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advanced your fpeculations in the most abstract and general knowledge of things, beyond the ordinary reach, or common methods, that your allowance and approbation of the defign of this treatife, will at leaft preferve it from being condemned without reading; and will prevail to have those parts a little weighed, which might otherwise, perhaps, be thought to deferve no confideration, for being fomewhat out of the common road. The imputation of novelty is a terrible charge amongst those who judge of men's heads, as they do of their perukes, by the fashion; and can allow none to be right, but the received doctrines. Truth fcarce ever yet carried it by vote any where at its first appearance: new opinions are always fufpected, and ufually oppofed, without any other reafon, but because they are not already common. But truth, like gold, is not the lefs fo for being newly brought out of the mine. It is trial and examination must give it price, and not any antique fashion: and though it be not yet current by the public ftamp; yet it may, for all that, be as old as nature, and is certainly not the less genuine. Your lordship can give great and convincing inftances of this, whenever you please to oblige the public with fome of those large and comprehenfive difcoveries you have made of truths hitherto unknown, unlefs to fome few, from whom your lordship has been pleafed not wholly to conceal them. This alone were a fufficient reason, were there no other, why I fhould dedicate this Effay to your lordship; and its having fome little correfpondence with fome parts of that nobler and vast fyftem of the fciences your lordship has made fo new, exact, and inftructive a draught of, I think it glory enough, if your lordship permit me to boast, that here and there I have fallen into fome thoughts
not wholly different from yours. If your lordship think fit, that, by your encouragement, this fhould appear in the world, I hope it may be a reafon, fome time or other, to lead your lordship farther; and you will allow me to fay, that you here give the world an earnest of fomething, that, if they can bear with this, will be truly worth their expectation. This, my lord, fhows what a prefent I here make to your lordship; juft fuch as the poor man does to his rich and great neighbour, by whom the basket of flowers or fruit is not ill taken, though he has more plenty of his own growth, and in much greater perfection. Worthlefs things receive a value, when they are made the offerings of refpect, efteem, and gratitude: these you have given me fo mighty and peculiar reafons to have, in the highest degree, for your lordship, that if they can add a price to what they go along with, proportionable to their own greatnefs, I can with confidence brag, I here make your lordship the richest present you ever received. This I am fure, I am under the greatest obligations to feek all occafions to acknowledge a long train of favours I have received from your lordship; favours, though great and important in themselves, yet made much more fo by the forwardnefs, concern, and kindnefs, and other obliging circumstances, that never failed to accompany them. To all this, you are pleafed to add that which gives yet more weight and relish to all the reft: you vouchfafe to continue me in fome degrees of your efteem, and allow me a place in your good thoughts; I had almost faid friendship. This, my lord, your words and actions fo conftantly fhow on all occafions, even to others when I am abfent, that it is not vanity in me to mention what every body knows but it would be want of good man
ners, not to acknowledge what so many are witneffes of, and every day tell me, I am indebted to your lordship for. I wish they could as easily affist my gratitude, as they convince me of the great and growing engagements it has to your lordship. This I am fure, I fhould write of the understanding without having any, if I were not extremely fenfible of them, and did not lay hold on this opportunity to testify to the world, how much I am obliged to be, and how much I am,
REA DE R.
I put into thy hands, what has been the di
version of some of my idle and heavy hours: if it has the good luck to prove fo of any of thine, and thou haft but half fo much pleasure in reading, as I had in writing it, thou wilt as little think thy money, as I do my pains, ill beftowed. Miftake not this, for a commendation of my work; nor conclude, because I was pleased with the doing of it, that therefore I am fondly taken with it now it is done. He that hawks at larks and fparrows, has no lefs fport, though a much lefs confiderable quarry, than he that flies at nobler game and he is little acquainted with the fubject of this treatise, the UNDERSTANDING, who does not know, that as it is the moft elevated faculty of the foul, fo it is employed with a greater and more conftant delight than any of the other. Its fearches after truth, are a fort of hawking and hunting, wherein the very purfuit makes a great part of the pleasure. Every step the mind takes in its progrefs towards knowledge, makes fome difcovery, which is not only new, but the best too, for the time at least.
For the understanding, like the eye, judging of objects only by its own fight, cannot but be pleafed with what it difcovers, having lefs regret for what has escaped it, because it is unknown. Thus he who has raised
himself above the alms-bafket, and not content to live lazily on scraps of begged opinions, fets his own thoughts on work, to find and follow truth, will (whatever he lights on) not mifs the hunter's fatisfaction; every moment of his purfuit will reward his pains with fome delight, and he will have reafon to think his time. not ill-spent, even when he cannot much boast of any great acquifition.
This, Reader, is the entertainment of thofe who let loofe their own thoughts, and follow them in writing; which thou oughteft not to envy them, fince they afford thee an opportunity of the like diverfion, if thou wilt make ufe of thy own thoughts in reading. It is to them, if they are thy own, that I refer myfelf: but if they are taken upon truft from others, it is no great matter what they are, they are not following truth, but fome meaner confideration: and it is not worth while to be concerned, what he fays or thinks, who fays or thinks only as he is directed by another. If thou judgeft for thy felf, I know thou wilt judge candidly; and then I fhall not be harmed or offended, whatever be thy cenfure. For though it be certain, that there is nothing in this treatise, of the truth whereof I am not fully perfuaded; yet I confider myfelf as liable to mistakes, as I can think thee, and know that this book muft ftand or fall with thee, not by any opinion I have of it, but thy own. If thou findeft little in it new or instructive to thee, thou art not to blame me for it. It was not meant for those that had already mastered this fubject, and made a thorough acquaintance with their own understandings; but for my own information, and the fatisfaction of a few friends, who acknowledged themfelves not to have fufficiently confidered it. Were it fit to trouble thee with the hiftory of this Effay, I fhould tell thee, that five or fix friends meeting at my chamber, and difcourfing on a fubject very remote from this, found themselves quickly at a ftand, by the difficulties that rofe on every fide. After we had a while puzzled ourselves, without coming any nearer a refolution of thofe doubts which perplexed us, it came into my thoughts, that we took a wrong course; and into-my