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"There is no vice so simple, but assumes
HAVING long had occasion to lament the mistaken judgment and erroneous ideas of the true ends of our existence, which a very great portion of mankind are accustomed to form, I have been induced to employ my utmost ability in the great cause of virtue and intellectuality, in order to shew that misery and destruction must finally await those who neglect to cultivate their minds, cherish the finer feelings of the heart, and learn how to restrain their passions within the sway and the command of their reason; and that true happiness here, and eternal bliss hereafter, will certainly be the portion of those who bend down the whole force of their minds to the acquifition of knowledge, which alone can render us truly great and virtuous.
Having such an end in view, I now present this volume to the world, in which I have endeavoured to set forth the evils that do result from the vices of mankind, as well as to display the incalculable advantages that are attainable by the pursuit of virtue and knowledge. In order to do this the more effectually, I have drawn a faithful picture of transactions that have either tended to debase the moral and intellectual character of man, or that have added lustre to his
I have endeavoured to render the plain matter of fact interesting to my readers, by as warm a glow of colouring as the subjects required, or as I was able to bestow; and by paying a due regard to truth, I have laboured to impress their minds with a veneration for what I conceive to be a great and incontrovertible maxim-that, unless we cherish all the finer feelings of the heart, and do away all that tends to render those callous, we can neither expect to enjoy happiness ourselves, nor effectually contribute to that of our fellow creatures,
And as I believe every human being to be in search of what he thinks happiness, and that all his exertions tend towards this great object, I have deened it neceffary (according to the best of
my ability) to shew, that true happiness is founded alone on virtue and knowledge.
"To be good is to be happy; angels
"Are happier than men, because they're better.
"But rest in everlasting peace of mind,
"And find the height of all their Heav'n in goodness."
Whether it is the monarch, who contemplates his people as so many machines which he can use or adapt to his various purposes of aggrandisement; or the minister, who industriously plunders the people and cheats his master; or the ecclesiastic, who battens on the wealth of his superstitious followers; or the lawyer, who consumes the flower of his manhood in laying up the materials that enable him to swindle his clients; or the physician, who throws his countenance into all manner of contortions, the better to impose on the credulity of his foolish patients; or the gay fashionable, who consumes equally the health of his body and mind in a routine of endless dissipation; or the military puppet, who
displays his gaudy trappings in order to attract the attention of silly school-girls: they are all severally in search of happiness, and do that which they imagine tends to its promotion; but they are severally mistaken in the means of obtaining it, and each has his "compunctious visitings of nature," without once tasting of the pure delights that virtue and intellectuality only can bestow, and inasmuch as we cultivate the finer feelings of the heart, so do we enable ourselves to attain increase of virtue and knowledge. Therefore I have introduced a number of interesting facts, arranged in Tales and Essays, as illustrations of this assertion, and from which proof is easily drawn, without running into a long and dry detail of common-place morality. Hence will be seen my reasons for determining upon the following mode of arrangement; which I have conceived to be the best, because the incidents were in themselves wholly unconnected, and would not properly admit of a regular chain of combination, but which I hope will not prove less agreeable to my readers on that account.
I shall make no apology for introducing this work to the notice of the public, because my intention in promoting it is good: therefore, if I