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Toppar Presb. Ass



P. R. S.


GRATITUDE and respect are

due from every individual in society, to him who promotes its real intereft, by extending the bounds of knowledge. All Europe is acquainted with the exertions have made for its advancement: permit me to join the voice of nations, by expreffing the fenfe I entertain of them. With this


intention, I take the liberty of dedicating the following Treatife to the Prefident of that refpectable Body of Men,

hom the

Vol. I.

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true Philosophy had its origin, and to whom it owes a great part of its improvements.

with much respect,


Your moft obedient

I am,

Feb. 28th, 1782.

humble Servant,




THE advantages derived from the science of Natural Philosophy, are fo great and fo univerfally acknowledged, that an enumeration of them would be unneceffary, if it did not ferve to enliven and direct that fpirit of inquiry which is natural to youthful minds; and to awaken thofe who from a want of reflection are not inclined to look into the causes of things. We are apt to regard objects, to which we have long been familiarized, with languor and indifference; and we now behold effects without even the emotion of curiofity, which in less enlightened ages would have been thought miraculous.

Man in a rude and favage ftate, with a precarious fubfiftence, expofed to the inclemencies of the feafons, and the fury of wild beafts, is an object of pity when compared to man enlightened and affifted by Philofophy. Ignorant of architecture, of agriculture, of commerce, and of all the numerous arts which depend upon the mechanic powers; he exifts in the defart, comfortless and unfocial, little fuperior in enjoyment to the lion or the tyger, but much their inferior in ftrength and safety. If it be true that man ever exiited in this ftate, it could not have lafted long; the exertion of his mental strength must A 2 have

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have given rife to the arts. Aided by these, the wilderness becomes a garden embellished with temples, palaces, and populous cities; and he beholds himself removed to an immenfe diftance from the animals, to which in his original ignorance he seemed nearly allied.

The sciences beftow that leisure and independence which have enabled fuperior minds to form laws, and to establish the rights of mankind by mutual compact between the powerful and the weak. By this leifure it is that ingenious and fpeculative men have collected maffes of knowledge, which induce us to regard the powers of the human mind with aftonishment. Hence we poffefs the admirable fcience of Aftronomy. A science founded on the most accurate and long continued obfervations, and fyftemifed by the pureft mathematical reasoning; but at the fame time fo remote from vulgar apprehenfion, that its daily and important uses and predictions are hardly fufficient to prevent its being regarded by the ignorant as a chimera!!

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The other departments of Natural Philosophy are not lefs replete with wonders, How great would have been the furprife of the ancients, could they have foreknown the effects which are produced by the reflection and refraction of light! By a skilful management of thefe properties, telescopes and various optical inftruments are conftructed: objectstoo remote to be perceived by the naked eye are enlarged and rendered vifible: the fatellites of Jupiter


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