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“A work that, dip where the reader may, he will find a fund of
knowledge; and which he may continue to peruse, lay down, and
take up at pleasure, without breaking the thread, or interrupting
the chain of reasoning."





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A WHOLE TREATISE is really no more than the development of one idea; and a process, somewhat similar to the composition of a volume, is performed by the mind at every suggestion of a leading thought-at every demon. stration of an important truth.

Reading, is to proceed by analysis to the investigation of this first thought, and its discovery is often the last part of the process; but in thinking it out, the mind works synthetically, and the subject, in all its combinations, as a perfect whole, is the result.

To him who has leisure and opportunity, the former course is by far the more agreeable; but he who would make a practical use of all he has the means of learning, should deny himself the luxury of reading, and use it only as a stimulus to the powers of thought.

It is for the use of this latter description of persons that the present work has been prepared :-upon the principle of extracting the leading thought from each volume, and placing it so before the mind that after perusal it may invite and attract, and even compel the powers of reason and judgment to congenial and profitable exercise.

There is sometimes as much in the way in which a truth is stated as in the truth itself. In this volume the best writers of all ages and nations are made to utter their best thoughts in their own words. He who carefully reads the Pocket Lacon takes a view from a favourable point of the wide field of classic and philosophic literature.

The compiler has not rejected a nervous passage, strong in its meaning and powerful in its language, merely because the sentiment it may imbody is controvertible; but in such cases he has generally endeavoured to give both sides of the argument, from advocates of equal ability. He has high authority for this part of his arrangement, for, says Milton in his Areopagitica, “ though all the winds of doctrine were let loose upon the earth, so truth be but in the field, we do injuriously, by licensing and prohibiting, to misdoubt her strength. Let her and falsehood

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