modern essayist, "a single social duty for the cultivation of a polyanthus were ridiculous as well as criminal; but to pass by the beauties lavished before us without observing them is no less ingratitude than stupidity." Mr. Ray also remarks, "that no knowledge can be more pleasant to the soul than this; none so gratifying, or that doth so feed the mind." The language of Nature is that of delight. There is no region in which the volume of instruction is not unfolded. In every climate is found proper food for the support of the inhabitants, and proper medicines for the removal of their diseases: and even should every age change its food and its diseases, there would stid be found in the world supplies sufficient for the inhabitants,—so bountiful and provident is Nature
"The distribution of oceans, seas, and rivers, the variety of
fields, meadows, and groves; the luxuriance of fruits, herbs, and flowers; the return of spring, summer, autumn, and winter, not only regular in their approaches, but bringing with them presents to make their return desirable; the pleasing vicissitudes of day and night; all have a voice, which, by telling man he is constantly receiving favours, reminds him that he should always be ready to bestow them.'
The subjects collected for the volume are of a very general nature, carefully taken from authors of the highest respectability, but celebrated for their zeal in developing the wonders of nature and art. Various remarkable curiosities are explained. The mineral, fossil, and vegetable kingdoms have been searched for varieties. Burning mountains and caverns have been explored. Waterfalls, cascades, and the wonders of the deep, are particularly noticed; and the most celebrated public buildings in all parts of the world, are not only described, but are frequently illustrated by views from the elegant designs of modern travellers.
A copious Appendix is added for the particular amusement of young people, of mathematical, mechanical, chemical, and philosophical experiments; with explanatory Plates, which will render the amusement more practicable to the young philosopher.
The whole is interspersed with poetical selections; and a series of Wood-cuts, elegantly engraved by artists of the firstrate ability. In short, no labour or expense has been spared to render the work unique in itself, and equal, if not superior to any treatise of the kind hitherto published.