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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1840, by MARSH, CAPEN, LYON, AND WEBB,

in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of Massachusetts.


W3 v./


IN presenting to the readers of THE SCHOOL LIBRARY,' a new edition of THE PURSUIT OF KNOWLUNDER DIFFICULTIES,' it may be proper to state the design of the work, and the manner in which that design has been accomplished.


The design of the following pages is to illustrate the important truth, that there are no circumstances so adverse to the acquisition of knowledge, as to preclude the reasonable hope of attaining to intellectual eminence, if we resolutely strive for it. This truth is illustrated by anecdotes of men, who, under every disadvantage, have raised themselves to distinction. It is thus shown, that neither humble birth, nor abject poverty, not even the most serious natural defects, have been able to arrest the progress of the resolute and persevering student; that diligence may render its possessor illustrious, without the assistance of instructers, nay, while engaged in the most active pursuits of everyday life; and, finally, that these remarks apply to every department of literature and science. We are thus taught that whatever may be the direction in which we are striving after excellence, and whatever may be the discouragements under which we labor, no one, desirous of intellectual improvement, need despair, since others, under circumstances as unpropitious as his own, have placed themselves in the very front rank of their several professions.

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In the execution of this plan, as might be expected, a very interesting series of biographical sketches is presented to the reader. Aside from its peculiar design, the work is really a delightful and instructive compendium of anecdotes of distinguished men. And, more than this, as the author treats of those who have been eminently successful in enlarging the boundaries of human knowledge, he frequently steps aside to explain, with great clearness and simplicity, the most important facts in the history of that science, to which the individual under review had devoted himself. Valuable scientific instruction is thus most aptly blended with biographical facts.

The labor, if such it may be called, of the editor, in preparing this edition for the press, has been so trivial as scarcely to deserve to be mentioned. In reading the work, wherever a complicated sentence could be made clearer by division or modification, he has altered it. He has also added a few notes, with the object of giving, occasionally, a more practical application to the truth discussed in the text. In most respects, the body of the work is a reprint of the English edition, which was published under the superintendence of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge.' F. W.


Providence, R. I., March, 1839.


In addition to the labors of the editor, much care has been bestowed upon the preparation of the copy, by correcting the punctuation, style, errors of dates and facts, &c.; inserting explanations of difficult words and phrases, either in the text, or Glossaries at the end of each volume, preparation of Indexes, &c. &c. As the English volumes made no mention of American examples, with the exception of notices of Franklin, West, and Ledyard, the latter have been omitted in this edition, and their places supplied with a larger amount of interesting matter. The Life of Franklin will form a volume by itself; and a biographical sketch of him, and also of West and Ledyard, will be inserted in another volume of THE PURSUIT OF KNOWLEDGE UNDER DIFFICULTIES,' which will be confined to notices of our own countrymen.


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