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Edinburgh: Punted by 1, Balfour & Co. Niddry Street.


The plan and outlines of the following work were sketched, and a considerable portion of it composed, about eighteen years ago. It was advertised, as preparing for the press, in 1823, when the author published the first edition of “ The Christian Philosopher;" but various other engagements prevented its appearance at that period. The Introduction, and the two first Sections were published in a respectable Quarterly Journal, in the year 1816; but they are now considerably modified and enlarged. This eircumstance will account for the date of some of the illustrative facts to which reference is made in the first part of the volume, and in several portions of the Appendix.

Had the present work been published at any of the periods now referred to, the subject it discusses, and some of the illustrations, would have presented a more novel aspect than they can lay claim to at the present time, when the Diffusion of Knowledge has become an object of general attention. The author, however, is not aware, that any work, embracing so full an illustration of the same topics, has yet made its appearance; and is, therefore, disposed to indulge the hope, that, in conjunction with the present movements of society, it may, in some degree, tend to stimulate those exertions which are now making for the melioration and mental improvement of mankind. Independently of the general bearing of the facts and illustrations on the several topics they are intended to elucidate, the author trusts, that not a few fragments of useful knowledge will be found incorporated in the following pages, calculated to entertain and instruct the general reader.

In the numerous illustrations brought forward in this volume, it was found impossible altogether to avoid a recurrence to certain facts which the author had partially adverted to in some of his former publications without interrupting the train of thought, and rendering his illustrations partial and incomplete. But, where the same facts are introduced, they are generally brought forward to elucidate a different topic. Any statements or descriptions of this kind, however, which may have the appearance of repetition, could. all be comprised within the compass of three or four pages.

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The general subject of the present work will be prosecuted in another volume, to be entitled “ The Mental Illumination of Mankind ; or an inquiry into the Means by which a general diffusion of knowledge may be promoted.


This work will embrace along with a great variety of other topics-an examination of the present system of education, showing its futility and inefficiency, and illustrating the principles and details of an efficient intellectual system, capable of universal application ; together with a variety of suggestions in relation to the physical, moral, and intellectual improvement of society.

To his numerous correspondents who have been inquiring after the work “ The Scenery of the Heavens displayed, with the view of illustrating the doctrine of a Plurality of Worlds,” which was announced at page 285, of the “ Philosophy of a Future State,"—the author begs respectfully to state, that, if health permit, he intends to proceed, without delay, to the completion of that work, as soon as the volume announced above is ready for the press.

It will form a volume of considerable size, and will be illustrated with a great number of engravings, many of which will be original.

Broughty Ferry, near Dundee,

18th April 1833.

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