« FöregåendeFortsätt »
T HE following work is the substance of various
T speculations, that occasionally amused 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 men, who, equally removed from the corruption of opulence, and from the depression of bodily labour, are bent on 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 wilh; and probably will be while any spirit remains in him to form a wish.
May not he hope, that this work, child of his gray hairs, will survive, and bear testimony for him to good men, that even a laborious calling, which left him not many leifure-hours, never banished from his mind, that he would little deserve to be of the human species, were he indifferent about his fellowcreatures :
Homo Jum : humani nihil a me alienum puto.
Most of the subjects handled in the following sheets, admit but of probable reasoning; which is not a little Nippery, as with respect to many reasonings of that kind, it is difficult to pronounce, what degree of conviction they ought to produce. It is easy to form plaufible arguments ; but to form such as will 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. In the first sketch of this book, not to go farther, he will find recorded more than one example. The dread of being misled by such arguments, filled the author with anxiety; and after:hịt: utmost attention, he can but faintly hope, that he has: 10$ often wandered far from truth.
Above thirty years ago, he began to collect materials for a natural history of man; and in the vigour of youth, did not think the undertaking too bold, even for a single hand. He has discovered of late, that his utmost abilities are scarce sufficient for executing a few imperfect sketches.
Edinburgh, Feb. 23. 1774.,