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Certo sciant homines, artes inveniendi solidas et veras adolescere et incrementa so
mere cum ipsis inventis.--Bac., De Augm. Scient., l. v., c. 8.


witri the Authop's lAst Additions And CORRECTIONs

N E W.Y O R K:
p, A R P E R & B R o T H E R s, 8 2 c I, I F F- s T R E E T.

1 8 4. 9.

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THERE are several reasons which have induced the
author of the following sheets to give the public some
account of their origin and progress, previously to their
coming under its examination. They are a series of
Essays closely connected with one another, and writ-
ten on a subject in the examination of which he has
at intervals employed himself for a considerable part
of his life. Considered separately, each may justly be
termed a whole, and complete in itself; taken togeth-
er, they are constituent parts of one work. The au-
thor entered on this inquiry as early as the year 1750;
and it was then that the first two chapters of the first
book were composed. These he intended as a sort of
groundwork to the whole. And the judicious reader
will perceive that, in raising the superstructure, he has
entirely conformed to the plan there delineated. That
first outline he showed soon after to several of his ac-
quaintance, some of whom are still living. In the year
1757 it was read to a private literary society, of which
the author had the honour to be a member. It was a
difference in his situation at that time, and his connex-
ion with the gentlemen of that society, some of whom
have since honourably distinguished themselves in the
republic of letters, that induced him to resume a sub-
ject which he had so long laid aside. The three fol-
lowing years all the other chapters of that book, ex-
cept the third, the sixth, and the tenth, which have
been but lately added (rather as illustrations and con-
firmations of some parts of the work, than as essential
to it), were composed, and submitted to the judgment
of the same ingenuous friends. All that follows on the
subject of Elocution hath also undergone the same re-
view. Nor has there been any material alteration
made on these, or any addition to them, except in a
few instances of notes, examples, and verbal correc-
tions, since they were composed
It is also proper to observe here, that since trans-
cribing the present work for the press, a manuscript
was put into his hands by Doctor Beattie, at the very
time that, in order to be favoured with the doctor's
opinion of this performance, the author gave him the
first book for his perusal. Doctor Beattie's tract is
called An Essay on Laughter and Ludicrous Writing.
While the author carefully perused that Essay, it gave
him a very agreeable surprise to discover that, on a
question so nice and curious, there should, without any
previous communication, be so remarkable a coinci-
dence of sentiments in everything wherein their sub-
jects coincide. A man must have an uncommon con-
fidence in his own faculties (I might have said in his
own infallibility) who is not sensibly more satisfied of
the justness of their procedure, especially in abstract
matters, when he discovers such a concurrence with
the ideas and reasoning of writers of discernment.
The subject of that piece is, indeed, Laughter in gen-
eral, with an inquiry into those qualities in the object
by which it is excited. The investigation is conducted
with the greatest accuracy, and the theory confirmed
and illustrated by such a variety of pertinent examples,
as enable us to scrutinize his doctrine on every side,
and view it in almost every possible light. He does
not enter into the specific characters whereby wit and

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