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POLITICAL ECONOMY, POLITICS, MORALS,
METAPHYSICS, POLITE LITERATURE,
OTHER BRANCHES OF KNOWLEDGE;
Discussion in Literary Societies, or for Private Study.
PRINTED FOR R. HUNTER,
72, st. PAUL'S CHURCHYARD.
THE following pages were originally intended for the use of those young men, who, after performing the daily duties of their professions, meet together for the purpose of intellectual improvement. Societies of this kind, it is believed, are now become numerous, and it was thought, that a collection of subjects for conversation, accompanied by brief explanatory remarks, and references to such books as are commonly to be found in libraries, might relieve them from the difficulty of supplying topics on the spur of the moment; or from the trouble of searching for them at an ex
pense of time, which individuals of this class have it seldom in their power to bestow.
It is hoped, however, that the volume will prove useful to other classes, particularly general readers, by furnishing them with brief notices of a variety of interesting subjects, as well as directing them to sources where they may find fuller information; nor will it, perhaps, be altogether unworthy of the attention of the philosopher and man of learning, inasmuch as it presents, in a definite and distinct form, many questions which must have frequently occupied their attention; and brings together the various opinions of various authors, the mere juxtaposition of which is often sufficient to excite in such minds the most novel and striking views.
There is something, at times, exceedingly serviceable in having a question disencumbered of the numerous related and collateral inquiries in which it is enveloped in a regular systematic treatise, and
exhibited naked and solitary to the apprehension. Hence an elementary work, intended for the novice, is often the best starting ground for an original mind. Cursory as its view of each question necessarily is, the present volume, it is hoped, may aspire to be regarded, in this way, as a collection of hints for the understanding, or materials for thought.
Having said thus much of the design of the work, the author will venture a few remarks on the execution. A slight inspection of the volume will show, that it is chiefly formed of extracts from writers, who have expressly treated or incidentally touched upon the several topics introduced. It would have been easy for the author to give an air of greater unity and originality to it by translating the sentiments of these writers into his own language. He may assert, indeed, that this would have been a pleasanter and not a much