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LETTERS ON ASTRONOMY.

LETTER I.

INTRODUCTORY OBSERVATIONS.

“Ye sacred Muses, with whose beauty fired,

My soul is ravished, and my brain inspired,
Whose priest I am, whose holy fillets wear ;
Would you your poet's first petition hear,
Give me the ways of wandering stars to know,
The depths of heaven above, and earth below;
Teach me the various labors of the moon,
And whence proceed th' eclipses of the sun;
Why flowing tides prevail upon the main,
And in what dark recess they shrink again ;
What shakes the solid earth, what cause delays
The Summer nights, and shortens Winter days."

Dryden's Virgil.

To MRS.

CM DEAR MADAM,—In the conversation we recently held on the study of Astronomy, you expressed a strong desire to become better acquainted with this noble science, but said you had always been repelled by the air of severity which it exhibits, arrayed as it is in so many technical terms, and such abstruse mathematical processes: or,

if

you had taken up some smaller treatise, with the hope of avoiding these perplexities, you had always found it so meager and superficial, as to afford you very little satisfaction. You asked, if a work might not be prepared, which would convey to the general reader some clear and adequate knowledge of the great discoveries in astronomy, and yet require for its perusal no greater preparation, than may be presumed of every well-educated English scholar of either sex.

You were pleased to add the request, that I would

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