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The following Work is the substance of various speculations, which occasionally occupied the author , and enlivened his leisure hours. It is not intended for the learned; they are above it: nor for the vulgar ; they are below it. It is intended for those who , free from the corruption of opulence and depression of bodily labor, are fond of useful knowledge ; who, even in the delirium of youth , feel the dawn of patriotism, and who, in riper years, enjoy its meridian warmth. To such men this Work is dedicated; and that they may profit by it, is the author's ardent wish ; and probably will be while he retains life fufficient to form a wish.
May not he hope, that this Work, child of bis gray hairs, will survive, and bear testimony for him to good men, that even a laborious calling, which left him not many leisure hours, never banished from his mind, that he would little deserve to be of the human spocies, were he in different about his fellow-creatures :
Homo fum : humani nihil a me alienum puto. Most of the subjects handled in the following sheets, admit but of probable reasoning i and,
with respect to such reasonings, it is often difficult to say, what degree of conviction they ought to produce. It is easy to form plausible arguments; but to form such as can stand the test of time, is not always easy. I could amuse the reader with numerous examples of conjectural arguments, which , fair at a distant view, vanish like a cloud on a near approach. Several examples, not to go farther, are mentioned in the preliminary discourse. The hazard of being misled by such arguments , gave the author much anxiety; and, after his utmost attention, he can but faintly hope, that he has not often wandered far from truth.
TO THE RE A D ER.
As one great object of the Editor is to make this a popular Work, he has, chiefly with a view to the female jex, subjoined an English translation of the quotations from other languages.
FIRST VOLUM E.